Monday, February 29, 2016

Jaco Pastorius - 1976 [2000] "Jaco Pastorius"

This self-titled album was Jaco Pastorius' solo debut and was originally released in 1976. The album was produced by Blood, Sweat & Tears drummer/founder Bobby Colomby. The disc begins with a cover version of Miles Davis' "Donna Lee" (although the song was originally credited - mistakenly - to Charlie Parker on the album) and includes eight other tracks written or co-written by Pastorius.

It's impossible to hear Jaco Pastorious' debut album today as it sounded when it was first released in 1976. The opening track -- his transcription for fretless electric bass of the bebop standard "Donna Lee" -- was a manifesto of virtuosity; the next track, the funk-soul celebration "Come On, Come Over" was a poke in the eye to jazz snobs and a love letter to the R&B greats of the previous decade (two of whom, Sam & Dave, sing on that track); "Continuum" was a spacey, chorus-drenched look forward to the years he was about to spend playing with Weather Report. The program continues like that for three-quarters of an hour, each track heading off in a different direction -- each one a masterpiece that would have been a proud achievement for any musician. What made Jaco so exceptional was that he was responsible for all of them, and this was his debut album. Beyond his phenomenal bass technique and his surprisingly mature compositional chops (he was 24 when this album was released), there was the breathtaking audacity of his arrangements: "Okonkole Y Trompa" is scored for electric bass, French horn, and percussion, and "Speak Like a Child," which Pastorious composed in collaboration with pianist Herbie Hancock, features a string arrangement by Pastorious that merits serious attention in its own right. For a man with this sort of kaleidoscopic creativity to remain sane was perhaps too much to ask; his gradual descent into madness and eventual tragic death are now a familiar story, one which makes the bright promise of this glorious debut album all the more bittersweet. (This remastered reissue adds two tracks to the original program: alternate takes of "(Used to Be a) Cha Cha" and "6/4 Jam").

In 1976, the first 10 minutes of this eponymous disc took the listener on a jazz world cruise directed by the instrumentalist-composer Jaco Pastorius, who thus gave notice that there was a new sheriff in town and that narrow definitions of jazz would simply not do. More so even than his groundbreaking work as a member of Weather Report, Jaco's music on this, his debut album as a leader (and in a trio setting with his soulmate Pat Metheny on the guitarist's maiden voyage, Bright Size Life), defines his greatness, his outreach, and his ambition. Boppish changes à la Miles Davis come through with Jaco's incredible touch, tone phrasing, and rhythmic locomotion--as does the musical leap of faith from bebop to funky-butt R&B delivered with lyrical majesty on Jaco's aptly titled "Continuum." This reissue greatly enhances the fidelity of Jaco Pastorius, particularly in the bassist's famous, elusive tone, from lightly chorused, vocal-tenorlike glissandos on "Continuum" and the bell-like harmonics of "Portrait of Tracy" to his percussive, hand-drumlike rhythmic cycles underneath Peter Gordon's august French horn on "Oknokole Y Trompa." Even more stunning are the manner in which Jaco deploys a steel drum choir underneath Wayne Shorter on "Opus Pocus" and the ferocious Latin-inflected groove Jaco, Lenny White, and Don Alias conjure under Herbie Hancock on two takes--one unissued until now--of "(Used to Be a) Cha-Cha." Pat Metheny contributes an extraordinary set of liner notes to this set, putting Jaco's contributions to jazz and the bass in sharp perspective. Still, a spirit of innovation and discovery suffuses every note on Jaco Pastorius, and it is startling how modern and engaging this music remains.

At long last, the stunning debut album by Jaco Pastorius gets the royal treatment by the folks at Sony Legacy. Recorded in 1976 prior to joining Weather Report, it's clear from the first bar that this man is serious business!!! From the opening track, a cover of the Charlie Parker classic "Donna Lee"(written by Miles Davis) featuring Jaco only accompanied by a conga player to the final cut "Forgotten Love",it's very apparent that we're hearing something we've never heard before. Pastorius took the bass from being a support instrument, to front and center, without being tedious or overdone. Other highlights of this album include "Portrait of Tracy", and "Continuum". "Jaco Pastorius" features excellent support from the likes of Herbie Hancock, Hubert Laws, David Sanborn, Michael Brecker and Lenny White. This reissue also features two unreleased tracks that were not part of the original LP. The booklet features rare photos from the recording sessions and has great liner notes written by Pat Metheny. The 24-bit remaster is a tremendous sonic improvement over the original CD issue and the disc label even has the original orange Epic logo on the disc. A first class reissue of a fusion jazz classic. 

Jaco Pastorius was undoubtedly a brilliant musician, in every sense of the word. Not only was he an incredible bassist, but he was a gifted composer, who really knew how to get the most out of his instrument. This, his first solo album, is excellent from start to finish. There's plenty of diversity here, and a regular who's who of musicians backing him up. The list includes David Sanborn, Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, and many more. There are three drummers on here, Bobby Economou, Narada Michael Walden, and Lenny White. All three put on a great performance, but Lenny's is undoubtedly the most impressive.
As I mentioned before, this album is very diverse. There are two bass solo songs (only bass). The first, "Donna Lee", is the opening track, and is a prime example of Jaco's incredible prowess. The second, "Portrait of Tracy", is more laid-back, and shows that in addition to being a technical virtuoso, he had a great sense of melody as well. "Come On, Come Over" has more of a 70's funk feel, and is the only song on the album to feature vocals. "Opus Pocus" is a bit unusual, with odd complex bass work, and some cool steel drums to give it a bit of a tropical feel. "Forgotten Love" doesn't even have Jaco on it, and is perhaps the least interesting track here, but still a nice tranquil piano piece. "6/4 Jam" is a bit repetitive, but Lenny's jaw-dropping performance makes up for it.
The best songs, without a doubt, are "Kuru/Speak Like a Child" and "Used To Be a Cha Cha". Both feature some very fast and infectious basslines, and incredible piano from the great Herbie Hancock. Very technical and diverse songs, with great melody as well. At around 8 minutes each, both go by quite fast.
So there you have it, an excellent album from one of the best bassists of all time. Highly recommended to anyone with even the slightest interest in jazz. I haven't heard quite enough to say this accurately, but this is possibly one of the best albums of the genre. Definitely a must-have.

Track listing

1. Donna lee (2:26)
2. Come on, come over (3:50)
3. Continuum(4:31)
4. Kuru (7:38)
Speak like a child
5. Portrait of tracy (2:20)
6. Ocus pocus (5:25)
7. Okonkole'y trompa (4:21)
8. Used to be a cha-cha (8:52)
9. Forgotten love (2:12)
10 (Used To Be A) Cha Cha (Previously Unreleased)
11 6-4 Jam (Previously Unreleased)

Total Time 41:59


Jaco Pastorius: Bass, horn & string arrangements
Don Alias: Congas, Bongos, Percussion, Okonkolo y Iya, Afuche
Randy Brecker: Trumpet
Ron Tooley: Trumpet
Peter Graves: Bass Trombone
David Sanborn: Alto Sax
Michael Brecker: Tenor Sax
Howard Johnson: Baritone Sax
Herbie Hancock: Keyboards, Piano, Fender Rhodes
Narada Michael Walden: Drums
Sam & Dave: Vocals
Bobby Economou: Drums
Michael Gibbs: Conductor, String Arrangement
Wayne Shorter: Soprano Sax
Othello Molineaux: Steel Drums
Leroy Williams: Steel Drums
Lenny White: Drums
Peter Gordon: French Horn
Strings: Violins: David Nadien (concertmaster), Harry Lookofsky, Paul Gershman, Koe Malin, Harry Cykman, Harold Kohon, Matthew Raimondi, Max Pollikoff, Arnold Black. Violas: Selwart Clarke, Manny Vardi, Julian Barber, Al Brown. Celli: Charles McCracken, Kermit Moore, Beverly Lauridsen, Alan Shulman. Double Basses: Richard Davis, Homer Mensch.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Tony Williams - 1976 [2000] "Million Dollar Legs"

Million Dollar Legs is the second album by The New Tony Williams Lifetime, released in 1976 on Columbia Records. The album features the jazz fusion drummer Tony Williams with Allan Holdsworth, Alan Pasqua and Tony Newton.

This Sony Japan import release is definitely remastered, and is the best audio version available. It is much better than The Collection U.S. CD.

This album takes a lot of heat, as it was a major disappointment for most after "Believe It". In reality, however, the majority of the album is certainly a worthy follow-up. I most heartedly agree with the the observations that "You Did It To Me" is completely annoying, and ditto with the dubbed horns in "Million Dollar Legs". The remaining five tracks, however, stand up well to time. 

The price of the Japan disc is higher, but is well worth the price, especially if you're a Holdsworth fan. No AH collection is complete without these tracks.

Released in 1976 and clearly not as focused as its precursor 'Believe It'(1975), this is still 90 percent instrumental fusion - just one song is sung and it's the shortest at under four minutes. The players besides Tony are: Allan Holdsworth on guitar; Tony Newton on bass/vocals and; Alan Pasqua on keyboards.
While the music here is obviously affected by some trends of its time, this alone isn't necessarily a bad thing. The entire fusion movement had moved on that direction anyway - Weather Report, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Herbie Hancock, you name it - so, as a result, we get some funky fusion jams with some melodic parts.
I'd like to point out that there's quite a lot to enjoy on this album and that it's nowhere as commercial as one may think. The music is well arranged and the interaction among the players is strong so if you care for this transitional period which eventually took us to the mess that was the eighties, you shouldn't let this slip. 

I got into Tony because I'm a drummer. His playing is fabulous on this record. Are the lyrics unimpressive? Yes. It's not often that you get to hear Tony playing in a funk/16th note framework. Here it is. Is it a less important work than "Believe It?" Believe it. But if you're a drummer and you want to learn from Tony, this record features a playing style you will not hear anywhere else and that makes it a valuable addition to your library. They aren't making Tony Williams recordings anymore. There is no reason to snub this one! Alan Holdworth's playing on this record is exceptional as well. 

Track listing

    "Sweet Revenge" (Tony Williams) — 6:03
    "You Did It to Me Baby" (Williams, A. Cleveland) — 3:45
    "Million Dollar Legs" (Williams) — 6:38
    "Joy Filled Summer" (Tony Newton) — 5:50
    "Lady Jane" (Alan Pasqua) — 3:56
    "What You Do to Me" (Williams) — 6:38
    "Inspirations of Love" (Newton) — 9:48


    Allan Holdsworth – guitar
    Alan Pasqua – keyboards
    Tony Newton – bass, vocals
    Tony Williams – drums

        String and horn arrangements by Jack Nitzsche
        Recorded June, 1976, Caribou Ranch Studios, Nederland, Colorado 

Eric Kloss - 1970 "Consciousness"

Consciousness! is the tenth album by saxophonist Eric Kloss which was recorded in 1970 and released on the Prestige label.

One common feature of every Miles Davis group is the stellar rhythm section -- whether it's Garland/Chambers/Jones, Kelly/Chambers/Cobb, or Hancock/Carter/Williams. Yet one of the best Miles rhythm sections, Corea/Holland/DeJohnette, didn't make much of an impact in the studio; while they were absolutely scorching in concert (as any of the Fillmore concerts will attest to), this 2-on-1 CD gives a good idea of what they could do in the studio.
Eric Kloss was (and supposedly still is) an edgy post-bop altoist, obviously aware of Coltrane's innovations but with a very distinct, individual sound. On some of the tracks he plays tenor. Anyway, he definitely deserves mention alongside Jackie McLean and Gary Bartz.

The first album, To Hear Is To See (tracks 1-5), is relatively more "inside" and it's interesting to hear the rhythm trio swinging in a more conventional setting (one month later they'd be recording Bitches Brew). Like a lot of other jazz cerca 1969-70, there's a definite rock influence both in the rhythms and in Corea's use of the electric piano (he also plays acoustic). Consciousness! (tracks 6-10) was recorded in January 1970, and sounds a lot more like the intense Fillmore recordings. Pat Martino, who joins the band on guitar, is an explosive presence.

This is highly recommended to any fan of Corea, Holland, or DeJohnette as well as to anyone who likes the sound of late 60s post-bop jazz. And besides, you will never hear a funkier version of "Sunshine Superman" in your life. 

Eric Kloss is a world renowned alto and tenor saxophonist, a multi-instrumentalist, recording artist, composer, clinician, educator, and television personality. Blind from birth music became his vision. A true child prodigy he performed with his mentor Sonny Stitt at age 12. Backed by jazz guitarist Pat Martino, his recording career began at age 16 with the release of “Introducing Eric Kloss”. Blending hard bob, be-bop, pop, rock, funk, free jazz, classical and world music, he went on to release 22 critically acclaimed recordings on the Prestige and Muse labels. A who’s who of jazz masters appeared as sidemen on his albums including Gerald Veasley, Barry Miles, Don Patterson, Jaki Byard, Gil Goldstein, Richard Davis, Alan Dawson, Cedar Walton, Jimmy Owens, Kenny Barron, Booker Ervin, Leroy Vinnegar, Billy Higgins, Kenny Barron, Bob Cranshaw, and Alan Dawson. His most acclaimed album, Eric Kloss and the Rhythm Section, features the Miles Davis rhythm section of Corea, DeJohnette, and Dave Holland. Kloss toured the USA and Europe for 25 years wowing audiences with his technical brilliance and wild improvisations.

Eric was a frequent guest on the PBS TV show Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood, second only to pianist Johnny Costa for most appearances by any musician. In 1989 he became a spokesman for Yahoo Music promoting and performing with the sax-like MX-11 wind synthesizer. In the 1990s he began teaching at Duquesne University and went on to become head of the jazz department at Carnegie Mellon University. As an educator and clinician he mentored a new generation of jazz performers and instructors. The Fantasy Jazz label has reissued several of his recordings: First Class, About Time, the 2 CD box set Eric Kloss & the Rhythm Section/Love and All That Jazz, and the 2 CD box set Sky Shadows/In the Land of the Giants. Eric withdrew from teaching and performing in 2001 when he became seriously ill. He continues to write and plans to perform and record if his health improves. The unreleased work Cosmic Adventures demonstrates his musical mastery.

An excellent album from Eric Kloss that again teams him with the Miles Davis rhythm section of the period (Chick Corea, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette) plus guitarist Pat Martino, who was really stretching out at this time. The resultant electric grooves are way different than Kloss' earlier work, yet still much tighter and more soulful than his later stuff -- with some slight bits of funk and soul jazz to keep things real. All tracks are fairly long, and the record features versions of "Sunshine Superman" and "Songs To Aging Children" -- plus the tunes "Consciousness" and "Outward Wisdom". Track listing

All compositions by Eric Kloss except as indicated

    "Sunshine Superman" (Donovan) - 10:14
    "Kay" - 10:24
    "Outward Wisdom" (Pat Martino) - 6:05
    "Songs to Aging Children" (Joni Mitchell) - 6:58
    "Consciousness" (Danny DePaola, Eric Kloss) - 8:36


    Eric Kloss - alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
    Chick Corea - piano, electric piano
    Pat Martino - guitar
    Dave Holland - bass
    Jack DeJohnette - drums

Stanley Clarke - 1974 "Stanley Clarke"

Stanley Clarke is the second album of jazz fusion bassist Stanley Clarke. This is a classic in the jazz rock fusion genre. Highly electric featuring an all-star band of Stanley Clarke, Jan Hammer, Bill Connors, and the incomparable Tony Williams. To listen to this album/cd at less than full volume does not do it justice.

No one ever accused Return to Forever of playing too few notes, and bass wonder Stanley Clarke commits a few similar sins of excess on his first solo album (see "Life Suite, Parts 1-4"). But, hey, this was 1975, and there's no denying Clarke's genius for sublime grooves and fancy fretwork. As funky as Larry Graham and more fun than Jaco Pastorius, he moves agilely between the convoluted pleasures of "Lopsy Lu" and the more highbrow charms of "Spanish Phases for String and Bass." The album is one of the best showcases for Clarke's mastery of both double bass and electric.

While some jazz purists will detest this LP for it's marriage of jazz improvisation and rock, the simple truth is, "Stanley Clarke" (both the LP and the man)are stunning and ingenious. The late, great Tony Williams is volcanic in his drumming, notice how he plays slightly behind the bass on "Lopsy Lu", or plays in circles around guitarist Bill Connors on Part IV of the "Life Suite"? There is not a wasted note here and listeners who are looking for 'light' or 'smooth' jazz are barking up the wrong tree! Clarke himself is an astounding bassist and takes on shades of Charles Mingus on "Phases for Strings and Bass" and all of the opening "Vulcan Princess". Electro-funk, hard rock and jazz rarely live on the same street these days, but this kind of adventurous music making(a treasure for us more discriminating music lovers)tells me that the 3 should visit each other more frequently. Stanley Clarke is the man! 

This was one of the best jams of it's time.If you ever heard Tony in the mid to late 60ies with miles you know how fast his foot work was. He takes it to a new high on this whole jam sesson. And you know how Stanley got down. anyone who cant understant this fusion all time great. Dont know Jazz. I am very very happy to have this calabaration of Rock&Jazz to my long list of unforgetable moments in Jazz history.

Tony Williams on drums, Jan Hammer on keyboards, Bill Conners on guitar and, of course, Stanley on bass(es). The pedigree of this line up rivals any, and when the Jazz Fusion style of this album is considered, this line up is as close to unbeatable as can be. Even relative unknown NoCal guitarist Bill Conners steps up with impressive performances. Tony's driving, if not frenetic style and Jan's melodic fills compliment Stanley's virtuoso. For fans of Jazz Fusion, or Stanley, this recording is a must. It will be tough to remove from your changer. As an aside I would like to mention that Stanley released an album previous to this as a solo artist. It is called "Stan Clarke: Children of Forever. Chick Corea, Pat Martino, Andy Bey, Dee Dee Bridgewater. Not Fusion, not pure jazz. Well worth checking out (especially "Bass Folk Song). 

I first heard "Stanley Clarke" way back in the mid seventies. I was in a rock band while I was in high school, and the bass player played the album for me in his basement. I had never heard a bass sound the way Clarke's did: more of a lead rather than rhythm or "bottom" instrument. My reaction was "Who is this dude?"

"Stanley Clarke" is full of fine performances: keyboardist Jan Hammer, guitar player Bill Connors, Clarke himself, and the guy who steals the show from everyone else, the legendary Tony Williams. Williams does amazing work throughout this album, but his solos on "Power" and "Life Suite" are simply incredible. In the second movement of "Life Suite", Williams' solo is otherworldly; the work he does on the high hat, bass drum and toms is beyond anything I have ever heard in my 50 years. Williams then moves on to cover what seems like every single piece of his drum kit: toms, cymbals, high hat, and snare-and he does it with such fluidity and speed that it seems like there is more than one person playing simultaneously. When the song drops in volume and tempo, Williams then does a sort of "background solo" with rim shots on his snare drum.

This is tremendous stuff. "Stanley Clarke" is perhaps not as polished as some of his later solo works such as "School Days" or "Journey to Love", but it is still a marvel to behold. The big thing is Tony Williams is on this album, and not the others. The only reason I subtract one star is Stanley somehow thought he could pull off what he thought would pass for singing on "Yesterday Princess". Maybe he got the idea from Tony, who also "sang" on his "Lifetime" albums. Bad idea for both of them...

More than 30 years hence "Stanley Clark" can still tingle my spine when I listen to "Life Suite"! As far as I'm concerned, that qualifies this album as a classic.

Stanley Clarke is Jazz Fusion Bass. There is not now, never was, and never will be an equivalent . Few artist achieve instant greatness with their solo debut album...Stanley did. The opening cut..."Vulcan Princess"...winds its way from a sassy rythmic dance, into a bold, fully ripe melody, fermenting into a beautifully eerie vocal ballad of love and longing. "Vulcan Princess" leads-sans pause- into a (now classic) string popping, synchopathic jaunt through the spacey landscape which is titled "Yesterday Princess". "YP creates musical slices of synthesizer, electric guitar and percussion which seem to fragment, then cascade back together, pulled sytematically into line by the ever present "syncho-Stanley- pops". The "Princess" tunes are wonderful introductions for the middle of the six tune album...they make us like Stanley, appreciate Stanley, recognize that Stanley is an extremely passionate and talented musical poet. Tunes 3 and 4, "Lopsy Lu" and "Power" creep up on you teasing with an underlying, pseudo-subtle flavor of the beast which lurks in the fantastic fingers of Monsieur Clarke. "Lopsy" is poignant. "Power" is, well... powerful. The next cut "Spanish Phases for Strings and Bass" is moody,seductive, occassionaly lilting, nearly passifying. The "SPfSaB" calms you, soothes you, puts you at just the right place to best handle the adrenelaine shot to the heart that concludes the album...The final cut "Life Suite" states simply that if life starts with a slap on the rear and a surely ends with a hard swift kick in the pants and a passionate scream. That's Stanley....

Tracks Listing

1. Vulcan Princess (4:00)
2. Yesterday Princess (1:41)
3. Lopsy Lu (7:03)
4. Power (7:20)
5. Spanish Phases for Strings & Bass (6:26)
6. Life Suite
Part I - 1:51
Part II - 4:12
Part III - 1:03
Part IV - 6:41

Total Time 40:31


    Stanley Clarke - acoustic and electric basses, guitar, piano, vocals
    Jan Hammer - acoustic and electric pianos, organ, Moog synthesizer
    Bill Connors - acoustic and electric guitars
    Tony Williams - drums
    Airto Moreira - percussion
    Peter Gordon, Jon Faddis, James Buffington, Lew Soloff, Garnett Brown - brasses
    David Taylor - brasses, trombone
    David Nadien, Charles McCracken, Jesse Levy, Carol Buck, Beverly Lauridsen, Harry Cykman, Harold Kohon, Paul Gershman, Harry Lookofsky, Emanuel Green - string section
    Michael Gibbs (string & brass arrangement)

Frank Zappa - 1970 [1991] "Burnt Weenie Sandwich"

Burnt Weeny Sandwich is an album by The Mothers of Invention, released in 1970. It consists of both studio album and live elements. In contrast to Weasels Ripped My Flesh, which is predominately live and song-oriented, most of Burnt Weeny Sandwich focuses on studio recordings and tightly arranged compositions.
The LP included a large triple-folded black and white poster ("The Mothers of Invention Sincerely Regret to Inform You") which has never been reproduced in any of the CD reissues. Until the 2012 Zappa Family Trust reissue campaign, CD editions had a severe dropout at the beginning of "The Little House I Used to Live In" that wasn't present on the original LP pressing. This is Official Release #9.

The album's unusual title, Zappa would later say in an interview, comes from an actual snack that he enjoyed eating, consisting of a burnt Hebrew National hot dog sandwiched between two pieces of bread with mustard.
Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh were also reissued together on vinyl as 2 Originals of the Mothers of Invention, with the original covers used as the left and right sides of the inner spread, and the front cover depicting a pistol shooting toothpaste onto a toothbrush.

The album was essentially a 'posthumous' Mothers release having been released after Frank Zappa dissolved the band.
Ian Underwood's contributions are significant on this album. The album, like its counterpart Weasels Ripped My Flesh, comprises tracks from the Mothers vault that were not previously released. Whereas Weasels mostly showcases the Mothers in a live setting, much of Burnt Weeny Sandwich features studio work and structured Zappa compositions, like the centerpiece of the album, "The Little House I Used to Live In", which consists of several movements and employs compound meters such as 11/8 with overlaid melodies in 6/8 and 4/4.
The guitar solo portion of the "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich" is an outtake from an unused extended version of "Lonely Little Girl" from the 1967 sessions for the We're Only in It for the Money LP. Zappa and Art Tripp later added multiple percussion overdubs for the released version (The source recordings for the percussion overdubs were issued in 2012 on the posthumous Zappa release Finer Moments under the title "Enigmas 1-5").
"Valarie" was originally intended to be released as a single coupled with "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama". However, either Zappa or his label, Reprise Records, cancelled its release, resulting in its inclusion on the LP.

"Igor's Boogie" is a reference to a major Zappa influence, composer Igor Stravinsky.
Cal Schenkel has noted that his unique cover art for Burnt Weeny Sandwich was originally commissioned for the cover of an Eric Dolphy release.
The piano introduction of "The Little House I Used to Live in" appears in Yvar Mikhashoff's four CD set "Yvar Mikhashoff's Panorama of American Piano Music"
After guiding the Mothers of Invention to significant critical respect and even modest commercial success over the second half of the ‘60s, Frank Zappa welcomed 1970 as a newly minted solo artist. But you wouldn’t necessarily know it based on his recently disbanded group’s lingering presence all over Zappa’s first album of the new year, Burnt Weeny Sandwich, which arrived in stores in February 1970 and was credited to the defunct group.

Named after one of Zappa’s favorite snacks in times of hunger emergency, the burnt weeny sandwich essentially consisted of flash-roasting a hot dog over an open flame, sticking it between two slices of bread, and snarfing it down while expediently returning to work, which, in Zappa’s case, entailed filling endless pieces of paper with little black dots called notes.

‘Burnt Weeny Sandwich’ in many ways mirrored the recipe for the snack in that it somewhat hastily and haphazardly threw together songs of radically diverse style and origin, as was aptly represented by artist Cal Shenkel’s chaotic collage adorning the LP cover. As such, two doo-wop covers — the Four Deuces’ “WPLJ” and Jackie & the Starlites’ “Valarie” — book-ended the other musical contents like thin slices of white bread. They may have harked back to Zappa’s earliest musical influences, but they had pretty much zero in common with the musical condiments they surrounded.

These included a dazzling display of the Mothers’ ensemble virtuosity in “Theme From Burnt Weeny Sandwich” (complete with blazing lead guitar and found sound effects), a mutant sea shanty named “Aybe Sea” (named after its A-B-C chord progression) and a quartet of bite-sized avant-classical pieces in “Igor’s Boogie, Phases 1 & 2,” “Overture to a Holiday in Berlin” and “Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown.” Though consistently stimulating, and typical of Zappa’s fearless genre-hopping tendencies, many of these songs were essentially leftovers from previous recording sessions with the recently unemployed Mothers, and mostly an exercise in closet cleaning.

The biggest single ingredient packing this savory musical hoagie was a near-20-minute concert performance entitled “The Little House I Used to Live In.” Recorded at London’s Royal Albert Hall in June 1969, the song’s extended improvisations provided an epic send-off to the beloved Mothers, in all of their eclectic audaciousness under the leadership and in the service of  Zappa’s singular vision. The recording even contains a snippet of heated repartee between Zappa and an audience member that spawned his famous critique of all the flower children present: “Everybody in this room is wearing a uniform.”

Everyone, that is, except for Zappa, who would almost finish clearing out his vaults of Mothers material later in the year with the release of Weasels Ripped My Flesh. In October, Zappa released Chunga’s Revenge, which introduced the first of many new Mothers lineups that would back him over the decade ahead.

Burnt Weeny Sandwich is the first of two albums by the Mothers of Invention that Frank Zappa released in 1970, after he had disbanded the original lineup. While Weasels Ripped My Flesh focuses on complex material and improvised stage madness, this collection of studio and live recordings summarizes the leader's various interests and influences at the time. It opens and closes on '50s pop covers, "WPLJ" and "Valarie." "Aybe Sea" is a Zappafied sea shanty, while "Igor's Boogie" is named after composer Igor Stravinsky, the closest thing to a hero Zappa ever worshipped. But the best material is represented by "Holiday in Berlin," a theme that would become central to the music of 200 Motels, and "The Little House I Used to Live In," including a virtuoso piano solo by Ian Underwood. Presented as an extended set of theme and variations, the latter does not reach the same heights as "King Kong." In many places, and with the two aforementioned exceptions in mind, Burnt Weeny Sandwich sounds like a set of outtakes from Uncle Meat, which already summarized to an extent the adventures of the early Mothers. It lacks some direction, but those allergic to the group's grunts and free-form playing will prefer it to the wacky Weasels Ripped My Flesh.

Track listing

All songs written and composed by Frank Zappa except where noted.

No.     Title     Length
1.     "WPLJ" (The Four Deuces)     3:02
2.     "Igor's Boogie, Phase One"       0:40
3.     "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin"       1:29
4.     "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich"       4:35
5.     "Igor's Boogie, Phase Two"       0:35
6.     "Holiday in Berlin, Full Blown"       6:27
7.     "Aybe Sea"       2:45
8.     "The Little House I Used to Live in"       18:42
9.     "Valarie" (Jackie and the Starlites)     3:14


    Frank Zappa – organ, guitar, vocals
    Jimmy Carl Black – percussion, drums
    Roy Estrada – bass, backing vocals, Pachuco rap on "WPLJ"
    Janet Ferguson – backing vocals on "WPLJ"
    Bunk Gardner – horn, wind
    Buzz Gardner - trumpet
    Billy Mundi – drums (uncredited, left group in December 1967, possibly played on "Theme from Burnt Weeny Sandwich")
    Lowell George – guitar, vocals
    Don "Sugarcane" Harris – violin on "The Little House I Used to Live In"
    Don Preston – bass, piano, keyboards
    Jim Sherwood – guitar, vocals, wind
    Art Tripp – drums, percussion
    Ian Underwood – guitar, piano, keyboards, wind
    John Balkin – bass on "WPLJ", string bass on "Overture to a Holiday in Berlin" 

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Pat Martino - 1976 [2013] "Joyous Lake" [SHM]

Joyous Lake is an album by guitarist Pat Martino which was recorded in 1976 and first released on the Warner Bros. label.

Seemingly a hardcore mainstreamer at heart—though one with no shortage of experimental élan, proven over a series of ten albums from 1967's El Hombre (Prestige) to 1976's wonderful duo with pianist Gil Goldstein, We'll Be Together Again (Muse, 1976)—guitarist Pat Martino came relatively late to the jazz-rock fusion game. His first album to truly plug in, his 1976 Warner Bros. debut, Starbright, was an eclectic affair that mixed synth and electric piano-laden interpretations of original music and a couple of wonderful Wayne Shorter covers ("Fall" and "Nefertiti"), with Martino moving comfortably from acoustic guitar to, for the first time, a more overdriven electric tone that still retained the inherent darkness of the sound with which he'd become known.

But it was with today's Rediscovery, 1977's Joyous Lake, that the increasingly well-known and already influential guitarist from Philadelphia took the big dive into electric waters, with a crack band of then-largely unknowns—keyboardist Delmar Brown, who would go on to work with everyone from Bob Moses and Miles Davis to Sting, electric bassist Mark Leonard, and a drummer whose muscular and effervescent style would see him go on to work with everyone from Stanley Jordan and David Fiuczynski to Robin Eubanks and The Manhattan Transfer: Kenwood Dennard.

From the opening "Line Games"—one of three Martino originals that are augmented by two from Brown (the atmospherically charged "Pyramidal Visions" and at least initially more relaxed "Mardi Gras") and one from Dennard (the fast funk of the Herbie Hancock-informed "M'Wandishi")—the entire group charges out of the gate. A fiery tune with a characteristically knotty theme, it demonstrates that Martino may have plugged in with a more overdriven tone, but his bop-drenched lines still speak of his mainstream background...a differentiator from most fusion of the time in that it truly never loses site of where it came from.

"Song Bird" is much longer (twice the length of "Line Games") and, with its stop/start elliptical theme, something that dates back, conceptually, to earlier Martino tunes like "The Great Stream," from Live! (Muse, 1974); but, with Brown, Leonard and Dennard's powerful support, it still possesses the fire and energy of fusion, even if Martino's tone and playing really hasn't changed much...only the context has. Similarly, the aptly monikered title track that closes the disc, with Brown doubling Martino's clean-toned theme, is something that could easily be transferred into a more acoustic setting, with its Latin tinge and propulsive rhythm.

Still, Martino's experiment with an early guitar synthesizer on "M'Wandishi" suggests he was open to atypical textures, even as he ran rapid eighth-note lines over Leonard and Dennard's muscular groundwork.

Sadly, Joyous Lake was given only a lukewarm reception and, after a brain aneurysm that left the guitarist with amnesia so complete that he had to literally relearn his instrument again through listening to his existing body of work, Martino's return to performance and recording in the late 1980s was also largely his homecoming to the more mainstream vibe of his pre-Starbright recordings. Still, the guitarist subsequently saw fit to reunite the group (calling it Joyous Lake) for one record: 1998's Stone Blue (Blue Note), adding saxophonist Eric Alexander to the mix and substituting James Genus for Mark Leonard.

But for those who enjoy their fusion with a stronger tie to the tradition, even as its grooves and colors are irrefutably electric and in their energy, electrified, Joyous Lake remains an undervalued gem in Martino's discography, and one that absolutely merits Rediscovery. 

Track listing

All compositions by Pat Martino except as indicated

    "Line Games" - 3:55
    "Pyramidal Vision" (Delmar Brown) - 7:42
    "Mardi Gras" (Brown) - 8:56
    "M'Wandishi" (Kenwood Dennard) - 5:29
    "Song Bird" - 7:55
    "Joyous Lake" - 7:33


    Pat Martino - guitar, EML 101 synthesizer, percussion
    Delmar Brown - electric piano, Oberheim polyphonic, EML 500
    Mark Leonard - electric bass
    Kenwood Dennard - drums, percussion

Ron Carter - 1975 [1988] "Spanish Blue"

Spanish Blue is an album by bassist Ron Carter recorded at Rudy Van Gelder's Studio in New Jersey in 1974 and released on the CTI label. Interesting concept with good solos by Carter and Hubert Laws (fl). All Music.

This is a piece of art. All Ron Carter's CDs are 5 Stars, but this one I could easily give it 7 Stars. This is my first Jazz LP that I bought in 1982, and in 1990 I hurried to buy the CD as it is my #1 in my over 2000 carefully chosen CDs.
The CD recorded in 1975 contains 4 tunes, 3 composed by Ron Carter and So What? by Miles Davis: 2 are spanish (El Noche Sol - Sabado Sombrero), 2 straight Jazz (So What? - Arkansas).
All musicians had given their best, especially with Ron around, they all play differently.
 On Piano: Roland Hanna!!!, Flute: Hubert Laws, Bass: Ron Carter, Guitar: Jay Berliner, Drums: Billy Cobham, Percussion: Ralph McDonald. Don't Miss this outstanding CD. By Imad Tawil

Ron Carter's offering here is a solid program that has two Spanish-flavored numbers and two traditional jazz compositions that feature five top-caliber musicians at their best. "El Noche Sol" is influenced by Anadalucian folk music, as is the slower, soulful "Sabado Sombrero". Hubert Laws on flute is prominent on all four tracks and a highlight on the CD is the nifty solo work by drummer Billy Cobham on "So What". The final track, "Arkansas", so named for a child's homework project, closes out the album. The CD would have benefitted from the inclusion of a few more numbers but the music is enjoyable and illustrates the group's versatility in interpreting music forms different from what they were accustomed to playing.  By New England Pat

There's incredible talent on this record. I have always loved Sabado sombrero, and Ron Carter and Hubert Laws - well all of the musicians are just giving their all to a very hard piece. Wish I could get a CD. By Curtis S. Cone 

 70′s fusion-esque album by Ron Carter. It’s has a definite Jazz focus, but it also has a latin sound to it. The reason why I personally wouldn’t put it in the fusion category is because the instrumentation is pretty standard. Although this is Ron Carter’s album, it has a lot of excellent flute by the great Hubert Laws, which pretty much steers the album. This album is just a blip for Ron Carter, who has said to appear on over 2,500 albums, which is one of the most astonishing facts in all of music. This goes to show that Bassists are always in need, always have work, and are the backbone of music.   

Track listing

    All compositions by Ron Carter except as indicated

    "El Noche Sol" - 5:56
    "So What" (Miles Davis) - 11:24
    "Sabado Sombrero" - 6:14
    "Arkansas" - 10:33

        Recorded at Van Gelder Studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey on November 18, 1974


    Ron Carter - bass
    Hubert Laws - flute
    Roland Hanna - electric piano, piano (tracks 1-3)
    Leon Pendarvis - electric piano (track 4)
    Jay Berliner (track 3) - guitar
    Billy Cobham - drums, field drum
    Ralph MacDonald - percussion 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Vital Information - 2011 "A Live Vitalization For Japan"

Steve Smith and Vital Information is an American jazz-fusion group led by drummer Steve Smith.
The core members of the original line-up of Vital Information — Steve Smith (drums), Tim Landers (bass) and Dave Wilczewski (sax) — met in 1971 during their high school years while playing together in the Bridgewater State College Big Band, a Boston area college band that also featured outstanding high school students, the band was under the direction of Vincent Gannon. By 1977 Smith was touring with Jean-Luc Ponty, Landers with Al Di Meola and Wilczewski with Freddie Hubbard. They met in Boston once a year for a “reunion” gig using various guitarists such as Dean Brown, Daryl Stuermer or Barry Finnerty to complete the band. From 1977–1982 the three principlal band members wrote many compositions, played a number of gigs and developed the sound and concept that became the first edition of Vital Information.
After Smith was in Journey for a few years he was able to secure a Columbia record deal for his first solo album. The group recorded Vital Information (1983), which featured Landers, Wilczewski and Smith along with guitarists Dean Brown and Mike Stern. The album was recorded in Warren, Rhode Island in January 1983 and released that summer. In September 1983 the band toured the USA with the Dutch guitarist Eef Albers replacing Mike Stern, who was on the road with both Miles Davis and Jaco Pastorius. At the end of the tour the group returned to RI and recorded Orion (1984), their second album.
After leaving Journey in 1985 Steve Smith continued on as the bandleader of Vital Information with Tim Landers and Dave Wilczewski eventually leaving the group to pursue their own careers. Landers is a successful studio musician in Los Angeles and Wilczewski moved to Stockholm, Sweden, where he was a key player in the European music scene until his untimely death on August 22, 2009.
Tom Coster (keyboards), formerly of Santana, joined Vital Information in 1986 and first appeared on Global Beat (1987), which integrated hand percussion and steel drums into the direction of the music. Kai Eckhardt (bass), later with John McLaughlin, and Torsten de Winkel (guitar), later with the Pat Metheny Group, joined Vital Information in 1986 and 1987 for tours in the United States and Europe and appeared on and composed for the group's next album, Fiafiaga (1988), which generally continued with the Global Beat direction but added computer-based and funkier sounds to the stylistic mix.
A more straight-ahead jazz version of the group, with Larry Grenadier (acoustic bass), Larry Schneider (sax), Tom Coster (keys), Frank Gambale (guitar), Steve Smith (drums), recorded Vitalive! (1990). The album has recently been re-mastered and rereleased. Jeff Andrews (bass) joined the band in the early 1990s recording Easier Done Than Said (1992) and Ray of Hope (1996).
Vital Information re-invented themselves as a more organic groove-oriented band with the direction of Where We Come from (1998). Baron Browne (bass) joined the band in 1998, which further solidified their more funk-oriented approach. With the line-up of Smith (drums) Tom Coster (keys), Frank Gambale (guitar) and Browne (bass) they recorded Live Around the World (2000), Show ‘Em Where You Live (2001) and Live from Mars (2002). With the recording Come on in (2004) Smith started introducing Indian rhythms into the music. On Vitalization (2007) Vinny Valentino joined Vital Information on guitar and Smith featured himself on his recently developed konnakol chops along with integrating more Indian rhythms into the music.

Tom Coster, Baron Brown, Vinny Valentino and from me, to everyone of Japan great fan of, Greetings from the heart. The day that can be played for everyone do the tour, we have to band members all looking forward to that one coming soon. Until that day, please enjoy our album "Japan activation live" that I was allowed to provide only for everyone. - Steve Smith
One of the top drummers in the world: the latest live album of veteran all-star band that approaches the Steve Smith to the 30th anniversary of his debut in the nucleus. 3.11 earthquake - indefinitely postponed a visit to Japan tour from the Fukushima nuclear power plant of the present situation, Japan only reconstruction assistance special board that was sent for from four people and its apology. Add the 'You Do not Say' as listen !! bonus the men of the passion that has been put in seven songs and 40 minutes.
[1 bonus song]

Track listing

    1 Seven and a Half 6:35
    2 Time Tunnel 6:25
    3 Positano 5:42
    4 Interwoven Rhythms - Synchronous 4:23
    5 Khanda West 1:56
    6 The Trouble With 7:34
    7 Jimmy Jive 8:05
    8 You Don't Say 3:50

    Total length: 44:30


Steve Smith (drums)
Tom Coster (keyboards)
Baron Browne (bass)
Vinny Valentino (guitar)

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Chick Corea Electric Band - 1990 "Inside Out"

Inside Out is an album by the Chick Corea Elektric Band, released in 1990 through the record label GRP. The album peaked at number six on Billboard's Top Contemporary Jazz Albums chart.

Deep into their collaboration, the Chick Corea Elektric Band takes on another bold set of compositions from Chick, including the ambitious “Tale of Daring” suite. Chick, Eric Marienthal (saxophone), Frank Gambale (guitar), John Patitucci (bass) and Dave Weckl (drums) are a stunning jazz unit, capable of deep, swinging grooves and nimble electric acrobatics. And they throw their all into Chick’s new tunes: the title cut serves as a lush, bracing intro to an endlessly pleasurable set, including the full-band workout on “Kicker.”

Chick Corea's Elektric Band was always a well-intergrated unit, featuring passionate solos from the rockish guitarist Frank Gambale and the R&Bish saxophonist Eric Marienthal in addition to major statements from the distinctive leader who utilized a battery of keyboards yet remained quite recognizable. With John Patitucci (arguably jazz's top electric bassist) and drummer Dave Weckl pushing the ensemble, this pacesetting fusion unit is heard at its peak on these Corea originals. 

"Inside Out" was the Elektric Band's pinnacle. The music is as great as this band got. Those who saw the tour for this cd know, based on the explosiveness of the material live, it appears that the band had the best time during this recording. Before or after this disc the other cds or concerts were not as amazing. The disc doesn't contain many songs but it still is as long as the others. Tale of Daring is the best suite that Corea has ever written including his RTF days. The band is in top form as they move through this piece with each of them displaying amazing improvisational skills in addition to reading Chick's music. The other songs are typical for Chick during this period, that is to say great. This disc should be bought by any fusion fan because there is something for everyone. Great compostion as well as playing should give any musician something to work on. Highly recommended.

The music sound revitalized in this release by the Elektric Band. some of the tracks are reminiscent to the Mahavishnu Orchestra work, with excellent musicianship. Frank Gambale's guitar is at his best, specially the great solo in "The tale of Daring part III" It doesn't have the commercial sound of the other releases by the band. It's a nice introduction to Chick's Elektric Band. 

I have always viewed this album as a bold experiment, aimed at the technical listener. Most of the album walks up to the edge of a cliff, being very atonal or chromatic sounding. If one tried to combine modern jazz, and 20th century atonal classical, this album may very well the the result.

At the time I bought this I was really into smooth jazz, and was put off by all of the complex tonal stuff. Yet I couldn't stop listening to it because of the passion I heard in the playing, especially Frank Gambale and Dave Weckyl. It was the first time I had heard sweep picking and wondered how in the world Frank was playing so fast and yet so cleanly. Even though the dissonance bothered me a little, the musical performances were on fire and kept me listening. It soon won me over and I credit this album with opening my ears to whole new world of tonally complex music, and reviving my passion as a musician, after years of being in a pentatonic / blues rut.

It is not just the tonality, it is the rhythm and geometry of this music that fascinates me. Going from a groove, to tightly coordinated statements with exclamation marks, you won't hear endless repetition here, or a lot of "wandering around, lost" free jazz pieces here. It is well coordinated and bold. I seriously doubt that the average non-musical person would appreciate what is going on here. But it is one of my all time favorites.

Tracks Listing

1. Inside Out (5:13)
2. Make A Wish, Part I (1:39)
3. Make A Wish, Part II (6:19)
4. Stretch It - Part 1 (0:51)
5. Stretch It - Part 2 (7:53)
6. Kicker (5:20)
7. Child's Play (3:30)
8. Tale of Daring - Chapter 1 (2:01)
9. Tale of Daring - Chapter 2 (3:39)
10. Tale of Daring - Chapter 3 (5:48)
11. Tale of Daring - Chapter 4 (4:21)

Total Time 46:34

Line-up / Musicians

- Chick Corea / Piano, Synthesizer
- Eric Marienthal / Saxophone
- Frank Gambale / Guitar
- John Patitucci / Electric Bass
- Dave Weckl / Drums

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Nektar - 1973 [2006] "Remember The Future"

Nektar (German for Nectar) is a 1970s English progressive rock band originally based in Germany.

Remember the Future is the fourth album from English progressive rock band Nektar. It is a concept album featuring one song divided into two parts. On the original LP, each side contained one of the two parts. It was first released in 1973 by Bacillus (Bellaphon).
The album was re-released in 1990 on LP and CD by Germany's Bellaphon. The mix used for this release was the LP mix that was rejected. In 2002 Bellaphon remastered the album from the original tapes and reissued it on CD with two bonus tracks, which were Radio Promo edits. This was the first time that the correct LP mixes were released on CD

The band formed in Hamburg, Germany in 1969. Members included Englishmen Roye Albrighton on guitars and vocals, Allan "Taff" Freeman on keyboards, Derek "Mo" Moore on bass, Ron Howden on drums, and Mick Brockett on lights and special effects. Songwriting was always considered a group effort.
The band's early albums Journey to the Centre of the Eye, A Tab in the Ocean, and ...Sounds Like This were obscure psychedelic rock albums that won the band a growing cult following, based largely on word of mouth. The last of those albums was the first Nektar album to be released in the U.S., on the small Passport Records label.

Nektar's second U.S. release, Remember the Future (1973), propelled the band briefly into mass popularity. A concept album about a blind boy who communicates with an extraterrestrial being, the music was a big leap forward for the band, with a much more melodic sound than on previous albums. It shot into the Top 20 album charts in the U.S. The follow-up album, Down to Earth (1974), was another concept album with a circus theme; it also sold well, breaking into the Top 40 album charts and included Nektar's only song to chart on the Billboard singles charts, "Astral Man". The next album, Recycled (1975), was stylistically close to bands like Gentle Giant and carried on the band's close connection with progressive rock.

Tracks Listing
1. Remember the future (part I) 16:40
 a) Images of the past
 b) Wheel of time
 c) Remember the future
 d) Confusion

2. Remember the future (part II) 18:58
 e) Returning light
 f) Questions and answers
 g) Tomorrow never comes
 h) Path of light
 i) Recognition
 j) Let it grow

Bonus tracks:

3. Lonely Roads 3:50
4. Let it Grow 2:19

Total Time: 35:33


Allan "Taff" Freeman – keyboards, backing vocals
Roye Albrighton – guitars, lead vocals
Derek "Mo" Moore – bass guitar, backing vocals
Ron Howden – drums, percussion, backing vocals
Mick Brockett – lights

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Simon Phillips - 1999 "Out Of The Blue"

Simon Phillips (born 6 February 1957) is an English jazz, pop and rock drummer[1] and producer, best known for his 22-year stint with Toto.

Phillips first started to play professionally at the age of twelve in his father’s Dixieland band for four years. Phillips was the drummer on the 1976 LP 801 Live with Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno. He is also a prolific session drummer, having played for Jeff Beck, The Who, Judas Priest, Tears for Fears, Mike Oldfield and Gary Moore, among others. He was The Who’s drummer in their 1989 American reunion tour. He has released four of his own solo albums. Phillips joined Toto in 1992 after Jeff Porcaro died during rehearsals for an upcoming tour. On January 26, 2014 Phillips left Toto to focus on his own career.
He was inducted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame in 2003 
This live set from Simon Phillips' 1998 European tour captures the drummer fronting an electric quintet and producing some of the most exciting music in his long career. Phillips, who has held stints drumming for everyone from the Who to Toto, shows not only his powerful chops and tasteful execution, but also his commanding leadership abilities as he drives this tight group through its paces. From behind his massive drum set, Phillips succeeds in offering his own take on modern electric jazz with a very creative rhythmic base.

Images of Tony Williams' Lifetime, another drummer-led band, come through on epic tracks like the frantic title track and the aptly titled burner "Another Lifetime." Other tracks, like the opening "Kumi Na Moja" and "Jungle Eyes" offer a distinct world music feel that Phillips produces in this live setting by inventively using a variety of sounds and grooves on his colossal kit. The final blowout number "Midair Decision" is a jaw-dropping energetic display that brings the crowd to a frenzy and caps off a first-rate set that shows just what this world-class stick slinger can really do.

 A friend of mine from the "Weather Channel" (Carl Parker...RUSH AT NISSAN 6/23/07) says: "You gotta OWN: Simon Phillips; : "Symbiosis" SO I special order it from "Tower Records" Several years back. RIP Tower.

Phenomenal disc; Amazing Players, (Phillips, Andy Timmons!!!) Chops, Great Mix of Jazz, Fusion, Rock, Excellent Production, Sound Quality. So I am cruising for some "Lukather" and I see the Live in Tokyo/Japan wherever it was; "Out of the Blue" $35.00! OUCH! I am a fan of great instrumentalists as well as genre bending chops and sonic fury done really well...

Warning: Use HOT PADS putting this CD back in the case...sure to cause Re-entry burns! Play it loud on Klipsch, B&W, JBL, Boston Acostics A system that any confesseed Audiophile can appreciate. Well worth it! 

Simon Phillips has very bad hair, a bit like Michael Bolton or Kenny G .... but don't worry about that - he is a mighty fine drummer, a master exponent of the sprawling double bass drummed drumset. If you liked Cobham from way back when, then listen to this and hear a quality recording and a new twist on fusion. This is a live album, but the recording is very good and sounds great on my hifi. The really big plus is the tracks are all so strong and based on great tunes, riffs and drum patterns. The individual instruments; keybds, guitar, sax etc. are all cutting it, and Phillips just pumps out a solid groove for them to work round - when he solo's though he is awesome. If you have heard his earlier album like Protocol, this is much more musical and far better. I would not restrict my recommendation soley to drum fans (though its a definite purchase for you Mr. Sticksman). If you like 'Jazz' on the Rocky side, played with balls and a hint of 'spandex', then this is for you. Nice work Mr. Phllips ..... now get a hair cut (loose the Leo Sayer look please).

Starting with technical aspect of how this live album is cut: I personally just love it. I enjoy to have not just the music back to back, but - and in this aspect the album is fantastic - the whole band introduction.
Yet, this is the only time the listener is distracted from the great performance of Simon Phillips and the accompanying band members. To name either of them would be equally unfair to all the other. One can hear that they trully have fun at what they are doing, and they are doing it well. The album does bring a lot of the live athmosphere, without some of the bitter side effects of disturbing(!) noises.
If you enjoyed either Protocol, Symbiosis or Another Lifetime, this is an album to buy. 

Courtesy "Original uploader"

Track Listing

  1. Kumi Na Moja
  2. Out Of The Blue
  3. Eyes Blue For You
  4. Band Introductions
  5. Jungleyes
  6. Isis
  7. Indian Summer
  8. Roads Untravelled
  9. Another Lifetime
  10. Midair Decision
  11. Freudian Slip


Simon Phillips - Drums
Andy Timmons - Guitar
Jeff Babko - Keyboard
Wendell Brooks - Sax
Jerry Watts - Bass

Monday, February 15, 2016

Thelonious Monk - 1969 [1990] "Underground"

Underground is a 1968 album by Thelonious Monk. It features Monk on piano, Larry Gales on bass, Charlie Rouse on tenor sax, and Ben Riley on drums.
Although this album is most widely known for its provocative cover image, which depicts Monk as a fictitious French Resistance fighter in the Second World War, it contains a number of new Monk compositions, some of which appear in recorded form only on this album. This is the last Monk album featuring the Thelonious Monk Quartet, and the last featuring Charlie Rouse (who appears on only half the tracks, having missed a recording session to attend his father's funeral).

This release has long been considered Thelonious Monk's acknowledgement to the flourishing youth-oriented subculture from whence the collection takes its name. Certainly the Grammy-winning cover art -- which depicts Monk as a World War II French revolutionary toting an automatic weapon -- gave the establishment more than the brilliant swinging sounds in the grooves to consider. Underground became Monk's penultimate studio album, as well as the final release to feature the '60s quartet: Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Ben Riley (drums), and Larry Gales (bass) behind Monk (piano). One of the motifs running throughout Monk's recording career is the revisitation of titles from his voluminous back catalog. The tradition continues with the autobiographical leadoff track, "Thelonious." The instantly recognizable stride piano lines are delivered with the same urgency and precision that they possessed over two decades earlier when he first recorded the track for Blue Note. The presence of Charlie Rouse throughout the album is certainly worth noting. "Ugly Beauty" best captures the sacred space and musical rapport that he and Monk shared. Each musician functions as an extension of the other, creating solos that weave synchronically as if performed by the same pair of hands. Newer material, such as the playful "Green Chimneys" -- named after the school Monk's daughter attended -- as well as the unbalanced hypnotism of "Raise Four," asserts the timelessness and relevance of Monk's brand of bop. The disc ends as it begins with a new twist on an old favorite. Jon Hendricks -- who provides lyrics and vocals on "In Walked Bud" -- recalls the hustle and bustle of the real and spontaneous underground Harlem jam sessions of the late '40s. It is likewise an apt bookend to this chapter in the professional life of Thelonious Monk

Underground was recorded in 1967, about 20 years into the career of this wholly distinctive and unorthodox pianist-composer. Whenever the understated saxophone talents of Charlie Rouse accompany Thelonious Monk, one is assured of an invigorating set of music--and this collection is no exception. Supported by Larry Gales on bass and the inimitable Ben Riley on drums, Monk and Rouse elaborate on immortal compositions like "Ugly Beauty." On "In Walked Bud," the quartet is joined by vocalist Jon Hendricks. With jagged themes and unusual variations of meter and key, Underground showcases an aging Monk's still-brilliant eccentricity on the piano. A good bit looser than much of Monk's earlier work, he and Rouse infuse this date with their tag-team humor and unrelenting musical enthusiasm.

Definitely not what you'd label as an inaccessible album, this album (which counts "Ugly Beauty", Monk's only recorded waltz-time piece, among its works) constitutes in essence a musical comeback for Monk, who at the time had not released any albums with more than four original compositions since the mid-fifties (more than a decade before).
It's packed with works that range from melancholic and blue ("Easy Street") to joyful ("Green Chimneys"); from "simple" and straightforward (such as the opening track, which actually dates a couple of decades before) to complex and filled with accents (such as "Boo Boo's Birthday.")
All in all, it's an exquisite work of music that you can tap your day away to or sit down and listen carefully to in order to disect it in detail. 

I got this CD as a gift -- this was my introduction to Monk. First couple times I listened to it, I was shocked with his unique style, with his approach to jazz, and with his compositions. The quality of this record is nothing short of stellar. Monk sounds fresh and energized. He seems to be very well-synchronized with the rest of his band, and they make magic. Every musician on this recording is terrific. The rhythm section is solid. The bass player does a few improvisations, especially on Ugly Beauty and Green Chimneys, and it is something you don't hear much of, at least not of this quality. These guys don't miss a beat. Monk is a truly creative player and composer, and this recording really showcases that.
I don't suggest this record as an introduction to jazz, but if you enjoy jazz, this is a good place to start with Monk's work, in my opinion. You may not get into this record until you make a couple passes at listening to it and possibly listening to other good jazz in between different attempts at this record. I feel that listening to Miles Davis really helped me appreciate Monk even more, as weird as this sounds.
I just love this CD. I especially enjoy listening to it over a great pair of headphones because it makes you feel like it's just you and them, without any kind of disturbances or sounds from the outside to distract you from catching and enjoying every tune that emanates from this record.
Buy this remastered version with extra tracks. The sound couldn't be better, and the extra tracks provide more takes of the great tunes that appeared originally on this record.

The remastered sound of Underground's reissue is much cleaner and crisper. The songs were restored to the original recorded length and there are a few bonus tracks added. Oh yeah, the album cover is clearer and closer (which is very important).

I agree with the reviewers that say this is not Monk at his peak, but regardless of that, I think this is one of his best albums. The musicians sound like they are having fun performing and the relaxed approach to the recording takes away from some of the intensity sometimes expressed in some of the classic Monk albums.

There are some nifty liner notes including an explanation behind the album cover and the story surrounding the making of the album.

(about the editing)

I somewhat prefer the edited versions of these songs from the previous release because the songs feel concise to the compositions. That may upset some jazz purists, but frankly a decent solo can get lost in the translation of the recording and end up hurting the overall performance and composition. I think back in those days the musicians expected the solos to get edited (it was a natural part of the recording process). These "unedited" versions that we hear in these re-issues are not necessarily what the musicians intended as the final versions.

Overall, Thelonious Monk's Underground is a terrific album; one of his best and I highly recommend checking it out- edited or unedited.

Track listing (later CD issue)

All songs composed by Thelonious Monk unless otherwise noted.

    "Thelonious" – 3:13
    "Ugly Beauty" – 3:17
    "Raise Four" – 5:47
    "Boo Boo's Birthday" – 5:56
    "Easy Street" (Alan Rankin Jones) – 5:53
    "Green Chimneys" – 9:00
    "In Walked Bud" (Jon Hendricks, Monk) – 4:17


    Thelonious Monk – piano
    Charlie Rouse – tenor saxophone
    Larry Gales – bass
    Ben Riley – drums
    Jon Hendricks – vocals on "In Walked Bud"