Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Moody Blues - 1994 "Time Traveller" [5 CD Box]

Time Traveller is a five-disc compilation album by The Moody Blues. The set is presented in strict chronological order, beginning with the 1966 addition of Justin Hayward and John Lodge (omitting the earlier Denny Laine and Clint Warwick-led R&B period), shortly before the release of Days of Future Passed, and continuing through 1993's A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The set includes several previously unreleased or rare tracks, songs from the Hayward/Lodge album Blue Jays, and a solo track ("Forever Autumn") by Hayward.

The bonus fifth disc contains a contribution to the FIFA album Soccer Rocks the Globe otherwise unavailable on a Moody Blues album, plus eight live recordings that were cut from the original 1993 release of A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra but later included in the 2003 2-CD deluxe re-release of A Night at Red Rocks.

When the Moody Blues were due for the box set treatment, it would have been uncharacteristic for the production to be lacking in overstated grandiosity. On that count, this four-CD retrospective does not disappoint, including the bulk of their most famous work (from their 1967-1972 albums), lots from their later records and side projects, and a few rarities. This package is designed more for the band's fanatics, as opposed to a definitive overview for newcomers; the albums (which were specifically programmed to work as separate entities) remain readily available, there's too much late stuff and Hayward/Blue Jays tracks, and there's nothing from the Denny Laine era. The three non-LP 1967 cuts that open the set are available on the double import LP A Dream (still possible to find), an album that also has the additional 1967 B-side "Really Haven't Got the Time," which somehow doesn't make it onto Time Traveller...The liner notes are pretty good and extensive, and the first printings of the box include a bonus disc of a 1992 concert with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Had several greatest hit s compilation of the moody blues in the past and found this one is absolutely the best version. Leave all the rest on their shelves as this one blows them all away. Liner notes, discography, etc. the best I have seen. Production excellent, each song lovingly restored from analog and digitally remastered as in most box sets today. Each song picked by producer to be favorite. My wife agrees with me that this is her favorite version of this groups anthology. The wife knows 60's and 70's music like I do and we grew up with this group as one of our very favorite. Excellent and would recommend this compilation for any serious moody blues lover or just someone in general who loves good music.

5-CDs with all the key tracks from their albums remastered from the original tapes, salted with some intriguing rarities, such as the first two singles with Justin Hayward, Fly Me High and Love and Beauty; Cities , the B-side of Nights in White Satin (which appears here in its original album mix); Justin Hayward's Forever Autumn from War of the Worlds, and an unreleased track. The set includes a 48-page booklet with notes, credits and photos good for a Tuesday afternoon or two!

Tracks Listing:

DISC ONE
1. Fly Me High
2. Love And Beauty
3. Cities
4. Tuesday Afternoon
5. Nights In White Satin
6. Ride My See-Saw
7. Legend Of A Mind
8. House Of Four Doors
9. Voices In The Sky
10. The Best Way To Travel
11. The Actor
12. In The Beginning
13. Lovely To See You
14. Dear Diary
15. Never Comes The Day
16. Are You Sitting Comfortably
17. The Dream
18. Have You Heard Part 1
19. The Voyage
20. Have You Heard Part 2

DISC TWO
21. Higher And Higher
22. Gypsy
23. Eyes Of A Child
24. Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Hundred
25. Beyond
26. Out And In
27. Candle Of Life
28. Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Million
29. Watching And Waiting
30. Question
31. Don't You Feel Small
32. It's Up To You
33. Minstrel's Song
34. Dawning Is The Day
35. Melancholy Man
36. Procession
37. The Story In Your Eyes
38. One More Time To Live
39. You Can never Go Home
40. My Song

DISC THREE
41. Lost In A Lost World
42. New Horizons
43. For My Lady
44. Isn't Life Strange
45. You And Me
46. I'm Just A Singer
47. This Morning
48. Remember Me, My Friend
49. My Brother
50. Saved By The Music
51. I Dreamed Last Night
52. When You Wake Up
53. Blue Guitar
54. Steppin' In A Slide Zone
55. Driftwood
56. The Day We Meet Again

DISC FOUR
57. Forever Autumn /
58. The Voice
59. Talking Out Of Turn
60. Gemini Dream
61. Blue World
62. Sitting At The Wheel
63. Running Water
64. Your Wildest Dreams
65. The Other Side Of Life
66. I Know You're Out There Somewhere
67. No More Lies
68. Say It With Love
69. Bless The Wings
70. Lean On Me
71. Highway

DISC FIVE: BONUS DISC
72. This Is The Moment
Encore - Live at Red Rocks:
73. The Story In Your Eyes
74. Voices In The Sky
75. New Horizons
76. Emily's Song
77. Bless The Wings
78. Say It With Love
79. Legend Of A Mind
80. Gemini Dream

Line-up / Musicians:

- Justin Hayward / guitars, vocals
- John Lodge / bass guitar, vocals
(except on Disc Three, track 13 and Disc Four, track 1)
- Ray Thomas / harmonica, flute, vocals
(except on Disc Three, tracks 7-13 and Disc Four, track 1)
- Graeme Edge / drums, percussion (except on Disc Three, tracks 7-13 and Disc Four, track 1)
- Mike Pinder / keyboards and vocals on Disc One, Disc Twoand Disc Three, tracks 1-6 and tracks 14-16
- Patrick Moraz / keyboards on Disc Four, tracks 2-11

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Paul Gilbert - 2008 "Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar"

Paul Brandon Gilbert (born November 6, 1966 in Illinois, USA) is an American guitarist. He is well known for his technical guitar work with Racer X and Mr. Big, as well as many solo albums and numerous collaborations and guest appearances with other musicians.

Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar is the second full length instrumental album and 8th overall by hard rock guitarist Paul Gilbert.

You never quite know what style of guitar playing is going to greet you when you put on a new Paul Gilbert disc, as he's tackled blues, pop, and acoustic pieces in the past. But on his 2008 release, Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar, Gilbert focuses on what made him such a renowned player among guitar shredders worldwide in the first place, as he totally focuses on his soloing and riffing capabilities (and goes "all instrumental," to boot). It may be 2008, but such tunes as the album-opening title track and "Eudaimonia Overture" could have easily come out in 1988, and probably would have caught the attention of every Guitar for the Practicing Musician subscriber at the time. And there are even a few tranquil moments ("Bronx 1971") and oddities (the piano-led "The Gargoyle") thrown in for good measure. Paul Gilbert remains one of rock guitar's top gymnasts, as evidenced throughout Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar.

Hot on the heels of his successful Get Out Of My Yard CD, Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar is the second all instrumental CD by guitarist Paul Gilbert. This record was recorded after Gilbert wowed guitar lovers on the legendary G3 tour in support of Joe Satriani where Gilbert confirmed to a younger audience what Gilbert fans have known for over 20 years…. that Paul Gilbert is simply one of the greatest guitarists on the planet today.

This is my first Paul Gilbert cd, so I didn't know what to expect before I bought it. Based on the reviews here, I bought it sound unheard. Overall, I am not disappointed. Mr. Gilbert is an incredible technician and a generally superior song writer. If you like Marty Friedman, Satriani, Vai, Eric Johnson, Vinnie Moore, Eddie Van Halen, Rush, Jeff Beck, Joey Tafolla, George Lynch, even Carlos Santana, you'll like this CD because it has shades of them all. Which makes this a unique CD among instrumental guitar rock/shred albums. Lots of rock musical influences seem to have been put on display here--almost as if Gilbert were paying tribute--and blended in an original, highly skillful way. That feature is also my only real criticism of this CD (tho it's a small one): I am left with an unsure sense of Mr. Gilbert's own melodic style. Or perhaps this ecclectic fushion blending IS his style. Certainly, I've never heard anything like it on any instrumental guitar rock/shred album. This CD definitely makes me want to go out and check out his other stuff!

Another thing about this album: Gilbert's melodic compositional quality is so high that you almost expect these tracks to become guitar solos going with vocal rock songs. Probably the best blend of technical prowess and melodic sensibility that I've ever heard in this genre, with perhaps the exception of Vinnie Moore (neoclassical shred, Mind's Eye), Marty Friedman (Dragon's Kiss) or Eric Johnson (Venus Isle).

I was a little apprehensive when I got this CD even though I knew of Paul from Mr. Big and the Racer X days. I had never really appreciated or listened to any of his work closely.

This CD is simply amazing. Frankly I think this is the best instrumental guitar album I've ever heard. I am a huge Satriani and Vai fan but to be honest they haven't really grabbed me in quite a while.

This CD showcases many different styles of music, and I hear bits of Beck, Vai, Petrucci, Lifeson, Morse.. but don't get me wrong. Paul definitely has his own extremely unique style. I've never really heard an album in this genre that was so diverse, at times shred, funk, blues, jazz, rock, space guitar.

Track listing:

01. "Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar" Paul Gilbert 3:48
02. "Eudaimonia Overture" Gilbert, J.S. Bach 4:35
03. "The Rhino" Gilbert 2:46
04. "Norwegian Cowbell" Gilbert 4:06
05. "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Gilbert 3:50
06. "Bronx 1971" Gilbert 4:04
07. "Suite Modale" Ernest Bloch 2:38
08. "The Gargoyle" Gilbert 4:35
09. "I Still Have That Other Girl" Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach 2:52
10. "Bultaco Saturno" Gilbert 4:13
11. "Paul Vs. Godzilla" Gilbert 4:52

Total length: 42:19

Track 2 ends with a complete performance of Bach's Prelude in G major from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1.

Musicians:

Paul Gilbert - Guitar, Producer
Mike Szuter - Bass
Jeff Bowders - Drums
Emi Gilbert - Hammond B3, Piano

Friday, December 29, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - 1969 "It's A Beautiful Day"

It's a Beautiful Day is the self-titled debut album by San Francisco Records psychedelic band It's a Beautiful Day. This album's song "White Bird" was the band's biggest hit. The album rose to #47 on Billboard's Top LPs American albums chart.

The cover, designed by George Hunter and painted by Kent Hollister, was based on the 1912 painting Woman on the Top of a Mountain by Charles Courtney Curran. The design used an old version of the Columbia Records logo that George Hunter felt fitted better with the feel of the rest of the cover. The album cover is number 24 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 greatest album covers. The Girl can also be seen in the background on the cover of Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service.

A 1972 reissue of the album in the Netherlands on CBS used a modern painting of a beach scene as the front and back cover because the original cover art of the first two It's A Beautiful Day albums became the sole property of San Francisco Records. IABD was formed by Matthew Katz and the group had a record contract with San Francisco Sound Records. Katz settled with CBS where in it was agreed that "In No Event Will CBS Duplicate The Cover Art or Duplicate The Same songs as included in those two albums." The same is true of the first two Moby Grape albums which are all part or the same court settlement. The only legal source for those IABD and Moby Grape albums are from San Francisco Sound.

The group's signature song "White Bird" was inspired by the experiences David and Linda LaFlamme had while living in Seattle, Washington. For a few weeks in December 1967 the group members lived in the attic of an old house while playing and rehearsing at a Seattle venue originally known as The Encore Ballroom. The band's manager Matthew Katz had recently assumed control over the club and renamed it "San Francisco Sound". In an ironic twist on the band's name, the song was partly inspired by Seattle's rainy winter weather. In a later interview David LaFlamme said:

Where the 'white bird' thing came from ... We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.

A substantial part of the theme and arrangement of the song "Bombay Calling" was used by Deep Purple as the basis for their song "Child in Time".

Although they are not one of the better-known San Francisco bands to have emerged from the ballroom circuit of the late '60s and early '70s, It's a Beautiful Day were no less memorable for their unique progressive rock style that contrasted well with the Bay Area psychedelic scene. Led by David LaFlamme (flute/violin/vocals) and his wife, Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), the six-piece unit on this album vacillates between light and ethereal pieces such as the lead-off cut, "White Bird," to the heavier, prog rock-influenced "Bombay Calling." One of the most distinct characteristics of It's a Beautiful Day is their instrumentation. The prominence of David LaFlamme -- former violin soloist with the Utah Symphony and original member of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks -- adds a refinement to It's a Beautiful Day's sound. Likewise, the intricate melodies -- mostly composed by the LaFlammes -- are structured around the band's immense virtuosity, a prime example being the exquisitely haunting harpsichord-driven "Girl With No Eyes." The noir framework, as well as lyrics such as "...she's just a reflection of all of the time I've been high," point rather candidly to the hallucinogenic nature of the song's -- if not the band's -- influences. The same can be said of the languidly eerie "Bulgaria." The almost chant-like quality of the track slowly crescendos into an hypnotic and dreamlike sonic journey -- led by LaFlamme's brilliant violin work. By virtue of being a Bay Area fixture in the late '60s, It's a Beautiful Day could also easily double as a hippie dance band -- which they can also execute with great aplomb -- as the wildly up-tempo "Time Is" amply proves. It's a Beautiful Day remains as a timepiece and evidence of how sophisticated rock & roll had become in the fertile environs of the San Francisco music scene.

Track Listing:

  1. White Bird
  2. Hot Summer Day
  3. Wasted Union Blues
  4. Girl With No Eyes
  5. Bombay Calling
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Time Is

Personnel:

David LaFlamme – violin, flute, lead vocals
Linda LaFlamme – acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, celeste, harpsichord
Hal Wagenet – guitars
Mitchell Holman – bass, harmonica, backing vocals
Val Fuentes – drums, backing vocals
Pattie Santos – percussion, bells, backing vocals
Bruce Steinberg – harmonica

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ralph Towner - 1975 [2008] "Solstice"

Solstice is an album by the American guitarist Ralph Towner that was released on the ECM label in 1975. It features Towner with Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber and Jon Christensen.

This is arguably the first recording to fully flesh out the aural expanse for which ECM has come to be known. Although I am well aware of the immense groundswell of musical activity that was the 1970s, certainly an album like this was a refreshing and altogether mind-altering experience for those fortunate enough to be young musical explorers at the time. Featuring a lineup of musicians who would go on to weave ECM’s significance into the fabric of time, Solstice is a tour de force of musicianship, writing, arrangement, and recording.

Each track is brimming with life and features the sensitive application of a variety of instrumental combinations and studio savvy. “Oceanus” showcases Garbarek in his prime, soaring with an unbridled emotional register. As always, Towner’s 12-string speaks in 360 degrees. Superb drumming from Christensen complements lush melodic lines from Weber, who stretches a melodic cello into infinity while his bass arises like the conical aftereffect of a water droplet. “Visitation” clouds this ardor in a nocturnal vision filled with laughing spirits. “Drifting Petals” is a slow progression, a timid look out onto a dusty plain where the promise of freedom looms larger than the possibility of danger. But then an elder’s advice rings in our ears and pushes us onward. Feet move of their volition and pull us into the ever-receding horizon as the first drops of a squall streak across our foreheads. Towner proves again that his piano musings are not to be taken lightly, as they make for one of the most evocative tracks on the album. A transcendental 12-string solo (with gentle dimensional support from Weber) opens “Nimbus,” soon blossoming into a flourish of flutes, drums, and a bowed bass that cries with the grating fluidity of a sarangi. Garbarek’s sax joins in the fray and lets loose its harmonious fire. The deftly overdubbed flutes return, spreading their wings for a few moments before fluttering off into the distance. “Winter Solstice,” “Piscean Dance,” and “Red and Black” comprise a triptych of duets: the first for classical guitar and sax, the second a prime jam for 12-string and drums, and the third for 12-string and bass. “Sand” ends our cosmic journey with one of Garbarek’s deepest meditations for sax set to the strangely compelling ululations of Christensen’s flexatone lolling about in the background.

Melodically robust while structurally yielding, this is an album to be treasured and is a must-listen for anyone desiring to know what ECM is all about. An astounding meeting of musical minds if there ever was one.

When Ralph Towner burst onto the contemporary jazz scene in the mid-70s, listeners were well aware of his awesome talent as a member of Oregon. But when Solstice was issued on the ECM label, it took the brilliant guitarist's caché to a much higher level, especially as a composer. With the otherworldly curved soprano sax and flute playing of Jan Garbarek, the precise drumming of Jon Christensen, and unique bass sounds of Eberhard Weber, the music on this album lifted the ECM/Euro-styled jazz and improvised music to a new realm of pure expressionism. Simply put -- this music is stunningly beautiful. The incredible "Oceanus" begins with Towner's cascading guitar, followed by the swelling and symphonic bass of Weber, a swinging drum line by Christensen with Garbarek's atmospheric and dramatic curved soprano layering contrasting timbres, symmetry, and unusual colors. "Nimbus" opens with some astounding technical harmonics from Towner, more so considering the acoustic nature of his instrument. A circular theme in implied 3/4 underneath 4/4 leads to overdubbed flutes from Garbarek, bowed bass, the curved soprano in 6/8 all identifying the pure ECM sound. "Piscean Dance" is a funky workout between Towner and Christensen, the earthiest track on the date, and an exercise of intuitive confluence. Other portions of the disc are space oriented like the loose, free and haunting "Red & Black," "Visitation" with multiple percussion sounds of flexatone and shakers under Weber's bowed bass and Garbarek's alien dragonfly flute, while Weber's "Sand" has the musicians staring at the Crab Nebula while firmly rooted in a strut later in the piece. Towner's wondrous piano is heard on "Drifting Petals," a pretty and pensive waltz with unison lines alongside Garbarek's flute, then Towner switches to guitar in a deeper discourse with the quartet. As cold as the Norwegian studio (Oslo) they were recording in, "Winter Solstice" is not so much profound as it is telepathic, as the players use stop-start techniques, again inserting a 3/4 rhythm into a 4/4 equation. Of the many excellent recordings he has offered, Solstice is Towner's crowning achievement as a leader fronting this definitive grouping of ECM stablemates who absolutely define the label's sound for the time frame, and for all time.

Down Beat: “Solstice inspires through its expressive openness… revealing depth of texture, nuance and meaning.” Perfect Sound Forever: “The LP is not only one of the moodiest ever published by ECM, but by anyone.” Solstice, recorded 1974, belongs to the great early production projects of ECM, with a new band formed in the studio. It’s the first of Towner’s recorded encounters with the European players, and this US-Norwegian-German quartet has a character all its own. Ralph’s synthesis of classical guitar technique and jazz improvisational skills inspires all participants on now-famous tunes including “Nimbus” and “Oceanus”. (Many future associations grew out of this meeting, including the Garbarek/Towner collaboration on Dis, and the integration of Eberhard Weber into the Jan Garbarek Group, and of Jon Christensen into Weber’s Colours band.)

Track listing:

All compositions by Ralph Towner except where noted.

1. "Oceanus" – 11:04
2. "Visitation" – 2:36
3. "Drifting Petals" – 7:01
4. "Nimbus" – 6:31
5. "Winter Solstice" – 4:02
6. "Piscean Dance" – 4:15
7. "Red and Black" – 1:19
8. "Sand" (Eberhard Weber) – 4:10

Personnel:

Ralph Towner – 12-string and classical guitar, piano
Jan Garbarek – tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
Eberhard Weber – bass, cello
Jon Christensen – drums, percussion

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

John Coltrane - 1957 [1985] "Blue Train"

Blue Train is a studio album by John Coltrane, released in 1958 on Blue Note Records, catalogue BLP 1577. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, it is the only Blue Note recording by Coltrane as the leader on the session. It has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.

The album was recorded in the midst of Coltrane's residency at the Five Spot as a member of the Thelonious Monk quartet. The personnel include Coltrane's Miles Davis bandmates, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, both of whom had worked before with pianist Kenny Drew. Both trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller were up-and-coming jazz musicians, and both would be members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, working together on several of Blakey's albums.

All of the compositions were written by Coltrane, with the exception of the standard "I'm Old Fashioned". The title track is a long, rhythmically variegated blues with a sentimental [quasi minor; in fact based on major chords with flat tenth, or raised ninth] theme that gradually shows the major key during Coltrane's first chorus. "Locomotion" is also a blues riff tune, in forty-four-bar form. During a 1960 interview, Coltrane described Blue Train as his favorite album of his own up to that point.

Although never formally signed, an oral agreement between John Coltrane and Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion was indeed honored on Blue Train -- Coltrane's only collection of sides as a principal artist for the venerable label. The disc is packed solid with sonic evidence of Coltrane's innate leadership abilities. He not only addresses the tunes at hand, but also simultaneously reinvents himself as a multifaceted interpreter of both hard bop as well as sensitive balladry -- touching upon all forms in between. The personnel on Blue Train is arguably as impressive as what they're playing. Joining Coltrane (tenor sax) are Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Kenny Drew (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). The triple horn arrangements incorporate an additional sonic density that remains a trademark unique to both this band and album. Of particular note is Fuller's even-toned trombone, which bops throughout the title track as well as the frenetic "Moments Notice." Other solos include Paul Chambers' subtly understated riffs on "Blue Train" as well as the high energy and impact from contributions by Lee Morgan and Kenny Drew during "Locomotion." The track likewise features some brief but vital contributions from Philly Joe Jones -- whose efforts throughout the record stand among his personal best. Of the five sides that comprise the original Blue Train, the Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer ballad "I'm Old Fashioned" is the only standard; in terms of unadulterated sentiment, this version is arguably untouchable. Fuller's rich tones and Drew's tastefully executed solos cleanly wrap around Jones' steadily languid rhythms. Without reservation, Blue Train can easily be considered in and among the most important and influential entries not only of John Coltrane's career, but of the entire genre of jazz music as well.

Maybe it’s the blueness of the cover, or its chamber-like sound, but John Coltrane’s Blue Train, like Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, frequently puts listeners in a reflective mood.

The cover photo of Blue Train, Coltrane’s second album as a leader and the only recording he made for Blue Note, shows the saxophonist seemingly deep in thought, his face, arms and shoulders, and the mouthpiece of his instrument, saturated in a blue chiaroscuro. It’s a profound album cover, probably one of the greatest ever printed.

The session found Coltrane at an important juncture in his career. About four months earlier, he had quit using heroin, and at the time of Blue Train’s recording, he was performing regularly at the Five Spot in New York in Thelonious Monk’s quartet. It’s probably safe to assume that his newfound sobriety, coupled with the influence of Monk’s awkwardly refined sense of harmony, gave Coltrane a lot to think about.

On Blue Train, Coltrane is in very good company. To start, there are his two old bandmates from the Miles Davis Quintet, drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Paul Chambers. (Davis had kicked Coltrane out of his group about five months prior to this recording.) Pianist Kenny Drew fills out the rhythm section, while trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller (the only player from this session who’s still alive) complete the front line.

The title track, a haunting 10-minute blues, establishes Coltrane as one of the great interpreters of the form in jazz. In its starkness, it feels like a nod to the modal music Coltrane would later play, most notably on the 1961 album My Favorite Things. Still, Coltrane solos with lots of notes, using long tones and uneven phrases—and he sounds restless, as though he is trying to keep hold of all the ideas sloshing around in his mind. Morgan enters after Coltrane, with a spare and memorable opener. (He was very good at those. Listen to his solo on the title track of Art Blakey’s Moanin’, a Blue Note release recorded a year later, for another instance.)

On “Locomotion,” the album’s third track, Morgan explodes like a firecracker into a suspenseful, eight-bar break. His ensuing solo is an intricate braid of sound; his phrases never tangle. (Such virtuosity prompted the critic A.B. Spellman to describe Morgan’s performance as “one of the great jazz trumpet solos.”) The trumpeter’s brassy articulation serves as a good foil to Fuller’s smooth, soft-toned lyricism on trombone.

“Moment’s Notice,” another Coltrane original with fast-moving chord changes, presages the recording of “Giant Steps”—Coltrane’s impossibly methodical composition that now exists almost solely for pedagogical purposes—by about two years. “Lazy Bird,” too, which supposedly draws from Tadd Dameron’s “Lady Bird” (which, in turn, draws from the standard “Have You Met Miss Jones?”) is another bellwether of Coltrane’s intensely focused attention to harmony.

And then there is the ballad “I’m Old Fashioned,” the only track on the album that Coltrane didn’t write. It is simply lovely. Coltrane could play very sweetly when he wanted to, and this song marks the musician as a refined and sensitive ballad player—one of the best in jazz.

To call Blue Train a hard bop album, as many have done, sort of misses the point of Coltrane’s singular, and expansive, vision. Coltrane was not a hard bop musician, just like his then-boss, Thelonious Monk, cannot be described as a bebop musician, although he recorded with Charlie Parker, Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. If you want to try to understand Coltrane, it helps to look atBlue Train almost as a living thing, a signpost indicating some of the many roads he would explore in the 10 years before his early death. But it also exists just fine on its own.

Track listing:

1. Blue Train 10:40
2. Moment's Notice 9:08
3. Locomotion 7:12
4. I'm Old Fashioned 7:55
5. Lazy Bird 7:04

Personnel:

John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
Lee Morgan – trumpet
Curtis Fuller – trombone
Kenny Drew – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Eric Johnson - 1990 "Ah Via Musicom"

Ah Via Musicom is the third studio album by guitarist Eric Johnson, released in 1990 through Capitol Records. The album reached No. 67 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remained on that chart for 60 weeks. All four singles charted on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, with three of them being top 10 hits: "High Landrons" at No. 31, "Righteous" at No. 8, "Cliffs of Dover" at No. 5 and "Trademark" at No. 7. "Cliffs of Dover" went on to win the Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1992 Grammys.

"Cliffs of Dover" has endured as Johnson's best-known song and is a mainstay at his concerts. It was ranked No. 17 in a list of "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" by Guitar World magazine, No. 34 in a list of "50 greatest guitar tones of all time" by Guitarist magazine, and remains a highly regarded staple within the guitar community.

Several other songs are dedicated to fellow guitarists: Johnson stated in a March 1990 interview with Guitar Player magazine that "Steve's Boogie" is dedicated to Austin-based pedal steel guitarist Steve Hennig, while "Song for George" is dedicated to an 80-year-old guitarist friend of his named George Washington. Furthermore, "East Wes" is dedicated to jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, and takes its name from the 1966 album East-West by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

After being overlooked on his debut, Tones, guitarist Eric Johnson burst onto the airwaves with the surprising hit "Cliffs of Dover." Armed with excellent chops and a clear tone, Johnson took a tired formula and made it sound fresh again. Despite his talents on the fret board, he plays with great restraint and chose to explore a variety of styles, including rock, pop, blues, country, and jazz. While his singing is not quite as interesting as his guitar playing, it is not obtrusive and is at times quite pleasing. This recording has reached near-classic proportions within the guitar community.

Everyone from Carole King to Cat Stevens borrowed Eric's electrifying licks, but he finally got his own moment in the sun when this LP hit in '90. A masterwork of heavy rock fusion (with excursions into country and blues), it topped many a chart that year and went multi-platinum; it now returns on 180-gram audiophile vinyl, mastered from the original tapes. Includes Cliffs of Dover; Desert Rose; Trademark; Righteous; Forty Mile Town ; the title track, and more six-string heroics!

Eric Johnson is a guitar virtuoso. He is mostly known for his proficiency on the electric guitar. His playing style would tend to put him in the category of guitar "shredder". Eric is not from the pure "shredder" school where a lot of the playing consists of running various muscial scales at blistering speed. I rate Eric's use of shredding as being more melodic and soulful. He uses it when it fits the context of the song or passage being played. In other words, he doesn't make his living shredding, but it is a tool he uses when appropriate. I would consider this CD to be his signature CD. Nice blend of instrumentals as well as vocal songs. His best known piece, "Cliffs of Dover" is outstanding. Kind of a blend of Jimi Hendrix meets Mozart. Beautiful classical sounding melody done on a searing guitar.

Track listing:

01 Ah Via Musicom 2:04
02 Cliffs Of Dover 4:10
03 Desert Rose 4:55
04 High Landrons 5:46
05 Steve´s Boogie 1:51
06 Trademark 4:45
07 Nothing Can Keep Me From You 4:23
08 Song For George 1:47
09 Righteous 3:27
10 Forty Mile Town 4:13
11 East Wes 3:28

Personnel:

Eric Johnson – lead vocals (tracks 3, 4, 7, 10), guitar, piano, electric sitar, arrangement, engineering, production
Jody Lazo – vocals (tracks 7, 10)
Steven Hennig – guitar (track 5)
Steve Barber – keyboard, synthesizer, arrangement
Tommy Taylor – drums (tracks 1–7, 9–11), percussion (tracks 4, 7, 10), arrangement
Paul Bissell – percussion (track 1)
James Fenner – percussion (tracks 10, 11)
Roscoe Beck – bass (tracks 1, 3, 7, 9, 10), arrangement
Kyle Brock – bass (tracks 2–6, 11), arrangement
Reggie Witty – bass (track 7), arrangement
Wee Willie – harmonica

Monday, December 25, 2017

Various Artists - 1997 "Yule Be Boppin'", Bluenote

This is one of the better Christmas jazz collections available. The 15 selections each utilize different artists and were recorded especially for this CD. Kurt Elling's version of Steve Allen's "Cool Yule," and Pat Martino's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Javon Jackson's "Santa Baby," Bobby Watson and Jack Walrath on "Cristo Redentor," and Charlie Hunter's solo guitar version of "Christmas Time Is Here" are highlights. Other featured players include Dianne Reeves ("Jingle Bells"), Eliane Elias (romping on "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"), Bob Dorough (remaking "Blue X-Mas"), Fareed Haque, Sweet Daddy Lowe, Judi Silvano, Jacky Terrasson, Benny Green, Miles Griffith, Rachelle Ferrell and Joe Lovano. An excellent set of mostly offbeat versions of seasonal favorites.

For that hardened jazz boho on your list, this 15-piece slab serves up a lot of cool yule trimmings. There are goodies for baddies here, including Javon Jackson, who takes you on a drum-lead, saxophone-improv trip during "Santa Baby," exploring all the nooks and crannies of Santa's workshop. Bob Dorough reprises the cynical classic "Blue X-Mas" while Sweet Daddy Love and the Blue Note Ad Hoc Orchestra revisit that beatnik staple "Bebop Santa Claus." Other noteworthy tracks include Jacky Terrasson soulfully welding "Adeste Fideles" and "Little Drummer Boy" in a groovin' orgy of organ-chased gospel rhythms and sprite piano riffs. No hip set would be complete without "Zat You, Santa Claus?", here handled admirably by Benny Green and Miles Griffith (although no one can lay a finger on Louis Armstrong's version). Cool stuff, even for nonjazz stiffs.

A later Blue Note take on the Holiday sound – but one that features some surprisingly nice numbers by artists who were on the label's roster during the 90s! There's a spirit here that takes us back to older Holiday jazz albums – a feel that's never too slick or gimmicky, and which shows a genuine feel for the music without tricking it out too much. Titles include "Christmastime Is Here" by Charlie Hunter, "Peace On Earth" by Rachelle Ferrell, "Cristo Redentor" by Bobby Watson, "Carol Of The Bells" by Joe Lovano, "Blue X-Mas" by Bob Dorough, "Zat You Santa Claus" by Benny Green, "Santa Baby" by Javon Jackson, and "Cool Yule" by Kurt Elling. (Out of print.)

Track listing:

01 –Kurt Elling Cool Yule 3:27
02 –Pat Martino Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4:27
03 –Dianne Reeves Jingle Bells 2:09
04 –Eliane Elias I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm 4:28
05 –Bob Dorough Blue X-mas 5:37
06 –Fareed Haque You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch 5:25
07 –Javon Jackson Santa Baby 4:19
08 –Sweet Daddy Lowe And The Blue Note Ad Hoc Orchestra Be-Bop Santa Claus 4:28
09 –Judi Silvano I'd Like You For Christmas 4:49
10 –Jacky Terrasson 'Adeste Fideles / Little Drummer Boy' Jam 3:27
11 –Benny Green featuring Miles Griffith Zat You Santa Claus 3:33
12 –Bobby Watson (2) / Jack Walrath Cristo Redentor 7:18
13 –Rachelle Ferrell Peace On Earth 4:19
14 –Charlie Hunter Christmas Time Is Here 4:04
15 –Joe Lovano Carol Of The Bells 4:35

Friday, December 22, 2017

Chick Corea - 1968 [2002] "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs"

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is a jazz piano trio album by Chick Corea, released December 1968 on Solid State Records. In more recent times, it was acquired by EMI/Blue Note and reissued on CD with bonus tracks. The musicians on this album are Corea (piano), Miroslav Vitouš (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums). Aside from the jazz standard "My One and Only Love" and Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica", all tracks are original compositions (with some being non-composed free improvisations, such as "The Law of Falling and Catching Up" or "Fragments"). The same line-up recorded on ECM Records in 1981 Trio Music and in 1986 Trio Music, Live in Europe.

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is among the greatest piano trio albums ever released. Recorded in 1968, the record firmly established Chick as a pianist and composer with a unique vision, one that floated free of traditional genre distinctions and conventions, into new and thrilling territory. With veteran drummer Roy Haynes and brilliant bassist Miroslav Vitous, Chick creates a new language of his own, instantly recognizable from the first, classic cymbal flourish and piano run of “Matrix.” The trio is locked in, totally attuned to each other, and operating at a tremendous level. This is jazz of the highest order.

Corea had been paying his dues for over half a decade, developing great affinity for Afro-Cuban Jazz while working with Mongo Santamaria, and Sonny Stitt among others, composed, arranged and in the process greatly incrementing the dimension of albums such as Blue Mitchell’s “Boss Horn”, seen his compositions recorded by the likes of Hubert Laws, Donald Byrd or by his for a while boss Stan Getz and even released his 1st album as a leader – which was given the title of one of those songs from the Mitchell’ album-, an album where he used a band format to work on his songs;
           he’d been enchanting all those who contacted his music, with his talent, vitality, virtuosity and a new perspective in composing and making the pieces unfold; this perspective had points in common with Coltrane’s open 4tet explorations and in particular with McCoy Tyner’s style, but Corea’s vision eventually included some other stylistic appendices; this album displays several ways of reformulating those concepts while working on  a platform  he hadn’t tested yet and at the end of the day was the beginning of a long lasting and productive trio friendship.

If Corea is adventurous his partners never let him down either: 6 years his junior, Miroslav Vitous the 20 years old Czech bass player is all but conventional, accompanies with intricate and meandering restlessly walking or running lines and his explorative solos as on “Matrix” or even better on the pair of “Now He…” , are the epitome of creative abandon; as for the some 15 years his senior Roy Haynes, his vast experience brought him all but stiffness, as boldly and flexibly he either keeps the beat with unrelenting ride cymbal drive and sporadic, unexpected,  sensitive and perfectly timed inspired rolls or he jumps up front to argument on the meaning of the piece.

Consisting of only five tracks the album is launched at breakneck velocity with Hard-bop virtuosity by the almost 14 minutes long tour-de-force “Steps-What Was”; on the 2nd part after a drum solo, Corea flirts with fragments of and delineates what “Spain” would become, both with overtly similar melodies and in a preview of its harmonic and rhythmic complexity; on the title track the pianist alternatively  conveys joy and pain with open and glad major intervals or with closed, altered minor  and weeping chords; his control of the shades of harmony is incremented with impressionistic Classical instincts on “Now He Beats…” either conveying aggressiveness  or lyricism, before Vitous and Haynes enter midway through the 10 minutes-plus piece and without interfering with the pianist’s shifting states-of-mind, and turning abstraction into organic pulsations install a communal vision which allows them to alter the mood or at the snap of a finger  revert to it;

“The Law of Falling…” are 2 ½ minutes of avant-garde, Musique Concrète, knocking and hammering on piano and bass strings and on the instruments wood proper, sweeping chimes, brisk pizzicato runs and drum rolls, a brief and in no way painful glimpse at still other alternative routes, yet what’s impressive, and if not enlightening definitely stupefying, is  how an album where  only one theme - “Matrix” with its Tyner-esque Hard-Bop adventures -, was rehearsed in a conventional manner, yielded such a bountiful crop of land marking and earmarking case-study material, admittedly mostly spontaneously created by improvising atop and around mere sketches.
This mix of mechanical empathy and creative impetus famously impressed Miles, who a couple of months later would use Corea’s piano talent for the 1st of his participations on “Kilimanjaro”

“Now He Sings…” with Bonus Tracks
…To increment amazement levels  on all of us common mortals, the rest of the pieces recorded during the 3 dates that the sessions for the album lasted ,and which had not been used, have been added as bonus tracks on the CD reissue: from the Oriental tainted and flutteringly Boppish “Samba Yantra”, and the elliptic Bossa with purposely understated but nevertheless solid time-keeping of “Bossa”, to the controlled explosion of 20th Century Classical and Avant-Garde instincts on  “Fragments”, and the modulations on a succession of opening and closing frames on the beautiful and uplifting “Windows”, past the 2 parted improvisational experiment for piano and bass of “Gemini” and up to a new found virtuosity without loosing the sentiment on a take on Monk’s “Pannonica” and a quasi-dysfunctional  but consistently effective love statement on “My One and Only Love”, this is almost a doubling of the pleasure….

In 1999, the single "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" was given the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=chick+corea

Track listing:

01 Steps-What Was (13:50)
02 Matrix (6:28)
03 Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (7:03)
04 Now He Beats The Drum-Now He Stops (10:35)
05 The Law Of Falling And Catching Up (2:28)
06 Samba Yantra (2:41)
07 Bossa (4:45)
08 I Don't Know (2:43)
09 Fragments (4:04)
10 Windows (3:12)
11 Gemini (4:24)
12 Pannonica (3:00)
13 My One And Only Love (3:34)

Personnel:

Chick Corea – Piano
Roy Haynes – Drums
Miroslav Vitous – Bass

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Kazumi Watanabe - 1987 [2016] "The Spice Of Life"

The Spice of Life is an album by jazz fusion guitarist Kazumi Watanabe, with Jeff Berlin on bass and Bill Bruford on drums. It was originally released in 1987, under the PolyGram label.

This album features the power trio of K. Watanabe on all guitars & guitar synths, fantastic bassist Jeff Berlin and Bill Bruford who was the drummer for the classic rock band Yes. By the time Kazumi Watanabe expanded beyond jazz to join the fusion movement, it was the '80s and fusion had all but died in The States. It was a pure delight to see this man keep fusion alive with a mixture of rock, the hard-driving beats and rythms of the '80s which kept the music current in its time and updated the sound that had once been the property of the '70s..........and of course, the jazz influence is solid throughout this recording. Watanabe is a tremendous guitar talent who is too often overlooked. His blistering hot guitar work shines with a knowledge of American culture while he slips in a definite Japanese flavor in his music........sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. An incredible album!!! On a scale of 1-5 stars, this album deserves 10 stars!!! I also agree with other reviewers that the sequel album "Spice of Life Too" was a weak and disappointing follow-up to this supurb album. I haven't bothered to pick it up on CD, because even with the addition of a keyboardist, the music was uninspired and lackluster.......worth 3 stars at best........but again, THIS album, the ORIGINAL "Spice of Life" deserves 10 stars on a scale of 1-5 stars!!! An excellent piece of work!!!

This album features the power trio of K. Watanabe on all guitars & guitar synths, fantastic bassist Jeff Berlin and Bill Bruford who was the drummer for the classic rock band Yes. By the time Kazumi Watanabe expanded beyond jazz to join the fusion movement, it was the '80s and fusion had all but died in The States. It was a pure delight to see this man keep fusion alive with a mixture of rock, the hard-driving beats and rythms of the '80s which kept the music current in its time and updated the sound that had once been the property of the '70s..........and of course, the jazz influence is solid throughout this recording. Watanabe is a tremendous guitar talent who is too often overlooked. His blistering hot guitar work shines with a knowledge of American culture while he slips in a definite Japanese flavor in his music........sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant. An incredible album!!! On a scale of 1-5 stars, this album deserves 10 stars!!!

For those that love Bruford and Jeff Berlin working together you will love the infuence they bring to Kazumi's style and blazing playing. I owned the vinyl version first and played it to death. But the CD has an additional track that is very dark and more like an improv than any of the other selections. Bill uses his electronic/acoustic kit set-up and it works better here than with King Crimson. Since there are only three instruments for the most part (although Kazumni is all over the place with his guitar-synthesizer)this gives Bruford and Berlin a large presence and lots of room to do what they do best. The album has the feel of having very seperate tracks, the styles vary, but is very addicting and sounds great loud. I highly recommend it, it is really heavily influenced by Bruford and Berlin and could have been called Bill Bruford with.... Just as a note, I can not say that the second effort called "The Spice of Life Too" is of the same quality.

Tracks Listing

1. Melancho (3:29)
2. Hiper K (5:38)
3. City (4:28)
4. Period (6:38)
5. Unt (5:48)
6. Na Starovia (4:43)
7. Lim-Poo (4:50)
8. J.F.K. (4:55)
9. Rage In (6:17)*
* CD Only

Total Time: 46:50

Line-up / Musicians

- Kazumi Watanabe / guitars, guitar-synthesizer
- Bill Bruford / electronic drums, drums, percussion
- Jeff Berlin / bass

Kazumi Watanabe - 1988 [2016] "The Spice Of Life Too"

The Spice of Life Too is an album by jazz fusion guitarist Kazumi Watanabe; featuring Bill Bruford, Jeff Berlin and Peter Vettese. It was released on the Gramavision record label in 1988. The original title released in Japan is "The Spice of Life 2" with a different cover.

Allmusic awarded the album with 4.5 stars and its review by Paul Kohler states: "A continuation of Spice of Life with stronger compositions and a hint of softer tones, it's very nice!"

I  am a big fan of Kazumi's '80s fusion stuff! and this is a very fine album, and a reasonably worthwhile follow-up to KW's original Spice of Life. it's not quite as good or as inspired as the original, but it was a fine album! just as I remember from the old vinyl album days, the first song of both side 1 and side 2 were the weakest tunes of the album, but the album greatly improved as each side went along...(and yes, I realize I am now listening to the CD). I forgot how much I enjoyed this album because I hadn't heard it in years...but this is a fine album overall! KW's fusion guitar work is still incredible. he kept Jeff Berlin on bass and Yes' Bill Bruford on drums in his band, remaniscent of the first Spice of Life, but he added a keyboard player on this album. I never heard of this guy before, but he was an impressive and curiously intriguing addition to the band. KW still has his delicate though rocking balance between jazz, heavy rock and a 'spicy' Japanese flavor to his music. If you like fusion, especially fusion guitar, I recommend looking into Kazumi Watanabe. his Japanese influence really does add a unique and fascinating, enjoyable feel to traditional fusion....and this is a good fusion album and a respecable follow-up to his original Spice of Life...but it's not as good as the original...but don't fault KW for that, because the original Spice was just a brilliant piece of fusion that can seldom be matched! but give this album a spin.

Track listing:

1. "Andre" (Kazumi Watanabe) – 5:10
2. "We the Planet" (Watanabe) – 5:20
3. "Fu Bu Ki " (Watanabe, Bill Bruford, Jeff Berlin) – 5:10
4. "Rain" (Watanabe) – 4:57
5. "Small Wonder" (Bruford) – 5:05
6. "Concrete Cow" (Watanabe, Berlin) – 5:22
7. "Kaimon" (Watanabe) – 5:35
8. "Men and Angels" ( Bruford) – 5:35

Personnel:

Kazumi Watanabe – guitars
Bill Bruford – Simmons SDX electronic drums
Jeff Berlin – bass
Peter Vettese – keyboards

Monday, December 18, 2017

Neil Ardley - 1976 [2005] "Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows"

Considered by many to be one of the greatest British Jazz recordings of the 20th Century, this acclaimed 'Lost Masterpiece' has only had limited availability on CD. It was beautifully recorded in 1976, featuring the cream of British Jazz musicians including Barbara Thompson, Tony Coe, Ian Carr & Paul Buckmaster. This Dusk Fire recording was 24 Bit 96 k/Hz digitally-remastered by Miles Showell at Metropolis Mastering, London, December 2004, using original master tapes. Famed DJ Gilles Peterson has championed the recording! 2005.

I bought the LP of Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows in the late 70's following the recommendation by a friend who loved great jazz. This album includes several styles though, and it is simply captivating for the interplay of tone and rhythm.

It is an absolute joy to hear this carefully remastered 24bit/96khz version on CD. Every pop and click on the LP was a tragic distraction, but it is immediately obvious just how sonically superior the Dusk Fire Records (2005) CD version is when compared to the vinyl. You really do hear SO much more of the intricate detail of the ensemble. You can also fully appreciate Paul Buckmaster's superbly crafted production.

The booket includes Neil's original comments from the LP cover, plus "an introduction" by Peter Muir (December 2004) which includes a detailed biography of the late Neil Ardley and "an appreciation" by Neil's long time(1964 - 2004) musical collaborator Barbara Thompson, who plays alto and soprano flute on 6 of these 7 tracks.

Surely no collection of seventies jazz could be complete without this album - and this particular CD presents the timeless work perfectly.

I am more than impressed - I am in love with this music all over again. By John Frame.

Neil Ardley was one of the most distinctive composers of the British jazz scene. His work was always melodic and accessible. This 1976 album was hailed as a masterpiece when it came out. The All Music Guide described the album as "one of the great musical achievements of our age." Kaleidoscope of Rainbows drew in contributions from Ian Carr, Paul Buckmaster, Tony Coe, Dave MacRae, and Barbara Thompson, the very cream of what was then a vibrant UK jazz scene. To quote Dave Gelly in the Guardian "Kaleidoscope of Rainbows is a classic, not just of British jazz, but of 20th-century music."

The music is developed from the basic five note pelog scale used in Balinese music. The suite has seven movements, ranging in mood from the gentle and pastoral to the fiery and urgent. There are similarities to Pat Metheny's Secret Story which had a Cambodian influence. This was the first album in which Ardley explored electronic music. By David Lindsay.

Kaleidoscope of Rainbows starts out scrupulously restricting itself to the Balinese pelog (?) scale with an ever-shifting background reminiscent of the gamelan, setting down a theme that it recalls at the very end. As the sections go on, they gradually add back more of the chromatic scale we Westerners are accustomed to. The journey is thoroughly enjoyable; as a sucker for the melancholy, my favorite has to be Rainbow Four, featuring a heartbreakingly beautiful sax solo from Barbara Thompson.

I'm certainly no scholar of jazz, and can't properly place it in a list--if such a list even makes sense. I can say that this is gorgeous music, and I think you'll enjoy it. By James Jones.

Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows sounds as fresh, as inventive and as exciting today as it must have done back in '76, first time 'round.

Rainbows was the third album in a trilogy recorded by composer/bandleader Neil Ardley which started with '69's Greek Variations, reissued last year on Impressed, and continuing with '71's A Symphony Of Amaranths, rumoured to be up for reissue later this spring. In each of these albums, within different contexts, Ardley was concerned with, as he put it, "integrating the warmth and individual feeling of improvised music with the formal beauty of composition to the benefit of both." The context for Greek Variations was a series of variations on a Greek folk song, while for Amaranths it was settings of poems by Yeats, Joyce, and others.

For Rainbows Ardley nodded back to Greek Variations, this time developing the suite from the basic five note pelog scale used in Balinese music. It was also the album in which he first explored proto-electronic music—there are three, count 'em, synthesisists here—which became a key interest of his in the late '70s/early '80s.

The suite's seven movements, ranging in mood from the gentle and pastoral to the fiery and urgent, are seriously enjoyable through-compositions in their own right, and also the settings for a series of glistening solos from Ian Carr, Brian Smith, Dave Macrae, Geoff Castle, Paul Buckmaster, Barbara Thompson, Tony Coe, Ken Shaw, and Bob Bertles—with Buckmaster's electric cello on "Rainbow Three," Thompson's soprano on "Four," and Coe's clarinet on "Five" approaching the sublime.

With pin-sharp 24-bit remastering, and a solid twelve-page booklet which includes Ardley's original liner notes and an appreciation of his life and work (he died young, just over a year ago) by Barbara Thompson, Kaleidoscope Of Rainbows lives up to every myth that developed around it during its wilderness years. A landmark album in British jazz. By Chris May.

Neil Ardley (1937-2004) was not so much a jazzer, more a gifted composer who enjoyed hanging out with jazz musicians. Coming out of the fertile and creative British scene of the 1960s and 70s, Ardley's mode of working anticipated a younger generation who now move happily between contemporary, world and electronic music, commercial sessions and improvisation.

Kaleidoscope of Rainbows (now digitally remastered) applies the methods of both formal composition and systems-based modernism to motifs and scales Ardley found in recordings of Balinese music. The score is performed by an augmented version of Ian Carr's Nucleus; guests include Barbara Thompson and Tony Coe (reeds) and producer/cellist Paul Buckmaster. Ardley wasn't interested in "fusion" - he wanted to make a serious, extended work with a broad palette of sound and performance methods. And that required synthesizers, a state- of-the-art studio (beautifully recorded by engineer Martin Levan) and musicians who could play the dots, improvise and get the feel right.

Ardley was a state-of-the-art composer, determined to make richly textured, thought-provoking music whatever the context. Kaleidoscope is still "accessible", with pretty melodies, catchy riffs and retro grooves, but it wouldn't work without a tough compositional skeleton. By John L Walters.

Track listing:

1. Prologue/Rainbow One;
2. Rainbow Two;
3. Rainbow Three;
4. Rainbow Four;
5. Rainbow Five;
6. Rainbow Six;
7. Rainbow Seven/Epilogue.

Personnel:

Neil Ardley: director, synthesiser
Bob Bertles: alto, soprano, flute
Paul Buckmaster: acoustic, electric cello
Ian Carr: trumpet, flugelhorn
Geoff Castle: electric piano, synthesiser
Tony Coe: tenor, clarinet, bass clarinet
Dave Macrae: electric piano, synthesiser
Roger Sellers: drums
Ken Shaw: guitar
Brian Smith: tenor, soprano, flute, alto flute
Roger Sutton: bass guitar, electric bass
Barbara Thompson: alto, soprano, flute
Trevor Tomkins: percussion, vibraphone

Saturday, December 9, 2017

Trey Gunn - 2001 "Live Encounter"

Trey Gunn played in enough rock bands in his formative '80s years to learn how to become a star in popular music -- and then did a 180 into the jazz/fusion thicket. Gunn graduated from keyboards to guitar, then bass to Chapman stick before discovering the customized Warr guitar (which he calls a "touch guitar" because of its tapping response). With progressive rock juggernaut King Crimson since 1994, Gunn's Live Encounter CD goes even further outside of standard rock than Crimson's excursions -- blending Eastern and other world music styles with jazz/fusion rhythms and an against-the-grain attitude. With Gunn playing the ten-string and Joe Mendelson the eight-string Warr guitar, plus Tony Geballe adding electric guitar unorthodoxy on the opening "Dziban," it's deliciously difficult to discern who's playing what over drummer Bob Muller's 7/4-timed groove. Most of the early material is from Gunn's outstanding 1996 studio CD, The Third Star, with a couple exceptions. "The Glove," from 2000's even-better The Joy of Molybdenum, literally showcases Muller's leftism -- the drummer plays mounted tabla drums to the side of his drum kit in the intro before providing a bottom-heavy beat for solos by Geballe and Gunn. Warr guitars are capable of everything from bass-like bottom and distorted power chords to the clean, Crimson-like intertwining lines on "Sirrah." Another piece from The Third Star, "Arrakis," features psychedelia by Geballe and Mendelson over Gunn's monolithian lower-register notes and Muller's clever, percussive arsenal. The tribal, snake-charming closer, "Rune Song: The Origin of Water," beats the odds for any genre by featuring no solos over eight minutes. Clearly, these are virtuoso players who could play traditional jazz but choose to play more outside and emphasize the whole over the singular parts. High artistic marks and Gunn's side job with Crimson allow the Trey Gunn band enough currency -- against all popular music odds -- for the occasional studio recording session and these live encounters.

King Crimson 'Warr Touch' guitarist Trey Gunn's live show is the ultimate balance of power & symmetry - he gracefully intersperses rock, funk, ambient & world beat elements with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Joined by multi-percussionist Bob Muller, guitarist Tony Geballe & second 'Warr Touch' guitarist Joe Mendelson, Gunn has finally captured the band in its true essence, raw & bursting with energy. This is an enhanced CD that includes live Quicktime footage, assembled & mixed during Gunn's early 2000's tour with King Crimson on a double-bill with Tool.

Trey Gunn is still best known as a member of the most recent incarnation of King Crimson, playing his Warr Touch guitar, a variation on the Chapman Stick. Gunn's work with Crimson carries over into his own ensemble, except instead of holding down the bass player's role, he stretches out into some scintillating lead work that owes a debt to his mentor, Robert Fripp, especially the long, undulating sustained melodies. Teaming up with another Warr guitarist, Joe Mendelson, guitarist Tony Geballe, and drummer Bob Muller, Gunn shows that 2000's The Joy of Molybdenum was no studio fluke, as he brings the same hell-bent fury and sky-scraping architecture to the live performances captured here. Jettisoning the vocals that often make King Crimson sound like two different bands--one a quirky pop group with Adrian Belew singing, another storming the gates of instrumental heaven--Gunn's band sets their sites on the instrumental heaven, with roles shifting in the band as guitars become percussion instruments and drums become melodic. But topping it all are elaborate guitar and Warr guitar leads veering from African style cross-picking to feedback frenzies.

These live recordings were taken from tours in September 2000 and February 2001.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=trey+gunn

Track listing:

1. Dziban 6:06
2. The Glove 5:35
3. Kuma 5:26
4. Hierarchtitiptitoploftical 3:38
5. Sirrah 5:15
6. Arrakis 7:44
7. Tehlikeli Madde 5:14
8. Brief Encounter 4:36
9. Rune Song: The Origin Of Water 7:56

Personnel:

Trey Gunn 10-string Warr Guitar
Joe Mendelson 8-string Warr Guitar, Ashbory Rubber Bass
Tony Geballe Electric Guitar, 12-string Acoustic Guitar
Bob Muller Drums, Hand drums, Percussion

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Vangelis - 1982 [1994] "Blade Runner"

Blade Runner is a soundtrack composed by Vangelis for Ridley Scott's 1982 film Blade Runner. It is mostly a dark, melodic combination of classical composition and synthesizers which mirrors the futuristic film noir envisioned by Scott. The original soundtrack release was delayed for over a decade, until 1994, despite the music being well-received by fans and critically acclaimed—it was nominated in 1983 for a BAFTA and Golden Globe as best original score. The soundtrack is regarded as a historically important piece in the genre of electronic music.

Since the premiere of the film, two official albums have been released containing music omitted from the film and also new compositions featuring a similar style. An orchestral rendition of part of the soundtrack was released in 1982 by the New American Orchestra. However, the original soundtrack album (1994) features vocal contributions from Demis Roussos and the sax solo by Dick Morrissey on "Love Theme" (In the credits on page 3 of the 1994 Atlantic CD, Dick's last name is misspelled as "Morrisey"). The track "Memories of Green" from Vangelis' 1980 album See You Later was also included. A new release made in 2007 includes a disc of new music inspired by the film.

In 1994, an official recording of Vangelis' score was released by East West (Warner Music) in the UK and by Atlantic Records in the US. The album reached the #20 position in the UK album charts. In 2013 it reached #14 on the Billboard Vinyl Albums chart. It has been variously described as "influential and mythical", "incredible and pristine", "evocative", and "the pinnacle of synthesiser soundtracks".

This release contained a twelve-page booklet consisting mainly of stills from the film. On page 3 there is a list of credits and the following by Vangelis:

Most of the music contained in this album originates from recordings I made in London in 1982, whilst working on the score for the film Blade Runner. Finding myself unable to release these recordings at the time; it is with great pleasure that I am able to do so now. Some of the pieces contained will be known to you from the Original Soundtrack of the film, whilst others are appearing here for the first time. Looking back at Ridley Scott's powerful and evocative pictures left me as stimulated as before, and made the recompiling of this music, today, an enjoyable experience. (Vangelis, Athens, April 1994)

While most of the tracks on the album are from the film, a number were composed by Vangelis but were ultimately not used in the film itself. Other compositions that appear in the film were not included on this release.

Three of the tracks ("Main Titles", "Blush Response", and "Tears in Rain") feature samples of dialogue from the film. Tracks 1 through 4 are mixed together as a seamless piece; tracks 5 through 7 have silence between them, and the final tracks, 8 through 12 are mixed into another seamless piece.

Vangelis recorded, mixed and produced the score for "Blade Runner" in his own recording space, Nemo Studios, in 1982. He utilised many contemporary electronic instruments in order to create the atmospheric soundscapes, which he crafted on an ad-hoc basis. This was done by viewing videotapes of scenes from the film in the studio, and then improvising pieces in synchronisation with the images on the screen. He also applied the use of some foley techniques, using the synthesisers to produce diegetic and non-diegetic sounds. The most prominent synthesiser used in the score was the Yamaha CS-80, which can be heard in the opening scenes, and subsequently throughout the rest of the film. Other synthesisers employed by Vangelis included four Roland instruments: the ProMars, the Jupiter-4, the CR-5000 drum machine, and the VP-330 Vocoder Plus; a Sequential Circuits Prophet-10; a Yamaha GS1 FM synthesizer; and an E-mu Emulator sampler. A Steinway grand piano, a Yamaha CP-80 electric grand and a modified Fender Rhodes were also used. He also utilised a variety of traditional instruments, including, gamelan, glockenspiel, gong, snare drum, timpani and tubular bells.

Given the impact and enduring appeal of the original, it’s not surprising that the soundtrack to Blade Runner 2049 would be one of the new film’s major challenges. Sidestepping the controversy, Nick Soulsby pays homage to the musical genius and cult mythology of Vangelis’ original 1982 soundtrack, which arguably remains the greatest score in sci-fi history.

Glass shatters. Full-length panes burst in a glittering sea-surf spray as a bloodied figure — the hunted replicant (simulated machine humanoid) Zhora — hurls herself forward through shop windows, in one of the most haunting dystopian visuals from the 1982 film Blade Runner. While it’s an arresting image, the overall impact – the ability to forget we’re watching collapsing sugar or synthetic resin – is boosted by wedding the image with sound effects and music. Cinema, a product of the human capacity for story-telling and for reading meaning into content, isn’t a purely visual medium; it relies on the interweaving of audio and visual elements. At its finest, cinema audiences don’t even need to look at the screen to imagine what’s occurring, sound’s ability to manipulate emotional responses and to create mental associations is all that’s needed.

Vangelis’ soundtrack for Blade Runner remains one of the relatively few soundtracks to establish an enduring reputation as fine music in its own right. Vangelis, by mid-1981 when he was first invited to view a rough cut of footage from Blade Runner, was at the peak of his fame as a solo artist, following a half-decade long run of successful albums. On 29th March 1982, a month prior to submitting his compositions for Blade Runner, he would crown his career as a creator of movie soundtracks (which began as far back as 1963) by winning an Oscar for his work on Chariots Of Fire. His work on Blade Runner took place in the midst of a truly auspicious moment for the Greek composer, and he fully lived up to the expectations placed upon him.

Soundtracks are a substantial additional outlay for a film. Many, as a consequence of cost, float along on of-their-moment pop songs that barely relate to the events occurring on screen. It’s cheaper, and easier, to simply buy licenses than to compose specifically for a film. Otherwise, a lot of music consists of made-to-measure cues churned out over a matter of days, at most a few weeks, with only one or two themes of substance.

Vangelis was a truly different proposition: his work extended from sometime in mid-1981 through to April of the following year. In that time he composed, arranged, performed and produced each aspect of the music, creating a work of art that reflected a singular, unified vision of his own. This, of course, influenced the work present in the movie, but was also responsible for the final form of the soundtrack.

Vangelis didn’t want to release a record robotically, logging the sonic aspects of someone else’s film. Instead, he conceived of the soundtrack as a full Vangelis album, a coherent suite. This is a major factor in the soundtrack’s favour: it works as a standalone release and not just as an accompaniment to visuals.

Quality, however, is not the sole factor in the allure of any album. It’s never just about the music. Blade Runner retains a mysteriousness, which began when, for reasons never clarified, Vangelis’ soundtrack was not ‘officially’ unreleased for a full 12 years.

This absence created a vacuum. Curious fans of the movie, of Vangelis’ work, of the cutting-edge of electronic music composition, filled that vacuum with their dreams of how the compositions may have developed away from the film’s sequences. Various enterprising individuals spliced together lo-fi reproductions of what could be heard within the film itself. A 1982 bootleg leak emerged, wreathed in aura-building rumours that the film’s sound engineers were complicit in its release. In an example of the power of bootleg recordings, for over a decade fans were able to be a part of a secret history, acquiring illicit recordings steeped in the power that comes from knowing someone apparently didn’t want anyone to hear them. It was a talismanic object acquired only by the lucky, the devoted or the enlightened.

Having permitted unsated expectations to endure for so long, Vangelis finally released an album in 1994. I say ‘an’ album because the 12 tracks (one hour of audio) that Vangelis carefully selected to create his album clashed headlong into fans’ hunger for more. It was clear from the day of its release that this was only a small portion of the music created. There were already bootlegs available with additional tracks not seen here, while anyone watching the film was able to log a list of compositions still hidden from view. Again, resisting closure, a final reckoning, was an accidental masterstroke in that it ensured an open-ended thirst for more.

This instability of definition wedded the soundtrack irrevocably to the film itself. Ridley Scott, the director, had similar trouble allowing the film to assume a settled state. Pre-release screenings of Blade Runner featured extra scenes, the theatrical release existed in two versions, the nineties saw a new director’s cut emerge – this was then followed by a (supposed) ‘Final Cut’ in 2007. The last event led to Vangelis being invited to release his own revised and expanded cut of the soundtrack: a three disc indulgence consisting of the 1994 ‘original’, a further 45 minutes of music, plus an entirely new suite ‘inspired by’ the film. Inevitably however, the release still failed to encompass all the music from the film. It simply reconfirmed Vangelis’ conception of the soundtrack, meaning the specific album he designed.

Original music composed and performed by Vangelis

Track listing:

01 Main Titles 3:42
02 Blush Response 5:47
03 Wait For Me 5:27
04 Rachel's Song 4:46
05 Love Theme 4:56
06 One More Kiss, Dear 3:58
07 Blade Runner Blues 8:53
08 Memories Of Green 5:05
09 Tales Of The Future 4:46
10 Damask Rose 2:32
11 Blade Runner (End Titles) 4:40
12 Tears In Rain 3:00

Personnel:

Vangelis: keyboards, synthesizers.
Demis Roussos: vocals;
Dick Morrissey: saxophone;
Mary Hopkins: vocal.

Various Artists - 2011 "The New Universe Music Festival 2010" Live

For those who like their jazz hard, loud, filled with killer chops and intricate writing, the 2010 New Universe Music Festival was like manna from heaven. Amidst seven groups including two fusion deities, guitarist John McLaughlin and drummer Lenny White, it was an exhilarating experience for the few hundred people in attendance—some coming from hundreds of miles away, a few even crossing oceans to get to this first-time event curated by Souvik Dutta and his wife, Shweta.

More than a celebration of some of fusion's current undisputed cream—featuring, in addition to White's group and McLaughlin's current Fourth Dimension lineup, sets by guitarists Jimmy Herring, Alex Machacek and Wayne Krantz, Indian drummer Ranjit Barot, and the first live appearance by fusion supergroup-in-the-making Human Element—it was also a chance to see just how far Dutta's Abstract Logix has come, since it morphed from web-based fusion storefront to record label. Starting modestly with just one release, Project Z's Lincoln Memorial (2005), AL has grown to become the premiere imprint for today's fusion, the "Little Label That Could," against the many challenges facing Indies today. The New Universe Music Festival 2010: Abstract Logix Live! isn't quite like being there but, at just over two hours, it's a compelling condensation of the many highlights (there were many more) that took place over two days in November, 2010—an expansive picture window into what made the festival a great experience and tremendous success.

With tracks culled from each of the seven groups' performances, spread across two discs, it captures the essence and variety of each set, from Machacek's knotty writing, almost unfathomable voicings and cerebral yet searing work with the same lineup as The Official Triangle Session (Abstract Logix, 2009)—powerhouse drummer Jeff Sipe and the lesser-known, but equally deserving bassist, Neal Fountain—to Herring's more groove-driven but no less contextually challenging quartet, also with Fountain and Sipe, along with another surprise of the festival, keyboardist Matt Slocum.

Herring's set was one of the best of a thoroughly high bar festival, so it's appropriate that he receives nearly as much time as McLaughlin—who gets the most focus at over 26 minutes—demonstrating his good ol' boy combination of Jeff Beck-worthy tone, southern lyricism and undeniably monster chops on Sipe's high-velocity "Rainbow," and his own dark ballad, "Gray Day," from Lifeboat (Abstract Logix, 2008). Herring's thundering version of George Harrison's "Within You, Without You" dovetails perfectly with the Indo-centricities of Barot's set, where a remarkable duo with violinist Bala Bhaskar ("Vignesh Kirtanam") sets up "Origin," the fiery closer to the drummer's AL debut, Bada Boom (2010), here performed by members of Human Element, along with guest guitarist Krantz, who delivers a characteristically quirky, visceral and gritty solo.

Human Element's release had been delayed until April, 2011, so keyboardist Scott Kinsey, über-bassist Matthew Garrison and percussionist/vocalist/puckish mischief-maker Arto Tuncboyaciyan—with Barot subbing, with complete confidence and commitment, for regular drummer Gary Novak—gave a preview of what was to come, as Kinsey's "Essaouira" and the more incendiary "Sometimes I..." demonstrate the quartet's sonic blend of Joe Zawinul-informed landscapes, world music concerns and Tribal Tech-like displays of unbridled improvisational power.

Krantz, in addition to longtime drummer Cliff Almond, brought another bass legend to the festival. Anthony Jackson's 2010 AL debut, Interspirit, may not have been represented at the event, but his contribution to Krantz's trio more than made up for it. Krantz offers a different kind of cerebralism than Machacek, one driven more aggressively by groove, and a knottier disposition towards unexpected time changes, as "Why" clearly demonstrates, shifting gears halfway into a high velocity free-for-all that builds to a fever pitch.

White's AL debut, Anomaly (2010), was a cast of thousands (well, 23) affair, but his touring band brings the album's material into sharper focus. With Herring—a sometimes member of the band—guesting with the current quartet lineup, White has a tremendous frontline that also includes New York guitarist Tom Guarna, stepping away from his own more mainstream recordings, and bassist Richie Goods, who's new to the AL family but from whom more will hopefully be heard, kicking the swinging blues at the core of "Door #3" into high gear, with Herring and Guarna turning the heat up with a series of nuclear-burn trade-offs that lead to White's closing solo, which starts quietly, and ends even more so ("How about that," White quipped, at the show, "a quiet drum solo."). Keyboardist Vince Evans, a regular White alum, is another new face to AL, but his combination of Jan Hammer-like synth lines and, in particular, his Rhodes solo on the up-tempo "Gazelle"—ambiguous voicings combining with a seemingly endless flow of thematic ideas, as he weaves through the song's knotty changes—makes him another player worth following.

"Recovery," from To The One (Abstract Logix, 2010), demonstrates how much McLaughlin's Fourth Dimension group has evolved since its 2007 North American tour, documented on Official Pirate (Abstract Logix, 2007). With bassist Etienne Mbappe replacing young firebrand Hadrien Feraud, keyboardist/drummer Gary Husband and drummer Mark Mondesir are able to breathe a little more. The music is no less incendiary when it needs to be, but there's a greater sense of fluidity at the bottom end, and a more unshakable anchor, making a short but sweet version of "Recovery" the perfect, succinct representation where the group is now.

But it's the closer to McLaughlin's set that's the greatest peak amongst so many others. "Mother Tongues," a longtime McLaughlin closer, is stretched to over 21 minutes and features a lengthy, mid-song duo between McLaughlin and surprise guest, tablaist Zakir Hussain, that proves the undying strength of musical friendships forged as strongly as that of these two masters. They haven't played together for many years—since the last time Remember Shakti toured—but the bond they share clearly hasn't weakened one iota, as McLaughlin and Hussain push, pull and work off each other, the guitarist's rhythmic roots in Indian classicism on full display, as Hussain moves into a three-way trade-off with Husband and Mondesir that has everyone on their toes, creating the kind of fireworks that drove the audience into a frenzy.

Rumors are there's going to be another New Universe Music Festival in 2012, and with a growing roster that now includes guitarist Chris Taylor, and a second installment of Husband's Dirty & Beautiful Volume One (Abstract Logix, 2010) hopefully coming up—leading to hopes that the keyboardist/drummer will get the chance to front his own band—there's every chance that the next festival will repeat and expand upon the successes of the first installment. For a first-time event, spearheaded by the Duttas and their seemingly tireless Director of Operations, John Angello, the 2010 New Universe Music Festival went off with very few hitches—putting many festivals that have been around a lot longer to shame.

n November 20 and 21, 2010, maverick record label Abstract Logix hosted a series of spectacular performances, featuring an array of artists who handily defy genre categorization in favor of unbridled expression. The first New Universe Festival was a die-hard music lover’s dream, defined by artists who seamlessly mingle compositional ingenuity and improvisational grace and fervor. This coming September, Abstract Logix will release a 2 DVD set, featuring a generous selection of festival performances and bonus material (additional performances, interviews, and more), filmed in high-definition throughout the event.
Among the featured musicians were pioneering guitarist John McLaughlin and his current band the 4th Dimension with special guest, world music legend tabla maestro Zakir Hussain; Widespread Panic guitar hero Jimmy Herring with his electric band; Return to Forever Drummer Lenny White; the all-star quartet Human Element (keyboardist Scott Kinsey, bassist Matt Garrison, percussionist Arto Tunçboyaciyan; fearless guitarist and improviser Wayne Krantz appearing with the amazing Anthony Jackson on bass; visionary Indian composer and drummer Ranjit Barot; and emerging guitar visionary Alex Machacek.
“I feel honored to participate,” says festival headliner John McLaughlin, while on tour promoting his Grammy-nominated album To the One. “My life has been dedicated to my instrument and music, and I continue to devote myself to music in order to be worthy of such a privilege. You will hear the kind of complicity that exists between us all – this is a very special element, and frankly essential for making good music.”
Jimmy Herring very succinctly put it, “This is real music played by real people, happening in real time. We’re up there listening and reacting to one another, and people genuinely respond to the risks we take. This is human music in a mechanized age.”

On the face of it, this live double-album is an expert genuflection to jazz-rock fusion, with five guitarists and a crop of punchy drummers (including Return to Forever's Lenny White and percussion virtuoso Zakir Hussain) to confirm it. But the playing of the seven bands is anything but predictable. The members sit in with each other here, and their embrace of risk and the pleasure they take in spontaneous performance are palpable. John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension have Hussain sit in for usual drummer Ranjit Barot in two fiercely vivacious pieces, including an infectious, choppy, 20-minute Hussein showcase, Mother Tongues. Barot leads a violin-dominated Indian-inflected sextet featuring the New York guitar maverick Wayne Krantz as a guest; Krantz also appears with an edgy avant-fusion trio. The chord-crunching, metal-inspired guitarist Alex Machacek opens proceedings with a fast-moving group extensively featuring electric bassist Neal Fountain.

It was a veritable smorgasbord of fusion, with many of the top-notch artists in the genre coming together for a series of performances. Jazz-rock fans attending the inaugural event heard legends like John McLaughlin and Lenny White, established names such as Wayne Krantz, Human Element and Jimmy Herring, as well as up-and-comers like Alex Machacek and Ranjit Barot. From start to finish, the music was electric, even when it was being played acoustically. There was also a palpable sense of community as artists generously participated in listening sessions and sat in with each other throughout the event. I highly recommend this festival and look forward to seeing and hearing its second incarnation in 2012.
– Lee Mergner, Editor in Chief, JazzTimes

The New Universe Music Festival brought together an astonishing roster of legendary and upcoming jazz-fusion musicians—especially guitarists—in an intimate setting charged with excitement. As might be expected, the music was superb, culminating in a heartfelt tribute to fusion and world music pioneer John McLaughlin. I look forward to attending the next NUMF, though the first one will be very tough to top.
– Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Various+Artists

Track listing:

CD1:
1. Strafe;
2. Very Sad;
3. Vignesh;
4. Origin;
5. Essaouira;
6. Sometimes I...;
7. Rainbow;
8. Gray Day;
9. Within You, Without You.

CD2:
1. Why;
2. Door#3;
3. Gazelle;
4. Recovery;
5. Mother Tongues.

Personnel:

Alex Machacek: guitar (CD1#1-2);
Neal Fountain: bass (CD1#1-2, CD1#7-9);
Jeff Sipe: drums (CD1#1-2, CD1#7-9);
Ranjit Barot: drums (CD1#3-7), voice (CD1#3-4);
Bala Bhaskar: violin (CD1#3-4);
Scott Kinsey: keyboards (CD1#3-7);
Matthew Garrison: bass (CD1#3-7);
Arto Tunçboyacian: percussion and voice (CD1#3-7);
Wayne Krantz: guitar (CD1#3-4, CD2#1);
Jimmy Herring: guitar (CD1#7-9, CD2#-2-3);
Matt Slocum: keyboards (CD1#7-9);
Anthony Jackson: bass (CD2#1);
Cliff Almond: drums (CD2#1);
Lenny White: drums (CD2#2-3);
Tom Guarna: guitar (CD2#2-3);
Richie Goods: bass (CD2#2-3);
Vince Evans: keyboards (CD2#2-3);
John McLaughlin: guitar (CD2#4-5);
Etienne M'Bappe: bass (CD2#4-5);
Gary Husband: keyboards and drums (CD2#4-5);
Mark Mondesir: drums (CD2#4-5);
Zakir Hussain: table ((CD2#5).

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Tomasz Stanko Quintet - 1973 [2006] "Purple Sun"

Tomasz Stańko (born July 11, 1942) is a Polish trumpeter, composer and improviser. Often recording for ECM Records, Stańko is strongly associated with free jazz and the avant-garde.
Coming to prominence in the early 1960s alongside pianist Adam Makowicz in the Jazz Darings, Stańko later collaborated with pianist Krzysztof Komeda, notably on Komeda's pivotal 1966 album Astigmatic. In 1968, Stańko formed an acclaimed quintet that included Zbigniew Seifert on violin and alto saxophone, and in 1975 he formed the Tomasz Stańko-Adam Makowicz Unit.
Stańko has since established a reputation as a leading figure not only in Polish jazz, but on the world stage as well, working with many notable musicians, including Jack DeJohnette, Dave Holland, Reggie Workman, Rufus Reid, Lester Bowie, David Murray, Manu Katche and Chico Freeman. In 1984 he was a member of Cecil Taylor's big band.
Stańko lost his natural teeth in the 1990s, although over time he developed a new embouchure with the help of a skilled dentist and monotonous practice. He would spend long hours playing what he deemed to be "boring" long tones which helped to strengthen his lip, in spite of playing with the disadvantage of false teeth.

In 1968, alto saxophonist Zbigniew Seifert joined the newly formed Stanko Quintet, soon switched from ax to electric violin, and the next chapter of European Jazz history began. Beside Stanko and Seifert, the line-up of the Quintet included Janusz Muniak on the saxophones and flute, Jan Gonciarczyk / Bronislaw Suchanek on the bass and Janusz Stefanski on the drums. The Quintet made three records: "Music for K" (1970), "Jazz Message from Poland" (1972) and "Purple Sun" (1973) but the albums could not compare to the magic of Quintet's life performances. The music of Quintet escaped easy definitions. Sophisticated, collective improvisations and breath taking instrumental solos were bands' trademarks; hypnotic cosmic-like interactions between members of the band, and between the band and the life public, complemented the whole experience. Stanko Quintet disbanded in 1973 on the pick of its creative potential and after achieving cult-like following in Europe.

Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is most probably country's best known jazz musician for some decades and prestigious ECM label in-house artist. Better known (especially outside of his homeland) from his ECM-sound recordings, in his early ears Stanko played quite different music. Started his career still at late 60s, Tomasz played with in Polish legend Komeda band, starting his career as leader in early 70s.

"Purple Sun" is Stanko quintet third album recorded live in empty hall of Music School in Munich,Germany. All-Polish quartet is completed with German bassist Hans Hartmann here. Album contains four originals (twolong and two shorter pieces). Confusingly enough, "Purple Sun" is often classified in music media (partially Polish) as early example of Polish avant-garde jazz which it isn't.

In reality bass-drums-trumpet-sax quartet with violinist Zbigniew Seifert on board plays high energy fusion strongly influenced by Davis' "Silent Way" and "Bitches Brew". Representing contrast difference from popular Stanko ECM albums of contemporary (chamber) jazz, "Purple Sun" with its raw energy and quite free structure possibly sounds as avant-garde piece for traditional Stanko listeners but everyone familiar with early Miles fusion will confirm their musical similarity.

Stanko's fusion is more European comparing with Miles - there are less American jazz roots (no groove) but lot of German krautrock influence in a form of straight power flow and rock-psychedelia. And yeh - the level of musicians virtuosity is far not as in Davis fusion bands.

Still music sounds really fresh and inspired and common "rockish" aesthetics could be attractive for fans of jazz-rock. In all cases, this album (reissued in Poland on CD at least twice so quite accessible) is not for numerous fans of ECM-period Stanko. Lovers of early Miles fusion will probably find here a nice example of similar music recorded by one of the best Polish jazz musician ever.

 Purple Sun was in fact recorded in Munich in March 1973, but retained a heavyweight Polish lineup (save for a top-notch Swiss bassist), of particular note being the legendary violinist Zbigniew Seifert who gives proceedings a slight Mahavishnu flavour in places.  Overall, though, this album is just a fantastic slice of post-Bitches Brew groove with the unique slant of being rooted in Eastern European free jazz.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/2015/11/tomasz-stanko-quintet-1973-1999-purple.html#comment-form

Track listing:

1 Boratka & Flute's Ballad 14:04
2 My Night, My Day 5:26
3 Flair 13:21
4 Purple Sun 6:09

Personnel:

Trumpet – Tomasz Stańko
Bass – Hans Hartmann
Drums, Percussion – Janusz Stefański
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Percussion – Janusz Muniak
Violin, Alto Saxophone – Zbigniew Seifert