Thursday, August 31, 2017

Triumvirat - 1973 [2002] "Illusions On A Double Dimple"

Illusions on a Double Dimple is the second album by the German progrock group Triumvirat. It was a breakthrough for the band, which started to open shows in a U.S tour for Fleetwood Mac. Triumvirat played the album in its entirely, and the tour resulted in increased popularity for the band in a number of countries. Triumvirat's popularity increased with their next release, Spartacus.

This German trio is often branded as a clone of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which is an unfair, if understandable, dismissal. Propelled by Jürgen Fritz's keyboard arsenal of grand piano, Hammond organ and Moog synth, the band were clearly versed in the science of Brain Salad Surgery. But what they lacked in originality they made up for with mind-boggling chops. Triumvirat's second LP, 1974's Illusions on a Double Dimple, is a prog-rock masterwork, incorporating operatic choirs and bursts of pop levity into two seamless, side-spanning epics. They softened their approach later in the decade in a quest for commercial stability — and failed miserably. But thanks to Illusions, Triumvirat's legacy among the prog firmament was secure.

Triumvirat was 70's German Symphonic Prog trio centered around Jürgen Fritz, a very talented classically trained keybordist. On Illusion on a Double Dimple, the group's magnum opus, there are some classical (e.g. baroque) influences and, besides the dominant organ, there are plenty of delicate grand piano and haunting synths for all lovers of keyboard-driven rock symphonies to enjoy. There is a constant wall of sound in Triumvirat's music, and it's hard to believe only three musicians could create it. Comparisons to Emerson, Lake and Palmer are of course inevitable. Besides the trio formation and keyboard-driven similarites, as well as Jürgen Fritz being very influenced by Keith Emerson, Triumvirat just happened to be another keyboard driven band. While there's some very notable differences in each band, there are some strong similarities too. Both Fritz and Emerson are the master of several keyboard instruments, and both have extensive classical music training. This is clearly reflected in their respective groups’ music.

During it's early years, Triumvirat played at local venues, and kept on covering top 40 songs, and some ELP and The Nice as well, both featuring a then-young-and-promising keyboardist named Keith Emerson. If you like ELP, Yes or Renaissance, you will probably also like Triumvirat. It’s a fact that every band have to be influenced by some others before finding their own sound, and Triumvirat developed a very own atmosphere, creating sweeter, more melodic and creative form of ELP's music: Catchy and complex at the same time. Triumvirat rapidly proved they were up there with all the well-known sympho prog bands. Unlike ELP, Triumvirat performed no jams, and don't look for any guitar solos either. Instead, they flirted with hard rock, jazz, and even honky tonk tunes. On the other hand, they had a killer music assault, led by Fritz, who could be furious, sensible, melodic and colorful. The whole thing was penned and very well orchestrated by the maestro himself. These aspects alone already make Triumvirat a unique band, not deserving to be labelled as an ELP clone.

Helmut Kollin was a very competent bass player and the lead singer. He also adds some acoustic and electric guitars here and there, nicely enriching the sound in general. The vocals might remind you some Beatles with Peter Gabriel’s voice. We also got an effective 6-women chorale. Hans Bathelt is an impressive, sure-footed drummer, very comparable to John Bonham (Led Zeppelin) in term of hard rock feels and 'locomotive' impact. He is highly technical and powerful. His drumming is sometimes light and jazzy, but sometimes he is rockin' like hell. Bathelt has nothing to envy Carl Parlmer for, grooving so well in grand 70's tradition. It's just a lot of fun to listen to. Kollin plays bass more feriously than Lake, quite akin to Yes' Chris Squire, and shows tremendous chemistry with Fritz. As a result of this, the trio reached a high quality level in term of arrangement and structure. One might see the influence of ELP right from the beginning, but Triumvirat has put an effort that made their music consistent from A to Z, each and every song flowing into each other perfectly. Every single note is calculated, and they’re extremely tight and talentuous. They have nothing to envy to ELP, really.

Especially pleasing is Million Dollars, the final movement of Mister Ten Percent suite (apparently dedicated to a recently fired manager) in which all Triumvirat’s talents are released in one electronic deluge. An especially Tarkus-like opening dissolves into a huge orchestral and vocal rush as Triumvirat bids farewell to their agent: ‘’Who’s going to work for you for the rest of your life?’’

Triumvirat offers interesting song structures, and some of the most beautiful melodies ever. The musicians are creative, imaginative and innonative, most of the times sweeter and lighter than ELP, but equally challenging. Any proghead will soon notice their personal original soundscape, and their ambitious, inspired arrangements. Melodic, tight, powerful and emotional, this German band does prog a bit less complicated and much more melodic and creative than ELP. Emerson, despite his greatness, has always looking for sensational solos, while Fritz playing is never excessive, and always integrated in the context of songs. The style here, while very technical is not as ego-laden as Emerson's occasional flippant follies. Also the entire disc is purely epic both in structure and in scope with a certain
'cinematographic' feel that is hard to put into words. Jurgen Fritz has certain similarities (mostly on organ) but his piano and synthesizer work are way more romantic perhaps even sligthly feminine as opposed to Keith's rather technical and muscular delivery. The keyboardist performed some gorgeous extended Moog solos as well, which bears a very deep Wakeman-esque vibe at times.

Illusions on a Double Dimple is in itself an excellent manifestation of the best that Germany had to offer the symphonic prog rock scene worldwide. With both this album and their second best Spartacus, Triumvirat catch the attention of wider audiences over the world. Jürgen Fritz is the captain and he and his band are brillant throughout the album. When listening, try to get over ELP similarities and then be prepared for a sensory journey to the world of maestro Jürgen Fritz. Illusions on a Double Dimple is the best way to get into Triumvirat.

Track listing:

01 "Illusions on a Double Dimple" – 23:25
 a "Flashback" (Fritz, Bathelt) – 0:57
 b "Schooldays" (Fritz, Bathelt) – 3:22
 c "Triangle" (Fritz) – 6:53
 d "Illusions" (Fritz, Bathelt) – 1:42
 e "Dimplicity" (Fritz, Bathelt) – 5:37
 f "Last dance" (Fritz) – 4:53
02 "Mister Ten Percent" – 21:33
 a "Maze" (Fritz) – 3:03
 b "Dawning" (Fritz) – 1:02
 c "Bad Deal" (Fritz, Bathelt) – 1:40
 d "Roundabout" (Fritz) – 5:49
 e "Lucky Girl" (Köllen, Bathelt) – 5:14
 f  "Million Dollars" (Fritz, Bathelt) – 4:42

Bonus Tracks (released together as a single):

03 "Dancer's Delight" – 3:32
04 "Timothy" – 4:08
05 "Dimplicity (edit)" – 3:15
06 "Million Dollars (edit)" – 2:35


Jürgen Fritz – Hammond organ, Moog synthesizer, electric piano, Steinway grand piano, vocals, producer, arranger
Helmut Köllen – bass, acoustic & electric guitars, vocals
Hans Bathelt – drums, percussions, words & lyrics

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Pat Metheny - "Phase Dancer...Live '77"

Having played with Gary Burton, Jaco Pastorius and other leading fusion musicians, the prodigious Pat Metheny made his solo recording debut in 1976. The following year he released Watercolors, marking the start of his long collaboration with pianist Lyle Mays. That summer they played various dates (together with bassist Mark Egan and drummer Danny Gottlieb). The superb tracks featured here include material from Watercolors and the forthcoming Pat Metheny Group album, and were originally broadcast on KJAZ-FM. They’re presented here together with background notes and images.

This short (34+ minutes) well recorded set of tunes from two separate concerts--The Great American Music Hall in S.F., (tracks 1,2,4), and the Seattle Opera House (track 3) are all from 1977. The songs are "Phase Dance", "Watercolors", "San Lorenzo", and "Wrong Is Right". The band consists of Metheny-guitars, Lyle Mays-keyboards, Danny Gottlieb-drums, and Mark Egan-bass. As I said, this is a well recorded set of live performances--clean and fairly crisp and very open sounding. Audiophiles may find something sonically imperfect to point out but this is very close to what a label sanctioned release would sound like. The booklet has an essay from the Village Voice from 1977 (typical for Hi Hat releases) and talks about Metheny's first album, "Bright Size Life" and the (then) recently released "Watercolors" album. The five "stars" are for the performances and nice sound--not the short duration of the CD. But I do wonder where is the rest of the music from these concerts? Hmmm.

These performances are from the period after the "Watercolors" album had been released, and the upcoming "Pat Metheny Group" album would be released. All four tunes are fine examples of what this group (and my personal favorite for a few reasons) sounded like night after night on stage during this period. The first two tunes stick closely to the studio originals (not a bad thing!), while "San Lorenzo" has a few subtle flourishes that add more identity to the melody. "Wrong Is Right" is a fine live version of this song, again with nothing truly new added into the body of the song. And as I wrote when reviewing the recently released/quickly taken off the market live Metheny album "Live Chicago '87" (also on Hi Hat) these performances aren't the sound of a band just going through the motions. This is a typically fine set of performances from the entire band.

Hearing this set along with the (now sadly) deleted '87 set brings back good memories of my young son and I sitting about 10 rows back/center section hearing/watching Metheny and his band playing some incredible music and having fun doing it. As Metheny once said--they play the music they want to hear--and are grateful that others like to hear it also. If you've ever been lucky enough to hear this band live you know what I mean. And even of a sadly short duration, this is a good set of music that evokes that era of Metheny's musical exploration.

The Pat Metheny Group was just getting into full swing around 1977. I was at this performance at the Great American Music Hall. It was a great show and made me a lifelong PMG fan. Unfortunately this disc only contains 3 tracks from that show, which if I'm not mistaken, was broadcast in its entirety by the late great KJZ in SF. (I used to have this same material on vinyl- can't remember what label it was on or how I came by it- if anyone remembers this I would appreciate what that was.) One can only hope that Somewhere, someone has the entire show on tape. I wish I could hear that! This is a teaser, and well worth hearing, but it just whets my appetite for more.

Listening to the early band reminds me how much I loved the group with Danny Gottlieb and Mark Egan. They played very dynamically, sometimes coming down to a whisper, sometimes to a roar. This was early, probably just before the white album was recorded.

The band starts out with a spirited version of Phase Dance. Still new, it's an exciting performance. Metheny sounds not quite in the pocket at times, still raw and finding his way. Lyle Mays gives a more sure footed solo. The song is already fully formed though, front to back. The high point for me is Watercolors, which to my knowledge is the only recorded performance by this particular configuration. By 1978 they were no longer including it in their sets. It's a great performance of a great tune-this disc is worth the price just for this track. San Lorenzo, recorded at the Seattle opera house, is a glimpse into the early stages of development of a classic. It's all there, but It's loose compared with the album version, and not as majestic as it would become as evidenced on the Travels version, with its lovely rubato passages and dramatic tempo changes. The last track, Wrong is Right, which I believe is a Larry Coryell tune, is played as a fast samba and is the most straight ahead track here. And as such it's a smoker. Lyle's solo is off the charts, and Metheny is on fire here.

Quite honestly, if you own every single PMG CD already and love this period as much as I do, you should pick this up. It's an historical document. It's to my knowledge, the earliest PMG on record, although I'm sure there are plenty of bootlegs out there. (Check out the 1977 performance in a small club in Germany. which is up on YouTube.)

Pat Metheny is one of my all time favorites and to find this release, thank you Amazon for finding this one for me. This was a point in time when Pat and his group were just starting out, here we have that great group that did those Pat Metheny Group and American Garage but this is before either where recorded. What a great set list, personally still Phase Dancer and San Lorenzo are two of my favorites. Lyle and Pat shine and have always played so well together and do a wonderful job on this one. This is from a radio concert, it seems like a lot of these are coming out which I love. I always love live stuff and is this one ever alive. I miss hearing Lyle and Pat playing together. This is a great release.

Tracks 1, 2 & 4 recorded at the Great American Music Hall, San Francisco on
August 31st 1977.
Track 3 recorded at Seattle Opera House on September 4th 1977.

Track listing:

1 Phase Dancer 8:52
2 Watercolors 7:56
3 San Lorenzo 11:08
4 Wrong Is Right  6:40


Pat Metheny - Guitar
Lyle Mays - Keyboards
Mark Egan - Bass
Danny Gottlieb - Drums

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Various Artists - 1990 Guitar Player Presents - "Legends of Guitar" Jazz - Vol. 1

Great players on this one.

Good starting point for anyone interested in the history of Jazz and Jazz Fusion guitar.

Track listing:

01 Frankie Trumbauer & His Orchestra* - I'm Coming, Virginia 3:13
Guitar – Eddie Lang

02 The Kansas City Six* - Countless Blues 3:02
Guitar – Freddie Green*

03 Jack Teagarden & His Orchestra* - Pickin' For Patsy 2:45
Guitar – Allan Reuss

04 George Barnes Quartet - I'm Forever Blowing Bubbles 2:58
Guitar – George Barnes

05 Charlie Christian - Up On Teddy's Hill 6:10
Guitar – Charlie Christian

06 The Cats & The Fiddle* - Stomp Stomp (Fox Trot) 2:58
Guitar – Tiny Grimes

07 Charlie Parker All Stars* - Relaxin' At Camarillo 3:10
Guitar – Barney Kessel

08 Lennie Tristano & His Sextet* - Intuition 2:30
Guitar – Billy Bauer

09 Laurindo Almeida - Blue Balao 3:21
Guitar – Laurindo Almeida

10 Tal Farlow - Gibson Boy 2:46
Guitar – Barry Galbraith

11 Howard Roberts - Serenata Burlesca 3:10
Guitar – Howard Roberts

12 Wes*, Buddy* & Monk Montgomery - Montgomery Funk 4:19
Guitar – Wes Montgomery

13 Lenny Breau - Mercy, Mercy, Mercy 5:27
Guitar – Lenny Breau

14 Larry Coryell - Spaces (Infinite) 9:21
Guitar – John McLaughlin, Larry Coryell

15 John Scofield - Shinola 2:39
Guitar – John Scofield

16 Derek Bailey - Scaling 2:30
Guitar – Derek Bailey

Various Artists - 1991 Guitar Player Presents - "Legends of Guitar" Jazz - Vol. 2

Great players on this one as well.

Good starting point for anyone interested in the history of Jazz and Jazz Fusion guitar.

Track listing:


Sunday, August 20, 2017

Frank Zappa - 1967-1968 [1986] "We're Only In It For The Money" + "Lumpy Gravy"

This twofer CD reissue contains two 1968 albums by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. We're Only In It For The Money, originally released in January 1968, is The Mothers' third album, containing some of the group's sharpest satires, including "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" and the anti-hippie "Flower Punk." When he was putting together The Old Masters, Box One in 1985, Zappa re-recorded the album's rhythm tracks and re-edited it in places in an attempt to improve its sound. Instead, the album now sounds like an odd mixture of old and new. Lumpy Gravy, originally released in March 1968, is a Zappa solo album recorded with an orchestra, but although it isn't song-oriented, its approach is not much different from that of We're Only In It For The Money, so the two make a good pairing.

We're Only in It for the Money is the third studio album by the Mothers of Invention. Released on March 4, 1968 on Verve Records, it was subsequently remixed and re-recorded by Frank Zappa and reissued by Rykodisc in 1986.

As with the band's previous two albums, We're Only in It for the Money is a concept album, and satirizes left and right-wing politics, particularly the hippie subculture, as well as the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was conceived as part of a project called No Commercial Potential, which produced three other albums: Lumpy Gravy, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets and Uncle Meat.

We're Only in It for the Money encompasses rock, experimental music and psychedelic rock, with orchestral segments deriving from the recording sessions for Lumpy Gravy, which was previously issued as a solo instrumental album by Capitol Records and was subsequently reedited by Zappa and released by Verve; the reedited Lumpy Gravy was produced simultaneously with We're Only in It for the Money and is the first part of a conceptual continuity, continued with the reedited Lumpy Gravy and concluded with Zappa's final album, Civilization Phaze III (1994).

Lumpy Gravy is the debut solo album by Frank Zappa, an album of orchestral, electric and concrete sound written by Zappa and performed by a group of session players he dubbed the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra. Zappa conducted the orchestra but did not perform on the album. It is his third album overall: his previous releases had been under the name of his group, the Mothers of Invention.

It was commissioned and briefly released, on August 7, 1967, by Capitol Records in the 4-track Stereo-Pak format only and then withdrawn due to a lawsuit from MGM Records. MGM claimed that the album violated Zappa's contract with their subsidiary, Verve Records. In 1968 it was reedited and reissued by MGM's Verve Records on May 13, 1968. It consisted of two musique concrète pieces that combined elements from the original orchestral performance with elements of surf music and the spoken word. It was praised for its music and editing.

Produced simultaneously with We're Only in It for the Money, Zappa saw Lumpy Gravy as the second part of a conceptual continuity that later included his final album, Civilization Phaze III.

Later it was re-edited by Zappa as part of a project called No Commercial Potential, which included three other albums: We're Only in It for the Money, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets and Uncle Meat.

In college, our "hippie" friend Lowell W... introduced our group to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Soon, I was adding Mothers LPs (They came on vinyl, you know) to my ecclectic record collection. So, what was this stuff anyhow? Political comment? Rock N Roll? It certainly was not Country & Western! What a puzzle! (However, it might have been political satire because Zappa seems to have written a song about my family friendly congressman before he was even elected. "Just have your fun, you old son of a gun, and drive off in your Lincoln..." So, Lowell up and writes Frank about what's it really mean anyhow and signs it Lo W... Now, Zappa was not one to waste a stamp on a fan. But, a few months later a full page ad appeared for the newest Mother's album in "The Rolling Stone." The headline read: "Dear Lo: We're only in it for the money!" and there was a large photo of the album cover and some other stuff. Well, we still did not know what it was all about, but I enjoyed the album. I cannot speak for the entire listings of the Mothers on Amazon, but "We're only in it for the money" is my favorite Zappa CD. I still do not know what the goofy thing is all about, but I think the title is telling the truth.

Track listing:

We're Only In It For The Money
1 Are You Hung Up? 1:29
2 Who Needs The Peace Corps? 2:35
3 Concentration Moon 2:17
4 Mom & Dad 2:19
5 Telephone Conversation
Voice [On Telephone] – Suzy Creamcheese
6 Bow Tie Daddy 0:33
7 Harry, You're A Beast 1:21
8 What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? 1:03
9 Absolutely Free 3:28
10 Flower Punk 3:04
11 Hot Poop 0:29
12 Nasal Retentive Calliope Music 2:02
13 Let's Make The Water Turn Black 1:45
14 The Idiot Bastard Son 2:43
15 Lonely Little Girl 1:44
16 Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance 1:35
17 What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (Reprise) 0:57
18 Mother People 2:31
19 The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny 6:25
Lumpy Gravy
20      Lumpy Gravy I    15:48
21      Lumpy Gravy II    15:51


Frank Zappa (guitar, piano, lead vocals, "weirdness & editing")
Dick Barber ("snorks")
Jimmy Carl Black ("Indian of the group", drums, trumpet, vocals)
Roy Estrada (electric bass, vocals, "asthma")
Bunk Gardner (all woodwinds, "mumbled weirdness")
Billy Mundi (drums, vocal, "yak & black lace underwear")
Don Preston (keyboards)
Euclid James Motorhead Sherwood (soprano & baritone saxophones, "all purpose weirdness")
Ian Underwood (piano, woodwinds, "wholesome")
Pamela Zarubica as Suzy Creamcheese ("telephone")
Spider ("is the one who wants you to turn your radio around")
Eric Clapton ("has graciously consented to speak to you in several critical area")
Gary Kellgren ("creepy whispering")
Dick Kunc ("cheerful interruptions")
Sid Sharp (orchestral segments conductor)
Vicki ("telephone ")
Ronnie Williams (backwards voice)

Scott Mishoe - 1995 "Omnidirectional"

Scott Mishoe started guitar at the age of 5. His first live appearance was at the the age of 8. He got a gig at the age of 13 for a benefit show with Pat Travers. At 18 he got an endorsement with Fender. He was feature in Mike Varneys "Spotlight" column in the August 1990 issue and a number of other magazine features soon followed.

In 1992 his two-handed arpeggio techniques landed him a place on the Shrapnel "Ominous Guitarist from the Unknown" release. He was later featured on on Mark Varney's "Guitar On The Edge" series. This culminated in the release of a the CD "Omnidirectional" on Legato Records.

Scott's one of the most incredible guitarists to ever walk the face of this planet. Listen, if you like over-the-top technique that will make you laugh because it's so ridiculously amazing, this is your man. Take some of the best slap bassists you know, mix them with some blistering phrasing ala Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen, add in the ultra-clean technique of someone like Vinnie Moore. Shake it all with some Stanley Jordan clean tapping and BAM; That's Scott. He sounds nothing like a clone of any of those guys, either.

The guy is just phenominal and as someone who has combed the internet for all of Varney's greats from back in the day in addition to the hundreds of thousands of guitarists out there today, Scott is absolutely in a league of his own. Yes, the album cover is cheesy and yes, I know you're thinking, "Scott Mishoe... if he's THAT good, I should've heard of him by now." You're exactly right; you should have before now and it's an absolute atrocity that you haven't... but now that you have, you know what to do. If you're still unsure, go to YouTube and type in his name. That should pretty much do it for you. Basically.

Scott is the best crazy-amazing guitarist you've probably never heard of. I'm a fan of complex, melodic, techically incredible guitar playing--think Greg Howe, John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Vinnie Moore, Blues Saraceno, etc., and without a doubt Scott hangs with these guys. He's incredibly talented, both technically and compositionally.

I learned about Scott by taking guitar lessons from him in Scottsdale, AZ. Although I was a fairly advanced player, after hearing him play, I wanted to give him my guitar. Hearing his own material made me really respect his abilities as a composer and musician. If you like amazing guitar work and jazz/rock fusion, you'll love this disc.

Victor Wooten, inspired Scott to apply the infamous slap-technique to the guitar. Scott began creating a variety of licks around the slap-technique, developing an even more refreshing style. With the addition of this new technique, Scott developed what we think to be one of the most creative playing styles we’ve heard. Using a technique that can now be seen from players of late like Tosin Abasi, Scott can make a 5 second lick the most interesting 5 seconds of your life. But amidst all of the powerful slaps, Scott still manages to slip in some legato runs, chords, sweeps, with some fries on the side. But don’t get us wrong, Scott Mishoe ain’t no one-trick-pony. Scott’s impeccable tapping runs, alternate picking, and arpeggios give any modern day shredder a run for their money. Scott attests this seemingly flawless playing style to hours and hours of practicing during his free-time, claiming he also became “hooked” to the slap-technique, inspiring him to push even more boundaries with his expert-level guitar chops.

Unfortunately, the guitar community didn’t hear much from Scott Mishoe after his first album, leaving us guitar-nerds with very little to tide us over after 1995. Nonetheless, Scott hasn’t put down the guitar. As far as we can see and hear, the man has somehow managed to improve on his already amazing skills. Video surfacing on YouTube featuring Scott in recent years proved the super-tight and funky slap technique that Mr. Mishoe was known for is still alive and well. Recent interviews reveal that Scott is in the process of writing another album, and hopes to work with players like Ray Riendeau, Keith Horne, and Victor Wooten in the near future. We don’t know about you, but this is reason enough for us to keep an eye out.

Track Listing:

01. Mal-Funk-Shen [3:27]
02. Making My Way Home [3:13]
03. Sonic Chaos [4:19]
04. Incredible Grasp [4:28]
05. theresa Ann [3:42]
06. Sky High [3:36]
07. Out Of Control [4:11]
08. Dream Come True [3:42]
09. Miafoe [4:25]
10. Whiteland Leaf [3:42]
11. Without You [2:30]
12. Nacho Mama [4:28]


Scott Mishoe - Guitar
Ray Riendeau - Bass
Brett Frederickson - Drums

Keith Horne - Bass (2)
Paul Gilaspy - Drums (1)
Shawn D. - Keyboards (8)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gypsy - 1971 [1990] "In The Garden"

In the Garden is the second album by the progressive rock band Gypsy, their second for Metromedia. It peaked at #173 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts in 1971.

 This was Gypsy's second album and their  the most collectable. The song "As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)" is a 12 minute epic which is probably their best song from all of their albums. This song also received the most radio airplay from this album.

The band has matured greatly with this album. The basic music is structured much like their first LP, but the sound is more together and the organ, played by Jimmy Walsh, seems to be the focal point of the group's maturity. "As Far As You Can See" is an enchanting education; while the second side of the LP contains one view of paradise entitled "Here in the Garden,".

Gypsy began life as the hugely popular teen band The Underbeats, hailing from the fertile Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene. In 1969 The Underbeats decided to go for the big time and headed for California, where they eventually secured house band status at the Whiskey A Go-Go. Around this time the Underbeats name was sounding a bit dated so the band was rechristened Gypsy. The band started to attract attention from record labels and wound up with two solid offers, Atlantic and the upstart Metromedia. The band chose Metromedia and proceeded to record their self titled debut album, released in 1970. After the first album the band embarked on a successful national tour, playing large venues and festivals. In 1971, along with some personnel changes, the band returned to LA and began recording their second album In The Garden. Due to financial problems at Metromedia the album never got the attention it deserved.

1971 was a terrific year for Progressive Rock and Gypsy's second album provides more memorable music. This band is prodigiously talented in every way. Almost anyone can relate to the lovely "Time Will Make It Better". It should have been a hit, and the album is real progressive masterpiece,in fact, marks the transition from traditional to psychedelic progressive rock. with beautiful melodic structures, vocal harmonies and a very good competent guitarist In The Garden excites and thrills from start to finish with their beautiful songs and always welcome timbre of the good old organs Hammond B3. As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel) is a small epic of almost 12 minutes long with chilling harmonies and solos. In The Garden II is another firecracker album!!!

This gem was my one of my favorite LPs from the early 70s. It is instrumentally complex and lyrically powerful, just a joy to listen to. "Antithesis" is also good but "In the Garden" is probably Gypsy's best work. Gypsy was far and away the best Minneapolis-based group of their generation, doing truly original work.

I am old enough to remember the American progressive rock band named Gypsy in their prime. As many have written, this band is far better than the meager recognition they have ever gotten. As a student at the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA) in 1976 I remember sitting in the student union, listening to a mid-day concert by this band and two things kept coming to mind. First, this band should have been playing much larger halls and getting way more airplay than they were getting, and second, this is the ONLY band I have ever seen in a live concert that sounded EXACTLY like their recorded albums did, although The Zombies and (early) Chicago were pretty close. Now, here it is thirty-nine years later, and I still think their music is just as powerful and wonderful. It may be the 'old codger' in me, but the 1963-1979 era of rock music can NOT be beat by anything since, and in my humble opinion Gypsy was a vibrant part of that legacy.

The only sad thing about Gypsy is that as far as I know they only made two albums. These guy's were just a great band period and so unappreciated. The band I was in at the time of this release actually covered two of their songs Around You and As far As I Can See. People would be like who does those songs. I could have told them I wrote them cause they were just not put out there and a appreciated. I play this disc all the time never leaves my car, wish they would get back together.

Track listing:

1 "Around You" – 5:27
2 "Reach Out Your Hand" – 2:33
3 "As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)" (Rosenbaum with intro by Lordan/Walsh) – 12:09
4 "Here in the Garden I" – 6:43
5 "Here in the Garden II" – 3:07
6 "Blind Man" – 3:59
7 "Time Will Make It Better" (Walsh) – 2:53


Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
James Johnson - guitar, vocals
Bill Lordan - drums
Willie Weeks - bass
Joe Lala - percussion

Monday, August 14, 2017

Soft Machine - 1981 [2010] "Land Of Cockayne"

Digitally remastered edition of this 1981 release, the final album from the British Prog/Art Rock band. By the time the album was recorded, the band was comprised of keyboard player and saxophonist Karl Jenkins and drummer John Marshall. The duo were joined by musicians such as Jack Bruce, the returning Allan Holdsworth, Dick Morrissey and Ray Warleigh to produce a different, but polished album. Esoteric. 2010.

Land of Cockayne is the final album by the band Soft Machine, released in 1981. By this point, the band contained none of its original members. The title refers to the medieval land of plenty.
The album came about as the result of a project in which Karl Jenkins and John Marshall had been involved featuring top session musicians. The ad hoc band, Rollercoaster, had recently recorded the Stevie Wonder tribute album Wonderin' and decided to record another album together. Many of the musicians included on the Cockayne album would make up Soft Machine's final live line-up which played a six-night residency at Ronnie Scott's in 1984. This is the only Soft Machine album to feature a string section.

Excellent job remastering and adding an informative booklet to this wonderful cd. the title of this cd is based on a medieval vision, Land of Cockaigne, a poor man's paradise of effortless abundance. i've been a soft machine fan for decades and absolutely loved the progression in style this band developed. to my constant surprise are those critics to dislike the changes this band had made. change is the only thing permanent in life people. this cd is very melodic, and romantic, with added strings from the composition and musical direction of karl jenkins. jack bruce on bass, john marshall drums, john taylor, allan holdsworth, alan parker, dick morrissey and ray warleigh round out the band. most of the music is very beautifully composed and gentle. there are a couple of pieces that "rock" to round out the balance of style on this cd. sadly this is the last of the modern line up of soft machine cds. there has been a lot of older material being issued, which too is wonderful. but if you're a fan of progressive jazz, this is a delightful cd to own.

This, the final album recorded under the name Soft Machine, has been much maligned as being extraneous to the legacy of a band who forged a unique and truly progressive path through the late sixties and seventies. The truth of the matter is that it really is a Karl Jenkins project in all but name, but it should not be unfairly filed alongside the library music of the posthumously issued `Rubber Riff'.

One look at the players listed here should tell anyone that this not a bland collection of half-baked instrumentals, but quite a feast of surprisingly strong musical sketches. Jenkins leads (as keyboardist and conductor) such talents as the mighty Jack Bruce and Allan Holdsworth and twin sax maestros Ray Warleigh and Dick Morrissey. John Taylor contributes some first class Fender Rhodes, while Softs cohort John Marshall is as reliable and vibrant as ever on drums.

The album is a suite of varied instrumental pieces ranging from appealing, sunny pieces for sax and wordless vocals, melodic ambient excursions, string sections, and strong themes which allow ample time for quality soloing from the giants gathered here. Yes, it is easy on the ear, but it carries a gravitas which relates back to Jenkins' compositions for earlier incarnations of Soft Machine. The extended `Panoramania' and `Hot Biscuit Slim' both recall the joy of a beautifully scored head theme ushering in a collection of solos by musicians who by virtue of their pedigree make every note count. `Black Velvet Mountain' is a wonderful showcase for Allan Holdsworth's ability to get inside a melody, which like his work with the Bruford band of this era, exude the authority of a seasoned player. `Sly Monkey' offers further evidence that an Allan Holdsworth solo is a thing of great joy, especially when complemented by the equally majestic saxophone of Ray Warleigh.

Tracks Listing

1. Over 'n' above (7:24)
2. Lotus groves (4:57)
3. Isle of the blessed (1:56)
4. Panoramania (7:07)
5. Behind the crystal curtain (0:53)
6. Palace of glass (3:22)
7. Hot-biscuit Slim (7:27)
8. (Black) velvet mountain (5:10)
9. Sly monkey (5:00)
10. A lot of what you fancy... (0:35)

Total Time: 43:51


Karl Jenkins – keyboards, synths, orchestration
John Marshall – drums, percussion
Jack Bruce – bass
Allan Holdsworth – lead guitar
John Taylor – electric piano
Ray Warleigh – alto saxophone, bass flute
Dick Morrissey – tenor saxophone
Alan Parker – rhythm guitar
Stu Calver – vocals, backing vocals
John G. Perry – vocals, backing vocals
Tony Rivers – vocals, backing vocals

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Various Artists - 2015 "Jaco" (Original Soundtrack)

“JACO,” The surprisingly cohesive soundtrack to the 2015 Jaco Pastorius documentary Jaco features tracks the legendary jazz bassist recorded during his short career in the '70s and '80s. The first major documentary film about Pastorius, who was born in 1951 and died tragically in 1987 at age 35, Jaco was produced by bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Metallica) and Pastorius' oldest son, Johnny Pastorius. Jaco details Pastorius' rise from unknown Florida musician to internationally recognized and innovative jazz superstar. In concordance, we get cuts Pastorius recorded as a solo artist and as a member of the influential fusion outfit Weather Report. Fittingly, Trujillo and Pastorius cull tracks off the bassist's two major solo studio albums, 1976's Jaco Pastorius and 1981's Word of Mouth, including "Come on, Come Over," "Continuum," and "Crisis." Elsewhere, we get a handful of major Weather Report sides, including the synth-heavy "River People" and the funky Pastorius feature "Teen Town." Along the way, we also get several tracks Pastorius recorded for other artists, including a live version of "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" with Joni Mitchell and "All American Alien Boy" off Ian Hunter's 1978 studio album. Bringing Pastorius' influence full circle, Trujillo also includes several brand-new recordings, including a cover of "Come on, Come Over" by his own band Mass Mental, as well as a cover of "Continuum" by Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. While there is certainly room for longer, more exhaustive Pastorius anthologies, Jaco succeeds in providing a listenable -- and one feels lovingly heartfelt -- overview of the bassist's career.

With so many compilations already out there, it might be easy to question why a soundtrack to JACO is even necessary. But one look at the track listing renders its raison d'être clear: JACO: Original Soundtrack is, in some ways, the most comprehensive document of the bassist's career, even if it doesn't contain as much music as previous double-disc sets. Yes, there is plenty of time given to his leader debut, Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976), with everything from the soul/funk of "Come On, Come Over" and the ethereal "Continuum" to the hauntingly beautiful "Portrait of Tracy" and the atmospheric, harmonic-driven feature for French horn and percussion, "Okonkole yTrompa."

But there's also space for a couple of tracks from his second album (and 1981 Warner Bros. debut), Word of Mouth, including the staggeringly chaotic album- opener, "Crisis," and more bouyant and accessible big band chart, "Liberty City"—which, in addition to jazz giant Herbie Hancock, also features Pastorius' longtime friends from his Florida days, steel pan player Othello Molineaux and percussionist Don Alias.

Pastorius' tenure in Weather Report, too, is briefly represented with every aspiring bassist's rite of passage, "Teen Town," from the group's 1977 mega hit, Heavy Weather (Columbia) and equally impressive "River People," from 1978's Mr. Gone (Columbia), which combines Pastorius' relentless sixteenth-note anchor and keyboardist Joe Zawinul's broad orchestrations with a disco-fied beat that boosters the bassist's comment, in the film, that "everything's hip." Also included is "Barbary Coast," one of two tracks (and the only one written by Pastorius) that the bassist contributed to the transitional Black Market (Columbia, 1976), a brief piece of greasy funk that was a harbinger of even better things to come as Pastorius took over the bass chair from Alphonso Johnson.

JACO: Original Soundtrack also includes a couple of his many guest appearances, including Joni Mitchell's setting of Charles Mingus' "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" to words, first found on her collaborative album with the great double bassist, Mingus (Elektra/Asylum, 1979), but heard here as the incendiary live version from Shadows and Light the following year, where saxophonist Michael Brecker takes a lengthy closing solo that Pastorius and Alias (this time on drum kit) push into the stratosphere and beyond. Less often included on jazz-centric Pastorius compilations is his contribution to ex-Mott the Hoople singer Ian Hunter's second solo album, All American Alien Boy, with the title track included here, complete with a bass solo that demonstrates Pastorius' ability to fit into any context.

But what really makes the JACO: Original Soundtrack special are the five tracks that close the 74-minute set. Daughter Mary Pastorius' "Longing" is a dark, dreamy ballad where the singer is supported solely by bassist Chuck Doom and, from her father's Weather Report days, percussionist/drummer Robert Thomas, Jr. "1987" is performed by a group named with nothing but three symbols —with Chuck Doom on bass and keyboards, guitarist Shaun Lopez and vocalist Chino Moreno creating a similarly dreamy but increasingly dramatic response to the year of Pastorius' death. "Shine" takes the bass line from Jaco Pastorius' "Kuru," played by the bassist's nephew David Pastorius, but covers a lot of territory in its brief three minutes, with rap from TechN9ne (speaking in time with "Kuru"'s relentlessly fast bass line) and singing from keyboardist Soko, building into an urban-centric, song-based homage. Acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela performs a more rhythmically propulsive version of Jaco Pastorius floating "Continuum," also turning it into a fine solo vehicle for both guitarists.

Finally, the group dubbed Mass Mental—which features bassists including the film's co-producer from Metallica, Robert Trujillo, alongside one-time Zawinul Syndicate bassist Armand Sabal-Lecco and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' irrepressible Flea—closes the recording by bringing it full circle with a more contemporary rendition of JACO: Original Soundtrack's opening track: Jaco Pastorius' Sam & Dave feature, "Come On, Come Over." Here, however, Mass Mental blends sung vocals with rap, and horns and keys combined with a dense mix from all three bassist that demonstrates the continued breadth and depth of Jaco Pastorius' reach and influence.

As much a starting point for those unfamiliar with Jaco Pastorius' work as it is a heartfelt tribute by family, friends and those who may never have met the bassist but were touched by his work, JACO: Original Soundtrack is a rare soundtrack album that honors its subject by demonstrating not just the subject's own work but showing how the father of "Punk Jazz" affected so many others in such a wide variety of genres. As much as the film succeeded in telling a story, this soundtrack is pure evidence of an artist whose influence continues to be felt nearly three decades after his passing.

Compilation Produced by Robert Trujillo & Johnny Pastorius

Track List:

01 Come On, Come Over – Jaco Pastorius
02 Continuum – Jaco Pastorius
03 River People – Weather Report
04 Teen Town – Weather Report
05 Portrait of Tracy – Jaco Pastorius
06 The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Live Version) – Joni Mitchell
07 All American Alien Boy – Ian Hunter
08 Liberty City (with Herbie Hancock) – Jaco Pastorius
09 Okonkole Y Trompa – Jaco Pastorius
10 Barbary Coast – Weather Report
11 Crisis – Jaco Pastorius
12 Longing – Mary Pastorius
13 Nineteen Eighty Seven – †††
14 Shine – Tech N9ne
15 Continuum – Rodrigo y Gabriela
16 Come On Come Over – Mass Mental (featuring Robert Trujillo, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Flea, Whit       Crane, Benji Webbe, Stephen Perkins & C-Minus)


Jaco Pastorius: bass (1-11), drums (3-4), voice (3, 11),timpani (3), Prophet 5 Synthesizer (8), cymbals (8), keyboards (11), synthesizer (11); Randy Brecker: trumpet (1); Ron Tooley: trumpet (1); David Samborn: alto saxophone (1); Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 11); Howard Johnson: baritone saxophone (1, 8); Herbie Hancock: keyboards (1), Fender Rhodes (2), piano (8); Don Alias: congas (1, 9), bells (2), drums (6), percussion (8), Okonkolo y lya (9),Afu he (9); Narada Michael Walden: drums (1); Sam Moore: vocals (1); Dave Prater: vocals (1); Lenny White: drums (2) Wayne Shorter: soprano saxophone (3-4, 8, 10), tenor saxophone (10, 11), Lyricon (10); Manolo Badrena: congas (3-4); Joe Zawinul: keyboards (3, 10), ARP (3), Prophet (3) Fender Rhodes (4, 10), ARP 2600 (4, 10), melodica (4), Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer (4, 10), grand piano (10); Joni Mitchell: voice (6); Pat Metheny: guitar (6); Lyle Mays: keyboards (6); Ian Hunter: rhythm guitar (7), piano (7), vocals (7); Ann Sutton: background vocals (7); Gail Kantor: background vocals (7); Erin Dickens: background vocals (7); Cornell Dupree: guitar (7); Aynsley Dunbar: drums (7); Chris Stainton: organ (7), keyboards (7); Toots Thielemans: harmonica (8, 11); Othello Molineaux: steel pans (8); Paul Hornmueller: steel pans (8); Leroy Williams: steel pans (8); Jack DeJohnette: drums (8, 11); Robert Thomas, Jr.: percussion (8), hand drums (12), drum kit (12); Chuck Findley: trumpet (8); Bobby Findley: trumpet (8); Snooky Young: trumpet (8); Dave Bargeron: trombone (8); Jim Pugh: trombone (8); David Taylor: bass trombone (8); John Clark: French horn (8); Peter Gordon: French horn (8, 9); Hubert Lass: piccolo (8, 11), flute (8); George Young: alto saxophone (8); Alphonso Johnson: electric bass (10); Chester Thompson: drums (10), percussion (10); Alex Acuña: congas (10), percussion (10); Mary Pastorius: vox (12); Chuck Doom: bass (12,13), keyboards (13); God: rain (12), thunder (12); Chino Moreno: voice (13); Shaun Lopez: guitars (13); TechN9ne: vocals (14); Soko: vocals (14), keyboards (14); David Pastorius: bass (14); Rodrigo y Gabriela: acoustic guitars (15); C-Minus: keyboards (16), horns (16); Stephen Perkins: drums (16); Whit Crane: vocals (16); Benji Webbe: vocals (16); Robert Trujillo: Main Chango bass (16); Armand Sabal-Lecco: Tenor Juju bass (16); Flea: bass stabs (16), bass solo (16).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mingo Lewis - 1976 [2017] "Flight Never Ending"

James Mingo Lewis (born December 1940) is an American jazz percussionist who played with Carlos Santana's band, Return To Forever (Chick Corea) and as a sideman for Al Di Meola. Aside from his extensive work as a session musician—Paiste states Mingo "has recorded over 100 records"—, the percussionist also released a solo album, Flight Never Ending (Columbia, 1976).

Legendary Bay Area progressive jazz percussionist Mingo Lewis began performing with Santana in his teens. Lewis also worked with artists such as Al DiMeola, Chick Corea and Return to Forever, David Byrne, Jan Hammer and The Tubes. Many people got a first glance at Lewis’ extraordinary musicianship through Al DiMeola’s debut album from 1976 “Land of the Midnight Sun” where Lewis contributed one of the most memorable compositions, the opening track “The Wizard” (1st sample below), which has become a DiMeola classic. Lewis' debut album was also originally released in 1976 and it also contains a version of “The Wizard” (2nd sample below). DiMeola’s version of “The Wizard” is melodically stronger, which perhaps suggest that DiMeola might have heard Lewis’ version prior to him releasing his debut album. Nonetheless "Flight Never Ending" is classic 70's fusion much in the style of Return to Forever & Al DiMeola. The music combines the primitive Afro-Cuban rhythms with the newest dimension in progressive rock at the time. It only took 30 years for this recording to appear on CD as it was finally superbly digitally remastered in 2007. Musicians include: Mingo Lewis on percussion and keyboards, David Logeman on drums, Eric McCann on bass, Randy Sellgren on guitar, Michael Kapitan and Kincaid Miller on keyboards, and A. Louis Bramey on hand bells.

In my opinion this is a landmark recording. A somewhat obscure album that should have received more attention in the jazz/rock/fusion category. Featuring the guitar work of Randy Sellgren. Mingo Lewis and Al DiMeola were on pretty much on the same page at this point in time. Al DiMeola had featured Mingo on his "Land of the Midnight Sun" recording from the same year and did so again on his "Elegant Gypsy"(1977)/"Casino"(1978)/"Splendido Hotel"(1980)/"Scenario"(1982)/"Tour De Force"(1982"/"Electric Rendezvous"(1983) recordings. Al DiMeola did a rearrangement of Mingo's "Frankincense" on his "Casino"(Chasin' the Voodoo") lp with Mingo. Anyone who enjoyed DiMeola's work at this time should give Mingo Lewis' "Flight Never Ending" recording a listen. His influence is obvious. In my opinion, once again, all the above is great music from great musicians from a time that has rarely been equaled since.

Great lost fusion music from a great percussionist that has played with a variety of musicians and artists over the years. I have been looking for this album for years and finally someone came out with it on CD.

Delighted to see that Mingo Lewis "Flight Never Ending" is re-issued on cd. As many may know, he was the percussionist on several of Al DiMeola's early solo albums. When this album was released in the mid 70's, it was by far my favorite Fusion album. The track "Heart Song" still holds up. Searing guitar solos, propulsive drumming, synth solos and layered with Latin Percussion. A must have for anyone who enjoys re-visiting musicianship from the Fusion Era.

CD reissue. Mingo Lewis' career spans more than 45 years. He is a percussionist that has performed live and recorded with some of music's greatest names, including Al DiMeola, Santana, Miles Davis, Third World, Billy Joel, The Tubes and Chick Corea's Return To Forever. Flight Never Ending was originally released in 1976 on Columbia Records. This CD consists of searing guitar solos, propulsive drumming and synth solos layered with Latin percussion. A must-have for all who enjoy fusion! This album features two Mingo Lewis compositions recorded by Al DiMeola, 'The Wizard' (on his Land Of The Midnight Sun album) and 'Frankincense' AKA 'Chasin' The Voodoo' (on his Casino album.)

This version has more punch and bass than the 2007 release.

 1. Aba Cua
 2. Frankincense
 3. Heartsong
 4. The Wizard
 5. Visions of Another Time
 6. Trapezoid
 7. Maginary Monsters
 8. Flight Never Ending

Columbia Records, 1976

Mingo Lewis - percussion, synthesizers, congas, clavinet, and vocals
Louis Bramy - percussion, bells, vocals
Mike Kapitan - keyboards, piano, synthesizers, drums vocals
David Logeman - drums
Eric McCann - electric bass
Kincaid Miller - synthesizers, keyboards clavinet
Randy Sellgren - electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ray Barretto - 1994 "Taboo"

Ray Barretto's Taboo features a new, smaller version of his New World Spirit ensemble. Hector Martignon, who composes along with Barretto, is still here, as are Satoshi Takeishi, Ray Vega, and Jairo Moreno. Saxophonist Adam Kolker takes the sax chair vacated by Jay Rodriguez, and guitarist Alfredo Gonzales has not been replaced. The material is far jazzier on Taboo. Barretto explored the roots of Latin jazz as it transformed itself into the New York version of son and salsa on 2003's Hot Hands: Ancestral Messages, and Taboo serves as a guidebook to present and future tenses of Latin jazz. For starters, one can read between the lines that Ray Vega's charts have moved far a-field of the standard notions surrounding big band arrangements. Everything here feels fluid and relaxed; the playing leaves spontaneity in the air whether it is on a Barretto or a Martignon original, such as on "Bomba-Riquen," "99 MacDougal St," or something from the hard bop cannon by Nat Adderley and Oscar Brown, Jr., such as the classic "Work Song," or a modal tune like McCoy Tyner's "Effendi." What comes out is a steamy, emotionally moving, reworking of the soul-jazz ethic by Latin rhythmic and sophistication standards. One tune seamlessly moves into another and the trajectory of soloists against the rhythm section is linear; there is no attempt made by anyone here to play beyond the watermark the band sets, thereby keeping the entire process organic and unified. The counterpoint is engaging, the melodic intervention is groundbreaking, and the interplay of rhythm instruments -- hand percussion, drums, bass, and piano, is nothing less than brilliant and innovative. Taboo actually moves past Hot Hands: Ancestral Messages, and gives listeners a solid view of the shape of Latin jazz to come.

This CD exceeded my expectations.

Track Listing:

  1. Taboo
  2. Bomba-Riquen
  3. Work Song
  4. Cancion De'l Yungue (Song For The Rain Forest)
  5. Guaji-Rita
  6. 99 MacDougal St.
  7. Montuno Blue
  8. Brother Tom
  9. Lazy Afternoon
  10. Effendi


- Ray Barretto: Composer, Congas, Drums, Primary Artist, Quinto
- Alfredo González: Guitar
- Adam Kolker: Flute, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor).
- Hector Martignon: Arranger, Composer, Piano
- Jairo Moreno: Bass, Bass (Electric), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric).
- Satoshi Takeishi: Drums.
- Ray Vega: Arranger, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion.

Gabor Szabo - 1966 [1998] "Spellbinder" [Japan Import]

Spellbinder is an album by Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó featuring performances recorded in 1966 for the Impulse! label.[1] The album contains "Gypsy Queen" which was covered together with Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman" by Santana on his 1970 Abraxas album. Wiki.

Released just six months after Gypsy '66, Gabor Szabo's second album as a leader (after leaving a sublime Chico Hamilton band that also included Charles Lloyd) remains one of his finest moments in the studio. Szabo utilized the tales of bassist Ron Carter and his old boss Hamilton on drums, as well as a pair of fine Latin percussionists -- Willie Bobo and Victor Pantoja. The groove quotient was very high on Spellbinder, maybe even higher than on later albums such as Jazz Raga or Sorcerer. This set is all Szabo, drifting, wafting, and soaring above all that rhythm; the track selection provides ample space for Szabo's highly individualized Eastern modal style to shine. The set opens with the title track, a snaky guitar masterpiece with plenty of droning strings and pinched chords that are followed by open string flourishes. Carter holds the entire band together as Hamilton plays in counterpoint to the percussionists. This is followed with two nuggets from the pop book of the day, the Coleman/Leigh classic "Witchcraft" and "It Was a Very Good Year." From the performances here, it's apparent that Szabo was deeply influenced by singers, and Frank Sinatra was at his pinnacle during this time. There's the emerging '60s psychedelic sound in Szabo's playing, but it is underlaid with bossa rhythms and swells. These tracks, while flavored with Latin and pop stylings, are gorgeous guitar jazz. Szabo gets back into his own mystic thang with "Gypsy Queen" (the opening droning moments of which the Doors lifted entirely for "The End"). Here the Latin rhythms and guitar go head to head, point to counterpoint. A pronounced yet elusive melody line propels a series of polyrhythms forward into an abyss of melody, mode, and frighteningly intense legato phrasing, leaving the listener breathless. He takes the edge off with Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang (She Shot Me Down)." Szabo sings here in his plaintive Hungarian-inflected English, and the tune becomes something other than a pop song, but a tome on despair and loss. The funky "Cheetah" follows with gorgeous arpeggios, pointedly turning into chords of distinction as Hamilton rides the crash cymbal into territories unknown and double-times the band until it notches up the intensity. This set follows with one more Szabo original ("Yearning") and a trio of standards, with a heartbreakingly beautiful read of "My Foolish Heart" and a medley of "Autumn Leaves" and "Speak to Me of Love." Szabo's read on jazz in the '60s was brilliant. He embodied all of its most popular aspirations with a genuine spirit of innovation and adventure. Spellbinder is a masterpiece. All Music.

I love Jazz Guitar and have many many albums by the best in the business ;Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Herb Ellis, Wes Montgomery, Bill Frissell, JIm Hall and many others....

Of all the Jazz GUitar albums i own, Spellbinder album by Gabor Szabo is one of my favourites....his tone is utterly unique and coming from Hungary (eurpoe), has definietly added to his flavour.

on Spellbinder the arrangement with a tonne of percussion and bass lays a huge spacious foundation for Gabor Szabo to paint over the top....there are no other treble instruments to get in his way....its all there for Gabor Szabo to rip on and he does!

A great album opened me up to his other works and i bought two other albums which are also good, but Spellbinder is my even has the vocal track 'Bang Bang- my baby shot me down ' on it, the famous track that was used, on the movie Kill Bill.

One of my favourite Jazz Guitar albums. By Grant Green.

This album, heard at a friend's house in the late 60s, left an indelible memory. I decided to seek it out to find out whether it was as good as I remembered. The answer is yes. It's not just Szabo's guitar, but the accompaniment and recording, as well: Ron Carter, bass; Rudy Van Gelder, engineer, Bob Thiele, producer. The latin percussion is likewise mesmerizing. Wonderful. By InTents.

Many rock listeners who graduated to jazz will have picked up the scent, so to speak, of Gabor Szabo; he was the composer of the "Gypsy Queen", played by Santana on the extraordinary first side of "Abraxas".

Such listeners would have been disconcerted, perhaps, when they heard this, as I was, many years ago. Szabo's recording was only remotely connected in mood to the Santana performance. But, with time, I picked up on the excellence of the performance. A common transition when rock listeners made the transition to jazz, the bigger vehicle, the mother music of America, and increasingly, Europe.

Hungary has the same mythic connection to music as African America. Perhaps this is rubbish, harmless or insidious of limiting stereotype, I don't know. But Szabo (of damnably short life, dying in his forties in '82) was Hungarian, fleeing the country when the drunkards of the USSR cracked down on the opening in Budapest in 1956. By this time, the compatriot of Bartok and, in a different way, the "Gypsies" had discovered American jazz music. Itself an affront to the Communists.

So America got Szabo. What there is of "Gypsy" here, I'm not sure. The exotic element is the Latin American percussion: there are two Latin percussionists here, the entirety driven by the machine beat of the great Chico Hamilton, who had previously featured Szabo on one of his unpredictable albums. At that time, Szabo and Hamilton were associated with Charles Lloyd, the tenor saxophonist. Lloyd is absent on "Spellbinder", a relief to this listener; I find his alternate copyings of Coltrane and Ornette Coleman cloying, and as domineering as Flip Phillip's excursions on "Jazz at the Philharmonic".

This is a minimalist, percussion-dominated record. The great bassist Ron Carter stays in the background here, and the leader himself, using a wooden guitar with pickup (I think), plays remarkably but subtly throughout, no guitargoddism here. Because the only soloist plays for the music, not the solo (rather like Miles Davis), a second soloist (reed, or perhaps a violin) isn't missed.

He's most at home playing his own compositions, but does reasonably well on standards, "My foolish heart", in this case. The Sonny Bono number succeeds, too, over the whole, but I'm sorry to say that I could have done without the singing. Szabo isn't a bad singer, but it seemed to me out of place.

My copy is a Japanese import. Very good sound, over the whole; it wouldn't have been hard to record this properly, and not hard to remaster, I wouldn't think. Good job, in any case, though I think it could be said that the bass (Ron Carter) isn't quite properly salient. By (((Marco Buendia))).

Track listing:

All compositions by Gábor Szabó except as indicated

1 "Spellbinder" - 5:30
2 "Witchcraft" (Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh) - 4:39
3 "It Was a Very Good Year" (Ervin Drake) - 2:47
4 "Gypsy Queen" - 5:13
5 "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" (Sonny Bono) - 2:28
6 "Cheetah" - 4:10
7 "My Foolish Heart" (Ned Washington, Victor Young) - 5:28
8 "Yearning" - 2:59
9 "Autumn Leaves/Speak to Me of Love" (Joseph Kosma, Jacques Prévert, Johnny Mercer/Jean Lenoir) - 3:35


Gábor Szabó - guitar, vocals
Ron Carter - bass
Chico Hamilton – drums
Willie Bobo, Victor Pantoja - percussion

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Camel - 1985 "A Compact Compilation"

A Compact Compilation is a compilation album of the British progressive rock band Camel released in 1985.

I have many of the Camel releases, and this is a great introduction to this band. Probably the complaints of the other reviewers have to do with the fact that the cd only pulls songs from 4 of their releases and they have alot of good stuff. This release is probably 90% instrumental. I would have to concur the sequencing isn't ideal. The first 2 cuts are from Mirage (a great album) but are much harder rocking than the rest of the stuff. Once you hit the Snow Goose era stuff it's a nice smooth ride. Camel are especially strong in terms of creating great melodies. But what is equally impressive is the interplay of the musicians. Just when the keyboards or guitar are presenting a really strong melody, each member of the rest of the band is playing an interesting part that just adds to, rather than detracting from, the main theme. The interplay of the band members is exceptional.

This can be a very therapeutic and uplifting listen. One which will take you through many moods. Seems it would be good for a long road trip. I also really love Rajaz off from the cd of the same name. Also, there are some incredible tunes on Dust and Dreams.

I can understand that some reviewers might say that this compilation doesn't really do justice to the band. The reason for that is that they painted from such a wide musical palette that it would be very hard to create a representative compilation.

If I had never heard of Camel and wanted to check them out, I would buy this in a heart beat.

I bought this CD because I wanted to familiarize myself with Camel's music and I really got my money's worth. Excellent CD from start to finish. "Lady Fantasy" and "Rhayander" really stand out. Most of the CD is instrumental, but when there are vocal parts they're done well. If you're looking to get into Camel this is a great place to start. I just wish the band had a better name! It's hard to take a band called Camel seriously, but they deserve more credit and attention than they've received.

Rhino's come a long way in terms of album packaging, that much is for certain.  Thankfully, the music on this one is killer, so the lack of liners or detailed information is excusable.  I'm certain there are better retrospectives on this unfortunately oft-overlooked band, but this is the only one I own, the first one I ran across, so this is not only my introduction to Camel, but all I've ever heard.  All opinions converge on the fact that the earliest Camel albums (the ones that these tracks are taken from) represent many of the high points of the band's catalog, so this one is literally the best of the best.  Epic early prog, somewhere between Genesis' musical theatre, Yes' symphonics, Floyd's space-rock (especially on the selections from Moonmadness), and the Canterbury boys' jazz-fusion leanings, Camel released some great music in their day, making them (along with Caravan and Gentle Giant) one of the golden age of prog-rock's longlost secrets...  Song highlights include the multi-part epic Lady Fantasy, which rides some Yes-esque instrumental sections through a Floydian refrain and then back into a pseudo-Fripp guitar freak-out...  Bear in mind, as well, that these comparisons are in no way to mean that Camel is derivative of their peers, more that they existed in their own place, somewhere between the places of many of their contemporaries.

A selection of songs from 4 of their most acclaimed albums:

Mirage - (Released 1974) tracks: 1 to 2
The Snow Goose - (Released 1975) tracks: 3 to 8
Moonmadness - (Released 1976) tracks: 9 to 10
Rain Dances - (Released 1977) tracks: 11 to 13.

 Tracks Listing:

1. Freefall (5:49)
2. Lady Fantasy (12:42)
3. The Great Marsh (1:45)
4. Rhayader (3:08)
5. Rhayader Goes To Town (5:21)
6. The Snow Goose (3:17)
7. Flight Of The Snow Goose (2:45)
8. Dunkirk (5:29)
9. Song Within A Song (7:10)
10. Lunar Sea (9:06)
11. First Light (5:05)
12. Metrognome (4:09)
13. Rain Dances (2:38)

Total Time: 68:24

Line-up / Musicians

Bass – Richard Sinclair (tracks: 11 to 13)
Bass, Vocals – Doug Ferguson (tracks: 1 to 10)
Compilation Producer – Bob Say
Drums, Percussion – Andy Ward (2)
Guitar, Vocals – Andrew Latimer
Keyboards, Vocals – Pete Bardens*