Monday, October 30, 2017

Weather Report - 1972 [2004] "I Sing The Body Electric"

I Sing the Body Electric is the second album released by Weather Report from 1972. The album includes two new members of the band: percussionist Dom Um Romão and drummer Eric Gravatt. The last three tracks were recorded live in concert in Tokyo, Japan on January 13, 1972. These tracks have been edited for this album and can be heard in their entirety on Weather Report's 1972 import album Live in Tokyo.
The album takes its title from an 1855 poem by Walt Whitman, also a 1969 short story by Ray Bradbury.

Like the weather itself, this band would assume a new shape with virtually every release -- and this album, half recorded in the studio and half live in Tokyo, set the pattern of change. Exit Airto Moreira and Alphonse Mouzon; enter percussionist Dom Um Romao, drummer Eric Gravatt, and a slew of cameo guests like guitarist Ralph Towner, flutist Hubert Laws, and others. The studio tracks are more biting, more ethnically diverse in influence, and more laden with electronic effects and grandiose structural complexities than before. The live material (heard in full on the import Live in Tokyo) is even fiercer and showcases for the first time some of the tremendous drive WR was capable of, though it doesn't give you much of an idea of its stream of consciousness nature.

I Sing The Body Electric is a very obscure collection of music. It almost completely ignores the ambient sound that was explored by its predecessor. The Weather Report's eponymous debut experimented with an atmospheric approach to Jazz music, expanding on the musical concepts found in albums like Miles Davis' In A Silent Way. But I Sing The Body Electric follows a very different objective, the music seems to have more in common with the experimental nature of Progressive rock than Jazz. This time drawing influence from albums like Pink Floyd's Ummagumma, as the compositions seem to question all rules of musical convention, while leaving us to roam through various musical landscapes.

The opening song, "The Unknown Soldier", completely diverts itself away from the traditional etiquettes of Jazz orchestration. It is a voyage through the abstract, expressing an enigmatic philosophy for us to decipher. Eric Gravatt establishes a rhythmic landscape with his drumming, and from there, the other instruments begin to erupt with sounds that tend to project contrasting moods- from inducing an ominous environment to expressing a more calming sensation. Even Eric Gravatt's drumming, who often provides a delicate percussive rhythm, also has his moments of intensive of solos. "The Unknown Soldier" is a very interesting piece because we have absolutely no idea where the musicians are taking us in this musical voyage. And before we even get the chance to fully grasp the concept behind this song, it fades into silence.

"The Moors", on the other hand, follows a more conventional approach. It opens with a solo performance on an acoustic guitar. The orchestral arrangement is very spastic, following its own pace while remaining loyal to the album's esoteric plot. But this guitar solo exists for a purpose, it's our passage into a mesmerizing jam. This is actually a very gentle performance, Wayne Shorter's saxophone asserts itself as the centerpiece and his deliveries convey a very soothing tone. "Crystal" and "Second Sunday In August" follow a similar musical style, as they return to the atmospheric textures explored in the previous album, while at times even transcending into psychedelia.

The final section of the album contains an assortment of live recordings from a performance in Japan, yet another connection to the compositional structure of Ummagumma. It opens with "Medley: Vertical Invader, T.H., Dr. Honorius Causa" and ends with "Directions", and right from the beginning, without any hesitation, the musicians deliver a set filled with relentless Jazz Fusion. I mean, this performance explores every aspect of the genre- releases of musical spontaneity, long instrumental voyages that transcend the boundaries of Progressive rock and Psychedelia, and of course, eruptions of dextrous solos from each musician. In the end, I Sing The Body Electricintroduces itself as an album written by a band that is still trying to decide what kind of music it is that they want to produce. It's going to be a very interesting experience for the listener to discover how much this band has evolved since the release of their debut the previous year, as The Weather Report are still exploring musical possibilities and expanding their sound. This is a very experimental album and one that requires a commitment from the listener to understand its plot. My advice is to open all of your senses to the piece at hand. Try and experience all it has to offer, meditate on every sound, and the music itself will reveal its meaning.

Tracks Listing

1. Unknown Soldier (7:57)
2. The Moors (4:40)
3. Crystal (7:16)
4. Second Sunday in August (4:09)
5. Medley: T.H./Dr. Honoris Causa (10:10)
6. Surucucus (7:41)
7. Directions (4:35)

Total Time: 46:28

Line-up / Musicians

- Eric Gravatt / drums
- Don Um Romao / percussion
- Wayne Shorter / soprano & tenor saxophones
- Miroslav Vitous / bass
- Joe Zawinul / acoustic & electric pianos, ARP 2600 synthesizers

Special Guests

    Andrew White - English horn ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Hubert Laws, Jr. - Flute ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Wilmer Wise - D and piccolo trumpets ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Yolande Bavan - Voice ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Joshie Armstrong - Voice ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Chapman Roberts - Voice ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Roger Powell - Consultant (synthesizer programming) ("Unknown Soldier" only)
    Dom Um Romão - Percussion ("The Moors" only)
    Ralph Towner - 12-string guitar ("The Moors" only)

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Steve Topping - 2004 "Late Flower"

"Late Flower" is the highly anticipated album from Steve Topping, one the foremost guitarists of our time and a seminal influence on a whole generation of rock, jazz and classical musicians. This album of new works features performances by several of his long-time collaborators including bassist Jimmy Johnson and drummer Gary Husband. English guitarist Topping grew up in Liverpool during the sixties. Born into a musical household he was playing guitar from the age of seven. He was already pushing against technical horizons when he started music college. Later on, composing became equally important to him... but the tough part was yet to come: finding himself and not being a follower. That early promise is now being fulfilled... in a late flowering.

Steve Topping has recently completed two years of recording his latest musical masterpiece, Late Flower. Steve is in the rare league of guitar innovators such as Allan Holdsworth and John McLaughlin. His tasteful and highly original approach to the guitar is indeed refreshing.

" ... this is an exciting and challenging time ... I just can't wait to play this stuff live! Heartfelt thanks to everyone that has taken an interest and sent messages of support. It's been a very long and winding path to Late Flower ... I never want this sort of delay in output again! Hope to see you out there ... " Steve Topping, May 2004.

"I love this record ... it's truly a breath of fresh air ... particularly in these times of a gazillion music schools, magazines and videos that tend to churn out musicians playing everything you've ever heard before ... again! Steve has a unique harmonic approach that is deep, emotional and exciting". Allan Holdsworth

Track listing:

1. Woody Chimer 04:48
2. The Lost Song 05:51
3. Aigburth 10:35
4. Game Of Light 04:04
5. Strolling Boy 08:37
6. Jo 02:37
7. On My Hill...Late Flower 06:44


Steve Topping - Guitars (Real & Virtual), All Keyboards, Percussion on 2, 7, Mixing, Production, Engineering, Editing
Jimmy Johnson - Fretted and Fretless Bass
Gary Husband - Drums, Synth Solo on 4
Frank Schaefer - Cello on 3, 5
Richard Marcangelo - Percussion on 6

Danny Gottlieb - 1989 "Whirlwind"

"Whirlwind" is pretty good late '80's fusion jazz from Danny Gottlieb backed by greats like John Abercrombie, John Herington, and Chuck Loeb on guitars, Mark Egan on bass, Bill Evans on sax, and many more.

Danny Gottlieb is one of the most popular drummers in jazz and contemporary music. While best known as the drummer in the original Pat Metheny Group, Danny, during the past 25 years, has performed and recorded with some of the world’s greatest musicians.
As a group member, he has worked with the following ensembles: Jeff Berlin Trio; Gary Burton Quartet; Stan Getz Quintet; Pat Metheny Group; Gil Evans Orchestra; Bobby McFerrin Trio; Eddie Gomez Group; Michael Franks Band; John McLaughlin’s Mahavishnu Orchestra; Al DiMeola Project; Mike Stern Trio; Manhattan Jazz Quintet; Manhattan Jazz Orchestra: GRP Big Band; Vanguard Jazz Orchestra; Joe Beck Trio; Lew Soloff Food Group; George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band; WDR Big Band; NDR Big Band; Tip Toe Jazz Orchestra; Randy Brecker Quartet; Neenah Freelon Group; Blues Brothers Band; Booker T and the MG’s; Jazz is Dead; Pete Levin Trio; Ali Ryerson-Joe Beck Group; Joanne Brackeen Quartet; Bobby Rydell; Joe Farrell Quintet; Andy Laverne Quintet; Jacqui Naylor Band; Fritz Renold Friends; Haru Trio; Knut Varnes Group; Carnegie Hall Jazz Orchestra; Loren Schoenberg Big band; Airto and Flora Purim Group; Chuck Owen Jazz Surge; Jack Wilkins Group, and many more…
Danny has also performed or recorded with: Sting; David Byrne; Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea; Jim Hall; Miroslav Vitous; Wayne Shorter; Larry Coryell; Kenny Barron; Rufus Reid; Branford Marsalis; Hiram Bullock; Bill Evans; Nana Vasconcellos; Trilok Gurtu; Dino Saluzzi; Mark Murphy; Chris Conner; Mike Abene; Gerry Mulligan; Clark Terry; Ernie Wilkins; Mike Wolff; Badal Roy; Hubert Laws; Mike Richmond; Jeff Richman; Russell Ferrante; Jimmy Haslip, and many more…
Danny appears on over 300 cd’s to date, including 5 Grammy winners. As a leader, Danny has 5 cd’s under his own name, 9 as co-leader of Elements, with Mark Egan; 2 as co-leader with Pete Levin, and 3 as co-leader of the Contempo trio, with Mark Soskin and Chip Jackson.


01. Tropic Heat 
02. Reef Warriors 
03. Twilight Drive 
04. Just Passing By 
05. Return To Kali Au 
06. Percussion Of The Spirit 
07. Open Road 
08. Nevermore 
09. Hold On! 
10. Whirlwind 
11. Percussion Of The Spirit (Part 2)


Danny Gottlieb - Drums 
John Abercrombie, John Herington, Chuck Loeb - Guitars 
Cafe, Nana Vasconcelos, Trilok Gurtu - Percussion 
Mark Egan, Chip Jackson - Bass 
Doug Hall, Gregory Smith, Steve Sauber, Mitchel Forman - Keyboards   
Bill Evans, Lenny Pickett  - Saxophone 
Lew Soloff - Trumpet

Friday, October 27, 2017

Wayne Krantz - 1990 "Signals"

Signals is the first solo album by Wayne Krantz released in 1990.

Guitarist Wayne Krantz's hardness and intensity serve him well on Signals -- a respectable fusion date uniting him with drummer Dennis Chambers, keyboardist Jim Beard and bassist Hiram Bullock, among others. When Krantz lets loose and digs into such complex yet accessible jazz-rock as "Faith in the Process," "Don't Tell Me" and "Alliance," the listener can focus on the depth of his playing. Guitarist Leni Stern joins Krantz on the reflective "As Is."

This album is a breath of fresh air for a jazz enthusiast like myself. For me it's a new album even if it's been recorded in 1990. Anyway Wayne's guitar playing sounds really fresh and new even fifteen years after the recording of this album. His music is a sort of electric jazz very melodical but at the same time complex especially rithmically. The album is composed of combo tunes and of tunes where Wayne plays by himself. I can say that his approach to guitar playing is very deep harmonically, but he excels really in the rhytmic stuff. Not talking about comping stuff, I'm saying that he is great rhytmically in both phrasing and comping and evething in between the two ways of playing. Something you can't say of a lot of guitar players which usually are not so forward in terms of subdivisions. Even when Wayne plays by himself he is fantastic rhythmically ,,, you really have to hear him for yourself. And even when he plays with the band he gives and take a lot of rhytmic inputs. His style is very rich and dense. The album is very entertaining and melodical. A must have for the jazz (and jazz guitar) enthusiast. He plays his own music caught between his friend Mike Stern'stuff (less hendrixesque) and Pat Metheny (but without Pat's chromatic idiosyncrasies). He is a really new voice in Jazz guitar, probably the best I have heard recently. Catch him if you can.

This is without a doubt one of the best guitar albums ever. Krantz is a complete package with a unique and totally integrated harmonic and melodic signature on the guitar. He has a blazing, complex technique, but it always serves the music. And his tone...incredible. Considering that this was recorded in the mid-Eighties, it has absolutely NO smooth jazz influence or schmaltz and, in fact, was recorded to be the antithesis of that genre, while still merging the rock and jazz idioms in an approachable, commercial way. A complete artistic success, but unfortunately not a commercial one. If you have even the slightest interest in the electric guitar, this album is essential.

Just a few notes and one can readily recognize the fantastic and unique style of Wayne Krantz. There are so many favorites I have on this album -- I don't ever tire of listening to it. Highly recommended.

This is an exciting original work by a very creative artist and performer. The flow of the music is hypnotic and full of energy. The sound expresses both breadth and depth of character and range. It is a "must" for jazz enthusiasts. Mr. Krantz's work is technically precise and musically unmatched.

Track listing:

All songs written by Wayne Krantz, except where noted

01 "Alliance" – 3:37
02 "Faith In Process" – 3:52
03 "One of Two" – 4:16
04 "Don't Tell Me" – 5:29
05 "As Is" – 3:30 (Leni Stern)
06 "Signals" – 5:35
07 "Sossity, You're a Woman" – 3:32 (Ian Anderson)
08 "Music Room" – 4:50
09 "Two of Two" – 3:17
10 "For Susan" – 3:40


Wayne Krantz - Electric Guitar
Dennis Chambers - Drums
Don Alias - Percussion
Anthony Jackson - Bass, Contrabass guitar
Leni Stern - Guitar
Jim Beard - Keyboards

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Frank Gambale - 1989 "Live!"

Live! features some long instrumental guitar tracks by super Aussie guitarist Frank Gambale, recorded live at the Baked Potato on Sunday, August 21, 1988. Gambale recorded this album immediately after a long tour with Chick Corea and the Elektric Band and his chops were flying. Definitely need to strap in with a seat belt while listening to this one. It features Kei Akagi on keyboards, Steve Tavaglione on sax and electronic wing, Joe Heredia on drums, and Steve Kershisnik on bass guitar. Live! showcases Gambale's talent on recordings which are unabashed, unabridged total blasting with no concern for commerciality or airplay. As it should be. Instrumental Guitar (Electric/Fusion)

Gambale graduated from GIT in Hollywood, with Student of the Year honors. He also taught there from 1984 to 1986. After graduation, he played the jazz club circuit with his own band and in 1985 released his first studio album, Brave New Guitar, through Legato Records (owned by Mark Varney, brother of Shrapnel Records founder Mike Varney) in what was to be a three-album contract. In that same year, he toured with Jean-Luc Ponty and shortly afterwards began a six-year stint with the Chick Corea Elektric Band in 1987. During his time with the latter, he has participated in five albums and shared a Grammy Award (with two nominations).

In the 1980s, he released two studio albums and a live album. In 1988, he released Monster Licks & Speed Picking, the first of many instructional videos. An endorsement deal with Ibanez guitars resulted in the 1987 debut of the Frank Gambale Model (FGM) signature series, modeled after the Ibanez Saber. Yamaha also manufactured a signature guitar after he left Ibanez later in the 1990s. He signed with Victor Entertainment in 1989 as part of a five-album agreement, and released Thunder from Down Under the following year.

The 1990s began for Gambale with a pair of albums—Truth in Shredding (1990) and Centrifugal Funk (1991)—as part of The Mark Varney Project. These were collaborations with fellow guitarists Allan Holdsworth, Brett Garsed and Shawn Lane, in a jazz fusion supergroup concept put together by Mark Varney. Around this time, he served as head of the guitar department of the Los Angeles Music Academy. In the 2000s, having parted ways with Victor, Gambale started his own record label named Wombat Records after purchasing his entire Legato discography with the intention of reissuing it himself. A live double album, Resident Alien – Live Bootlegs, was released in 2001, along with Imagery Suite; a duet featuring classical guitarist Maurizio Colonna. He also released a studio album, Coming to Your Senses, on guitarist Steve Vai's Favored Nations label in 2000.

Gambale has also been a member of the jazz fusion band Vital Information since 1988, with the group consisting of keyboardist Tom Coster, drummer Steve Smith and bassist Baron Browne. Furthermore, in a group known as GHS, he has released three collaborative albums with Steve Smith and bassist Stu Hamm through Mike Varney's jazz-orientated label, Tone Center Records. In addition to concert recordings, he released an instructional DVD called Concert with Class in 2003. A reunion with Chick Corea came about in 2004, and Gambale subsequently toured with the Chick Corea Elektric Band. In 2006 and 2010, he released two all-jazz studio albums in the form of Natural High and Natural Selection, respectively. In 2011, he endorsed the Carvin FG1, a thin hollow body guitar made in the US.

Live! is the first live album by guitarist Frank Gambale, released in 1989 through Legato Records and reissued in 2000 through Wombat Records. You can't live without this intense live guitar album with over 64 minutes of blazing guitar virtuosity.

LIVE! was the first album of Frank Gambale I bought. And when I listened to it, I was terrified! First we must remember this is a live album, so there's no cheating. All instruments are played 100% naturally... And Frank has played songs from 'Brave New Guitar' and 'A Present For The Future'. These albums are not especially great, but the transformation on the scene is simply incredible. Frank Gambale sweeping technique is the best I know, and everyone must thank him for his contribution to the world of guitar. Monster licks are possible easier now, and this live album prooves it. No studio, no cheating. Only great technique and... passion.

This is one of Frank's MANY great albums! This music is obviously intended for the true FUSION fan! Brilliant performance by all players involved! The sound quality is FIRST rate! I thought it was a studio recording for a moment! This aint' no "rock" album, and is not intended for fans of low talent, no brainer, 3 chord rock..THESE ARE THE BIG BOYS!

Track listing:

All music composed by Frank Gambale.

1. "Credit Reference Blues" 13:13
2. "Fe Fi Fo Funk" 9:58
3. "Spending Sunday with You" 8:56
4. "A Touch of Brasil" 16:12
5. "Spike's Song" 6:23
6. "The Natives Are Restless" 10:02

Total length: 64:44


Frank Gambale – guitar, mixing, production
Kei Akagi – keyboard
Joe Heredia – drums
Steve Kershisnik – bass
Steve Tavaglione – saxophone, EWI

Sunday, October 22, 2017

The Who - 1971 [1995] "Who's Next"

Who's Next is the fifth studio album by English rock band The Who. It developed from the aborted Lifehouse project, a multi-media rock opera written by the group's Pete Townshend as a follow-up to the band's 1969 album Tommy. The project was cancelled due to its complexity and conflicts with Kit Lambert, the band's manager, but Townshend was persuaded to record the songs as a straightforward studio album.

The Who recorded Who's Next with assistance from recording engineer Glyn Johns. After producing the song "Won't Get Fooled Again" in the Rolling Stones Mobile Studio, they relocated to Olympic Studios to record and mix most of the album's remaining songs. They made prominent use of the synthesizer on the album, particularly on "Won't Get Fooled Again" and "Baba O'Riley", which were both released as singles. The cover photo was shot by Ethan Russell and made reference to the monolith in the 1968 film 2001: A Space Odyssey, as it featured group members having urinated against a concrete piling protruding from a slag heap.

Who's Next was an immediate success when it was released in August 1971. It has since been viewed by many critics as the Who's best record and one of the greatest albums of all time. It was reissued on CD several times with additional songs originally intended for Lifehouse.

By 1970, the Who had obtained significant critical and commercial success, but they had started to become detached from their original audience. The mod movement had vanished, and the original followers from Shepherd's Bush had grown up and acquired jobs and families. The group had started to drift apart from manager Kit Lambert due to his preoccupation with their label, Track Records. They had been touring since the release of Tommy the previous May, with a set that contained most of that album, but realized that millions had now seen their live performances, and Pete Townshend in particular recognized that they needed to do something new. A single, "The Seeker", and a live album, Live at Leeds were released in 1970, and an EP of new material ("Water", "Naked Eye", "I Don't Even Know Myself", "Postcard" and "Now I'm a Farmer") was recorded, but not released as the band felt it would not be a satisfactory follow-up to Tommy.

The first session for what became Who's Next was at Mick Jagger's house, Stargroves, at the start of April 1971, using the Rolling Stones Mobile. The backing track of "Won't Get Fooled Again" was recorded there before the band decided to relocate recording to Olympic at Johns' suggestion; the first session was on 9 April, attempting a basic take of "Bargain". The bulk of the sessions occurred during May, when the group recorded "Time is Passing", "Pure and Easy", "Love Ain't for Keeping" (which had been reworked from a rock track into an acoustic arrangement), "Behind Blue Eyes", "The Song Is Over", "Let's See Action" and "Baba O'Riley". Nicky Hopkins guested on piano, while Dave Arbus was invited by Moon to play violin on "Baba O'Riley". John Entwistle's "My Wife" was added to the album at the last minute late in the sessions, and was originally intended for a solo album.

The cover artwork shows a photograph, taken at Easington Colliery, of the band apparently having just urinated on a large concrete piling protruding from a slag heap. The decision to shoot the picture came from Entwistle and Moon discussing Stanley Kubrick and the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. According to photographer Ethan Russell, most of the band members were unable to urinate, so rainwater was tipped from an empty film canister to achieve the desired effect. The rear cover showed the band backstage at De Montfort Hall, Leicester, amongst a debris of furniture.  In 2003, the television channel VH1 named Who's Next's cover one of the greatest album covers of all time.

Other suggestions for the cover included the group urinating against a Marshall Stack and an overweight nude woman with the Who's faces in place of her genitalia. An alternative cover featuring Moon dressed in black lingerie and a brown wig, holding a whip, was later used for the inside art for the 1995 and 2003 CD releases. Some of the photographs taken during these sessions were later used as part of Decca's United States promotion of the album.

A mix of old favorites and buried treasures makes this edition of Who's Next a definite must. One of the defining albums of 70s hard rock from one of the 60s most successful bands, the original album includes some of The Who's best-known work, such as the anthemic "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Get Fooled Again", the by turns sorrowful and angry "Behind Blue Eyes", and perennial favorite "My Wife". The new tracks on this album are equally worth hearing, including "Pure and Easy" (an alternate edition of which is available on Odds & Sods) and the original version of "Behind Blue Eyes". A hard rock classic, Who's Next is required listening for rock fans of all ages.

Track listing:

1 Baba O'Riley (Remix) 5:08
2 Bargain 5:34
3 Love Ain't For Keeping 2:10
4 My Wife (Original Album Version) 3:41
5 The Song Is Over 6:14
6 Getting In Tune 4:50
7 Going Mobile (Original Album Version) 3:43
8 Behind Blue Eyes 3:42
9 Won't Get Fooled Again (Remix) 8:33
10 Pure And Easy 4:21
11 Baby Don't You Do It [feat. Leslie West] 5:14
12 Naked Eye 5:31
13 Water (The Young Vic Theatre Live Version) 6:25
14 Too Much Of Anything [feat. Nicky Hopkins] 4:25
15 I Don't Even Know Myself 4:56
16 Behind Blue Eyes (Alternate Studio Version) [feat. Al Kooper] 3:28


Roger Daltrey – vocals
Keith Moon – drums, percussion
John Entwistle – bass, brass, vocals, piano on "My Wife"
Pete Townshend – guitar, VCS3, organ, A.R.P. synthesiser, vocals, piano on "Baba O'Riley"

Additional musicians:

Dave Arbus – violin on "Baba O'Riley"
Nicky Hopkins – piano on "The Song Is Over" and "Getting in Tune"
Al Kooper – organ on alternate version of "Behind Blue Eyes"
Leslie West – lead guitar on "Baby, Don't You Do It"

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Triumvirat - 1975 "Spartacus"

Spartacus is the third album by the German group Triumvirat. It is a concept album based on Spartacus, the Thracian gladiator who led the 3rd slave uprising in 73–71 BC. The lyrics were written by Hans Bathelt, with contributions by Jürgen Fritz. It was originally released in 1975 on the EMI label, and later distributed in the U.S. by Capitol. It debuted at number 27 on the Billboard album charts.

After this album, Helmut Köllen left the band to start a solo career. Two years later, he died of carbon monoxide poisoning when he was in his car, in the garage, listening to his own compositions on the car's cassette player.

The album was digitally re-mastered and released in CD form in 2002 by EMI. The re-mastered version included two additional tracks: a live version of "The Capital of Power" and a previously unreleased song called "Showstopper".

Spartacus may not be as progressively strong as 1973's Illusion on a Double Dimple album, but it still stands as this German outfit's second best release. Based on the famous Roman gladiator who led the rebellion against his homeland, the music supports the album's concept quite solidly, with the better tracks coming in the form of the sporadic "School of Instant Pain" and the nine- minute "March to the Eternal City," which gathers a menacing conglomeration of bass guitar riffs and pointed keyboard work. The music becomes effectively motivational toward the concept at the proper times, enabling the band's idea to remain fresh and colorful as the music is played out. Jurgen Fritz's Hammond organ and Moog intervention gives Spartacus a genuine progressive air, culminating as it should on the final track. Although Triumvirat's staunch, stern notes and articulate keyboard meandering can easily be compared to Emerson, Lake and Palmer's style, it's balanced quite impressively with Helmut Kollen's electric and acoustic guitar work. This album has a slight edge over 1976's Old Loves Die Hard because the synthesizers are put to better use, while the overall sound and flow of Spartacus contains greater instrumental animation.

I think it’s pretty safe to say that if you enjoy the sound of Emerson, Lake and Palmer, you will like the band Triumvirat. On Spartacus we are treated to wonderful keyboards, with organs and moog solos, well after ELP’s glory days were now behind them. I would even go as far to say that Triumvirat were more consistent musically and songwriting-wise than the supposed monsters of prog.

The Spartacus theme is introduced on synthesizer first on “Capital of Power” and then played beautifully on grand piano to introduce “The School of Instant Pain.” The story that we all know from movies and TV of Spartacus’ rise to glory and subsequent fight for freedom from Roman slavery is told on this concept album in songs and instrumentals. Here on this song Spartacus calls out to his fellow gladiator slaves to fight for their release and be free men.

Several instrumentals are sprightly and fun, using march beats and hopeful melodies to convey the mood of the recording even when bassist Helmut Kollen is not singing lyrics to tell the story. Band leader and keyboardist Jurgen Fritz plays in a style that is slightly more jazz-oriented than the classical slant his forerunner Keith Emerson works in.

“The March to the Eternal City” features great a great keyboard introduction and three distinct parts. Especially fun is a tribal beat section in the middle part that features drummer Hans Balthet working the skins in a way that would make Carl Palmer sit up and notice, while Fritz layers an excellent moog solo over the top. Closer “Spartacus” shows just why this record is successful at its intentions. While wearing its influences clearly on its sleeves, it brings the story to a wonderful climax.

Although this might all be a bit lighter and less intense than their most obvious influences, Triumvirat’s Spartacus holds a special place in the progressive rock canon. If you have ever been even a casual fan of ELP and have yet to experience a Triumvirat record, this would be an excellent place to start.

Track listing:

1. "The Capital of Power" (Fritz) – 3:13
2. "The School of Instant Pain" – 6:22
  a) "Proclamation" (Fritz, Bathelt)
  b) "The Gladiator's Song" (Fritz, Bathelt)
  c) "Roman Entertainment" (Fritz, Bathelt)
  d) "The Battle" (Fritz, Bathelt)
3. "The Walls of Doom" (Fritz) – 3:57
4. "The Deadly Dream of Freedom" (Köllen, Bathelt) – 3:54
5. "The Hazy Shades of Dawn" (Fritz) – 3:09
6. "The Burning Sword of Capua" (Fritz) – 2:41
7. "The Sweetest Sound of Liberty" (Köllen, Bathelt) – 2:35
8. "The March to the Eternal City" – 8:46
  a) "Dusty Road" (Fritz, Bathelt)
  b) "Italian Improvisation" (Fritz, Bathelt)
  c) "First Success" (Fritz, Bathelt)
9. "Spartacus" – 7:39
  a) "The Superior Force of Rome" (Fritz, Bathelt)
  b) "A Broken Dream" (Fritz)
  c) "The Finale" (Fritz)


Jürgen Fritz – Keyboards, Grand piano, Hammond organ, Moog synthesizers, Mellotron, String synthesizer.
Helmut Köllen – Bass, acoustic guitars, vocals.
Steve Rotella – Drums, percussions, words & lyrics

Monday, October 16, 2017

Players - 1987 "Players"

One of the greatest Jazz/fussion ever made, with Jeff Berlin, Scott Henderson, T.Lavitz and Steve Smith...amazing compositions and performance, 8 tracks of gold!! Totally recommended for good Jazz - fussion lovers.

Recorded live at Hop Sing's by the Record Plant, Los Angeles, mobile unit # 3 on Jan. 19, 1986.

Scott Henderson (born August 26, 1954) is an American jazz fusion and blues guitarist best known for his work with the band Tribal Tech.
Born in West Palm Beach, Florida, United States, Scott Henderson began playing guitar at an early age. His formative musical years were spent listening to rock, blues, funk, and soul, while his interest in jazz developed later on, thanks to the music of John Coltrane, Miles Davis, and others. He still professes to being a blues player at heart.

After graduating from Florida Atlantic University, Henderson moved to Los Angeles and began his career in earnest, playing rock with Twilight, a four-piece cover band that included Alice Long on bass and vocals. Soon, Henderson was recording with violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, bassist Jeff Berlin and "Players", and Weather Report's Joe Zawinul. Henderson first began receiving serious attention as the original guitarist for the Chick Corea Elektric Band together with Carlos Rios. But he stayed only six months with Corea and left after a disagreement.

Terry "T" Lavitz (April 16, 1956 – October 7, 2010) was an American jazz-rock/fusion keyboardist, composer and producer. He is best known for his work with the Dixie Dregs and Jazz Is Dead.
Born on April 16, 1956, Lavitz grew up in New Jersey. He started taking piano lessons at the age of seven and was offered a scholarship at the Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan where he studied keyboard and saxophone. After high school he attended University of Miami's School of Music. In his senior year at the UM he was asked to join the Dixie Dregs. He accepted the invitation and played his first show in January 1980. 'Dregs of the Earth', released in 1980, was the first Dregs album he could be heard on. In 1981 he won the 'Best New Talent' category of Keyboard Magazine's Annual Readers Poll.

The Dregs broke up in January 1983 and T Lavitz, Rod Morgenstein and Andy West went on tour with former Little Feat guitarist/singer Paul Barrere. 'Extended Play', a five song EP, was released in 1984. The album also featured future Dregs and Steve Morse Band bass player Dave LaRue. In 1985 Lavitz joined the Bluesbusters, a blues-rock quintet also featuring Paul Barrere, guitarist/singer Catfish Hodge, bass player Freebo (Bonnie Raitt) and drummer Larry Zack. They released two albums and toured extensively. His first solo album 'Storytime' was released in 1986. The critically acclaimed 'Players' album with Jeff Berlin, Steve Smith and Scott Henderson was released in 1987.

Jeffrey Arthur Berlin (born January 17, 1953) is an American jazz fusion bassist.
Berlin was born in Queens, New York, on January 17, 1953. He studied violin for ten years until he was 14, when he was inspired to play bass after seeing the Beatles. He then attended Berklee College of Music to study bass. Berlin's playing style has been compared to that of Jaco Pastorius; however, Berlin has repeatedly stated his distaste for Jaco-imitators.
On August 30 2013, he married Gabriela Sinagra, a jazz singer and vocal coach from Rosario, Argentina.

Steven Bruce "Steve" Smith (born August 21, 1954) is an American drummer best known as a member of the rock band Journey, rejoining the group for the third time in 2015.[1] Modern Drummer magazine readers have voted him the #1 All-Around Drummer five years in a row. In 2001, the publication named Smith one of the Top 25 Drummers of All Time, and in 2002 he was voted into the Modern Drummer Hall of Fame. He was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of Journey on April 7, 2017.

Smith received his first drum kit at age two and in 1963 he began taking formal lessons with local Boston area drum teacher Bill Flanagan, who played in big bands in the swing era. Smith got his first “real” drum set when he was 12 years old. On many nights, Steve could be heard practicing in a small shed in the backyard of his Harvard Street home. Smith performed in the usual school band program and garage bands while in his teens, including Clyde, a South Shore sensation, but also began to broaden his performing experience by playing in a professional concert band and the big band at local Bridgewater State College.

Smith's first “paid gig” was with a garage band. He graduated from high school in 1972, and at 19 joined the 'Lin Biviano Big Band' playing with them for two years. After high school, Smith attended the Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts studying with Alan Dawson.

He has worked as a session musician for pop artists including Mariah Carey, Andrea Bocelli, Elisa, Vasco Rossi, Zucchero, Savage Garden, Bryan Adams, as well as world musicians Zakir Hussain and Sandip Burman. Additionally, he has played with well-known jazz artists including Mike Mainieri's Steps Ahead, Wadada Leo Smith, Tom Coster, Ahmad Jamal, Dave Liebman, Larry Coryell, Victor Wooten, Mike Stern, Randy Brecker, Scott Henderson, Frank Gambale, Stuart Hamm, Dweezil Zappa, Anthony Jackson, Aydın Esen, Torsten de Winkel, George Brooks, Michael Zilber, Steve Marcus, Andy Fusco, Kai Eckhardt, Lee Musiker, Howard Levy, Oteil Burbridge, Jerry Goodman, Tony MacAlpine and Bill Evans. Smith has led his own jazz group, Vital Information since 1977.
In the early 1990s, Smith studied with Freddie Gruber and as a result, his playing style completely changed.

I know this cd is out of print long time ago, but if you are lucky to have this cd, you know what i`m talking about. This is the super cd by super fusion group led by Scott Henderson, Steve Smith, Jeff Berlin and T. Lavitz. One of the best fusion albums from 80`s!

Track listing:

1. Crystal (T Lavitz) - 4:23
2. Valentine (Scott Henderson) - 5:28
3. 50/50 (Dave Wilczewski, Steve Smith) - 4:36
4. Vehicle (T Lavitz) - 4:18
5. Freight Train Shuffle (Jeff Berlin) - 5:26
6. Between Coming And Going (T Lavitz) - 5:25
7. The Creeping Terror (Scott Henderson) - 5:44
8. 20,000 Players (Jeff Berlin) - 6:39

Total Time: 41:56


T Lavitz - keyboards
Jeff Berlin - bass
Steve Smith - drums
Scott Henderson - guitar

Tim Miller - 2005 "Trio"

Tim Miller brings a distinctive voice to the world of jazz guitar. His career has taken him to Paris, New York, and Boston, where he is an associate professor of guitar at Berklee College of Music. Guitar Player magazine characterized his playing as "pure melody consciousness with remarkable control, a breathy, violiny tone [and] bell-like consistency." Miller's music combines explosive raw energy that is artistically balanced with soulful melodic compositions.

While living in Paris, he played extensively with drummer Aldo Romano. This led to recordings and European concerts and jazz festivals. Miller later joined the faculty at Berklee and recorded Sides with saxophonist George Garzone. He also played in a quartet with fellow guitarist Mick Goodrick. In 2005, Miller released his first solo recording, Trio, which has received critical acclaim.

Tim Miller's third indie effort stands out by manifesting his influences as an aural whole. Compositionally, the freedom and openness in the music reflects the deep influence of Keith Jarrett, while sonically, the air-infused yet electric guitar sound dances with bass and drums mixed in a pastoral acoustic style. Even with headphones, the listener hears the trio of instruments entwined in the air, coupled by intense playing and musicianship.
From the perspective of guitar-related influences we hear the chordal inspiration of a fellow Bostonian, voicing-god Mick Goodrick. Linearity is Miller's calling card, seamlessly melding Allan Holdsworth's 21st Century legato technique with a non-guitar-centric, truly jazz vocabulary and phraseology, with notes percussing from the fretboard in pianistic fashion.

Another facet that takes Trio up a notch is the particular attention paid to tone and articulation on the high end. Miller devoted requisite consideration and time to sonics, and the dividends are sumptuous. An advocate of the ergonomically correct Klein axes, Miller's performance on "Untied sounds as if he's playing two of them at once, electric for the atmospheric chords of the intro and acoustic for the quick sixteenth-note turn-backs found on high, doubled by the drums. Take Toriyama's tone is apart from the more athletic norms of the "fusion realm, with more of the room than the kit in the mix. His use of slackened snare, coupled with bassist Josh Davis' booming upright sound, is especially effective on this track.

Miller employs a super-thick tone for his solo, alternating bop-legato mastery with sax-like repeated figures that belie the layout of the fretboard. Miller can lay into a rock'n'roll repeating hyperspeed four-note figure akin to traditional Hendrix or Page twelfth-fret pentatonics, but in the middle of the neck, using four notes at spread intervals of the harmony-of-the moment, something more out of Mike Brecker's vocabulary.

While the recording weighs in at the forty-minute mark, there's much to be said for concentration and self-editing. "Sparkle is ninety seconds of inspired melodic riffing against Toriyama's percussion arsenal and will alone reward consecutive listening surpassing the total of the disc's real time. It would be an interesting musical exercise to map out here where each of Miller's melodic phrases begins or ends, or to pick the midpoint of each. I am sure each roadmap would in turn comprise alternate songs. Similarly, the three minutes of "MG, dedicated to mentor and Berklee fellowman Goodrick, forge a successful marriage of modern rock balladry with jazz.

"Straight Lines is the composition of the set, a mid-tempo cut smoldering with the passion and memorable melody usually reserved for ballads, especially in Miller's opening solo salvo. The two "Density compositions, using minimal themes fashioned from rhythmic chordal materials growing out of and into weaving strands of single-note improvisation, reveal substantial rewards unearthed by exploring repetition as a means of mining new melodic and improvisational territory.

The Generic Modality Compression method Tim Miller uses for his musical expression makes wonders to the listeners' sense of imagination. At least that is how I feel about his approach. It makes it even more adventurous for guitarists like myself. But that is just a side effect of Miller's music unique beauty.

Nothing should stand between this one getting heard and Miller's justifiably meteoric ascension on the worldwide guitar-watchers org-chart.

An excellent CD that showcases Tim's unique jazz voice and his incredible chops. Using a hybrid picking style with fingers and pick, his playing is nothing short of amazing. Elements of Keith Jarrett, Allan Holdsworth, Chick Corea, and Mick Goodrick can be heard as influences on his playing. This is a cutting edge CD for those interested in one of the new leaders in the progressive jazz scene. Highly recommended...also his new CD Trio2 available on his website

Track listing:

01 Intro 0:57
02 Untied 3:55
03 Shift 3:56
04 Paris 2:40
05 Sparkle 1:29
06 Straight Lines 4:33
07 The Trees, The Sun 4:05
08 Density One 4:05
09 TR 4:47
10 Two View 4:09
11 Density Two 2:29
12 MG 2:56

Total length: 40:01


Tim Miller: guitar;
Joshua Davis: bass;
Take Toriyama: drums.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

The Doors - 1967 [1985] "Strange Days"

Strange Days is the second studio album by the American rock band The Doors. Released in September 1967, it was a commercial success, reaching No. 3 on the Billboard 200 album chart and eventually earning a RIAA platinum certification. The album also yielded the Top 30 hit singles "People Are Strange" and "Love Me Two Times".

Strange Days was recorded during tour breaks between May and August 1967 at Sunset Sound Recorders in Hollywood (the same studio as their first LP). In contrast to the 1966 sessions, producer Paul A. Rothchild and engineer Bruce Botnick employed a cutting-edge 8-track recording machine. The protracted sessions allowed the band to experiment in the studio and further augment their otherworldly sound with unusual instrumentation and sonic manipulation; developed with the assistance of Paul Beaver, the title track constitutes one of the earliest uses of a Moog synthesizer in rock. On the Morrison poem "Horse Latitudes", Botnick took the white noise of a tape recorder and varied the speed by hand-winding it (resulting in a sound akin to wind) as the four band members played a variety of instruments in unusual ways. Further varispeed was then employed to create different timbres and effects.

Much like their debut album, Strange Days features several moody, authentically odd songs, although some critics feel it does not quite match up to its stellar predecessor. In his AllMusic review of the album, Richie Unterberger notes, "Many of the songs on Strange Days had been written around the same time as the ones that appeared on The Doors, and with hindsight one has the sense that the best of the batch had already been cherry picked for the debut album. For that reason, the band's second effort isn't as consistently stunning as their debut, though overall it's a very successful continuation of the themes of their classic album." Two of the album's songs ("My Eyes Have Seen You" and "Moonlight Drive") had been demoed in 1965 at Trans World Pacific Studios before Krieger joined the group; indeed, the latter had been conceived by Morrison prior to his fateful reunion with Manzarek in the summer of 1965. Although the song was attempted twice during the sessions for the band's debut, both versions were deemed unsatisfactory. A conventional blues arrangement, "Moonlight Drive"'s defining features were its slightly off-beat rhythm and Krieger's bottleneck guitar, which create an eerie sound.

The LP's first single, "People Are Strange", was composed in early 1967 after Krieger, drummer John Densmore, and a depressed Morrison had walked to the top of Laurel Canyon. Densmore recalled the song's writing process in his book Riders on the Storm. Densmore and Krieger, who had then been roommates, were visited by a dejected Morrison, who was acting "deeply depressed." At the suggestion of Densmore, they took a walk along Laurel Canyon. Morrison returned from the walk "euphoric" with the early lyrics of "People Are Strange".

Although Morrison was the Doors' primary lyricist, Robby Krieger wrote several of the groups hit singles (the first song the guitarist ever wrote was "Light My Fire"), including the bluesy "Love Me Two Times". According to band members, the song was about a soldier/sailor on his last day with his girlfriend before shipping out, ostensibly to war. Manzarek described the song as "Robby's great blues/rock classic about lust and lost, or multiple orgasms, I'm not sure which." In 1997, Krieger stated to Guitar World's Alan Paul that the musical idea for "Love Me Two Times" came from a lick from a Danny Kalb album. Manzarek played the final version of this song on a harpsichord, not a clavichord. Manzarek described the instrument as "a most elegant instrument that one does not normally associate with rock and roll." It was edited to a 2:37 length and released as the second single (after "People Are Strange") from that album, and reached No. 25 on the charts in the US. "Love Me Two Times" was considered to be somewhat risqué for radio airplay, being banned in New Haven for being "too controversial," much to the dismay of the band.

The album concludes with an 11 minute-long epic, "When the Music's Over."

The album cover of Strange Days, photographed by Joel Brodsky, depicts a group of street performers in New York. The location of the photograph is at Sniffen Court, a residential alley off of East 36th Street between Lexington and Third Avenue in Manhattan. The availability of such performers pictured was low, so Brodsky's assistant stood in as a juggler while a random cab driver was paid $5 to pose playing the trumpet. Twin dwarfs were hired, with one appearing on the front cover and one appearing on the back cover, which is the other half of the same photo on the front cover. However, a group shot of the band does appear on a poster in the background of both covers, bearing captions of the band and album name. (The same photograph previously appeared on the back cover of the band's debut album.) Because of the subtlety of the artist and album title, most record stores put stickers across the cover to help customers identify it more clearly.

Even darker than their purple-hued debut, the Doors' follow-up, Strange Days, closed 1967 with an ominous flourish. Highlighted mostly by short, radio-friendly tunes such as the bluesy "Love Me Two Times" and the cabaret-style "People Are Strange" and featuring a smattering of edgy recitations ("Horse Latitudes") and smoky rockers ("My Eyes Have Seen You"), the album features a centerpiece that was another ambitious extended track, "When the Music's Over." On it, Morrison railed at everything from organized religion to pollution, and his rallying cry--"We want the world, and we want it now!"--became a call to arms for the counterculture rising up around the band.

Track listing:

01 Strange Days 3:05
02 You're Lost Little Girl 3:01
03 Love Me Two Times 3:23
04 Unhappy Girl 2:00
05 Horse Latitudes 1:30
06 Moonlight Drive 3:00
07 People Are Strange 2:10
08 My Eyes Have Seen You 2:22
09 I Can't See Your Face In My Mind 3:18
10 When The Music's Over 11:00


Vocals – Jim Morrison
Guitar – Robby Krieger
Keyboards, Marimba – Ray Manzarek
Drums – John Densmore
Bass [Occasional] – Douglas Lubahn*

Friday, October 13, 2017

Greg Howe - 2008 "Sound Proof"

Sound Proof is the eighth studio album by guitarist Greg Howe, released on June 24, 2008 through Tone Center Records.

Since the late '80s, guitarist Greg Howe has spiraled his way towards the créme de la créme of the progressive-rock/jazz-fusion elite. With his first album since Extraction (Tone Center, 2003), the guitarist spawns more of his melodically shaded, super-speed legato lines while honing in a tad more on the compositional element. This album also features a new band that is afforded ample breathing room to stretch. It's a democratic engagement but firmly rooted in an altogether unified line of attack.

Howe zooms into the cosmos during many passages, yet the program is largely, imprinted with briskly enacted time signatures and off-kilter rhythmic maneuvers as the artists embark upon a sinuous journey amid persuasive group-based interplay. On Stevie Wonder's "Tell Me Something Good," Howe's weeping funk-rock lines consummate matters via breakneck speed-riffing.

The band delves into Latin, fuzoid panoramas while tempering the flow on Howe's jazzy, acoustic guitar-driven ballad, "Sunset In El Paso," while letting it all hang out atop drummer Gianluca Palmierie's ferocious backbeats on "Child's Play," as Howe's climactic and multi-register phrasings makes it all seem like child's play. In other areas and movements, keyboardist David Cook stands as a strong foil for Howe via his dirty Fender Rhodes solos and fluid chord voicings.

Sound Proof is Howe's finest musical statement to date.

Whether you love or hate the genre of music he specializes in, you've got to give the man credit. Even during arguably the all-time low point for "guitar shredders" -- the mid- to late '90s -- Greg Howe stuck to his guns, issuing album after album of technically astounding guitar rock. And with the genre experiencing a resurgence circa the early 21st century, Howe is still all about showing off his six-string gymnastic ability, as evidenced by his 2008 release, Sound Proof. If you're seeking carefully constructed, melodic songs -- move along. But, if you're into all-instrumental prog metal with guitar at the forefront, then Sound Proof should meet your requirements. Look no further than the album-opening "Emergency Exit," which has some very heavy '70s fusion elements (especially due to the Jan Hammer-esque keyboard doodling of David Cook), while other tracks such as the Steve Vai-esque "Morning View" and the funky "Side Note" are also standouts. Musical trends may come and go, but you always know what's in store with a new Greg Howe release, and this veteran shredder certainly doesn't disappoint with Sound Proof.

Jazz-rock fusion, contrary to some reports, did not die. It just splintered off into various sub-cultural cul-de-sacs, appreciated by small, rabid fanbases. One of those is the rock-jazz (vs. jazz-rock), more-is-more school of guitar, lorded over by the likes of Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, and a bunch to which Greg Howe aspires. Howe is a nimble-fingered player who has been on the shredder scene for 20 years, when not doing day job duty with the pop likes of Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake and NSYNC.

Duly abetted by a trio of powerhouse players, drummer Gianluca Palmieri, bassist Jon Reshard and keyboardist David Cook, the super-charged fret-mongering and tone-tweaking Howe stirs up a lot of nervous energy, from the super-charged opener “Emergency Exit” to the more harmonically intricate and vaguely Jeff Beck-like title cut late in the program. For cover material, Howe lends a distorted sassiness and slink to the great old Stevie Wonder tune made famous by Rufus in the ’70s, “Tell Me Something Good,” in a version both faithful and re-inventive. “Sunset in El Paso” is a rare respite from the onslaught, a cooler, more harmonically informed and acoustic head prevailing for four minutes and change. More, please.

Track listing:
All music composed by Greg Howe, except where noted.

1. "Intro" (interlude) 0:13
2. "Emergency Exit" 7:31
3. "Tell Me Something Good" (Stevie Wonder) 5:37
4. "Connoisseur Part 1" (interlude) 0:29
5. "Reunion" 5:53
6. "Morning View" 4:36
7. "Walkie Talkie" 6:13
8. "Rehearsal Note" (interlude) 0:16
9. "Side Note" 7:14
10. "Sunset in El Paso" 4:15
11. "Write Me a Song" (interlude) 0:30
12. "Child's Play" 4:23
13. "Sound Proof" 6:42
14. "Connoisseur Part 2" 2:29

Total length: 56:21


Greg Howe – guitar, spoken vocals (track 11), production
David Cook – keyboard
Dennis Hamm – keyboard solo (track 9)
Gianluca Palmieri – drums
Jon Reshard – bass

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Greg Howe, Victor Wooten, Dennis Chambers - 2003 "Extraction"

Extraction is a collaborative studio album by guitarist Greg Howe, drummer Dennis Chambers and bassist Victor Wooten, released on October 7, 2003 through Tone Center Records. According to Howe, the album went through a very difficult recording process which spanned two years, resulting in disagreements between the three musicians and Shrapnel founder Mike Varney, as well as several delays in the release date.

"A Delicacy" is a re-recording of an instrumental previously released on Now Hear This, a 1991 album by Howe II (an earlier band of Greg's). "Proto Cosmos" is a popular jazz fusion composition by pianist Alan Pasqua, originally featured on The New Tony Williams Lifetime's 1975 album Believe It.

Although he's primarily known as a heavy metal shredder, guitarist Greg Howe can pretty much adapt to any style thrown his way -- including jazz fusion. And this is precisely the style that is featured throughout 2003's Extraction, which saw Howe joined by such top-notch instrumentalists as Victor Wooten on bass and Dennis Chambers on drums (as well as David Cook on keys). Longtime fans of Howe who are hoping for at least a glimpse of his hard rock roots are out of luck here, as the tunes often recall the carefree fusion days of the 1970s, when such artists as Billy Cobham, Stanley Clarke, and Al di Meola were consistently giving a clinic with chops-heavy tunes. As far as modern-day fusion goes, Extraction is pretty darn consistent from front to back, as evidenced by such uptempo ditties as "Extraction" and "Crack It Way Open," as well as more tranquil moments like "Tease" and "Ease Up." Howe, Wooten, and Chambers have certainly succeeded in summoning up a heavy '70s vibe throughout Extraction, and as a result, the album wouldn't sound out of place played between School Days and Where Have I Known You Before.

The pedigrees of these musicians are unquestionably solid. Right off the bat we’re treated to a powerful Chambers drum solo on the title track, which then settles into a 16th-note melody line so typical of modern fusion. “Tease” is exceptionally entertaining, each performer coming up with an endless series of creative ideas. But the next track, “Crack It Way Open,” is pretty much inconsequential filler, the kind of aimless noodling that almost put fusion in its grave a decade ago. The tracks keep alternating thusly between promise and pap.

When Howe picks up the acoustic guitar things get a bit more interesting. Wooten adds some marvelous runs and his fretless playing is as fine as always but he, too, tends to fall into the 16th-note babble pattern. Chambers, for his part, bubbles and swells appropriately on each tune; it’s a shame he doesn’t have more to support. Keyboardist Dave Cook’s pads and lines help to keep things on track, and he is a respectable soloist.

Having recently "discovered" Greg Howe, I really enjoy this album on several different levels. The playing (by all band members) is top-shelf. They are all technically virtuoso. Greg's playing, while very technical, is also very tasteful and jazzy on this album. Even the acoustic numbers are mesmerizing. The tones used on guitars and keyboards are a perfect match for the funky, jazzy, fusionistic melodies here. I honestly can't listen to this CD enough! Worth every cent.

This music exceeds my expectations. I new that the title track was special, but was surprised that each song was special in it's own way. All four musicians are very gifted and contribute to one fine package of music. Kudos to Greg Howe for his compositions. Proto-Cosmos is a wonderful composition written by Alan Pasqua. If you've heard Allan Holdsworth's version of it, make sure to sample this version. It keeps the excitement and raises it several notches. I completely recommend this recording.

Track listing:
All music composed by Greg Howe, except where noted.

No. Title Length
1. "Extraction" 6:13
2. "Tease" 6:07
3. "Crack It Way Open" 5:59
4. "Contigo" 6:30
5. "Proto Cosmos" (Alan Pasqua) 4:15
6. "A Delicacy" 2:24
7. "Lucky 7" 6:02
8. "Ease Up" 6:20
9. "Bird's Eye View" 6:18

Total length: 50:08


Greg Howe – guitar, guitar synthesizer, keyboard, production
Dennis Chambers – drums
Victor Wooten – bass
David Cook – additional keyboard, keyboard solos

Monday, October 9, 2017

Uriah Heep - 1972 [1990] "Demons And Wizards"

Demons and Wizards is the fourth album by British rock band Uriah Heep, released in 1972 by Bronze Records in the UK and Mercury Records in the US. The album helped the band become famous and has sold 3 million copies worldwide.

The original vinyl release was a gatefold sleeve, the front of which was designed by Roger Dean. The inner sleeve had pictures of the band and notes by Ken Hensley, while the liner featured printed lyrics.

The songs "The Wizard" and "Easy Livin'" were released as singles in the UK and North America as well as many other markets. "Easy Livin'" entered the US Top 40 reaching No. 39, making it Heep's first and only American hit. "Easy Livin'" was also a mega-hit in the Netherlands and Germany, countries which were becoming strong markets for the band. It reached a disappointing No. 75 in Australia.[1]

New Zealander Gary Thain, at the time a member of Keef Hartley Band, joined Uriah Heep as a permanent member halfway through another American tour. "Gary just had a style about him, it was incredible because every bass player in the world that I've ever known has always loved his style, with those melodic bass lines," Box commented later. Another addition, of drummer Lee Kerslake (a former bandmate of Hensley's in the Gods and Toe Fat), solidified the rhythm section. Thus the "classic" Uriah Heep lineup was formed and, according to biographer K. Blows, "everything just clicked into place".

The result of Heep's newfound chemistry was the Demons and Wizards album, which in June 1972, reached No. 20 in the UK and No. 23 in the US. In Finland, the album hit No. 1 in May and remained on top of the charts for 14 weeks. While the album title and Dean's cover art both suggested medieval fantasy, Hensley's notes declared the album to be "just a collection of our songs that we had a good time recording".

Hensley recalled: "The band was really focused at that time. We all wanted the same thing, were all willing to make the same sacrifices to achieve it and we were all very committed. It was the first album to feature that lineup and there was a magic in that combination of people that created so much energy and enthusiasm".

Two singles were released from the album: "The Wizard" and "Easy Livin'". The latter, a defiant rocker, according to Blows, was "tailor-made for Byron's extrovert showmanship" and peaked at No. 39 in the Billboard Hot 100.

This is the album that solidified Uriah Heep's reputation as a master of gothic-inflected heavy metal. From short, sharp rock songs to lengthy, musically dense epics, Demons and Wizards finds Uriah Heep covering all the bases with style and power. The album's approach is set with its lead-off track, "The Wizard": it starts as a simple acoustic tune but soon builds into a stately rocker that surges forth on a Wall of Sound built from thick guitar riffs, churchy organ, and operatic vocal harmonies. Other highlights include "Traveller in Time," a fantasy-themed rocker built on thick wah-wah guitar riffs, and "Circle of Hands," a stately power ballad with a gospel-meets-heavy metal feel to it. Demons and Wizards also produced a notable radio hit for the band in "Easy Livin'," a punchy little rocker whose raging blend of fuzz guitar and swirling organ made it feel like a '70s update of classic '60s garage rockers like the Electric Prunes or Paul Revere & the Raiders. However, the top highlight of the album is the closing medley of "Paradise" and "The Spell": the first part of the medley starts in an acoustic folk mode and slowly adds layers of organ and electric guitar until it becomes a forceful, slow-tempo rocker, while the second half is a punchy, organ-led rocker that includes an instrumental midsection where choral-style harmonies fortify a killer, Pink Floyd-style guitar solo from Ken Hensley. All in all, Demons and Wizards works both as a showcase for Uriah Heep's instrumental firepower and an excellent display of their songwriting skills in a variety of hard rock styles. As a result, it is considered by many fans to be their finest hour and is definitely worth a spin for anyone with an interest in 1970s heavy metal.

Uriah Heep's Demons And Wizard's is simply the greatest Heavy Progressive Rock album ever made. At the time of it's release this was a seamless stunning amalgam of Heavy Metal and Progressive Rock. Demons And Wizards can be considered the Grandfather of Progressive Metal and Power Metal. David Byron is at his peak as a Vocalist here and his smooth and powerful voice is a treat on every song. Ken Hensley's amazing organ playing overpowers everything in it's path and Mick Box's Guitar leads are just outstanding. And the songwriting is amazing. This album was a forerunner to, and inspiration for so many things. It was one of the first albums themed around Magic, Sorcery, and ancient British legends (Something many many other bands would do almost to death over the nest two decades) And if all that wasn't enough it is chock full of just great songs. Their isn't anything approaching a weak track here.

Tracks Listing:

1. The Wizard (2:59)
2. Traveller In Time (3:26)
3. Easy Livin' (2:36)
4. Poet's Justice (4:14)
5. Circle Of Hands (6:34)
6. Rainbow demon (4:30)
7. All My Life (2:46)
8. Paradise (5:15)
9. The Spell (7:26)


- David Byron / vocals
- Mick Box / guitars
- Ken Hensley / keyboards, guitars, percussion, vocals (8,9)
- Gary Thain / bass
- Mark Clarke / bass (1,10,11), vocals (1)
- Lee Kerslake / drums, percussion

Sunday, October 8, 2017

John Mclaughlin & Mahavishnu - 1987 "Adventures In Radioland"

Adventures in Radioland is a 1987 album by the John McLaughlin-headed group Mahavishnu, released by the Relativity label which represents McLauglin's interest in electronic technology. It features McLaughlin on Synclavier synthesized guitar.

The album was recorded at Psycho Recording Studios & Sampling in Milan initially by Craigh Milliner then finished by Max Costa and mixed by John McLaughlin and Max Costa. It was released on CD by the Polygram label in 1993.

Yet another revamped Mahavishnu emerged in 1986 and released Adventures In Radioland. McLaughlin was having a hard time in the 1980's obtaining a decent record contract. He eventually found a home at Relativity. Relativity, being a minor label, did not do a good job of distributing Adventures in Radioland. Due to this fact, it is one of the least known albums of McLaughlin’s career. At any rate, although now dated a bit because of the use of electronic drums from time to time, this disc is still a superb piece of work.

The new Mahavishnu was a powerhouse of a fusion band and featured, along with McLaughlin, the overly talented keyboardist Mitchel Forman, former Miles' sideman saxophonist Bill Evans, former Metheny drummer Danny Gottlieb and the amazing bassist, Jonas Hellborg. This album cooks. McLaughlin plays guitar synth, less so than on the previous comeback release of Mahavishnu (recently re-released on Wounded Bird Records). He also employs electric and acoustic guitars and burns through the upbeat, elevating tunes. McLaughlin, Forman and Evans all contribute compositions to the mix. This allows for a variety that is more than welcome.

Highlights include “Florianapolis,” “The Wall Will Fall,” and “Mitch Match.” The interplay between McLaughlin and Forman is a particular pleasing affair. Forman is a near genius. Every effort should be made to obtain his solo recordings, especially his earlier releases. But, all the players are strong and confident. This album proved that FUSION could be good music again!

Though it always served as a forum for his blazing electric guitar, the Mahavishnu Orchestra also represented John McLaughlin's interest in electronic technology and high-intensity group interaction as well. Those features are all present on this 1986 session, with Bill Evans (another alumnus of Miles Davis's OAelectric bands) on soprano and tenor saxophones, Mitchel Forman on keyboards, Swedish musician Jonas Hellborg on bass, and Danny Gottlieb on drums. This version of the group had been together for a couple of years when it recorded Adventures in Radioland, and it achieves a remarkable mating of instrumental virtuosity and sheer hardware. Guitar synth, drum sequencing, and sampling update the Mahavishnu sound of the 1970s, and the fusion genre as well, while the flying runs of a very gifted band continue the tradition. Electronic highlights include McLaughin's "Jozy," a funky tribute to Joe Zawinul, and "Florianapolis" shows the guitarist's lyrical, acoustic side.

I've been listening to this for 24 years, since it came out.
It haunts me to this day. Modern fusion at it's best, years ahead of it's time, or the pinnacle of the fusion era, I can't decide..
I love that John and crew were always searching, for the new and the vast within. There are many styles of music here to pick out in the mix, traditional guitar sounds, modern synths, bop, swing, funk, rock, it's all here. Keyboard player really helps fill out the sound. It's a studio album but has LIVE intensity, to the point I'd say it does better in that regard than most artists do. I've heard all the greats play and they were always better live than the studio album, because they had been touring and really working the tunes for a while, but also it was looser because nobody was afraid of bad notes. Just let go. And John to me, always sounded that way in the studio too! Rare for a musician to just go for it the way he does.

"The Wait" is so amazingly intense, and Bill Evans (!) on sax, tearing it up , Jonas is just RAGING on the bass. This is as good as John ever sounded to my ears, and far more contemporary sounding than the 70's recordings to my ears. Recording quaility is vastly superior to prior Mahavishnu recordings, and the musicianship is obviously more mature and refined. Polished and much more dynamic range than the previous recordings from the 70's. To me the earlier recordings just can't compete with this sonic quality, at all. Night and day.

Anybody complaining about drum sounds is not listening to the the music. The intensity, the depth of the exploration and the unleashed raw power that is John McLaughlin with the best sidemen available. Listen to Jonas Hellborg kill on track 6, he's funky to the max. The saxes are doubled up, and sounds like a section but probably just Bill. So lots of cool new kinds of recording effects mixed with even traditional Flaminco sounds on track 6.

And as well, this recording is minimum, 10 years ahead of it's time, so it still sounds fresh to me, in 2010. Timeless virtuosity and great synth sounds, back when analog synths were still available. Holds up well against anybody you can name in the genre including: Alan Holdsworth (Secrets), Scott Henderson (Tribal Tech), Gonzalo Rubalcaba (checkout Giraldilla 1990!!).

There are techno experimental jazz in some respects, as there are pretty heavy synth parts, very musical in the extreme though. However, like any musical undertaking, there are standouts and near misses in some regards. Not all these tunes hold up as well as others, so be it, all a great effort.
World class in fact, and the playing even on my less favorite tracks has amazing musicians with excellent recording quality.

Track 7 has a very ballzy slow laboring bounce to start, then morphs into almost a bop ride along, light and airy. Sounds like some overdubs on the saxes there, or maybe doubled by the keyboards too. I love these old synth sounds; they don't sound dated, they sound rare and rich to me. Nothing sounds like analog filters and multiple oscillators layered on top of each other. FAT.
Don't believe it, I'll put up a Minimoog or Oberhiem Expander against any keyboard sound in the business. THICK and unprocessed sounding, real. By the end of this track, everybody is just wailing.

The title aptly describes the music on this CD. More often than not, in the world of jazz, these two adjectives are rather like two poles. This is a great jazz/fusion album, with all the chopsy soloing, complex compositions and arrangements you would expect from a top fusion recording by a major artist in the genre. Some people are offended by the dated technology on this recording, firmly placing it in the 80s, but I think that one needs to look beyond appearances into the heart of the music itself - this is without doubt music with heart. Its lightness and joyousness should not be mistaken for shallowness - though nothing like the probing, hungry, searching music of Mahavishnu Orchestra of the '70s, it's as if the searching is over, and whatever John was looking for has been found. I like to think of this album as fusion brought up to date with the current developments in technology and musical ideas, and whose course has been slightly corrected away from rock and toward jazz.

Dance like nobody's watching, Sing like nobody's listening.

Track listing:

1. The Wait (5:35)
2. Just Ideas (2:00)
3. Jozy (For Joe Zawinul) (5:25)
4. Half Man, Half Cookie (2:56)
5. Florianapolis (5:21)
6. Gotta Dance (4:18)
7. That Wall Will Fall (6:00)
8. Reincarnation (2:57)
9. Mitch Match (3:58)
10. 20th Century Ltd (2:31)


- John McLaughlin / electric & synth (Synclavier II) guitars, producer
- Mitchel Forman / keyboards
- Bill Evans / saxophones, keyboards (4)
- Jonas Hellborg / Wal double-neck bass
- Danny Gottlieb / drums, cymbals, Simmons SDS7 electronic drums, Sycologic PSP drum interface

John McLaughlin / Al Di Meola / Paco De Lucia - 1981 "Friday Night In San Francisco"

John McLaughlin / Al Di Meola / Paco De Lucia

Friday Night in San Francisco is a 1981 live album by Al Di Meola, John McLaughlin and Paco de Lucía. It was described by jazz author and critic Walter Kolosky as "a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band's performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938 ... [it] may be considered the most influential of all live acoustic guitar albums".

All the tracks except "Guardian Angel" were recorded live at The Warfield Theatre on 5 December 1980, in San Francisco; "Guardian Angel" was recorded at Minot Sound, in White Plains, New York.

John McLaughlin is an English guitarist, bandleader and composer. His music includes many genres of jazz and rock, which he coupled with an interest in Indian classical music to become one of the pioneering figures in fusion. In 2010, guitarist Jeff Beck called him "the best guitarist alive." In 2003, McLaughlin was ranked 49th in Rolling Stone's "100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time." After contributing to several key British groups of the early sixties and making his first solo record, he moved to the US where he played with Tony Williams' group Lifetime and then with Miles Davis on his landmark electric-jazz fusion albums: In A Silent Way, Bitches Brew, A Tribute To Jack Johnson and On The Corner.

Paco de Lucia was a Spanish flamenco guitarist, composer and producer. A leading proponent of the New Flamenco style, he helped legitimize flamenco among the establishment in Spain, and was one of the first flamenco guitarists to have successfully crossed over into other genres of music such as classical and jazz. De Lucia was noted for his fast and fluent fingerstyle runs. His collaborations with guitarists John McLaughlin and Al Di Meola saw him gain wider popularity outside his native Spain.

Al Di Meola is an acclaimed jazz fusion and Latin jazz guitarist, composer, and record producer. With a musical career that has spanned more than three decades, he has become respected as one of the most influential guitarists in jazz to date. Albums such as Friday Night In San Francisco have earned him both artistic and commercial success with a solid fan base throughout the world. A prolific composer and prodigious six-string talent, Di Meola has amassed over 20 albums as a leader while collaborating on a dozen or so others.

It was a historic occasion. The appearance of John McLaughlin, Al DiMeola, and Paco DeLucia at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre one Friday night in 1981 was a musical event that could be compared to the Benny Goodman Band's performance at Carnegie Hall in 1938. The Guitar Trio did for the acoustic guitar what Goodman had done for jazz. The acoustic guitar had gone commercial.

In 1979 and 1980, McLaughlin and de Lucia had actually toured Europe with Larry Coryell. McLaughlin tried to release a recording of this group but Columbia would have none of it, claiming Coryell was not a big enough name. Coryell had some personal problems at the time that did not help either. (The video Meeting of the Spirits features this version of the Trio, and it also appears on one cut on DeLucia's album Castro Marin ). When the time came to tour America, DiMeola stepped in. His presence suddenly made the Trio commercial. At any rate, Friday Night in San Francisco was the result.

FNSF truly caught these players' energy, amazing technique and humor to a generous degree. There is no doubt that McLaughlin is the leader (center channel gives that away), but DiMeola and DeLucia more than hold their own. DiMeola, though one of the world's greatest guitar players, lacks the emotional intensity and overall musicality to match McLaughlin or DeLucia. But the Latin influenced music of the Trio allows him to excel in a genre in which he had long dabbled. Not being a jazz player, DeLucia's improvisational work is understandably weaker than the other two. However, the music is as much in DeLucia's bag as anyone’s. The concert is full of call and response, unison playing, heavy chords (courtesy of McLaughlin), and audience screams.

The album's highlight is McLaughlin's duet with DeLucia on an Egberto Gismonti piece, "Frevo Rasgado". The beautiful melody and stunning improvisation leads to an absolutely hair-raising finale duel. (Gismonti has recorded a beautiful version of his tune on piano.) The recording's lightest moments occur during a hilarious duet version of Chick Corea’s “Short Tales of the Black Forest,” featuring McLaughin and DiMeola in which the two masters quote back and forth from various sources including Mancini’s “Pink Panther.” All three players finish the event with a studio version of McLaughlin’s “Guardian Angel.”

Friday Night in San Francisco may be considered the most influential of all live acoustic guitar albums. Though some have criticized it for its muscular tendencies, the recording certainly captures the excitement of the event itself. In a world of electric guitars, it was quite unusual to hear a crowd go absolutely ballistic over acoustic strumming. It is not so unusual today, and this record is one major reason for that.

Loose and spontaneous, this (mainly) live album is a meeting of three of the greatest guitarists in the world for an acoustic summit the likes of which the guitar-playing community rarely sees. Broken up into three duo and two trio performances, Friday Night in San Francisco catches all three players at the peaks of their quite formidable powers. The first track features Al di Meola and Paco de Lucía teaming up for a medley of di Meola's "Mediterranean Sundance" (first recorded by the duo on di Meola's classic 1976 album Elegant Gypsy) and de Lucía's own "Rio Ancho." It is a delightful performance, full of the fire and inhuman chops that one expects from two players of this caliber. However, the two guitarists obviously have big ears, and they complement each other's solos with percussive, driving rhythm parts. There is a laid-back, humorous element to Friday Night in San Francisco as well, best witnessed in di Meola and John McLaughlin's performance of Chick Corea's "Short Tales of the Black Forest." Rapid-fire licks from the pair soon give way to atonal striking of the body of the guitar, running picks along the strings, etc. Before the farce is completed, they have played a blues and quoted the Pink Panther theme. It is funny stuff, and it serves to dispel the image of the trio, especially di Meola, as super-serious clinicians more concerned with technique than music. The other great piece of evidence against such a narrow-minded claim can be found in both the quality of the compositions featured on Friday Night in San Francisco as well as the sensitivity and dynamic variation brought to the performances. A perfect example of this is the sole studio track, a McLaughlin composition entitled "Guardian Angel" (the opening theme of which is taken straight from "Guardian Angels," a song that appears on McLaughlin's 1978 Electric Dreams album). It is a fine piece, and one that features a haunting melody as well as some of the best solos on the record. All in all, Friday Night in San Francisco is a fantastic album and one of the best entries in all of these guitarists' fine discographies.

Track listing:

1. Mediterranean Sundance / Rio Ancho 11:31
2. Short Tales Of The Black Forest 8:41
3. Frevo Rasgado 7:55
4. Fantasia Suite 8:50
5. Guardian Angel 4:00


John McLaughlin – acoustic guitar
Paco de Lucía – acoustic guitar
Al Di Meola – acoustic guitar

Friday, October 6, 2017

Larry Coryell - 2004 "Tricycles"

Jazz über-guitarist Larry Coryell has been hinting at a studio set like this for a long time now: a solid, top-to-bottom six-string jazz date with a crack rhythm section. Drummer Paul Wertico was on board for the dates that produced the Power Trio album, but the addition of bassist Mark Egan in the studio balances this equation perfectly. Interestingly, Wertico and Egan are both former sidemen from the Pat Metheny Group (albeit at different times). One thing both players have in common, and makes them so integral here, is their love of lyricism. Coryell, who has an astonishing variety of styles at his ready disposal, concentrates on it here in spades. Whether the tune is a smoking, bluesy swinger like the opener "Immer Geradeaus," the ultramodern "Good Citizen Swallow," that graces the edge of soft jazz-rock but never goes there, or the edgy arpeggiattic workout in "Spaces Revisited," the deeply haunting read of Monk's "Round Midnight," Coryell is virtually singing through his instrument. His focus on sonority and lush harmonic extrapolations is given weight by his rhythm section, who dance and weave around one another as a unit. The balance of Tricycles is its most startling aspect. These cats sound like they've been playing together for decades. Nuance, impression, and subtle suggestion are all incorporated in the mix for a wonderful melodic approach to modern creative jazz. The other Monk tune here, "Well You Needn't," is given an entirely new dimension by this approach because Coryell can concentrate on Monk's extrapolated harmonic ideas in his solo, yet roots the entire thing in a deft, gritty, bluesy frame. This is a straight-ahead date that is full of fresh ideas and compositions, as well exciting playing that points toward a new era for Coryell, and it numbers among his finest recordings.

Why guitarist Larry Coryell isn’t a bigger name is a mystery. Emerging in the ‘60s around the same time as John McLaughlin, Coryell’s forays into fusion actually predate McLaughlin’s, first fusing jazz with rock and country sensibilities in Gary Burton’s quartet, most notably on ‘67’s Duster and Lofty Fake Anagram. McLaughlin and Coryell even duked it out on Coryell’s Spaces , considered by many to be a classic fusion record. But Coryell’s career has strangely existed just below the radar, enough of a name to develop a rich body of recorded work, but never quite able to make the leap into broader exposure.
Maybe it’s because at the heart of things Coryell is really a jazzer. As eclectic as he can get, his roots are never far from the forefront. He has a clean but edgy approach that suits a broad range of styles, but harmonically and rhythmically it owes more to the tradition. And while he has straddled the fence on a variety of contexts over the years, there is no doubt on Tricycles , his latest release, where he’d fall if he lost his balance.

Accompanying Coryell are bassist Marc Egan and drummer Paul Wertico, both alumni, from different periods, of the Pat Metheny Group. Some artists are born to be leaders, others are best heard in support of others. While both Wertico and Egan have forged modestly successful careers as leaders, they are inconsistent at best—but in support of Coryell, who has a more focused conception, they clearly shine. Wertico demonstrates a sheer sense of power that he never had the chance to show with Metheny. His solo on “Spaces Revisited” gives Billy Cobham, who played on the original ’97 recording of the same name, a real run for his money. And Egan contributes some of his loosest playing in years, witness the group improvisation, “Three Way Split,” where he manages to emerge from a free-style intro into a fast swing with Wertico that gives Coryell all the room he needs.

In a programme that liberally mixes Monk standards with Coryell originals past and present, Coryell demonstrates a biting and compellingly distinctive style. On “Good Citizen Swallow,” originally from Burton’s Lofty Fake Anagram , he plays with a slight country flavour; on the blues-based “Immer Geredeaus” Coryell combines his roots in Wes Montgomery with a more angular approach. “Spaces Revisited” and “Dragon Gate” were originally recorded as quartet pieces, but both benefit from the more harmonic freedom of the trio setting. “Stable Fantasy,” another new composition, blurs the bar line, and features a lyrical melody from Egan.

Tricycles may not do anything to bring Coryell to the broader audience he deserves, but it should. With a personal style that is clearly as identifiable in its combination of energy and elegance, concept and commitment, as those of his more popular contemporaries, Coryell belongs in the spotlight that has eluded him for nearly forty years.

Anyone remember when Larry Coryell was one of the youngbloods of jazz guitar? Sheesh, I must be getting a bit “advanced” in age, eh? Through the years, there’s never been a doubt in my mind that Larry’s chops were as strong as anyone’s. There were times when I couldn’t follow, though, usually because the tunes weren’t that strong. Well, here the songs, the band, and Larry’s playing are as strong as can be.

There are six Coryell originals, and every one of them is interesting with fine changes and themes running through them. There are nice covers, too. Thelonius Monk’s “Well You Needn’t” has a great feel, with wonderful playing all the way around. The oddest piece, and the one that at first seems out of place, is the Lennon and McCartney chestnut, “She’s Leaving Home.” Larry’s acoustic work shines on the familiar melody, and the soloing is created from that melody. His electric playing is slightly chorused, not unlike some players who came up right after him, like Metheny and Scofield. The solos, though, are pure Coryell. Listen to him navigate the changes of “Immer Geradeaus,” where he solos around them wonderfully, and then lets loose with an impeccable chord solo.

And we should mention the band; on bass is Mark Egan and Paul Wertico mans the drums. The trio setting is perfect, whether it’s bop heaven like “Dragon Gate” or a beautiful, light, ballad like the title cut. The interplay between Egan and Coryell is real fun to listen to. They double each other on occasion, and all three lock in on pretty much every cut to create great music.

This is one of the best jazz guitar albums of the year so far. Great songs, great band, and great soloing.

Track listing:

1 Immer Geradeaus 6:38
2 Dragon Gate 8:31
3 Good Citizen Swallow 6:11
4 Tricycles 6:23
5 Stable Fantasy 4:31
6 Spaces Revisited 8:55
7 Round Midnight 8:38
8 Three Way Srlit 3:43
9 Well You Needn't 5:30
10 She's Leaving Home 3:02


Guitar – Larry Coryell
Bass – Mark Egan
Drums – Paul Wertico