Sunday, January 29, 2017

Mike Stern - 1994 "Is What It Is"

"IS WHAT IT IS" was nominated for Best Contemporary Jazz Performance in the 37th Annual Grammy Awards.
Mike Stern is one of the more creative fusion guitarists, playing with the power of rock but often taking sophisticated improvisations. On this passionate set (which consists of nine of his originals), Stern is joined by the keyboards of Jim Beard, bassist Will Lee, Dennis Chambers or Ben Perowsky on drums and (on three songs apiece) the tenors of Michael Brecker and Bob Malach. Overall this is one of Mike Stern's better recordings.

Reviewer Ries van Schelven writes about guitarist Mike Stern's 1994 release "Is What It Is", "This is, in my opinion, Stern's best solo album. This album is full of jewels. It has a definite jazz/rock sound to it, but has it's pure moments as well. The album starts of with "Swunk", a typical Stern composition featuring Michael Brecker on tenor sax and a kick ass solo. Next, "A Little Luck" which is brilliant guitar work. Then it's ballad time again, "What I Meant To Say", one of my favorites on the album - a soaring melodic piece, showing Mike's brilliance. Then comes some funky stuff on "Showbiz". Listen to the acoustic masterpiece "Wherever You Are", which features Harvie Swartz on the upright acoustic bass. The phrasing is breathtaking. The best piece is "Signs" - this is Mike Stern. The structure of the solo is incredible. It has Mike Stern's signature all over it. I like when he uses his overdrive. It kicks ass! Definitely his best solo album."

At one time swing was just another kind of dance music with a rhythm of utilitarian regularity. It was only in the hands of drummers like Sid Catlett and Sonny Greer that swing acquired enough flexibility to be useful in jazz. Baltimore's Dennis Chambers, a drummer for Parliament-Funkadelic and John Scofield, is now bringing a similar flexibility to another dance music, funk. On Is What It Is, by former Miles Davis guitarist Mike Stern, Chambers proves that funk can be as infinitely variable as swing, and the soloists respond with a rhythmic freedom unusual in fusion.

This is what it is what is it... I mean, this really IS Mike Stern's best work. All tunes are almost great more or less.
"Swunk" is a quite typical Mike Stern rock/fusion tune, "A little luck" is almost beautiful Stern-piece, third song is always ballad "What I meant to say" is however quite boring tune but Tracks 4-8 are just Greats! "Showbiz" is nice funky humorsong and "Believe it" is really good bluestune with very beautiful and tuff solo, "Wherever you are" is ballad again, but much better than "What I meant to say". Nice basswork by Harwie Swartz, "Ha ha hotel" is maybe Stern's best song of this kind. Crazy melody, high tempo, great basslines and realy tuff guitarsolo and saxsolo by Bob Malach. "Signs" is perhaps Mike's best song ever, all Mike's best elements could be heard and guitarsolo is amazing! Melody and bassline are just fine and doesn't need any "specialharmony", great composition! Last song "55 dive" is again more typical jazzypiece but still quite good theme and good solos by Mike and Bob. If you haven't heard this CD yet, I give you just one tip: Buy it today!

How would I advise you to enjoy Is What It Is?... Well... Just relax in an armchair, boost off-limits your fine-tuned stereo set... Program tracks #2, #6, and #8... Close your eyes...
Then feel Mike's music lifting you up gently above the clouds. Imagine you're riding a jet of some supersonic capabilities (but it's really not the point here). Imagine there's a button on the board you may press.
So, wait for Mike's smooth shifts towards pure crystal and aerial sounds he's the only one to reach with the distortion pedal this way... Wait for him to enter the most delicate, the clearest, the richest, and the most powerful solos you'll ever have listened to so far...
Push the button at that time, as Mike invites you to... Lift off to the stratosphere, and ride outer space...
If you loved this journey, turn to Tell Me, and Pages, on Mike's Between The Lines album, and to If You Say So, on Odds Or Evens, and discover what the best jazz-rock guitarist has to offer: the most beautiful aerial music ever.

Track listing:

07:53     Swunk    
06:36     A Little Luck    
06:20     What I Meant To Say    
05:43     Showbiz    
04:32     Believe It    
05:32     Wherever You Are    
06:10     Ha Ha Hotel    
07:48     Signs
05:44     55 Dive    

Personnel:

Mike Stern - Guitar
Michael Brecker - Saxophone
Jim Beard - Synthesizers, Piano, Hammond Organ, Wurlitzer Piano, Production, Additional Engineering
Will Lee - Bass
Dennis Chambers - Drums
Ben Perowsky - Drums
Harvie Swartz - Acoustic Bass
Bob Malach - Saxophone

Various Artists - 1993 Gold Encore Series "The World of Contemporary Jazz Groups"

GRP Records is an American jazz record company, owned by Universal Music Group and operates through its Verve Music Group. The company's name has had different meanings. In its early days, it stood for "Grusin/Rosen Productions," after the founders. By the middle 1990s, after Grusin and Rosen left the company, GRP used the marketing slogan "Great Records Period."

Dave Grusin, a pianist and producer, and Larry Rosen, a drummer and recording engineer, established a production company in 1976 that recorded nontraditional jazz musicians like Earl Klugh and Lee Ritenour. When they founded GRP in 1978, they continued to concentrate on this fusion of jazz, pop, and rock.[1]
GRP was distributed by Arista until 1982. It was independent until 1987, when it made a deal with MCA Distributing. In 1990 MCA bought GRP, giving the latter use of the catalogues of Impulse! and Decca, which GRP began to reissue on CD. New recordings at GRP included music by David Benoit, Michael Brecker, Gary Burton, Billy Cobham, Chick Corea, Eddie Daniels, Mercer Ellington, Kevin Eubanks, Dizzy Gillespie, Jimmy Haslip, Eric Marienthal, Gerry Mulligan, John Patitucci, the Rippingtons, Arturo Sandoval, Diane Schuur, and Dave Valentin.[1]
GRP's use of Soundstream and digital recording contributed to the success of the label. Grusin's album Mountain Dance (1979) was one of the earliest all-digital recordings outside of classical music.

Tracklist

    1. The Rippingtons - Curves Ahead
    2. Acoustic Alchemy - Reference Point
    3. Spyro Gyra - Morning Dance
    4. The Crusaders - Shake Dance
    5. The Brecker Brothers - Song For Barry
    6. Special EFX - Daybreak
    7. Gary Burton - Reunion
    8. Chick Corea - Inside Out

Personnel:

    Russ Freeman - Synthesizer, Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric), Keyboards
    Eric Marienthal - Saxophone
    Marcus Miller - Bass, Programming
    Chieli Minucci - Synthesizer, Guitar (Acoustic), Producer
    Tony Morales - Drums
    Dave Samuels - Marimba, Drums (Steel)
    Fernando Saunders - Bass
    Bert Smaak - Drums
    Klaus Sperber - Guitar (Bass)
    Kim Stone - Bass
    Steve Szabo - Trumpet
    Nick Webb - Guitar
    Dave Weckl - Drums
    Kenny Werner - Piano
    George Whitty - Keyboards
    Ted Reinhardt - Drums
    Don Alias - Percussion
    Jimmy Haslip - Bass
    George Jinda - Cymbals, Shaker, Producer, Sound Effects, Bells, Triangle
    Alex Acuña - Percussion
    Mario Argandona - Percussion
    Rubens Bassini -  Percussion
    Jay Beckenstein -  Saxophone, Producer
    Randy Brecker - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
    William Bubba Bryant - Drums
    Greg Carmichael - Guitar
    Lenny Castro - Percussion
    Chick Corea - Synthesizer, Accordion, Producer, MIDI Piano
    Lionel Cordew - Drums
    Steve Croes - Synclavier
    Terry Disley - Keyboards
    Wilton Felder - Synthesizer
    Russell Ferrante - Synthesizer
    Mitchel Forman - Piano, Keyboards
    Jeff Kashiwa - Sax (Alto), Sax (Tenor)
    William Kennedy - Drums
    Kim Kurzdorfer - Bass
    Michael Landau - Guitar
    Armand Sabal-Lecco - Bass, Piccolo Bass
    Mark Ledford - Vocals
    Will Lee - Bass (Electric)
    John Tropea - Guitar
    The Brecker Brothers - Producer, Performer
    Michael Brecker - Synthesizer, Keyboards, Sax (Tenor), Programming
    Gary Burton - Producer, Vibraphone, Performer
    Peter Erskine - Percussion, Drums

Saturday, January 28, 2017

The Who - 1970 [1995] "Live At Leeds"

Live at Leeds is the first live album by the English rock band The Who. It was the only live album that was released while the group were still actively recording and performing with their best known line-up of Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, John Entwistle and Keith Moon. Initially released in the United States on 16 May 1970, by Decca and MCA and the United Kingdom on 23 May 1970, by Track and Polydor, the album has been reissued on several occasions and in several different formats. Since its initial reception, Live at Leeds has been cited by several music critics as the best live rock recording of all time.

By the end of the 1960s, particularly after releasing Tommy in May 1969, The Who had become cited by many as one of the best live rock acts in the world. According to biographer Chris Charlesworth, "a sixth sense seemed to take over", leading them to "a kind of rock nirvana that most bands can only dream about". The band were rehearsing and touring regularly, and Townshend had settled on using the Gibson SG as his main touring instrument, that allowed him to play faster than other guitars. He began using Hiwatt amplifiers that allowed him to get a variety of tones simply by adjusting the guitar's volume level.
Realising that their live show stood in equal importance to the rock-opera format of Tommy, the group returned to England at the end of 1969 with a desire to release a live album from concerts recorded earlier in the US. However, Townshend balked at the prospect of listening to all the accumulated recordings to decide which would make the best album, and, according to Charlesworth, instructed sound engineer Bob Pridden to burn the tapes. Townshend later confirmed the tapes were indeed burnt in his back garden.
Two shows were consequently scheduled, one at the University of Leeds and the other in Hull, for the express purpose of recording and releasing a live album. The Leeds concert was booked and arranged by Simon Brogan, who later became an assistant manager on tour with Jethro Tull. The shows were performed on 14 February 1970 at Leeds and on 15 February 1970 at Hull, but technical problems with the recordings from the Hull gig — the bass guitar had not been recorded on some of the songs — made it all the more necessary for the show from the 14th to be released as the album.

The cover was designed by Beadrall Sutcliffe and resembled that of a bootleg LP of the era, parodying the Rolling Stones' Live'r Than You'll Ever Be. It contains plain brown cardboard with "The Who Live At Leeds" printed on it in plain blue or red block letters as if stamped on with ink (on the original first English pressing of 300, this stamp is black). The original cover opened out, gatefold-style, and had a pocket on either side of the interior, with the record in a paper sleeve on one side and 12 facsimiles of various memorabilia on the other, including a photo of the band from the My Generation photoshoot in March 1965, handwritten lyrics to the "Listening to You" chorus from Tommy, the typewritten lyrics to "My Generation", with hand written notes, a receipt for smoke bombs, a rejection letter from EMI, and the early black "Maximum R&B" poster showing Pete Townshend wind-milling his Rickenbacker. The first 500 copies included a copy of the contract for the Who to play at the Woodstock Festival.
The label was handwritten (reportedly by Townshend), and included instructions to the engineers not to attempt to remove any crackling noise. This is probably a reference to the clicking and popping on the pre-remastered version (notably in "Shakin' All Over") which was from John Entwistle's bass cable. Modern digital remastering techniques allowed this to be removed, and also allowed some of the worst-affected tracks from the gig to be used; on CD releases, the label reads, "Crackling noises have been corrected!

Rushed out in 1970 as a way to bide time as the Who toiled away on their follow-up to Tommy, Live at Leeds wasn't intended to be the definitive Who live album, and many collectors maintain that the band had better shows available on bootlegs. But those shows weren't easily available whereas Live at Leeds was, and even if this show may not have been the absolute best, it's so damn close to it that it would be impossible for anybody but aficionados to argue. Here, the Who sound vicious -- as heavy as Led Zeppelin but twice as volatile -- as they careen through early classics with the confidence of a band that had finally achieved acclaim but had yet to become preoccupied with making art. In that regard, this recording -- in its many different forms -- may have been perfectly timed in terms of capturing the band at a pivotal moment in its history.
There is certainly no better record of how this band was a volcano of violence on-stage, teetering on the edge of chaos but never blowing apart. This was most true on the original LP, which was a trim six tracks, three of them covers ("Young Man Blues," "Summertime Blues," "Shakin' All Over") and three originals from the mid-'60s, two of those ("Substitute," "My Generation") vintage parts of their repertory and only "Magic Bus" representing anything resembling a recent original, with none bearing a trace of their mod roots. This was pure, distilled power, all the better for its brevity; throughout the '70s the album was seen as one of the gold standards in live rock & roll, and certainly it had a fury that no proper Who studio album achieved. It was also notable as one of the earliest legitimate albums to implicitly acknowledge -- and go head to head with -- the existence of bootleg LPs. Indeed, its very existence owed something to the efforts of Pete Townshend and company to stymie the bootleggers.
The Who had made extensive recordings of performances along their 1969 tour, with the intention of preparing a live album from that material, but they recognized when it was over that none of them had the time or patience to go through the many dozens of hours of live performances in order to sort out what to use for the proposed album. According to one account, the band destroyed those tapes in a massive bonfire, so that none of the material would ever surface without permission. They then decided to go to the other extreme in preparing a live album, scheduling this concert at Leeds University and arranging the taping, determined to do enough that was worthwhile at the one show. As it turned out, even here they generated an embarrassment of riches -- the band did all of Tommy, as audiences of the time would have expected (and, indeed, demanded), but as the opera was already starting to feel like an albatross hanging around the collective neck of the band (and especially Townshend), they opted to leave out any part of their most famous work apart from a few instrumental strains in one of the jams. Instead, the original LP was limited to the six tracks named, and that was more than fine as far as anyone cared.
And fans who bought the LP got a package of extra treats for their money. The album's plain brown sleeve was, itself, a nod and nudge to the bootleggers, resembling the packaging of such early underground LP classics as the Bob Dylan Great White Wonder set and the Rolling Stones concert bootleg Liver Than You'll Ever Be, from the latter group's 1969 tour -- and it was a sign of just how far the Who had come in just two years that they could possibly (and correctly) equate interest in their work as being on a par with Dylan and the Stones. But Live at Leeds' jacket was a fold-out sleeve with a pocket that contained a package of memorabilia associated with the band, including a really cool poster, copies of early contracts, etc. It was, along with Tommy, the first truly good job of packaging for this band ever to come from Decca Records; the label even chose to forgo the presence of its rainbow logo, carrying the bootleg pose to the plain label and handwritten song titles, and the note about not correcting the clicks and pops. At the time, you just bought this as a fan, but looking back 30 or 40 years on, those now seem to be quietly heady days for the band (and for fans who had supported them for years), finally seeing the music world and millions of listeners catch up.

If there was any doubt that the Who were one of the most ferocious live acts on the planet at the start of the ‘70s, Live at Leeds quashed it. They released the album on May 16, 1970.

The concert came about as somewhat of an afterthought. They had finally achieved mainstream success with Tommy the previous year and had hoped to compile a live album made from the many dates they recorded. But Pete Townshend decided he didn’t want to go through the hassle of determining which versions were the best and had his sound man Bob Pridden burn the tapes.

Instead, the Who booked two shows, one at the University of Leeds for Feb. 14 and a second in Hull the next day, and would choose the songs from there. Unfortunately, there were technical problems with the Hull recording — John Entwistle’s bass was inaudible on the first six songs — and they were forced to use just the one concert.

Thankfully, the tapes caught the Who at their absolute best. The original release clocked in at just under 38 minutes and featured only seven songs. Perhaps as an indication of how tired the band was by this point with their new opus, material from Tommy was conspicuous by its absence, even though it was performed in its entirety during the show. In its place was a depiction of the Who’s versatility. They could slam home “Substitute” in a little over two minutes or go into a deep blues exploration on “My Generation” for nearly 15 minutes. Their cover of Eddie Cochran’s “Summertime Blues” cracked the Top 30 in both the U.S. and the U.K.

Subsequent reissues of Live at Leeds, however, have only added to its legend, allowing listeners to hear the entire concert — which included not just the Tommy portion, but a thunderous “Heaven and Hell,” a cover of Benny Spellman’s Allen Toussaint-penned “Fortune Teller” and the somewhat obscure “Tattoo.” The 2010 40th anniversary box set saw the Hull night finally released, with Entwistle’s bass from the Leeds show overdubbed on the songs where it had not been recorded.

Track listing

1.     "Heaven and Hell" (John Entwistle)     4:49
2.     "I Can't Explain" (Townshend)     2:58
3.     "Fortune Teller" (Naomi Neville)     2:34
4.     "Tattoo" (Townshend)     3:42
5.     "Young Man Blues"       5:51
6.     "Substitute"       2:07
7.     "Happy Jack" (Townshend)     2:13
8.     "I'm a Boy" (Townshend)     4:41
9.     "A Quick One, While He's Away" (Townshend)     8:41
10.     "Amazing Journey/Sparks" (Townshend)     7:54
11.     "Summertime Blues"       3:22
12.     "Shakin' All Over"       4:34
13.     "My Generation"       15:46
14.     "Magic Bus"       7:48

Personnel:

- Roger Daltrey / lead vocals, harmonica, tambourine
- Pete Townshend / guitar, vocals
- John Entwistle / bass guitar, vocals
- Keith Moon / drums, vocals

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Jack Dejohnette - 1974 [1994] "Sorcery"

Sorcery is an album by Jack DeJohnette featuring Bennie Maupin, John Abercrombie, Mick Goodrick, Dave Holland and Michael Fellerman recorded in 1974 and released on the Prestige label.

A lot of rambling takes place on this interesting but erratic LP. Drummer Jack DeJohnette (doubling on keyboards) performs three songs with a group featuring bass clarinetist Bennie Maupin and the guitars of John Abercrombie and Mick Goodrick; the music shows the influence of fusion (most obviously on "The Rock Thing") and has its strong moments (much of the nearly 14-minute "Sorcery #1"). But the attempt at humor on "The Right Time" is self-indulgent. The second half of this release, with trios by DeJohnette, bassist Dave Holland, and Michael Fellerman on metaphone (whatever that is).

This CD is awesome. It's creative, soulful, got a funk-edged blues jazz and is from 1974 (need I say more?). John Abercrombie and Mick Goodrick on guitars, Dave Holland on bass. DeJohnette's got a lot going on here. His horn work in Sorcery #1 (13:51) is fantastic, but while I enjoy all the solos here, what really impresses me is the rhythms and progressions they vamp over. They're very smooth, near progressive rock pieces. Track 4, The Reverend King Suite is a 6-part suite (though at only 14:19) with such colorful titles as A) Reverend King B) Obstructions C) The Fatal Shot D) Mourning E) Unrest F) New Spirits On The Horizon. If I didn't know any better I'd say these looked more like tracks off a Wishbone Ash album. 1974 is vintage stuff whether rock or jazz and this album is no exception. I think people who enjoy long jam 70s concept rock would like this as well fans of cross-over jazz such Miles' Bitches Brew. Not that the jams here are long (the whole album is only 41 minutes) - it's just that tunes are internally diverse, often hanging or alternating somewhere between a soul-jazz and loose rock feel. With only the occasional foray into cacaphony. If this album could just get 24-bit remastered, well, that would just be the cherry.

Quite possibly the most tripped-out of all albums by Jack DeJohnette – one that really shows his roots in many streams of the free, soul, and fusion jazz scenes of the time – and which is served up with a heck of a lot of surprises in the mix! Jack himself plays both drums and keyboards on the set – plus a bit of c-melody sax – and other players include Benny Maupin on clarinet, Dave Holland on bass, John Abercrombie on guitar, and Michael Fellerman on the metaphone 1 – a great instrument that really makes the sound of the record special. The keyboards are especially nice on the set, and electrify the proceedings in a way that seems to spark even more fire in DeJohnette's drums – especially on the classic break track "Epilog" – an excellent funky number that's almost worth the price of the set! Other tracks include "Sorcery #1", "The Rock Thing", "Reverend King Suite", "Four Levels Of Joy", and "The Right Time" – which is a wild vocals-only number!

"Sorcery" isn't a Fusion album but an album of Electric Bop. And for this motive "Sorcery" is an album of Fusion. Unreservedly Jack DeJohnette able to record an album very technical and easy to read. This is because Jack has a great musical sensibility and, in a period where everyone was trying to play hard, he tries to communicate what the music can be emotion and melody. With these ingredients "Sorcery" becomes an album of POP Fusion but not an album of POP Jazz, because 100% Bop. (P.s.: I do not have other words to describe this concept... Excuse me).

The experience of "Sorcery" is a sort of trip to the dreams and shadows of an human mind and for this fact I think that "Sorcery" is a good album if magic, inventive and feelings are what we seek in music.

Track listing

    All compositions by Jack DeJohnette except as indicated

    "Sorcery, No. 1" - 13:50
    "The Right Time" - 2:21
    "The Rock Thing" - 4:14
    "The Reverend King Suite: Reverend King/Obstructions/The Fatal Shot/Mourning/Unrest/New Spirits on the Horizon" (John Coltrane/DeJohnette) - 14:19
    "Four Levels of Joy" - 3:09
    "Epilog" (DeJohnette, Dave Holland) - 3:11

        Recorded at Willow, NY in March 1974 and at Bearsville Studios, NY in May 1974

Personnel

    Jack DeJohnette: drums, keyboards, C-melody saxophone
    Bennie Maupin: bass clarinet
    John Abercrombie, Mick Goodrick: guitars
    Dave Holland: bass
    Michael Fellerman: metaphone, trombone

Friday, January 20, 2017

Alain Caron - 1995 "Rhythm'n Jazz"

This set by bassist Alain Caron puts the emphasis on his bass solos and electronics, although he utilizes a full jazz combo. All of the music consists of Caron originals except for a tribute to Jaco Pastorius on "Donna Lee," and the colorful titles include "The Bump," "Slam the Clown," and "Flight of the Bebop Bee." However, the titles are often more memorable than the music, which -- although well played -- would have benefited from the inclusion of a few standards or better originals. Alain Caron is an impressive virtuoso, so hopefully a lot more will be heard from him in the future.

Alain Caron IMO is the best bassist composer playing this type of music. This is a great CD with wonderful tunes that are technically jaw dropping but not self indulgent. 

Alain Caron is an amazing bassist, with a great sound and frightening techincal abilities. I'll recommend bassists to find a video of his concerts, you'll learn a lot about the techinques of bass, soloing, slapping and using a 6 string bass. However, this CD is a great buy as well, because as a bassist, a CD with an amazing bassist, especially when he is the leader of his band.

It'\s a constant companion along life's highways. Quite literally, as the CD lives in my car stereo, ready to be punched into action, cranked up and for some serious grooving and moving to take place. The musicianship, production values and creativity are all maxed despite the slightly cheesy title. Make this one your next purchase, and never mind the french/english credits. Open your mind to this man's dancing fingers.

Eighteen months after his first solo album was released, Alain Caron returns with this recording, entitled « RHYTHM'N JAZZ ».

Featuring nine new songs and a Charlie Parker standard, « RHYTHM'N JAZZ » shows tremendous composing skills and a bold musical direction. Introducing the saxophone and percussion to his band, Alain has gone back to his first love and focused on rhythm'n blues and be-bop colors.

Recorded and mixed mainly at the Victor Studio in Montréal, « RHYTHM'N JAZZ » features the work of some of today's best musicians. It includes Dennis Chambers, considered by many the best drummer in the world. Dennis has played with David Sandborn, the Brecker Brothers, John Scofield, John McLaughlin and Steely Dan. Also appearing Quebecers Magella Cormier (drums), Guy Dubuc (keyboards), Francois D'Amours (saxophone), Jerry De Villiers and Benoit Charrest (guitars), Luc Boivin (percussions), James Gelfand (acoustic piano), and Benoit Glazer (trumpet).

Tracks Listing

01. The Bump (5:38)
02. Fat Cat (7:22)
03. District 6 (5:10)
04. Slam the Clown (7:41)
05. Little Miss Match (7:37)
06. I.C.U. (6:47)
07. Cherokee Drive (8:29)
08. Flight of the Bebop Bee (7:04)
09. Donna Lee (4:15)
10. Intuitions (6:10)

Total Time: 66:18

Line-up / Musicians

- Alain caron / bass, keyboards
- Dennis Chambers / drums
- Magella Cormier / drum programs
- Jerry De Villiers / guitar
- Benoit Charest / guitar, trumpet
- Guy Dubuc / keyboards
- El Exstasis, Jean-Francois Cote, Luc Boivin, Mirielle Marchal / percussion
- James Gelfand / piano 

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Herbie Hancock - 1998 "Mr. Funk"

The Columbia Years Compilation (1972 - 1988)

Opening with the Head Hunters version of "Watermelon Man" and closing with the electro-embracing crossover hit, "Rockit," Mr. Funk is a semi-random skip across Hancock's Columbia recordings, and it technically spans 1973-1983 (at least going by release dates), rather than the 1972-1988 range printed on its cover. Its track list looks more like a promo sampler for a round of reissues than a proper introduction to this productive and often trailblazing phase of Hancock's career. There are some very peculiar choices here. For instance, two cuts off Secrets (1976) are included, while the 1979-1982 albums Feets Don't Fail Me Now, Monster, and Lite Me Up are shut out.

Track listing:

1. Watermelon Man
2. Actual Proof
3. Hang up Your Hang Ups
4. Heartbeat
5. Kuru/Speak Like a Child
6. Cantaloupe Island
7. Swamp Rat
8. Come Running to Me
9. 4 A.M.
10. Everybody's Broke
11. Rockit

Personnel:

    Herbie Hancock - Piano, Composer, Choeurs, Clavier, Arranger
    Harvey Mason, Sr. - Arranger, Drums
    Baba Duru Oshun - Tabla
    Raul Rekow - Percussion, Brass
    Ernie Watts, Jim Horn - Flute, Saxophone
    Dick Hyde - Bass, Tuba, Trombone
    Bud Brishois - Trumpet
    Bill Summers - Percussion, Brass
    Don Alias, Daniel Ponce, Kenneth Nash - Percussion
    Jay DaVersa - Trumpet
    James Levi - Drums
    Bennie Maupin - Flute, Saxophone, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
    Jaco Pastorius - Arranger, Bass, Leader

Wes Montgomery - 1963 [2010] "Boss Guitar"

Boss Guitar is the ninth album by American jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, released in 1963 by Riverside Records.
It has been reissued by Original Jazz Classics with additional alternate takes. All the tracks are available on the Wes Montgomery compilation CD The Complete Riverside Recordings.

Before he moved away from straight-ahead jazz and starting playing what is now known as smooth jazz, Wes Montgomery was one of bop's finest guitarists. Montgomery's bop period ended much too soon, but thankfully, he recorded his share of rewarding bop albums when he was still bop-oriented -- and one of them is Boss Guitar, which Orrin Keepnews produced in 1963. It's a trio recording, employing Mel Rhyne on organ and Jimmy Cobb on performances that have held up well over time; Montgomery shows how expressive a ballad player he could be on the standards "For Heaven's Sake" and "Days of Wine and Roses," but the fast tempo exuberance of "The Trick Bag" (a Montgomery original) serves him equally well. Montgomery swings the blues with pleasing results on "Fried Pies" (another Montgomery original), while Consuelo Velázquez's "Besame Mucho" (which is usually played at a slow ballad tempo) is successfully transformed into medium-tempo Latin jazz. Boss Guitar is among the bop-oriented Montgomery albums that should continue to be savored after all these years. [In addition to the eight master takes that were heard on the original '60s LP, some reissues contain alternate takes of "Besame Mucho," "The Trick Bag," and "Fried Pies" -- all of which will interest collectors.] 

All guitarists should explore work outside their genre to fully appreciate the remarkable diversity their instrument holds. In the case of Montgomery, his is the quintessential bebop flavored jazz guitar player, and in my estimation, the best ever, and that's in some pretty heavy company.
Joined by Mel Ryne on Hammond B-3 organ, "Boss Guitar" has a unique sound, as Ryne plays a wonderfully smoky and smooth organ, which compliments Wes' playing brilliantly. "Besame Mucho" starts the album off with a Latin flavor, and the CD just seems to float by. Another favorite is "Canadian Sunset", a slower but delicate song that features some of the best chord work on the CD. Fans like to comment on Wes' famous octave picking, which has been copied by tons of players out of admiration, but his truly strong suit, besides being capable of mind blowing solos, is his chordal knowledge that few ever equalled, adding breadth to the playing and more color than any single note solo could hope to do.
Wes Montgomery's late '50's work and early '60's albums are his best, where he stays true to his love of bebop, whereas later albums were more commercial and lacking in his usual technique. While they aren't bad, it's the early stuff to go after. "So Much Guitar!", "Far Wes" and "Wes Montgomery Plays The Blues" are all must haves, along with "Boss Guitar." It is a tragedy this genius only lived to 43. Perhaps no single guitarist's death had more of an impact except for Jimi Hendrix, who was known to do a little octave picking himself. It's how jazz guitar is supposed to be done.

Wes Montgomery recorded Boss Guitar at age 38, near the end of his acclaimed Riverside years and just five years before his death. While the records that followed would give him some radio hits (and lose him some fans), the 1963 session was a time when he really could make the bold claim of the album’s title. The previous year, Montgomery had placed fourth in the then influential Playboy Jazz Poll among reader ballots, and had been named “All-Stars’ All-Star Guitar” among voting musicians (an electorate that included Cannonball Adderley, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Paul Desmond, Duke Ellington, Stan Getz, Dizzy Gillespie, Oscar Peterson and Frank Sinatra, among others).

The “musician’s musician” status might be explained by his associations. He had already played with Coltrane and Lionel Hampton at the time, but most of the guitar boss’s career was spent as boss, leading bands and primarily—as on this release—leading organ trios. His finishing behind Chet Atkins, Barney Kessel and Charlie Byrd in the reader’s poll, on the other hand, might be explained by his keeping his home in Indianapolis, rather than moving to one of the coastal hotbeds.

The role of boss carries through to the way he worked with his trio. Montgomery had often employed Mel Rhyne’s organ for his sessions. Drummer Jimmy Cobb had worked with Adderley, Coltrane, Davis, Getz, Gillespie and Billie Holiday. But both were primarily backing musicians, and scarcely solo throughout the eight tracks cut for the album. It is Boss Guitar, front and center. Which isn’t too much of a good thing. Montgomery was a naturally lyrical player, hopping octaves with ease, never sounding out of place but never predictable. He sashays through “Besame Mucho” and strolls along “Days of Wine and Roses.” And while the trio mostly plays popular songs of the day, the two Montgomery compositions here stand out among the rest. “The Trick Bag” is a simmering workout with great interplay among the organ and drums, and “Fried Peas” is an infectious roll.

This issue is newly remastered (with the latest bit of logo-worthy technology) and includes the original liner notes as well as the notes from the 1989 reissue. Two bonus tracks (also on the 1989 version) don’t stray far from the original versions, but do keep the party going a little longer.

Track listing

 01  "Besame Mucho" (Consuelo Velázquez, Sunny Skylar) – 6:28
 02   "Besame Mucho" [Alternate take] (Velazquez, Skylar) – 6:24
 03   "Dearly Beloved" (Jerome Kern, Johnny Mercer) – 4:49
 04    "Days of Wine and Roses" (Henry Mancini, Johnny Mercer) – 3:44
 05   "The Trick Bag" (Wes Montgomery) – 4:25
 06   "Canadian Sunset" (Eddie Heywood, Norman Gimbel) – 5:04
 07   "Fried Pies" (Montgomery) – 6:42
 08   "Fried Pies" Alternate take (Montgomery) – 6:35
 09   "The Breeze and I" (Ernesto Lecuona, Al Stillman) – 4:08
 10   "For Heaven's Sake" (Elise Bretton, Sherman Edwards, Donald Meyer) – 4:39

Personnel

    Wes Montgomery – guitar
    Melvin Rhyne – organ
    Jimmy Cobb – drums

Jack Dejohnette - 1975 "Cosmic Chicken"

Cosmic Chicken is an album by Jack DeJohnette featuring Alex Foster, John Abercrombie, and Peter Warren recorded in 1975 and released on the Prestige label.

By 1975, drummer Jack DeJohnette was just a few years removed from his sideman stint with Miles Davis and was deeply immersed in his own search and discovery mission as a composer and bandleader in his own right. Joining him on this October 10, 1975 performance at the Great American Music Hall were kindred spirits John Abercrombie on guitar, Alex Foster on alto sax and Mike Richmond on bass (the same crew that had appeared on DeJohnette's Prestige album of that year, Cosmic Chicken). With a nod to both the burgeoning fusion movement and the hippie-jazz aesthetic that had been unleashed by saxophonist Charles Lloyd in 1967 with Love-In and his popular 1968 followup, Forest Flower (DeJohnette played on both of those breakthrough recordings), these forward-thinking colleagues kept things suitably energetic, spacey and frequently wah-wah-fueled throughout their daring set.
With DeJohnette on keyboards, they open their GAMH set with a subtly playful piece, "One for Devadip and the Professor," which was written for guitarist Carlos Santana and DeJohnette's former mentor, saxophonist Charles Lloyd. The minimalist piece is marked by some probing Lloyd-inspired sax work from Alex Foster and pungent, distortion-laced guitar lines by Abercrombie, whose own potent ECM release that year (Timeless with DeJohnette and keyboardist Jan Hammer) was a significant addition to the fusion genre. Richmond, on big-toned upright bass, also feeds his signal through a wah-wah pedal for that quintessential '70s effect. Richmond then kicks off the title track of Cosmic Chicken with a wild Hendrix-inspired solo bass showcase that has him bowing his upright while simultaneously activating his wah-wah pedal and flanger effect for a startling array of tonal colors and textures. Following that extended bass intro, the band jumps in with slashing power chords and slamming beats, clearly channeling the turbulent rock power of Miles' most dynamic electric period before settling into a kind of slow-grooving, meditative ostinato that has Foster stretching heroically and provocatively on tenor sax. Abercrombie follows with a ferocious six-string onslaught over Richmond's bubbling wah-wah basslines that rivals John McLaughlin's raw, ripping, proto-punk stylings on Miles Davis' Jack Johnson or Tony Williams Lifetime's Emergency. Hardcore fusion aficionados will fall to their knees with their teeth chattering over the intense guitar solo. Next up is DeJohnette, who takes his time developing his own masterful solo, traversing the kit with quick hands, lightning instincts and signature aplomb to complete the sequence of individual showcases on this marathon 36-minute vehicle.
The quartet follows with "The Vikings Are Coming," which would later appear on DeJohnette's 1976 ECM album, Untitled. This piece is noteworthy for the leader's appearance on tenor sax, shadowing Foster's own tenor lines on the folkish theme that starts off the tune as Abercrombie and Richmond freelance behind them. Abercrombie and Foster later engage in some heated exchanges near the end of this swirling, atmospheric number. The multi-faceted, multi-directional DeJohnette opens the set-closer with a contemplative solo piano piece, "Memories," that eventually heads into just a touch of jaunty stride playing. By the time the band enters, they are swinging in straight ahead fashion on "Eiderdown" (from Cosmic Chicken), with the drummer demonstrating remarkable facility and surging sense of swing indicating that he could have easily had a whole separate career as a jazz pianist, if he had so chosen. Midway through this extended jam, the leader returns to the drum set to beautifully underscore Foster's blistering alto sax solo and Abercrombie's probing guitar solo. Richmond then takes over with an unaccompanied bass solo that again has him exploring the use of effects pedals with his upright bass (this time a volume pedal). This extended jam closes with a kinetic, conversational duet between guitarist Abercrombie and drummer DeJohnette that peaks when Abercrombie stomps on his distortion pedal and heads to the stratosphere with DeJohnette fueling his excursion…shades of John Coltrane and Elvin Jones in full stride. Abercrombie, DeJohnette and Foster then engage in a brisk exchanging of eights, in classic bebop tradition, before completing this very potent set in San Francisco.

In 1975, DeJohnette also formed the highly interactive Gateway trio with Abercrombie and bassist Dave Holland, and the three colleagues continued to record together off and over the next three decades. DeJohnette was a key member of Pat Metheny's 80/81 band (which also featured tenor saxophonists Michael Brecker and Dewey Redman and bassist Charlie Haden) and in 1985 appeared on Metheny's landmark collaboration with Ornette Coleman on the provocative Song X. The drummer-composer-bandleader continued to record prolifically through the '70s and '80s for ECM with his Special Edition, Directions and New Directions bands. For the past 25 years he has been a member of the Keith Jarrett Trio (with bassist Gary Peacock). In 2003, he recorded the Tony Williams Lifetime tribute album Suadades with Trio Beyond (guitarist John Scofield and organist Larry Goldings) and in 2005 he formed his own Kindred Rhythm/Golden Beams label, which has so far released such diverse offerings as the world music recording Music from the Hearts of the Masters, the relaxation disc Music in the Key of Om, a provocative duet with Bill Frisell entitled The Elephant Sleeps But Still Remembers, the Grammy Award-winning New Age album Peace Time and the trio recording Music We Are with bassist John Patitucci and pianist Danilo Perez. DeJohnette's most recent projects include The Intercontinentals, featuring South African vocalist Sibongile Khumalo, and his current working quartet featuring guitarist Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski, bassist Jerome Harris and alto saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa.

For 1975 this album was way ahead of its time. This is very spacey jazz with great interplay, interesting compositions, and amazing playing. This is a great example of DeJohnette's "tonal"drumming. It's not just beats, he's playing notes. His organ playing (a pleasant surprise) on "Shades of the Phantom" conjured up the tunes namesake very well. I don't know what planet Alex Foster (sax) comes from, but he plays like a man on fire. Hearing Peter Warren's loopy phase shifted upright bass bowing on the title track let's you know you've just entered a different place. John Abercrombie (guitar) is the best of the Berklee guitarists (sorry Pat Metheney),and better known for his work with Billy Cobham, but his earlier work here is stellar too. "Stratocruiser" is a fast and furious ride that leaves you gasping for air. The "Last Chance Stomp" (An abridged history of jazz in five movements), is a virtual time machine. It starts off sounding like early 1920's jazz from a 78 record. The tune and the sound quality morph from a simple riff to some super fast jazz, as if it was being played by successive generations of musicians.
This album begs to be re-released on CD, but if you are lucky enough to own it on vinyl, treasure it. If you are looking for some mellow smooth jazz, RUN for the nearest exit. You won't find it here.

Track listing

    All compositions by Jack DeJohnette except as indicated

    "Cosmic Chicken" - 4:53
    "One for Devadip and the Professor" - 3:35
    "Memories" - 5:58
    "Stratocruiser" - 7:28
    "Shades of the Phantom" - 6:13
    "Eiderdown" (Steve Swallow) - 5:35
    "Sweet and Pungent" - 3:32
    "Last Chance Stomp" - 7:07

        Recorded at Fantasy Studios, Berkeley, CA on April 24–26, 1975

Personnel

    Jack DeJohnette – drums, piano, keyboards
    Alex Foster – alto saxophone, tenor saxophone
    John Abercrombie – electric guitar
    Peter Warren – electric bass

Joshua Redman - 1993 "Joshua Redman"

Nearly every once in a while, a musician encourages his or her art in any genre to embark on a bright and new direction without losing it's original power, while evolving full force with lasting results--and the same thing can be said about Joshua Redman.
For his highly acclaimed self-titled debut CD, this rising young tenor saxophonist had emerged as a young lion in 1993 who not only gave jazz another original new sound, but he was one of the few of his generation to bring the music to an encouraging and creative path while settling some arguments of where itself the music was headed at the time.
Heading a superb quartet that consists of pianist Kevin Hayes, rising young bassist Christian McBride and drummer Gregory Hutchinson, the sprawling track set features an outstanding set of original compositions like the lyrical Blues On Sunday, Echoes, Tribalism, Groove X (By Any Means Necessary) and Sublimation as well as classy takes on classic standards like Thelonious Monk's Trinkle Trinkle, a swift take on James Brown's I Got You (I Feel Good) and Body And Soul, as they demonstrate his knack for sophisticated improvisation and multi-dimensional composing skills.
As one of two blockbuster albums that he released in 1993, Redman would become an overnight sensation on the jazz scene after being discovered and signed by Warner Bros' Records and one of the new great jazz masters to have emerge in the 1990's.
Yet this is the self-titled debut album that caused the sensation that would give jazz another young icon and also gave the aspiring young tenor saxophonist- composer the commercial success he deserved and paved the way for a long mighty career.

This album was recorded and released by Warner Brothers not long after Joshua won the T. Monk jazz competition. I think it's an all around strong and entertaining 1st album. Joshua Redman is the bomb! He's so chill and watching him on the Ken Burns Jazz interviews he seems like a really cool dude. {I heard he got straight A's in school!} This self titled album also has another really bomb musician... Christian McBride on bass! My favorite numbers are the covers actually. Blues on Sunday I think is an original though. What an awesome song to stretch out on. It sounds alot like the solos on "Blue Train" from back in '57. Its so cool that these "young lion's" did James Brown's "I feel good" its so funky and joyus! {probably McBride's suggestion!} Their version of Dizzy's "Salt Peanuts" is just slammin! they really cook on that one! It makes me crack up when they shout it at the end "salt peanuts salt peanuts!" Redman plays a really pleasant duet with McBride during "On the sunny side of the street" These guys are some of the coolest cats in modern jazz! They can play very serious in a straight ahead manner. But they can get really funky and avant guard sounding as well! This Cd has it all standards, ballads, original compostions, blues, and funky old school RandB! What a great first album from a young and very gifted tenor saxaphonist!

 In the early to mid-'90s, no "Young Lion" was hyped to death by jazz critics more than Joshua Redman; to hear some critics tell it, he was as important a saxophonist as John Coltrane, Dexter Gordon, or Sonny Rollins. The problem with such excessive hype is that it gives a young talent like Redman way too much to live up to at an early age; the tenor man was only 22 when this self-titled debut album was recorded, and he needed time to grow and develop. Nonetheless, Redman did show a lot of promise on this CD, which isn't in a class with Coltrane's A Love Supreme or Rollins' Saxophone Colossus (some critics really did have the audacity to make such claims) but showed Redman to be a swinging, expressive improviser who had impressive technique as well as versatility. Redman's playing is greatly influenced by funky, big-toned soul-jazz tenors like Eddie Harris, Gene Ammons, and Red Holloway, but his probing, searching qualities bring to mind Coltrane. Redman's gritty soul-jazz workout on James Brown's "I Got You (I Feel Good)" demonstrates that he isn't a stuffy neo-conservative, while his enjoyable interpretations of "Body and Soul" and Thelonious Monk's "Trinkle Tinkle" illustrate his ability to play "in the tradition," as hard boppers are fond of saying. Dizzy Gillespie's "Salt Peanuts" is pure bop, and Redman (whose acoustic support on this album includes pianist Kevin Hays, bassist Christian McBride, and drummer Gregory Hutchinson) gets into a Coltrane-influenced post-bop groove on his own "Sublimation." Joshua Redman isn't a masterpiece, but it let us know that he was certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Joshua Redman is one of the most prominent saxophonists in the world... a great interpreter, owner of great sound. Their performances are truly eloquent and "visceral". Here gives us beautiful songs like "Blues On Sunday," "I Got You" "Salt Peanuts" and "Sublimation"... of total surrender.
A cd of great quality, no doubt. Highly recommended!!!

Track listing

    "Blues on Sunday" (Joshua Redman)
    "Wish" (Joshua Redman)
    "Trinkle Tinkle" (Thelonious Monk)
    "Echoes" (Joshua Redman)
    "I Got You (I Feel Good)" (James Brown)
    "Body & Soul" (Heyman-Green-Sour)
    "Tribalism" (Joshua Redman)
    "Groove X (By Any Means Necessary)" (Joshua Redman)
    "Salt Peanuts" (Dizzy Gillespie)
    "On the Sunny Side of the Street" (McHugh-Fields)
    "Sublimation" (Joshua Redman)

Personnel

    Joshua Redman – Tenor saxophone
    Kevin Hays – Piano
    Christian McBride – Bass
    Gregory Hutchinson – Drums
    Mike LeDonne – Piano
    Paul LaDuca – Bass
    Kenny Washington – Drums
    Clarence Penn – Drums

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Return To Forever - 1977 [2011] "The Complete Concert" Live at the Palladium, N.Y.C

Live is the final album by fusion band Return to Forever. It was recorded live at the Palladium in New York City on May 20 and 21 1977 as part of the Musicmagic tour to support the album of the same name. This was the only tour to feature the Musicmagic (1977) lineup, which included original members Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Joe Farrell, along with newly added member, Chick Corea's wife, Gayle Moran on vocals, piano and organ, and a six-piece horn section.
Originally released as a single LP, the album was re-issued in 1978 as a 4-LP set called Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert, which contained the full concert as heard by those who attended, including extended sections of dialogue and audience applause.

The original release was a single LP with a cover featuring Picasso's Three Musicians. A greatly expanded version of the album was released in 1978 on 4 LPs as Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert,, showcasing the entire two-hour-and-forty-minute concert. This Complete Concert release features a plain dark blue cover with a stylized "RTF" logo and contains the entireties of pieces that had been edited down for the original one LP release, including a version of "Spanish Fantasy"; the intro to which was previously released in edited form as "Chick's Piano". Also included are spoken introductions to songs by Clarke, including one in which he is heckled by the audience for announcing the concert's final piece.
Different versions of The Complete Concert have been re-issued on CD - in both 2 CD and 3-CD sets. A Japanese 3 CD version, released in 1993, contains the complete recording exactly as found on the original 4 LP version, retaining "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic" as two separate parts each. Corea's introduction of the musicians is appended to the end of "The Endless Night (part 2)". The first US (2) CD version was released by Columbia Legacy (C2K 47479) in 1992 with the stylized RTF logo on a red background titled simply, Return to Forever Live, and was subsequently reissued with a blue cover in 2000 (468923 2) titled, Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert. Both of these US CD releases contain the edited versions of "The Musician" and "So Long Mickey Mouse" that were on the original single LP, while removing both the four-minute introduction of the musicians by Corea after "The Endless Night" and several extended passages of audience noise. "Chick's Piano Solo" and "Spanish Fantasy" are combined into one track, as are the two parts of "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic". Track times differ between the 1992 and 2000 reissues, due to track intros appearing appended either before the song itself, or after the previous song; below, the 1992 times are used. Both versions have been digitally remastered directly from the original master tapes to restore the low frequencies which were rolled off on the vinyl version to minimise tracking problems.
In June, 2011, Columbia (Sony) released a 5-CD boxed set, Return to Forever, The Complete Columbia Albums Collection which includes the entire 1977 Live, The Complete Concert recording on 3 CDs together with 1976's Romantic Warrior and 1977's Musicmagic. The 3-CD version Return to Forever Live: The Complete Concert, 3-Record Set was released in Japan in September 2011 as a Blue-Spec CD limited boxset reproducing the original Japanese 1978 LP boxset. However, this 2011 reissue features "The Endless Night" and "Musicmagic" as one track each, instead of the original splits and fades of each song.

Return to Forever Live – The Complete Concert (1978): This is effectively the final Return to Forever album released and, perhaps, one of its most significant. It was recorded live at the Palladium in New York City on May 20 and 21, 1977, as part of the Musicmagic tour, which led the group to meet President Jimmy Carter the following month.

Needless to say, there is a plethora of fantastic playing to be heard here that RTF’s studio albums probably prohibited, with inventive interjections from almost all concerned, waxing eloquently over some very long passages that are sufficiently more worthwhile than their studio counterparts.

How can one review perfect music? what is perfect music? I guess it is a very personal thing... for me it is not just chops or clever arrangements, it is music that speaks to the heart, that has the ability to uplift and touch the listener. I get that feeling from Return To Forever Live, it captures that vibe perfectly, even better than the studio record. If I had to compare it with another album, I'd pick Santana's Lotus, another album with that inspirational, devotional quality. This music comes at the height of Chick Corea's creative powers (many musicians experienced that creative peak between 1970 and 1977) and is seasoned with soulful vocals from Gayle Morris and Stanley Clarke, a richly colorful brass band, and a battery of keyboards that include the Moog, the Fender Rhodes, the Mellotron and the Hammond B3. The only thing missing is the guitar, but Chick's extended solos are so spectacular that they make you forget that Mr. Di Meola is no longer part of the band. No fusion fan will be disappointed with this album - particularly the prog-heads, who love 20-minute epics and lengthy solos, will eat it up. However there are some moments that are closer to "straight jazz" - a couple of jazz standards, and a long "unplugged" piece, Serenade. Overall, though the album definitely leans towards the progressive side of things, and somehow it feels like a goodbye song to an entire era. Maybe foreseeing things to come, Chick decided to give it all he had, perhaps more, and we can consider ourselves fortunate to have a beatiful document of that spirit.

My favorite jazz act of all time -- so glad to finally obtain a complete (enough) version of this live set. Having seen&heard them live in concert during their MUSICMAGIC tour, and Chick live in other concerts, I am always returning to their music. Fast, slow, soft, hard -- doesn't matter. This set dazzles no less than any previous experience, only you get more. Their jamming is first rate. 40.0 megatons of the most liberating and exhilarate music ever created! When I put this on to hear, I often replay it for days!

This and the now very hard to find to find (on CD) "Chick, Donald, Walter and Woodrow" represent Chick Corea's best writing for Big Band. You'll find that Chick cannibalized himself somewhat for the Woody Herman recording, but it actually is a tighter representation of a great series of ideas and should not be seen as "derivative". I never thought the "Romantic Worry-wart" record was their best effort. The sonics of "Warrior" are extremely problematic. The engineering on this record is much more balanced. The Horn Section is absolutely stellar. Musicmagic should be looked to for a new appreciation as it represented a lot of the music being presented here. Seek it out, I'd much sooner see this being given the Mo-Fi treatment than a whole lot of the 90's pop stuff they've focused on in the last year or so.

I would say this was the best live recording set up by chick corea ever.Very difference from the others RTF's materials but far better in most way (i would say). Most of the songs from Musicmagic are featured here with fantastic extended solos and intros(could get enough). These are the tunes that first turned me on to the music of c corea ever since. I owned the original 4LPs set and also bought the cd-set with the red cover. In the RTF red cover cds, certain portion found on the LPs were omitted from the cd including the part when chick introduces the musicians- which was really disappointing, as the response and reaction between the audiences and the band created an upheld feeling as tho you were there at the show. Also the extended intro to 'so long mickey mouse' too was cut. However, it was still very good consider some of the materials needed to be removed to allow the 4 LPs to fit into the 2cds set. I hope this new release with today's tech.would contain the complete recordings. If 'quality' and 'timeless' tunes are what you looking for, go get it. Been listening to them for over 25 years, still sound great and fresh today. ..A t the same time, I was longing for Chick to try some of these songs in the Elektric band format, that would be mind blowing esp. for tune like 'endless night'.

Track listing:

CD 1
1     Opening '77     7:09
2     The Endless Night     20:30
3     Chick Corea: Spoken Intro Of The Musicians     3:43
4     The Musician     14:04

CD 2
1     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Hello Again / So Long Mickey Mouse     1:38
2     Hello Again     6:02
3     So Long Mickey Mouse     10:51
4     Musicmagic     27:57

CD 3
1     Come Rain Or Come Shine / Fire And Dandy     3:55
2     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Serenade     0:58
3     Serenade     13:56
4     Chick Corea: Spoken Intro To The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess     1:05
5     The Moorish Warrior And Spanish Princess     18:16
6     Stanley Clarke: Spoken Intro To Chick Corea's Piano Solo     2:01
7     Chick's Piano Solo     14:39
8     Spanish Fantasy     11:21
9     On Green Dolphin Street     9:30

Personnel

    Gayle Moran – vocals, piano, organ
    Joe Farrell – tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
    James Tinsley – trumpet, piccolo
    John Thomas – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Harold Garret – trombone
    Jim Pugh – trombone
    Ron Moss – trombone
    Chick Corea – keyboards, vocals
    Stanley Clarke – electric bass, acoustic bass, vocals
    Gerry Brown – drums

Robert Fripp & Brian Eno - 1975 [1989] "Evening Star"

Evening Star is an ambient album by British musicians Robert Fripp and Brian Eno. It was recorded from 1974 to 1975 and released in December 1975.

This album's recording and the preceding seven show European tour by the duo marked Fripp's first output after disbanding King Crimson and his last before temporarily retiring from music (at the time thought to be permanently) to study at the International Academy for Continuous Education in Sherborne House. Wiki.

Robert Fripp's second team up with Brian Eno was a less harsh, more varied affair, closer to Eno's then-developing idea of ambient music than what had come before in (No Pussyfooting). The method used, once again, was the endless decaying tape loop system of Frippertronics but refined with pieces such as "Wind on Water" fading up into an already complex bed of layered synths and treated guitar over which Fripp plays long, languid solos. "Evening Star" is meditative and calm with gentle scales rocking to and fro while Fripp solos on top. "Wind on Wind" is Eno solo, an excerpt from the soon to be released Discreet Music album. The nearly 30-minute ending piece, "An Index of Metals," keeps Evening Star from being a purely background listen as the loops this time contain a series of guitar distortions layered to the nth degree, Frippertronics as pure dissonance. As a culmination of Fripp and Eno's experiments, Evening Star shows how far they could go.  All Music.

his is a very difficult cd to find at present, and i was fortunate enough to get it for a reasonable price. I started looking for it after i found out that the beautiful song i'd been listening to on a friend's unlabeled mixed cd was the title track to Evening Star. The opening track (Wind on Water) is a very strangely crafted piece of music. It almost never establishes a "tonic" or resolving note, yet the whole thing sounds like home. The guitar work in it hardly sounds like a guitar, and is mixed very well with the synth in the back. the piece sounds like you're watching something naturally epic happening, like cells going through mitosis.

The title track, which is still my favorite, is probably the most visionary and picture-painting track on the cd. i don't like the word soundscape because it's so cliche and abused. robert fripp really shines on this piece, and makes his guitar expressive of things that most guitar players find great difficulty in bringing to life. the beautiful thing about this song, and really the whole album, is how *subtle* it all is. it never hits you in the face like a rock song, no matter how loud you turn it up. the whole thing plays through like a soundtrack to something wonderful happening under a microscope, or through a telescope. either way, it's very cosmic.

the only thing i'd criticize is the last track, "An Index of Metals." if you're familiar with King Crimson (Fripp's band), you'll know what i mean by this. like a handful of Crimson pieces, it takes a while to get started, with what seems like several minutes of near-silence at the beginning, and then pretty much sits back and enjoys a half hour of disturbing noise and dark ambience. it's a contrast, as the rest of the album is very light and relaxing. It's reminiscent of Crimson's "The Mincer," or "Starless and Bible Black" on the Starless and Bible Black album, so if you can dig it, then it's pretty intense.

Overall, i'd highly recommend the album, and hopefully they'll re-release it soon so everyone can listen to it without paying 40 dollars for the cd. If you're looking for truely "ambient" music (meaning not pumped up dance beats with spacey music in the back, but really atmospheric stuff), then you'll probably be more than satisfied with it. on the other hand, it might not be fully appreciated by someone who expects something much more defined and typical of a newer generation, like house music or techno-ambient stuff like Orbital. By Alex H. Miller

I've always been an agnostic when it comes to remastered versions of classic albums. However, this brilliant album was remastered by Robert Fripp himself, along with Simon Heyworth. As a result, the integrity of the music is maintained while the quality of the recording stands head and shoulders above the remastering attempts of others.

"Wind on Water," which originally sounded more or less like solid chords, is revealed as an intricate network of looped sounds. "Evensong" likewise is exposed as having much greater depth than I ever suspected. As for "Evening Star," a piece of music so beautiful it seems as though it simply dropped out of heaven, it's even richer.

However, it is "An Index of Metals" that stands as a testament to the skill of Fripp and Heyworth. I've listened to this piece hundreds of times, and it never sounded like this. The depth, the clarity, and the dynamics that are present in this remastering are unparalleled in any remastered CD I've ever heard. By The Glass Guitar.

As the name implies, Fripp & Eno is a musical pairing of two highly prolific and influential musicians. Brian Eno has worked with and influenced countless musicians with his innovative production work and solo albums that pushed the boundaries of ambient/experimental music. On the other hand, Robert Fripp is best known as the guitarist of the legendary progressive rock band King Crimson. Together they released two ambient albums in the 1970s, entitled ‘(No Pussyfooting)’ and ‘Evening Star’.

‘Evening Star’ is the album that opened my eyes to the potential beauty and purpose of ambient. The album is filled with bubbling electronics and beautifully sparse guitar melodies that intertwine with one another to make some of the most gorgeous, but subtle music I’ve ever heard. The title track, which is my personal favorite, begins with a guitar loop panned to one side with accompanying electronic keys panned to the other. As the the piece progresses, soaring waves of sound are added into the mix, resulting in an almost overwhelming sense of exquisiteness. The last half of the album is dedicated to a 28 minute sound experiment entitled “An Index Of Metals”. Layers upon layers of guitar and effects are piled upon one another, as the droning sounds slowly enter different stages of distortion. Despite its length, this track is an ultimately rewarding experience and laid the groundwork for many artists in the field of sound experimentation.

‘Evening Star’ should be one of the stepping stones for anyone who is interested in ambient music. The arrangements on the first half of the album are accessible enough for anyone with a love of music to enjoy. The carefully placed layers of sound reveal new details with every listen, which always makes for a rewarding experience. Check out this album for its innovation and pairing of two musical geniuses at the height of their game. by Kyle

Track listing

All tracks written by Brian Eno and Robert Fripp, except "Wind on Wind" by Eno.

1.  "Wind on Water" – 5:30
2.  "Evening Star" – 7:48
3.  "Evensong" – 2:53
4.  "Wind on Wind" – 2:56
5.  "An Index of Metals" – 28:36

Personnel:

Robert Fripp – guitar
Brian Eno – tape loops, synthesizer, piano

 

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Brand X - 2014 "Nuclear Burn" [4 CD Box]

Brand X is a jazz fusion band, originally active between 1975–1980 and 1992–1999. Noted members included John Goodsall (guitar), Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (keyboards), Kenwood Dennard (drums) and Phil Collins (drums). Goodsall and Jones were the sole constant members throughout the band's existence. In 2016, Goodsall, Jones and Dennard reunited with new musicians Chris Clark on keyboards and Scott Weinberger on percussion.

Brand X - a band most people probably wouldn't know if Phil Collins hadn't been a member for a few years during the mid-70s. Collins felt a little restricted by the Genesis live shows and wanted to play a little more freely. And so he joined Brand X in the summer of 1975 (after the Lamb-Tour.) Thus, it was in no way "his" band. Brand X played mostly instrumental  jazz-rock, also called fusion at the time. That influence very soon also affected Genesis with Los Endos, for example. The time with Brand X also saw the first published song written by Collins alone (Why Should I Lend You Mine), his first use of a drum computer (Wal To Wal), and his first songs based on a home demo (Soho and Wal To Wal)

Genesis's Label back then, Charisma Records, were also responsible for Brand X and the LP releases. The albums were then also published on CD by Virgin at the end of the 80s. Now, there is a collection with the band's first 6 albums as an inexpensive 4 CD box. Nuclear Burn: The Charisma Albums 1976-1980.

The first thing to catch the eye: Six albums on four CDs? Indeed, the albums were squeezed together on four CDs, one after the other. It's, thus, impossible to listen to three of these six albums without changing CDs - unfortunate, but probably for budget reasons. The recordings are mostly ordered chronologically by release date, only Livestock's and Moroccan Roll's position was switched. Livestock's Isis Mourning was combined to one track as "Part 1 & 2" for the first time. They used to be separate parts on both CD and vinyl.

The box was also advertised as "remastered", suggesting potential improvements in sound compared to the original - so possibly a reason for buying it. (In the best case) a remaster means creating a new transfer from the original master tapes while (in the best case carefully) compressing, equalizing, and reducing noise. However, after listening very closely and digitally comparing the old and new versions it has to be said that the new ones were NOT remastered. Only the absolute dB-level was sometimes raised very slightly, without dynamic range adjustment. The relative volume of the individual songs on an album is still the same though. The booklet doesn't mention any remastering, by the way. But no need to worry: The first CD releases already sounded pretty good and, most importantly, had a high dynamic range, meaning the absolute differences between quiet and loud parts. This goes very well with the "spicy" arrangement.

Nuclear Burn Bonus Tracks

In addition to the six albums, four exciting bonus tracks were spread over the four CDs. These are BBC recordings from 1976 (John-Peel-Sessions).

1st: The Ancient Mysteries / Born Ugly / Kubit Blitz: 26/02/1976 Maida Vale 4 Studio, London (Jones, Lumley, Goodsall, Collins). The date indicated in the booklet, 08/03/1976, is the date it was first broadcast, not the one of the recording. Moreover, according to the BBC, the song was called Kubic Blitz and not Kubit Blitz.

2nd: Malaga Virgen: 15/07/1976, unknown BBS studio, London (same line-up as above, plus Preston Heyman:  percussions) Another song was recorded during the 15/07/1976 session (Why should I Lend You Mine, When You've Broken Yours Off Already? (sic!)), which isn't included here though.

With many of their albums out-of-print, the much-over-looked British jazz-fusion group, Brand X - which included in its ranks Genesis drummer, Phil Collins - finally get a long-overdue reissue of their Charisma catalogue thanks to a fine 4-CD box set that includes all six of the albums that they recorded between the years 1976 and 1980.

The group's debut, 'Unorthodox Behaviour,' released in '76, found the quartet - then comprising keyboardist Robin Lumley, guitarist John Goodsall, bassist Percy Jones and drummer, Phil Collins - creating a distinctive and technically-accomplished brand of instrumental jazz-fusion that was tinged at times with progressive rock elements (no surprise, perhaps, given Collins' Genesis affiliation). The set's standout, 'Nuclear Burn,' sounds like a British take on US jazz-rock giants, Return To Forever, especially with Goodsall's searing, rapid-fire fretboard pyrotechnics a la Al Di Meola. Having said that, though, listening to these 4 CDs confirms that Brand X weren't mere copyists and brought a truly individual and uniquely British sound and style to the jazz-rock arena (that was especially evident in some of the band's humorous song titles, such as 'Not Good Enough - See Me!' and 'Noddy Goes To Sweden').

Their second long-player, the in-concert album, 'Livestock' - recorded in the UK at Ronnie Scott's jazz club, the Hammersmith Odeon and the Marquee - demonstrates the band's potency as a live act. Phil Collins stayed in the drum chair - and also did the occasional vocal, exemplified by the exotic 'Sun In The Night' - for the band's sophomore LP, 1977's 'Moroccan Roll' (it's title, by the way, is a play on the words 'more rock and roll'). Influenced by Eastern sounds and sonically more atmospheric and less fierce than the band's debut LP, it charted in the UK and the USA. Among the highlights is the frenetic 'Disco Suicide' and the churning, reflective 'Macrocosm.'

The band's third LP, 'Masques' - which was also eastern-themed - couldn't emulate the chart fortunes of 'Moroccan Roll' and significantly, also had Chuck Burgi replacing Collins in the drummer's chair (due to the latter becoming the lead singer as well as the sticks man in Genesis after Peter Gabriel's departure). 'The Poke' is a solid, driving, lead-off track that melds rock dynamics with jazz virtuosity while the title cut and 'Black Moon'  are mellow soundscapes dominated by Percy Jones' fluid fretless bass.

'79's 'Product' witnessed Collins return to the band but doesn't quite reach the creative alchemy of the band's earlier LPs, even though it charted in the USA. Despite this, it's a solid and enjoyable affair that showcases the band's intuitive and tightly-crafted ensemble work. The flowing, upbeat 'Dance Of The Illegal Aliens' is one of its best tracks.

The final album in the set, 1980's 'Do They Hurt?' finds Collins sharing drum duties with US Headhunters' member, Mike Clark (who had also appeared on 'Product'). It turned out that the album's seven tracks were, in fact, outtakes from the 'Product' sessions a year earlier, which may account for it being not quite as memorable an offering as its predecessor. It's not without some good, arresting moments, though. The pulsing 'Noddy Goes To Sweden,' driven by Jones' sinewy fretless bass, is a quirky but engagingly offbeat opener and the more commercial, pop/rock-oriented 'Act Of Will' is distinguished by a vocoder vocal. Underscoring the band's irreverent sense of humour is the fact that Monty Python member, Michael Palin, penned the album's hilarious and madcap liner notes, which are reproduced in full in the accompanying booklet.

The inclusion of the band's sessions for the BBC is a welcome bonus but the omission of the rare, non-album B-side, 'Pool Room Blues,' as well as the absent live EP track, 'Genocide Of The Straights,' means that some fans will feel a couple of twinges of disappointment. Even so, there's an awful lot of music to digest here, much of it still holding the attention despite being over 30 years old. Some serious listening, then, is required here for a band that never really took itself too seriously.

Tracks Listing

CD 1 (48:33)
1. Nuclear Burn (6:20)
2. Euthanasia Waltz (5:39)
3. Born Ugly (8:13)
4. Smacks Of Euphoric Hysteria (4:26)
5. Unorthodox Behaviour (8:25)
6. Running On Three (4:37)
7. Touch Wood (3:03)
8. The Ancient Mysteries
9. Born Ugly
10. Kubit Blitz
11. Nightmare Patrol (7:50)

CD 2 (75:48)
1. -Ish (8:20)
2. Euthanasia Waltz (5:30)
3. Isis Mourning (Part 1 & 2) (10:15)
4. Malaga Virgen (9:35)
5. Sun In The Night (4:25)
6. Why Should I Lend You Mine (When You've Broken Yours Off Already) ... (11:16)
7. ... Maybe I'll Lend You Mine After All (2:10)
8. Hate Zone (4:41)
9. Collapsar (1:35)
10. Disco Suicide (7:55)
11. Orbits (1:38)
12. Nightmare Patrol ()

CD 3 (67:51)
1. Macrocosm (7:24)
2. Malaga Virgen (5:06)
3. The Poke (3:17)
4. Masques (4:48)
5. Black Moon (10:54)
6. Deadly Nightshade (6:10)
7. Earth Dance (6:10)
8. Access To Data (8:04)
9. The Ghost Of Mayfield Lodge (10:08)
10. Don't Make Waves (5:08)
11. Dance Of The Illegal Aliens (6:52)

CD 4 (73:30)
1. Soho (3:47)
2. Not Good Enough - See Me! (7:27)
3. Algon (Where An Ordinary Cup Of Drinking Chocolate Costs ?8,000,000,000) (6:07)
4. Rhesus Perplexus (4:06)
5. Wal To Wal (3:09)
6. ...And So To F... (6:34)
7. April (2:40)
8. Noddy Goes To Sweden (4:30)
9. Voidarama (4:25)
10. Act Of Will (4:44)
11. Fragile (5:26)
12. Cambodia (4:30)
13. Triumphant Limp (7:28)
14. D.M.Z. (8:37)

Total Time 265:42

Line-up / Musicians

- John Goodsall / Guitar
- Percy Jones / Bass
- Robin Lumley / Keyboards (CD 1; CD 2; CD3 (1))
- Phil Collins / Drums, Percussion, Vocals (CD 1; CD 2; CD 3 (1))
- Robin Lumley / Keyboards (CD 2 (5 - 12); CD 3 (1))
- Morris Pert / Percussion (CD 2 (5-12); CD 3 (1))
- Peter Robinson / Keyboards (CD 3 (3 - 9))
- Chuck Bergi / Drums (CD 3 (3 - 9))
- Michael Clarke / Drums (CD 3; CD 4 (2))
- John Giblin / Bass (CD 3 (11); CD 4 (2))
- Kenwood Dennard / Drums (CD 1 (11); CD 2 (3))

Releases information

CD 1 - tracks from "Unorthodox Behavior" (1976) and "Livestock" (1977)
CD 2 - tracks from "Livestock" (1977) and "Moroccan Roll" (1977)
CD 3 - tracks from "Moroccan Roll" (1977), "Masques" (1978), and "Product" (1979)
CD 4 - tracks from "Product" (1979) and "Do They Hurt?" (1980)