Saturday, April 28, 2018

Frank Zappa - 1986 [1995] "Jazz From Hell"

Jazz from Hell is an instrumental album whose selections were all composed and recorded by Frank Zappa. It was released in 1986 by Barking Pumpkin Records on vinyl and by Rykodisc on CD. This is Official Release #47.

All compositions were executed by Frank Zappa on the Synclavier DMS with the exception of "St. Etienne", a guitar solo excerpted from a live performance Zappa gave of "Drowning Witch" during a concert in Saint-Étienne, France, on his 1982 tour.
"While You Were Art II" is a Synclavier performance based on a transcription of Zappa's improvised guitar solo on the track "While You Were Out" from the album Shut Up 'n Play Yer Guitar (1981). The unreleased original Synclavier performance was done using only the unit's FM synthesis, while the recording found here was Zappa's "deluxe" arrangement featuring newer samples and timbres.
"Night School" was possibly named for a late-night show that Zappa pitched to ABC; the network did not pick it up. A music video was made for the song.
"G-Spot Tornado", assumed by Zappa to be impossible to play by humans, would be performed by Ensemble Modern on the concert recording The Yellow Shark (1993).

Zappa won a 1988 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance for this album.

Though Jazz from Hell is an entirely instrumental album, there is an unconfirmed report that the Fred Meyer chain of stores sold it in their Music Market department featuring an RIAA Parental Advisory sticker. This could have been the result of Zappa's feud with the Parents Music Resource Center (which had also inspired the 1985 Frank Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention), an objection to the use of the word "hell" in the album title, or in reference to the track "G-Spot Tornado", describing the erogenous zone in human anatomy commonly known as the G-Spot.

While Frank Zappa had ostensibly been "on his own" since the dissolution of the Mothers of Invention in 1969, never before had he used the term "solo artist" as literally as he does on the Grammy Award winning (in the "Best Rock Instrumental Performance by an orchestra, group or soloist" category) Jazz from Hell (1986). After two decades of depending on the skills, virtuosity, and temperament of other musicians, Zappa all but abandoned the human element in favor of the flexibility of what he could produce with his Synclavier Digital Music System. With the exception of the stunning closer "St. Etienne" -- which is a guitar solo taken from a live performance of "Drowning Witch" at the Palais des Sports in St. Etienne, France on May 28, 1982 -- the remaining seven selections were composed, created, and executed by Zappa with help from his concurrent computer assistant Bob Rice and recording engineer Bob Stone. Far from being simply a synthesizer, the Synclavier combined the ability to sample and manipulate sounds before assigning them to the various notes on a piano-type keyboard. At the time of its release, many enthusiasts considered it a slick, emotionless effort. In retrospect, their conclusions seem to have been a gut reaction to the methodology, rather than the music itself. In fact, evidence to the contrary is apparent as it brims throughout the optimistic bounding melody and tricky time-signatures of "Night School." All the more affective is the frenetic sonic trajectory coursing through "G-Spot Tornado." Incidentally, Zappa would revisit the latter -- during one of his final projects -- when the Ensemble Modern worked up Ali N. Askin's arrangement for the Yellow Shark (1993). Another cut with a bit of history to it is "While You Were Art II," which is Zappa's Synclavier-rendered version of the Shut Up 'N Play Yer Guitar (1982) entry "While You Were Out." Speaking of guitar solos, as mentioned briefly above, "St. Etienne" is the only song on Jazz from Hell to feature a band and is a treat specifically for listeners craving a sampling of Zappa's inimitable fretwork. The six-plus minute instrumental also boats support from Steve Vai (rhythm guitar), Ray White (rhythm guitar), Tommy Mars (keyboards), Bobby Martin (keyboards), Ed Mann (percussion), as well as the prominent rhythm section of Scott Thunes (bass) and Chad Wackerman (drums). Zappa-philes should similarly note that excellent (albeit) amateur-shot footage of the number was included by Zappa on the companion Video from Hell (1987) home video.

Jazz From Hell may not be one of Frank's most popular albums and I'm sure it's one of the lowest sellers, but it's also one of his finest.
Frank had announced his intention of quitting the liva arena in 1982 and then again in 1984 ( he would be tempted back in 1988 ) but by 1986 he was composing solely on his Synclavier within the comfort of his recording studio, and the results are amazing.
Night School and G-Spot Tornado are among his best ever compositions, nobody else to this day writes such odd and yet beautiful music, it's ironic to note that the title track ( one of the weaker tracks ) won Frank a Grammy !
Probably to placate the fans of his guitar solos he choose to include one very fine ( and delicate ) solo.
This album rewards repeated listenings and and it's great insight into what made the man really tick .

On this solo digital-synth excursion, the indefatigable Zappa takes a breather from R-rated satire and battling the PMRC dragons to cook up one of his periodic classical-jazz-boogie stews. There is nothing particularly hellish about the eight pieces on the album, though it may have been a bitch to program these densely packed parcels of subdivided rhythms and Chinese-checker themes. But while most of Jazz from Hell employs now-standard Zappa compositional devices — abrupt tempo changes, harmonic broad jumps and volcanic polyphonic clusters — there is a deviant playfulness and almost affable melodic resolution about these tracks that is unique in Zappa's serious instrumental canon.

While purchasing this CD:
Just got back from LA and while I was there I went to Time Warp Records, a little record store off of Venice BL. Among the just over 80 CD's I own by Frank I hadn't replaced the "Jazz From Hell" from my lp collection. It was there so I picked it up and there was only one guy there besides the owner and another gentleman walked in just as I was about to leave. Just as I found my last purchase (McCoy Tyner - Infinity (with Michael Brecker) and I over heard the guy that had just walked in that he had been to an event with Moon Zappa the previous night as I'm walking up to the counter with Jazz From Hell, I showed to the guy talking and the owner and we all had a little laugh, :-)

Tracks Listing

1. Night School (4:47)
2. The Beltway Bandits (3:25)
3. While You Were Art II (7:17)
4. Jazz From Hell (2:58)
5. G-Spot Tornado (3:17)
6. Damp Ankles (3:45)
7. St. Etienne (6:26) *
8. Massaggio Galore (2:31)

* Recorded 1982 at Palais des Sports, St. Etienne, France.

Total Time: 34:26


Frank Zappa – lead guitar, Synclavier, keyboards, production
On "St. Etienne":
Steve Vai – rhythm guitar
Ray White – rhythm guitar
Tommy Mars – keyboards
Bobby Martin – keyboards
Scott Thunes – bass guitar
Chad Wackerman – drums
Ed Mann – percussion

Corea, Clarke & White - 2011 "Forever"

Forever is a double CD album of live acoustic recordings recorded in California, Tokyo and Seattle in 2009 by the Return to Forever pianist Chick Corea, bass player Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White and studio rehearsals with guests Jean-Luc Ponty, Bill Connors and Chaka Kahn. It was released on the Concord label I 2011.

In 2012, the album received the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Instrumental Album. The AllMusic review by Thom Jurek states "Disc one is taken directly from concert appearances across the globe. The standards work well – considering how busy Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White can be together as well as solo... The gems are saved for disc two, which consists mainly of rehearsals for the tour recorded at Mad Hatter Studios in San Francisco, complete with off-mike banter... With its looseness, this second disc offers the real dynamic potential for RTF in the future and reveals the depth of near symbiotic communication between the bandmembers". John Fordham in The Guardian noted "Clarke's beautiful tone and dramatic phrasing, White's melodic percussion playing and deft embroidery of catchy grooves, and Corea's fluency and lyrical grace bring a new spark to standards... The electric disc is a lot funkier... and the light touch and sense of enjoyment of the acoustic half mostly survives intact". All About Jazz correspondent John Kelman observed, "Eschewing RTF's relentless testosterone, the trio is as capable of elegance and understatement as it is of unequivocal virtuosity". PopMatters' Will Layman wrote "The trio recordings are masterful in execution but maybe slightly "been there, done that" in repertoire... On the bonus disc, we get more of a mishmash.. The band is loose as can be in this rehearsal, tossing phrases back and forth, the whole enterprise seeming like the dialogue that jazz is always supposed to be".

This double-disc set documents Return to Forever's unplugged tour of 2009. Its 19 tracks consist mainly of rearranged RTF tunes and jazz standards for piano trio, though there are wonderful surprises on disc two. Disc one is taken directly from concert appearances across the globe. The standards work well -- considering how busy Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, and Lenny White can be together as well as solo. "On Green Dolphin Street," "Waltz for Debby," and "Hackensack" all swing, though they do feature moments of RTF's requisite knotty counterpoint. Originals include Clarke's new tune, the beautiful "La Canción de Sophia," as well as "Bud Powell" and "Windows" from two Corea solo recordings, and "Señor Mouse" and "No Mystery," both RTF tunes, round it out. The small complaint is that these three play so stridently and "perfectly" that they sound more like a studio band instead of a quick-thinking live unit. Everything is exceptionally played and recorded. The gems are saved for disc two, which consists mainly of rehearsals for the tour recorded at Mad Hatter Studios in San Francisco, complete with off-mike banter. Corea dons his Rhodes and other keyboards for an excellent version of "Captain Marvel" and a fully fused-out “Señor Mouse,” “Space Circus,” and “After the Rain,” all with original RTF guitarist Bill Connors playing his ass off with his former and future bandmates (Frank Gambale will assume guitar duties on tour). Violinist Jean-Luc Ponty will also join the new band formally in 2012, and he begins in that role here, appearing on "Armando's Rhumba" (he played on the original off Corea's My Spanish Heart LP), his own "Renaissance," a fine rendition of "I Loves You, Porgy" (one of two tunes with Chaka Khan on vocals), "After the Cosmic Rain," and "Space Circus." The other two surprises on disc two are a very soulful duet between Corea (on acoustic piano) and White on John Coltrane's "Crescent" and a stellar acoustic trio version of RTF's standard "500 Miles High," which was recorded at the Monterey Jazz Festival and contains plenty of fire. With its looseness, this second disc offers the real dynamic potential for RTF in the future and reveals the depth of near symbiotic communication between the bandmembers.

As successful as its massive 2008 world tour was—stopping at the Ottawa Jazz Festival, and yielding both a live CD (Returns) and DVD (Returns: Live at Montreux 2008) from Eagle Entertainment the following year—it was patently clear that Return to Forever couldn't continue with guitarist Al Di Meola. It was, however, equally certain that RTF's remaining members—keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and drummer Lenny White—felt great about coming together, nearly forty years after they first met, as they subsequently hit the road, for their first-ever trio tour, in 2009.

The double-disc Forever brings together one CD of material from dates in the US and Japan, and a bonus disc of rehearsals for the trio's 2009 Hollywood Bowl date, joined by original RTF guitarist Bill Connors, violinist Jean-Luc Ponty and vocalist Chaka Khan. At the core of both discs is the vibrant simpatico shared by Corea, Clarke and White, their acoustic set combining well-known standards and some equally iconic Corea material, from his early entry into The Real Book, the swinging "Windows," to the title track to RTF's No Mystery (Polydor, 1975), expanded to nearly a quarter-hour in length. Approaching his 70th birthday later this year, Corea has simply never played better; bolstered by the equally unfettered and exploratory Clarke and White, his staggering solo demonstrates this trio's unfailing empathy in an album highlight of improvisational construction.

Eschewing RTF's relentless testosterone, the trio is as capable of elegance and understatement as it is of unequivocal virtuosity. White's delicate ride cymbal gently propels the opening to Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debby," even as he adopts a stronger backbone during Corea's solo, while, on Clarke's balladic "La Canción de Sofia," the bassist's arco proves every bit as lyrical as his sinewy pizzicato is muscular.

With Connors bowing out of the RTF IV tour early (citing health reasons), Forever's second disc is a glimpse into what might have been. His replacement, Frank Gambale, will no doubt be terrific, but hearing Connors dig into material from his sole RTF outing, Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (Polydor, 1973)—Clarke's anthemic "After the Cosmic Rain," and Corea's thundering "Señor Mouse" and funkified "Space Circus"—fulfills, at least partially, long-past hopes and dreams of fans who, buying tickets to RTF's 1973/74 tour expecting to hear Connors, were unpleasantly surprised by his teenaged replacement, Di Meola. Decades later, Connors still doesn't possess Di Meola's chops, but he remains the more soulful player, with a grittier tone and substance-over-style approach. The bonus disc also includes trio versions of Latin-era RTF stapes "Captain Marvel" and "500 Miles High," the Spanish-tinged Corea/Clarke/Ponty trio feature, "Armando's Rhumba," from My Spanish Heart (Polydor, 19076), and, with White joining in, the lighter fusion of "Renaissance," from Ponty's Aurora (Atlantic, 1976), combining to provide a compelling precursor of what's certainly to come this summer, when RTF IV hits the North American festival circuit.

Track listing:
All compositions by Chick Corea except where noted.

Disc one
1. "On Green Dolphin Street" (Bronisław Kaper, Ned Washington) – 8:41
2. "Waltz for Debby" (Bill Evans) – 9:55
3. "Bud Powell" – 7:10
4. "La Canción de Sofia" (Stanley Clarke) – 7:38
5. "Windows" – 8:54
6. "Hackensack" (Thelonious Monk) – 7:30
7. "No Mystery" – 10:55
8. "Señor Mouse" – 12:06

Recorded at Yoshi's, Oakland, on September 16 & 17, 2009 (tracks 1–4, 7 & 8), at The Blue Note Tokyo, Japan on November 28, 2009 (track 5) and at Jazz Alley, Seattle, on December 12, 2009 (track 6)

Disc two
01. "Captain Marvel" – 4:13
02. "Señor Mouse" – 10:06
03. "Crescent" (John Coltrane) – 1:45
04. "Armando's Rhumba" – 5:12
05. "Renaissance" (Jean-Luc Ponty) – 6:29
06. "High Wire: The Aerialist" – 3:41
07. "I Loves You, Porgy" (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) – 5:13
08. "After the Cosmic Rain" (Clarke) – 10:38
09. "Space Circus" – 6:06
10. "500 Miles High" – 12:45

Recorded at Mad Hatter Studios, Los Angeles, on September 1, 2009 (tracks 1–9) and at the Monterey Jazz Festival, Monterey, on September 30, 2009 (track 10).


Chick Corea – piano (Disc one and disc two, tracks 3–7 & 10), keyboards (Disc Two, tracks 1, 2, 8 & 9)
Stanley Clarke – double bass (Disc one and disc two, tracks 1, 4–7 & 10), electric bass (Disc Two, tracks 2, 8 & 9)
Lenny White – drums (Disc one and disc two, tracks 1–3 & 5–10)
Bill Connors – guitar (Disc two, tracks 2 & 7–9)
Jean-Luc Ponty – violin (Disc two, tracks 4–5 & 7–9)
Chaka Khan – vocals (Disc two, tracks 6–7)

Tony Williams - 2016 (1975) "Believe It" - (1976) "Million Dollar Legs" - (1979) "The Joy Of Flying"

Digitally remastered two CD set containing Jazz drummer Tony Williams' three albums for Sony, dating from 1975, 1976 and 1979. The first two feature guitarist Allan Holdsworth whilst Joy Of Flying has, amongst others, George Benson, Stanley Clarke, Brian Auger, Herbie Hancock, David Sanborn and Ronnie Montrose. Williams, who played with everyone from Miles Davis to John Lydon's PIL, sadly died at the young age of 51 in 1997.

After the original Lifetime split, Tony Williams tried desperately to make the next "great album".
He found his opportunity when he found Allan Holdsworth, a prog-rock veteran of Tempest, Gong, & Soft Machine.
Holdsworth approached the electric guitar with a jazz feel, his Gibson SG Custom sounding often like John Coltrane's saxophone.
Tony Williams and Holdsworth found common ground, and each brought in a musician capable of expressing the power and energy that Williams felt his music had been lacking. Bassist Tony Newton, a veteran of Motown sessions, was picked by Williams to hold it all down. Holdsworth was taken with the abilities of keyboardist Alan Pasqua, who not only could lay out the head of a piece,but was a fine soloist as well.This was to be the last edition of Lifetime, but this album, released in 1975, re-established the band as a force to be reckoned with.

They just don't make 'em like this anymore! 28 years after its original release, this album STILL sounds as invigorating as the day it was released. Tony Williams, much like his mentor Miles Davis had a knack for picking great talent for his bands, especialy young upstart British guitar virtuosos.

As if John McLaughlin wasn't enough, he went and found the soft-spoken and ridiculoulsy innovative Allan Holdsworth, who spun melodic and fluid solos with the ease of a saxophonist. Already having stints with Tempest and Soft Machine under his belt, Holdsworth's style was jumping to the next level already, and Tony Williams did nothing to stand in the way, in fact, Allan was heavily encouraged and cheered on in his explorations by his bandmates here. Allan did things that just sounded absolutely impossible on a guitar at the time, and I remember so vivdly hearing this album at age 16 and having my jaw scraping the ground in amazement!

Armed with nothing more than a Gibson SG and a Marshall amp, Allan H just roared in an destroyed the place with his emotionally charged soloing and exploratory compositions, and a finely tuned musical sense to make te compostions of his bandmates come alive! Marrying this to William's inventive powerhouse drumming, Tony Newton's funky slithering bass and Alan Pasqua's glassy keyboards, this version of the Tony Williams Lifetime was a force to be reckoned with.

The other thing that still grabs me about this album is the open. raw live sound with minimal overdubbing, as honest and accurate in capturing this band's power in the studio as you could hope for. There's not one weak cut on here, ranging from the stomping funk of "Snake Oil" to the ghostly chord melody of "Fred" and the rip snorting brilliance of "Mr. Spock" (especially with the section where Williams and Holdsworth switch roles, Tony putting forth the solo of his life and Holdsworth bashing out angry Black Sabbath-like power chords underneath before roaring to a great close). The bonus tracks are a VERY worthwhile addition as well, "Letsby" is a slightly different take on "Mr. Spock" and "Celebration" get's more funky while still snarling like a panther (thanks again to Allan Holdsworth's raging guitar).

A serious fusion classic if ever there was and definitely worth adding to your library. Turn it up to 11 and let your jaw drop again!

I'm a drummer and have been playing 56 years. Among my most influential drummers Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Lenny White, Mitch Mitchell, Chuck Burgi, Buddy Rich to name a few, I always have to reach back to Tony Williams who was so acrobatic, fluid, musically driven and down right AWESOME. "Believe It" was totally satisfying and inspirational, the guitar work by Soft Machines Allan Holdsworth is.....ah....PERFECT and timeless, I had this album when it originally was released and over the years wore it thru and had to replace it. 100% satisfied

1975 was still a year of great fusion records and this one is without a doubt one of them. Tony Williams returned with a brand new, fresh approach to his sound. The music feels tight but it's actually quite loose, thanks to the masterful musicians he picked. The opener Snake Oil is a killer track with a pounding, funky bass line and a riff that must be heard to be believed.
Allan Holdsworth's guitar work fiery yet mellow while Alan Pasqua and Tony Newton are both impressive on keys and bass respectively. Producer Bruce Botnick mahe sure Tony's drums sounded strong without making them invasive to great result. Needless to say, his drumming is amazing throughout and on the closer Mr. Spock, he takes to the spotlight for the delight of the listener. 35 years on, this has earned the status of a fusion classic.

The album's final piece, Holdsworth's "Mr. Spock" is an all-out jam of epic proportions.
Pasqua and Newton' primary task is to hold the piece together, for this showcase is all about electric guitar and drums.
After the pace is set and Pasqua takes his solo, Holdsworth plays a solo which has been described as no less than "apocalyptic",pulling out all the stops, and throwing caution to the wind.

It would be an understatement to say that there was a fair amount of variety on this set. Drummer Tony Williams is heard in two duets with keyboardist Jan Hammer, with a quartet also including keyboardist Herbie Hancock, Tom Scott (who unfortunately sticks to lyricon) and bassist Stanley Clarke, and he welcomes rock guitarist Ronnie Montrose, keyboardist Brian Auger, guitarist George Benson, Hammer and tenorman Michael Brecker on other tracks. Much of this music is closer to R&B than to jazz, although there are many strong moments. But the most interesting selection is certainly "Morgan's Motion" which matches Williams with pianist Cecil Taylor in a powerful (and completely atonal) collaboration.

Track Listing:

Disc: 1
  1. Snake Oil
  2. Fred
  3. Proto-Cosmos
  4. Red Alert
  5. Wildlife
  6. Mr. Spock
  7. Sweet Revenge
  8. You Did It to Me
  9. Million Dollar Legs
  10. Joy Filled Summer
  11. Lady Jade
  12. What You Do to Me
  13. Inspirations of Love

Disc: 2
  1. Going Far
  2. Hip Skip
  3. Hittin' on 6
  4. Open Fire
  5. Tony
  6. Eris
  7. Coming Back Home
  8. Morgan's Motion


 "Believe It" & "Million Dollar Legs"

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

 "Joy Of Flying"

    George Benson - Guitar
    Herbie Hancock, Jan Hammer, Brian Auger, Tom Scott - Keyboards
    Stanley Clarke, Paul Jackson, Mario Cipollina - Bass
    Michael Brecker - Saxophone
    Ronnie Montrose - Guitar
    David Sanborn - Alto saxophone
    Ronnie Cuber - Baritone saxophone
    Barry Rogers - Trombone
    Randy Brecker - Trumpet
    Ralph MacDonald - Percussion
    Jon Faddis - Trumpet
    Cecil Taylor - Piano

McCoy Tyner Trio [Feat. Michael Brecker] - 1995 "Infinity"

Infinity is an album by McCoy Tyner released on the Impulse! label in 1995. It was recorded in April 1995 and features performances by Tyner with Michael Brecker, Avery Sharpe, Aaron Scott and Valtinho Anastacio. The album won the 1996 Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance (Individual or Group), while Michael Brecker won the Grammy for Best Jazz Instrumental Solo for the track "Impressions".

It seems only fitting that the initial new release on the latest revival of the Impulse label features McCoy Tyner and Michael Brecker. When Impulse started out in 1960, John Coltrane and Tyner were the first artists to be signed, and when Impulse was briefly brought back by MCA in the 1980s, two of its most important albums were recordings by Brecker. There are not a lot of surprises on this quartet matchup (with bassist Avery Sharpe and drummer Aaron Scott) except perhaps for how well Tyner and Brecker mesh together. The music is somewhat similar to a set by the pianist's regular trio with a solo piece ("Blues Stride"), a generous amount of Tyner originals and colorful versions of Thelonious Monk's "I Mean You" and "Good Morning Heartache," but Brecker's presence and consistently powerful playing does inspire Tyner and his sidemen. For a strong example as to why today's saxophonists have such a high opinion of Michael Brecker, his roaring statement on the extended "Impressions" will suffice. Highly recommended.

This is one of my favorites when in the mood for high intensity tenor sax. While I like the entire album (great musicians, good mix of songs) two particular cuts simply blow me away: Flying High (another fine McCoy Tyner composition) and Impressions (Coltrane classic). On those two cuts Michael Brecker shows why he is one of the best all-time tenor sax players. His incredible tone, phrasing, and intensity on those songs are some of the best sax work I have ever heard. I find myself sitting with jaw dropped in disbelief at Brecker's solos. Tyner as always provides beautiful backup for his sax bandmate as well as fine solo work. I can't imagine any fan of real jazz that wouldn't like this album.

There are so many great McCoy Tyner albums (I have about 25, am impressed by all of them, and still feel as if I'm missing a bunch of classics) that it can be a challenge to choose among them. A couple of early Blue Note titles are universally-acknowledged classics -- 1967's The Real McCoy, in a quartet with Joe Henderson, and 1968's Time for Tyner, a quartet with Bobby Hutcherson. Other than that, his best-known albums are probably from his time making high-energy Afrocentric music on the Milestone label during the 1970s -- albums like Sahara (1972), Enlightenment (1973), and the dazzling solo testament Echoes of a Friend (1972) are frequently recommended to Tyner beginners.

This one is from 1995 and it finds Tyner back "home," on Impulse Records where he started his career, and in a quartet format modeled on the one that brought him to fame, with John Coltrane in the early '60s. The comparison is further invited by the presence of the late Michael Brecker, a player of awesome power and unparalleled technical excellence for whom Coltrane was the obvious main influence. Brecker first came to notice playing breezy funk with his brother Randy in the '70s,and then as a session musician; he had a slow road to carving out the edgy jazz credentials that he's now best remembered for. Although his high register sound and sweeping figures unmistakably evoke Coltrane, his snub-nosed tone in the middle register suggests a close study of Dexter Gordon.

Brecker more or less steals the show here. Brecker plays some of the best solos I've heard by him on "Flying High," the Monk chestnut (one of Tyner's favorites) "I Mean You," the grooving "Mellow Minor," and of course Coltrane's "Impressions." Tyner brings some nice original compositions to the table -- "Mellow Minor" in particular is up there with his classics, somewhat reminiscent of "Fly with the Wind" -- and a couple that are a little more rote, such as "Happy Days" (amusingly, or annoyingly, based on "Deck the Halls").

Track listing
All compositions by McCoy Tyner except where noted.

1. "Flying High" - 10:14
2. "I Mean You" (Hawkins, Monk) - 7:19
3. "Where Is Love" - 5:31
4. "Changes" - 9:46
5. "Blues Stride" - 3:38
6. "Happy Days" - 9:42
7. "Impressions" (Coltrane) - 11:13
8. "Mellow Minor" - 5:26
9. "Good Morning Heartache" (Drake, Fisher, Higginbotham) - 9:21

Recorded at Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, April 12 (track 1 & 6), 13 (tracks 4, 7 & 8) and 14 (tracks 2, 3, 5 & 9), 1995


McCoy Tyner – piano
Michael Brecker – tenor saxophone
Avery Sharpe – bass
Aaron Scott – drums
Valtinho Anastacio – congas, percussion

Friday, April 27, 2018

Chet Baker, Jim Hall, Hubert Laws - 1982 [2017] "Studio Trieste"

Studio Trieste is an album by trumpeter Chet Baker, guitarist Jim Hall and flautist Hubert Laws which was recorded in 1982 and released on the CTI label.

Baker's CTI recordings (which were usually arranged by Don Sebesky) always came off well. For what would be his final CTI date, he was matched with guitarist Jim Hall, flutist Hubert Laws and a fine rhythm section for two jazz standards ("Django" and "All Blues") and a pair of unusual pieces ("Malaguena" and "Swan Lake"). Throughout, Sebesky's charts favorably showcase Baker's lyrical trumpet, making this a recommended LP that deserves to be reissued on CD.

A great later date from CTI – proof that the label still had its magic going on well into the 80s! The session's a larger group effort headed up by Don Sebesky, and featuring key solos by Chet Baker, Jim Hall, and Hubert Laws – all of whom get plenty of room to do their thing on the album's longer tracks! Other players include Kenny Barron, Jack Wilkins, Jorge Dalto, George Mraz, and Steve Gadd – plus bit of added percussion – and although the group is large, the overall sound is relatively lean – spacious and airy, in keeping with Baker's best moments on records like these, and always sensitive enough to let Hall's gentle work on the strings of his guitar shine through nicely! Titles include "Malaguena", "Django", "Swan Lake", and "All Blues".

Creed Taylor suggested the line-up for this record; “Hall, Baker and Laws have the innate and unmistakable ability to know what to leave out,” he comments in the liner notes. As the title suggests, there’s a Latin tinge to the album, a likely deliberate attempt to recreate the feel of Jim Hall’s ‘Concierto’. ‘Malaguena’ opens the proceedings, a vehicle for Jim Hall, keyboard player Jorge Dalto and percussionist Sammy Figueroa; the keyboard sound has dated badly, unfortunately. ‘Django’ is an improvement, with solos from Hall, Law, Chet, then Kenny Barron on electric piano. Hard to know Tchaikovsky would have made of Sebesky’s arrangement of ‘Swan Lake’, but I’m not sure he would have approved of the electric piano. The overall effect is less delicate and understated than the earlier ‘Concierto’. Finally there’s a Spanish-tinged read of Miles Davis’s ‘All Blues’, which is probably the highlight of the album, featuring enjoyable solos from the three leads. An enjoyable session, but on which has not held up as well as Chet’s earlier sessions on CTI.

Studio Trieste is a recording which I originally stumbled across thirty years ago while looking for something new in the way of jazz. I always liked most of the CTI releases and was familiar with most of the musicians, so I picked it up. It is simply a tremendous piece of work.
The CD version I bought is a Japanese pressing and has excellent sound quality. Every piece, from start to finish, is a sonic delight and are well chosen from different musical worlds. My favorite cut is the dreamy interpretation of John Lewis' Django, but I like the others almost as well. There is one classical piece, two from the world of jazz, and a rousing rendition of Malaguena composed by Cuba's Ernesto Lecuona. Among the performers are Jim Hall, Chet Baker, and Hubert Laws who with the others all put in stellar performances.
Sadly, it seems that Studio Trieste kind of came and went without any promotion from CTI the first time around. Now that it's back, don't let it pass you by. I'd mention it comes with a small booklet, but it's almost entirely in Japanese. Enjoy, this is a keeper.

Studio Trieste was issued on Vinyl in 1982 by CTI record and I'm so delighted to find that it has finally been reissued.
If you are new to post trad Jazz this is a great place to start. If you love Miles Davis' Kind of Blue and love Jazz guitar I think you will really enjoy this CD.

The musicians on this album are all masters of the genre. They jam with incredible sensitivity -clearly driven by a deep respect for each other's musicianship. Chet Baker's entry on Swan Lake is sublime and his contribution on "All Blues" stands comparison with Mile's original.

Track listing:

1. "Swan Lake" (Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky) – 8:42
2. "All Blues" (Miles Davis) – 9:43
3. "Malagueña" (Ernesto Lecuona) – 9:44
4. "Django" (John Lewis) – 10:02


Chet Baker – trumpet, flugelhorn
Jim Hall – guitar
Hubert Laws – flute
Kenny Barron (tracks 1 & 4), Jorge Dalto (tracks 2 & 3) – keyboards
Jack Wilkins – guitar (track 4)
Gary King – electric bass (tracks 1 & 4)
George Mraz – bass (tracks 1 & 2)
Steve Gadd – drums
Sammy Figueroa – percussion

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Larry Carlton - 1990 "Collection"

Larry Eugene Carlton (born March 2, 1948) is an American guitarist who built his career as a studio musician in the 1970s and '80s for acts such as Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell. He has participated in thousands of recording sessions, recorded on hundreds of albums in many genres, for television and movies, and on more than 100 gold records. He has been a member of the jazz fusion groups The Crusaders and Fourplay and has maintained a long solo career

The first volume of GRP's Larry Carlton Collection takes the listener from the beginning of his solo career up to 1990. Starting off with one cut from his first Warner Bros. album, Larry Carlton, the collection goes on to include two tracks each from Sleepwalk and Friends, two each from the acoustic guitar albums Alone/But Never Alone and Discovery, and one from On Solid Ground. In addition, the CD throws in two then-new tracks, "Small Town Girl" and "For Heaven's Sake" -- pleasant melodic pieces with acoustic guitar lead, nothing extraordinary. Along the way, you'll hear some very catchy tunes long identified with Carlton ("Smiles and Smiles to Go," "High Steppin'," and "Minute by Minute"), a mellower rendition of "Nite Crawler" than the version he recorded as a Crusader, and the relaxed, funky "Bubble Shuffle." For some changes of pace, there is an affectionate tribute to the surf sounds from near his hometown of Torrance ("Sleepwalk"), and one harder-edged number, "Blues for TJ," that finds Carlton crossing swords with B.B. King virtually as an equal. Mostly, though, this is ingratiating smooth jazz that very often transcends the conventions of the idiom.

Like so many other Los Angeles studio musicians, guitarist and composer Larry Carlton was faced with a choice a number of years back: whether to go solo and develop a name for himself, or to continue the less risky, more lucrative existence of a session guitarist, making good money and recording with prominent musicians. Fortunately for fans of this eclectic guitarist, he chose the former, and has recorded under his own name for Warner Bros., MCA Records, GRP Records, and various other labels since 1978.

Carlton's studio credits from the ''0s and early '80s include work with musicians and groups like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and literally dozens of others. Among his more notable projects as a session guitarist were Joni Mitchell's critically acclaimed Court and Spark album and Donald Fagen's Nightfly album. For much of the '70s, Carlton was active as a session guitarist, recording on up to 500 albums a year. Although he recorded a number of LPs under his own name as early as 1968's With a Little Help from My Friends (Uni) and 1973's Playing/Singing (Blue Thumb), he didn't land a major-label contract until 1978, when he signed with Warner Bros.

Carlton began taking guitar lessons when he was six. His first professional gig was at a supper club in 1962. After hearing Joe Pass on the radio, he was inspired to play jazz and blues. Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel became important influences soon after he discovered the jazz guitar stylings of Pass. B.B. King and other blues guitarists had an impact on Carlton's style as well. He honed his guitar-playing skills in the clubs and studios of greater Los Angeles while he attended a local junior college and Long Beach State College for a year until the Vietnam War ended. Carlton toured with the Fifth Dimension in 1968 and began doing studio sessions in 1970. His early session work included studio dates with pop musicians like Vikki Carr, Andy Williams, and the Partridge Family.

In 1971, he was asked to join the Crusaders shortly after they'd decided to drop the word "Jazz" from their name, and he remained with the group until 1976. In between tours with the Crusaders, he also did studio session work for hundreds of recordings in every genre. But it was while he with the Crusaders that he developed his signature, highly rhythmic, often bluesy style. His credits include performing on more than 100 gold albums. His theme music credits for TV and films include Against All Odds, Who's the Boss, and the theme for Hill Street Blues. The latter won a Grammy award in 1981 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Carlton delivered his self-titled debut for Warner Bros. in 1978, shortly after he was recognized for his groundbreaking guitar playing on Steely Dan's Royal Scam album. (Carlton contributed the memorable guitar solo on "Kid Charlemagne.'') He released four more albums for Warner Bros., Strikes Twice (1980), Sleepwalk (1981), Eight Times Up (1982), and the Grammy-nominated Friends (1983), before being dropped from the label. He continued studio session work and toured in between, emerging again in 1986 on MCA Records with an all-acoustic album, Discovery, which contained an instrumental remake of Michael McDonald's hit "Minute by Minute." The single won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1987. Carlton's live album Last Nite, released in 1987, got him a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance.

While working on his next album for MCA, On Solid Ground, Carlton was the victim of random gun violence, and was shot in the throat by gun-wielding juveniles outside Room 335, his private studio near Burbank, California. The bullet shattered his vocal cords and caused significant nerve trauma, but through intensive therapy and a positive frame of mind, Carlton completed work on On Solid Ground in 1989. He formed Helping Innocent People (HIP), a non-profit group to aid victims of random gun violence.

Despite the tragedy foisted on him in the late '80s after he was shot, with a long period of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Carlton continued his active recording and performing schedule over the next two decades, beginning with a number of albums during the '90s on the GRP label: 1992's Kid Gloves; 1993's Renegade Gentleman; 1995's Larry & Lee (with Lee Ritenour); and 1996's The Gift. Carlton also released the 1995 holiday collection Christmas at My House on MCA. And in 1997 he replaced Lee Ritenour in the popular, contemporary jazz outfit Fourplay, first appearing on the group's 4 album in 1998.

The 2000s found Carlton as active as ever, recording live and in the studio as both leader and collaborator for a variety of labels. Two albums on Warner Bros. began the decade, Fingerprints -- including guest appearances by Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Kirk Whalum, and Vinnie Colaiuta -- in 2000, and Deep Into It in 2001. A popular concert draw in Japan, Carlton could be heard as a collaborator on two live recordings from that island country during the decade, Live in Osaka (with Steve Lukather), issued in 2001 on the Favored Nations label, and Live in Tokyo (with Robben Ford) on 335 Records in 2007.

Meanwhile, his albums as a leader continued, with Sapphire Blue and Fire Wire released by Bluebird/RCA in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and The Jazz King -- with Carlton leading an all-star band performing music he composed on commission to celebrate the 80th birthday and ascension to the throne of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej -- issued by Sony BMG in 2008. In 2009 Carlton appeared as guest guitarist on selected dates during Steely Dan's U.S. summer tour. Take Your Pick (with Tak Matsumoto) appeared in 2010. Always happy to meet with the press, Carlton has a sweet, peaceful personality, and listeners continue to hear it in his unique rhythmic and warm guitar chords and ringing guitar tones. Carlton was featured on and produced vocalist Michele Pillar's holiday album, I Hear Angels Calling, in 2011. Also appearing in 2011 was Larry Carlton Plays the Sound of Philadelphia, followed by Four Hands & a Heart, Vol. 1 in 2012.

Track listing:

01 Small Town Girl 5:40
02 Smiles And Smiles To Go 5:47
03 Minute By Minute 4:57
04 For Heaven's Sake 5:10
05 Nite Crawler 5:20
06 Blues For TJ 5:18
07 10 P.M. 5:05
08 Sleepwalk 4:34
09 Tequila 4:08
10 Bubble Shuffle 5:23
11 Hello Tomorrow 5:23
12 High Steppin' 5:43


Larry Carlton, BB King, Dean Parks - Guitar
Abraham Laboriel, John Pena, Pops Popwell - Bass
Joe Sample, Alan Pasqua, Michael McDonald, Brian Mann, Terry Trotter, Don Freeman, Eric Pershing - Keyboards
John Ferraro, Rick Marotta, Jeff Poraco, John Robinson - Drums
Michael Fisher, Paulino da Costa - Percussion
Michael Brecker, Gary Grant, William Reichenbach, Jerry Hey, Kirk Whalum - Horns
Larry Williams - Woodwinds
Larry Carlton, Al Jarreau, David Pack, Michele Pillar - Vocals

Monday, April 16, 2018

Return To Forever - 2008 "Returns"

Returns is a live album by the fusion band Return to Forever. Released in 2008, it is the first recording by the band after a hiatus of 32 years. A video recording of the band's live performances from the "Returns" tour at Montreux, Switzerland and (bonus material) Clearwater, Florida was also released in 2008 by Eagle Rock Entertainment as Return to Forever – Returns: Live at Montreux 2008.

When Chick Corea reassembled the members of the most commercially successful version of his Return to Forever ensemble in 2008 and embarked on an extensive tour, it was the jazz fusion event of the year. Younger fans barely born when the ensemble's high watermark, Romantic Warrior, was released in 1976 could finally see the group in the flesh. Based on this sizzling double-CD document culled from the tour's highlights, 32 years didn't dim the quartet's enthusiasm or uncanny instrumental precision and interplay. It includes extended versions of half the tunes on Romantic Warrior, the title cut from No Mystery, and three selections from Where Have I Known You Before, with that disc's "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" clocking in at a whopping 27 minutes. Corea keeps his synths reproducing the '70s sounds of the original recordings, which is great for those who want to relive the albums, but brings a somewhat dated touch to much of this. In reality, there are very few bands in 2008 creating this space-progressive jazz-rock fusion, and certainly none with the fine-tuned talents of these guys. Those chops are displayed early on a 13-minute version of "Vulcan Worlds" that can only be described as explosive -- so much so that it elicits multiple rounds of rapturous applause as each member takes his turn in the spotlight. It's especially exciting to hear guitarist Al di Meola once again shredding with his old band, since much of his recent material has been acoustic and world music-oriented. Stanley Clarke remains one of jazz's finest bassists, grounding the sound but also taking dynamic solos that place his instrument in a lead guitar position. Hearing him trading frenzied, electrified licks with di Meola is one of the many pleasures of this reunion.

But the band is intent on showing its quieter side too, with individual and duo collaborations that are predominantly unplugged. First up, Corea and di Meola join forces on "Children's Song #3," then the guitarist romps on acoustic as the piece ends with Corea returning to join in on his famed "Spain." Disc two tamps down the fireworks by featuring lengthy acoustic improvisational work from Corea, Clarke, and drummer Lenny White in that order, that provides a contrast, some might say breathing room, to the fiery group compositions, but also drag down the energy and slow the show's momentum. For jazz students, this is a mini master class for each instrument, yet how often others will return to these sections that comprise nearly half an hour of the second platter's running time is questionable. A 12-minute "bonus track" of "500 Miles High," a song from Light as a Feather, the RTF album with an earlier version of the band that did not include di Meola or White, is tacked on to the second disc. The set closes with producer Sir George Martin presenting the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award to the band, Corea's brief acceptance speech, and a short acoustic performance of "Romantic Warrior." It should be noted that this album's sleeve photos are from the associated DVD of the band's Montreux 2008 set, but only one tune here was recorded at that performance.

Seventies fusion supergroup Return to Forever's reunion and 2008 world tour was one of the year's biggest jazz events. At performances including its Ottawa International Jazz Festival show, the group did more than give a bunch of grays and no-hairs a chance to relive their youth. With a combination of prerequisite testosterone ("This is a man's band," said drummer Lenny White) and some updating to the material, the group proved that its music remains relevant. Returns—a two-CD set that documents a complete RTF performance with a couple of bonus tracks thrown in—documents the cathartic excitement of being there and makes clear that this music still stands on its own.

Returns is the live album that this classic RTF line-up—White, keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and guitarist Al Di Meola—never released back in the day. With improvements in both instrument and recording technology, the group sounds better than it ever could have before. Grabbing some of the best material from the guitar-centric RTF's four album run—Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (Polydor, 1973) through Romantic Warrior (Columbia, 1976)—it capitalizes on individual growth since that time, making this a far more versatile RTF.

Stretched to 38 minutes, the title track from Romantic Warrior includes solo features from Corea (which breaks, midway, into an unexpected, hard-swinging version of Miles Davis' "Solar"), Clarke (referencing some of his own '70s solo albums) and White (a powerhouse solo that segues smoothly back to the song). It's part of an unplugged middle section that also includes a stunning feature for Di Meola and a vibrant group take of the lyrical but thematically knotty title track from No Mystery (Polydor, 1975). Seventies RTF never sounded this good.

But it's the electric RTF that is remembered most, and Returns delivers plenty of high octane playing, especially on a 27-minute "Song to the Pharoah Kings," from Where Have I Known You Before (Polydor, 1974). Often criticized for being more style than substance, Di Meola dispels that perception once and for all throughout the set, even supplanting original RTF guitarist Bill Connors' iconic solo on "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy." Still capable of light-speed finger work that leaves most in his wake, Di Meola has grown significantly since being recruited, at 19, to replace Connors. With greater harmonic sophistication and attention to space, he's the star of the show (among a group of stars) alongside Corea, whose meatier synth tones have never sounded better, adding a broader textural palette to the group.

Rather than being regurgitated as original arrangements, Clarke's "Vulcan Worlds" and White's "Sorceress" get extended workouts—and receive contemporary updates as well, with Di Meola's solo section dropping to a wonderfully greasy, hip hop-informed half-time feel.

The RTF reunion and vigorous performance of Returns say, in no uncertain terms, that high-energy fusion, with complex writing and muscular soloing, is back and relevant in a big way—and it's about time.

Tracks Listing:

(Disc 1)
1. Opening Prayer (2:02)
2. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (3:44)
3. Vulcan Worlds (13:45)
4. Sorceress (11:24)
5. Song to the Pharaoh Kings (27:17)
6. Al's Solo, including: Children's Song #3, Passion Grace & Fire, Mediterranean Sundance, Cafe 1930, Spain (8:56)
7. No Mystery (8:53)

Total Time 74:59

(Disc 2)
1. Friendship
Chick's Solo, including Solar (8:54)
2. Romantic Warrior (7:20)
3. El Bayo de Negro (Stanley's Solo) (11:25)
4. Lineage (Lenny's Solo) (7:39)
5. Romantic Warrior (Continued) (3:06)
6. Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant (14:10)
(Bonus Tracks)
7. 500 Miles High (12:54)
8. BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Sir George Martin; live performance of Romantic Warrior (8:21)

Total Time 72:49


Chick Corea – Minimoog Voyager, Rhodes Midi Piano Mark V, Yamaha grand piano C3MP, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Yamaha Motif
Al Di Meola – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Stanley Clarke – electric bass, acoustic bass
Lenny White – drums

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Return To Forever - 1976 [1999] "Romantic Warrior"

Romantic Warrior is the sixth studio album by the American jazz fusion band Return to Forever, released in 1976 by Columbia Records. After releasing their previous album, No Mystery (1975), their fourth for Polydor Records, the group moved to Columbia and retreated to Caribou Ranch near Nederland, Colorado to record their next album. It was also their first to be credited solely to Return to Forever, removing the "featuring Chick Corea" moniker. The album is more avant-garde and less funky than No Mystery, and remains the band's highest selling album with over 500,000 copies sold in the US.

Chick Corea contributed the longest compositions and the other members each composed one piece. The opener, "Medieval Overture", with its distinctive melodic motifs, sets the mood for the rest of the album. Lenny White's "Sorceress" starts with a funky riff and is distinguished by Corea's synthesizers. The title track is fully acoustic. It has a long intro, which is followed by a short theme consisting of one riff. Each group member, excluding White, plays a long solo. In the end, an extended outro follows, during which fast unison patterns are heard. Al Di Meola's and Stanley Clarke's songs on side two are notable for their humorous qualities. Al Di Meola's song, "Majestic Dance", relies on rock riffs and distorted lead guitar sound, but features also fast harpsichord-like synth figures. Clarke's "The Magician" is a very complex composition, featuring playful melodies, and again, rapid unison lines. The last track of the album is Corea's "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant", which is the longest song of the album. It has a more conventional melody as a main theme, but otherwise it follows the style of previous tracks. Notable is the intense keyboard solo showcasing Corea.

The most popular and successful lineup of Return to Forever -- Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola -- was coming off the Grammy-winning No Mystery when it recorded its third and final album, Romantic Warrior. It has been suggested that in employing a medieval album cover (drawn by Wilson McLean), using titles like "Medieval Overture" and "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant," and occasionally playing in a baroque style, particularly in Clarke's "The Magician," Corea was responding to Rick Wakeman's successful string of albums on similar themes. Certainly, the music suggests that the musicians have been listening to Wakeman's band, Yes, among other progressive rock groups. But they bring more of a traditional jazz approach to their sound, particularly in the opening statement of intent "Medieval Overture" and the original side one closer, "The Romantic Warrior," both of which feature extensive acoustic piano soloing by Corea. The original side two -- Di Meola's "Majestic Dance," "The Magician," and "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" -- is much more in a jazz-rock style, with Di Meola particularly rocking out on extensive, fast-paced electric guitar solos. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Clarke and White is always extremely busy, maintaining a funky, driving pulse and several cross rhythms no matter what's going on above it. This is particularly noticeable, naturally, on White's sole composition, "Sorceress," but it continues to keep the music in the fusion camp even when Corea is sounding like a more traditional jazz pianist. Romantic Warrior is the sound of a mature band at the top of its game, which may help explain why it was Return to Forever's most popular album, eventually certified as a gold record, and the last by this assemblage. Having expressed themselves this well, they decided it was time for them to move on.

The final album by the longest-lasting "classic" lineup of the group (which consisted of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al DiMeola) was Romantic Warrior, on which they continued their experiments in the realms of jazz-rock and related music genres, and was lauded by critics for both the technically demanding style of its compositions as well as for its accomplished musicianship.

This is a Classic Fusion Jazz album! Listened to it thousands of time (probably) as a young adult. And, it was one of the most amazing concert (and I have been to some great ones!) I have ever been to. Return to Forever of this era was one of the best bands ever! And, this is easily their best album ever!

When Al Dimiola, Lenny White, Stanley Clark, and Chick Corea were totally and absolutely in sync with the lightening fast riffs... OMG! It blew me away!!! And, is a memory that stays with me 40 years later.

Another fantastic classic for Chic Corea & Return To Forever with musicians Chic, Al Dimeola, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White creating 6 exciting pieces of futuristic jazz, hard to believe that this cd was released in 1976. Tracks like Medieval Overture, Sorceress, The Romantic Warrior & the vibrant Duel Of The Jester & The Tyrant are simply off the charts with musical genius flowing everywhere. 2 songs I should also mention that are great in they're own right are The Magician & Majestic Dance, for this very reason this wonderful collection of music gets an easy 5 star review.

Tracks Listing:

1. Medieval Overture (5:14)
2. Sorceress (7:34)
3. The Romantic Warrior (10:52)
4. Majestic Dance (5:01)
5. The Magician (5:29)
6. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (11:26)


Al Di Meola – electric guitars, acoustic guitar, soprano guitar, handbells, slide whistle
Chick Corea – acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet, Mini Moog, Moog 15, Micromoog, ARP Odyssey, Yamaha YC45d organ, Polymoog, marimba, percussion
Stanley Clarke – Alembic bass with Instant Flanger, piccolo bass, acoustic bass, bell tree, handbells.
Lenny White – drums, timpani, congas, timbales, handbells, snare drum, suspended cymbals, alarm clock

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Kenny Burrell - 1988 "Pieces Of Blue And The Blues"

On paper, Kenny Burrell's three-guitar band with Bobby Broom, Rodney Jones, and a bass/drums rhythm section looks pretty good. Though individually they all sound quite different, this meeting of the minds, recorded over two days in October of 1986 at the Village Vanguard, harnesses the sound of Jones to a certain degree, and lets Broom a little loose in his soulful groove tendency. All are quite competent and professional players who understand the subtleties and understated harmonic arena Burrell lives in, so things work quite well in terms of sharing the load. There's very little competition at stake, the guitarists rightfully trade space and phrases, and play few extended unison lines, so the listening is enhanced if you do pay attention. Jay McShann's "Confessin' the Blues" is a good warmup opener, as the acoustic guitar of Burrell sets an animated tone, then he switches to an amplified model after everyone plays several choruses. The workout tune of the set is Duke Pearson's famed "Jeannine," an energetic, chord-infused hard bopper as the three trace the melody with an occasional squiggled line. A deft solo by Jones gets the ball rolling on "Blue Days, Blue Dreams" in the most cooperative effort, everyone similarly divvies up melodic phrases during "'Round Midnight" as you'd expect, and the band has the most fun on the closer, the jam-styled "No Hype Blues." A correction is in order on the credited title "Salty Papa" with Burrell leading the band in a blues shuffle on the hybrid six-string banjo, the guitarjo. Liner note author Leonard Feather says it is an intro to a Dinah Washington record, while Burrell claims it is an old riff he and his mates played in his native Detroit. The latter statement is more true, as it is the direct melody line of the adapted traditional piece "Hastings Street Bounce" as heard on the Pepper Adams/Donald Byrd album 10 to 4 at the Five Spot. It seems this one-shot effort could be looked at via a jaundiced, too-many-cooks-spoil-the-broth eye. The music is good, not particularly great or memorable, but certainly a credible effort, likely better heard at the venue on the nights in question.

Fiery and mellow Jazz guitar competence abound, this slice of an '86 vanguard gig pretty much delivers what is expected and rarely exceeds expectations, but still offers enough enlightened ambiance to reaffirm we are in the presence of a great musician. With only decent audio quality and the discontinued manufacturing, you've got one for addicts of the straightforwardly clean player only.

Track listing:

1. Confessing The Blues 9:55
2. Raincheck 6:17
3. Blue Days, Blue Dreams 7:56
4. Salty Papa 4:33
5. Jeannine 5:12
6. Round Midnight 6:36
7. No Hype Blues 5:21


Kenny Burrell, Bobby Broom, Rodney Jones - Guitar
Dave Jackson - Bass
Kenny Washington - Drums

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Allan Holdsworth - 1997 "I.O.U. Live"

I.O.U. Live is a live album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, released in 1997 through Cleopatra Records. According to Holdsworth, the tracks were taken from video footage of a 1984 concert in Japan, which later became a bootleg circulating under the name of Tokyo Dream: Allan Holdsworth in Japan. He therefore considered it an unauthorised release and not part of his discography.

Released in 1997 on Purple Pyramid Records. Catalog Number: CLP 9970-2 This recording was taken from the "Tokyo Dream" video concert. Recorded live at Yubinchokin Hall-Tokyo, Japan 5/14/84.

This is the only live IOU. Recorded in Japan in 1984. Magic. My copy was released thru Purple Pyramid records 1997. Highly recommended. All of the Allan Holdsworth recordings are worthy. There are bootlegs out there which have dropouts and who's sound quality is very uneven but this is not one of those by any stretch of your musical imagination.

This album, recorded for a Japanese tv show, and released against Allan's wishes, is nevertheless in my opinion, his most accessible work ever. Gone are the keyboards on this date, so every note that's not vocal, drum or bass, is Holdsworth himself. When you realize this, your jaw will drop open.

Allmusic review of Holdsworth's I.O.U. studio album:

After the train-wreck disaster of Holdsworth's first solo release, the infamous Velvet Darkness, it wasn't until three years later that he reconsidered doing a real solo release versus the earlier ripoff of an authorized studio mishmash product he suffered. So in 1979 he recorded I.O.U. on a wing and a prayer and loans (ergo, an IOU recording project). With his very successful stints with other groups in the intervening time period, such as UK and Bill Bruford, Holdsworth's guitar prowess and name were clearly on the map. Holdsworth now needed to be the leader he clearly was and thus release an official solo record. The real Allan Holdsworth unleashed is at last revealed on I.O.U. in his original compositions and well-crafted soloing, versus being merely part of a group and forced to stay within certain boundaries of other bandmates' design. I.O.U., as a solo release, is high-quality jazz fusion interplay, offering emotive compositions, ethereal guitar atmospherics, complex chordal progressions, and intense legato explosions of guitar that set the standard for many guitarists to come. There is no acoustic guitar this time, but a wee bit of Holdsworth on violin appears in one song.

R.I.P. Allan Holdsworth

Track listing:

All tracks written by Allan Holdsworth, except where noted.

1. "Road Games" 4:25
2. "White Line" (Holdsworth, Gerry Brown) 7:02
3. "Panic Station" (lyrics by Paul Williams) 4:14
4. "Letters of Marque" 6:41
5. "Material Real" 7:30
6. "Metal Fatigue" (lyrics by Williams) 5:10
7. "Where Is One?" 8:02
8. "The Things You See" 7:01
9. "Was There (Something)" 6:58

Total length: 57:03


Allan Holdsworth – guitar
Jimmy Johnson – bass
Chad Wackerman – drums
Paul Williams – vocals