Friday, February 22, 2019

Mike Stern - 1999 "Play"

Play is an album by Mike Stern, released in 1999 through Atlantic Records. The album reached a peak position of number twenty-one on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart.

Mike Stern is a preeminent guitarist for two key reasons: One, he can play all styles very well and with equal command; and two, he plays very well with all other players. He always shows great respect for those with whom he is playing and gives them each the time and space to develop their musical ideas. Stern displays these two qualities in abundance on Play. Several notable guests join Stern and his core band for this release. Guitarists John Scofield and Bill Frisell and drummer Dennis Chambers each team with Stern on several tracks.

If you enjoy straight-ahead jazz, listen to Stern and Scofield on the title track, or mix in Bob Malach's tenor sax on "Outta Town." If you like your guitar music slightly more spacious and lyrical, try Stern and Frisell on the hypnotic "Blue Tone" or the pensive "All Heart." Finally, if you want to turn up the heat and move into some rock/funk-influenced fusion, then check out the groovy "Tipatina's," the bold rocker "Link," or the intensely funky "Big Kids." It is no surprise, based on his other work, that Chambers, in particular, gives the band a kick in the musical pants inspiring bassist Lincoln Goines to enjoy the ride. Play is an outstanding guitar album from the highly accomplished and incredibly versatile Mike Stern. It is highly recommended.

If Mike Stern were a guitarist coming out of the 1960s, he'd be a hero today. Sure, there's always John McLaughlin. But not many other guitarists then - or now - could play rock guitar with the high degree of intimacy and the non-assaulting technical prowess that Mike Stern has always possessed.

Plus, if there was any kind of justice in jazz, Miles Davis's Star People (1983) would be regarded as one the great records of the Eighties it has always surely been. There, Mike Stern in commanding communiqué with John Scofield, laid the law for what jazz-rock had hoped and ceased long before to achieve. It's just that jazz listeners had stopped caring.

Which brings us effectively to Play, Mike Stern's ninth Atlantic disc over the last baker's dozen years. The question is - be honest — how many of us knew of or heard the preceding eight?

Well, the big news is that Play isn't really newsworthy. It's Stern doing his own thing - a catchy rock take on post-bop jazz — with a first-rate cast of musicians. Again. The guest seats, filled this time by guitarist Bill Frisell and John Scofied (but unfortunately not together), are all people will hear about. However, Stern displays a continuing ability here to hone his melodic craft and perfect his catchy compositional skill. That's what'll Play on after all the hype is gone.

All ten selections are Stern's own, while Scofield guests on three pieces and Frisell sits in on four. Like Scofield did for Medeski, Martin & Wood on last year's A Go Go, Stern here concocts melodies suggested by the much more distinct styles carved by his fellow plecterists.

Scofield goes to Scofieldland for the funky "Play" and catchy "Small World." But Stern breaks the mold a bit for the swingy bop romp, "Outta Town," which lets the reuniting guitarists show their chops a bit and shows how Stern's harshness has mellowed through the years without any loss of bite.

Frisell's tracks took Stern's group to Friztown (Seattle) for the disc's most interesting numbers. Of course, there's the Frisell country-folk-jazz-Americana of "Blue Tone" and "All Heart." But Stern also challenges Frisell to the electro-avant-bop duel of "Frizz" and the surprisingly funky "Big Kids" (which postulates the intriguing concept of a Frisell funk album).

The remaining three tracks - "Tipitina's," "Link" and "Goin' Under" - offer the more familiar Stern groove with his working band featuring keyboardist Jim Beard, the Breckeresque Bob Malach on tenor, bassist Lincoln Goines and (former Scofield) drummer Dennis Chambers.

Since neither Scofield nor Frisell set off any major fireworks, Play ultimately becomes a showcase for its star, Mike Stern. The composer and guitarist is totally in his element here. And if high-ticket guests like Scofield and Frisell bring him the attention he's long been due, then Play is Stern's own hero's welcome.

Mike Stern is doing things with jazz, he always gets hammered by the critics, for his rock edge, but this album along with the last, between the lines, break down musical barriers in a music (jazz) that should incourage new voices, but of course dosen't, and has become mundane,since the passing of Miles, Stern keeps the torch burning!and by the way mike doen't loose the rock edge ! its a uniquie voice in a day when everyone is encouraged to sound the same.

Track listing:

01 Play 7:15
02 Small World 5:23
03 Outta Town 6:09
04 Blue Tone 6:43
05 Tipatina's 6:35
06 All Heart 6:22
07 Frizz 5:41
08 Link 6:50
09 Goin' Under 4:10
10 Big Kids 7:29


Mike Stern – guitar (all tracks)
John Scofield – guitar (tracks 1, 2 & 3)
Bill Frisell – guitar (tracks 4, 6, 7 & 10)
Ben Perowsky – drums (tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 7 & 10)
Dennis Chambers – drums (tracks 5, 8 & 9)
Lincoln Goines – bass (all tracks)
Bob Malach – tenor saxophone (tracks 3, 5, 6, 8 & 9)
Jim Beard – keyboards (tracks 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 8 & 9)

Monday, February 18, 2019

Horace Silver & The Jazz Messengers - 1955 [1987] "Horace Silver & The Jazz Messengers"

Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers is a 1956 studio album by jazz pianist Horace Silver with drummer Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers. It was an important album in the establishment of the hard bop style, and was the first studio album released under the band name The Jazz Messengers, which Blakey would use for the rest of his career. Scott Yanow on Allmusic describes it as "a true classic". Originally released as an LP, the album has subsequently been reissued on CD several times.

Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers was the first 12" Blue Note album released under Silver’s name. The album is a reissue of two previous 10" LPs -- Horace Silver Quintet (BLP 5058) and Horace Silver Quintet, Vol. 2 (BLP 5062) -- and the first sessions in which he used the quintet format which he would largely use for the rest of his career. The music on the album mixes bebop influences with blues and gospel feels.

One of the most successful tunes from the album, "The Preacher", was almost rejected for recording by producer Alfred Lion, who thought it was "too old-timey", but reinstated at the insistence of Blakey and Silver, who threatened to cancel the session until he had written another tune to record in its place if it wasn’t included. According to Silver, the track showed that the band could "reach way back and get that old time, gutbucket barroom feeling with just a taste of the back-beat".

In 1954, pianist Horace Silver teamed with drummer Art Blakey to form a cooperative ensemble that would combine the dexterity and power of bebop with the midtempo, down-home grooves of blues and gospel music. The results are what would become known as hard bop, and the Jazz Messengers were one of the leading exponents of this significant era in jazz history. Before Silver's departure and Blakey's lifetime of leadership, this first major session by the original Jazz Messengers set the standard by which future incarnations of the group would be measured. The tunes here are all Silver's, save the bopping "Hankerin'" by tenor man Hank Mobley. Such cuts as the opening "Room 608," the bluesy "Creepin' In," and "Hippy" are excellent examples of both Silver's creative composing style and the Messengers' signature sound. Of course, the most remembered tunes from the session are the classic "The Preacher" and "Doodlin'," two quintessential hard bop standards. In all, this set is not only a stunning snapshot of one of the first groups of its kind, but the very definition of a style that dominated jazz in the 1950s and '60s.

A true classic, this CD found pianist Horace Silver and drummer Art Blakey co-leading the Jazz Messengers; Silver would leave a year later to form his own group. Also featuring trumpeter Kenny Dorham, Hank Mobley on tenor, and bassist Doug Watkins, this set is most notable for the original versions of Silver's "The Preacher" and "Doodlin'," funky standards that helped launch hard bop and both the Jazz Messengers and Silver's quintet. Essential music.

Horace Silver and the Jazz Messengers is a terrific record. You can put this in the car CD player, hit REPEAT and listen to it over and over again without getting too tired of it. (OK, maybe after 3 times you'll want to switch to the Ramones, or Willie Nelson, or Bach, just for a change of flavor.)

It is, at once, underrated and overrated. Underrated in the sense that Kenny Dorham and Hank Mobley aren't superstars, or even first-line stars, but should be. Overrated in the sense that the The Jazz Messengers, and especially this very first iteration of the band, are regarded as the founding fathers of hard bop who can do almost nothing wrong.

Yes, Art Blakey is here, though not as prominently as in later Messenger albums. Yes, Horace Silver is the leader and the guy who wrote 7 of the 8 wonderful tunes. (Hank Mobley contributed one, too, called "Hankerin.' ") But it is truly a group effort, the strength being not only the solos but the perfect unison themes and choruses.

The music, naturally, is all bop—or mostly bop. "The Preacher" is the standout tune, but also the anomaly. It's a real New Orleans-style gospel-ish number that sounds vaguely like "Down by the Riverside." (Somewhere in the TV show Treme, someone must have played this song—or should have. God, I miss that show!) "Creepin' In" is a slow burner, a smoky blues noir piece that would fit nicely in any number of Humphrey Bogart movies. And, of course, there is fast, fun, funky bop galore.

You know the history. Silver soon dropped out of the band, Blakey picked up the baton and turned the Jazz Messengers into the all-time greatest school of hard bop in history. More great musicians than you can count came from this band over the decades. But it started here—the first album released under the Jazz Messengers name—and arguably it never got better.

There are no bad Messengers albums. Every one is worth hearing and owning. But there are two or three albums at the absolute pinnacle, and this is one.

Track listing:

1. Room 608
2. Creepin' In
3. Stop Time
4. To Whom It May Concern
5. Hippy
6. The Preacher
7. Hankerin'
8. Doodlin'


Horace Silver - piano
Kenny Dorham - trumpet
Hank Mobley - tenor saxophone
Doug Watkins - bass
Art Blakey - drums

Friday, February 15, 2019

Dewa Budjana - 2014 "Surya Namaskar"

Dewa Budjana, Indonesian iconic guitar legend of Balinese ethnic heritage, is releasing his 3rd album (his 7th solo effort on his parallel jazz-fusion career) on MoonJune Records; the New York City's independent label of progressive music that explores boundaries of jazz, rock, avant-garde, ethno & the unknown.

Recorded in Los Angeles by the world renowned engineer Robert Feist (who recorded Stevie Nicks, Anita Baker, 8 albums of Allan Holdsworth, among many others) during two sessions in January and October of 2013, Surya Namaskar (Salute to the Sun, in Budjana's native Balinese language) represents a significant change from Dewa Budjana's last album Joged Kahyangan. While bassist Jimmy Johnson (Allan Holdsworth, James Taylor, Flim & the BB's) is back from that session, this time the drummer is the much in-demand powerhouse Vinnie Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock, Jeff Beck, Sting), with ubiquitous guitar session ace Michael Landau (James Taylor, Renegade Creation, Joni Mitchell) and drummer turned keyboardist Gary Husband (John McLaughlin, Allan Holdsworth, Jack Bruce) making valuable guest appearances on one track each.

Full of twists and turns you could never see coming, Surya Namaskar provides ample evidence that the Balinese guitarist is just as much at home in moments of pure spontaneity, ripping over a killer groove, as he is in denser, more orchestrated settings. Exploring previously-unrevealed facets of his artistic mystique, this album highlights a more instinctive, uninhibited approach to both his guitar playing and music making. Served up just-out-of-the-oven fresh and delivered with conviction and urgency, each song is its own unique, engulfing cosmic voyage.

Guitarist Dewa Budjana's two releases on MoonJune Records in 2013, Dawai in Paradise and Joged Kahyangan introduced a talented musician whose Indonesian roots dovetailed with prog rock, jazz fusion and a melodic pop sensibility; Budjana showed tremendous chops but, as he demonstrates once again, he's perhaps primarily a tunesmith. Budjana draws from a similar well of influences on this recording but in contrast to Joged Kahyangan's charts Surya Namaskar boasts a freer, less constructed vibe with Budjana's solos coarser in tone. Mostly recorded in single-takes with some additional overdubbing, everything that Budjana touches—whether composed or improvised—is fundamentally melodic.

On this, the first of two releases penciled in for 2014, the prolific—by modern standards—guitarist is lent cracking rhythmic impetus by drummer Vinnie Colaiuta and bassist Jimmy Johnson. Given the wide variety of contexts in which Colaiuta (Frank Zappa, John McLaughlin, Joni Mitchell) and Johnson (Allan Holdsworth, James Taylor) have played over the years, it's little wonder they drive Budjana's tunes with verve, and when required, great finesse.

It's a dream rhythm team and the perfect foil for Budjana, whose original material exhibits frequent shifts in tempo and weight. In general, the compositions are characterized by motivic chains that wed pop melodicism and prog rock gravitas; at times, as on the sophisticated yet lively rocker "Lamboya" the effect is like a happy splice between The Police and King Crimson.

Gary Husband—a long-time collaborator with Johnson in Holdsworth's groups—plays synthesizer in tight unison with Budjana on the jaunty "Fifty," before the two trade solos; the guitarist's firey, fuzz-toned fretwork contrasts with Husband's clean, sinewy run. The pair reunites towards the end, jamming on a riff as Colaiuta raises his own steam. On "Duaji & Guruji," layered guitar lines add harmonic depth while a killer motif bookends Budjana and Johnson's measured solo excursions. The slower "Capistrano Road" simmers like a Jeff Beck instrumental ballad; Budjana caresses the melody patiently before teasing out a solo that roams between coiled tension and free flight.

Indonesia folk music has long been a feature of Budjana's writing in greater or lesser measure; "Kalinga" brings together Kang Pupung's tarawangsa (Sundanese violin), Kang Iya's Kacapi (Sundanese harp) and Mang Ayi's wordless vocal in a purely folkloric intro. Fastening onto the haunting melody, the infusion of electricity transforms the piece—lyrical and rushing, powerful and delicate in turn. Budjana's tearing solo—arguably his most electrifying of the set—is the jewel in a stirring tune. On the subtly melodic "Campuhan Hill," Budjana displays a fleet, light touch on acoustic guitar.

The title track, which translates as "Salute the Sun" is a fairly simple but striking melodic venture and features a bluesy electric solo from Michael Landau, while Budjana quietly comps on acoustic. The millennium-old ties between Indonesia and India surface on "Dalem Waturenggong"; ancient melodic roots merge with modern rhythms and timbres in a potent fusion, with Johnson and Budjana's lyricism to the fore.

Tuneful at heart, when Budjana has the wind in the sails there's also an undeniable, visceral power in his music. It's a potent combination that invites and rewards repeated listening.

“Thank you Dewa for inviting us along for your TRIP, your music is from Jupiter, truly unusual!” – Jimmy Johnson

“Dewa Budjana’s music infuses jazz fusion with renewed vigor, and his wonderfully imaginative and melodic guitar playing pays homage to past masters, while simultaneously providing fresh perspectives.” – Barry Cleveland, Guitar Player

“A monstrously heavy record! Dewa Budjana, at fifty, is a new guitar hero of strength, creativity, and significance." – John Kelman, All About Jazz contributor

“East meets West and ignites the sky! Dewa Budjana’s latest, a collaboration with jazz giants Jimmy Johnson and Vinnie Colaiuta, elevates guitar-based jazz-fusion with a Balinese flare to new plateaus of nirvana... Mahavishnu, move over: there’s a new master on the block!” – Raymond Benson, music journalist and author of 'The Black Stiletto' and six James Bond novels

“Hauntingly beautiful and intense, I was moved. No progressive fusion release got me on its first listen since Pat Metheny Group's 2005 'The Way Up'. Destined to be my 2014 favorite album.” – Tom Gagliardi, Gagliarchives Radio.

Track Listing:

1. Fifty;
2. Duaji & Guruji;
3. Capistrano Road;
4. Lamboya;
5. Kalingga;
6. Campuhan Hill;
7. Surya Namaskar;
8. Dalem Waturenggong.


Dewa Budjana: electric and acoustic guitars;
Jimmy Johnson: bass guitar;
Vinnie Colaiuta: drums;
Gary Husband: synthesizer (1);
Kang Pupung: tarawangsa (Sundanese violin) (5);
Kang Iya: Kacapi (Sundanese harp) (5);
Mang Ayi: vocals (5);
Michael Landau: electric guitar (7).
('crazy" voices after the Track 1 by Jimmy Johnson and Vinnie Colaiuta)

Track 3 is dedicated to Allan Holdsworth.
This album is dedicated to my mentor and friend Peter Erskine (DB

All compositions and arrangement Dewa Budjana.
Produced by Dewa Budjana (with a generous help of Jimmy Johnson).

Various Artists - 1989 "Jazz Club - Drums"

This compilation includes performances by Art Blakey, Max Roach, Shelly Manne, Billy Cobham and Philly Joe Jones.

Back when the '80s jazz renaissance was in full swing, Polygram got the think tank rolling and put out the neophyte-friendly yet respectable Jazz Club series -- yes, imagine yourself smoking Gauloises in a basement club as the band hits its stride. Marketing illusions aside, the drum edition of the lot features a thorough mix that ranges from bebop and hard bop to free jazz and fusion. Culling the booty from the deep Verve and Mercury vaults, the producers have chosen wisely, from classics by Bird (Kenny Clarke), Sonny Stitt (Jo Jones), and Clifford Brown (Max Roach) to some latter-day funkiness plied by Billy Cobham and Alphonse Mouzon. And let's not forget plenty of skin alchemy by the likes of Billy Higgins, Philly Joe Jones, and Shelly Manne. If rhythm is the thing in jazz, then this disc certainly makes for some essential listening.

Artist/Track listing:

1 –Art Blakey Jazz Messengers* Blues March 6:16
2 –Jo Jones With Sonny Stitt Norman's Blues 2:38
3 –Kenny Clarke With Charlie Parker Si Si 2:38
4 –Max Roach With Clifford Brown - Max Roach Quintet* Jordu 7:46
5 –Shelly Manne With Bill Evans Trio* Let's Go Back To The Waltz 4:29
6 –Elvin Jones With The Jones Brothers (4) Three And One 4:52
7 –Philly Joe Jones* With Bill Evans Trio* Gone With The Wind 5:36
8 –Billy Higgins With The Pentagon (3) D.B. Blues 4:35
9 –Dannie Richmond With Charles Mingus Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me/I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart 3:33
10 –Billy Cobham With George Benson Billie's Bounce 6:31
11 –Alphonse Mouzon The Ram And The Scorpio 5:53
12 –Gene Krupa & Buddy Rich Drum Battle 3:20
13 –Tony Williams* Big Nick 2:43
14 –Shelly Manne, Louis Bellson, Paul Humphrey, Willie Bobo One Score And Four Drummers Ago 2:53

Monday, February 11, 2019

The Rolling Stones - 1968 [1986] "Beggars Banquet"

Beggars Banquet is the seventh British and ninth American studio album by English rock band The Rolling Stones. It was released in December 1968 by Decca Records in the United Kingdom and London Records in the United States. The album marked a change in direction for the band following the psychedelic pop of their previous two albums, Between the Buttons and Their Satanic Majesties Request. Styles such as roots rock and a return to the blues rock sound that had marked early Stones recordings dominate the record, and the album is among the most instrumentally experimental of the band's career, as they infuse Latin beats and instruments like the claves along side South Asian sounds from the sitar, tabla and shehnai and African-influnced conga rhythms. The album has frequently been ranked highly on many retrospective "great albums" lists, and forms the beginning of the most critically acclaimed time period of the Rolling Stones career.

Brian Jones, the band's founder and early leader, had become increasingly unreliable in the studio due to his drug use, and it was the last Rolling Stones album to be released during his lifetime, though he also contributed to two songs on their next album Let It Bleed, which was released after his death.

According to Keith Richards, the album's title was thought up by British art dealer Christopher Gibbs. On 7 June 1968, a photoshoot for the album's gatefold, with photographer Michael Joseph, was held at Sarum Chase, a mansion in Hampstead, London. Previously unseen images from the shoot were exhibited at the Blink Gallery in London in November and December 2008. The album's original cover art, depicting a bathroom wall covered with graffiti, was rejected by the band's record company, and their unsuccessful dispute delayed the album's release for months. The "toilet" cover was later featured on most compact disc reissues.

On 11–12 December 1968 the band filmed a television extravaganza titled The Rolling Stones Rock and Roll Circus featuring John Lennon, Eric Clapton, The Who, Jethro Tull and Marianne Faithfull among the musical guests. One of the original aims of the project was to promote Beggars Banquet, but the film was shelved by the Rolling Stones until 1996, when their former manager, Allen Klein, gave it an official release.

The Stones forsook psychedelic experimentation to return to their blues roots on this celebrated album, which was immediately acclaimed as one of their landmark achievements. A strong acoustic Delta blues flavor colors much of the material, particularly "Salt of the Earth" and "No Expectations," which features some beautiful slide guitar work. Basic rock & roll was not forgotten, however: "Street Fighting Man," a reflection of the political turbulence of 1968, was one of their most innovative singles, and "Sympathy for the Devil," with its fire-dancing guitar licks, leering Jagger vocals, African rhythms, and explicitly satanic lyrics, was an image-defining epic. On "Stray Cat Blues," Jagger and crew began to explore the kind of decadent sexual sleaze that they would take to the point of self-parody by the mid-'70s. At the time, though, the approach was still fresh, and the lyrical bite of most of the material ensured Beggars Banquet's place as one of the top blues-based rock records of all time.

Beggars Banquet is the album that changed everything for the Rolling Stones.

From the manner it was recorded  at Olympic Studios in Barnes, London, to the track selection, a mixture of rockers (“Street Fighting Man”), blues numbers (“Prodigal Son”, “No Expectations”) and ballads (“Salt Of The Earth”), the band truly came into their own, and the Rolling Stones’ music of today is a reflection of what happened in that studio in 1968, they reached their musical manhood.

The genesis of the epic song “Sympathy For The Devil” is well documented in the Jean Luc Goddard film One Plus One . While 1967’s Their Satanic Majesties was recorded after Mick and Keith’s traumatic and unjust, drugs bust, it was almost too soon to be reflected in their songwriting. Whereas “Sympathy For The Devil”, and much of Beggars Banquet hint at a defiance at what they’d been through, and a strength from the experience.

The album also marks a change in musical direction for the band, with the debut of Jimmy Miller as producer, who went on to collaborate with the band on Let It Bleed, Sticky Fingers, Exile On Main St and Goats Head Soup. Miller had also produced Traffic and Spooky Tooth, and co-wrote “I’m A Man” with Steve Winwood. Other musicians who appeared on the album  are Nicky Hopkins on piano, Dave Mason on guitar and mandolin and a gospel choir from Los Angeles.

The only non Jagger/ Richards song on the album, “Prodigal Son” is a cover of Robert Wilkins’ “That Ain’t No Way To Get Along”, which he first recorded in 1929. A year earlier Wilkins recorded the first known song to be entitled, “Rolling Stone”.

Track listing:

01 Sympathy For The Devil
02 No Expectations
03 Dear Doctor
04 Parachute Woman
05 Jig-Saw Puzzle
06 Street Fighting Man
07 Prodigal Son
08 Stray Cat Blues
09 Factory Girl
10 Salt Of The Earth


The Rolling Stones

Mick Jagger – lead vocals (all tracks), backing vocals (1, 3), harmonica (4), maracas (6,8)
Keith Richards – electric guitars (1, 4, 5, 8, 9), acoustic guitars (2, 3, 5-7, 9, 10), bass guitar (1, 6), backing vocals (1, 3), co-lead vocals (10)
Brian Jones – acoustic guitar (1, 4) backing vocals (1), slide guitar (2), harmonica (3, 4, 7), Mellotron (5, 8), sitar (6), tambura (6)
Bill Wyman – backing vocals (1), maracas (1), bass guitar (2-5, 8-10), double bass (3), synthesizer (5)
Charlie Watts – drums (1, 3-8, 10), backing vocals (1), claves (2), tambourine (3), tabla (9)

Additional personnel:

Nicky Hopkins – piano (1-3, 5, 6, 8, 10), Mellotron (mandolin setting) (9)
Rocky Dijon – congas (1, 8, 9)
Ric Grech – fiddle (9)
Dave Mason – shehnai on (6)
Jimmy Miller – backing vocals (1)
Watts Street Gospel Choir – backing vocals (10)

Sunday, February 10, 2019

Robert Fripp - 1995 "A Blessing of Tears" - Soundscapes Vol. 2 - Live

When Robert Fripp's mother passed away in 1993, he chose the new age sounds of his soundscape series to serve as a tribute to her. The liner notes in the CD booklet contain a beautifully written eulogy (by Fripp himself) about the interesting life of his mother Edie. Fripp does an excellent job of conveying his grief in the eight selections that comprise A Blessing of Tears, while his sorrow is evident in some of the tracks' titles ("The Cathedral of Tears," "A Blessing of Tears," etc.). All of the tracks were recorded live during a week-long U.S. West Coast tour, and it differs from the preceding Soundscapes release, Radiophonics, because its sole purpose is obviously not to test his audience's "listening capabilities." Fripp has once again successfully put his most personal and heartfelt feelings into his music, the proof being heard throughout the beautiful A Blessing of Tears: 1995 Soundscapes, Vol. 2.

Robert Fripp's "A Blessing of Tears" consists of improvised live performances from Fripp's solo soundscapes tour in the beginning of 1995. Soundscapes is a form of digital guitar looping based on Frippertronics-- tape-based guitar looping that Brian Eno concocted. Fripp performs this in many contexts, in the case of this album, as a solo performer. The music on this album is entirely improvised, with only Fripp's guitar and processing in place. The result does not sound like a solo guitar record, but closer to electronic orchestral ambient music. It is fragile and often of stunning beauty, in particular on this album-- "A Blessing of Tears" is a reflection on the death of Fripp's mother, whose eulogy (by the guitarist) is included in the liner notes.

From the opening track ("The Cathedral of Tears"), the mood is set. The piece is achingly beautiful, suggestive of loss, prodding but in a gentle way, and overall mournful. This theme and feel is developed over the next two pieces ("First Light", whose loops hint at Fripp's solo line in 2003's "The Power To Believe II" and the album's standout track, "Midnight Blue", a piece of such a delicate nature it demands its listener to stop and listen) before sort of resetting on "Reflection I", whose gentle themes provide an openness not found on the previous tracks. Again,there seems to be a trilogy of pieces on this one, as "Second Light" and "A Blessing of Tears" build on this mood and establishment. The couplet at the end of the album, "Returning I" and "Returning II", is actually the same track, only the tape is played in reverse on one of them. It is interesting to contrast the two, as they are evocative in different manners.

This is certainly the best of the 1995 soundscapes series and likely the best of Fripp's ambient catalog. If you are a fan of ambient music, or of Robert Fripp, this is essential, if you are curious, this is where to start. Highly recommended.

The "Soundscapes" are more technologically sophisticated frippertronics and while the concept itself is not original, the effectiveness of tools is nonexistent without a good ear for sound. With _A Blessing of Tears_, Fripp has crafted an album of such beauty that you will wonder how it can even be real! All the pieces are taken from improvised, live solo performances. It is hard to describe what it sounds like, it is sort of like a rapturous form of guitar soloing... Fripp pensively constructs various levels of looped guitar synths through digital electronics (as opposed to the old frippertronics use of analog tapes), bearing no resemblance to usual guitar music, just a constantly shifting, alien voices that make your billions of individual cells quiver with ineffable emotions.

It is not like ambient new-age music for SISSIES that goes over you like moving water -- this gives most benefit to the active listener, rather than some passive-aggressive dingus trying to chill out. The way Fripp makes the different voices sort of "speak" to each other is very beautiful, and more engaging, like the solos from Crimson's "Walking on Air" but more complex. There is an emphasis on lots of minor and augmented harmonies, or harmony is strangely suspended altogether.

It is not like an ambient, textural wall of sound, it is about dialogue between different voices, a ravishing polyphony in the language of angels. There is no real structure so one is just lucky that this music was recorded and one can listen. That is part of why this music is a peaceful, mystical experience. _A Blessing of Tears_ is a meditation on sadness, dedicated as it is to the memory of Fripp's mother, but I find this album does not make me feel sad. As with the world, we see suffering and evil and we are distressed by how the world is apparently such a malevolent place. But past this veil of sadness, is a sense of reconciliation and recognition that all the instruments in the symphony of the Absolute meld into a perfectly coherent, beautiful whole. We think of pain and death, but we must also think of beauty, friendship, peace and love.

This is an excellent album!

Track listing:

1 The Cathedral Of Tears 6:30
2 First Light 7:59
3 Midnight Blue 6:06
4 Reflection I 6:06
5 Second Light 7:25
6 A Blessing Of Tears 8:37
7 Returning I 4:00
8 Returning II 5:12


Guitar, Producer – Robert Fripp

Robert Fripp, Jeffrey Fayman - 2000 "Temple In The Clouds"

From 2000: A stunning album of looped Frippertronics and electronics, in the vein of the classic Fripp & Eno No Pussyfooting collaboration.

Recorded live from a past life. Awash in the hypnotic looping structures of Robert Fripp’s guitar soundscapes, Jeffrey Fayman adds an opulent cinematic brilliance to the proceedings, creating an intense and dramatic vision of a future rich in the heritage of Fripp’s past.

A Temple In The Clouds is a unique collaboration between one of rock’s most important and influential guitarists and a contemporary cinematic composer. Fripp’s contribution of two hours worth of treated guitar work (his trademark “Frippertronics”) formed the basis for Fayman’s layering of interwoven electronic soundscapes. Focusing on the subtleties and slight shifts in overtones and harmonics, Fayman & Fripp have created a dynamic musical kaleidoscope, ever changing and intrinsically radiant in each sonic fractal.

AmbientVisions: "A Temple in the Clouds is a spiritual and euphoric soundscape by Jeffrey Fayman and Robert Fripp(!). A glorious album of Frippertronics and contemplative sound sculptures. The sheer spirituality of their experiences shines in this ethereal ambience and insightful minimalism. The joy and beauty of the soul is touched. Piercing rays of bright and unfettered emotion overshadow the dark undertones. This disc is a spiritual journey."

Robert Fripp is like a box of chocolates. One minute he's the evil scientist pumping out some of the most intense and disturbing metal ever recorded with the boys in King Crimson, and the next minute he's a new age disciple using his guitar to create incredibly soothing and "healing" textures. A Temple in the Clouds - a collaboration with keyboardist Jeffrey Fayman - would fall in the latter camp as it is a collection of Fripp's patented "Soundscapes" mixed in with Fayman's keyboards stylings and some ambient outdoor sounds. If the goal of the music (actually, calling it music is a stretch - "ambient backgrounds" would be more appropriate) is to put the listener in almost a meditative trance-like state, A Temple in the Clouds succeeds on every level. After listening to this CD multiple times, I literally felt as if every muscle in my body had called out sick and gone to Tahiti.

According to the liner notes, in 1992 Fripp and Fayman took a pilgrimage to the Greek temple of Anapraxis (along with three tons of recording equipment) with the idea of hopefully capturing some of the mystique of ancient Greece on tape. The sounds captured there - along with some samples from Fripp's Let the Power Fall, - comprise the four tracks on A Temple in the Clouds. Musically speaking, the tracks are mostly exercises in patience and subtlety - the slow chord changes take you from Point A to Point B without really allowing you to remember how you got there. Fripp's guitar acts as the foundation for the CD, while Fayman colors in the spaces with sweeping synthesizers that lend an almost ominous tone to the tracks. The prime example of this eeriness is the 30-minute title track - by the time I was 10 minutes into the track I was definitely completely relaxed, but there was also a residual feeling of something not quite being right.

So if your interest lies in Fripp's guitar chops and "traditional" song structure, you won't be happy here. But, if you're looking for ambient sounds that patch directly into the very essence of what you are, then look no further than A Temple in the Clouds. I guarantee that no matter how stressed and anxious you may feel from the mundane day-to-day existence on planet Earth, spending an hour Fripp and Fayman will put your mind and body at ease - and in these hectic and fast-paced times an experience like A Temple in the Clouds is priceless.

Tracks Listing:

1. The Pillars Of Hercules (15:23)
2. The Sky Below (4:32)
3. A Temple In The Clouds (30:59)
4. The Stars Below (3:30)

Total Time 50:28


- Robert Fripp / soundscapes
- Jeffrey Fayman / tranceportation

Note: The actual instrumentation could not be fully confirmed at this moment

Friday, February 8, 2019

Various Artists - 2006 "Viva Carlos"

"Viva Carlos!" features some of the greatest names in progressive jazz/fusion, blues, and rock guitar, each paying tribute to rock guitar icon Carlos Santana. These ten incredible guitarists have come together to lift up their guitars as their voices in celebration of some of the most important music in rock history.

Guitarist Jeff Richman continues his series of tribute albums with Viva Carlos!, an homage to guitarist Carlos Santana that manages to accomplish what most tributes can't: actually improve on its source.
Santana's tone and style are immediately recognizable, but when compared to the players enlisted here, the Mexican-born guitarist simply doesn't have the vocabulary. He's dabbled in the jazz world through associations with artists like John McLaughlin and Wayne Shorter. There's no question that some of his tunes are tailor-made for more expansive interpretation. But his ability to navigate his own sometimes complex changes has always been limited. His solo approach is more about finding single notes or simple lines that can thread through the changes, and letting his singing tone do the rest. And that ultimately reduces Santana as a guitarist to something of a one-trick pony.

But there's more substance to Santana's music than meets superficial examination, and his writing can be fine grist for more sophisticated exploration—just listen to Viva Carlos!. Vinnie Moore's take on the blistering "Se a Cabo applies a singing tone similar to Santana's. But his far more developed chops and extended techniques take the energy level to places Santana never could. Similarly, Frank Gambale's equally distorted but sharper-edged tone takes "Samba de Sausalito (from the fusion-centric Welcome, Columbia 1973) and, while occasionally referencing Santana's use of repetition, gives it a facelift through sheer boldness and wide-reaching ideas. Richman's take on the bossa ballad "Europa is reverential in tone, but more advanced in execution.

The real surprises here are those who stray far from Santana's tone and apply a more personal aesthetic. Who'd have thought that Pat Martino's clean and dark-hued sound would work so well with "Moonflower, or that Albert Lee—better known in country circles—could take the equally relaxed "Samba Pa Ti and reinvent it, retaining Santana's evocative melody while turning it into something far more subtle?

Credit, as always, has to go to Richman for assembling a band that understands the source material but is able to expand on it. Sometimes it's a simple conceit like the classic "Oye Como Va (featuring Mike Stern), where the familiar melody is reshaped in 7/4. It can also be a matter of applying a more visceral rhythm, as with the powerful shuffle of "Blues for Salvador, which is tailor-made for the blues-centric Robben Ford.

The fact that all the pieces (except 1987's "Blues for Salvador ) come from '70s albums may reveal a not-so-hidden statement. Recent releases like Supernatural (Arista, 1999) may be mega-million sellers, but Santana's real legacy remains with the string of albums he released between 1969 and 1977. Viva Carlos! respects that legacy but reinvents it through rearrangement and employing guitarists who speak with a more advanced language. This music will appeal to fans and, perhaps surprisingly, non-fans alike.

There are two sides of Carlos Santana which the record buying public has long become familiar with -- the groundbreaking Latin/jazz fusion guitarist of the '60s and '70s, and the mainstream pop/rocker of the early 21st century. Thankfully, the tracks covered on the 2006 Santana tribute, Viva Carlos!, focus entirely on the former era. With a backing band comprised of drummer Dave Weckl, bassist Abe Laboriel, keyboardist Peter Wolf, and percussionist Luis Conte, some of the most renowned names of jazz fusion guitar are included (Robben Ford, Frank Gambale, Pat Martino, Mike Stern), as well as rockers (Eric Gales, Eric Johnson, Vinnie Moore), and even a country picker (Albert Lee). Most tribute albums tend to be mixed bags, but Viva Carlos! proves to be one of the more consistent ones out there, since the performances tend to be quite similar throughout, like Mike Stern's "Oye Como Va" and Coco Montoya's "Jungle Strut." As one of the more criminally underrated/overlooked guitarists, any Santana tribute is a welcome one.

Tracks Listing:

1. Vinnie Moore: Se A Cabo (4:42)
2. Jeff Richman: Europa (4:42)
3. Eric Gales: Jingo (6:40)
4. Mike Stern: Oye Como Va (4:58)
5. Pat Martino: Flor D'Luna (5:24)
6. Eric Johnson: Aqua Marine (4:53)
7. Frank Gambale: Samba De Sausalito (4:36)
8. Robben Ford: Blues For Salvador (4:26)
9. Albert Lee: Samba Pa Ti (5:01)
10. Coco Montoya: Jungle Strut (4:58)

Total Time 50:20


- Vinnie Moore / guitars
- Jeff Richman / guitars
- Eric Gales / guitars
- Mike Stern / guitars
- Pat Martino / guitars
- Eric Johnson / guitars
- Frank Gambale / guitars
- Robben Ford / guitars
- Albert Lee / guitars
- Coco Montoya / guitars
- Luis Conte / percussion
- Abe Laboriel / bass
- Jeff Richman / rhythm guitar
- Dave Weckl / drums
- Peter Wolf / keyboards

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

George Thorogood And the Destroyers - 1977 [1992] "George Thorogood And the Destroyers"

George Thorogood and the Destroyers is the self-titled debut album by American blues rock band George Thorogood and the Destroyers, released in 1977. Consisting mostly of covers of blues hits, it includes a medley of John Lee Hooker's "House Rent Boogie" and "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer", the latter a song written by Rudy Toombs for Amos Milburn, and later covered by Hooker.

In 2015 Rounder released George Thorogood and the Delaware Destroyers, a new remix of the album featuring the three-piece band as originally recorded and mixed. It omits the bass overdubs by Billy Blough, which were added after the original recording sessions. It also adds the previously unreleased Elmore James track "Goodbye Baby".

Thorogood gained his first mainstream exposure as a support act for the Rolling Stones during their 1981 U.S. tour. He also was the featured musical guest on Saturday Night Live (Season 8, Episode 2) on the October 2, 1982 broadcast. During this time, Thorogood and the Destroyers also became known for their rigorous touring schedule, including the "50/50" tour of 1981, on which the band toured all 50 US states in the space of 50 days. After two shows in Boulder, Colorado, Thorogood and his band flew to Hawaii for one show and then performed a show in Alaska on the following night. The next day the band flew to Washington State, met their roadies who had their Checker car and a truck, and continued a one show per state tour for all fifty states in exactly fifty nights. In addition, they played Washington, D.C. on the same day that they performed a show in Maryland, thereby playing 51 shows in 50 days. This increased visibility occurred as Thorogood's contract with Rounder Records expired. He signed with EMI America Records and in 1982 released the song, "Bad to the Bone", and an album of the same name. The song became the band's first Top 40 single.

In 2012, Thorogood was named one of the "50 Most Influential Delawareans of the Past 50 Years"

Track listing:

01 "You Got to Lose" (Earl Hooker) – 3:15
02 "Madison Blues" (Elmore James) – 4:24
03 "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" (John Lee Hooker) – 8:20
04 "Kind Hearted Woman" (Robert Johnson) – 3:48
05 "Can't Stop Lovin'" (E. James) – 3:04
06 "Ride On Josephine" (Ellas McDaniel) – 4:17
07 "Homesick Boy" (George Thorogood) – 3:02
08 "John Hardy" (Traditional) – 3:18
09 "I'll Change My Style" (William Parker, Manuel Villa) – 3:57
10 "Delaware Slide" (Thorogood) – 7:45


George Thorogood – vocals, guitar, harmonica
Ron Smith – guitar
Billy Blough – bass guitar
Jeff Simon – drums

Gary Burton & Friends - 1992 "Six Pack"

Gary Burton's peculiar connection and affinity for great guitarists is a proven historical fact, as he has been responsible for bringing such fantastic musicians to the world stage as Larry Coryell and Pat Metheny. On Six Pack, he joins with six different six-stringers for some decidedly varied modern jazz. Kurt Rosenwinkel makes like Metheny on the first track, the up-tempo Mitch Forman composition "Anthem." Any predictability to the song disappears in the presence of the rhythm section of Jack DeJohnette, Steve Swallow, and Mulgrew Miller. One doesn't generally think of the vibes as a blues instrument, and to be fair, it's really not, but Burton gives it the old college try on the title track, where his vibes intersect surprisingly well with Bob Berg's tenor sax and B.B. King's guitar. There is absolutely nothing weighty about this song at all, but it is fun and swinging nevertheless (who says jazz has to be serious all the time?). John Scofield also shows up on the track, and his distinctive tone and phrasing work perfectly in this setting. Other selections include such notables as Jim Hall, Ralph Towner, and Kevin Eubanks, and all of their contributions are solid in their own way. One sometimes wishes that this record was a little less GRP, with Larry Goldings' keyboards and Berg's sax being the most frequent offenders, but there are plenty of hot moments on Six Pack that make this record worth searching out, especially for fans of jazz guitar. Where else will listeners find all of these great players on a single record?

Gary Burton also has brought along a lot of kids. His leadership at Berklee`s School of Music makes it natural for him to help younger musicians find an audience. The musical results have been passable, but not as nice as the work he does on this new disc with a group of stars as distinctive as guitarists Kevin Eubanks, Jim Hall, John Scofield, Ralph Towner and B.B. King. Paul Shaffer and Mulgrew Miller join in on piano and keyboards. The mood changes with the sideman, but all of them are interesting.

Track Listing:

  01. Anthem
  02. Six Pack
  03. Summertime
  04. Jack's Theme
  05. Lost Numbers
  06. Double Guatemala
  07. Asphodel
  08. Redial
  09. Invitation
  10. My Funny Valentine
  11. Something Special
  12. Guitarre Picante


Gary Burton - Vibes
John Scofield, B.B. King, Jim Hall, Kevin Eubanks, Ralph Towner, Kurt Rosenwinkel - Guitar
Jack DeJohnette - Drums
Larry Goldings - Keyboards
Mulgrew Miller - Piano
Steve Swallow, Will Lee - Bass
Bob Berg - Saxophone
Paul Shaffer - Piano, Organ

Friday, February 1, 2019

King Crimson - 2016 "Collectors' Club" Shibuya Kohkaido, Tokyo Japan 12.09.1981

This series of gigs marked the start of King Crimson’s long-term love affair with Japan.Is it too fanciful to suggest that the interlocking notes played at the climax of the opening number share the same brittle beauty of koto strings being plucked? Probably is the answer to that is yes but this is a fascinating concert and no mistake.

"Sometimes while we're on the road we write new songs together. This one began in Paris and it's for the next King Crimson album" says Belew prior to a kick-ass rendition of Neal, And Jack And Me. Up until that point Crimson's debut Japanese had been subject to a few missteps here and there, but the take-no-prisoners attitude evident throughout this powerful version is thrilling stuff. The same has to be said for Manhattan - the early version of what would eventually become Neurotica. Those big crashing chords which first originated during the making of Exposure but never quite found a proper home, deliver some devastating blows. A wonderfully raucous version despite some tuning issues in the middle section. The impressionistic extended opening of Sartori is a wonderfully mysterious sequence featuring RF’s Roland, making this sound almost like some forgotten League of Gentlemen track.

The bootleg source kindly supplied to DGM by Benoit Carmichael is bright though there’s not too much on the bass end of things (aside from Levin's biting buzzsaw bass on LTIA). Nevertheless, an important historical moment has been preserved in the KC archive and now made officially available for the first time.

I am glad to see that my boot of December 9, 1981 made it to the official bootleg series. When the Japanese tour came out in August, I was surprise to learn in Sid comments that no recording of December 9 existed in DGM archives. I surely had in mine a decent sounding audience recording of this gig. I promptly contacted DGM to offer them to have a look at it. I have just purchased the flac version to make "official" my position. I am anxious to hear which magic Mr Stormy used to improve this already good bootleg. This is one for you If you like the raw power of the early Discipline band. One can ear here and there throughout the night the transition form Exposure and the League of Gentlemen to KC. A most enjoyable night.

All in all, a very lively show indeed!

Track listing:

CD 1
01 Walk On 04:33
02 Discipline 05:21
03 Thela Hun Ginjeet 07:26
04 Red 07:20
05 Matte Kudasai 03:45
06 The Sheltering Sky 09:54
07 Frame By Frame 05:28
08 Neal And Jack And Me 06:57

CD 2
01 Manhattan 06:05
02 Elephant Talk 05:23
03 Indiscipline 12:59
04 Sartori In Tangier 07:33
05 Larks Tongues In Aspic Pt II 10:48


Robert Fripp - Guitar
Adrian Belew - Guitar, Vocal
Tony Levin - Bass, Chapman Stick
Bill Bruford - Drums