Thursday, May 23, 2024

Various Artists - 1992 "Guitar on the Edge", Vol. 1 No. 2

01 Dixie Dregs– Bloodsucking Leeches 4:08

02 Lanny Cordola– Marriage Of Figaro 5:40

03 Philip DeGruy– Innuendo Out The Other 4:44

04 T.J. Helmerich, Brett Garsed– Quid Pro Quo 5:40

05 Ray Gomez– Smokin' A Shuffle 4:02

06 Darren Housholder– Cakewalk 4:10

07 Allan Holdsworth– Zarabeth 6:30

08 Greg Howe– Untitled 4:33

09 Derek Taylor– Hey, Vato! 3:00

10 Ron Thal– The Shuck Duffle 3:35

11 David Ormonde Thomas– Sleight Of Hand 2:41

12 Muriel Anderson– Nola 2:45

13 Anur-Leber Group– For Ephriam 5:10

14 Scott Mishoe– Domesticated Problems 2:53

15 Neil Zaza– Miller's Atomic Mood Swing 4:13

16 Philip DeGruy– Dear Sur 2:29

17 Todd Duane– Finale 3:42

Monday, May 13, 2024

John McLaughlin - 2021 "Liberation Time"

Liberation Time is a studio album by British jazz guitarist John McLaughlin. The album was recorded in various locations and released on 16 July 2021 via Abstract Logix. The album's personnel includes members of McLaughlin’s current ensemble named 4th Dimension: Gary Husband on drums and piano, Etienne Mbappé on bass, Ranjit Barot on drums and Konokol vocals—in addition to invited musicians.

Michael Ullman of The Arts Fuse stated, "The disc is his defiant, even occasionally joyous, response to the Covid lockdown. In his notes, the guitarist is determined to be positive." Elliot Marlow-Stevens of Jazz Journal wrote, "Drawn from inspiration found during the isolation of the coronavirus pandemic, McLaughlin’s latest album demonstrates his enduring skill as one of fusion’s most important figures." James Hale of DownBeat commented, "A sub-40-minute John McLaughlin recording that includes two solo piano tracks by the leader is bound to be frustrating. Add a pair of band recordings that echo vintage Mahavishnu Orchestra rave-ups, one of which includes a guitar solo filled with ridiculous technique, and you have a recipe for considering what might have been."

As the world reels from the social, emotional, and spiritual toll of the ongoing viral-induced global lockdown, McLaughlin reflects on both the perils and potential of this challenging moment with “Liberation Time” — his newest album, available July 16th on Abstract Logix/Mediastarz. In the fall of 2020, as the reality of pandemic limitations set in, McLaughlin commenced work on “Liberation Time” as a “direct response” (his words) to the mandated restrictions imposed by the spread of Covid-19. Characterized by both joy and reflection, “Liberation Time” finds McLaughlin harnessing his frustrations and redirecting that energy. “The result,” he explains in a candid liner note, “was an explosion of music in my mind.”

McLaughlin reached out to collaborators around the world, utilizing five studios to patch together the same number of groupings. Adding some consistency, three include McLaughlin’s long-time keyboardist Gary Husband, who doubles on drums on the rollicking “Liberation Time” (which features the aforementioned guitar solo). Even after more than 50 years of hearing McLaughlin tear up the fretboard with solos that move effortlessly through key changes and shifting time signatures, with melodic ideas that leap forward and circle back on themselves, his “Liberation Time” solo sounds astonishing.

“Lockdown Blues,” with the exceptional bassist Etienne MBappé, Husband and drummer Ranjit Barot, is another guitar-driven romp that surges joyously and culminates in Barot’s spirited duet between his drums and his konkol vocal percussion.

The quartet with Husband, bassist Sam Burgess and drummer Vinnie Colaiuta sounds only slightly more constrained on the opening “As The Spirit Sings,” and drummer Nicolas Viccaro shines with his quicksilver fills on the steaming “Right Here, Right Now, Right On,” a McLaughlin composition rooted in hard-bop.

“Singing Our Secrets,” with Jean-Michel “Kiki” Aublette on bass and drums, and Roger Rossignol on piano, shifts from ballad to medium-tempo swing and serves up dollops of McLaughlin’s rich, chunky amp tone.

Track listing:

1. "As the Spirit Sings" Sam Burgess, Vinnie Colaiuta, Gary Husband, John McLaughlin 5:22

2. "Singing our Secrets" Jean Michel Aublette, John McLaughlin, Roger Rossignol 5:13

3. "Lockdown Blues" Ranjit Barot, Gary Husband, Etienne Mbappé, John McLaughlin 7:19

4. "Mila Repa" John McLaughlin 2:29

5. "Right Here, Right Now, Right On" Osam Ezzeldin, John McLaughlin, Jérôme Regard, Julian Siegal, Nicolas Viccaro 7:26

6. "Shade of Blue" John McLaughlin 1:33

7. "Liberation Time" Sam Burgess, Gary Husband, John McLaughlin 7:49

Total length: 36:55


John McLaughlin – guitar

Etienne Mbappe – bass

Jérôme Regard – bass

Sam Burgess – bass

Gary Husband – drums, keyboards

Nicolas Viccaro – drums

Vinnie Colaiuta – drums

Jean-Michel Aublette – drums, bass

Ranjit Barot – drums, vocals

Oz Ezzeldin – piano

Roger Rossignol – piano

Julian Siegel – tenor saxophone

Wednesday, March 27, 2024

Brand X - 1999 "Timeline"

Brand X were an English jazz fusion band from London. Formed in late 1974, the group originally featured vocalist and percussionist Phil Spinelli, guitarists John Goodsall and Peter Bonas, bassist Percy Jones, keyboardist Robin Lumley and drummer John Dillon. After Spinelli, Bonas and Dillon left, the remaining members and new drummer Phil Collins became a largely instrumental outfit. The latest lineup of Brand X included only one official member, Goodsall, alongside keyboardist Chris Clark, percussionist Scott Weinberger, and drummer Kenny Grohowski, and ended in 2021 with Goodsall's death.

The official Brand X website has asserted that the only official legal members of Brand X since its reformation were original members Jones, Goodsall, and Lumley. All other musicians during this time period are described as legally being "employees" and "guests"

The last and reformed editions of Brand X, all sans Phil Collins, are heard on this double CD set of live performances in Chicago and New York City, respectively. Founding members John Goodsall (electric guitar) and Percy Jones (electric bass guitar) lead the band through classic fusion territory familiar to fans of the band; most of their best material is heard at sometime or another on this two hour excursion. For the Chi-town dates, drummer Kenwood Dennard, percussionist Morris Pert, and keyboardist Robin Lumley comprise perhaps the best overall talent of the many incarnations of Brand X. Highlights include the galloping guitar and klip-klop percussion that inform"Disco Suicide" with a frequently repeated second melody. "Access to Data" uses multi-melodies, a 10/8 figure, and furious guitar coda. Stepping up to 11/8 then 7/4 during "Nuclear Burn," Goodsall uses one of many direct references to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, a repeated line sparking Lumley's screaming synth. The final three tracks are muddy, not as audible or well recorded. A 6/8 head, bridge, and tail for "Euthanasia Waltz" sounds flat, "Malaga Virgin" is a ten-minute Jones-led 4/4 jam, and "Deadly Nightshade" uses a pretty bell-like sweetness to a leaden or quick funk and chiming, repeated synth lines for guitar, truly a great tune. For the second CD in N.Y.C., it's just Jones and Goodsall with drummer Frank Katz, and this stripped-down edition is naturally not as potent, but good nonetheless. The free symphonic electric guitar/synth three-minute egg "Guitar Concerto" is followed by the 6/4 stair step Mahavishnu-type funk of "Thalidomide Squid," while "Strangeness" is simply a workout for Jones and Katz.Katz does a rock slow and fleet, wild "Drum Solo," and "Church of Hype" is a straight 4/4 rock number. The final two selections are in the Mahavishnu bag too; "Healing Dream" is an acoustic guitar solo with John McLaughlin's signature repetition, while "Macrocosm" uses similar changes only in 7/8 with Goodsall's stinging and poignant electric six string. Brand X has always been an expert at using the improvisation of jazz melted over the base loudness of rock or R&B rhythms. They were hardly the off brand, more like the real thing in the fusion-oriented '70s, and this disc proves the idea was still viable beyond its time.

Track listing:

CD -1 Live In Chicago 1977 (63:08)

1. Disco Suicide (7:08)

2. Nightmare Patrol (8:22)

3. Why Should I Lend You Mine (2:59)

4. Access to Data (7:46)

5. Nuclear Burn (8:22)

6. Euthanasia Waltz (6:09)

7. Malaga Virgin (9:51)

8. Deadly Nightshade (12:31)

CD - 2 Live In New York 1993 (55:53)

1. Introduction (1:56)

2. A Duck Exploding (9:47)

3. Guitar Concerto (2:41)

4. Thalidomide Squid (5:53)

5. Strangeness (6:14)

6. Cambodia (6:50)

7. Drum Solo (7:10)

8. Church of Hype (5:39)

9. Healing Dream (3:46)

10. Macrocosm (5:57)


Disc one:

- John Goodsall / guitar

- Robin Lumley / keyboards

- Percy Jones / bass

- Kenwood Dennard / drums

- Morris Pert / percussion

Disc two:

- John Goodsall / guitar

- Percy Jones / bass

- Frank Katz / drums

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Horacee Arnold - 1973 [2011] "Tribe"

Arnold first began playing drums in 1957 in Los Angeles while he was in the United States Coast Guard. In 1959, he began performing as "Horacee" when he joined a big band led by David Baker; he also played with Roland Kirk and Charles Mingus that year. In 1960 he became the drummer in a trio with Cecil McBee and Kirk Lightsey.

Throughout the 1960s, he worked in jazz with pianist/composer Hasaan Ibn Ali and bassist Henry Grimes, and with the Bud Powell Trio at Birdland. He worked as part of the Alvin Ailey American Dance company on a tour of Asia. Later in the 1960s, he played with Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba; following this he studied composition under Heiner Stadler, Hy Gubenick, and classical guitar with Ralph Towner. In 1967 he founded his own ensemble, the Here and Now Company, with Sam Rivers, Karl Berger, Joe Farrell, and Robin Kenyatta.

In the 1970s, Arnold became one of the best-known jazz fusion drummers, playing with Return to Forever, Stan Getz, Archie Shepp, and Billy Harper in addition to releasing two of his own solo albums. Later in the 1970s he formed an ensemble called Colloquium III with Billy Hart and Freddie Waits. In the 1980s Arnold went on to teach at William Paterson College. He worked as a session musician, played with Kenny Burrell, and formed a trio with David Friedman and Anthony Cox.

Tribe by Horacee Arnold is a jazz album that is sure to impress any lover of the genre. The album features a diverse range of tracks that showcase Arnold's musical prowess and ability to blend different styles seamlessly.

The album begins with the upbeat and rhythmic "Tribal Dance," which sets the tone for the rest of the album. Arnold's drumming is the highlight of this track, as he keeps the beat steady and infectious throughout.

Other standout tracks on the album include "Kabala," which features some impressive saxophone work by Carlos Garnett, and "Desert Sunrise," which has a more mellow and contemplative feel.

Arnold's drumming is consistently impressive throughout the album, and the other musicians on the record all bring their own unique talents to the table. The result is a cohesive and enjoyable listening experience that is sure to please fans of jazz and beyond.

A very soulful batch of fusion tracks from drummer Horacee Arnold – here leading a group that includes reed talents Billy Harper and Joe Farrell, percussionist Ralph McDonald, guitarist Ralph Towner, and Dave Friedman on vibes and percussion. Tracks are long and spiralling, with a spiritual approach that goes quite out at times, but which also returns to a modal groove at others. Thanks to great playing by Harper and Farrell, the album's got a lot more soul than some others of the type at the time. Tracks include "The Actor", "Professor Moriarty", "Orchards of Engedi", "Tribe", and "Banyan Dance".

Track listing:

1 Tribe 10:15

2 Banyan Dance 7:33

3 Forest Games 2:26

4 Orchards Of Engedi 10:43

5 The Actor 6:55

6 Professor Moriarty 0:41

7 500 Miles High 9:13


Bass – George Mraz

Congas [Conga Drums], Percussion [Latin Percussion] – Ralph MacDonald

Drums, Slit Drum [Log Drums] – Horacee Arnold

Flute, Alto Flute, Soprano Saxophone – Joe Farrell

Tenor Saxophone – Billy Harper

Twelve-String Guitar – Ralph Towner

Vibraphone, Marimba, Xylophone, Percussion – David Friedman

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

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Sunday, January 14, 2024

Chick Corea - 2017 "The Musician" [Audio & Video]

Chick Corea first laid eyes on New York’s Greenwich Village in 1959, fresh from high school, with a head full of music that only he could have imagined. With this new release The Musician, recorded in the epicenter of Chick’s original NYC haunts and more than 50 years later, Corea finally brings all that music together at once.

The live 3-CD and Blu-ray set captures Corea’s 70th birthday celebration at the famed Blue Note Jazz Club in 2011, where he assembled a staggering lineup of musical friends and fellow-travelers – among them Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, John McLaughlin and Stanley Clarke – for a month-long residency featuring 10 different bands, including triumphal sets by his own Chick Corea Elektric Band and Return to Forever. All of it is captured brilliantly in the first feature-length documentary on Corea’s life, music and genius musical partners. The film takes you inside the heads and “hangs” of some of the greatest artists of our time – backstage and personal – and the CDs capture almost four hours of live recordings of every band.

Over the course of an artist's lifetime, especially one well into their fifth decade like Chick Corea, it's not uncommon to see a great musician look back and take stock of what he’s done and who he’s worked with, and that's exactly what Corea does on 2017's The Musician. To mark his 75th birthday in 2016, the lauded pianist played a six-week stint of shows at the Blue Note in New York city. During the event, he was joined by a bevy of guests including many longtime friends and collaborators like Herbie Hancock, Bobby McFerrin, Wynton Marsalis, John McLaughlin, Stanley Clarke, and others. The shows were filmed, recorded, and released in 2017 as part of The Musician four-disc album/video and documentary project. It's fascinating to hear Corea take this time-traveling odyssey through his career, and despite the epic nature of the six-week event, he never sounds anything less than engaged, always playing with his trademark intensity and playful spontaneity. His duets are particularly engaging; just listen to his enthralling interplay with singer Bobby McFerrin on "I've Got the World on a String" and "Spain" and you'll be captivated. Similarly compelling are his head-to-head sparrings with pianist Herbie Hancock on "Hot House," "Dolphin Dance," and "Cantaloupe Island." Elsewhere, Corea revisits one of his most popular ensembles, Return to Forever, with bassist Stanley Clarke, drummer Lenny White, and guitarist Frank Gambale. A pre-eminent fusion group, here they take an unexpected acoustic approach to several of their best-known tunes, "Captain Marvel" and "Light as a Feather." We also get a taste of Corea's trio with bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Brian Blade, who deliver a nuanced version of "I Hear a Rhapsody." Other discs showcase equally compelling collaborations with luminaries like pianist Marcus Roberts and vibraphonist Gary Burton, and a reunion with his Elektrik Band featuring drummer Dave Weckl and bassist John Patitucci. We also get a thrilling homage to early Corea employer, jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis, with his From Miles band featuring trumpeter Wallace Roney, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and other Davis alum. Indeed, The Musician is a superb live document spotlighting Corea in settings that recall the best of his classic albums and proving how remarkably well both he and his music have aged.

Track listing/Band/Personnel:

1-1 Return To Forever– Captain Marvel

Bass – Stanley Clarke

Drums – Lenny White

Guitar – Frank Gambale

1-2 Return To Forever– Light As A Feather

Bass – Stanley Clarke

Drums – Lenny White

Guitar – Frank Gambale

1-3 Chick Corea, Gary Peacock, Brian Blade– I Hear A Rhapsody

1-4 Chick Corea, John McLauglin*, Kenny Garrett, John Patitucci, Brian Blade– Spirit Rides

1-5 Chick Corea, John McLauglin*, Kenny Garrett, John Patitucci, Brian Blade– Special Beings

1-6 Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin– I've Got The World On A String

1-7 Chick Corea, Bobby McFerrin– Spain

2-1 Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Harlem String Quartet*– Overture

2-2 Chick Corea, Gary Burton, Harlem String Quartet*, Gayle Moran Corea– Your Eyes Speak To Me

2-3 Chick Corea, Wallace Roney, Gary Bartz, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette– If I Were A Bell

2-4 Chick Corea, Wallace Roney, Gary Bartz, Eddie Gomez, Jack DeJohnette– Nefertiti

2-5 Chick Corea, Concha Buika, Carles Benavent, Jorge Pardo, Niño Josele, Jeff Ballard– Zyryab

2-6 Chick Corea, Concha Buika, Carles Benavent, Jorge Pardo, Niño Josele, Jeff Ballard– Mi Nina Lola

3-1 Chick Corea, Marcus Roberts, Wynton Marsalis– CC's Birthday Blues

3-2 Chick Corea, Marcus Roberts– Caravan

3-3 Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock– Hot House

3-4 Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock– Dolphin Dance

3-5 Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock– Cantaloupe Island

3-6 The Chick Corea Elektric Band– Ritual

Bass – John Patitucci

Drums – Dave Weckl

Guitar – Frank Gambale

Saxophone – Eric Marienthal

3-7 The Chick Corea Elektric Band– Silver Temple

Bass – John Patitucci

Drums – Dave Weckl

Guitar – Frank Gambale

Saxophone – Eric Marienthal

The Mahavishnu Orchestra - 1971 [1998] "The Inner Mounting Flame"

The Inner Mounting Flame is the debut studio album by American jazz-rock fusion band Mahavishnu Orchestra.

Conceptually, The Mahavishnu Orchestra was largely a continuation of drummer Tony Williams’ jazz-rock band Lifetime, in which McLaughlin had played with bassist Jack Bruce. The Mahavishnu Orchestra continued in the Lifetime vein, playing raw and upbeat jazz rock with a predominantly rock dominating over jazz.

For the Mahavisnu Orchestra, McLaughlin assembled a truly multinational cast. McLaughlin’s first recruit was supposed to be American bassist Tony Levin, but after Levin declined the honour, Irishman Rick Laird (1941-2021) was chosen to lead the quartet. The drums were filled by the vigorous Panamanian Billy Cobham (b.1944), the keyboards by the Czechoslovakian Jan Hammer (b.1948) and, after Jean Luc Ponty’s entry into the band fell through due to visa problems, the violinist was the American Jerry Goodman (b.1949).

The Inner Mounting Flame is a sovereign combination of hard-rock-like crackling ferocity and jazz virtuosic agility. The album can be considered one of the first jazz-rock records that really rocks like a beast.

Indeed, the band’s rough rock sound is one of the album’s greatest strengths: although the music is full of almost superhuman performances, it still feels edgy and dangerous throughout. The album has not been polished to a sterile flawlessness, but the sound is jagged and the listener is constantly in a kind of fear that the musicians are really playing at the limits of their abilities and there is a possibility that the whole thing could crash to the rocks at any moment. Well, of course that never happens.

McLauglin’s compositions on The Inner Mounting Flame are relatively simple in structure, although the individual sections are challenging due to irregular time signatures, exotic scales and very fast tempos. The band’s unison riffing is also often very impressive to listen to.

And as impressive as the band as a whole is, it is the guitar hero himself, John McLaughlin, who is the main protagonist. McLaughlin’s super-fast guitar playing was something that had never been heard before. McLaughlin was like Jimi Hendrix to the power of two. Or maybe more like a combination of Hendrix and John Coltrane on saxophone. McLaughlin has often said that in his youth he was impressed by saxophones, not guitarists, who he felt in the 60s were nowhere near the skill of the best wind players. McLaughlin’s million-note-per-minute strumming on this album has inspired a huge number of guitarists from fusion jazz, prog and heavy metal. And not always with flattering results. But by this time it was a recent phenomenon, and McLaughlin’s playing, even on the fastest runs, is far more refined than that of almost any guitarist who followed in his footsteps.

One track on the album is ”Noonward Race”, driven by Cobham’s manic drumming. Bassist Rick Laird prevents the song from going completely off the rails by bringing a hypnotic bass groove to the table and letting the four (yep, this band has a solo drummer!) soloists rip it up really tasty. Goodman kicks off the solos with a nice earthy, gruff violin sound, then Hammer gets going with a really exciting, metallically resonant ring-modulated Fender Rhodes sound. One of the most interesting aspects of the album for me is Jan Hammer’s excitingly shrill keyboard sounds. There is still something futuristic, alien and fascinating about his sounds. After Hammer, McLaughlin plays another impressive and super-fast guitar solo, on top of which Cobham forges a solid drum solo. Whoah! No notes are spared in this song. The song is like an exploding volcano that destroys everything in its path. It’s really easy to imagine how impressive the song must have sounded in 1971.

Along with ”Noonward Race”, another key track on the album is ”The Dance Of Maya” which starts with ominous chords reminiscent of King Crimson and after a few minutes turns into irregularly paced blues-rock.

The album also has its quieter aspects, the best example of which is the mainly acoustic ”A Lotus on Irish Streams” which, although it too, moves forward at times with the lightning-fast note claps that McLaughlin creates from his acoustic guitar, and then again calms down to a more lyrical mood, especially with Hammer’s beautiful piano playing. Goodman’s violin also gets a nice space in the song.

Apart from the quieter moments mentioned above, I still miss a bit more subtlety and polish in The Inner Mounting Flame’s compositions. On the other hand, the energetic and fiery jazz-rock of the album, with its virtuoso playing, is a truly moving experience to listen to from time to time.

The Inner Mounting Flame was a strong start for The Mahavishnu Orchestra and the band immediately established themselves as the most popular jazz rock band of the 70s with the only real challengers in terms of popularity being Weather Report and Return To Forever. The band also inspired numerous rock bands, and the likes of Yes and King Crimson have acknowledged their debt to The Mahavishnu Orchestra’s furious jazz-rock.

One is struck by the grandiose reach of the quintet that dared to call itself an orchestra. Pieces like "Meeting of the Spirits" and the fragile, acoustic "A Lotus on Irish Streams" are like classically-inspired suites in miniature. But it was numbers like "Noonward Race", "Vital Transformation" and especially "Awakening", fueled by Cobham’s smoldering intensity on the kit and McLaughlin’s raging, distortion-soaked guitar lines, that really grabbed rock crowds. More ethereal pieces like "The Dance of Maya", with its odd time signatures and arpeggios, and the haunting "You Know, You Know", a drum feature for Cobham, helped to create a kind of mystique about the Mahavishnu Orchestra that was wholly unprecedented for its time.

This is the album that made John McLaughlin a semi-household name, a furious, high-energy, yet rigorously conceived meeting of virtuosos that, for all intents and purposes, defined the fusion of jazz and rock a year after Miles Davis' Bitches Brew breakthrough. It also inadvertently led to the derogatory connotation of the word fusion, for it paved the way for an army of imitators, many of whose excesses and commercial panderings devalued the entire movement. Though much was made of the influence of jazz-influenced improvisation in the Mahavishnu band, it is the rock element that predominates, stemming directly from the electronic innovations of Jimi Hendrix. The improvisations, particularly McLaughlin's post-Hendrix machine-gun assaults on double-necked electric guitar and Jerry Goodman's flights on electric violin, owe more to the freakouts that had been circulating in progressive rock circles than to jazz, based as they often are on ostinatos on one chord. These still sound genuinely thrilling today on CD, as McLaughlin and Goodman battle Jan Hammer's keyboards, Rick Laird's bass, and especially Billy Cobham's hard-charging drums, whose jazz-trained technique pushed the envelope for all rock drummers. What doesn't date so well are the composed medium- and high-velocity unison passages that are played in such tight lockstep that they can't breathe. There is also time out for quieter, reflective numbers that are drenched in studied spirituality ("A Lotus on Irish Streams") or irony ("You Know You Know"); McLaughlin was to do better in that department with less-driven colleagues elsewhere in his career. Aimed with absolute precision at young rock fans, this record was wildly popular in its day, and it may have been the cause of more blown-out home amplifiers than any other record this side of Deep Purple.

Track listing:

1. Meeting Of The Spirits 6:50

2. Dawn 5:15

3. The Noonward Race 6:27

4. A Lotus On Irish Streams 5:41

5. Vital Transformation 6:14

6. The Dance Of Maya 7:15

7. You Know You Know 5:06

8. Awakening 3:30


John McLaughlin – guitar

Rick Laird – bass

Billy Cobham – drums, percussion

Jan Hammer – keyboards, organ

Jerry Goodman – violin

Friday, January 12, 2024

Horacee Arnold - 1974 [2011] "Tales Of The Exonerated Flea"

Reissue of this 1974 album from the Jazz drummer. Horacee Arnold has played with Charles Mingus, Roland Kirk and Bud Powell, just to name a few. His biggest notoriety came with the two Jazz-Fusion albums he cut for Columbia Records in the early 1970s. Tales of the Exonerated Flea features Jan Hammer, Rick Laird, Ralph Towner, John Abercrombie, Sonny Fortune and Art Webb.

In 1974, drummer and composer Horacee Arnold assembled a stellar cast of players for Tales of the Exonerated Flea, his second Columbia album. Following on the heels of 1973's acclaimed Tribe, Tales was recorded at the height of the jazz-rock fusion era. Arnold's vision was a wide-ranging one and he recruited players form all over the jazz world, from stalwarts like bassist George Mraz and flutist Art Webb, to vanguardists like Sonny Fortune, to hardcore fusion players like Weather Report's master percussionist Dom Um Romao, the Mahavishnu Orchestra's bassist Rick Laird, and keyboardist Jan Hammer. As if this weren't enough, Arnold even reached into ECM's roster and signed up their two iconoclastic guitarists Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie. 

The end result is one of the most fascinating, soulful and truly successful albums of the entire genre. What one hears in listening to Tales of the Exonerated Flea is a cast of players who are seeking to open up both rock and jazz to new modes of expression. There are no sterile chops or elongated knotty passages that serve neither rhythm nor harmony. What's happening here is real fusion, of style, language, color, rhythm, harmonic and melodic concepts as well as dynamics. An intense examples is "Sing Nightjar" with its intricate melody and fine, provocative solos by Towner on 12-string and Hammer. 

The initial funky Latin groove of "Benzele Windows" that is introduced to fiery effect by Romao is quickly underscored by Webb's brilliant flute work and added to by Abercormbie and Fortune playing in tandem. When Hammer's electric piano enters the fray, moving in counterpoint with Arnold's lightning rhythmnatism, the piece becomes a startling orgy of rhythm and complexity before the shimmering dark funk of Laird, Hammer, and Arnold creates a dark funky groove for Fortune's soprano solo. The title cut uses a striated, extended and tensely convoluted bop line to introduce a burning Latin flavored stomp undergirding a modal line in the head. 

The chugging rhythmic invention at the heart of "Chinnereth II" belies a rather delicate if involved melody line before the tune becomes a joyful song with many parts and choruses. In all, Tales of the Exonerated Flea is a fusion record of the very best kind, it's full of soul, restless adventure, high-wire soloing and dirty grooves. Reissued on CD by Rock and Groove in 2004, it should be explored by everyone interested in the development of jazz-rock.

A lost fusion classic from the early 70s – one of the only records cut under the leadership of drummer Horacee Arnold, but a heck of a great little set with a soaringly righteous sound! The style here is plenty full-on, but a bit less rock-leaning than some of the other Columbia fusion of the period – thanks to a spacious vision on Arnold's part, and the inclusion of a fair bit of sounds from world music. Players on the set include Art Webb on flute, Sonny Fortune on soprano sax, John Abercrombie on guitar, David Friedman on vibes and marimba, Dom Um Romao on percussion, and Jan Hammer on moog and electric piano – and although there's a fair bit of guitar in the mix, the other acoustic elements are kept nice and high too – for a blend that's almost like some of the best Brazilian fusion from later years, touched by a slightly funkier sound! Tracks really stretch out nicely, allowing for plenty of solo space as they roll on, in a way that's almost a cross between Strata East and some of the more familiar mainstream fusion modes of the time. Very hip stuff, with titles that include "Benzele Windows", "Tales Of The Exonerated Flea", "Euroaquilo Silence", "Puppet Of The Seasons", "Sing Night Jar", and "Delicate Evasions".

Track listing:

1 - Puppett of the Seasons 4:30

2 - Sing Nightjar 11:07

3 - Benzélé Windows - 6:53

4 - Tales of the Exonerated Flea 3:43

5 - Delicate Evasions 4:28

6 - Chinnereth II 8:05

7 - Euroaquilo Silence - 5:41

8 - Timios - 6:22 [Bonus track]


Horacee Arnold - Drums, Percussion, Timpani [Tymps]

Jan Hammer - Synthesizer [Moog], Electric Piano, Piano

John Abercrombie - Electric Guitar

Art Webb - Flute, Flute [Alto] 

Sonny Fortune - Soprano Saxophone, Flute 

Ralph Towner - Twelve-String Guitar 

David Friedman - Vibraphone, Marimba [Bass] 

Rick Laird, Clint Huston, George Mraz - Bass 

Dom Um Romao - Percussion 

Dave Johnson - Percussion, Congas

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

Weather Report - 1976 [2002] "Black Market"

Black Market is the sixth studio album by American jazz fusion band Weather Report. Released in 1976, it was produced by Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter. It was recorded between December 1975 and January 1976 and released in March 1976 through Columbia Records. Columbia released it again as a digitally remastered CD in 1991.

This is Weather Report's sixth studio album and the first to feature bass player Jaco Pastorius, who appears on two tracks, one of which was his own composition "Barbary Coast." The back cover photo shows Pastorius, Chester Thompson, and Alex Acuña with the band, although bass player Alphonso Johnson played on the majority of the record's tracks. The album draws heavily from African influences and its style could be described as "world fusion". The second track, "Cannon Ball", is a tribute to saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderley, Zawinul's employer for several years during the 1960s. Adderley died a few months before Black Market was recorded.

The shifts in Weather Report's personnel come fast and furious now, with Narada Michael Walden and Chester Thompson as the drummers, Alex Acuna and Don Alias at the percussion table, and Alphonso Johnson giving way to the mighty, martyred Jaco Pastorius. It is interesting to hear Pastorius expanding the bass role only incrementally over what the more funk-oriented Johnson was doing at this early point -- that is, until "Barbary Coast," where suddenly Jaco leaps athletically forward into the spotlight. Joe Zawinul or just Zawinul, as he preferred to be billed -- contributed all of side one's compositions, mostly Third World-flavored workouts except for "Cannon Ball," a touching tribute to his ex-boss Cannonball Adderley (who had died the year before). Shorter, Pastorius, and Johnson split the remainder of the tracks, with Shorter now set in a long-limbed compositional mode for electric bands that would serve him into the 1990s. While it goes without saying that most Weather Report albums are transition albums, this diverse record is even more transient than most, paving the way for WR's most popular period while retaining the old sense of adventure.

Changing personnel marked each of Weather Report’s first five albums, and Black Market carried forth that tradition, with Chester Thompson, Narada Michael Walden, Alex Acuña, and Jaco Pastorius all making their Weather Report recording debuts.

Asked about the changes in a March 1976 article, Zawinul said, “We’re always happy with the group, because if we’re not happy, we change it. There are a lot of musicians out there in the world. All the people who have played with us are great mother-fucking musicians. They have fantastic skills. But sometimes they’re going in one direction and we’re going in another one, so we have to make a change. Changing musicians gives us fresh blood, new ideas.”

In that article, Shorter and Zawinul said it didn’t really matter who played what–it was the end result that counted. “You can enjoy a symphony orchestra without knowing everybody’s name,” Shorter said. “You don’t have to know who the concertmaster is to know that the string section is incredible.” Zawinul added, “I’ve been playing our new album [Black Market] for some other musicians, and even some of them can’t always tell who’s playing what, or what instruments are being used at a given time. I like that. I like that a lot. Why should people know? We’re not a bunch of individual musicians. We’re a group.”

The personnel for Black Market took shape over the course of 1975, following the release of Weather Report’s previous album, Tale Spinnin’. Early in the year the problematic drum chair was filled by Thompson, who was recommended by Johnson. “Alphonso was in the band,” Thompson recalled, “and we had already played together in a couple of situations, and he urged me to come down and jam, so I guess it was kind of an informal audition, just free playing. And it was one of those bands that just clicked. I was not at all nervous. I knew they’d had several drummers in the year before. I had a large and pretty wide experience. I’d been interested in playing lots of different kinds of music. I’d been in experimental kinds of bands, and in technically demanding kinds of bands — [Frank] Zappa’s was the most technically demanding … I’d had a lot of chance to play jazz; by the time I was 15, I was playing in really good jazz groups. I played funk, too, probably an equal amount, having grown up in the ’60s, with early James Brown and Motown going on.”

“Al Johnson had been on Mysterious Traveller, Tale Spinnin’, and part of Black Market when he told us he wanted to quit,” Zawinul recalled in 1984. “He wanted to form a band with George Duke where he was the co-leader, rather than just a sideman. We felt that everybody should do what they wanted to do, and by that time I had already met Jaco [Pastorius]. Jaco had sent me a tape of his band, and I was really impressed with the way he played; but I wasn’t sure if he could really play funk. [Drummer] Tony Williams had played with him, and assured us that Jaco could play anything. Jaco was a great Cannonball Adderley fan, and I had written a song called ‘Cannon Ball,’ so I said to myself, ‘it might be a good idea, just for the fun of it, to have Jaco play on that tune and audition him at the same time.’ We flew him in, he played on the tune, he wrote a song for Black Market, and the rest is history!”

Track listing:

1. "Black Market" Joe Zawinul 6:28

2. "Cannon Ball" Zawinul 4:36

3. "Gibraltar" Zawinul 8:16

4. "Elegant People" Wayne Shorter 5:03

5. "Three Clowns" Shorter 3:31

6. "Barbary Coast" Jaco Pastorius 3:19

7. "Herandnu" Alphonso Johnson 6:36


Joe Zawinul – Yamaha Grand Piano, Rhodes Electric Piano, 2 × ARP 2600, Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer, orchestration

Wayne Shorter – Selmer soprano and tenor saxophones, Computone Lyricon

Alphonso Johnson – electric bass

Jaco Pastorius – electric fretless bass (tracks 2 & 6)

Narada Michael Walden – drums (tracks 1–2)

Chester Thompson – drums (tracks 1, 3–7)

Alex Acuña – congas, percussion (tracks 2–5, 7)

Don Alias – percussion (tracks 1 & 6)

Saturday, January 6, 2024

Frank Zappa - 1979 [1987] "Joe's Garage"


Joe's Garage is a three-part rock opera released by American musician Frank Zappa in September and November 1979. Originally released as two separate albums on Zappa Records, the project was later remastered and reissued as a triple album box set, Joe's Garage, Acts I, II & III, in 1987. The story is told by a character identified as the "Central Scrutinizer" narrating the story of Joe, an average adolescent male, from Canoga Park, Los Angeles, who forms a garage rock band, has unsatisfying relationships with women, gives all of his money to a government-assisted and insincere religion, explores sexual activities with appliances, and is imprisoned. After being released from prison into a dystopian society in which music itself has been criminalized, he lapses into insanity.

The album encompasses a large spectrum of musical styles, while its lyrics often feature satirical or humorous commentary on American society and politics. It addresses themes of individualism, free will, censorship, the music industry and human sexuality, while criticizing government and religion, and satirizing Catholicism and Scientology. Joe's Garage is noted for its use of xenochrony, a recording technique that takes musical material (in this instance, guitar solos by Zappa from older live recordings) and overdubs them onto different, unrelated material. All solos on the album are xenochronous except for "Crew Slut" and "Watermelon in Easter Hay", a signature song that Zappa described as the best song on the album, and according to his son Dweezil, the best guitar solo his father ever played.

Joe’s Garage initially received mixed to positive reviews, with critics praising its innovative and original music, but criticizing the scatological, sexual and profane nature of the lyrics. Since its original release, the album has been reappraised as one of Zappa's best works.

After being released from his contractual obligations with Warner Bros. Records, Frank Zappa formed Zappa Records, a label distributed at that time by Phonogram Inc. He released the successful double album Sheik Yerbouti (1979, recorded 8/1977-2/1978), and began working on a series of songs for a follow-up album.: The songs "Joe's Garage" and "Catholic Girls" were recorded with the intention that Zappa would release them as a single. Throughout the development of Joe's Garage, Zappa's band recorded lengthy jams which Zappa later formed into the album.: The album also continued the development of xenochrony, a technique Zappa also featured on One Size Fits All (1975), in which aspects of older live recordings were utilized to create new compositions by overdubbing them onto studio recordings, or alternatively, selecting a previously recorded solo and allowing drummer Vinnie Colaiuta to improvise a new drum performance, interacting with the previously recorded piece.

Midway through recording the new album, Zappa decided that the songs connected coherently and wrote a story, changing the new album into a rock opera. Joe's Garage was the final album Zappa recorded at a commercial studio. Zappa's own studio, the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen, built as an addition to Zappa's home, and completed in late 1979, was used to record and mix all of his subsequent releases.

The lyrical themes of Joe's Garage involve individualism, sexuality, and the danger of large government. The album is narrated by a government employee identifying himself as The Central Scrutinizer, who delivers a cautionary tale about Joe, a typical adolescent male who forms a band as the government prepares to criminalize music. The Central Scrutinizer explains that music leads to a "slippery slope" of drug use, disease, unusual sexual practices, prison, and eventually, insanity. According to Scott Schinder and Andy Schwartz, Zappa's narrative of censorship reflected the censorship of music during the Iranian Revolution of 1979, where rock music was made illegal.

The title track is noted as having an autobiographical aspect, as the character of Larry (as performed by Zappa himself) sings that the band plays the same song repeatedly because "it sounded good to me". In real life, Zappa said he wrote and played music for himself, his sole intended audience. The song also takes lyrical inspiration from bands playing in bars like The Mothers of Invention once had, and shady record deals Zappa had experienced in the past. In "Joe's Garage", Joe finds that the music industry is "not everything it is cracked up to be".  The song refers to a number of music fads, including new wave, heavy metal, disco and glitter rock, and is critical of the music industry of the late 1970s. 

"Catholic Girls" is critical of the Catholic Church, and satirizes "the hypocrisy of the myth of the good Catholic girl."  While Zappa was in favor of the sexual revolution, he regarded himself as a pioneer in publicly discussing honesty about sexual intercourse, stating

"American sexual attitudes are controlled as a necessary tool of business and government in order to perpetuate themselves. Unless people begin to see through that, to see past it to what sex is really all about, they're always going to have the same neurotic attitudes. It's very neatly packaged. It all works hand-in-hand with the churches and political leaders at the point where elections are coming up."

This view inspired the lyrical content of "Crew Slut", in which Mary, Joe's girlfriend, falls into the groupie lifestyle, going on to participate in a wet T-shirt contest in the following track, "Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt".

"Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" was written in the summer of 1978. Zappa's road manager, Phil Kaufman, alleged, that the song was written after Kaufman had asked that very question; within the context of the album's storyline, it is sung by Joe after he receives a sexually transmitted disease from Lucille, "a girl, who works at the Jack in the Box". The Central Scrutinizer continues to express the hypothesis that "girls, music, disease, heartbreak all go together."Halfway through the album's libretto, Zappa expressed the belief that governments believe that people are inherently criminals, and continue to invent laws, which gives states the legal grounds to arrest people, leading to the fictional criminalization of music which occurs towards the end of the album's storyline. 

"A Token of My Extreme" satirizes Scientology and L. Ron Hubbard, as well as new age beliefs and the sexual revolution.: It describes an insincere religion, which co-operates with a "malevolent totalitarian regime." "Stick It Out" contains lyrical references to Zappa's songs "What Kind Of Girl", "Bwana Dik", "Sofa No. 2", and "Dancin' Fool". "Dong Work For Yuda" was written as a tribute to Zappa's bodyguard, John Smothers, and features Terry Bozzio imitating Smothers' dialect and speech. "Keep It Greasy" is a lyrical tribute to anal sex. Following Joe's imprisonment and release, the libretto describes a dystopian future, accompanied musically by long guitar solos, which Joe imagines in his head. The penultimate song, "Packard Goose", criticizes rock journalism, and features a philosophical monolog delivered by the character Mary, who had been absent since the first act.: In the epilogue song "A Little Green Rosetta," Joe gives up music, returns to sanity, hocks his imaginary guitar and gets "a good job" at the Utility Muffin Research Kitchen Facility (a self-reference to Zappa's own personal studio). The Central Scrutinizer sings the last song on the album in his "regular voice", and joins in a long musical number with most of the other people that worked with Zappa around 1979.

Track listing: 

Disc 1

01. "The Central Scrutinizer" 3:27

02. "Joe's Garage" 6:10

03. "Catholic Girls" 4:26

04. "Crew Slut" 5:51

05. "Fembot in a Wet T-Shirt" 5:26

06. "On the Bus" 4:18

07. "Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?" 2:35

08. "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up" 5:43

09. "Scrutinizer Postlude" 1:35

10. "A Token of My Extreme" 5:28

11. "Stick It Out" 4:33

12. "Sy Borg" 8:50

Disc 2

1. "Dong Work for Yuda" 5:03

2. "Keep It Greasey" 8:22

3. "Outside Now" 5:52

4. "He Used to Cut the Grass" 8:34

5. "Packard Goose" 11:38

6. "Watermelon in Easter Hay" 9:09

7. "A Little Green Rosetta" 8:15


Frank Zappa – lead guitar, vocals

Warren Cuccurullo – rhythm guitar, vocals

Denny Walley – slide guitar, vocals

Ike Willis – lead vocals

Peter Wolf – keyboards

Tommy Mars – keyboards (Act 1)

Arthur Barrow – bass guitar, guitar (on "Joe's Garage"), vocals

Patrick O'Hearn – bass guitar on "Outside Now" and "He Used to Cut the Grass"

Ed Mann – percussion, vocals

Vinnie Colaiuta – drums, combustible vapors, optometric abandon

Jeff (Jeff Hollie) – tenor sax (all tracks Act 1)

Marginal Chagrin (Earle Dumler) – baritone sax (all tracks Act 1)

Stumuk (Bill Nugent) – bass sax (all tracks Act 1)

Dale Bozzio – vocals (all tracks Act 1)

Al Malkin – vocals (all tracks Act 1)

Craig Steward – harmonica (all tracks Act 1)

Monday, December 25, 2023

Merry Christmas


Sunday, December 24, 2023

Deodato - 1977 [1989] "In Concert"

Eumir Deodato de Almeida (Brazilian Portuguese: [ẽwˈmiʁ deoˈdatu]; born 22 June 1942) is a Brazilian pianist, composer, arranger and record producer, primarily in jazz but who has been known for his eclectic melding of genres, such as pop, rock, disco, rhythm and blues, classical, Latin and bossa nova.

Deodato has arranged and produced more than 500 records for acts such as Frank Sinatra, Roberta Flack, Björk and Christophe, as well as produced Kool & the Gang's hits "Celebration", "Ladies' Night" and "Too Hot".

Deodato was nominated for three Grammy Awards and won the Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1974 for "Also Sprach Zarathustra (2001)." The song peaked at number 2 on the weekly Billboard Hot 100 in March 1973. It reached number 3 in Canada and number 7 on the British charts.

The complete title is "Deodato In Concert - Live At Felt Forum".

Recorded Live at the Felt Forum of Madison Square Garden Center (New York, NY, USA) on April 20, 1973. Live Remote recording provided by Record Plant, and engineered by Frank Hubach.

An excellent little live set from Deodato – hard to believe because the sound's just as tight and funky as his studio albums, and possibly even more interesting because he manages to pull it off equally well in a live setting! The record features percussion by Airto, guitar by John Tropea, and vocals by Flora Purim – and those are just the marquee names of a large and amazing grew of great musicians! All tracks are long and complicated, for very hynotic feel throughout. The funkiest number is "Tropea", which has a nice long 8 minute groove – and the set also features a cover of Steely Dan's "Do It Again", plus the tracks "Parana", "Branches", "Baubles, Bangles And Beads" and "Skyscraper". Amazing!

Recorded live in the Felt Forum of New York City's Madison Square Garden in the wake of Deodato's massive 2001: A Space Odyssey hit, this album has a fairly confusing history. Only three selections, "Do It Again," "Spirit of Summer," and "Tropea" were released on the original slapped-together LP In Concert, and these were combined with Airto Moreira's "Parana" and "Branches," which were recorded at the same concert. In the CD-era, the LP was split up; Deodato's tracks were combined with four unreleased tunes from the concert, giving the CD-buyer 35 more minutes of music, while the two Airto tracks were placed on The Best of Airto. The concert wasn't too eventful from the Deodato fan's point of view; his combo competently grooves on, John Tropea provides a tough rock edge, the brass section sounds overloaded and unintegrated in a concert setting, and Bob James adds unnecessary string charts later. The additional CD tracks are reprises of "2001," "Baubles, Bangles and Beads," and "September 13" from Prelude and "Skyscrapers" from Deodato 2 -- which were probably considered too redundant for release in 1974. LP fans will enjoy the Airto tracks, for they are, frankly, more exotically original and invigorating than those of his fellow Brazilians. 

All tracks are performed exclusively by Deodato's band.

Tracks Listing:

Do It Again 6:36

September 13 7:27

Baubles, Bangles And Beads 4:44

Whirlwinds 8:40

Spirit Of Summer 5:32

Skyscraper 12:31

Also Sprach Zarathustra 11:03


Eumir Deodato – Keyboards

John Giulino – Electric Bass

John Tropea – Guitar

Rick Marrota – Drums

Rubens Bassini – Congas

Gilmore Degap – Percussion

Joe Temperley – Baritone

Burt Collins, Joe Shepley – Trumpets

Garnett Brown – Trombone

Weather Report - 1977 [1997] "Heavy Weather"

Heavy Weather is the seventh album by Weather Report, released in 1977 through Columbia Records. The release sold about 500,000 copies; it would prove to be the band's most commercially successful album and one of the best sellers in the Columbia jazz catalog. DownBeat magazine gave Heavy Weather a 5-star review, and later its readers voted it jazz album of the year.

The lineup for the album consisted of Weather Report founders Joe Zawinul (keyboards, synthesizers) and Wayne Shorter (saxophone), alongside Jaco Pastorius (bass), Alex Acuña (drums), and Manolo Badrena (percussion). It was produced and orchestrated by Zawinul, with additional production by Shorter and Pastorius, and engineered by Ron Malo.

The album opens with "Birdland", which on its own became a significant commercial success, unusual for an instrumental composition, and would go on to become a jazz standard. The melody had been performed live by the band as part of "Dr Honoris Causa", which was from Joe Zawinul's eponymous solo album. "Teen Town", a Pastorius composition where his bass takes the lead instrument role, is often considered a highlight of the album and of Pastorius's career. "Rumba Mamá", a percussion and vocals feature for Manolo Badrena and Alex Acuña, was recorded live at a summer 1976 concert in Montreux, Switzerland, which was also the subject of a DVD released in 2007.

Dan Oppenheimer said in a June 1977 review for Rolling Stone that he felt the band had moved away from their earlier music, losing a lot of the space, melodies and airy feel that set them apart from other jazz-rock bands, but gaining a new bassist who "has been instrumental in developing their busier, talkative style", and that while their music previously "went up and up only, becoming more ethereal as it went, the new bottom makes all the difference in the world".

This is simply one of the best jazz albums ever. The line up collaboration is perfect.Joe Zawinul on keys, Wayne Shorter on sax, Alex Acuna drums, Manolo Badrena percussion and Jaco Pastorius whose brilliance on a fretless bass in the '70s is again captured timelessly. Each track has a journey of its own with these guys. Birdland (a jazz standard) and TeenTown are classics. The latter featuring a blistering fretless bass line as the lead instrument. The whole album is absolutely outstandingly executed and timeless. Unbeatable driving music.

Weather Report's biggest-selling album is that ideal thing, a popular and artistic success -- and for the same reasons. For one thing, Joe Zawinul revealed an unexpectedly potent commercial streak for the first time since his Cannonball Adderley days, contributing what has become a perennial hit, "Birdland." Indeed, "Birdland" is a remarkable bit of record-making, a unified, ever-developing piece of music that evokes, without in any way imitating, a joyous evening on 52nd St. with a big band. The other factor is the full emergence of Jaco Pastorius as a co-leader; his dancing, staccato bass lifting itself out of the bass range as a third melodic voice, completely dominating his own ingenious "Teen Town" (where he also plays drums!). By now, Zawinul has become WR's de facto commander in the studio; his colorful synthesizers dictate the textures, his conceptions are carefully planned, with little of the freewheeling improvisation of only five years before. Wayne Shorter's saxophones are now reticent, if always eloquent, beams of light in Zawinul's general scheme while Alex Acuña shifts ably over to the drums and Manolo Badrena handles the percussion. Released just as the jazz-rock movement began to run out of steam, this landmark album proved that there was plenty of creative life left in the idiom.

Tracks Listing:

1. Birdland (5:57)

2. A Remark You Made (6:51)

3. Teen Town (2:51)

4. Harlequin (3:59)

5. Rumba Mama (2:11)

6. Palladium (4:46)

7. The Juggler (5:03)

8. Havona (6:01)


Joe Zawinul – ARP 2600 on all tracks except "Rumba Mamá", Rhodes electric piano on all tracks except "Birdland", "Rumba Mamá", and "Havona", Yamaha grand piano on "Birdland", "Harlequin", "The Juggler", and "Havona", Oberheim polyphonic synthesizer on all tracks except "Rumba Mamá", "Palladíum", and "The Juggler", vocals on "Birdland", melodica on "Birdland" and "Teen Town", guitar and tabla on "The Juggler".

Wayne Shorter – Soprano saxophone on all tracks except "A Remark You Made" and "Rumba Mamá", tenor saxophone on "Birdland", "A Remark You Made", and "Palladíum"

Jaco Pastorius – Fretless bass on all tracks except "Rumba Mamá", mandocello on "Birdland" and "The Juggler", vocals on "Birdland", drums on "Teen Town", steel drums on "Palladíum"

Alex Acuña – Drums on all tracks except "Teen Town" and "Rumba Mamá", congas and tom-toms on "Rumba Mamá", handclaps on "The Juggler"

Manolo Badrena – Tambourine on "Birdland", congas on "Teen Town", "Rumba Mamá", and "Palladíum", vocals on "Harlequin" and "Rumba Mamá", timbales on "Rumba Mamá", percussion on "Palladíum" and "The Juggler"

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Santana - 1974 "Borboletta"

Borboletta is the sixth studio album by the American Latin rock band Santana. It is one of their jazz-funk-fusion oriented albums, along with Caravanserai (1972), and Welcome (1973). Non-band albums by Carlos Santana in this style also include Love Devotion Surrender (1973) with John McLaughlin and Illuminations (1974) with Alice Coltrane, Jack DeJohnette and Jules Broussard. The guitarist leaves much room to percussion, saxophone and keyboards to set moods ("Spring Manifestations"), as well as lengthy solos by himself ("Promise of a Fisherman") and vocals ("Give and Take", a funky guitar-led song). The record was released in a metallic blue sleeve displaying a butterfly, an allusion to the album Butterfly Dreams (1973) by Brazilian musician Flora Purim and her husband Airto Moreira, whose contributions deeply influenced the sound of Borboletta. In Portuguese, borboleta means "butterfly".

This album is unfortunately too often over looked, but represents yet another highlight in the group's discography and a shot at equalling (but not really close) Caravanserai's perfection. Named (I think) on a rare blue Central American butterfly (the background shot is a close-up of its wing's structure), this album is all too discreet for its own good.

Starting on the same birdsong and sheep herd landscapes than its inspiration (but written by jazz-rock great Airto Moreira), you just know you will be in for another superb Santana ride as right after the intro, the first few mid-eastern scales of Canto De Flores directly lead you to heaven. As usual with Santana albums, happiness radiates from every pore of the vinyl record groove and Life Is Anew and Give And Take (both sung and hyper positive) are some of the better sung jazz-rock (I am usually not really a fan of that "thing"), and the vocals do help setting its own feel as opposed to its inspiration. On a lesser level, One With The Sun, while still lovely, is maybe one sung-track too many in a row, but I might be just a bit over-nitpicky. 

Aspirations quickly repairs this slight flaw with its splendidly cosmic calmness. After the great Practice What You Preach instrumental, one more sung tracks (I must say that Leon Patillo's voice is quite pleasing) the excellent Mirage, the impressive Here and Now is quite a departure from what Santana had us used to and segues into the highly fusional Flor De Canela, before the album climaxes in the lengthy Promise Of A Fisherman, which is not lying in its promise to the listener: although nothing never heard before, we are dealing with one of the last truly great lengthy Santana instrumental here. The closing Airto Moreira-penned track is rather anecdotical, but does close the album in the same intriguing manner it openned.

One of the thngs that differentiates this album from the ultimacy (if you'll allow the creation of a new word for that album) of Caravanserai is Greg Rollie's absence >> both his organs and his voice are aptly replaced and almost equalled. But really, this album has very few to envy to it either, so I will round up its rating to the upper unit, making it also a five star.

Original bassist David Brown returned to replace Doug Rauch and vocalist/keyboardist Leon Patillo joined. After the album's completion, drummer Michael Shrieve left, to be replaced by Leon "Ndugu" Chancler, who had guested on parts of the album.

Track listing:

01 Spring Manifestas (Sound Effects) 1:05

02 Canto De Las Flores 3:45

03 Life Is Anew 4:30

04 Give And Take 3:46

05 One With The Sun 4:20

06 Aspirations 5:12

07 Practice What You Preach 4:39

08 Mirage 4:43

09 Here And Now 3:01

10 Flora De Canelo 2:20

11 Promise Of A Fisherman 6:05

12 Borboletta 2:50

Total Time: 49:53


Carlos Santana – guitar (3-5, 7–11) percussion (2, 9), congas (7), gong (8), vocals (11), producer

Leon Patillo – vocals (3–5, 7, 8), piano (8), electric piano (3, 5), organ (4)

Flora Purim – vocals (1, 11)

Jules Broussard – soprano and tenor saxophones (4, 6, 9, 11)

Tom Coster – piano (4, 9), Hammond organ (7, 10, 11), electric piano, Fender Rhodes (2, 9–11), organ (3, 5, 6, 8), Moog synthesizer (4, 8), producer

Stanley Clarke – bass guitar (6, 9–11)

David Brown – bass guitar (2, 4, 5, 7, 8)

Michael Shrieve – drums (2–5, 7, 8), producer

Leon "Ndugu" Chancler – drums (6, 9)

Airto Moreira – drums (10, 11), percussion (12), sound effects (1), triangle (11), vocals (12)

Armando Peraza – percussion, congas (2, 4–6, 8, 11), bongos (3, 6, 11), soprano saxophone (10)

José Areas – timbales (4), congas (2, 3)

Michael Carpenter – echoplex (2)

Monday, December 11, 2023

Danny Gatton - 1994 "88 Elmira St."

The Story

"88 Elmira St." showcases the ferocious technical ability of guitarist Danny Gatton, who has absorbed every significant American guitar style into his beautifully eclectic, inimitable and soulful guitar voice. "88 Elmira St.", Danny's major label debut, presents an eleven piece cross section of this man's musical versatility. Highlights include the infectious opener "Funky Mama", and the Beach Boys cover, "In My Room", done in true Gatton instrumental fashion.

88 Elmira St. is a 1991 album by guitarist Danny Gatton. The album was Gatton's fifth, but his first on a major record label—Elektra. The instrumental album covers a number of genres, including jazz, country, rockabilly, and blues.

When Gatton signed to Elektra, their only stipulation for his first album on the label was that it should be solely instrumental. On presenting his ideas for the album to the label, they suggested he cut his version of the Simpsons theme tune. The manualist flatulence at the end of the recording may have been Gatton's response to the label's suggestion.

The album's title, 88 Elmira St., is a reference to Gatton's home as a child. Gatton stated that at the time of producing the album, he "was playing Scotty Moore's original guitar [...] It's a Gibson ES-295, and I bought it trashed out twelve years ago. It sounded incredibly good; it had some magic in it, but I didn't know it was Scotty's. Then Billy Hancock kept offering me all kinds of money for it, way more than it should have been worth, so I said, 'What's the deal?' He said, 'I think you've got Scotty Moore's guitar there.'" Similarities to Moore, Al Casey and James Burton can be heard on the album.

After years of knocking around the Washington, D.C.-area circuit, local guitar legend Danny Gatton finally got to cut his first album for a major label. It was indeed worth the wait, spot-welding blinding speed and immaculate chops that went in a million different directions (jazz, country, rockabilly, blues, you name it) to a musical sensibility that made this all-instrumental album a whole lot more than just yer average fretboard wanking jam-fest. Gatton's Telecaster really shines on diverse material ranging from Martin Denny's "Quiet Village" to the roadhouse shuffle "Funky Mama" to the off-the-wall rendition of the theme to The Simpsons. Kudos to Elektra for having the corporate balls to put this out; short, chunky, and middle-aged, Danny Gatton was a bona fide guitar hero for the '90s, putting the lie to the hard canard that only speedburner metal mega-hair dudes can make the front covers of the guitar mags.

Track listing:

01. "Funky Mama" Big John Patton 5:41

02. "Elmira St. Boogie" Danny Gatton 4:03

03. "Blues Newburg" Danny Gatton 4:10

04. "Quiet Village" Les Baxter 4:49

05. "Red Label" Chris Battistone, Danny Gatton 5:05

06. "In My Room" Gary Usher, Brian Wilson 4:53

07. "The Simpsons" Danny Elfman 3:17

08. "Muthaship" Danny Gatton, Billy Windsor, Stephen Windsor 4:39

09. "Pretty Blue" Danny Gatton 6:07

10. "Fandangus" Danny Gatton 3:06

11. "Slidin' Home" Danny Gatton 4:54

Total length: 50:44


Danny Gatton Guitar, Slide Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, 5-String Banjo, Lap Steel, 5-String Bass on "Quiet Village", Handclaps on "Pretty Blue", Second Guitar on "The Simpsons", Production, Arrangement

Bill Holloman Arrangement, Saxophones (Tenor, Alto, Baritone), Trumpet, Clarinet, Trombone, Hammond B-3 Organ, Vibes, Piano, Handclaps on "Pretty Blue", Yamaha DX7, Roland D50

Shannon Ford Drums, Percussion, Hand-D-Gas on "The Simpsons"

John Previti Upright Bass, 5-String Bass, Ripper Bass

Tommy Lepson Hammond B3 Organ on "Quiet Village"

Thursday, November 16, 2023

Chick Corea Elektric Band - 2023 "The Future Is Now"

Founded in 1986, The Chick Corea Elektric Band has long held a high standard, with Eric Marienthal on saxophones, Frank Gambale on guitar, John Patitucci on electric bass, and Dave Weckl on drums. It’s the ensemble with whom brilliant keyboardist, Chick Corea, (pioneer of the genre since the creation of the band Return to Forever in 1972) has been able to experiment with writing jazz fusion the most – both in its grooves, and its sonic textures. After changing the group’s makeup several times and reforming the initial group around the 2000s (see To the Stars released in 2004), Corea led this all-star lineup for his last major “electric” tours, between 2016 and 2018 (before his death in February 2021 from cancer). This album The Future Is Now gives us the opportunity to hear unreleased excerpts from his final tour.

Featuring long and epic performances of some of Corea’s biggest hits, while leaving plenty of room for individual improvisation, the Chick Corea Elektric Band appears here at its best and most seductive. Their organic cohesion, resulting from their collective arrangements that are as sophisticated as they are effective, is balanced with luxurious instrumental virtuosity constantly going beyond the framework of the original songs. The group offers two long hours of consistently lyrical and accessible music, released here for the first time ever.

Led by the legendary pianist and composer Chick Corea - 27-time Grammy® winner and National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Master - The Elektric Band stormed onto the jazz scene in the mid-1980s, making an immediate and lasting impact on the genre. With their electrifying performances and innovative blend of jazz fusion, the group produced a series of albums that set the bar for excellence in contemporary jazz.

Featuring a core lineup of virtuosic musicians - John Patitucci on bass, Dave Weckl on drums, Eric Marienthal on saxophone and Frank Gambale on guitar - the group created a dynamic and electrifying sound that came to define the jazz fusion style. Their collective musicianship was on full display on each album, as they seamlessly blended complex compositions with captivating improvisations.

After releasing five legendary albums in the span of six years, Corea, always interested in expanding the scope of his work, devoted himself to a myriad of other musical projects.

Compiled by Corea before his passing in February of 2021, this incredible and previously unreleased album of live recordings with the reunited original Elektric Band, was captured during tour stops in 2016 and 2017.

Produced by Corea with original Elektric Band recording engineer Bernie Kirsh, and mastered by Bernie Grundman, this album features in-depth liner notes from Corea, and all of the Elektric Band members. It is a fitting closing chapter, a must-have for any fan of this dynamic and game-changing group.

Featuring liner notes from each individual band member, and descriptions of each track from Chick himself.

This is the definitive live Elektric Band record Chick put together for the world to hear -- featuring tracks spanning their decades-long discography and serving as a celebration, and a fitting closing chapter, to the band's incredible legacy.

Tracks Listing:

CD 1

1. Charged Particles (7:48)

2. Trance Dance (15:41)

3. Cta (16:02)

4. Jocelyn - The Commander (7:59)

5. Beneath the Mask (6:15)

CD 2

1. Ished (11:34)

2. Alan Corday (16:06)

3. Johnny's Landing (18:37)

4. Got a Match (18:47)

Total Time 118:49

Line-up / Musicians

- Chick Corea / keyboards

- John Patitucci / bass

- Frank Gambale / guitar

- Eric Marienthal / saxophone

- Dave Weckl / drums

Friday, November 10, 2023

Collin Walcott - 1976 [2008] "Cloud Dance"

Cloud Dance is the debut album by American sitarist and composer Collin Walcott, released in 1975 on the ECM label. For this record Walcott was joined by the group Gateway consisting of John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette. It was recorded in March 1975, as was the group's debut Gateway. Abercrombie had worked with Walcott the previous year on David Liebman's Drum Ode (ECM 1046), and they collaborated again on Walcott's 1977 album Grazing Dreams.

The authors of the Penguin Guide to Jazz Recordings awarded the album 4 stars, praising its "freshness and originality," and stating: "'Prancing', for just tablas and double bass, is one of the most exciting performances in the ECM catalogue and convincing evidence of Walcott's desire to extend the idiom of the Garrison/Jones rhythm section... the album as a whole can quite reasonably be heard as a suite of related pieces that dance towards their thematic source in the closing title-piece."[7]

Writing for Vinyl Vault, Geoff Anderson commented: "The musicians were all top-flight and leaders in their own right. They came together and mixed the eastern and western sounds to create something like acoustic jazz-fusion with an Indian twist. Abercrombie's ethereal electric guitar, floating above and around Walcott's sitar is particularly effective in creating a dreamy, cloud-like ambience on several tunes. On the cut 'Prancing,' Walcott on tabla and Holland on bass put the 'dance' in 'Cloud Dance' with a particularly energetic and, yes, danceable performance."[8]

In an article at Between Sound and Space, Tyran Grillo called the recording "one of [Walcott's] most powerful albums ever to grace ECM's vinyl... grooves", and wrote: "The telephone wires on the cover are like the strings of some large instrument, with the sky as its sound box. Its clouds don't so much dance as perform, caressing endless waves of voices careening through the ether. The joy of Cloud Dance is that it makes those voices intelligible. Fans of Oregon, of which Walcott was of course an integral part, need look no further for likeminded contemplation."

Collin Walcott defined a corner of improvisation all his own with his unique approach to the sitar and tabla. When the newly-formed Gateway trio of John Abercrombie, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette joined him for “Cloud Dance” the results were magical.

The late, great Collin Walcott made his proper ECM debut on Cloud Dance (after an appearance three years earlier on Trios/Solos), where he was joined by the Gateway trinity—John Abercrombie, Dave Holland, and Jack DeJohnette—for one of his most powerful albums ever to grace ECM’s vinyl (and later, digital, thanks to a vital Touchstone series reissue) grooves. The marrow-warming twang of Walcott’s sitar sets up the opening “Margueritte” to be a long raga, when suddenly Abercrombie’s electric appears in kind, beckoning a chill entourage of bass and drums and touching off a pair of graceful solos from Abercrombie and Holland. The album’s remainder is fleshed out by a variety of intimate configurations. “Night Glider” and “Vadana” both feature guitar, bass, and sitar, the latter two instruments feeding beautifully off one another, the guitar weaving in and out where it may. The two duets between Walcott and Holland, however, are really where this album gilds its worth. Our frontman lays out plush carpets of tabla and sitar on “Prancing” and “Eastern Song,” respectively, over which Holland takes stock of every variation of pattern and thread count. The second of these pieces, while the briefest of the album, is also one of its most mesmerizing. Contrary to what the titles might have us believe, these are all genuinely realized pieces where the word “exotic” is but another puff of smoke in the breeze. And so, the heavy tabla and shawm-like guitar of “Scimitar” describes not the weapon wielded in the hands of countless white actors in uninformed filmic productions, but rather an exploration of the object on its own terms, tracing forms and histories, battles and silences alike, with due abandon. So, too, with the final and title cut that brings DeJohnette back into the mix for an animated closer.

The telephone wires on the cover are like the strings of some large instrument, with the sky as its sound box. Its clouds don’t so much dance as perform, caressing endless waves of voices careening through the ether. The joy of Cloud Dance is that it makes those voices intelligible. Fans of Oregon, of which Walcott was of course an integral part, need look no further for likeminded contemplation.

Track listing:

All compositions by Collin Walcott except as indicated.

"Margueritte" - 8:32

"Prancing" - 3:24

"Night Glider" - 6:40

"Scimitar" (John Abercrombie, Walcott) - 2:46

"Vadana" - 7:00

"Eastern Song" - 2:34

"Padma" (Abercrombie, Walcott) - 2:47

"Cloud Dance" - 5:47


Collin Walcott — sitar, tabla

John Abercrombie — guitar

Dave Holland — bass

Jack DeJohnette — drums

Thursday, November 9, 2023

Larry Coryell - 1976 [2019] "Basics"

This album of leftovers from Vanguard sessions is better than it appears but far from essential. The personnel listing is confusing (and inexcusably leaves off the name of tenor-saxophonist Jim Pepper). The music, which ranges from basic blues to early fusion and only clocks in at around 31 minutes, also features organist Mike Mandel and several rhythm sections. Fans of guitarist Larry Coryell (a fusion pioneer) may find some moments of interest here.

This album was released in 1975 but is some leftover tracks from Coryell's 1968-1969 Vanguard recording sessions. It is only 32 minutes and the sound quality is pretty good.

The music here is typical of Coryell during this time period, mixing blues, jazz and rock with even a little Southern Rock flavor thrown in. I think it is Coryell at his best.

I think his best period is his early period until 1974 when he moved on to more jazz fusion typical of the mid 1970s (Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, etc.). At the end of the 1970s he started experimenting in all kinds of music. 

I guess that the title imposed to this album means its keeping within the most basic alternation between opening main riff and subsequent improvisation. At least, that seems to be the dynamics underpinning this record, and to be honest, it's fine for me, from the moment that it's all good: the group sounds as tight as you have the right to expect from the tremendous musical talents involved, and the improvisation itself, even going through many ups and downs in melodic richness and instrumental dexterity, never indulges in a dull passage.

As for the customary account of influences, I must say that in "Half A Heart", besides the obvious latin flavour, there's some undeniable hints of Peter Green in the electric guitar phrasing and the vocals coming in with a timing very resemblant of "Black Magic Woman".

Originally the tracks on this album were recorded in 68 & 69, and intended for release, but didn't see the light of day until 71 or even 76 (depending on the country of release), but several tracks were released in different versions in LC's late-60's/early 70's albums. They were repackaged in a wild psychedelic package at the aforementioned dates, but by that time LC's music was vastly different so some of these songs might seem quite dated, even then.

There are some straight (Slow) blues tracks, some late 60's Yarbirds-style rockers (Consciousness, Friday Night), other more Cream-like psych-rock (Half A Heart, Sex, Jam With Albert) and slightly jazzy rock (Tyrone & Organ Blues)

Difficult to call this "album" essential for progheads, but while vastly influenced by his then-heroes, Basics might just give you a clue how a jazz giant navigated from his rock roots to jazz rock, then pure jazz., but it won't give the full blown impact of LC's best rocking albums. 

Not a prog monument, but, even so, a very enjoyable record.

Track listing:

1 Call to the Higher Consciousness 5:17

2 Slow Blues 4:22

3 Friday Night 2:22

4 Half a Heart 3:30

5 Sex 4:32

6 Tyrone 3:00

7 The Jam With Albert 2:55

8 Organ Blues 5:19


Larry Coryell — vocals, guitar, keyboards, synthesizer

Mike Mandel — organ, keyboards

Chuck Rainey — electric bass

Ron Carter — electric bass

Steve Haas — drums

Bernard "Pretty" Purdie — drums

Ray Mantilla — percussion