Friday, July 16, 2021

Charlier - Sourisse Multiquarium Big Band feat. Biréli Lagrène - 2020 "Remembering Jaco"

 Jaco Pastorius is well worth remembering, so this new album by French big band Multiquarium would be welcome for that reason alone. But this is a superior collection by any standards. No single arranger is credited: one can only assume the job was a collaboration instigated by the band’s leaders, drummer André Charlier and pianist/organist Benoît Sourisse. Meanwhile, Biréli Lagrène (best known as a guitarist, although he sticks to fretless bass here), has the almost impossible task of living up to Pastorius’s legacy. Lagrène has certainly earned the right: as a guitarist, he played and recorded with Jaco, and was co-credited with him on the posthumous 1986 album Stuttgart Aria.

And what an astonishing player he is. Just listen to the intro to Invitation which the band plays at around 160bpm with Lagrène pumping out the sixteenth notes with the greatest of ease. Personally, as a long-time admirer of the great Laurence Cottle (not to mention Laurence’s disciple Janek Gwizdala), that makes my head spin. I would add that anyone who is still suspicious of the Pastorius style, regarding the very concept of “lead bass” as a contradiction, might do well to give this a listen. Producer Charlier has sensibly avoided mixing Lagrène too high, so that his playing doesn’t dominate: he blends in beautifully.

As you’d expect, the tunes on Remembering Jaco are taken from both the Weather Report years and Jaco’s solo career. Material from his eponymous official first solo album includes Continuum, Kuru/Speak Like a Child and (Used to be a) Cha-Cha. There’s also a version of Jaco’s composition Teen Town from Weather Report’s Heavy Weather, with its memorable bass intro, while Invitation, Liberty City and Fannie Mae all appeared on his Invitation live album from 1983.

Remembering Jaco is an enjoyably varied set. The band is super-tight, and they swing like a barn door in a gale. Not everything is taken at the sort of uptempo clip we usually associate with Jaco: Three Views of a Secret is a serene waltz, and there are some fine solos here from Stéphane Chausse on clarinet, Pierre Perchaud on guitar and Claude Egéa on flugelhorn. Elsewhere I particularly enjoyed the solo work of altoist Lucas Saint-Cricq and pianist Sourisse on Barbary Coast. The album culminates with Buster Brown’s blues Fannie Mae, sung here with gravelly panache by Yannick Boudruche.

Multiquarium Big Band feat. Biréli Lagrène: “Remerbering Jaco” is a tribute to Jaco Pastorius’s music, made by André Charlier (drums) and Benoit Sourisse (piano) from the Multiquarium Big Band, one of the best French Big Bands.

Jaco Pastorius is a big star in the Jazz-Rock scene (and beyond), an icon for bass players all around the world, the one who brought to electric bass the possibility of becoming in some cases, a soloist instrument in a band. Jaco Pastorius made very famous solo albums and wrote amazing big band music. He played with Pat Metheny, Joni Mitchell but was also a very important member of the famous Jazz-rock band, Weather Report with Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Peter Erskine (who contributes some spoken word to this album!)

The virtuoso gypsy guitar player, Biréli Lagrène, has been invited to play electric fretless bass on the album. Biréli, who, as a young genius of the guitar, began to play in Montreux when he was 14, he is now 50 and played one year and a half with Jaco Pastorius on stage when he was 19 years old. Biréli is an amazing bass player, he perfectly integrated how Jaco’s Music was working and pushed it beyond its borders.


    Alto Saxophone, Clarinet, Bass Clarinet – Stéphane Chausse
    Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Lucas Saint-Cricq    
    Baritone Saxophone – Frédéric Couderc
    Bass Trombone, Tuba – Didier Havet
    Drums, Mixed By, Mastered By – André Charlier
    Fretless Bass, Guest – Biréli Lagrène (tracks: all tracks)    
    Guest, Narrator [Spoken Text] – Peter Erskine (tracks: 1, 4, 8, 12)
    Guitar – Pierre Perchaud
    Percussion – Nicolas Charlier
    Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Electric Organ [Hammond Organ] – Benoît Sourisse
    Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Stéphane Guillaume
    Tenor Saxophone – Frédéric Borey
    Trombone – Damien Verherve, Denis Leloup, Philippe Georges
    Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Claude Egéa, Erick Poirier, Pierre Drevet, Yves Le Carboulec

Track listing:

01 Introduction by Peter Erskine     1:19
02 Used to Be a Cha Cha     4:49
03 Barbary Coast     6:19
04 Interlude by Peter Erskine #1     1:08
05 Liberty City (intro) / Invitation     9:46
06 Continuum     2:01
07 Kuru / Speak Like a Child     6:42
08 Interlude by Peter Erskine #2     1:30
09 Teen Town     3:32
10 Three Views of a Secret     6:15
11 Palladium     8:15
12 Conclusion by Peter Erskine     2:10
13 Fanny Mae     3:46

Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Pat Metheny - 1983 [1986] "Travels"


Travels is the Pat Metheny Group's first live album, released in 1983. It won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.

The album consists of live material recorded in July, October, and November 1982, in Philadelphia, Dallas, Sacramento, Hartford, and Nacogdoches (Texas). The Group for this album consisted of Pat Metheny, Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, Dan Gottlieb, and guest Nana Vasconcelos.

It was voted number 570 in the third edition of Colin Larkin's All Time Top 1000 Albums (2000).

Travels was recorded as part of the tour for the Group's 1982 studio album, Offramp, but also featured previously unrecorded and unreleased songs.

In the liner notes for his ECM Rarum compilation album, Metheny expressed great love for the live rendition of "Are You Going with Me?" and appreciated the audience for whom it was played in Philadelphia.

The track "Song for Bilbao", dedicated to audiences in Bilbao, Spain, was often played as an encore.

This is a truly remarkable album for jazz and non-jazz fans alike. Although Metheny's compositions are quite complex, they are immediately accessible. melodic and at times dream-like. This album will quickly draw you in and keep you on the hook from start to finish. As a bonus, this is a very fine pressing with excellent dynamics. I purchased the album originally in vinyl when it first came out not long after I had seen them live at Red Rocks. But since disposing of my vinyl collection years ago, I had forgotten about the album. Thrilled beyond words to have it back. It sounds as tight and fresh and ethereal as I remember it. A must buy for the serious music collection.

Some live albums are distractions and/or are sloppy in comparison to the original, but that is not the case in this wonderful collection. It is so powerful in its delivery, so honest in its presentation, that I sometimes just stop doing everything to listen to its detail, and then, conversely, to its completeness. Every player comes through so keenly - and yet it merges so well.
My personal favorite: The Fields, The Sky. The simple play between Metheny and Mays, the unpretentious presentation, the bass and drums pushing to a always makes me laugh with glee!
My favorite album to put on when the house is empty and I can rev it up.

Now well into its gliding Brazilian-tinged mode, the Pat Metheny Group hits the road, as this two-CD set catches the band live in Dallas, Philadelphia, Hartford, Sacramento, and Nacogdoches, TX. Percussionist Naná Vasconcelos is still listed as a "special guest," but ever since Wichita Falls, he had not only been a part of the group, he was the transforming element in the Metheny "sound," adding his various shakers, effects and ethereal vocals. Sidekick Lyle Mays gets deeper into floating, glistening synthesizer textures, but he is still able to take formidable and touching solos on acoustic grand piano. Still experimenting with new hardware, Metheny's work on a detuned guitar synthesizer gives the live "As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls" an exotic Balinese-like sound. Other highlights are the hard Brazilian grooves on "Straight On Red" and "Song for Bilbao," as well as the trademark Metheny glide of "Are You Going With Me?" -- and the brief title track has a winning, guileless simplicity much like that of Keith Jarrett in a prayerful mood. If you liked the popular Offramp, you'll fall for Travels, too, but get the former album first.

If you’ve ever desired a Pat Metheny Group greatest hits album, then Travels is for you. Compiled from the group’s touring activities in 1982, this double set is a must-have. From the glittering lotus of melody that is “San Lorenzo” to the even more effusive “Phase Dance,” the requisite classics are all here. We also get a curtailed, though no less epic, version of “As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls,” which here draws out like a long cinematic fade and throws the windows open wide to the band’s boggling sonic purview. And one can hardly help but swoon from the dizzying heights reached by this live version of “Are You Going With Me?” Here the studio version seems but a memory on the path to glory, and finds exuberant life in what is perhaps Metheny’s best solo on record. An absolute affirmation.

Yet the album’s true value comes in the handful of songs exclusive to it. Through these we encounter softer sides of the PMG, each burnished like a different shade of leather. “The Fields, The Sky” is an outstanding place to start. Vasconcelos’s unmistakable berimbau threads a supremely melodious backdrop, while Metheny is at once distant and nearby, winding a slow and organic retrograde around the fiery center within. Vasconcelos is also the voice of “Goodbye,” a forlorn piece of sonic stationery across which Metheny inscribes a most heartbreaking letter toward a ripple of an ending. This pairs nicely with the title track, a laid-back photograph of Americana that is like a rocking chair on the back porch: lulling, and affording an unobstructed vista. Similar strains await us in “Farmer’s Trust,” a slow plunge into an ocean of undriven roads gilded by the whispering of baby birds and the rustling of the leaves that hide them, and in the smoothly paved blacktops of the synth-driven “Extradition” and “Song for Bilbao.” Each of these creeps along like wispy clouds over badlands, spun by keyboardist Lyle Mays into sunset. But it isn’t all drawl, as drummer Dan Gottlieb proves in the invigorating “Straight On Red,” throughout which he provides the perfect springboard for the masterful dialogues of Metheny and Mays.

Track listing:

All tracks are written by Pat Metheny and Lyle Mays except where noted.

Disc one:
1.    "Are You Going with Me?"         9:19
2.    "The Fields, the Sky"    Metheny    7:46
3.    "Goodbye"    Metheny    8:16
4.    "Phase Dance"         8:03
5.    "Straight on Red"         7:26
6.    "Farmer's Trust"    Metheny    6:25

Disc two:
1.    "Extradition"    Metheny    5:45
2.    "Goin' Ahead/As Falls Wichita, So Falls Wichita Falls"         16:22
3.    "Travels"         5:03
4.    "Song for Bilbao"    Metheny    8:28
5.    "San Lorenzo"         13:35


    Pat Metheny – acoustic and electric guitars, guitar synthesizer
    Lyle Mays – piano, synthesizers, electric organ, autoharp, Synclavier
    Steve Rodby – acoustic and electric bass, bass synthesizer
    Danny Gottlieb – drums
    Nana Vasconcelos – percussion, voice, berimbau

Wednesday, June 2, 2021

McCoy Tyner - 2008 "Guitars"


Guitars is an album by McCoy Tyner released on his McCoy Tyner Music (a subsidiary of Half Note Records) label in 2008. It was recorded in September 2006 and features performances by Tyner, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette with guitarists Marc Ribot, John Scofield, Béla Fleck, Derek Trucks, and Bill Frisell. The album also contains a DVD featuring video footage of the studio sessions.

This is McCoy Tyner's second release on his own label, and it is odd, to say the least. Around the fixed trio of the pianist, Ron Carter on drums and Jack DeJohnette on drums, one of today's leading guitarists is added to form a quartet : first Marc Ribot, then John Scofield, Belà Fleck, Steve Trucks and ending with Bill Frisell. All six guitarists are of course stylistically totally different, although they kind of accomodate McCoy here. The end result is at best entertaining, fun to hear, with great musicians showing some of their skills. But it's not great music, just good. The playing is good, the music a little boring. And at times it's even a little pathetic, like when Belà Fleck plays "My Favorite Things" on his banjo. It is all a little bit sad : it lacks musical vision and creativity, and I hate to say this about a musician for whom I've always had the greatest esteem. Yet if you like to hear jazz guitar in its many variations, you might like this, although it adds nothing to these musicians' already vast list of albums. Well, maybe. It's the first time I hear Ribot play in such a conventional jazzy fashion (on "500 Miles").

Ah, but McCoy had one more twist for this one-of-a-kind record: he let the guitarists themselves decide which two or three songs they wanted to play with Tyner’s trio. Tyner was clearly interested in getting his guest six string slingers firmly invested in his project.

These guitarists were also given a lot of lead parts, often being the ones who state the main melody instead of Tyner. So much so, that sometimes Tyner is virtually a sideman on his own record. However, few can play that supporting role as well he does, and his presence is always felt. Perhaps not so coincidentally, Tyner shows a somewhat lighter touch on the piano than what he’s normally known for.

As to each of the collaborations, they’ve all worked out reasonably well, but some better than others. John Scofield previously duet-ed with Tyner on a couple of tracks for Tyner’s otherwise solo piano record Things Ain’t What They Used To Be from 1989.

Scofield chose two classic compositions from Tyner’s sixties period. “Mr. P.C.” is one that is tied to Tyner via his stint with ‘Trane. Scofield does yeoman’s work, even if he sounds a little stiff at first, then loosens up nicely after a while. His other selection is a Tyner standard, “Blues On The Corner,” a great tune, but a it’s pretty pedestrian rendering.

Bela Fleck’s contributions stand out from the others, as expected, simply because he’s playing an instrument foreign to a jazz trio. However, Fleck chose some tunes that provided a good setting for both himself and the pianist. The first two are Fleck’s own compositions “Trade Winds” and “Amberjack,” and the Broadway song made famous by Coltrane, “My Favorite Things.” Both Tyner and Fleck play surprisingly well together, but Dejohnette’s outstanding kit work on the latter two that also got my attention. for his part, Fleck seems much at ease with Tyner and the two blended together their playing effectively.

The Allman Brothers’ Derek Trucks came to the session with Tyner’s “Slapback Blues,” which is a logical choice since Trucks comes to jazz via the blues and Tyner’s own conception of jazz is blues-based. Trucks is clearly in his element and shines on his solo turn. “Greensleeves” is performed in much the same way that “My Favorite Things” is, and Tyner puts in a particularly crisp solo.

Like Bela Fleck, Bill Frisell also came to the proceedings with a couple of his own tunes in hand: The mystical, rhythm-less “Boubacar” and “Baba Drame,” which with it’s extended world music groove evokes Tyner’s excellent early seventies Milestone work. But for the third piece, Frisell, like Scofield, digs up a superb selection from Tyner’s 1967 Blue Noter The Real McCoy, “Contemplation.” And once again, it’s solid but not exceptional. Frisell’s playing is subdued throughout, preferring to play a texturist role than a true lead part.

Bela Fleck notwithstanding, the most successful pairing overall was one I would have least expected: that experimental, John Zorn/Tom Waits kind of guy Marc Ribot. Ribot is more than those things, naturally, but while he suppressed his rough edges for this meeting, he was nonetheless the most creative and nonconformal of the lot.

The traditional piece “500 Miles” is made new again with Ribot’s arrangement, which isn’t too much unlike the way Coltrane might have handled it when Tyner was in his band. Subtly but effectively using pedal effects, Ribot’s guitar is both stinging and soulful. “Passion Dance” is worth listening to just to hear Ribot’s fuzz guitar pair up with Tyner’s forceful left hand. The guitarist’s rock solo sounds a bit out of place, but the backing trio is so muscular, they don’t get overwhelmed like most other acoustic backing units would.

Track listing

All compositions by McCoy Tyner except were indicated

    "Improvisation 2" (Marc Ribot, Tyner) – 1:34
    "Passion Dance" – 6:10
    "500 Miles" (Traditional) – 6:22
    "Mr. P.C." (John Coltrane) – 6:21
    "Blues on the Corner" – 6:07
    "Improvisation 1" (Ribot, Tyner) – 3:46
    "Trade Winds" (Bela Fleck) – 6:35
    "Amberjack" (Fleck) – 4:36
    "My Favorite Things" (Oscar Hammerstein II, Richard Rodgers) – 7:01
    "Slapback Blues" – 3:46
    "Greensleeves" (Traditional) – 6:15
    "Contemplation" – 7:55
    "Boubacar" (Bill Frisell) – 2:18
    "Baba Drame" (Boubacar Traoré) – 5:21


    McCoy Tyner – piano
    Bill Frisell – guitar (tracks 12, 13 & 14)
    Marc Ribot – guitar (tracks 1, 2, 3 & 6)
    John Scofield – guitar (tracks 4 & 5)
    Derek Trucks – guitar (tracks 10 & 11)
    Béla Fleck – banjo (tracks 7, 8 & 9)
    Ron Carter – double bass
    Jack DeJohnette – drums

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Steppenwolf - 1971 "For Ladies Only"


For Ladies Only is the sixth studio album by Canadian-American rock band Steppenwolf. The album was released in November 1971, by Dunhill Records. It is a political concept album mainly about feminism but with several more conventional songs about romance as well, both unusual themes for Steppenwolf. Some critics saw the album as sexist, citing the lyrics of the songs and a photo of a car shaped like a penis alongside the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the gatefold. The album saw the band hinting toward the progressive rock movement that was popular at the time with more complex arrangements and sophisticated keyboard playing, particularly on the title track. Like their previous album, it was accompanied by two minor hit singles which fell just short of the Top 40.[4]

Lead guitarist Kent Henry from Blues Image, replaced Larry Byrom prior to recording this album. The album was Steppenwolf's last of new material released prior to the band's initial breakup in February 1972.

In the early months of 1971, Steppenwolf celebrated what, by then, was three years of unbroken success by releasing the Gold: Their Great Hits compilation. Within a few weeks, it lived up to its name by becoming their latest gold album.

By September of that year, the Los Angeles rockers were returning to studio work with the release of their sixth LP For Ladies Only. The concept of the record was as bold, for the times, as its title, conceived as a concept album on the subject of feminism.

As it turned out, Steppenwolf’s initial heyday was drawing to a close, and For Ladies Only became their last album of new material before they split in 1972, ahead of a successful reunion two years later. But the album (produced, like its predecessor Steppenwolf 7, by Richie Podolor) still gave the band some new chart activity, reaching No.54 and two singles from it appearing on the Hot 100.

For Ladies Only represents, for Steppenwolf, a branching out into new directions, which is a healthy sign for them The LP could be best described as a transitional one in which Steppenwolf wants to retain it’s roots, yet wishes to stay out of a particular mold at the same time.

 Track listing:

For Ladies Only     9:13
I'm Asking     4:25
Shackles & Chains     4:57
Tenderness     4:51
The Night Time's For You     2:56
Jaded Strumpet     4:40
Sparkle Eyes     4:29
Black Pit     3:45
Ride With Me     3:15
In Hopes Of A Garden     2:01


    John Kay – vocals, guitar
    Kent Henry – lead guitar
    George Biondo – vocals, bass guitar
    Goldy McJohn – Hammond organ, piano
    Jerry Edmonton – drums

Daryl Stuermer - 1988 "Steppin' Out"

 Terrific debut album by one of the most underrated guitarists in Rock. Was always a fan of Daryl after he joined Genesis & especially as Phil Collins' lead guitarist. This 1988 album, which is technically smooth jazz, is a crackerjack of an album & contains many melodic & pleasant tunes. It even has a instrumental version of "I don't wanna know" which Daryl co-wrote with Collins for his NJR album. Great song & one of my all time favs. The other tracks are great as well & won't disappoint if you're a fan of Smooth Jazz or Daryl's Genesis work.

Even though Daryl Stuermer had played with George Duke, Jean-Luc Ponty, Genesis, Phil Collins and others for many years, he did not release a solo album until 1988. The style is very much guitar fusion in the style of Larry Carlton and others. It is also a product of it's time in the sense that he does not play as much of the hard-core jazz-guitar as he did with Jean-Luc Ponty. But it does not feature the worst 80's excesses in the form of drum machines or brutal synths either. In fact, it is a very pleasant affair with good songs and nice arrangements. The guitar playing also combines excellent technique with lots of feeling in a very elegant way. Highly recommended if you are into this style of music!

Many do not know Daryl Sturmer other than his stint with Phil Collins & Genisis....... But, This Guy is the REAL DEAL as far as Guitarists! This is his First Solo Album. And, to me, Maybe? Maybe, His Best........ If your'e a guitarist or just love Great Guitarists - You Have to give this man a whirl! I've seen him live more times than I can count (before Collins - who Never allowed him to show his Real Talent). I remember him playing with his band - "Sweet Bottom" as a House Band in Milwaukee.......... Once you've heard Any of his albums - You'll want hem ALL!

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Kyoto Rose (4:40)
2. I Don't Wanna Know (instrumental version) (4:39)
3. Anthem (5:45)
4. Venturing Out (5:23)
5. Electric City (5:12)
6. Night Flyer (6:07)
7. 20th Century Lady (4:44)
8. The Highlands (4:54)

Total Time 41:24
Line-up / Musicians

- Daryl Stuermer / guitar, bass (8), sequencer, drum machine, composer & arranger, co-producer

- Brad Cole / synthesizer, arrangements
- Leland Sklar / bass
- Mark Torroll / percussion, drums
- Gary Barnacle / alto & tenor saxes (2)

Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Various Artists - Guitar Player Presents - "Legends Of Guitar - Rock The '60s" - Volume 2


Guitar Player Presents Rock: Legends of Guitar: The '60s, Vol. 2 gathers 18 blistering performances from late-'60s guitar greats, including Jeff Beck's "Beck's Bolero," the Allman Brothers Band's "Trouble No More," and Ronnie Hawkins' "Who Do You Love." Sandy Nelson's "Mr. John Lee, Pt. 1" and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers' "The Supernatural" and "Knockers Step Forward" lend a bluesy flair to the collection, while Cream's "Tales of Brave Ulysses" showcases Eric Clapton's fusion of blues and psychedelia. Though the album does spotlight classic guitar solos, such as the one on Jerry Garcia's "Love Scene," more often than not it features songs where great playing is integral to the song rather than decoration. Willie Mitchell's "Soul Serenade," Taj Mahal's "Six Days on the Road," and Bobby Gregg and His Friends' "The Jam, Pt. 1" all let other elements in the songs share the spotlight with the guitar, and they're all the better for it. The Wailers' "Frenzy," Travis Wammack's "Scratchy," and Country Joe & the Fish's "Section 43" are some of the other highlights from this album, which mixes a wide array of rock styles and players into a refreshingly diverse tribute that's almost as versatile as the guitar itself.

I bought this CD for one specific song: "Scratchy" by Travis Wammack. I remember listening to the tune on AM radio back in my high school days - it definitely sounds great on disc. There were a couple of other songs that I didn't exactly recall but were great bonus tracks for me. The psychedelic sound of "Section 43" by Country Joe & the Fish was an incredible find; so was "Six Days on the Road" by Taj Majal. I commend Rhino for this compilation of great but rare sounds.

They don't make compilations like this anymore. Plus, the liner notes guy is a funny one, (just read about the p***sy one comment) very knowledgeable and informative. Kudos to the store: Got my Item as described. The sound on the CD is pretty clean and some tracks have a great remastering, even matching today standards!
Thank you.

Artists - Track listing:

01    Jeff Beck – Beck's Bolero
02    Willie Mitchell – Soul Serenade
03    Ronnie Hawkins – Who Do You Love
04    Sandy Nelson – Mr. John Lee - Pt. 1
05    The Lovin' Spoonful – Night Owl Blues
06    Taj Mahal – Six Days On The Road
07    The Fendermen – Torture
08    Jerry Garcia – Love Scene
09    Country Joe And The Fish – Section 43
10    Travis Wammack – Scratcy
11    Cream – Tales Of Brave Ulysses
12    John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – The Supernatural
13    John Mayall & The Bluesbreakers – Knockers Step Forward
14    Phil Upchurch Combo – You Can't Sit Down - Pt. 1
15    Bobby Gregg And His Friends – The Jam - Pt. 1
16    Thumbs Carllile – Hold It
17    The Wailers – Frenzy
18    The Allman Brothers Band – Trouble No More

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Weather Report - 1974 [2002] "Mysterious Traveller"

Mysterious Traveller is the fourth studio album of Weather Report and was released in 1974. This album marked the end of bassist Miroslav Vitouš's tenure with the band. Vitouš was replaced by Alphonso Johnson. Another addition to the line-up is drummer Ishmael Wilburn. Greg Errico was the drummer for the tour between the previously released Sweetnighter and this album, but declined an invitation to be a permanent member of the band.

The record is the band's first that predominantly uses electric bass and incorporates liberal uses of funk, R&B grooves, and rock that would later be hallmarked as the band's "signature" sound. Also, the more restricted compositional format became evident on this album, replacing the more "open improvisation" formats used on the first three albums. It was voted as the album of the year by the readers of Down Beat for 1974, garnering their 2nd overall win in that category, also garnering a five-star review from that publication along the way.

Weather Report's fourth recording finds Wayne Shorter (on soprano and tenor) taking a lesser role as Joe Zawinul begins to really dominate the group's sound. Most selections also include bassist Alphonso Johnson and drummer Ishmael Wilburn although the personnel shifts from track to track. "Nubian Sundance" adds several vocalists while "Blackthorn Rose" is a Shorter-Zawinul duet. Overall the music is pretty stimulating and sometimes adventurous; high-quality fusion from 1974.

In 1974, three years after the band's inception, Weather Report became one of the world's most popular jazz groups due to their uncompromising originality and musicianship. This was the year that founding member Miroslav Vitous was replaced by Alphonso Johnson, who became a critical asset as both a fluid, creative bassist and a composer. Drummer Ishmael Wilburn and Brazilian percussionist Dom Um Romao, with a shifting cast of supporting players, laid the foundation for the band's most exciting incarnation yet. The overdue reissue of Mysterious Traveller is a welcome acknowledgement of this mid-period lineup's importance in the evolution of fusion.

This album contains some of the Report's most popular works, chiefly the long opener "Nubian Sundance." The sound of cheering crowds (apparently tacked on in the studio to simulate a live performance) still seems a bit presumptuous today, but the overall performance is certainly worth cheering. Zawinul's weirdly nonsensical vocals seem a precursor to Pat Metheny's wordless singing, and they add a witty flavor to the tune. "Cucumber Slumber" is another perennial favorite which gives Johnson the chance to work out the funk via slides and double-stops. The skulking title track brings much fun as well, with Shorter squeaking out alarums in the alley. The bass and sax take a coffee break on "Jungle Book," leaving Zawinul with two percussionists to carve out an inarguable masterpiece. His ability to program the synthesizers to suit his vision was always key to the WR sound, and this track was the ultimate realization of his artistry.

The disc is admittedly uneven at times, a risk run by any ensemble that chews at boundaries as much as the Report. "American Tango," for example, is rather inconsequential in the big picture despite its interesting textures. It's an ironic farewell for Vitous as his bandmates had bigger fish to fry. "Scarlet Woman" is disconcerting on the first few listens, as Shorter and Zawinul cough out sinuous lines sporadically over a net of near-silence. On the other hand, the sax/piano duet "Blackthorn Rose" is both gorgeous and rejuvenating as a change of pace from the electronic effluvium.

Zawinul's motto for the group was "We always solo, we never solo." The special combination of freedom and composition that Weather Report consistently achieved on record amply testifies to that philosophy, and Mysterious Traveller is a quintessential piece of evidence.

Mysterious Traveller was Weather Report's fourth studio album and the successor to Sweetnighter, I Sing The Body Electric and the eponymous first album (Live In Tokyo was only recently released in full outside Japan).

"Nubian Sundance" kicks in hard with two drummers and a percussionist, but there's a curious feeling of suspension, akin to watching Muybridge's horse forever galloping but never moving forward. On top of this, bass, a lot of Rhodes, synthesizers, crowd sounds and vocals create a wonderful impression of a neon-lit rainforest peopled by Rio carnival celebrants.

After the festival comes "American Tango"; a more reflective pace like wandering in the shadows of a Mediterranean sidestreet, the keyboard melody languorous as sleepy sex in morning sunlight. "Cucumber Slumber" (what great titles they had!) is all electric bass, sax, Rhodes and chugging drums.

"Mysterious Traveller" slips in spookily then revs up to a rhythmic workout that recalls Sweetnighter. After all the colour and wonderful grandstanding of the previous four tracks, the acoustic duet of "Blackthorn Rose" between Wayne Shorter and Joe Zawinul arrives like a welcome, meditative oasis.

"Scarlet Woman" steals in with a plangent sax call, muted desert drum and synthesized wind and slowly steals away again. The album closes with the reflective "Jungle Book", as if recalling the events of a long hot day after the sun has set.

On Mysterious Traveller Weather Report were clearly growing, employing a wider palette of sounds, conjuring different moods: the music is sunnier, more upbeat, colourful and funky than its predecessors.

Early copies of the album do not list "Cucumber Slumber" on the back cover or inner sleeve, and list "Jungle Book" as the final track of side one rather than side two. However, most known copies of the album include the seven tracks in the order listed above. One exception is the cassette release, with "Blackthorn Rose" as the second track of side one and "American Tango" as the second track of side two.

The Mastersound SBM edition of Mysterious Traveller includes a previously unreleased song, "Miroslav's Tune", as a bonus track at the end of the album.

The album peaked at #2 in the Billboard Jazz album chart, #31 in the R&B album chart, and #46 in the Billboard 200 chart.

Track listing:

1. "Nubian Sundance" (Zawinul) – 10:40
2. "American Tango" (Vitouš, Zawinul) – 3:40
3. "Cucumber Slumber" (Johnson, Zawinul) – 8:22
4. "Mysterious Traveller" (Shorter) – 7:21
5. "Blackthorn Rose" (Shorter) – 5:03
6. "Scarlet Woman" (Johnson, Shorter, Zawinul) – 5:46
7. "Jungle Book" (Zawinul) – 7:25


Josef Zawinul - Electric and acoustic piano, synthesizer, guitar, kalimba, organ, tamboura, clay drum, tack piano, melodica
Wayne Shorter - Soprano and tenor saxophone, tack piano
Miroslav Vitouš - Upright bass (track 2 only)
Alphonso Johnson - Bass guitar
Ishmael Wilburn - Drums
Skip Hadden - Drums (tracks 1 and 4 only)
Dom Um Romão - Percussion, drums

Guest musicians:

Ray Barretto - Percussion (track 3)
Meruga Booker aka Muruga Booker - Percussion (track 1)
Steve Little - Timpani (track 6)
Don Ashworth - Ocarinas and woodwinds (track 7)
Isacoff - Tabla, finger cymbals (track 7)
Edna Wright - Vocalists (track 1)
Marti McCall - Vocalists (track 1)
Jessica Smith - Vocalists (track 1)
James Gilstrap - Vocalists (track 1)
Billie Barnum - Vocalists (track 1) 

Saturday, January 23, 2021

Bob Mintzer - 1992 "I Remember Jaco"

Robert Alan Mintzer (born January 27, 1953) is an American jazz saxophonist, composer, arranger, and big band leader. Early in his career, Mintzer played in various big bands, including those led by Buddy Rich (1975–77), Thad Jones and Mel Lewis (1977–79), and Sam Jones (1978–80). While with Rich, he began writing big band music, and has since composed and arranged hundreds of pieces. In 2008, Mintzer and his family moved to Los Angeles, where he joined the faculty of the University of Southern California. He is a member of the Grammy® award-winning Yellowjackets and holds the Buzz McCoy endowed chair of jazz studies at the University of Southern California. In 2014, he agreed to become Chief Conductor of the WDR Big Band in Cologne, Germany, sharing the job 50:50 with Vince Mendoza.

Bob Mintzer, mostly on tenor but also playing a bit of bass clarinet (on "A Method to the Madness") and EWI, pays tribute to the late, great electric bassist Jaco Pastorius on this CD. Mintzer had worked with Pastorius in his "Word of Mouth" Orchestra. Surprisingly, Mintzer only plays one Pastorius tune ("Three Views of a Secret") and instead performs seven originals inspired by feelings he had about his experiences with the bassist. With either Jeff Andrews and/or Michael Formanek on bass, former Pastorius associate Peter Erskine on drums and keyboardist Joey Calderazzo, the music is never less than excellent, and Jaco would have enjoyed it.

I hadn't played this in a while and picked this off the shelf the other day to give it a spin. I had forgotten how good the album actually is and was shocked to see that no one had reviewed it even though it was released back in 1992!

Well, here are my few words: It's a great collection of eight songs, seven of them penned by Mintzer and one, "Three Views of a Secret", by Jaco Pastorious. Mintzer plays tenor sax, EWI and bass clarinet and he's joined by Joey Calderazzo on piano and synthesizer, Jeff Andrews & Michael Formanek on bass and Peter Erskine on drums. Percussionist Frank Malabe also appears on two tracks; "The Visionary" and "The Great Chase".

I love all the songs - that was inevitable, considering the musicians involved - but special mention goes to my favourite tracks; "The Visionary"; "Three Views of a Secret" (this version is my personal favourite of all the versions I've heard so far); "What Might Have Been" (an achingly beautiful ballad); and "A Moment of Peace".

My only query is with the billing on the CD's front cover. I know the album is a tribute to a legendary bass player and so I guess it's fitting that both bass players are mentioned even though one only plays on six of the eight tunes here and the other only on four of the eight, and of course Peter Erskine's name had to appear as obviously did Mintzer's - but how come no Joey Calderazzo? He played on all eight of the songs!

Not fair. I'm sure there's a logical explanation but still.

And after that brief moment of digression, back to the music :) Yes, if you are a Mintzer fan like I am or a fan modern tenor sax or of any of the other musicians featured here, give this a try. You will not regret it.

Track listing:

1. The Visionary 5:46
2. Three Views Of A Secret 5:52
3. The Great Chase 5:31
4. What Might Have Been 6:19
5. Relentless 6:26
6. A Moment Of Peace 4:47
7. A Method To The Madness 5:36
8. Truth 10:58


Bob Mintzer - Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Electronic Wind Instrument
Michael Formanek - Acoustic Bass
Peter Erskine - Drums
Jeff Andrews - Electric Bass
Frankie Malabe - Percussion
Joey Calderazzo - Piano, Synthesizer

Jack DeJohnette - 1978 [2000] "New Directions"


New Directions is an album by Jack DeJohnette released on the German ECM label. It was recorded June 1978 at Talent Studio in Oslo and released in 1978.

New Directions found drummer/pianist Jack DeJohnette reflecting on the multiple routes his musical life had taken and summarizing them in a single band. “My idea was to put together a cast of unlikely characters”. He’d worked with Eddie Gomez in the Bill Evans Trio, played extensively with John Abercrombie in the Gateway trio and a new alliance with Art Ensemble trumpeter Lester Bowie reconnected Jack to the experimental spirit of the early AACM. “With Lester added we had four strong and very different characters, could cover a lot of musical areas, and the chemistry was fantastic.” New Directions, recorded in 1978, won France’s Prix du Jazz Contemporain de L’Academie Charles Cros.

Jack DeJohnette's New Directions was a jazz supergroup (circa 1978) made up of Lester Bowie (of the Art Ensemble of Chicago), Eddie Gomez (known for his work with Chick Corea), John Abercrombie (an ECM guitarist whose previous work had been in the John McLaughlin vein) and, of course, DeJohnette himself on Drums. I would call this music ambient jazz, with an eery, yet beautiful, dreamlike quality.
The playing (of DeJohnette, Abercrombie, and particularly Lester Bowie) on this album is revelatory.
DeJohnette's cymbal and snare work, recorded here in ECM's pristine clarity, seems to flow directly out of the collective unconcious. He plays endless variations on rhythms, never ceasing to groove, oh so subtly. If you broke his beats down measure by measure, any given measure would be enough for another drummer to fill an entire song.
John Abercrombie lays back and plays atmospherics throughout most of the album. He displays very little of the Mahavishnu-esque pyrotechnics he was wont to spew previous to this album. The atmosphere's he creates remind me of Brian Eno's ambient music at times. Maybe he had been listening to Robert Fripp. I don't know. But his playing is beautiful and unique throughout most of the album. In fact, while I doubt many 1980's pop/rock guitarists ever listened to this album, Abercrombie's playing here is an ambient jazz precursor to the playing of people like the Edge (on Unforgettable Fire), or Johnny Marr, or the guitar work on Joy Divisions Closer album.
But it is the trumpet of Lester Bowie for which this album most deserves to be remembered. While Lester did much great work in his life, he would often interrupt his best work to express the clown spirit which was so much a part of his nature. Here, though, Lester seems on a mission to express the entirety of his spirit. There's clowning to be sure, but it's framed in the larger picture of "Great Black Music, Ancient to the Future" which the Art Ensemble set out to express.
This album contains two tracks which should go down in the history of jazz as classics.
Bayou Fever is an extended, almost formless, field-holler with a a humid and surreal atmosphere. On this track Bowie plays the Blues as if he were it's culmination. It's not a blues, but Bowie's feel embodies the blues while, at the same time, being something else entirely.
Jack DeJohnette's piano ballad Silver Hollow is exquisite; touching and sentimental, without being sappy. Once again, Lester Bowie steals the show. Who would have guessed he could play this tenderly? His work on this track rivals Miles Davis' playing on tracks such as Blue in Green, Round Midnight, or Someday My Prince Will Come.

Jack's playing is perpetually crisp and inventive. He really has no clichés in his playing, yet his touch and feel are unmistakable. The real gem on this set has no drums at all, but Jack plays the piano. Silver Hollow is one of my favorite DeJohnette compositions, and its treatment here in the hands of Jack, John Abercrombie, Eddie Gomez and MVP Lester Bowie goes above and beyond. Buy it for that track, the rest is merely outstanding.

This is a great record -- nearly an all-time jazz classic. From the very first chords of "Bayou Fever," you're in a dreamscape created by four brilliant musicians at the very peak of their abilities, and enmeshed in a telepathic quartet setting that brought out the best in them. Abercrombie never sounded better -- he's at his most subtle and oracular here; Lester Bowie sounds like he's infected with some kind of voodoo that Miles himself never came down with; DeJohnette sounds like three guys, but never too busy, always selflessly stoking the groove; and Gomez is perfect here, adding lead notes that haunt the melodies like a voice you can't get out of your head. This is the stuff. The acoustic "Silver Hollow" at the end, after all that swirling blackness, is so beautiful it's almost too much!  

Track listing:

All compositions by Jack DeJohnette except as indicated.

    "Bayou Fever" – 8:40
    "Where or Wayne" – 12:25
    "Dream Stalker" (Abercrombie, Bowie, DeJohnette, Gomez) – 5:55
    "One Handed Woman" (Abercrombie, Bowie, DeJohnette, Gomez) – 10:49
    "Silver Hollow" – 8:24


Jack DeJohnette – drums, piano
John Abercrombie – guitar, electric mandolin
Lester Bowie – trumpet
Eddie Gómez – double bass

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Weather Report - 2015 "The Legendary Live Tapes" 1978-1981 [4 CD Box]

The Legendary Live Tapes: 1978–1981 is a four CD live recording of Weather Report on Columbia, Sony, released on 20 November 2015. Disc One and Three are quintet recordings from 1980–81, while Disc Two and Four are quartet recordings from 1978. Most of the music was recorded on analog tape by the band’s then drummer (and producer of this live album) Peter Erskine and front of house mixing engineer Brian Risner. In the liner notes, Erskine provides insight into Weather Report’s live performances and life on tour via a song by song discussion.

Weather Report's The Legendary Live Tapes features four discs of sensational unreleased performances all "completely, totally, unapologetically and insanely live" recorded by the legendary jazz group from 1978 to 1981.

Formed by onetime Miles Davis sidemen Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter in 1970, Weather Report defied categorization in the 15 years they recorded together. Inspired by their "electric" collaborations with Davis, Zawinul and Shorter would lead Weather Report into unpredictable territory, from free-jazz to structured but sprawling multicultural jazz-rock. Though Zawinul would reject the "fusion" genre the band are so often associated with "We don't fuse nuthin', we just play from the heart," he once said their music would serve as a landmark for jazz revolution and evolution in the 1970s and 1980s.

The dramatic addition of electric bass virtuoso Jaco Pastorius to the lineup in 1976 led to an even more energetic and daring Weather Report, who would even score a crossover hit in 1977 with "Birdland." A year later, drummer Peter Erskine joined the fold, creating one of the band's most notable lineups; that lineup would expand to a quintet with the addition of percussionist Bobby Thomas, Jr. in 1980.

These two lineups, responsible for some of Weather Report's most important moments, are chronicled in this four-disc set, sourced from never-before-heard soundboard tapes recorded by longtime live mixing engineer Brian Risner. Produced by Erskine and executive produced by Joe Zawinul's son Anthony, this package uniquely showcases Weather Report's extensive prowess as a band, opting not to replicate the ebb and flow of a standard Weather Report set at the time, instead offering a uniquely curated experience that captures the dazzling directions the group took at the arguable height of their powers.

Culled from Peter Erskine's own private collection, the bulk of the material on this four disc set consists of board mixes, which were made by long time WR sound man, Brian Risner. They are some of the finest live performances of the band ever captured on tape. This is a curated collection, i.e. each track comes from a different performance, dating from 1978-1981. Each disc is sequenced in order to offer the listener a complete and satisfying listening experience, as opposed to making an attempt to replicate a live set.

There are two configurations: one with Bobby Thomas Jr on percussion (discs 1 and 3,) and one with just the quartet. The highlight for this listener is disc 3, on which the quintet plays six tunes off of one their finest late albums, Night Passage. (The entire album is presented-the two remaining tracks from that album, Pastorius' Three Views of a Secret and Zawinul's Forlorn, can be found on disc 1.) The band attacks this material with fierce abandon, stretching far beyond the time constraints of the original recordings. Check out the epic 17 minute version of Madagascar. Like Mile's late bands, there are ensemble marks to hit, cued unison figures to play, but most of this piece is very free, funky and swinging. In general, Wayne Shorter stretches more on this collection than has been captured thus far on any other live WR recording.

Another high point is the quartet version of the rarely performed Gilbraltar, off of the classic Black Market album. Clocking in at 21 minutes, talk about epic - the guys are swinging for the rafters here. It is the definitive version of this tune. This take-no-prisoners attitude dominates these discs, proving once and for all that the late WR formation could still take it all the way into the stratosphere with as much freedom and risk taking as in the early days.

These discs capture some of Joe Zawinul's most inspired solos on record. His control of his keyboards is really amazing, considering the limitations of the technology he had access to at the time. Somehow he's able to duplicate subtle details on the fly, such as the signature repeated synth rise at the beginning of a rollicking rendition of the Ellington chestnut, Rockin' in Rhythm. He sounds like a one man big band here. He was still integrating the acoustic piano into his setup for these tours. Unfortunately, the only time we get to hear the acoustic piano in this collection is on his solo piano spot, in which he freely improvises, cycling through several standards before segueing into a very simpatico duo with Shorter. As masterful as he was on synths, this recording reminds us just how great a pianist he was. Unbelievable technique and freedom.

Also, these discs contain some of Jaco's best playing ever recorded during his tenure with the band. His playing here is audacious, edgy and powerful, yet somehow always in the pocket and in control. Here we hear the Jaco of legend. Even though it's comprised of material similar to other recorded live solos, Jaco's solo spot presented here, replete with quotations from Jimi Hendrix to Alan Hovaness, is focused and clear, and is about as good a representation of what he was doing at the time as one is likely to hear.

While the sound quality can't compete with say, 8:30 or the Offenbach recordings, the audio is surprisingly good, considering these were made from cassettes! While mostly mono, (only the drum overheads are in stereo,) the balances are very good, with the exception of the two or three audience tapes where the keys occasionally sit a little low in the mix, a testament to how good this band sounded onstage. On the other hand, Jaco's bass is pretty high in the mix most of the time, which should please fans, but never so much as to detract from the overall enjoyment, as is sometimes the case on Live and Unreleased. Again, considering the source material, these recordings sound very good indeed, even if it isn't exactly audiophile quality.

Kudos to Peter Erskine for sharing his private tapes with the world and for his wonderful 16 page essay, which includes fascinating background information for each performance. (By the way, if you haven't read his ebook, No Beethoven, it's a must read!) Also, a shout out to Brian Risner who made most of these tapes-his board mixes are way better than one could ever hope for. Mastering meister Rich Breen did a wonderful job, as did the folks who transferred the analog cassettes to digital over at Stanford University.

All in all, this is a labor of love. I feel as if this is a kind of holy grail of live WR recordings. It is hard to imagine topping these, both for content and relative audio quality. I haven't heard anything that comes closer to the excitement this band generated on stage at the shows I had the good fortune to attend. Whereas even with 8:30, the band's only official live release with this lineup, overdubbing and editing were used to achieve its polished final form, this is the totally un-retouched and raw Weather Report I remember. As Peter Erskine says in his liner notes: "the performances on this 4 CD set are completely, unapologetically and insanely live."

Track Listing:

CD 1
1. 8:30
2. Sightseeing
3. Brown Street
4. The Orphan
5. Forlon
6. Three Views Of A Secret
7. Badia / Boogie Waltz
8. Wayne Solo
9. Jaco Solo (Osaka 1980)

CD 2
1. Joe And Wayne Duet (Tokyo 1978)
2. Birdland
3. Peter’s Solo
4. A Remark You Made
5. Continuum / River People
6. Gibraltar

CD 3
1. Fast City
2. Madagascar
3. Night Passage
4. Dream Clock
5. Rockin’ In Rhythm
6. Port Of Entry

CD 4
1. Elegant People
2. Scarlet Women
3. Black Market
4. Jaco Solo (Osaka 1978)
5. Teen Town
6. Peter’s Solo (Osaka 1978)
7. Directions


Joe Zawinul – keyboards; ARP Quadra synthesizer bass (Disc 1 / tracks 1, 3); acoustic piano (Disc 2 / track 1); ”Chicken Neck” (Disc 1 / track 8)
Wayne Shorter – saxophones
Jaco Pastorius – fretless bass; drums (Disc 1 / track 1)
Peter Erskine – drums, timpani (Disc 2 / track 3)
Robert Thomas Jr. – hand drums (Discs 1 & 3)

Monday, December 21, 2020

Soft Works - 2003 [2020] "Abracadabra In Osaka"

Many Holdsworth fans were not aware of Soft Machine’s long history prior to Bundles. As I’ve listened to these live tracks, I hear some parallels to an earlier, brilliant MoonJune archival live release — Soft Machine’s Floating World Live (2006), one the only two official live outing featuring the Bundles line-up.

With this two-disc set, Soft Works Abracadabra In Osaka, I’m struck by how they compare — and arguably in ways, surpass their studio recorded counterparts, given the spontaneity and live dynamics and atmospherics captured. This release features re-workings of early Soft Machine favorites such as “Kings and Queens”, “Facelift", nearly all the titles from Abracadabra. A previously unreleased Holdsworth composition, “Alphrazallan”, is featured here; it opens with a calming, haunting orchestral guitar chord progression (it wasn’t coincidence that the track’s title referenced the name of an anti-anxiety medication). What strikes me about the performances captured on these two discs is the how band’s dynamics had evolved since the initial recording session.

In 2003 Allan’s live performances were in peak form. Here fans will discover a markedly different experience from Allan’s own touring band. Hopper’s tribute to Coltrane, “First Trane” features a brilliant sax playing by Elton; its slow blues vamps mark a departure from the music heard at Holdsworth’s own live shows – here you’ll experience Allan’s reverence to one of his primary musical influences in a breathtaking solo. In these live recordings, you’ll hear Hugh, one of early progressive rock’s most inventive bassists, occasionally unleashing his trademark, innovative “fuzz bass” sound in ways which always realize focused and compelling ideas rather frenzied showers of notes. Elton contrasts with the rest of the band as the master jazz musician of the quartet; his own singular voice on alto sax and saxello takes flight. He also carves out inventive chord progressions and voicing on Fender Rhodes piano, over which Allan’s playing dances through fresh and transformative melodic tapestries.

Throughout these live tracks Allan is afforded vast open reaches to explore in a more open context than with his own bands, rekindling his explosive chemistry with John Marshall. Herein Holdsworth devotees can discover a contrast in a setting, where some of the most storied masters and innovators from the 60s and 70s generation forge new paths together. The combined power of this unique group’s voices, history, and the depth of their experience is stunning throughout this recording.

Recorded live at Namba Hatch, Osaka, Japan, August 11, 2003.
The original source: 2 CDRs with flat stereo-mix of the show.
Carefully restored, enhanced and mastered by Mark Wingfield.

Track listing:

CD 1
1. Seven Formerly     12:58
2. Alphrazallan     10:12
3. Elsewhere     7:12
4. Baker's Treat     8:47
5. Calyx     6:22
6. Kings & Queens     8:14

CD 2
1. Abracadabra     12:06
2. Madame Vintage Suite     8:58
3. Has Riff     9:38
4. First Trane     9:20
5. Facelift     13:22


ELTON DEAN - saxello, alto sax, Fender Rhodes
HUGH HOPPER - bass guitar

Thursday, December 17, 2020

Jimi Hendrix - 1970 [2020] "Live in Maui"


Live in Maui is an album by the Jimi Hendrix Experience documenting their performance outdoors on Maui, Hawaii, on July 30, 1970. It marks the first official release of Hendrix's two full sets recorded during the filming of Rainbow Bridge (1971). The two-CD and three-LP set was released on November 20, 2020, along with a video documentary titled Music, Money, Madness ... Jimi Hendrix in Maui.

Their performance on Maui was the trio's second-to-last in the U.S. during their final The Cry of Love Tour. During the first set, they played mainly songs from the Experience studio albums and Band of Gypsys. The second set mostly contains new songs Hendrix was in the process of recording for a planned fourth studio album.

The Maui recordings don't find him [Hendrix] exploring much in the way of anything new, but he's in excellent form, playfully relaxed and fully engaged at the same time, and Mitch Mitchell's drumming is, as always, an excellent foil for Jimi's melodies and instrumental attack, while Billy Cox's subtle but solid bass anchors this music better than his predecessor, Noel Redding

By the middle of 1970, Jimi Hendrix was working on a follow up album to Electric Ladyland with his bandmates Mitch Mitchell (drums) and Billy Cox (bass), headlining festivals and arenas across the U.S. and building Electric Lady Studios in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. Completing this state-of-the-art recording facility was proving to be a costly endeavor, so his manager Michael Jeffery procured a $500,000 advance from Warner Bros. to fund the remaining construction required to complete the studio. At those same meetings, Jeffery convinced Warner Bros. executives to finance a film called Rainbow Bridge that was to be shot in Maui, in exchange for rights to its soundtrack album consisting of new Jimi Hendrix studio recordings.

Inspired by Easy Rider and directed by Warhol acolyte Chuck Wein, Jeffery’s film centered around the idea of a “rainbow bridge” between the unenlightened and enlightened worlds. It was envisioned to feature everything from surfing and yoga to meditation and Tai-Chi and filmed without the aid of a script or professional actors. It proved to be a rambling assemblage of hippie excess and Jeffery grew concerned that his investment was being squandered. The Experience were already booked to perform a concert in Honolulu at the H.I.C. Arena on August 1, 1970. Chuck Wein, desperate to feature Hendrix in some capacity within the film, devised a plan to film a free ‘color/sound vibratory experiment’ on the lower slope of the dormant Haleakala volcano. Word of mouth about a free Jimi Hendrix concert led a few hundred curious Maui locals to the Baldwin cattle ranch in Olinda where a makeshift stage was constructed and the audience was arranged by their astrological signs. The performance was a success – the trio was at the height of its powers and played two sets flawlessly against a stunning natural backdrop.

In the aftermath of his performance on Maui, Hendrix would return to New York and his work at Electric Lady Studios. He had no further involvement in Rainbow Bridge. He left for Europe at the end of August to headline the massive Isle Of Wight festival and begin a European tour. Tragically, he would die in London on September 18, 1970.

The Cry Of Love, the first album of posthumous Jimi Hendrix recordings, was issued in 1971 to wide commercial and critical acclaim. Jeffery readied Rainbow Bridge and its accompanying soundtrack to be the next release. Despite its Hendrix association, the film was a commercial flop. Rainbow Bridge confused moviegoers, many of whom were under the impression they were going to see a concert film. A scant 17 minutes of haphazardly edited Hendrix concert footage was used in the final cut, and it proved to be the film’s saving grace. Due to technical problems inherent in the original recording of the Maui performances, Mitch Mitchell had to overdub his drum tracks at Electric Lady Studios in 1971 just so those performances could be featured.

Eddie Kramer recalls, “Mitch did a tremendous amount of work on the overdubs. If he didn’t get it in one take, he certainly did in the second one and I was so blown away by his ability to duplicate the parts he had already played! He was determined to fix what suffered on the recordings due to the 50 mile an hour winds because they were playing on the side of a bloody volcano! After Jimi died it took a while before I was able to go back to the closet with all the tapes. Mitch was a trooper with a can do British attitude. It’s all very well to overdub drums, but to do it so you can’t tell, that’s the magic. He knew the material extremely well and it’s a tribute to his sensitivity as a great musician and an equal and willing partner of Jimi’s.”

The posthumously released Rainbow Bridge soundtrack album, prepared by Mitch Mitchell, Eddie Kramer and John Jansen, was first rate and featured classics such as “Dolly Dagger” and “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun).” The album, however, did not include audio from the Maui concert, which may have also added to consumer confusion.

Directed by John McDermott  and produced by Janie Hendrix, George Scott and McDermott, Music, Money, Madness . . . Jimi Hendrix In Maui incorporates never-before-released original footage and new interviews with firsthand participants and key players such as Billy Cox, Eddie Kramer, Warner Bros. executives and several Rainbow Bridge cast members, as well as its director Chuck Wein. Their fascinating account tells the definitive story about one of the most controversial independent films ever made.

The documentary sets the proverbial stage for Live In Maui – the two full Jimi Hendrix Experience sets, including breathtaking renditions of crowd favorites like “Foxey Lady,” “Purple Haze” and “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” as well as then-unreleased songs like “Dolly Dagger” and “Freedom” that showcased the new direction Hendrix was moving toward.

“Jimi loved adventure and there was certainly no shortage of it during his time in Hawaii, a place he also loved,” said Janie Hendrix. “The back story of Rainbow Bridge and these recordings paint a picture of Jimi’s uncanny ability to turn the bizarre into something amazing! We’re excited about this release because it gives the world a closer look at Jimi’s genius.”

Track Listing:

Disc 1 - First Show

    1. Chuck Wein Introduction
    2. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)
    3. In From The Storm
    4. Foxey Lady
    5. Hear My Train A-Comin’
    6. Voodoo Child (Slight Return)
    7. Fire
    8. Purple Haze
    9. Spanish Castle Magic
    10. Lover Man
    11. Message to Love

Disc 2 - Second Show

    1. Dolly Dagger
    2. Villanova Junction
    3. Ezy Ryder
    4. Red House
    5. Freedom
    6. Jam Back at the House
    7. Straight Ahead
    8. Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)/Midnight Lightning
    9. Stone Free


    Jimi Hendrix – guitar (Gibson Flying V used for 2nd set)
    Mitch Mitchell – drums (original live and overdubs)
    Billy Cox – bass guitar

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Marc Bonilla - 2019 "Celluloid Debris"


Marc Bonilla is an American guitarist and composer. He has worked with Keith Emerson (including on 1995's Changing States and in 2006-2016 was featured in the Keith Emerson Band), Ronnie Montrose, Glenn Hughes (on Addiction (produced, co-written and performed), The Way It Is, 1999, also playing keyboards), David Coverdale (late 2000 live band) and Kevin Gilbert (Toy Matinee live band). He also appears on the Emerson, Lake & Palmer tribute album Encores, Legends & Paradox (Magna Carta Records, 1999) and a spoken word album with comedian Bobby Gaylor for Atlantic entitled "Fuzzatonic Scream" including the controversial single, "Suicide" in 1998.

He has released a number of solo albums. Among them, EE Ticket (Reprise, 1991), and American Matador (Warner Brothers, 1993), which includes covers of "A Whiter Shade of Pale" and "I Am the Walrus" with guest Ronnie Montrose. Bonilla currently plays in California Transit Authority, a project led by former Chicago drummer, founding member and Rock n' Roll Hall of Famer Danny Seraphine, featuring some updates to early Chicago songs as well as new material and has currently completed the follow-up album of all original material. He has also produced, co-written and performed with the Keith Emerson Band's new album. In addition, he tours with Eddie Jobson's UZ Project as singer, guitarist and bassist.

Marc Bonilla has enjoyed a musical career unlike anyone else. Based out of Los Angeles, he initially made a name for himself, playing guitar with Toy Matinee, Edgar Winter, and Ronnie Montrose, before graduating to solo work. In the early 90s, he released EE Ticket and American Matador. Both were predominantly guitar instrumental albums, with  vocal contributions from friends like Kevin Gilbert and Glenn Hughes, as well as himself. Film and TV work kept him busy. Then he met Keith Emerson and Terje Mikkelsen, and his musical palette widened beyond measure. Bonilla’s first solo effort in over 25 years, Celluloid Debris is the culmination of the guitarist’s growth as a musician, player, orchestrator and composer.

To call Celluloid Debris an instrumental guitar album is a gross mischaracterization. It is more of a delectable collage of sound with guitar as its nougat center. At the same time, the record overflows with emotion and sentiment as Bonilla weaves allegories around sonic pinnacles, defiant and congruently sublime in the same cycle. That’s why the opening salvo of “Alpha Male” melts so easily into the pastoral expanse of “Westwood.” Once, you wipe off the dirt from “Fleshwound,” you begin to appreciate the record’s balance of bursts and bouquets. Meanwhile, covers of Stephen Stills’ “4 +20” and Kevin Godley and Lol Creme’s “Sailor” allow Bonilla to layer, orchestrate, and mold a range of guitar lines into the recognizable melodies of each.

After the dust settles around the tactile assure of “Prisoner,” Bonilla gets down to business with the epic two-part “The Eruption Of John Minimum.” He gets in his one and only vocal before pointing the spotlight on Keith Emerson’s 22-second Hammond solo that ominously falls off into the piece’s second part. Here’s where Bonilla builds a dense wall of musical tension around one man’s boiling point. It’s enough to make anyone shutter with wonder and curiosity. Certainly by the end, you’re left with a hanging feeling, like there’s more to come.

“Arclight” lets Bonilla climb the scales before settling down for a restful night on “The Long Awakening” and, by extension, Johnny Cowell’s “Our Winter Love,” a song the guitarist cherishes from his childhood. The melodic swings of Celluloid Debris offer an unparalleled view of one man’s quest for aural diversity. Steadily supported by a crack cast of players, including drummers Troy Lucketta (Tesla), Joe  Travers (Zappa Plays Zappa), and Gregg Bissonette (Ringo Starr), bassists Mick Mahan and Bob Birch, keyboardists Steve Porcaro (Toto) and Phillipe Saisse, and brother Tom on percussion, Celluloid Debris was eloquently mixed, meticulously engineered, and magnificently co-produced with Bonilla by Ryan Greene. Throw in Balance of Power, a new book, and 2019 is seemingly the year Marc Bonilla is tapping into a creative wellspring and sharing it with the world.

Track listing:

01     Alpha Male     5:06
02     Westwood     4:35
03     Fleshwound     5:37
04     4 + 20     3:30
05     Sailor     5:35
06     Prisoners     4:57
07     The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt. 1     3:13
08     The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt. 2     5:27
09     Arclight     5:45
10     The Long Awakening     7:58
11     Our Winter Love     5:36


Marc Bonilla : Guitars, Banjo, Mandolin, Bass, Keyboards, Harmonica, Percussion, Lead Vocals on "The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt.1"
Troy Lucketta : Drums on "Westwood ", "4+20 ", "Prisoners", "The Long Awakening"
Joe Travers : Drums on "Alpha Male", "Fleshwound", "Sailor", "Arclight", "Our Winter Love"
Gregg Bissonette : Drums on "The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt.1", "The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt.2"
Steve Porcaro : Piano on "The Long Awakening"
Philippe Saisse : Piano on "Our Winter Love"
Mick Mahan : Bass on "The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt.2"
Bob Birch : Bass on "The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt.1"
Jim Gammon : Trumpet on "Sailor"
Tom Bonilla : Percussion on "Our Winter Love"
Dan Reddington : Whistler on "Westwood"
Blind 'Sussex' Emerson : Organ on "The Eruption Of John Minimum Pt.1"

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Gregg Bissonette - 1998 "Gregg Bissonette"

One of Bissonette's first recordings was Brandon Fields' The Other Side of the Story in 1985. It featured David Garfield on keyboards. A few years later Bissonette would start playing shows with Fields, Garfield and Steve Lukather on guitar and with John Peña on bass as Los Lobotomys. These shows took place at the Baked Potato, a jazz club and restaurant in Los Angeles, California, playing rock, Latin, and jazz.

Bissonnette got his big break joining former Van Halen frontman David Lee Roth. The band included guitarist Steve Vai and future Mr. Big bassist Billy Sheehan. During 1985-1992 Gregg appeared on all three US Billboard 200 hit albums Eat 'Em and Smile (no.4) Skyscraper (no.6) and A Little Ain't Enough (no.18)[1] and the subsequent world tours.[2]

In 1990 and 1993, Bissonette released drum videos Private Lesson[3] and Playing, Reading & Soloing with a Band,[4][5] respectively. Private Lesson covers a variety of topics including double bass drumming, rudiments (with a backsticking technique from the snare drum solo Tornado[6] by Mitch Markovich), playing with a metronome and brushes.

From 1994 to 2004, he played on the musical interludes for every episode for the TV show Friends.[7]

In late 1995, Toto was beginning their Tambu tour when Simon Phillips developed back problems. Phillips asked Bissonette to fill in for him during the tour's first leg.

He played drums on Santana's album Supernatural (1999).[8] In 2007, he recorded on the album La La Land by Daniel Glen Timms.[9]

In 2001 he was set to play on the Electric Light Orchestra's Zoom Tour Live with his brother Matt on Bass. The tour was cancelled after one televised performance at the CBS Television City on PBS

Bissonette can be heard on a number of rock instrumental and progressive rock albums, including The Extremist by Joe Satriani, Temporal by Shadrane, Deep Forest by Deep Forest, Bass Invader by Martin Motnik, Inner Galactic Fusion Experience by Richie Kotzen, Shadow King by Steve Fister, Revolution Road by Rocket Scientists, In the Eye of Time by Vox Tempus, Bug Alley and the soundtrack to the movie The Endless Summer II by Gary Hoey.

In 2012, Bissonette played drums on several tracks featured on Docker's Guild's album The Mystic Technocracy: Season 1: The Age Of Ignorance, the progressive rock space opera masterminded by the French-American musician, teacher, and ethno-musicologist Douglas R. Docker.

Frankenstein is a highlight with a drum solo that captures a number of recognizable beats including Honky Tonk Women, In-a-gadda-da-vida, etc. (who can name them all??). Other highlights are the Andy Summers contribution, and the Tribute to Tony (Williams?).

What can you say about Gregg, he's as great a drummer as he is a person. This album showcases his many talents and diversity of his playing. One of the best players in the world Greggs album is full of his talents, personality and style. Along with Matt (his brother) on bass it's a ripping colletion of great drum featured music with groove galore. A great person, a great cd.. If you drum you must buy this album


1     Common Road    
2     Teenage Immigrant    
3     Dr. Toulak    
4     Frankenstein    
5     Wildwood    
6     Vulgar Boatman    
7     Tribute To Tony    
8     You Kill Me    
9     Frybrain    
10     1920 Shady Dr.    
11     No Matter What


Gregg Bissonette – percussion, drums, vocals, piccolo trumpet
Matt Bissonette – bass, violin, cello, backing vocals
George Bernhardt – guitar
Doug Bossi – guitar, vocals
Paul Gilbert – guitar
Scott Henderson – guitar
Steve Lukather – guitar
Mike Miller – guitar
Andy Summers – guitar
Ty Tabor – guitar
Michael Thompson – guitar
Steve Vai – guitar

Wednesday, September 2, 2020

Various Artists - 2008 Miles from India: "A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis"

Miles from India: A Celebration of the Music of Miles Davis is a compilation album by various artists released in April 2008 through Times Square Records.[1] Produced by Bob Belden, the album features songs associated with iconic trumpeter Miles Davis but performed in new arrangements by American jazz musicians and performers from India. The album reached a peak position of number six on Billboard's Top Jazz Albums chart.

A project sparked by discussion between visionary jazz producer/arranger Bob Belden and label owner Yusuf Gandhi regarding the Indian instrumentation used by Miles Davis on his classic 1972 fusion album On the Corner, Miles from India is devoted to re-imagining Davis’ music by a full ensemble of Indian musicians.

Mastermind behind the seminal Miles Davis reissue series from the Columbia vault, Belden assembled a staggering collection of Davis alumni including Jimmy Cobb, Chick Corea, Ron Carter, John McLaughlin, Gary Bartz, Mike Stern, and David Liebman as well as master Indian musicians Louiz Banks, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Rakesh Chaurasia, and Ranjit Barot to perform on the self-titled 2008 Times Square album – a critical and commercial smash that made the Top 10 on Billboard’s Top Jazz Albums chart upon its release. Now, over a year since Belden’s passing, a fresh assemblage of Miles collaborators and major Indian musicians comes together to explore the rich trove of the Miles Davis songbook, from Kind of Blue to Bitches Brew.

It was such a simple concept. Producer Bob Belden (who has directed the Miles Davis reissue series) was talking with Times Square label owner Yusuf Gandhi about Miles' use of Indian instrumentation during The Complete On the Corner Sessions and wondered aloud what it would sound like if Indian musicians played Miles' music. Gandhi replied "Miles from India," and nearly a year later Belden delivered this brilliant set that not only features a number of India's finest musicians but a veritable who's who of Miles' own sidemen. In perhaps the boldest move, Belden and the musicians looked well beyond Miles' 1972-1975 sessions with Indian instruments for inspiration, performing tracks from the '50s, '60s, '70s, and '80s (the same time span covered by Miles' associates on this album). Another fun thing about these performances is that some of Miles' sidemen play on songs they didn't originally play on -- like the opener, "Spanish Key," featuring Mike Stern and Dave Liebman. But despite some additional Indian percussion and vocalizing, "Spanish Key" doesn't vary much from the original. On the other hand, "All Blues" is completely transformed, with Ravi Chary's sitar taking the place of Miles' trumpet. The Gary Bartz/Rudresh Mahanthappa sax duet on this is a real treat, as are the presence and playing of Jimmy Cobb, who also played on the original 1959 Kind of Blue session. The fast version of "Ife" marks the entrance of monster bass player Michael Henderson and the wonderfully deranged guitar of Pete Cosey, who does not record nearly enough. After the lovely but relatively brief sarod-led "In a Silent Way," it's great to hear Cosey rip it up on "It's About That Time." He's nearly matched in intensity by Bartz's sax and Kala Ramnath's violin while Henderson does his thing with that killer Dave Holland bassline. Stern gets to reprise his role on the classic "Jean Pierre," paired with some great flute from Rakesh Chaurasia.

 Chick Corea appears only on "So What," but turns in a great piano solo with some tasty inside-the-piano work. Like "All Blues," "So What" becomes something else again with the addition of a trio of Indian percussionists and a change in time signature. And while the bassline of "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" doesn't really lend itself to Henderson's signature propulsive style, the percussionists lock in with him, providing a platform for more sick playing from Cosey. "Blue in Green" has Wallace Roney's trumpet singing with Shankar Mahadevan's voice and then sarangi in another sublime transformation. Here, Mike Stern's solo is as gentle as the one on "Jean Pierre" was noisy. Henderson and drummer Vince Wilburn kick it on "Great Expectations," which segues briefly into the introspective "Orange Lady" and back. Chary and Roney both contribute excellent solos and Cosey goes nuts (why doesn't he record more?). Fortunately, he gets plenty more space on the slow version of "Ife," both soloing and comping. The rhythm section of Henderson and Badal Roy on tabla is completely hypnotic here, providing a perfect base for languid solos from Dave Liebman and Gary Bartz and some nice spacy sounds from Cosey and Adam Holzman. The album closes with the only track Miles didn't record: "Miles from India," penned by John McLaughlin for this set. Scored for voice, piano, guitar, and the electric mandolin of U. Srinivas, it's a pensive and atmospheric track that nevertheless features some passionate soloing. And that's merely touching on some of the highlights. Folks like Ron Carter, Marcus Miller, Ndugu Chancler, and Lenny White haven't even been mentioned, let alone some of the great Indian musicians also present here.

The essence of jazz is improvisation and expression, and Miles always sought out highly individual players. The beauty of Miles from India is how the players from different cultures and backgrounds meet on Miles' turf with their individual voices completely intact. Miles from India is not only an amazing celebration of the music of Miles Davis, it's also a tribute to the way Miles and Teo Macero changed the way jazz music can be made. Granted, it's the musicians involved who turn in these scorching performances, but this album was recorded in Mumbai, India, Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, and Saylorsburg, PA (!?), and would not have been possible without the studio techniques Macero pioneered with Miles. Perhaps, like Macero, Bob Belden will be remembered more for his production than his horn playing. Either way, with Miles from India, Belden has outdone himself and delivered a tribute that succeeds completely on every level. Kudos to all involved. [Miles from India is also available as a beautiful 3 LP set.]

Track listing

Disc 1

1. "Spanish Key" - Gino Banks, Louis Banks, Rakesh Chaurasia, Selva Ganesh, Adam Holzman, Dave   Liebman, Shankar Mahadevan, Rudresh Mahanthappa, Sridhar Parthasarthy, Taufiq Qureshi, Benny Rietveld, Wallace Roney, Mike Stern & Lenny White
2. "All Blues" - Louis Banks, Gary Bartz, Ron Carter, Ravi Chary, Jimmy Cobb, Rudresh Mahanthappa & Vikku Vinayakram
3. "Ife (fast)" - Gino Banks, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Dave Liebman, Kala Ramnath, A. Sivamani & Vikku Vinayakram
4. "In a Silent Way (Intro)" - Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III & Pandit Brij Narayan
5. "It's About That Time" - Gary Bartz, Ndugu Chancler, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III & Kala Ramnath
6. "Jean Pierre" - Ranjit Barot, Rakesh Chaurasia, Adam Holzman, Robert Irving III, Benny Rietveld, Mike Stern & Vince Wilburn Jr.

Disc 2

1. "So What" - Louis Banks, Ron Carter, Ndugu Chancler, Chick Corea, Selva Ganesh, Sridhar Parthasarthy & Taufiq Qureshi
2. "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" - Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Wallace Roney, A. Sivamani, Vikku Vinayakram & Lenny White
3. "Blue In Green" - Louis Banks, Ron Carter, Jimmy Cobb, Dilshad Khan, Shankar Mahadevan, Wallace Roney & Mike Stern
4. "Great Expectations (Orange Lady)" - Ravi Chary, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Marcus Miller, Taufiq Qureshi, Wallace Roney, Vince Wilburn Jr. & Vikku Vinayakram
5. "Ife (Slow)" - Gary Bartz, Pete Cosey, Michael Henderson, Adam Holzman, Dave Liebman, Wallace Roney & Badal Roy
6. "Miles from India" - Louis Banks, Sikkil Gurucharan, John McLaughlin & U. Srinivas

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Joe Henderson Quintet - 1970 [2006] "At the Lighthouse"

Joe Henderson Quintet at the Lighthouse is a live album recorded at the Lighthouse Café, Hermosa Beach, California, between September 24, 1970 and September 26, 1970. Personnel include Woody Shaw on trumpet and flugelhorn, George Cables on electric piano, Ron McClure on acoustic bass (electric bass on track 8 only), and Lenny White on drums. Tony Waters plays congas on tracks 1, 8 and 9 only.

This is a live album from the famous Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach CA. This venue has hosted many live albums over the years by Lee Morgan & Cannonball Adderley to name two of my favorite albums recorded there.
This recording is special in my opinion due to the presence of trumpeter Woody Shaw as Henderson's frontline partner and George Cables on Fender Rhodes EP and acoustic piano. Lenny White on drums is in inspired form.

This music is similar in style and content to the music Freddie Hubbard composed for his Cti album "Red Clay" that Henderson and White played on so its not a big surprise to me to hear him coping Red Clay's sound for his group. The sound if I had to label it would be hard bop with subtle traces of R&B and early fusion especially on the track "If you're not part of the problem you're part of the solution". The group performs several of Henderson's most well known tunes that have become jazz standards & jam session favorites in the many years after this was recorded such as "Blue Bossa", Recorda Me and "The Shade of Jade" If you're a fan of live albums and jazz in general then you should have this album in your collection.

I cut my musical teeth back in the 1960s and 1970s, soaking up the Rock, Pop, and Soul sound of that era, and I didn't hear a lot of jazz growing up. So, I've somewhat belatedly been discovering some of the great jazz artists of the past several decades, and Joe Henderson ranks as one of those that I enjoy very much. I can't really pinpoint what it is about his syle of playing that appeals to me, but it just does. The tone, the mood, the vibe, whatever you want to call, it works for me.

In addition to Henderson, I've also become a fan of Woody Shaw, and both of those great musicians feature prominently on this live recording. And a good, clean recording it is, not even sounding like a typical noisy club show. You can read the other rave reviews for a rundown of the songs and who does what. If you've heard any Joe Henderson albums from this period (this was recorded in 1970) I think you'll dig it.

The CD comes with a booklet that includes the original liner notes written by Orrin Keepnews. It also includes a newer essay about Henderson and this recording, written by Jeff Kaliss for the reissue of the CD in 2004. I love the description of the music in liner notes: "... the dominant mood is effervescent, with the soloists at the tops of their respective games." Indeed, these guys are all in top form. A jazz treat!

If you're new to Joe Henderson, you need to check him out and this is a fine place to start.

I hear his improv style as a blend of Parker (master of changes), Rollins (exploits the tenor range and grabs the unexpected, but right note) and Coltrane (great intensity and lots of notes when he cuts loose.) In other words, he plays lots of well chosen notes, plays very quickly and clearly, has great intensity and can make very musical noise. I think of him as an earthier (more authentic?) sounding Michael Brecker.

On this disk, he covers a lot of stylistic territory. There's a lot of hard bop, bossa nova, some free blowing, modern jazz standards interpretation, even one cut ("If You're Not Part of") that is fusion...this CD is like a jazz sampler playlist all in one.

Regarding the other players, Woody Shaw is fine in the style of Freddie Hubbard. He's a very good match for Joe, so you get a lot of great trumpet at no extra charge.

The rhythm section is very tight. For the most part, Lenny White plays straight ahead drums here (vs. his better known fusion style with Return to Forever.) Ron McClure mostly plays the string bass. He has a very clear and harmonically informed touch. So no worries on the bottom end of the band. (The exception, of course is the "If You're Not Part of" cut where Lenny and Ron funk and Fender out.)

For me the electric piano is a nice touch throughout the CD. It gives the tunes a little of the original Chick Corea/Return to Forever sound (i.e. back when Chick played with Joe Farrell; prior to adopting an electric guitar into the band.) So, if you're worried that this is a dreaded "jazz fusion" album, you can relax.

George Cables is the pianist and he does a fine job when given the opportunity. Unlike Chick on Return to Forever, he's much less intense, which fits his supporting player role.

To wrap up, I can only say that I wish I was in the audience when Joe and co. were blowing the roof off.

I took a few lessons from the late great Joe Henderson in the mid 70's when he resided up north in the San Francisco bay area near Colma. In my opinion, he was one of the best of the post-Coltrane saxophonists along with Wayne Shorter. This set culled from his performances at the Lighthouse in Hermosa Beach, 22 miles from L.A., represent one of his best live performances along with the "Live in Japan" date. The greatly under-rated trumpeter Woody Shaw, George Cables on Rhodes electric keyboard, Ron McClure on bass and Lenny White on drums composed a power house group with some Henderson originals (Isotope, Inner Urge, Recorda-Me) and some of the Blue Note tunes like "Blue Bossa", "Mode for Joe" and standards like "Round Midnight", "Invitation" ( a tune I've heard Joe play many times live and on record). If you're a fan of Joe Henderson or a hard bop buff, do get this one--it smokes!!

 Track listing:

01     Caribbean Fire Dance     5:37
02     Recorda-Me     8:18
03     A Shade Of Jade     10:28
04     Isotope     4:28
05     'Round Midnight     9:02
06     Mode For Joe     8:34
07     Invitation     7:32
08     If You're Not Part Of The Solution, You're Part Of The Problem     11:29
09     Blue Bossa     9:43
10     Closing Theme     0:47


Saxophone – Joe Henderson
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Woody Shaw
Bass – Ron McClure
Congas – Tony Waters (tracks: 1, 8, 9)
Drums – Lenny White
Electric Bass – Ron McClure (tracks: 8)
Electric Piano – George Cables

Saturday, June 6, 2020

Frank Zappa - 1971 [1997] "200 Motels"

The 200 Motels soundtrack to Frank Zappa's film 200 Motels was released by United Artists Records in 1971. Like the film, the album covers a loose storyline about The Mothers of Invention going crazy in the small town of Centerville and bassist Jeff quitting the group, as did his real life counterpart, Jeff Simmons, who left the group before the film began shooting and was replaced by actor Martin Lickert for the film.

The soundtrack to Frank Zappa's strange early-'70s film 200 Motels was always doomed to be a peripheral entry in his discography. The movie's story was not easy to follow, and neither is the record (not that plot was ever a big focus of the production). It's typically wacky Zappa of the era, with unpredictable sharp turns between crunchy rock bombast, orchestration, and jazz/classical influences, as well as interjections of wacky spoken dialogue. Those who like his late-'60s/early-'70s work -- not as song-oriented as his first albums, in other words, but not as "serious" or as silly as his later records -- will probably like this fine, although it's not up to the level of Uncle Meat. It's funny in spots as well, especially the part where a disgruntled sideman gets tempted away from the band to do his own thing (a libretto that was, apparently, based on real-life incidents concerning Zappa sideman Jeff Simmons, who left during the project). On the other hand, there's a growing tendency to deploy the smutty, cheap humor that would soon dominate much of Zappa's work.

Typically zany Zappa for the period. If you're looking for serious rock, like Overnight Sensation or Apostrophe, this isn't for you. While it has some good rock numbers, they are far too few and far between and don't last long enough for my taste. However, if you liked the film, you will enjoy the album. For me, it brings back fond memories of watching the film in a small college auditorium with a great sound system, stoned on my ass.

The album peaked at No. 59 on the Billboard 200, though reviewers deemed it a peripheral part of Zappa's catalog.

 Track listing:

CD 1
1-1     Semi-Fraudulent/Direct-From-Hollywood Overture     1:59
1-2     Mystery Roach     2:32
1-3     Dance Of The Rock & Roll Interviewers     0:48
1-4     This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Prologue)     0:55
1-5     Tuna Fish Promenade     2:29
1-6     Dance Of The Just Plain Folks     4:40
1-7     This Town Is A Sealed Tuna Sandwich (Reprise)     0:58
1-8     The Sealed Tuna Bolero     1:40
1-9     Lonesome Cowboy Burt     3:59
1-10     Touring Can Make You Crazy     2:52
1-11     Would You Like A Snack?     1:23
1-12     Redneck Eats     3:02
1-13     Centerville     2:31
1-14     She Painted Up Her Face     1:41
1-15     Janet's Big Dance Number     1:18
1-16     Half A Dozen Provocative Squats     1:57
1-17     Mysterioso     0:48
1-18     Shove It Right In     2:32
1-19     Lucy's Seduction Of A Bored Violinist & Postlude     4:01

CD 2
2-1     I'm Stealing The Towels     2:14
2-2     Dental Hygiene Dilemma     5:11
2-3     Does This Kind Of Life Look Interesting To You?     2:59
2-4     Daddy, Daddy, Daddy     3:11
2-5     Penis Dimension     4:37
2-6     What Will This Evening Bring Me This Morning     3:32
2-7     A Nun Suit Painted On Some Old Boxes     1:08
2-8     Magic Fingers     3:53
2-9     Motorhead's Midnight Ranch     1:28
2-10     Dew On The Newts We Got     1:09
2-11     The Lad Searches The Night For His Newts     0:41
2-12     The Girl Wants To Fix Him Some Broth     1:10
2-13     The Girl's Dream     0:54
2-14     Little Green Scratchy Sweaters & Courduroy Ponce     1:00
2-15     Strictly Genteel (The Finale)     11:10
    Bonus Tracks
2-16     CUT1 "Coming Soon!..."     0:56
2-17     CUT2 "The Wide Screen Erupts..."     0:57
2-18     CUT3 "Coming Soon!..."     0:31
2-19     CUT4 "Frank Zappa's 200 Motels..."     0:11
2-20     Magic Fingers (Single Edit)     2:57


    Frank Zappa – bass guitar, guitar, drums, producer, orchestration
    George Duke – trombone, keyboards
    Ian Underwood – keyboards, woodwinds
    Big Jim Sullivan - guitar, orchestration
    Martin Lickert – bass guitar
    Aynsley Dunbar – drums
    Ruth Underwood – percussion
    Jimmy Carl Black – vocals
    Howard Kaylan – vocals
    Jim Pons – voices
    Mark Volman – vocals, photography
    Theodore Bikel – narrator
    Royal Philharmonic Orchestra