Sunday, August 20, 2017

Frank Zappa - 1967-1968 [1986] "We're Only In It For The Money" + "Lumpy Gravy"

This twofer CD reissue contains two 1968 albums by Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. We're Only In It For The Money, originally released in January 1968, is The Mothers' third album, containing some of the group's sharpest satires, including "Who Needs The Peace Corps?" and the anti-hippie "Flower Punk." When he was putting together The Old Masters, Box One in 1985, Zappa re-recorded the album's rhythm tracks and re-edited it in places in an attempt to improve its sound. Instead, the album now sounds like an odd mixture of old and new. Lumpy Gravy, originally released in March 1968, is a Zappa solo album recorded with an orchestra, but although it isn't song-oriented, its approach is not much different from that of We're Only In It For The Money, so the two make a good pairing.

We're Only in It for the Money is the third studio album by the Mothers of Invention. Released on March 4, 1968 on Verve Records, it was subsequently remixed and re-recorded by Frank Zappa and reissued by Rykodisc in 1986.

As with the band's previous two albums, We're Only in It for the Money is a concept album, and satirizes left and right-wing politics, particularly the hippie subculture, as well as the Beatles' album Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. It was conceived as part of a project called No Commercial Potential, which produced three other albums: Lumpy Gravy, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets and Uncle Meat.

We're Only in It for the Money encompasses rock, experimental music and psychedelic rock, with orchestral segments deriving from the recording sessions for Lumpy Gravy, which was previously issued as a solo instrumental album by Capitol Records and was subsequently reedited by Zappa and released by Verve; the reedited Lumpy Gravy was produced simultaneously with We're Only in It for the Money and is the first part of a conceptual continuity, continued with the reedited Lumpy Gravy and concluded with Zappa's final album, Civilization Phaze III (1994).

Lumpy Gravy is the debut solo album by Frank Zappa, an album of orchestral, electric and concrete sound written by Zappa and performed by a group of session players he dubbed the Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra. Zappa conducted the orchestra but did not perform on the album. It is his third album overall: his previous releases had been under the name of his group, the Mothers of Invention.

It was commissioned and briefly released, on August 7, 1967, by Capitol Records in the 4-track Stereo-Pak format only and then withdrawn due to a lawsuit from MGM Records. MGM claimed that the album violated Zappa's contract with their subsidiary, Verve Records. In 1968 it was reedited and reissued by MGM's Verve Records on May 13, 1968. It consisted of two musique concrète pieces that combined elements from the original orchestral performance with elements of surf music and the spoken word. It was praised for its music and editing.

Produced simultaneously with We're Only in It for the Money, Zappa saw Lumpy Gravy as the second part of a conceptual continuity that later included his final album, Civilization Phaze III.

Later it was re-edited by Zappa as part of a project called No Commercial Potential, which included three other albums: We're Only in It for the Money, Cruising with Ruben & the Jets and Uncle Meat.

In college, our "hippie" friend Lowell W... introduced our group to Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. Soon, I was adding Mothers LPs (They came on vinyl, you know) to my ecclectic record collection. So, what was this stuff anyhow? Political comment? Rock N Roll? It certainly was not Country & Western! What a puzzle! (However, it might have been political satire because Zappa seems to have written a song about my family friendly congressman before he was even elected. "Just have your fun, you old son of a gun, and drive off in your Lincoln..." So, Lowell up and writes Frank about what's it really mean anyhow and signs it Lo W... Now, Zappa was not one to waste a stamp on a fan. But, a few months later a full page ad appeared for the newest Mother's album in "The Rolling Stone." The headline read: "Dear Lo: We're only in it for the money!" and there was a large photo of the album cover and some other stuff. Well, we still did not know what it was all about, but I enjoyed the album. I cannot speak for the entire listings of the Mothers on Amazon, but "We're only in it for the money" is my favorite Zappa CD. I still do not know what the goofy thing is all about, but I think the title is telling the truth.

Tracklist:

We're Only In It For The Money
1 Are You Hung Up? 1:29
2 Who Needs The Peace Corps? 2:35
3 Concentration Moon 2:17
4 Mom & Dad 2:19
5 Telephone Conversation
Voice [On Telephone] – Suzy Creamcheese
0:45
6 Bow Tie Daddy 0:33
7 Harry, You're A Beast 1:21
8 What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? 1:03
9 Absolutely Free 3:28
10 Flower Punk 3:04
11 Hot Poop 0:29
12 Nasal Retentive Calliope Music 2:02
13 Let's Make The Water Turn Black 1:45
14 The Idiot Bastard Son 2:43
15 Lonely Little Girl 1:44
16 Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance 1:35
17 What's The Ugliest Part Of Your Body? (Reprise) 0:57
18 Mother People 2:31
19 The Chrome Plated Megaphone Of Destiny 6:25
Lumpy Gravy
20      Lumpy Gravy I    15:48
21      Lumpy Gravy II    15:51

Personnel:

Frank Zappa (guitar, piano, lead vocals, "weirdness & editing")
Dick Barber ("snorks")
Jimmy Carl Black ("Indian of the group", drums, trumpet, vocals)
Roy Estrada (electric bass, vocals, "asthma")
Bunk Gardner (all woodwinds, "mumbled weirdness")
Billy Mundi (drums, vocal, "yak & black lace underwear")
Don Preston (keyboards)
Euclid James Motorhead Sherwood (soprano & baritone saxophones, "all purpose weirdness")
Ian Underwood (piano, woodwinds, "wholesome")
Pamela Zarubica as Suzy Creamcheese ("telephone")
Also:
Spider ("is the one who wants you to turn your radio around")
Eric Clapton ("has graciously consented to speak to you in several critical area")
Gary Kellgren ("creepy whispering")
Dick Kunc ("cheerful interruptions")
Sid Sharp (orchestral segments conductor)
Vicki ("telephone ")
Ronnie Williams (backwards voice)

Scott Mishoe - 1995 "Omnidirectional"

Scott Mishoe started guitar at the age of 5. His first live appearance was at the the age of 8. He got a gig at the age of 13 for a benefit show with Pat Travers. At 18 he got an endorsement with Fender. He was feature in Mike Varneys "Spotlight" column in the August 1990 issue and a number of other magazine features soon followed.

In 1992 his two-handed arpeggio techniques landed him a place on the Shrapnel "Ominous Guitarist from the Unknown" release. He was later featured on on Mark Varney's "Guitar On The Edge" series. This culminated in the release of a the CD "Omnidirectional" on Legato Records.

Scott's one of the most incredible guitarists to ever walk the face of this planet. Listen, if you like over-the-top technique that will make you laugh because it's so ridiculously amazing, this is your man. Take some of the best slap bassists you know, mix them with some blistering phrasing ala Greg Howe and Richie Kotzen, add in the ultra-clean technique of someone like Vinnie Moore. Shake it all with some Stanley Jordan clean tapping and BAM; That's Scott. He sounds nothing like a clone of any of those guys, either.

The guy is just phenominal and as someone who has combed the internet for all of Varney's greats from back in the day in addition to the hundreds of thousands of guitarists out there today, Scott is absolutely in a league of his own. Yes, the album cover is cheesy and yes, I know you're thinking, "Scott Mishoe... if he's THAT good, I should've heard of him by now." You're exactly right; you should have before now and it's an absolute atrocity that you haven't... but now that you have, you know what to do. If you're still unsure, go to YouTube and type in his name. That should pretty much do it for you. Basically.

Scott is the best crazy-amazing guitarist you've probably never heard of. I'm a fan of complex, melodic, techically incredible guitar playing--think Greg Howe, John Petrucci (Dream Theater), Vinnie Moore, Blues Saraceno, etc., and without a doubt Scott hangs with these guys. He's incredibly talented, both technically and compositionally.

I learned about Scott by taking guitar lessons from him in Scottsdale, AZ. Although I was a fairly advanced player, after hearing him play, I wanted to give him my guitar. Hearing his own material made me really respect his abilities as a composer and musician. If you like amazing guitar work and jazz/rock fusion, you'll love this disc.

Victor Wooten, inspired Scott to apply the infamous slap-technique to the guitar. Scott began creating a variety of licks around the slap-technique, developing an even more refreshing style. With the addition of this new technique, Scott developed what we think to be one of the most creative playing styles we’ve heard. Using a technique that can now be seen from players of late like Tosin Abasi, Scott can make a 5 second lick the most interesting 5 seconds of your life. But amidst all of the powerful slaps, Scott still manages to slip in some legato runs, chords, sweeps, with some fries on the side. But don’t get us wrong, Scott Mishoe ain’t no one-trick-pony. Scott’s impeccable tapping runs, alternate picking, and arpeggios give any modern day shredder a run for their money. Scott attests this seemingly flawless playing style to hours and hours of practicing during his free-time, claiming he also became “hooked” to the slap-technique, inspiring him to push even more boundaries with his expert-level guitar chops.

Unfortunately, the guitar community didn’t hear much from Scott Mishoe after his first album, leaving us guitar-nerds with very little to tide us over after 1995. Nonetheless, Scott hasn’t put down the guitar. As far as we can see and hear, the man has somehow managed to improve on his already amazing skills. Video surfacing on YouTube featuring Scott in recent years proved the super-tight and funky slap technique that Mr. Mishoe was known for is still alive and well. Recent interviews reveal that Scott is in the process of writing another album, and hopes to work with players like Ray Riendeau, Keith Horne, and Victor Wooten in the near future. We don’t know about you, but this is reason enough for us to keep an eye out.

Track Listing:

01. Mal-Funk-Shen [3:27]
02. Making My Way Home [3:13]
03. Sonic Chaos [4:19]
04. Incredible Grasp [4:28]
05. theresa Ann [3:42]
06. Sky High [3:36]
07. Out Of Control [4:11]
08. Dream Come True [3:42]
09. Miafoe [4:25]
10. Whiteland Leaf [3:42]
11. Without You [2:30]
12. Nacho Mama [4:28]

Personnel:

Scott Mishoe - Guitar
Ray Riendeau - Bass
Brett Frederickson - Drums

Keith Horne - Bass (2)
Paul Gilaspy - Drums (1)
Shawn D. - Keyboards (8)

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Gypsy - 1971 [1990] "In The Garden"

In the Garden is the second album by the progressive rock band Gypsy, their second for Metromedia. It peaked at #173 on the Billboard Pop Albums charts in 1971.

 This was Gypsy's second album and their  the most collectable. The song "As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)" is a 12 minute epic which is probably their best song from all of their albums. This song also received the most radio airplay from this album.

The band has matured greatly with this album. The basic music is structured much like their first LP, but the sound is more together and the organ, played by Jimmy Walsh, seems to be the focal point of the group's maturity. "As Far As You Can See" is an enchanting education; while the second side of the LP contains one view of paradise entitled "Here in the Garden,".

Gypsy began life as the hugely popular teen band The Underbeats, hailing from the fertile Minneapolis/St. Paul music scene. In 1969 The Underbeats decided to go for the big time and headed for California, where they eventually secured house band status at the Whiskey A Go-Go. Around this time the Underbeats name was sounding a bit dated so the band was rechristened Gypsy. The band started to attract attention from record labels and wound up with two solid offers, Atlantic and the upstart Metromedia. The band chose Metromedia and proceeded to record their self titled debut album, released in 1970. After the first album the band embarked on a successful national tour, playing large venues and festivals. In 1971, along with some personnel changes, the band returned to LA and began recording their second album In The Garden. Due to financial problems at Metromedia the album never got the attention it deserved.

1971 was a terrific year for Progressive Rock and Gypsy's second album provides more memorable music. This band is prodigiously talented in every way. Almost anyone can relate to the lovely "Time Will Make It Better". It should have been a hit, and the album is real progressive masterpiece,in fact, marks the transition from traditional to psychedelic progressive rock. with beautiful melodic structures, vocal harmonies and a very good competent guitarist In The Garden excites and thrills from start to finish with their beautiful songs and always welcome timbre of the good old organs Hammond B3. As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel) is a small epic of almost 12 minutes long with chilling harmonies and solos. In The Garden II is another firecracker album!!!

This gem was my one of my favorite LPs from the early 70s. It is instrumentally complex and lyrically powerful, just a joy to listen to. "Antithesis" is also good but "In the Garden" is probably Gypsy's best work. Gypsy was far and away the best Minneapolis-based group of their generation, doing truly original work.

I am old enough to remember the American progressive rock band named Gypsy in their prime. As many have written, this band is far better than the meager recognition they have ever gotten. As a student at the University of Northern Iowa (Cedar Falls, IA) in 1976 I remember sitting in the student union, listening to a mid-day concert by this band and two things kept coming to mind. First, this band should have been playing much larger halls and getting way more airplay than they were getting, and second, this is the ONLY band I have ever seen in a live concert that sounded EXACTLY like their recorded albums did, although The Zombies and (early) Chicago were pretty close. Now, here it is thirty-nine years later, and I still think their music is just as powerful and wonderful. It may be the 'old codger' in me, but the 1963-1979 era of rock music can NOT be beat by anything since, and in my humble opinion Gypsy was a vibrant part of that legacy.

The only sad thing about Gypsy is that as far as I know they only made two albums. These guy's were just a great band period and so unappreciated. The band I was in at the time of this release actually covered two of their songs Around You and As far As I Can See. People would be like who does those songs. I could have told them I wrote them cause they were just not put out there and a appreciated. I play this disc all the time never leaves my car, wish they would get back together.

Track listing:

1 "Around You" – 5:27
2 "Reach Out Your Hand" – 2:33
3 "As Far As You Can See (As Much As You Can Feel)" (Rosenbaum with intro by Lordan/Walsh) – 12:09
4 "Here in the Garden I" – 6:43
5 "Here in the Garden II" – 3:07
6 "Blind Man" – 3:59
7 "Time Will Make It Better" (Walsh) – 2:53

Personnel:

Enrico Rosenbaum - guitar, vocals
James Walsh - keyboards, vocals
James Johnson - guitar, vocals
Bill Lordan - drums
Willie Weeks - bass
Joe Lala - percussion

Monday, August 14, 2017

Soft Machine - 1981 [2010] "Land Of Cockayne"

Digitally remastered edition of this 1981 release, the final album from the British Prog/Art Rock band. By the time the album was recorded, the band was comprised of keyboard player and saxophonist Karl Jenkins and drummer John Marshall. The duo were joined by musicians such as Jack Bruce, the returning Allan Holdsworth, Dick Morrissey and Ray Warleigh to produce a different, but polished album. Esoteric. 2010.

Land of Cockayne is the final album by the band Soft Machine, released in 1981. By this point, the band contained none of its original members. The title refers to the medieval land of plenty.
The album came about as the result of a project in which Karl Jenkins and John Marshall had been involved featuring top session musicians. The ad hoc band, Rollercoaster, had recently recorded the Stevie Wonder tribute album Wonderin' and decided to record another album together. Many of the musicians included on the Cockayne album would make up Soft Machine's final live line-up which played a six-night residency at Ronnie Scott's in 1984. This is the only Soft Machine album to feature a string section.

Excellent job remastering and adding an informative booklet to this wonderful cd. the title of this cd is based on a medieval vision, Land of Cockaigne, a poor man's paradise of effortless abundance. i've been a soft machine fan for decades and absolutely loved the progression in style this band developed. to my constant surprise are those critics to dislike the changes this band had made. change is the only thing permanent in life people. this cd is very melodic, and romantic, with added strings from the composition and musical direction of karl jenkins. jack bruce on bass, john marshall drums, john taylor, allan holdsworth, alan parker, dick morrissey and ray warleigh round out the band. most of the music is very beautifully composed and gentle. there are a couple of pieces that "rock" to round out the balance of style on this cd. sadly this is the last of the modern line up of soft machine cds. there has been a lot of older material being issued, which too is wonderful. but if you're a fan of progressive jazz, this is a delightful cd to own.

This, the final album recorded under the name Soft Machine, has been much maligned as being extraneous to the legacy of a band who forged a unique and truly progressive path through the late sixties and seventies. The truth of the matter is that it really is a Karl Jenkins project in all but name, but it should not be unfairly filed alongside the library music of the posthumously issued `Rubber Riff'.

One look at the players listed here should tell anyone that this not a bland collection of half-baked instrumentals, but quite a feast of surprisingly strong musical sketches. Jenkins leads (as keyboardist and conductor) such talents as the mighty Jack Bruce and Allan Holdsworth and twin sax maestros Ray Warleigh and Dick Morrissey. John Taylor contributes some first class Fender Rhodes, while Softs cohort John Marshall is as reliable and vibrant as ever on drums.

The album is a suite of varied instrumental pieces ranging from appealing, sunny pieces for sax and wordless vocals, melodic ambient excursions, string sections, and strong themes which allow ample time for quality soloing from the giants gathered here. Yes, it is easy on the ear, but it carries a gravitas which relates back to Jenkins' compositions for earlier incarnations of Soft Machine. The extended `Panoramania' and `Hot Biscuit Slim' both recall the joy of a beautifully scored head theme ushering in a collection of solos by musicians who by virtue of their pedigree make every note count. `Black Velvet Mountain' is a wonderful showcase for Allan Holdsworth's ability to get inside a melody, which like his work with the Bruford band of this era, exude the authority of a seasoned player. `Sly Monkey' offers further evidence that an Allan Holdsworth solo is a thing of great joy, especially when complemented by the equally majestic saxophone of Ray Warleigh.

Tracks Listing

1. Over 'n' above (7:24)
2. Lotus groves (4:57)
3. Isle of the blessed (1:56)
4. Panoramania (7:07)
5. Behind the crystal curtain (0:53)
6. Palace of glass (3:22)
7. Hot-biscuit Slim (7:27)
8. (Black) velvet mountain (5:10)
9. Sly monkey (5:00)
10. A lot of what you fancy... (0:35)

Total Time: 43:51

Personnel

Karl Jenkins – keyboards, synths, orchestration
John Marshall – drums, percussion
Jack Bruce – bass
Allan Holdsworth – lead guitar
John Taylor – electric piano
Ray Warleigh – alto saxophone, bass flute
Dick Morrissey – tenor saxophone
Alan Parker – rhythm guitar
Stu Calver – vocals, backing vocals
John G. Perry – vocals, backing vocals
Tony Rivers – vocals, backing vocals

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Various Artists - 2015 "Jaco" (Original Soundtrack)


“JACO,” The surprisingly cohesive soundtrack to the 2015 Jaco Pastorius documentary Jaco features tracks the legendary jazz bassist recorded during his short career in the '70s and '80s. The first major documentary film about Pastorius, who was born in 1951 and died tragically in 1987 at age 35, Jaco was produced by bassist Robert Trujillo (Suicidal Tendencies, Metallica) and Pastorius' oldest son, Johnny Pastorius. Jaco details Pastorius' rise from unknown Florida musician to internationally recognized and innovative jazz superstar. In concordance, we get cuts Pastorius recorded as a solo artist and as a member of the influential fusion outfit Weather Report. Fittingly, Trujillo and Pastorius cull tracks off the bassist's two major solo studio albums, 1976's Jaco Pastorius and 1981's Word of Mouth, including "Come on, Come Over," "Continuum," and "Crisis." Elsewhere, we get a handful of major Weather Report sides, including the synth-heavy "River People" and the funky Pastorius feature "Teen Town." Along the way, we also get several tracks Pastorius recorded for other artists, including a live version of "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" with Joni Mitchell and "All American Alien Boy" off Ian Hunter's 1978 studio album. Bringing Pastorius' influence full circle, Trujillo also includes several brand-new recordings, including a cover of "Come on, Come Over" by his own band Mass Mental, as well as a cover of "Continuum" by Mexican guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela. While there is certainly room for longer, more exhaustive Pastorius anthologies, Jaco succeeds in providing a listenable -- and one feels lovingly heartfelt -- overview of the bassist's career.

With so many compilations already out there, it might be easy to question why a soundtrack to JACO is even necessary. But one look at the track listing renders its raison d'être clear: JACO: Original Soundtrack is, in some ways, the most comprehensive document of the bassist's career, even if it doesn't contain as much music as previous double-disc sets. Yes, there is plenty of time given to his leader debut, Jaco Pastorius (Epic, 1976), with everything from the soul/funk of "Come On, Come Over" and the ethereal "Continuum" to the hauntingly beautiful "Portrait of Tracy" and the atmospheric, harmonic-driven feature for French horn and percussion, "Okonkole yTrompa."

But there's also space for a couple of tracks from his second album (and 1981 Warner Bros. debut), Word of Mouth, including the staggeringly chaotic album- opener, "Crisis," and more bouyant and accessible big band chart, "Liberty City"—which, in addition to jazz giant Herbie Hancock, also features Pastorius' longtime friends from his Florida days, steel pan player Othello Molineaux and percussionist Don Alias.

Pastorius' tenure in Weather Report, too, is briefly represented with every aspiring bassist's rite of passage, "Teen Town," from the group's 1977 mega hit, Heavy Weather (Columbia) and equally impressive "River People," from 1978's Mr. Gone (Columbia), which combines Pastorius' relentless sixteenth-note anchor and keyboardist Joe Zawinul's broad orchestrations with a disco-fied beat that boosters the bassist's comment, in the film, that "everything's hip." Also included is "Barbary Coast," one of two tracks (and the only one written by Pastorius) that the bassist contributed to the transitional Black Market (Columbia, 1976), a brief piece of greasy funk that was a harbinger of even better things to come as Pastorius took over the bass chair from Alphonso Johnson.

JACO: Original Soundtrack also includes a couple of his many guest appearances, including Joni Mitchell's setting of Charles Mingus' "The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines" to words, first found on her collaborative album with the great double bassist, Mingus (Elektra/Asylum, 1979), but heard here as the incendiary live version from Shadows and Light the following year, where saxophonist Michael Brecker takes a lengthy closing solo that Pastorius and Alias (this time on drum kit) push into the stratosphere and beyond. Less often included on jazz-centric Pastorius compilations is his contribution to ex-Mott the Hoople singer Ian Hunter's second solo album, All American Alien Boy, with the title track included here, complete with a bass solo that demonstrates Pastorius' ability to fit into any context.

But what really makes the JACO: Original Soundtrack special are the five tracks that close the 74-minute set. Daughter Mary Pastorius' "Longing" is a dark, dreamy ballad where the singer is supported solely by bassist Chuck Doom and, from her father's Weather Report days, percussionist/drummer Robert Thomas, Jr. "1987" is performed by a group named with nothing but three symbols —with Chuck Doom on bass and keyboards, guitarist Shaun Lopez and vocalist Chino Moreno creating a similarly dreamy but increasingly dramatic response to the year of Pastorius' death. "Shine" takes the bass line from Jaco Pastorius' "Kuru," played by the bassist's nephew David Pastorius, but covers a lot of territory in its brief three minutes, with rap from TechN9ne (speaking in time with "Kuru"'s relentlessly fast bass line) and singing from keyboardist Soko, building into an urban-centric, song-based homage. Acoustic guitar duo Rodrigo y Gabriela performs a more rhythmically propulsive version of Jaco Pastorius floating "Continuum," also turning it into a fine solo vehicle for both guitarists.

Finally, the group dubbed Mass Mental—which features bassists including the film's co-producer from Metallica, Robert Trujillo, alongside one-time Zawinul Syndicate bassist Armand Sabal-Lecco and Red Hot Chilli Peppers' irrepressible Flea—closes the recording by bringing it full circle with a more contemporary rendition of JACO: Original Soundtrack's opening track: Jaco Pastorius' Sam & Dave feature, "Come On, Come Over." Here, however, Mass Mental blends sung vocals with rap, and horns and keys combined with a dense mix from all three bassist that demonstrates the continued breadth and depth of Jaco Pastorius' reach and influence.

As much a starting point for those unfamiliar with Jaco Pastorius' work as it is a heartfelt tribute by family, friends and those who may never have met the bassist but were touched by his work, JACO: Original Soundtrack is a rare soundtrack album that honors its subject by demonstrating not just the subject's own work but showing how the father of "Punk Jazz" affected so many others in such a wide variety of genres. As much as the film succeeded in telling a story, this soundtrack is pure evidence of an artist whose influence continues to be felt nearly three decades after his passing.

Compilation Produced by Robert Trujillo & Johnny Pastorius

Track List:

01 Come On, Come Over – Jaco Pastorius
02 Continuum – Jaco Pastorius
03 River People – Weather Report
04 Teen Town – Weather Report
05 Portrait of Tracy – Jaco Pastorius
06 The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines (Live Version) – Joni Mitchell
07 All American Alien Boy – Ian Hunter
08 Liberty City (with Herbie Hancock) – Jaco Pastorius
09 Okonkole Y Trompa – Jaco Pastorius
10 Barbary Coast – Weather Report
11 Crisis – Jaco Pastorius
12 Longing – Mary Pastorius
13 Nineteen Eighty Seven – †††
14 Shine – Tech N9ne
15 Continuum – Rodrigo y Gabriela
16 Come On Come Over – Mass Mental (featuring Robert Trujillo, Armand Sabal-Lecco, Flea, Whit       Crane, Benji Webbe, Stephen Perkins & C-Minus)

Personnel:

Jaco Pastorius: bass (1-11), drums (3-4), voice (3, 11),timpani (3), Prophet 5 Synthesizer (8), cymbals (8), keyboards (11), synthesizer (11); Randy Brecker: trumpet (1); Ron Tooley: trumpet (1); David Samborn: alto saxophone (1); Michael Brecker: tenor saxophone (1, 8, 11); Howard Johnson: baritone saxophone (1, 8); Herbie Hancock: keyboards (1), Fender Rhodes (2), piano (8); Don Alias: congas (1, 9), bells (2), drums (6), percussion (8), Okonkolo y lya (9),Afu he (9); Narada Michael Walden: drums (1); Sam Moore: vocals (1); Dave Prater: vocals (1); Lenny White: drums (2) Wayne Shorter: soprano saxophone (3-4, 8, 10), tenor saxophone (10, 11), Lyricon (10); Manolo Badrena: congas (3-4); Joe Zawinul: keyboards (3, 10), ARP (3), Prophet (3) Fender Rhodes (4, 10), ARP 2600 (4, 10), melodica (4), Oberheim Polyphonic Synthesizer (4, 10), grand piano (10); Joni Mitchell: voice (6); Pat Metheny: guitar (6); Lyle Mays: keyboards (6); Ian Hunter: rhythm guitar (7), piano (7), vocals (7); Ann Sutton: background vocals (7); Gail Kantor: background vocals (7); Erin Dickens: background vocals (7); Cornell Dupree: guitar (7); Aynsley Dunbar: drums (7); Chris Stainton: organ (7), keyboards (7); Toots Thielemans: harmonica (8, 11); Othello Molineaux: steel pans (8); Paul Hornmueller: steel pans (8); Leroy Williams: steel pans (8); Jack DeJohnette: drums (8, 11); Robert Thomas, Jr.: percussion (8), hand drums (12), drum kit (12); Chuck Findley: trumpet (8); Bobby Findley: trumpet (8); Snooky Young: trumpet (8); Dave Bargeron: trombone (8); Jim Pugh: trombone (8); David Taylor: bass trombone (8); John Clark: French horn (8); Peter Gordon: French horn (8, 9); Hubert Lass: piccolo (8, 11), flute (8); George Young: alto saxophone (8); Alphonso Johnson: electric bass (10); Chester Thompson: drums (10), percussion (10); Alex Acuña: congas (10), percussion (10); Mary Pastorius: vox (12); Chuck Doom: bass (12,13), keyboards (13); God: rain (12), thunder (12); Chino Moreno: voice (13); Shaun Lopez: guitars (13); TechN9ne: vocals (14); Soko: vocals (14), keyboards (14); David Pastorius: bass (14); Rodrigo y Gabriela: acoustic guitars (15); C-Minus: keyboards (16), horns (16); Stephen Perkins: drums (16); Whit Crane: vocals (16); Benji Webbe: vocals (16); Robert Trujillo: Main Chango bass (16); Armand Sabal-Lecco: Tenor Juju bass (16); Flea: bass stabs (16), bass solo (16).

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Mingo Lewis - 1976 [2017] "Flight Never Ending"

James Mingo Lewis (born December 1940) is an American jazz percussionist who played with Carlos Santana's band, Return To Forever (Chick Corea) and as a sideman for Al Di Meola. Aside from his extensive work as a session musician—Paiste states Mingo "has recorded over 100 records"—, the percussionist also released a solo album, Flight Never Ending (Columbia, 1976).

Legendary Bay Area progressive jazz percussionist Mingo Lewis began performing with Santana in his teens. Lewis also worked with artists such as Al DiMeola, Chick Corea and Return to Forever, David Byrne, Jan Hammer and The Tubes. Many people got a first glance at Lewis’ extraordinary musicianship through Al DiMeola’s debut album from 1976 “Land of the Midnight Sun” where Lewis contributed one of the most memorable compositions, the opening track “The Wizard” (1st sample below), which has become a DiMeola classic. Lewis' debut album was also originally released in 1976 and it also contains a version of “The Wizard” (2nd sample below). DiMeola’s version of “The Wizard” is melodically stronger, which perhaps suggest that DiMeola might have heard Lewis’ version prior to him releasing his debut album. Nonetheless "Flight Never Ending" is classic 70's fusion much in the style of Return to Forever & Al DiMeola. The music combines the primitive Afro-Cuban rhythms with the newest dimension in progressive rock at the time. It only took 30 years for this recording to appear on CD as it was finally superbly digitally remastered in 2007. Musicians include: Mingo Lewis on percussion and keyboards, David Logeman on drums, Eric McCann on bass, Randy Sellgren on guitar, Michael Kapitan and Kincaid Miller on keyboards, and A. Louis Bramey on hand bells.

In my opinion this is a landmark recording. A somewhat obscure album that should have received more attention in the jazz/rock/fusion category. Featuring the guitar work of Randy Sellgren. Mingo Lewis and Al DiMeola were on pretty much on the same page at this point in time. Al DiMeola had featured Mingo on his "Land of the Midnight Sun" recording from the same year and did so again on his "Elegant Gypsy"(1977)/"Casino"(1978)/"Splendido Hotel"(1980)/"Scenario"(1982)/"Tour De Force"(1982"/"Electric Rendezvous"(1983) recordings. Al DiMeola did a rearrangement of Mingo's "Frankincense" on his "Casino"(Chasin' the Voodoo") lp with Mingo. Anyone who enjoyed DiMeola's work at this time should give Mingo Lewis' "Flight Never Ending" recording a listen. His influence is obvious. In my opinion, once again, all the above is great music from great musicians from a time that has rarely been equaled since.

Great lost fusion music from a great percussionist that has played with a variety of musicians and artists over the years. I have been looking for this album for years and finally someone came out with it on CD.

Delighted to see that Mingo Lewis "Flight Never Ending" is re-issued on cd. As many may know, he was the percussionist on several of Al DiMeola's early solo albums. When this album was released in the mid 70's, it was by far my favorite Fusion album. The track "Heart Song" still holds up. Searing guitar solos, propulsive drumming, synth solos and layered with Latin Percussion. A must have for anyone who enjoys re-visiting musicianship from the Fusion Era.

CD reissue. Mingo Lewis' career spans more than 45 years. He is a percussionist that has performed live and recorded with some of music's greatest names, including Al DiMeola, Santana, Miles Davis, Third World, Billy Joel, The Tubes and Chick Corea's Return To Forever. Flight Never Ending was originally released in 1976 on Columbia Records. This CD consists of searing guitar solos, propulsive drumming and synth solos layered with Latin percussion. A must-have for all who enjoy fusion! This album features two Mingo Lewis compositions recorded by Al DiMeola, 'The Wizard' (on his Land Of The Midnight Sun album) and 'Frankincense' AKA 'Chasin' The Voodoo' (on his Casino album.)

This version has more punch and bass than the 2007 release.

 1. Aba Cua
 2. Frankincense
 3. Heartsong
 4. The Wizard
 5. Visions of Another Time
 6. Trapezoid
 7. Maginary Monsters
 8. Flight Never Ending

Columbia Records, 1976

Mingo Lewis - percussion, synthesizers, congas, clavinet, and vocals
Louis Bramy - percussion, bells, vocals
Mike Kapitan - keyboards, piano, synthesizers, drums vocals
David Logeman - drums
Eric McCann - electric bass
Kincaid Miller - synthesizers, keyboards clavinet
Randy Sellgren - electric guitar, acoustic guitar

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Ray Barretto - 1994 "Taboo"

Ray Barretto's Taboo features a new, smaller version of his New World Spirit ensemble. Hector Martignon, who composes along with Barretto, is still here, as are Satoshi Takeishi, Ray Vega, and Jairo Moreno. Saxophonist Adam Kolker takes the sax chair vacated by Jay Rodriguez, and guitarist Alfredo Gonzales has not been replaced. The material is far jazzier on Taboo. Barretto explored the roots of Latin jazz as it transformed itself into the New York version of son and salsa on 2003's Hot Hands: Ancestral Messages, and Taboo serves as a guidebook to present and future tenses of Latin jazz. For starters, one can read between the lines that Ray Vega's charts have moved far a-field of the standard notions surrounding big band arrangements. Everything here feels fluid and relaxed; the playing leaves spontaneity in the air whether it is on a Barretto or a Martignon original, such as on "Bomba-Riquen," "99 MacDougal St," or something from the hard bop cannon by Nat Adderley and Oscar Brown, Jr., such as the classic "Work Song," or a modal tune like McCoy Tyner's "Effendi." What comes out is a steamy, emotionally moving, reworking of the soul-jazz ethic by Latin rhythmic and sophistication standards. One tune seamlessly moves into another and the trajectory of soloists against the rhythm section is linear; there is no attempt made by anyone here to play beyond the watermark the band sets, thereby keeping the entire process organic and unified. The counterpoint is engaging, the melodic intervention is groundbreaking, and the interplay of rhythm instruments -- hand percussion, drums, bass, and piano, is nothing less than brilliant and innovative. Taboo actually moves past Hot Hands: Ancestral Messages, and gives listeners a solid view of the shape of Latin jazz to come.

This CD exceeded my expectations.

Track Listing:

  1. Taboo
  2. Bomba-Riquen
  3. Work Song
  4. Cancion De'l Yungue (Song For The Rain Forest)
  5. Guaji-Rita
  6. 99 MacDougal St.
  7. Montuno Blue
  8. Brother Tom
  9. Lazy Afternoon
  10. Effendi

Personnel:

- Ray Barretto: Composer, Congas, Drums, Primary Artist, Quinto
- Alfredo González: Guitar
- Adam Kolker: Flute, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor).
- Hector Martignon: Arranger, Composer, Piano
- Jairo Moreno: Bass, Bass (Electric), Guitar (Acoustic), Guitar (Electric).
- Satoshi Takeishi: Drums.
- Ray Vega: Arranger, Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Percussion.

Gabor Szabo - 1966 [1998] "Spellbinder" [Japan Import]

Spellbinder is an album by Hungarian guitarist Gábor Szabó featuring performances recorded in 1966 for the Impulse! label.[1] The album contains "Gypsy Queen" which was covered together with Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman" by Santana on his 1970 Abraxas album. Wiki.

Released just six months after Gypsy '66, Gabor Szabo's second album as a leader (after leaving a sublime Chico Hamilton band that also included Charles Lloyd) remains one of his finest moments in the studio. Szabo utilized the tales of bassist Ron Carter and his old boss Hamilton on drums, as well as a pair of fine Latin percussionists -- Willie Bobo and Victor Pantoja. The groove quotient was very high on Spellbinder, maybe even higher than on later albums such as Jazz Raga or Sorcerer. This set is all Szabo, drifting, wafting, and soaring above all that rhythm; the track selection provides ample space for Szabo's highly individualized Eastern modal style to shine. The set opens with the title track, a snaky guitar masterpiece with plenty of droning strings and pinched chords that are followed by open string flourishes. Carter holds the entire band together as Hamilton plays in counterpoint to the percussionists. This is followed with two nuggets from the pop book of the day, the Coleman/Leigh classic "Witchcraft" and "It Was a Very Good Year." From the performances here, it's apparent that Szabo was deeply influenced by singers, and Frank Sinatra was at his pinnacle during this time. There's the emerging '60s psychedelic sound in Szabo's playing, but it is underlaid with bossa rhythms and swells. These tracks, while flavored with Latin and pop stylings, are gorgeous guitar jazz. Szabo gets back into his own mystic thang with "Gypsy Queen" (the opening droning moments of which the Doors lifted entirely for "The End"). Here the Latin rhythms and guitar go head to head, point to counterpoint. A pronounced yet elusive melody line propels a series of polyrhythms forward into an abyss of melody, mode, and frighteningly intense legato phrasing, leaving the listener breathless. He takes the edge off with Sonny Bono's "Bang Bang (She Shot Me Down)." Szabo sings here in his plaintive Hungarian-inflected English, and the tune becomes something other than a pop song, but a tome on despair and loss. The funky "Cheetah" follows with gorgeous arpeggios, pointedly turning into chords of distinction as Hamilton rides the crash cymbal into territories unknown and double-times the band until it notches up the intensity. This set follows with one more Szabo original ("Yearning") and a trio of standards, with a heartbreakingly beautiful read of "My Foolish Heart" and a medley of "Autumn Leaves" and "Speak to Me of Love." Szabo's read on jazz in the '60s was brilliant. He embodied all of its most popular aspirations with a genuine spirit of innovation and adventure. Spellbinder is a masterpiece. All Music.

I love Jazz Guitar and have many many albums by the best in the business ;Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, Herb Ellis, Wes Montgomery, Bill Frissell, JIm Hall and many others....

Of all the Jazz GUitar albums i own, Spellbinder album by Gabor Szabo is one of my favourites....his tone is utterly unique and coming from Hungary (eurpoe), has definietly added to his flavour.

on Spellbinder the arrangement with a tonne of percussion and bass lays a huge spacious foundation for Gabor Szabo to paint over the top....there are no other treble instruments to get in his way....its all there for Gabor Szabo to rip on and he does!

A great album opened me up to his other works and i bought two other albums which are also good, but Spellbinder is my favourite.....it even has the vocal track 'Bang Bang- my baby shot me down ' on it, the famous track that was used, on the movie Kill Bill.

One of my favourite Jazz Guitar albums. By Grant Green.

This album, heard at a friend's house in the late 60s, left an indelible memory. I decided to seek it out to find out whether it was as good as I remembered. The answer is yes. It's not just Szabo's guitar, but the accompaniment and recording, as well: Ron Carter, bass; Rudy Van Gelder, engineer, Bob Thiele, producer. The latin percussion is likewise mesmerizing. Wonderful. By InTents.

Many rock listeners who graduated to jazz will have picked up the scent, so to speak, of Gabor Szabo; he was the composer of the "Gypsy Queen", played by Santana on the extraordinary first side of "Abraxas".

Such listeners would have been disconcerted, perhaps, when they heard this, as I was, many years ago. Szabo's recording was only remotely connected in mood to the Santana performance. But, with time, I picked up on the excellence of the performance. A common transition when rock listeners made the transition to jazz, the bigger vehicle, the mother music of America, and increasingly, Europe.

Hungary has the same mythic connection to music as African America. Perhaps this is rubbish, harmless or insidious of limiting stereotype, I don't know. But Szabo (of damnably short life, dying in his forties in '82) was Hungarian, fleeing the country when the drunkards of the USSR cracked down on the opening in Budapest in 1956. By this time, the compatriot of Bartok and, in a different way, the "Gypsies" had discovered American jazz music. Itself an affront to the Communists.

So America got Szabo. What there is of "Gypsy" here, I'm not sure. The exotic element is the Latin American percussion: there are two Latin percussionists here, the entirety driven by the machine beat of the great Chico Hamilton, who had previously featured Szabo on one of his unpredictable albums. At that time, Szabo and Hamilton were associated with Charles Lloyd, the tenor saxophonist. Lloyd is absent on "Spellbinder", a relief to this listener; I find his alternate copyings of Coltrane and Ornette Coleman cloying, and as domineering as Flip Phillip's excursions on "Jazz at the Philharmonic".

This is a minimalist, percussion-dominated record. The great bassist Ron Carter stays in the background here, and the leader himself, using a wooden guitar with pickup (I think), plays remarkably but subtly throughout, no guitargoddism here. Because the only soloist plays for the music, not the solo (rather like Miles Davis), a second soloist (reed, or perhaps a violin) isn't missed.

He's most at home playing his own compositions, but does reasonably well on standards, "My foolish heart", in this case. The Sonny Bono number succeeds, too, over the whole, but I'm sorry to say that I could have done without the singing. Szabo isn't a bad singer, but it seemed to me out of place.

My copy is a Japanese import. Very good sound, over the whole; it wouldn't have been hard to record this properly, and not hard to remaster, I wouldn't think. Good job, in any case, though I think it could be said that the bass (Ron Carter) isn't quite properly salient. By (((Marco Buendia))).

Track listing:

All compositions by Gábor Szabó except as indicated

1 "Spellbinder" - 5:30
2 "Witchcraft" (Cy Coleman, Carolyn Leigh) - 4:39
3 "It Was a Very Good Year" (Ervin Drake) - 2:47
4 "Gypsy Queen" - 5:13
5 "Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)" (Sonny Bono) - 2:28
6 "Cheetah" - 4:10
7 "My Foolish Heart" (Ned Washington, Victor Young) - 5:28
8 "Yearning" - 2:59
9 "Autumn Leaves/Speak to Me of Love" (Joseph Kosma, Jacques Prévert, Johnny Mercer/Jean Lenoir) - 3:35

Personnel:

Gábor Szabó - guitar, vocals
Ron Carter - bass
Chico Hamilton – drums
Willie Bobo, Victor Pantoja - percussion

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Camel - 1985 "A Compact Compilation"

A Compact Compilation is a compilation album of the British progressive rock band Camel released in 1985.

I have many of the Camel releases, and this is a great introduction to this band. Probably the complaints of the other reviewers have to do with the fact that the cd only pulls songs from 4 of their releases and they have alot of good stuff. This release is probably 90% instrumental. I would have to concur the sequencing isn't ideal. The first 2 cuts are from Mirage (a great album) but are much harder rocking than the rest of the stuff. Once you hit the Snow Goose era stuff it's a nice smooth ride. Camel are especially strong in terms of creating great melodies. But what is equally impressive is the interplay of the musicians. Just when the keyboards or guitar are presenting a really strong melody, each member of the rest of the band is playing an interesting part that just adds to, rather than detracting from, the main theme. The interplay of the band members is exceptional.

This can be a very therapeutic and uplifting listen. One which will take you through many moods. Seems it would be good for a long road trip. I also really love Rajaz off from the cd of the same name. Also, there are some incredible tunes on Dust and Dreams.

I can understand that some reviewers might say that this compilation doesn't really do justice to the band. The reason for that is that they painted from such a wide musical palette that it would be very hard to create a representative compilation.

If I had never heard of Camel and wanted to check them out, I would buy this in a heart beat.

I bought this CD because I wanted to familiarize myself with Camel's music and I really got my money's worth. Excellent CD from start to finish. "Lady Fantasy" and "Rhayander" really stand out. Most of the CD is instrumental, but when there are vocal parts they're done well. If you're looking to get into Camel this is a great place to start. I just wish the band had a better name! It's hard to take a band called Camel seriously, but they deserve more credit and attention than they've received.

Rhino's come a long way in terms of album packaging, that much is for certain.  Thankfully, the music on this one is killer, so the lack of liners or detailed information is excusable.  I'm certain there are better retrospectives on this unfortunately oft-overlooked band, but this is the only one I own, the first one I ran across, so this is not only my introduction to Camel, but all I've ever heard.  All opinions converge on the fact that the earliest Camel albums (the ones that these tracks are taken from) represent many of the high points of the band's catalog, so this one is literally the best of the best.  Epic early prog, somewhere between Genesis' musical theatre, Yes' symphonics, Floyd's space-rock (especially on the selections from Moonmadness), and the Canterbury boys' jazz-fusion leanings, Camel released some great music in their day, making them (along with Caravan and Gentle Giant) one of the golden age of prog-rock's longlost secrets...  Song highlights include the multi-part epic Lady Fantasy, which rides some Yes-esque instrumental sections through a Floydian refrain and then back into a pseudo-Fripp guitar freak-out...  Bear in mind, as well, that these comparisons are in no way to mean that Camel is derivative of their peers, more that they existed in their own place, somewhere between the places of many of their contemporaries.

A selection of songs from 4 of their most acclaimed albums:

Mirage - (Released 1974) tracks: 1 to 2
The Snow Goose - (Released 1975) tracks: 3 to 8
Moonmadness - (Released 1976) tracks: 9 to 10
Rain Dances - (Released 1977) tracks: 11 to 13.

 Tracks Listing:

1. Freefall (5:49)
2. Lady Fantasy (12:42)
3. The Great Marsh (1:45)
4. Rhayader (3:08)
5. Rhayader Goes To Town (5:21)
6. The Snow Goose (3:17)
7. Flight Of The Snow Goose (2:45)
8. Dunkirk (5:29)
9. Song Within A Song (7:10)
10. Lunar Sea (9:06)
11. First Light (5:05)
12. Metrognome (4:09)
13. Rain Dances (2:38)

Total Time: 68:24

Line-up / Musicians

Bass – Richard Sinclair (tracks: 11 to 13)
Bass, Vocals – Doug Ferguson (tracks: 1 to 10)
Compilation Producer – Bob Say
Drums, Percussion – Andy Ward (2)
Guitar, Vocals – Andrew Latimer
Keyboards, Vocals – Pete Bardens*

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Wayne Shorter - 1969 [1988] "Super Nova"

Super Nova is the twelfth album by Wayne Shorter, recorded in 1969 and released on the Blue Note label. The album features five originals by Shorter and an arrangement of "Dindi" by Antônio Carlos Jobim. "Water Babies", "Capricorn" and "Sweet Pea" were originally recorded in a more traditional jazz setting in 1967 during the sessions with the Second Miles Davis Quintet that would be released in 1976 on the album Water Babies.

Chick Corea appears on drums rather than his typical role as a keyboardist.

Recorded just 8 days after the Bitches Brew session, many of the same artists from Bitches Brew appear here: saxophonist Wayne Shorter, guitarist John McLaughlin, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and pianist Chick Corea (playing drums and vibes on this!). Other Miles Davis alums appear: Brazilian percussionist Airto Moreira and acoustic bass player Miroslav Vitous (both later would become members of Wayne Shorter's Weather Report). The band plays new versions of 3 Shorter tracks previously recorded with Miles Davis (but not released until Water Babies in 1976). They are performed much better in this context. Though this is post-bop (stretching into free jazz)... it's far more melodic than the dark moody Bitches Brew. Highly recommended.

Super Nova is an important transitional album for tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Doubling on soprano (which he had recently begun playing), Shorter interprets five of his originals (including "Water Babies," which had been recorded previously by Miles Davis) and Antonio Carlos Jobim's "Dindi." He definitely used a forward-looking group of sidemen, because his "backup band" includes guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, Walter Booker (normally a bassist) on classical guitar for "Dindi," bassist Miroslav Vitous, both Jack DeJohnette and Chick Corea (!) on drums, and percussionist Airto; Maria Booker takes a vocal on the touching version of "Dindi." The influence of Miles Davis' early fusion period is felt throughout the music, but there is nothing derivative about the often-surprising results. As with Wayne Shorter's best albums, this set rewards repeated listenings.

It was the summer of 1969, flower power was in the air, conventional hard bop was in serious trouble, and Wayne Shorter wrought the hipfest Super Nova in the company of a gaggle of guitarists and percussionists. Super Nova , while typical in many ways of jazz in 1969, is by no means the average Blue Note session or the average Wayne Shorter album, but it has its charms.
He had the help of a stellar lineup. Shorter’s soprano (he plays no tenor on this album) was complemented by guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, who were joined by Walter Booker on one track; Miroslav Vitous on bass; Jack DeJohnette on drums and African thumb piano; Chick Corea, of all people, on drums and vibes (no piano); Airto Moreira on additional percussion; and Maria Booker singing on one track. An unusual lineup today, but not too head-turning alongside the likes of Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew or Pharoah Sanders’ Karma , which have more in common than is usually acknowledged, and were the sort of thing that turned heads back then.

"Super Nova" kicks off our love-in with a repeating motive from Shorter, who follows his figure down various paths and returns repeatedly to home base with an oboe-like Coltraneish tone, while behind him his guitarists and drummers bubble and churn. McLaughlin squeezes out an undistinguished solo (with Sharrock thrashing behind him), and then it’s back to Wayne, sounding more like Trane every second. "Swee-Pea" is oddly titled, for the title reminds me of the Popeye’s baby, but the track is the occasion of some beautifully touching playing from Shorter. Romantic and elegiac by turns, he is at his most affecting here. Miles bandmates Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams would have backed this one up capably, but the percussion and guitars create a shimmering backdrop that works quite well. "Dindi" takes us to a hooting, groaning rain forest, which is suddenly broken by, lo and behold, Maria Booker singing a soft Portuguese ballad a la Astrud Gilberto. Playing Joao to Maria’s Astrud is Walter Booker on classical guitar. Then it’s back to the rain forest. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to the structure of this song, except that bossa nova was popular in 1969, and Maria’s part is nice. Shorter plays outstandingly all through this album, but especially on "Water Babies," where he is the only soloist. The sidemen get restless on "Capricorn," especially the drum corps, and Shorter’s soprano grows more sonorous to match them. His soprano preaches, brays, and warns; the drums churn and the guitars quiver, but never get solo time to speak of. Wayne is always at the center on this album. Not to take anything away from Wayne: he can pull it off, and does.

In August of 1969 the Great Sorcerer Miles called together many acolytes to form the legendary electro-psychedelic-groove-jazz orchestra which unleashed "Bitches Brew" unto the world.

The following week, four of those acolytes (Shorter, Corea, McLaughlin & DeJohnette) reconvened across town with Sonny Sharrock and others in tow to continue questing, the Holy Fire still burning brightly in their souls. Meanwhile in the outside world, men were walking on the moon and the hippie tribes were gathering at Woodstock -- kozmik times indeed!

Hence Wayne Shorter's "Super Nova" album was literally the first* fruit borne by the Bitches revBrewlution which really did knock jazz on it's ass for most of the next decade. Though this album is far from a mini-"Brew", for starters because Blue Note's approach to recording was far different than the extravagances Miles was laying down over at Columbia. "Super Nova" and everything else on Blue Note in those days was cut live in the studio to two-track tape, and (perhaps with a little editing) that was pretty much it as far as "production" goes (in contrast, the extended pieces on "Bitches Brew" were multitracked & edited together from day-long jam sessions.)

"Super Nova" is also distinctive in that several of the musicians are not even playing their usual instruments! Starting with Wayne Shorter playing soprano instead of his usual tenor (the higher pitched soprano is often used for more "exotic eastern" sounds, exhibit A: Coltrane's raga-delic version of "My Favorite Things.") Also keyboardist Chick Corea plays percussion, bassist Walter Booker makes a guest appearance on classical guitar, and Booker's wife sings (her only appearance on record as she was not a professional musician.) Furthermore, the rather strange seven-piece lineup doesn't fit any usual mold in jazz or rock: a front line of only one horn accompanied by two electric guitars, a bass and three percussionists (no keyboards.)

The combination of all of these factors results in one uniquely organic, wooly & free-kadelic jazz record. Although this is technically a "fusion" record, it's important to note that it is not the "funk/jazz" fusion usually associated with the term, but rather a "psychedelic/jazz" fusion. There is not really any discernible hint of "rocknroll" nor any electronics (aside from the guitar amps, which aren't used for feedback or anything exotic like that.) Yet the record feels more akin to the galactic explorations of contemporary "rock groups" like Pink Floyd or the Grateful Dead than to anything else coming out on jazz labels like Blue Note in 1969.

Recorded August 29 (1, 2, 4 & 5) and September 2 (3 & 6), 1969.

Track listing:
All compositions by Wayne Shorter except where noted.

"Supernova" – 4:52
"Swee-Pea" – 4:36
"Dindi" (Antônio Carlos Jobim) – 9:35
"Water Babies" – 4:53
"Capricorn" – 7:47
"More Than Human" – 6:12

Personnel:

Wayne Shorter – soprano saxophone
John McLaughlin – acoustic and electric guitar (1, 2, 4, 5)
Sonny Sharrock – electric guitar
Chick Corea – drums, vibes
Miroslav Vitouš – bass
Jack DeJohnette – drums, kalimba
Airto Moreira – percussion
Walter Booker – acoustic guitar (3)
Maria Booker – vocals (3)
Niels Jakobsen – claves

Monday, July 17, 2017

Allan Holdsworth - 2002 "All Night Wrong"

All Night Wrong is the first official live album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, released in 2002 through Sony Music Entertainment Japan and in 2003 through Favored Nations Entertainment (United States).

Guitar hero Allan Holdsworth often performs with his peers. Such is the case with this live setting recorded at a venue in Japan during a 2002 tour. On this release, the guitarist leads a trio featuring longtime musical associates, drummer Chad Wackerman, and bassist Jimmy Johnson. To that end, the respective musicians' talents are well-known entities. Wackerman and Johnson can handle the trickiest time signatures imaginable. Along with the nimble flexibilities and odd-metered excursions witnessed here, they exude a force of power that serves as a meaty foundation for Holdsworth's mighty licks.
A wonderfully recorded album, Holdsworth's climactically driven legato-based riffs are intact, as he also implements jazzy chord voicings and delicately stated fabrics of sound. But the trio raises the ante throughout many of these pieces, awash with moments of nuance and controlled firepower. In sum, Holdsworth's legion of followers should be pleased with a recording that should rank among his finest efforts to date.

Incredibly, All Night Wrong (Favored Nations) is Allan Holdsworth’s first “official” live album, made at the Roppongi Pit Inn in Japan in May 2002, with two longtime collaborators, former Zappa drummer Chad Wackerman and bassist Jimmy Johnson. Holdsworth’s guitar improvisations are about as complex as they get without flying over your head completely. Holdsworth, as is well known, is a guitarist’s guitarist who doesn’t consider himself a jazz player yet whose music can barely be called rock. Virtually cliche-free, Holdsworth isn’t someone you can categorize; listen to “Alphrazallan” for evidence of this. His uncompromising music doesn’t come to you; you have to go to it. Holdsworth’s intensely focused, fearsomely long solos make their point by cramming more notes into the square inch than you might think is humanly possible, such as on “Funnels,” and with Wackerman’s fill-every-crack drumming, it can make for exhausting listening. Usually at one dynamic level, it’s like being trapped in a conversation where you can’t get a word in edgeways.

The title may offer insight into guitar legend Holdsworth's notorious aversion to the pressures of live recordings; indeed, this marks the first live solo album of his long career. But the nigh-flawless performances here (recorded in May, 2002 at the Roppongi Pit Inn in Tokyo, Japan) also suggest a certain irony to the fusion pioneer's concerns. His distinctive chordal melodic technique sets "Lanyard Loop" (and much of the album) in a quietly savory orbit; but it's a deceptively languorous framework that Holdsworth masterfully uses to contrast his often-aggressive soloing. "The Things You See" showcases some remarkably fluid tonal shifts and a solo tack that's as free and Coltrane-esque as advertised. The soft focus of "Alphrazallan" proves it can also be a tightrope walk, while drummer Chad Wackerman's playful, funk-edged solo introduction gives the dark, cascading mystery of the guitarist's playing on "Zone" yet another compelling facet, with bassist Jimmy Johnson capably adding yet another layer of rhythmic complexity. The jazzy, neo-swing of "Water on the Brain, Pt. II" and "Gas Lamp Blues" (where Johnson in particular shines) displays the trio's forceful, economic interplay to good effect, and one that stands in dramatic contrast to the dreamy soundscape "Above & Below." Fusion remains an underappreciated musical language, but this is a fine live showcase for one of its master linguists.

Track listing:
All tracks written by Allan Holdsworth, except where noted.

1. "Lanyard Loop" 5:46
2. "The Things You See" 6:53
3. "Alphrazallan" 7:04
4. "Funnels" 5:01
5. "Zone" (Holdsworth, Steve Hunt, Gary Husband, Jimmy Johnson) 9:19
6. "Water on the Brain Pt.II" 5:30
7. "Above & Below" 8:21
8. "Gas Lamp Blues" 7:59
Total length: 55:53

Personnel:

Allan Holdsworth – guitar
Chad Wackerman – drums
Jimmy Johnson – bass

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Grant Green - 1963 [2001] "Am I Blue"

Am I Blue is an album by American jazz guitarist Grant Green featuring performances recorded in 1963 and released on the Blue Note label.

This great guitarist recorded in a variety of settings and concepts during his years at Blue Note. Am I Blue featured the perennial trio of Green, organist John Patton and drummer Ben Dixon with the trumpet of Johnny Coles and the tenor saxophone of newcomer Joe Henderson.

What makes this album so unusual in Green's canon is that the entire album is in a soulful, atmospheric ballad groove. The material ranges from the blues ballad "Sweet Slumber" to the country song "Take These Chains From My Heart", but the after hours mood that these men create is never broken. This is the first appearance of this album on CD.

AM I BLUE features the classic Green/Patton/Dixon ensemble plus Johnny Cole and Joe Henderson on horns in a delightful yet unusually laid back vain. The gospel influence in John's playing is particularly evident on this recording, as is his minimalist philosophy. (If you don't have to play it, don't) Ironically, in his latter years, due to a strange accident with a car jack which would injure a tendon in his hand he would not have use of his pinky and fourth finger, yet could still create some of the richest and most amazing connections on the organ as well as develop very rich and lucid solo ideas ! The showstopper on the CD is the light and bouncy FOR ALL WE KNOW... Of course, Johnny Coles and a then newcomer and relatively unknown Joe Henderson definitely get their word in, but it is amazing to hear John's passing chords behind them. Grant Green typically lays out, listening, listening, listening, listening (which is what a soloist needs to be doing when his other bandmates are playing... not playing over them, or holding coversations, but listening and taking in the dialogue). Finally, Grant comes in and is as crisp, melodious and swinging and used expect him to be... throwing in a few surprise left hooks as well! - - Last word goes to John... who in turn not only takes a well crafted single note solo, but digs down with a real nifty shout chorus as well (though admittedly I will ever have to admit that Johnny Hammond Smith and Wild Bill will ever have him beat on that.) With Ben Dixon in his corner, however, he does take it home quite masterfully ! of note: That's the one thing that distinguishes a Grant Green session from one of those sessions where people are trying to copy such a session - - you can really tell the players are listening to each other, providing a lot of space and responding to one another's ideas! True Jazz masters are at their best not when they're showing off what they know... but when they're really listening and responding to what's going on around them. Then magic occurs, as was the historical case of John Coltrane's layer of sound discovery.

If you like Grant Green, you know what to expect from this album: a GREAT recording. Sure, it's not THAT unique from others around the time but it is by no means a bad album. There aren't any bonus tracks or alternate takes (like many of the other RVG remasters) but the album is impossible to find on vinyl so that's forgiveable; practically the only complaint I have with it. Don't be fooled by snobbery.

Track listing:

"Am I Blue" (Harry Akst, Grant Clarke) - 6:56
"Take These Chains from My Heart" (Hy Heath, Fred Rose) - 6:12
"I Wanna Be Loved" (Johnny Green, Edward Heyman, Billy Rose) - 7:39
"Sweet Slumber" (Lucky Millinder, Al J. Neiburg, Henri Woode) - 7:17
"For All We Know" (J. Fred Coots, Sam M. Lewis) - 13:59

Personnel:

Grant Green - guitar
Johnny Coles - trumpet
Joe Henderson - tenor saxophone
"Big" John Patton - organ
Ben Dixon - drums

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Eric Marienthal - 1990 "Crossroads"

Eric Marienthal has always had limitless potential. Primarily known as an altoist but also an excellent player on tenor and soprano, Marienthal came to fame with Chick Corea's Elektric Band and tends to sound at his best when teamed with players of that caliber. Many of his own projects suffer from overproduction, a lack of spontaneity and commercial material, but that is not true of Crossroads. In groups ranging from quartets to sextets, Marienthal is challenged by the material (all group originals), matching wits with the likes of keyboardist Russell Ferrante (from the Yellowjackets), bassist John Patitucci and, on three selections, Chick Corea. Crossroads contains some of Eric Marienthal's finest playing outside of the context of the Elektric Band. Well worth searching for.

I have to confess that I bought this great album on the strength of the names of the players on it, rather than being an Eric Marienthal fan [sorry Eric]. You only have to look at his choice of players to know it's going to be worth hearing.

What a line up he has! Vinnie Colaiuta plays drums on most of the tracks, while on the others; you'll hear Dave Weckl and Terri Lyne Carrington as well. John Patitucci plays bass throughout. In addition, with Russell Ferrante on keyboards and Chick Corea on piano, it couldn't fail to be a winner. Interestingly, the main writing credits go to Patitucci and Ferrante, with Marienthal a co-writer on two of the tunes.

Although Marienthal's playing is of course very good, and does play some great solos either on soprano, alto or tenor sax - I feel it's his supporting cast that really grab your attention. Vinnie is stunning, as usual, and plays a cracking solo. However, even when he's just playing through the compositions, it's classic Vinnie.

Terri Lyne also plays superbly. She also gets a solo spot. Of course, Weckl does what only he can do. It's beginning to sound like a drummer's album, rather than a sax player's solo album! Maybe that's just how I hear it.

I would say the writing is what you would expect from a fusion band of that time - a few stand-out tunes, but in the main, it only hits the spot on a couple of occasions. My favourite tracks are probably, "SPOONS", "UPSIDE DOWN" and "RAIN ON THE ROOF".

As I said, it's more about the playing than the actual musical content that makes this album work. Let's face it, with this kind of star line-up supporting you, know it'll be worth a listen.

One the finest Sax Soprano in the nineties, the overflowing talent of him is carved in relief, along every single track of this praised album.

If you notice carefully, you will watch the presence of Big Leaguers musicians: Jon Patitucci, Chick Corea, Vinnie Colaiuta, Alex Acuna and Russell Ferrante are names that by themselves are capable to gather any Hall Concert.

The sun was in my eyes, Upside down, Hide & seek, On the eve of tomorrow and Rain on the roof are the most significant tracks in a winner album.

This is Eric's best album I know of, even to this day. The album consists of great playing & very strong tracks, thanx to Patitucci & Ferrante. A little surprising Eric can stand so firmly in 2 such diverse genres, you'd think he somewhat misses making a fantastic album like this one. Ah well. If you'd only will get 1 album of Eric's, get this, after a few listens you won't regret it. It just has such quality & depth to it..

Track listing:

1 The Sun Was in My Eyes 5:52
2 Spoons 6:45
3 Yellow Roses 4:03
4 Upside Down 6:40
5 Schmooze 4:30
6 Cross Country 8:05
7 Hide & Seek 5:03
8 Two Bits 5:42
9 On the Eve of Tomorrow 5:53
10 Rain on the Roof 7:04

Personnel:

Electric bass guitar: John Patitucci
Drums: Terri Lyne Carrington, Dave Weckl
Synthesizer: David Witham
Percussion: Alex Acuña
Keyboard: Russell Ferrante
Piano: Chick Corea
Piano and synthesizer: John Beasley

Monday, July 10, 2017

Jack Dejohnette - 1991 [2013] "Earth Walk"

Earthwalk is an album by Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition, featuring Greg Osby, Gary Thomas, Michael Cain, and Lonnie Plaxico, recorded in 1991 and released on the Blue Note label.

The final version of drummer/composer Jack DeJohnette's Special Edition bands sports a unique sound, on the verge of M-Base, and artfully driven due to saxophonists Greg Osby and Gary Thomas. Their tart sweet sounds are as much a part of the identity of this group as anything, and DeJohnette adds his own personal brand of funk and swing to the proceeding, making for an exciting and vital original music. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico, straight off the bandstand with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, keeps things briskly moving along, while Michael Cain plays a lot of acoustic piano, and some modified electric keyboards, to further separate this Special Edition from the others. DeJohnette's epic tribute to Wayne Shorter, "Where or Wayne," is reworked in a hip, measured melody missing beats on purpose, simmered in Cain's synthesized mystery. The spiked notes of "Monk's Plumb" provide space for drum fills, merging to an easy swing discipline, and a typically ribald Osby solo. A deliberate Herbie Hancock-styled funk identifies "It's Time to Wake Up & Dream" with the sour horns and Cain's intent acoustic piano driving this most M-Base track. If "Priestesses of the Mist" is reflective of its title through Cain's foggy electronic washes, the distaff, magical side is also represented by the flute of Thomas and Osby's soprano during a most evocative selection. Similarly, the title track feels like a trek through thick jungle flora and fauna, as a heavy-footstepped electric bass guitar from Plaxico leads the many and long, heavy strides of the band members. Closest to jazz is the electro-acoustic hot bopper "One on One" and "Blue" with its patient, straight-ahead, no-amenities framework. This band has changed radically since the days when David Murray and Arthur Blythe were frontmen, but the music is all good, holds interest, and makes for another giant step in the varied, diverse, and intriguing career of DeJohnette.

Earthwalk is a very good album. Jack DeJohnette made a number of superb albums starting in the 1970s, unfortunately they did not receive the attention they deserved. The interesting thing about this album is that DeJohnette wrote all the music, produced the album and picked the musicians. This album probably reflects Jack's actual taste in music more so than many of the sessions he has played on. The record was recorded in 1991 on Blue Note.

DeJohnette is still one of the most respected drummers in jazz and he has played with virtually every major U.S. and international jazz artist since the 1960s including Miles Davis and John Coltrane. For a while he was virtually ECM's house drummer and played on ECM sessions led by Keith Jarrett, Terje Rypdal, Kenny Wheeler and many others.

The band is excellent, featuring: Michael Cain - keyboards; Gary Thomas -tenor saxophone, flute; Greg Osby - alto saxophone, soprano saxophone; and Lonnie Plaxico - bass. Cain, Thomas, Plaxico and Osby were all at one time M-Base players and this influence is reflected in the music, which is loud, brash, melodic and full of energy. It could be described as a post-bop sound with a touch of funk. Osby and Thomas drive the music on saxophone. DeJohnette provides a powerful backbeat on most of the tracks. Anyone looking for introspective ECM-style chamber jazz won't find it here.

Cain has played with Dave Holland, John Scofield, Steps Ahead, Gary Thomas Marty Ehrlich, Ray Anderson and Bobby Previte. Cain also recorded a CD of his own for ECM in 1986. During the mid-'80s, Osby played alongside Steve Coleman, Geri Allen, Gary Thomas, and Cassandra Wilson as a member of the M-Base Collective. Bassist Lonnie Plaxico played with Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers and the M-Base Collective. Thomas has played with Miles Davis, Steve Coleman and John McLaughlin.

Great example of modern jazz. Fresh sounding and superbly played. What I like about this kind of "free-form" jazz is that it doesn't convey to the usual "theme-solo-solo-theme" formalism of traditional jazz. It is free in the sense of being organic and unpredictable, while still being melodic and very musical. Highly recommended even as it is a bit pricey.

Track listing:
All compositions by Jack DeJohnette

01 "It's Time to Wake Up and Dream" – 5:30
02 "Blue" – 6:18
03 "Where or Wayne" – 9:44
04 "Priestesses of the Mist" – 7:44
05 "Earth Walk" – 13:05
06 "On Golden Beams" – 5:16
07 "One on One" – 11:18
08 "Lydia" – 2:24
09 "Monk's Plumb" – 12:08
10 "It's Time to Wake Up and Dream" [Alternate Version] – 0:50

Recorded at Dreamland Recording Studios, West Hurley, NY in June 1991

Personnel:

Jack DeJohnette – drums
Michael Cain – midi piano, korg keyboards
Gary Thomas – tenor saxophone, flute
Greg Osby – alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Lonnie Plaxico – electric bass, acoustic bass
Joan Henry – animal sound on "Earth Walk"

Various Artists - 2005 "Visions Of An Inner Mounting Apocalypse"

The Mahavishnu Orchestra was one of the true pioneers of jazz/fusion as was their leader, visionary guitar icon John Mclaughlin. This collection features stellar performances by some of today's greatest guitar talents including: John Abercrombie, Warren Haynes (Govt Mule), Jimmy Herring (Allman Brothers), Mike Stern (Miles Davis), Steve Lukather (Toto), Steve Morse (Deep Purple), Greg Howe (Michael Jackson, Justin Timberlake), Frank Gambale (Chic Corea), Jeff Richman and Dave "Fuze" Fiuczynski. Backed by an incredible band featuring Vinnie Colaiuta (Sting Frank Zappa), Kai Eckhardt (John Mclaughlin, Garaj Mahal) and Mitch Foreman, this is one fusion super session you can't afford to miss!!!

Guitarist Jeff Richman conceived of, produced, and arranged for this project. A tribute to the Mahavishnu Orchestra, it utilizes the same instrumentation, with Mahavishnu alumnus Jerry Goodman being a welcome addition on violin. Each song features a different guitarist and there is plenty of heat displayed by the individual but complementary players (practically every top fusion guitarist other than Al DiMeola), all of whom are rockish and passionate. One almost doesn't miss John McLaughlin, since the band is playing his songs and the guitarists are mostly influenced by him. The only change of pace from the intensity is the closer, a version of the relatively mellow "Follow Your Heart" (which predated the Mahavishnu Orchestra) featuring John Abercrombie. This project is well conceived, and one would imagine that John McLaughlin would appreciate the colorful tribute.

This all star jazz-fusion tribut CD features some of the greatest names in porgressive jazz fusion guitar, each paying tribute to guitar innovator, master musician, John McLaughlin, McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra was a ground breaking fusion group that essentially "wrote the book" of fusion. Artists featured: Steve Morse, John Abrecrombie, Dave "Fuse" Fiuczynski, Frank Gambale, Jimmy Herring, Warren Haynes among others.

This one is a MUST for Mahavishnu fans, and lovers of fusion guitar. Without exception the soloists understand the drawing power of each song they play. The orchestration in several cases actually improves on the original recording, in Lila's Dance, Jazz, and Can't Stand Your Funk. The MO's one weakness was its occasionally thin sound - and here each song gets the full treatment. The guitarists are literally tearing the place apart with every solo. And it is so fantastic to hear violinist Jerry Goodman in top form on several songs, like the original MO didnt play 30 years earlier. It's like he's the special guest star. Add to that how modern recording makes the music sound better, and you will love this music every bit as much as the originals.
A final tribute in the album is John Abercrombie's gentle and subtle rendition of one of McLaughlin's early, best songs, Follow Your Heart. Does anyone remember that from Joe Farrell's quartet LP? A beautiful song, and a perfect way to close and calm down from the joyful frenzy you have just experienced.

I am an old time Mahavishnu fan who has been going back down memory lane and rediscovering the band. Being a purist I NEVER buy tribute albums. I find them unnecessary & unworthy. I stumbled across the listing for this when I was buying the remastered version of Visions of Emeralds Beyond and after seeing that it contained some of my all time favorite players I decided to give it a shot. I'm so glad I did! I can't stop playing it.

What makes this tribute different? How about the inclusion of original band members to back up the guest guitarists! The contributions of the much underrated Mitchel Forman on Keys and the superb Jerry Goodman (often covering what was Ponty material)on violin are outstanding.

What are the highlights...nearly too many to list: Steve Lukather (Toto)shines on "Birds of Fire'. The Mike Stern (Miles Davis & solo work)and Jerry Goodman interplay on "can't Stand Your funk" is exceptional. I bought this in part because I am addicted to the Dixie Dregs but found Steve Morse playing a little too clean. (Most of the other players expanded beyond the Mahavishnu parameters but sadly not Morse). Jimmy Herring (Aquarium Rescue Unit & the Other Ones) strikes a nerve on "Meeting of the Spirits". "Jazz" is a nice unexpected inclusion from '84. Frank Gambale's (Vital Information) cover of "Dawn" again with Goodman is lively and memorable. As much as I admire Warren Haynes (Govt Mule/Allman Brothers) I was skeptical of how he might come across on a fusion LP; in truth "Lila's Dance" may be the best cut on the CD. The final wind down comes with John Abercrombie bringing us back to Earth with "Follow your heart" The whole cd is a solid pleasant surprise. If your an old fan give it a try. If you are a new fan listen to this first and then compare it to the original material; you'll be opening the doors to some great fusion.

Tracks Listing:

1. Birds Of Fire (6:47)
2. Can't Stand Your Funk (6:43)
3. Celestrial Terrestrial Commuters (4:46)
4. Meeting Of The Spirits (6:51)
5. Jazz (4:53)
6. Dawn (6:34)
7. Lila's Dance (5:22)
8. Faith (5:47)
9. Dance Of Maya (6:16)
10. Follow Your Heart (7:46)

Total Time: 61:45

Line-up / Musicians:

- Vinnie Colaiuta / drums
- Kai Eckhardt / bass
- Mitchel Forman / keyboards
- Jeff Richman / guitars

Guest musicians:
- Steve Lukather / guitar (1)
- Mike Stern / guitar (2)
- Jerry Goodman / violin (2)
- Steve Morse / guitar (3)
- Jimmy Herring / guitar (4)
- Frank Gambale / guitar (6)
- Jerry Goodman / violin (6)
- Warren Haynes / guitar (7)
- Jerry Goodman / violin (7)
- David Fiuczynski / guitar (8)
- Greg Howe / guitar (9)
- Jerry Goodman / violin (9)
- John Abercrombie / guitar (10)

Friday, July 7, 2017

Weather Report - 1972 [2014] "Live In Tokyo"

Live in Tokyo is the third release (and first live album) by Weather Report. It was recorded on January 13, 1972. It was one of five sold-out concerts played in Japan during January 1972. I Sing the Body Electric contained several tracks that were edited for the studio album, but can be heard as they were performed, in their entirety, on this live album.

Part of the fire seemed to come from the Japanese people themselves. “When we went to Japan,” Zawinul recalled, “we didn’t know what kind of a response we would get, but I couldn’t believe what happened. We thought, ‘What are we gonna do with these Japanese people, man?’ They’re so beautiful, such wonderful listeners, but laid back. That was their culture. So we said, ‘Let’s hit ’em hard, right from the first note,’ and we hit ’em hard! We improvised, because the tunes we had written at that time were not very long–eight bars here, a nice little melody, and so on–but we worked it over, and sometimes we’d play it long, sometimes short. It was an inspirational way of doing things, and through that slowly we developed into a band.” [IASW, p. 144]

In a 1977 article, journalist Sy Johnson recalled his impressions of a Weather Report concert from this period. “[Weather Report’s first album] was an intriguing but introspective affair that puzzled many and won over few. I heard the band in a coffee house in the Village shortly after that first Columbia record, and the vagueness had disappeared. A hard-driving confidence was radiating from the bandstand. Eric Grávátt was on drums and moving the group with rare musicality. Dom Um Romão had taken Airto’s place on percussion… [This band] was everything we could have imagined, and more.” [Jazz77]

In a 1972 article, Zawinul talked about the band’s live performances: “Right from the start, [playing together] was just a very natural thing. But I can’t really talk about the music. None of us can. We don’t know what’s happening. We have our tunes and lines, which we always play differently. What’s happening up there is just composing, and when it’s right, it’s magic. There’s a certain chemistry in the band which amazes me–and which makes it very consistent, also.” [MM72]

He offered these words of advice to those planning to attend a Weather Report concert: “Don’t go expecting anything–just let it come to you. That’s the only way I can say it. At the moment, if you expect anything from anyone then you’re likely to get a great shock! That’s all.”

While side two of I Sing the Body Electric gives us heavily edited glimpses of Weather Report as heard live in Tokyo, this two-disc Japanese import contains entire group ensembles from that concert -- and as such, it is a revelation. Now we can follow the wild, stream-of-consciousness evolution of early Weather Report workouts, taking the listener into all kinds of stylistic territory -- from Joe Zawinul's lone acoustic piano to dissonant free form and electronic explosions -- with lots of adjustments of tempo and texture. The pulse of jazz is more evident in their work here than on their American albums, and the example of Miles Davis circa the Fillmore concerts directs the fierce interplay. In his subsequent recordings with Weather Report, and as a leader, Wayne Shorter would rarely equal the manic intensity he displayed in Tokyo. All of the music is encapsulated in five lengthy "medleys" of WR's repertoire, three of which contain elongated versions of themes from the group's eponymously titled debut album from 1971. This would be the radical apogee of Weather Report on records, though they could retain this level of fire in concert for years to come.

Weather Report really cooks in this concert that is both groundbreaking and barrier shattering. The music is definitely seventies Miles Davis styled fusion, but that's the only thing this album has in common with what you have heard from that era. It is interesting that keyboardist Joe Zawinul has stated that he had the whole electric jazz idea in mind when he joined Miles Davis to record the classic album "In a Silent Way." If you listen to this album and understand that this is a Zawinul driven band completely separate from any Miles David ensemble, it is obvious that Zawinul's claims about "In a Silent Way" are well founded and justified by facts and the passage of time.

There is a lot to recommend the music found at this live concert event. For one thing, Weather Report's sound was often forged at concert dates and then recorded in the studio. The real essence of Weather Report, one could observe, is that of constant live composition and improvisation that thrives on the spontaneity of the moment. Weather Report was founded on the notion that everyone solos while no one solos, and it was an ongoing collaborative effort.

That was in sharp contrast to most of the music of the time. Whether listening to popular music, blues, or jazz of that time period, the majority was primarily based on song composition. That is, the music was first a song with the structure of verse, chorus, or bridge - and it was recorded or performed live in that format. Weather Report pioneered the ongoing sound that was based on a riff or melodic fragment, rhythm or bass line - and was ongoing without clear definition of compositional structure. That was a real contribution to the evolution of music in general and jazz in particular, one that is still being explored today in the musical idioms that followed.

In addition to all the analyzable elements, this album rocks! There is a lot to recommend this album for rock, funk, soul, and jazz audiences - and every bit of it moves and grooves and just kicks hard. There is a lot of experimental, even avant garde sound here as well. The sonic experimentation is awesome, and those with renewed interest in classic synthesizer sound will be thrilled and amazed.

Wayne Shorter excels as always in the saxophone department. His sense of melody, harmony, rhythm, and improvisational flair are unequalled. He truly tells a musical story with every song, every solo. His collaboration with Joe Zawinul's keyboard work is legendary and does not disappoint here. He also succeeds in taking many of the songs in unexpected directions as he spins his musical contributions throughout the concert.

Track listing:

CD 1
01 Medley: Vertical Invader/Seventh Arrow/T.H./Doctor Honoris Causa (Vitouš, Zawinul) – 26:14
02 Medley: Surucucú/Lost/Early Minor/Directions (Shorter, Zawinul) – 19:19

CD 2
01 Orange Lady (Zawinul) – 18:14
02 Medley: Eurydice/The Moors (Shorter) – 13:49
03 Medley: Tears/Umbrellas (Shorter, Zawinul) – 10:54

Personnel:

Josef Zawinul - Electric and acoustic piano
Wayne Shorter - Saxophones
Miroslav Vitouš - Bass
Eric Gravatt - Drums
Dom Um Romão - Percussion