Saturday, January 20, 2018

Kevin Eubanks Group - 2001 "Live"

Kevin Tyrone Eubanks (born November 15, 1957 in Philadelphia) is an American jazz and fusion guitarist and composer who was the leader of The Tonight Show Band with host Jay Leno from 1995 to 2010. He also led the Primetime Band on the short-lived The Jay Leno Show.

Eubanks was born into a musical family. His mother, Vera Eubanks, is a gospel and classical pianist and organist. His uncle, Ray Bryant, was a jazz pianist. His older brother, Robin Eubanks, is a trombonist, and his younger brother Duane Eubanks is a trumpeter. Two cousins are also musicians, the late bassist David Eubanks and the pianist Charles Eubanks. Kevin studied violin and trumpet before settling on the guitar.

As an elementary school student, Eubanks was trained in violin, trumpet, and piano at the Settlement Music School in Philadelphia. He later attended Berklee College of Music in Boston and then moved to New York to begin his professional career.

After Eubanks moved to New York, he began performing with noted jazzmen such as Art Blakey (1980–81), Roy Haynes, Slide Hampton and Sam Rivers. Like his brother Robin, he has played on record with double bassist Dave Holland. In 1983, while continuing to perform with others, he formed his own quartet, playing gigs in Jordan, Pakistan, and India on a tour sponsored by the U.S. State Department.

His first recording as a leader, Guitarist, was released on the Elektra label when Eubanks was 25 years old. It led to a seven-album contract with the GRP label and four albums for Blue Note. In total, Eubanks has appeared on over 100 albums. In 2001, he founded the label Insoul Music on which he has released six albums.

Eubanks has taught at the Banff School of Fine Arts in Canada, at Rutgers University, and at the Charlie Parker School in Perugia, Italy. In 2005, Eubanks received an honorary doctorate degree from his alma mater, Berklee College of Music. He is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity and has served as an active member of the Artistic Advisory Panel of the BMI Foundation since 1999.

Track listing:

1 Red Ant (Live) 14:21
2 Spider Dance (Live) 5:25
3 Prelude to Spider Monkeys (Live) 2:55
4 Spider Monkeys (Live) 10:34
5 Embryo (Live) 7:58
6 Jungle Blood (Live) 14:05


Kevin Eubanks - Guitar
Marvin "Smitty: Smith - Drums
Charnett Moffett - Bass
Bill Pierce - Horns

Friday, January 19, 2018

Steps Ahead - 1989 "N.Y.C."

Steps Ahead is a jazz fusion group formed by vibraphonist Mike Mainieri in the 1970s. The lineup consisted of Mainieri, Michael Brecker, Don Grolnick, Eddie Gómez, and Steve Gadd and would change often over the years. Steps Ahead fused elements of rock, funk, jazz, and rhythm and blues.

The group arose out of spontaneous sessions at Seventh Avenue South, a jazz club in New York City owned by saxophonist Michael Brecker and trumpeter brother Randy Brecker. The first three albums were released under the name Steps, later changed to Steps Ahead, on Nippon Columbia in Japan, starting with the debut live album Smokin' in the Pit (1979), followed by Step By Step (1979) and Paradox (1981).

The shifting roster has included saxophonists Bob Berg, Bendik Hofseth, Bill Evans, Ernie Watts, and Donny McCaslin; pianists Eliane Elias and Rachel Z; guitarists Mike Stern, Chuck Loeb, and Steve Khan; bassists Darryl Jones, Tony Levin, Victor Bailey, and Marc Johnson; and drummers Peter Erskine, Steve Smith, and Dennis Chambers.

Steps Ahead was active during the 1970s and '80s, intermittently during the 1990s, reunited for concerts in the mid-2000s, and released a new album in 2016.

In 1989, Steps Ahead consisted of Mike Mainieri on MIDI vibraharp, synclavier and acoustic piano, the young saxophonist Bendik doubling on keyboards, guitarist Steve Kahn, Tony Levin on electric bass and Chapman stick, and drummer Steve Smith. The powerful band did not have a great deal of subtlety by this era, but it helped to keep the much-maligned genre of fusion alive, mixing the sound of rock with jazz improvising. The 11 selections on this obscure effort were all written or co-composed by Mainieri and Bendik and make up in intensity for their lack of dynamics. Rock listeners will most enjoy this decent, if not too substantial release.

I have just about all the albums by steps/ahead and I think I would probably give them all five stars although some I haven't listened to a great deal yet. One song I particularly liked was lust for life. If you check the NYC web site you find a review of this album that indicates that the saxophonist composed four songs on this album including that one I particularly liked. Besides that, I like his playing. The guy has earned my respect. That review I mentioned indicated that mainieri felt the compositions were an even greater virtue than the instrumental prowess of the steps/ahead group. I would say at the very least, listeners should give due credit for composing excellence. I consider mainieri a first tier jazz composer, and bendik has shown he can compose at that level as well.

There appears to be an overwhelming "old camp" fan base of Steps, regarding other reviewer's opinions. While having enjoyed several of the older recordings and different lineups of players, this recording (NYC)was my first introduction to the group, and understandably my favorite. I cannot understate the deep, soulful emotion being poured out on several of these tracks. I must address the reference to Michael Brecker's absense as noted by another reviewer. Yes, he is to be revered, and I respect him. However, In spirit of a true step forward, this album's sax player, Bendik, is unbelievable. I cannot sit back and watch him be discredited for not being the previous player. Get real! I cannot recall a player who can conjure such emotion while coaxing the strange, twisted sounds he produces. Some of you may understand that a piece of music can touch you so deeply as to bring tears to your eyes. This album truely touches my soul. Not to mention, I am a bassist / Chapman Stick player, inspired by the legendary Tony Levin, who is not normally seen in this genre. His playing naturally is a departure from the standard/bop sound in some ways, but he also does perform some selections on upright, and does them a great justice. If you appreciate not just what was done on previous recordings, but welcome an embracing of new techniques / technology, this album is a perfect, natural transition to the future. Mike Manieri did a fine job of tipping his hat to his original sound and fan base, while enthusiastically embracing new directions. In the true spirit of Steps Ahead, you must open your mind and give this a try. If you simply enjoy the fulfilment of honest, inventive, fresh, inspired music, you need this recording.

World class musicians playing great music!

Track listing:

01 Well, In That Case 5:08
02 Lust For Life 4:16
03 Senegal Calling 4:58
04 Red Neon, Go Or Give 2:48
05 Charanga 5:02
06 Get It 3:15
07 N.Y.C. 5:08
08 Stick Jam 4:54
09 Absolutely Maybe 3:51
10 Festival 5:08
11 Paradiso 3:01


Mike Mainieri - Synthesizer [Midi Vibraharp, Synclavier], Piano [Acoustic], Percussion
Steve Kahn* - Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar (tracks: 2 to 9, 11)
Tony Levin - Electric Bass, Chapman Stick
Steve Smith  - Drums (5)
Bendik* - Saxophone, Keyboards
Bruce Martin - Keyboards [Additional], Programmed By [Synclavier], Percussion
Magatte Fall - Percussion [M'beung-m'beung - Rythmic Drum], Talking Drum [Tama]
Abdoulaye Diop - Percussion [Lamb - Bass Drum]

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Doors - 1972 [2014] "Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine"

Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine is The Doors' second compilation album (following 13) and first to be released after the death of Jim Morrison, in January 1972. The album's title is a lyric from the song "The End". The album was released on compact disc for the first time on 19 May 2014 (almost exactly a year after keyboardist Ray Manzarek died). The album was certified Gold by the RIAA. The album cover was designed by Bill Hoffman, with inside band shots by Joel Brodsky.

Two of the songs on the compilation, "Who Scared You" and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further," were originally released as B-sides to 1969's "Wishful Sinful" and 1971's "Love Her Madly," respectively. They were not available again until "Who Scared You" appeared in The Doors: Box Set in 1997 and "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" appeared in the 2006 Perception box set.

The version of "Who Scared You" that was released on The Doors: Box Set is an edited version, as part of the last verse is omitted. The full length song was released in 1999 on Essential Rarities and later on the 2006 remastered release of The Soft Parade as a bonus track.

The Doors now make their legendary, long out-of-print compilation Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine available for the first time as a 2-CD set. Originally released in 1972, this gold-certified double album was the first compilation to be released after Jim Morrison's death in 1971.

The 22 songs that appear on the collection provide a wide-ranging introduction to the music recorded between 1967-71 by the original quartet, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. The band's longtime engineer Bruce Botnick remastered the music heard on this reissue, which takes its title from a lyric in "The End. "

Mixing familiar cuts and deep tracks from six studio albums, Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine touches on everything from hits like "Break On Through" and "Love Her Madly" to unexpected delights like "The Spy" from Morrison Hotel and "Running Blue" from The Soft Parade.

Adding yet another dimension to the album's track list is the inclusion of two stellar b-sides: "Who Scared You" which appeared in March 1969 as the flipside to "Wishful Sinful, " and a cover of Willie Dixon's " (You Need Meat) Don t Go No Further" which was paired with the smash "Love Her Madly" in 1971.

One of my all time favorite Doors compilations..... "The End" brings back memories. It's a look back but it was a beginning for many of us to look at the world differently. If you liked Jim Morrison & the Doors, then you will like this album.
It did not come out on CD until May 2014, it sure took a while & could have been improved with remastering but it is what it is.

Originally released in 1972, Weird Scenes Inside the Gold Mine was one of the earliest "best-of" Doors collections, compiling 22 tracks from the band not just limited to their many ubiquitous hits but including some more experimental tunes and a few obscure B-sides. This strange and sprawling playlist is heavy on material from L.A. Woman, and seems particularly invested in the darker, more sinister side of the band. Lesser-known songs here include "Who Scared You" and the goofy, awkward blues run "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" sung by keyboardist Ray Manzarek. With the exception of a few pop moments, this lengthy collection sets a heavy and sometimes menacing mood, highlighting the Doors' most depraved, shamanistic moments in tracks like the brooding "The End," "Maggie McGill," and the absolutely evil groove of "When the Music's Over."

The Legendary Band Reissues Its Rare 1972 Compilation "Weird Scenes Inside The Gold Mine" As Two-CD Set And Digitally Following Limited Edition Record Store Day Vinyl Release.

After releasing a now sold out, limited edition vinyl pressing for Record Store Day 2014, The Doors now make their legendary, long out-of-print compilation WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLD MINE available for the first time as a 2-CD set and digitally. Originally released in 1972, this gold-certified double album was the first compilation to be released after Jim Morrison's death in 1971.

The 22 songs that appear on the collection provide a wide-ranging introduction to the music recorded between 1967-71 by the original quartet, John Densmore, Robby Krieger, Ray Manzarek and Jim Morrison. The band's longtime engineer Bruce Botnick remastered the music heard on this reissue, which takes its title from a lyric in "The End."

Mixing familiar cuts and deep tracks from the band's six studio albums, WEIRD SCENES INSIDE THE GOLD MINE touches on everything from hits like "Break On Through" "Love Her Madly," and "L.A. Woman," to unexpected delights like "The Spy" from Morrison Hotel and "Running Blue" from The Soft Parade.

Adding yet another dimension to the album's track list is the inclusion of two stellar b-sides: "Who Scared You" which appeared in March 1969 as the flipside to "Wishful Sinful," and a cover of Willie Dixon's "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further" which was paired with the smash "Love Her Madly" in 1971.

Track Listing

Disc One
1. "Break On Through"
2. "Strange Days"
3. "Shaman's Blues"
4. "Love Street"
5. "Peace Frog/Blue Sunday"
6. "The Wasp (Texas Radio & The Big Beat)"
7. "End Of The Night"
8. "Love Her Madly"
9. "Spanish Caravan"
10. "Ship Of Fools"
11. "The Spy"
12. "The End"

Disc Two
1. "Take It As It Comes"
2. "Running Blue"
3. "L.A. Woman"
4. "Five To One"
5. "Who Scared You"
6. "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further"
7. "Riders On The Storm"
8. "Maggie McGill"
9. "Horse Latitudes"
10. "When The Music's Over"


Jim Morrison – vocals
Robby Krieger – guitar
Ray Manzarek – piano, organ, marimba, bass, vocals on "(You Need Meat) Don't Go No Further"
John Densmore – drums

Additional Personnel:

Paul A. Rothchild – producer of all the tracks except the ones from L.A. Woman
Bruce Botnick – co-producer of the L.A. Woman tracks and engineer of all the tracks including the former mentioned
Douglass Lubahn – bass on tracks 2, 4, 9, 16, & 21
Harvey Brooks – bass on tracks 3 & 14
Jerry Scheff – bass on all the L.A. Woman tracks
Ray Neapolitan – bass on tracks 4 & 10-11
Leroy Vinnegar – acoustic bass on track 9
Paul Harris – orchestral arrangements on track 17
George Bohanon – trombone on tracks 14 & 17
Champ Webb – English horn on tracks 14 & 17
Jesse McReynolds – mandolin on tracks 14 & 17
James Buchanan – fiddle on track 14
Marc Benno – rhythm guitar on track 15
Lonnie Mack – acoustic bass on track 20

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Pat Metheny - 1977 "Watercolors"

Watercolors is Pat Metheny's second album, released in 1977.

The AllMusic review by Richard S. Ginell awards the album 4 stars and states: "Metheny's softly focused, asymmetrical guitar style, with echoes of apparent influences as disparate as Jim Hall, George Benson, Jerry Garcia, and various country guitarists, is quite distinctive even at this early juncture. Metheny's long-running partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays also begins here, with Mays mostly on acoustic piano but also providing a few mild synthesizer washes."

“Pat Metheny was virtually defining a new musical form on this 1977 date, blending folk, country, and pop elements with jazz and creating a gentler, more intimate idiom than fusion had been. His distinctively chorused electric guitar often floats over the smooth textures created by his own acoustic six-stringer, Lyle Mays’ piano, and Danny Gottlieb’s discreet drumming, while Eberhard Weber’s electric and acoustic bass lines rise to ricochet with the guitar leads. The song titles abound with watery images, and they’re perfectly in keeping with this flowing music, which tends to a pale, even pastel, palette and an ethereal lightness. “River Quay,” particularly, suggests the sound of the Pat Metheny Group that would come later.”

From the opening strains of Pat Metheny’s second album, we immediately know that we have a calming yet powerful journey ahead of us. The present company—among which keyboardist Lyle Mays, a Pet Metheny Group fixture, makes his first appearance—renders his characteristic combination of form and style into an instinctive wash of comfort. Mays’s pianism proves the perfect complement to the guitarist’s untainted sound. Just listen to the way he buoys the music in the opening title track, and his fluent solo in “River Quay,” and you will hardly be able to imagine the music without him. We get a lingering look at Metheny’s own abilities in “Icefire,” in which he solos on a cleverly tuned 12-string that lobs between solid chords and higher callings. Midway through, the music melts into its second titular half, flowering in a cluster of Ralph Towner-esque harmonics. “Oasis” introduces the harp guitar, a sympathetically strung instrument that shines in Metheny’s hands like the charango in Gustavo Santaolalla’s. A mournful electric sings at its center, ever shielded by an unrequited embrace of acoustics. Varied rhythms and bold chord changes animate its otherwise stagnant beauty. After these quiet submersions, we come up into air, and into light, with the beautiful “Lakes,” which positively glows with quiet ecstasies. Again, Mays broadens the edges to new waterlines, cresting like a wave that never crashes upon its thematic shores. A two-part suite proves a complex call and response with the self before the 10-minute “Sea Song” reprises the harp guitar for its swan song. The music here is beyond aquatic, and could easily have seeded a Ketil Bjørnstad project. Eberhard Weber’s smooth bass introduces the morning’s regular activities with the first rays of sunrise in countless awakening eyes, before rolling out once again, drawn back into the depths like the tide that gives them life.

Metheny’s precision dives and soars, a most selfless bird, his fingers running together like the colors of the album’s title. His supporting crew is in tune at every moment (and one mustn’t fail to praise Dan Gottlieb’s drumming in this regard), protecting every melody with passionate detail. This is perfect music for travel, for the music travels itself. It’s a plane ride above a shimmering landscape, a hang-glide over open valleys, a dive into crystal waters—and yet, our feet never leave the ground. One might call it otherworldly, were it not so firmly rooted in the earth in all its glory. Pure magic from start to finish.

Pat Metheny emerges on his second album, Watercolors, as an ECM impressionist, generally conforming to the label's overall sound while still asserting his own personality. As the title suggests, there are several mood pieces here that are suspended in the air without rhythmic underpinning, a harbinger for the new age invasion still in the future. Metheny's softly focused, asymmetrical guitar style, with echoes of apparent influences as disparate as Jim Hall, George Benson, and various country guitarists, is quite distinctive even at this early juncture. Metheny's long-running partnership with keyboardist Lyle Mays also begins here, with Mays mostly on acoustic piano but also providing a few mild synthesizer washes. Danny Gottlieb is on drums, and ECM regular Eberhard Weber handles the bass. This is essentially the first album by the Pat Metheny Group per se, although the band had yet to find its direction in this somewhat diffuse showing.

Track listing:

1 Watercolors 6:28
2 Icefire 6:07
3 Oasis 4:02
4 Lakes 4:43
5 River Quay 4:56
6       Suite- I. Florida Greeting Song 2:30
7       Suite- II. Legend Of The Fountain 2:28
8 Sea Song 10:16


Pat Metheny – 6-and 12-string electric guitar, 15 string harp guitar
Lyle Mays – piano
Eberhard Weber – double bass
Danny Gottlieb – drums

Saturday, January 13, 2018

King Crimson - 1974 [2006] "Red"

Red is the seventh studio album by English progressive rock group King Crimson, released in 1974 by Island Records in the United Kingdom and by Atlantic Records in the United States. It was their last studio recording of the 1970s and the last before the lead member Robert Fripp temporarily disbanded the group. Though their lowest-charting album at the time, spending only one week in the UK charts, Red has received critical acclaim.

Tours in 1974 had seen King Crimson's musical approach becoming louder and more brutal, an approach primarily driven by bass player John Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford (guitarist and group leader Robert Fripp once compared their powerful playing to "a flying brick wall"). This had the effect of drowning out the band's fourth member, violinist and occasional keyboard player David Cross, and led to tension within the band. Deemed not strong enough as a musical personality, Cross was ejected from King Crimson after the end of its tour in summer 1974, reducing the group to the trio of Fripp, Wetton and Bruford. Having already begun to record Red with Cross, King Crimson finished the album with the help of former band-members Ian McDonald and Mel Collins.

While musically similar to its predecessor Starless and Bible Black, Red was produced very differently from previous King Crimson albums. For instance, while the acoustic guitar features prominently in previous releases, on Red it is heard only for a few bars in "Fallen Angel". Also, unlike previous King Crimson albums, Red features extensive use of guitar overdubs. Later albums lacked acoustic guitar entirely and reverted to a minimum of overdubs (perhaps partly because every lineup of the band after this included two guitarists).

During the recording process, Fripp decided to take a "backseat" from the sessions' decision making. Although plans were considered to add McDonald to the lineup again for the next tour, Fripp abruptly disbanded King Crimson on 24 September 1974, and the album was released the following month with no accompanying tour.

Tours in 1974 had seen King Crimson's musical approach becoming louder and more brutal, an approach primarily driven by bass player John Wetton and drummer Bill Bruford (guitarist and group leader Robert Fripp once compared their powerful playing to "a flying brick wall"). This had the effect of drowning out the band's fourth member, violinist and occasional keyboard player David Cross, and led to tension within the band. Deemed not strong enough as a musical personality, Cross was ejected from King Crimson after the end of its tour in summer 1974, reducing the group to the trio of Fripp, Wetton and Bruford. Having already begun to record Red with Cross, King Crimson finished the album with the help of former band-members Ian McDonald and Mel Collins.

While musically similar to its predecessor Starless and Bible Black, Red was produced very differently from previous King Crimson albums. For instance, while the acoustic guitar features prominently in previous releases, on Red it is heard only for a few bars in "Fallen Angel". Also, unlike previous King Crimson albums, Red features extensive use of guitar overdubs. Later albums lacked acoustic guitar entirely and reverted to a minimum of overdubs (perhaps partly because every lineup of the band after this included two guitarists).

During the recording process, Fripp decided to take a "backseat" from the sessions' decision making. Although plans were considered to add McDonald to the lineup again for the next tour, Fripp abruptly disbanded King Crimson on 24 September 1974, and the album was released the following month with no accompanying tour.

The last hurrah of a group in its death throes, King Crimson's Red is perhaps the ill-fated 1972-74 lineup's masterpiece: a document of the band as they really were. Pressed for time and at the climax of growing tension amongst the members, Red is the flare of brilliance before collapsing into the void, a group that would not play together again for seven years and were forever changed.

The five-man arsenal that comprised the group heard on Larks' Tongues In Aspic had dwindled down to the core of vocalist/bassist John Wetton, drummer Bill Bruford, and lead guitarist/ringleader Robert Fripp - mad percussionist Jamie Muir had left after that album to join a Buddhist monastery, and strings virtuoso David Cross officially departed before the recording of the album but agreed to contribute what he could to the sessions. Stricken with five tunes to commit to tape and an entire LP to fill, the members of KC besieged alumni, old friends, and session musicians with requests of aid. Several excellent musicians make guest appearances on Red, although the lineup is not consistent: consequentially, the album has an unfinished, thrown-together feel. Still, this is the culmination of the first era of Crimson: well-written song structures, free jams, and instrumental virtuosity all play a role here.

Tracks Listing:

1. Red (6:20)
2. Fallen Angel (6:00)
3. One More Red Nightmare (7:04)
4. Providence (8:08) *
5. Starless (12:18)


Robert Fripp – guitar, mellotron
John Wetton – bass, vocals, lyrics on "One More Red Nightmare" and "Starless"
Bill Bruford – drums, percussion

Former King Crimson personnel:

David Cross – violin on "Providence”
Mel Collins – soprano saxophone on "Starless"
Ian McDonald – alto saxophone on "One More Red Nightmare" and "Starless"

Additional personnel:

Mark Charig – cornet on "Fallen Angel",
Robin Miller – oboe on "Fallen Angel"
Uncredited musician – cello on "Red"[15]
Uncredited musician – cello on "Starless"
Richard Palmer-James – lyrics on "Fallen Angel" and "Starless"

Thursday, January 11, 2018

John Scofield - 1981 [2010] "Out Like A Light"

Out Like a Light is a live album by jazz guitarist John Scofield that was released in 1981. Out Like a Light is the sister album to Shinola as both recordings contain material from the Munich concerts of December 1981.

Fine trio date from '81, with guitarist John Scofield stretching out in multiple directions and showing his facility with the swing style, mainstream, and jazz-rock genres. Besides his fluid, inventive solos, Scofield works well with bassist Steve Swallow, who approaches his instrument like a second guitar, and drummer Adam Nussbaum.

OUT LIKE A LIGHT is the best illustration yet Scofield’s prismatic talent. His solo on ‘Holidays’ displays the colours of all his influences refracted into the natural and coherent single shaft of light that is Scofield’s distinctive sound.

This set, along with "Shinola" was recorded live in 1981 in Germany, at Club Vielharmonie. This music is taken from the second night of the group's stand, and is as wonderful as it's predecessor. In a trio setting Scofield's guitar is allowed to roam at will, without the inclusion of any keyboards. His band, Steve Swallow-electric bass, Adam Nussbaum-drums, are arguably the best rhythm section he ever played with. Swallow has played with many jazz greats, especially with vibist Gary Burton. Nussbaum, too, has played with many fine jazz artists, and together they lay down a sympathetic, almost intuitive foundation for Scofield. Both these sets were recorded just prior to Scofield joining Miles Davis' band in 1982.

The trio are just about evenly mixed on this recording, which gives listeners a good chance to hear three musicians at the top of their game. Four of the five tracks are by Scofield, with the fifth ("Melinda") by Allen Lerner. The music is energetic without sounding rushed, which sometimes happens in a live setting. Scofield has his guitar under restraint here, leaving space for Swallow to shine through with some wonderful bass playing, with Nussbaum filling in any holes with his light touch on the cymbals and snare drum. All the tracks are long, 7-8 minutes, with "Melinda" clocking in at a bit over 3 minutes. But the star is Scofield, who plays with intelligence and forethought-sometimes leaving spaces between the notes and other times filling up his solos with a flurry of notes.

This music ebbs and flows and is over before you know it. The trio is continually playing off one another as only musicians of this caliber can. This early look at Scofield is some of his finest playing-just his guitar and rhythm section, and is very satisfying. If you've been waiting (like I have) for this to hopefully be re-released, well, here it is. I only wish more from this trio would be made available-it's out there, along with more of his live quartet music (hear "Live")from roughly the same era. A fine studio set is "Rough House" for those unfamiliar with Scofield. Another good live set is "Live-En Route", from 2003, recorded at the Blue Note Club, with Bill Stewart on drums, and Scofield's old pal Steve Swallow on bass. But if you like jazz guitar trios in a live setting, this is something (along with "Shinola") that is well worth investigating.

I've listened to a lot of John Scofield records over the years; this is a favorite, as are Still Warm and Blue Matter. Holidays, the opening track on Out Like a Light, is a tour de force; it sounds extremely fresh and new. Scofield, Swallow, and Nussbaum play together with great sensitivity, playing at the edges of the jazz idiom to build tension and play some amazing solos. Since it's a live recording, one would expect some looseness in solo construction and some clams, but there are very few of either - just playing by three very talented musicians interacting with great musical empathy.

It bears repeated listening very well, and compares favorably to much more well-known albums, in my opinion. All three players bring a lot to the music....

This is one of Scofield's two or three best records, in some ways, still my favorite to this day (it was the second one that I heard, after "Still Warm). I truly believe that, though Sco has grown as a player over the years, he's never quite surpassed, on record, the tune "Holidays" from this album. Simply put, I've never heard anything quite like it in jazz, rock, fusion, or from the jam band scene (something about it's loping feel suggests some Grateful Dead material, though it's light years beyond them in every way). Also, Steve Swallow's bass solo on that tune is probably my favorite ever; it's incredibly beautiful, and operates like a mini composition within a composition.
Though the album never again achieves the same staggering level of achievement, that's really no insult to the other songs, which are all terrific. It simply means that "Holidays" is, for me, up there with things like Sonny Rollins' "St. Thomas," Coltrane's "A Love Supreme," or Sam Cooke's "A Change is Gonna Come" - a rare, perfect musical achievement that feels as though not a single detail could be any different, much less any better.

Cover picture from the original artwork. (I didn't like the new cover.) Alternate scans included.

Track listing:

1. "Holidays" (8:45)
2. "Last Week" (8:41)
3. "Miss Directions" (7:53)
4. "Out Like a Light" (7:01)
5. "Melinda" (3:18)


John Scofield – electric guitar
Steve Swallow – bass
Adam Nussbaum – drums

Monday, January 8, 2018

Jimmy Bruno - 1994 "Burnin'"

Burnin' is a most appropriate title for Jimmy Bruno's second album because much of the time, the guitarist is doing exactly that. A hard bopper with superb chops, Bruno loves to swing hard and fast, and he takes no prisoners on bop standards like Sonny Stitt's "Eternal Triangle" and John Coltrane's "Giant Steps." Known for its insanely difficult chord changes, the latter has long been considered a test piece for jazz musicians; Bruno sails right through the tune at maximum speed without even blinking an eye. But while his technique is impressive, it wouldn't mean as much if Bruno (who forms a trio with bassist Craig Thomas and drummer Steve Holloway) didn't have so much soul to go with his massive chops. As intensely as he plays on the fast numbers, Bruno has no problem turning around and showing his lyrical side on Trane's "Central Park West" and the standard "That's All." Burnin' was recorded at Philly's legendary Sigma Sound, where so many great R&B sessions were done in the '70s.

Guitarists, take your seats! The first track on this collection "The Eternal Triangle" will blow you away! The things Mr. Bruno does here cannot be done. It seems that he has a few extra fingers on the left hand (maybe on the right, too)! His precision is incredible. I love the way he combines single-note soloing with chord riffs. You don't hear it done his way anywhere else. The music is bop at its best, in my opinion. The title track, "Burnin" is exactly that and the final extended cut, "That's All" leaves nothing on the table. The slower numbers are tastefully done, making this a satisfying meal all the way around. I highly recommend his "Polarity" album as well for the same reasons. Enjoy!

Just a killer cd from a deadly talented jazz guitarist. Jimmy turns up the heat on this one and his playing is always tasteful and creative. This is one must have desert island cd. Buy it, you won't be sorry.

Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is the best known cut here, but we get a few solo pieces and his great backing band on the rest. It's worthy of the best of the hard bop greats, like Wes Montgomery and Kenny Burrell, but one thing that catches my ear is his similarity without being derivative of the late great Danny Gatton when that legend was playing jazz, such as his last studio album "Relentless" with Hammond B-3 extraordinaire Joey Francesco trading off mind blowing licks. Sadly, Gatton committed suicide in October 1994, and it's a bit eerie that Bruno recorded just a few years later "Like That", also playing alongside Defrancesco, who can also play a mean trumpet.
I don't know if Jimmy Bruno delves much into straight blues, but jazz is very very closely related, so it wouldn't be too difficult. Nor do I know if he digs the old rock and roll and touches of country that Gatton molded into his own unique style. But as far as jazz, Bruno may be the one player who shares the astonishing versatility Gatton possessed, and that's a very high compliment.
"Burnin" is a jazz guitarists' wet dream, and for those who value fast playing but need primers in how to do so with care and precision, and not just blow and rely on special effects, like delay, this shows us how it's done. His chord comping is second to none, too, as he plays lead figures in and out of complex chording as smoothly as anybody I've ever heard. It's truly great music that anybody can dig whether they play an instrument or not.

If you read the liner notes in this album there is a line that says something like "If you ever wondered how good jazz guitar can get, this is it". Nothing could be closer to the truth. Jimmy Bruno is not only the greatest living bebop guitarist, he ranks at the top of the all time list, along with Wes Montgomery, Joe Pass, Pat Martino, and George Benson. And for sheer technical ability, he is above all of them.
His playing on this album at times is so overwhelming, it will have you questioning how any human being can play with such technique and precision. "Eternal Triangle" smolders all the way through. "One for Amos" and "Burnin" show how he can get down in the blues alley one moment and then just blow your mind in the next. Coltrane's "Giant Steps" is a challenge for any jazz musician, and few guitarists even attempt it. Bruno's version will just leave you speechless. And the albums final tune "That's All", says it all. Bruno's diatonic explorations at the speed of light are nothing short of jaw dropping. The thing that is so amazing about him is that he plays with such incredible speed and precision,and yet his playing drips with beautiful melodicism and pure soul. Can I give this 10 stars?

If you are a serious jazz fan, you've probably heard this many times. If you are a casual jazz fan, new to jazz, or god forbid, not familiar with the genre (especially guitar trio) or even burnt out on it, then this (or any Bruno recording) could very well change your life. *No Joke*. Rarely a day goes by that I haven't played some or all of this CD since I bought it over a year ago, and many of my previous favorite guitar CDs are now covered in dust. This is a fun recording, swingin' and boppin' with Jimmy's unmistakable restless energy and staggering precision, speed, and above all, melody. A mixture of standards, originals, and ripping hard-bop, there is even a high-voltage version of Coltrane's Giant Steps, which on any other CD might be the showcase - on "Burnin", it's just one of a dozen "Wow!"-inducing tunes. Do yourself a favor and buy this one now !

Jimmy Bruno's playing on this album is the most impressive I think I have ever heard. His technique and speed are remarkable. When I heard the first track for the first time, I sat in awe with my mouth open. The overall group is a little shaky at times, but Bruno's many melodic and rythmic ideas keep this album interesting. Great Buy. Especially if you like people who play fast AND melodic!

Track listing:

01 Eternal Triangle 5:41
02 Pastel 5:08
03 One For Amos 4:45
04 Love Is Here To Stay 5:00
05 Burnin' 4:33
06 Moonlight In Vermont 8:11
07 Central Park West 1:56
08 Giant Steps 5:37
09 Witchcraft 4:33
10 On The Sunny Side Of The Street 4:58
11 A Rose For Peg 4:34
12 That's All 7:18


Guitar – Jimmy Bruno
Bass – Craig Thomas
Drums – Steve Holloway

Friday, January 5, 2018

Rare Bird - 1976 [1990] "Sympathy"

Rare Bird were an English progressive rock band, formed in 1969. They had more success in other European countries. They released five studio albums between 1969 and 1974. In the UK, they never charted with an album but charted with one single, the organ-based track "Sympathy", which peaked at number 27. It sold one million copies globally.

This Rare Bird CD contains a wealth of artistically wonderful music! It includes all the songs from their especially creative and engaging first album and the best songs from their second album. I was prompted to reply by the incomprehensible Emap review provided above. Sound samples are unlikely to do the music justice. Listen to all of Beautiful Scarlet and then decide. Other gems await. The first Rare Bird is one of those "rare" albums from the late 60's that haven't lost any of their ability to enchant.

This first Rare Bird album is simply exceptional. It is enchanting, inventive and melodic. It ranges from heavy to almost jazzy-blues soft at points. The vocals of Steve Gould are captivating, and the keyboards of Graham Field and David Kaffinetti are virtuoso. Mark Ashton turned in some unique percussion work on this one as well. This group was simply incredible in their musicianship and songwriting abilities, and it is unfortunate this lineup lasted but two albums. If you buy this one, you will want them all. As Your Mind Flies By and Epic Forest (with a new lineup) are fantastic. Epic Forest is an overlooked gem--simply incomparable. You will be hooked by the depth of the music.

This album contains Rare Bird's finest works on one reasonably priced cd. "As Your Mind Flies By", "Sympathy", "Beautiful Scarlet", "Nature's Fruit" and "What You Want to Know" are their best works. Hopefully this cd will never be out of print for Rare Bird fans !

Tracks Listing:

1. Sympathy (2:47)
2. You Went Away (4:41)
3. Nature's Fruit (2:36)
4. Bird on a Wing (4:19)
5. What You Want to Know (5:59)
6. Beautiful Scarlet (5:43)
7. Hammerhead (3:32)
8. I'm Thinking (5:37)
9. As Your Mind Flies By (5:50)

Total Time: 41:07

Line-up / Musicians:

- Mark Ashton / drums, vocals
- Kevin Lamb / organ, vocals
- Graham Field / organ, keyboards
- Steve Gould / bass, guitar, guitar (bass), saxophone, vocals
- Dave Kaffinetti / synthesizer, keyboards, piano (electric)

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Pat Metheny Group - 1984 "First Circle"

First Circle is a Grammy Award–winning jazz album by the Pat Metheny Group released in 1984. Metheny is joined by Lyle Mays on keyboards, Steve Rodby on bass, Paul Wertico on drums, and Pedro Aznar on vocals, percussion, and guitar. First Circle won the Grammy Award for Best Jazz Fusion Performance.

Two personnel changes occurred. Drummer Danny Gottlieb was replaced by Paul Wertico, and the Group was joined by multi-instrumentalist Pedro Aznar, who had already established himself with the band Serú Girán in his native Argentina.

On First Circle, the Group used instruments it hadn't recorded with before, including the sitar ("Yolanda, You Learn"), trumpet ("Forward March"), and agogo bells ("Tell It All"). The first song, "Forward March", with Lyle Mays on trumpet, uses dissonant, out-of-tune chords and shifting time signatures. On puttiing the song first, Metheny remarked that it "seemed like a good idea at the time."

This was the first Group album to feature a song with written lyrics, "Más Allá," by Aznar.

First Circle expanded the scope of the Group's music. In a podcast retrospective, Metheny remarked that the album brought the Group to a creative high that he had been seeking since its foundation. "With the record, First Circle, I finally felt like the Group was what I hoped it might be someday...there was this feeling of, 'Okay, we've done it. We can go anywhere now.'" He stated that First Circle, Still Life (Talking), and Letter from Home, among the Group's most popular albums, were part of a trilogy connected by their musical explorations and accessibly melodic personalities.

In First Circle, the Pat Metheny Group settled into a lineup that lasted for quite a while -- with Metheny, keyboardist Lyle Mays, bassist Steve Rodby, and new drummer Paul Wertico forming the core quartet. The ever-restless Metheny also mixes up the music, not quite leaving the Brazilian glide behind but coming up with some fascinating permutations always affixed with his personal stamp. "Forward March," the album opener, is a bizarre parody full of detuned instruments and half-cocked trumpet from Mays; one wonders if this was directed at a few silly skirmishes of the day (Grenada? the Falklands?). "The First Circle" has Brazilian elements, but now in the service of a grander architectural context, while nothing could be simpler and yet more sophisticated than the delicate ballad "If I Could." "End of the Game" might be the best track on the record, equipped with a beautiful pop-flavored set of tunes and harmonies, with a rock beat fused to the floating ambience of South America as personified by the new Argentine percussionist/vocalist Pedro Aznar. "Praise," the closer, is an out-and-out rock tune, an affirmative flip side of "Forward March" and the last of a series of delightful surprises.

I listened to this cassette quite a bit back in 1985 and then left it for quite a while. Last year (2003), I was amazed to find myself humming "Yolanda, You Learn" and ordered the CD from Amazon. Discovering this music all over again was a joy. To me, this is a CD of uplifting, joyous music made by fantastic musicians offering up some incredible performances.

While I have listened to other Metheny releases, nothing has touched me like this one. I would loved to have given this five stars, but the decision to include "Forward March" was a mistake. Fortunately, modern CD players can be programmed to skip tracks. My favorite tracks are "Yolanda, You Learn," "The First Circle," and "Praise." "If I Could" is so beautiful in its simplicity as to bring you to goosebumps and tears.
If you are a guitarist or lover of Brazilian music, this CD is a must-have. This release is totally accessible to all lovers of quality music. Highly recommended.

With "Phase Dance" and, "Are You Going With Me?" the album's title track, "The First Circle", became one of the Group's most popular songs.

Track listing:

1. "Forward March" (Metheny) 2:47
2. "Yolanda, You Learn" 4:43
3. "The First Circle" 9:10
4. "If I Could" (Metheny) 6:54
5. "Tell It All" 7:55
6. "End of the Game" 7:57
7. "Más Allá (Beyond)" (Metheny/Pedro Aznar) 5:37
8. "Praise" 4:19


Pat Metheny – guitar, Synclavier guitar, sitar, slide guitar, acoustic guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar
Lyle Mays – piano, synthesizers, Oberheim, agogô bells, organ, trumpet
Steve Rodby – bass guitar, acoustic bass, bass drum
Pedro Aznar – glockenspiel, voice, bells, acoustic guitar, percussion, whistle, guitar, acoustic 12-string guitar
Paul Wertico – drums, field drum, cymbal

Sunday, December 31, 2017

The Moody Blues - 1994 "Time Traveller" [5 CD Box]

Time Traveller is a five-disc compilation album by The Moody Blues. The set is presented in strict chronological order, beginning with the 1966 addition of Justin Hayward and John Lodge (omitting the earlier Denny Laine and Clint Warwick-led R&B period), shortly before the release of Days of Future Passed, and continuing through 1993's A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. The set includes several previously unreleased or rare tracks, songs from the Hayward/Lodge album Blue Jays, and a solo track ("Forever Autumn") by Hayward.

The bonus fifth disc contains a contribution to the FIFA album Soccer Rocks the Globe otherwise unavailable on a Moody Blues album, plus eight live recordings that were cut from the original 1993 release of A Night at Red Rocks with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra but later included in the 2003 2-CD deluxe re-release of A Night at Red Rocks.

When the Moody Blues were due for the box set treatment, it would have been uncharacteristic for the production to be lacking in overstated grandiosity. On that count, this four-CD retrospective does not disappoint, including the bulk of their most famous work (from their 1967-1972 albums), lots from their later records and side projects, and a few rarities. This package is designed more for the band's fanatics, as opposed to a definitive overview for newcomers; the albums (which were specifically programmed to work as separate entities) remain readily available, there's too much late stuff and Hayward/Blue Jays tracks, and there's nothing from the Denny Laine era. The three non-LP 1967 cuts that open the set are available on the double import LP A Dream (still possible to find), an album that also has the additional 1967 B-side "Really Haven't Got the Time," which somehow doesn't make it onto Time Traveller...The liner notes are pretty good and extensive, and the first printings of the box include a bonus disc of a 1992 concert with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra.

Had several greatest hit s compilation of the moody blues in the past and found this one is absolutely the best version. Leave all the rest on their shelves as this one blows them all away. Liner notes, discography, etc. the best I have seen. Production excellent, each song lovingly restored from analog and digitally remastered as in most box sets today. Each song picked by producer to be favorite. My wife agrees with me that this is her favorite version of this groups anthology. The wife knows 60's and 70's music like I do and we grew up with this group as one of our very favorite. Excellent and would recommend this compilation for any serious moody blues lover or just someone in general who loves good music.

5-CDs with all the key tracks from their albums remastered from the original tapes, salted with some intriguing rarities, such as the first two singles with Justin Hayward, Fly Me High and Love and Beauty; Cities , the B-side of Nights in White Satin (which appears here in its original album mix); Justin Hayward's Forever Autumn from War of the Worlds, and an unreleased track. The set includes a 48-page booklet with notes, credits and photos good for a Tuesday afternoon or two!

Tracks Listing:

1. Fly Me High
2. Love And Beauty
3. Cities
4. Tuesday Afternoon
5. Nights In White Satin
6. Ride My See-Saw
7. Legend Of A Mind
8. House Of Four Doors
9. Voices In The Sky
10. The Best Way To Travel
11. The Actor
12. In The Beginning
13. Lovely To See You
14. Dear Diary
15. Never Comes The Day
16. Are You Sitting Comfortably
17. The Dream
18. Have You Heard Part 1
19. The Voyage
20. Have You Heard Part 2

21. Higher And Higher
22. Gypsy
23. Eyes Of A Child
24. Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Hundred
25. Beyond
26. Out And In
27. Candle Of Life
28. Never Thought I'd Live To Be A Million
29. Watching And Waiting
30. Question
31. Don't You Feel Small
32. It's Up To You
33. Minstrel's Song
34. Dawning Is The Day
35. Melancholy Man
36. Procession
37. The Story In Your Eyes
38. One More Time To Live
39. You Can never Go Home
40. My Song

41. Lost In A Lost World
42. New Horizons
43. For My Lady
44. Isn't Life Strange
45. You And Me
46. I'm Just A Singer
47. This Morning
48. Remember Me, My Friend
49. My Brother
50. Saved By The Music
51. I Dreamed Last Night
52. When You Wake Up
53. Blue Guitar
54. Steppin' In A Slide Zone
55. Driftwood
56. The Day We Meet Again

57. Forever Autumn /
58. The Voice
59. Talking Out Of Turn
60. Gemini Dream
61. Blue World
62. Sitting At The Wheel
63. Running Water
64. Your Wildest Dreams
65. The Other Side Of Life
66. I Know You're Out There Somewhere
67. No More Lies
68. Say It With Love
69. Bless The Wings
70. Lean On Me
71. Highway

72. This Is The Moment
Encore - Live at Red Rocks:
73. The Story In Your Eyes
74. Voices In The Sky
75. New Horizons
76. Emily's Song
77. Bless The Wings
78. Say It With Love
79. Legend Of A Mind
80. Gemini Dream

Line-up / Musicians:

- Justin Hayward / guitars, vocals
- John Lodge / bass guitar, vocals
(except on Disc Three, track 13 and Disc Four, track 1)
- Ray Thomas / harmonica, flute, vocals
(except on Disc Three, tracks 7-13 and Disc Four, track 1)
- Graeme Edge / drums, percussion (except on Disc Three, tracks 7-13 and Disc Four, track 1)
- Mike Pinder / keyboards and vocals on Disc One, Disc Twoand Disc Three, tracks 1-6 and tracks 14-16
- Patrick Moraz / keyboards on Disc Four, tracks 2-11

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Paul Gilbert - 2008 "Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar"

Paul Brandon Gilbert (born November 6, 1966 in Illinois, USA) is an American guitarist. He is well known for his technical guitar work with Racer X and Mr. Big, as well as many solo albums and numerous collaborations and guest appearances with other musicians.

Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar is the second full length instrumental album and 8th overall by hard rock guitarist Paul Gilbert.

You never quite know what style of guitar playing is going to greet you when you put on a new Paul Gilbert disc, as he's tackled blues, pop, and acoustic pieces in the past. But on his 2008 release, Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar, Gilbert focuses on what made him such a renowned player among guitar shredders worldwide in the first place, as he totally focuses on his soloing and riffing capabilities (and goes "all instrumental," to boot). It may be 2008, but such tunes as the album-opening title track and "Eudaimonia Overture" could have easily come out in 1988, and probably would have caught the attention of every Guitar for the Practicing Musician subscriber at the time. And there are even a few tranquil moments ("Bronx 1971") and oddities (the piano-led "The Gargoyle") thrown in for good measure. Paul Gilbert remains one of rock guitar's top gymnasts, as evidenced throughout Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar.

Hot on the heels of his successful Get Out Of My Yard CD, Silence Followed By A Deafening Roar is the second all instrumental CD by guitarist Paul Gilbert. This record was recorded after Gilbert wowed guitar lovers on the legendary G3 tour in support of Joe Satriani where Gilbert confirmed to a younger audience what Gilbert fans have known for over 20 years…. that Paul Gilbert is simply one of the greatest guitarists on the planet today.

This is my first Paul Gilbert cd, so I didn't know what to expect before I bought it. Based on the reviews here, I bought it sound unheard. Overall, I am not disappointed. Mr. Gilbert is an incredible technician and a generally superior song writer. If you like Marty Friedman, Satriani, Vai, Eric Johnson, Vinnie Moore, Eddie Van Halen, Rush, Jeff Beck, Joey Tafolla, George Lynch, even Carlos Santana, you'll like this CD because it has shades of them all. Which makes this a unique CD among instrumental guitar rock/shred albums. Lots of rock musical influences seem to have been put on display here--almost as if Gilbert were paying tribute--and blended in an original, highly skillful way. That feature is also my only real criticism of this CD (tho it's a small one): I am left with an unsure sense of Mr. Gilbert's own melodic style. Or perhaps this ecclectic fushion blending IS his style. Certainly, I've never heard anything like it on any instrumental guitar rock/shred album. This CD definitely makes me want to go out and check out his other stuff!

Another thing about this album: Gilbert's melodic compositional quality is so high that you almost expect these tracks to become guitar solos going with vocal rock songs. Probably the best blend of technical prowess and melodic sensibility that I've ever heard in this genre, with perhaps the exception of Vinnie Moore (neoclassical shred, Mind's Eye), Marty Friedman (Dragon's Kiss) or Eric Johnson (Venus Isle).

I was a little apprehensive when I got this CD even though I knew of Paul from Mr. Big and the Racer X days. I had never really appreciated or listened to any of his work closely.

This CD is simply amazing. Frankly I think this is the best instrumental guitar album I've ever heard. I am a huge Satriani and Vai fan but to be honest they haven't really grabbed me in quite a while.

This CD showcases many different styles of music, and I hear bits of Beck, Vai, Petrucci, Lifeson, Morse.. but don't get me wrong. Paul definitely has his own extremely unique style. I've never really heard an album in this genre that was so diverse, at times shred, funk, blues, jazz, rock, space guitar.

Track listing:

01. "Silence Followed by a Deafening Roar" Paul Gilbert 3:48
02. "Eudaimonia Overture" Gilbert, J.S. Bach 4:35
03. "The Rhino" Gilbert 2:46
04. "Norwegian Cowbell" Gilbert 4:06
05. "I Cannot Tell a Lie" Gilbert 3:50
06. "Bronx 1971" Gilbert 4:04
07. "Suite Modale" Ernest Bloch 2:38
08. "The Gargoyle" Gilbert 4:35
09. "I Still Have That Other Girl" Elvis Costello, Burt Bacharach 2:52
10. "Bultaco Saturno" Gilbert 4:13
11. "Paul Vs. Godzilla" Gilbert 4:52

Total length: 42:19

Track 2 ends with a complete performance of Bach's Prelude in G major from the Well-Tempered Clavier Book 1.


Paul Gilbert - Guitar, Producer
Mike Szuter - Bass
Jeff Bowders - Drums
Emi Gilbert - Hammond B3, Piano

Friday, December 29, 2017

It's A Beautiful Day - 1969 "It's A Beautiful Day"

It's a Beautiful Day is the self-titled debut album by San Francisco Records psychedelic band It's a Beautiful Day. This album's song "White Bird" was the band's biggest hit. The album rose to #47 on Billboard's Top LPs American albums chart.

The cover, designed by George Hunter and painted by Kent Hollister, was based on the 1912 painting Woman on the Top of a Mountain by Charles Courtney Curran. The design used an old version of the Columbia Records logo that George Hunter felt fitted better with the feel of the rest of the cover. The album cover is number 24 on Rolling Stone's list of 100 greatest album covers. The Girl can also be seen in the background on the cover of Happy Trails by Quicksilver Messenger Service.

A 1972 reissue of the album in the Netherlands on CBS used a modern painting of a beach scene as the front and back cover because the original cover art of the first two It's A Beautiful Day albums became the sole property of San Francisco Records. IABD was formed by Matthew Katz and the group had a record contract with San Francisco Sound Records. Katz settled with CBS where in it was agreed that "In No Event Will CBS Duplicate The Cover Art or Duplicate The Same songs as included in those two albums." The same is true of the first two Moby Grape albums which are all part or the same court settlement. The only legal source for those IABD and Moby Grape albums are from San Francisco Sound.

The group's signature song "White Bird" was inspired by the experiences David and Linda LaFlamme had while living in Seattle, Washington. For a few weeks in December 1967 the group members lived in the attic of an old house while playing and rehearsing at a Seattle venue originally known as The Encore Ballroom. The band's manager Matthew Katz had recently assumed control over the club and renamed it "San Francisco Sound". In an ironic twist on the band's name, the song was partly inspired by Seattle's rainy winter weather. In a later interview David LaFlamme said:

Where the 'white bird' thing came from ... We were like caged birds in that attic. We had no money, no transportation, the weather was miserable. We were just barely getting by on a very small food allowance provided to us. It was quite an experience, but it was very creative in a way.

A substantial part of the theme and arrangement of the song "Bombay Calling" was used by Deep Purple as the basis for their song "Child in Time".

Although they are not one of the better-known San Francisco bands to have emerged from the ballroom circuit of the late '60s and early '70s, It's a Beautiful Day were no less memorable for their unique progressive rock style that contrasted well with the Bay Area psychedelic scene. Led by David LaFlamme (flute/violin/vocals) and his wife, Linda LaFlamme (keyboards), the six-piece unit on this album vacillates between light and ethereal pieces such as the lead-off cut, "White Bird," to the heavier, prog rock-influenced "Bombay Calling." One of the most distinct characteristics of It's a Beautiful Day is their instrumentation. The prominence of David LaFlamme -- former violin soloist with the Utah Symphony and original member of Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks -- adds a refinement to It's a Beautiful Day's sound. Likewise, the intricate melodies -- mostly composed by the LaFlammes -- are structured around the band's immense virtuosity, a prime example being the exquisitely haunting harpsichord-driven "Girl With No Eyes." The noir framework, as well as lyrics such as "...she's just a reflection of all of the time I've been high," point rather candidly to the hallucinogenic nature of the song's -- if not the band's -- influences. The same can be said of the languidly eerie "Bulgaria." The almost chant-like quality of the track slowly crescendos into an hypnotic and dreamlike sonic journey -- led by LaFlamme's brilliant violin work. By virtue of being a Bay Area fixture in the late '60s, It's a Beautiful Day could also easily double as a hippie dance band -- which they can also execute with great aplomb -- as the wildly up-tempo "Time Is" amply proves. It's a Beautiful Day remains as a timepiece and evidence of how sophisticated rock & roll had become in the fertile environs of the San Francisco music scene.

Track Listing:

  1. White Bird
  2. Hot Summer Day
  3. Wasted Union Blues
  4. Girl With No Eyes
  5. Bombay Calling
  6. Bulgaria
  7. Time Is


David LaFlamme – violin, flute, lead vocals
Linda LaFlamme – acoustic piano, electric piano, organ, celeste, harpsichord
Hal Wagenet – guitars
Mitchell Holman – bass, harmonica, backing vocals
Val Fuentes – drums, backing vocals
Pattie Santos – percussion, bells, backing vocals
Bruce Steinberg – harmonica

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ralph Towner - 1975 [2008] "Solstice"

Solstice is an album by the American guitarist Ralph Towner that was released on the ECM label in 1975. It features Towner with Jan Garbarek, Eberhard Weber and Jon Christensen.

This is arguably the first recording to fully flesh out the aural expanse for which ECM has come to be known. Although I am well aware of the immense groundswell of musical activity that was the 1970s, certainly an album like this was a refreshing and altogether mind-altering experience for those fortunate enough to be young musical explorers at the time. Featuring a lineup of musicians who would go on to weave ECM’s significance into the fabric of time, Solstice is a tour de force of musicianship, writing, arrangement, and recording.

Each track is brimming with life and features the sensitive application of a variety of instrumental combinations and studio savvy. “Oceanus” showcases Garbarek in his prime, soaring with an unbridled emotional register. As always, Towner’s 12-string speaks in 360 degrees. Superb drumming from Christensen complements lush melodic lines from Weber, who stretches a melodic cello into infinity while his bass arises like the conical aftereffect of a water droplet. “Visitation” clouds this ardor in a nocturnal vision filled with laughing spirits. “Drifting Petals” is a slow progression, a timid look out onto a dusty plain where the promise of freedom looms larger than the possibility of danger. But then an elder’s advice rings in our ears and pushes us onward. Feet move of their volition and pull us into the ever-receding horizon as the first drops of a squall streak across our foreheads. Towner proves again that his piano musings are not to be taken lightly, as they make for one of the most evocative tracks on the album. A transcendental 12-string solo (with gentle dimensional support from Weber) opens “Nimbus,” soon blossoming into a flourish of flutes, drums, and a bowed bass that cries with the grating fluidity of a sarangi. Garbarek’s sax joins in the fray and lets loose its harmonious fire. The deftly overdubbed flutes return, spreading their wings for a few moments before fluttering off into the distance. “Winter Solstice,” “Piscean Dance,” and “Red and Black” comprise a triptych of duets: the first for classical guitar and sax, the second a prime jam for 12-string and drums, and the third for 12-string and bass. “Sand” ends our cosmic journey with one of Garbarek’s deepest meditations for sax set to the strangely compelling ululations of Christensen’s flexatone lolling about in the background.

Melodically robust while structurally yielding, this is an album to be treasured and is a must-listen for anyone desiring to know what ECM is all about. An astounding meeting of musical minds if there ever was one.

When Ralph Towner burst onto the contemporary jazz scene in the mid-70s, listeners were well aware of his awesome talent as a member of Oregon. But when Solstice was issued on the ECM label, it took the brilliant guitarist's caché to a much higher level, especially as a composer. With the otherworldly curved soprano sax and flute playing of Jan Garbarek, the precise drumming of Jon Christensen, and unique bass sounds of Eberhard Weber, the music on this album lifted the ECM/Euro-styled jazz and improvised music to a new realm of pure expressionism. Simply put -- this music is stunningly beautiful. The incredible "Oceanus" begins with Towner's cascading guitar, followed by the swelling and symphonic bass of Weber, a swinging drum line by Christensen with Garbarek's atmospheric and dramatic curved soprano layering contrasting timbres, symmetry, and unusual colors. "Nimbus" opens with some astounding technical harmonics from Towner, more so considering the acoustic nature of his instrument. A circular theme in implied 3/4 underneath 4/4 leads to overdubbed flutes from Garbarek, bowed bass, the curved soprano in 6/8 all identifying the pure ECM sound. "Piscean Dance" is a funky workout between Towner and Christensen, the earthiest track on the date, and an exercise of intuitive confluence. Other portions of the disc are space oriented like the loose, free and haunting "Red & Black," "Visitation" with multiple percussion sounds of flexatone and shakers under Weber's bowed bass and Garbarek's alien dragonfly flute, while Weber's "Sand" has the musicians staring at the Crab Nebula while firmly rooted in a strut later in the piece. Towner's wondrous piano is heard on "Drifting Petals," a pretty and pensive waltz with unison lines alongside Garbarek's flute, then Towner switches to guitar in a deeper discourse with the quartet. As cold as the Norwegian studio (Oslo) they were recording in, "Winter Solstice" is not so much profound as it is telepathic, as the players use stop-start techniques, again inserting a 3/4 rhythm into a 4/4 equation. Of the many excellent recordings he has offered, Solstice is Towner's crowning achievement as a leader fronting this definitive grouping of ECM stablemates who absolutely define the label's sound for the time frame, and for all time.

Down Beat: “Solstice inspires through its expressive openness… revealing depth of texture, nuance and meaning.” Perfect Sound Forever: “The LP is not only one of the moodiest ever published by ECM, but by anyone.” Solstice, recorded 1974, belongs to the great early production projects of ECM, with a new band formed in the studio. It’s the first of Towner’s recorded encounters with the European players, and this US-Norwegian-German quartet has a character all its own. Ralph’s synthesis of classical guitar technique and jazz improvisational skills inspires all participants on now-famous tunes including “Nimbus” and “Oceanus”. (Many future associations grew out of this meeting, including the Garbarek/Towner collaboration on Dis, and the integration of Eberhard Weber into the Jan Garbarek Group, and of Jon Christensen into Weber’s Colours band.)

Track listing:

All compositions by Ralph Towner except where noted.

1. "Oceanus" – 11:04
2. "Visitation" – 2:36
3. "Drifting Petals" – 7:01
4. "Nimbus" – 6:31
5. "Winter Solstice" – 4:02
6. "Piscean Dance" – 4:15
7. "Red and Black" – 1:19
8. "Sand" (Eberhard Weber) – 4:10


Ralph Towner – 12-string and classical guitar, piano
Jan Garbarek – tenor and soprano saxophone, flute
Eberhard Weber – bass, cello
Jon Christensen – drums, percussion

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

John Coltrane - 1957 [1985] "Blue Train"

Blue Train is a studio album by John Coltrane, released in 1958 on Blue Note Records, catalogue BLP 1577. Recorded at the Van Gelder Studio in Hackensack, New Jersey, it is the only Blue Note recording by Coltrane as the leader on the session. It has been certified a gold record by the RIAA.

The album was recorded in the midst of Coltrane's residency at the Five Spot as a member of the Thelonious Monk quartet. The personnel include Coltrane's Miles Davis bandmates, Paul Chambers on bass and Philly Joe Jones on drums, both of whom had worked before with pianist Kenny Drew. Both trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller were up-and-coming jazz musicians, and both would be members of Art Blakey's Jazz Messengers, working together on several of Blakey's albums.

All of the compositions were written by Coltrane, with the exception of the standard "I'm Old Fashioned". The title track is a long, rhythmically variegated blues with a sentimental [quasi minor; in fact based on major chords with flat tenth, or raised ninth] theme that gradually shows the major key during Coltrane's first chorus. "Locomotion" is also a blues riff tune, in forty-four-bar form. During a 1960 interview, Coltrane described Blue Train as his favorite album of his own up to that point.

Although never formally signed, an oral agreement between John Coltrane and Blue Note Records founder Alfred Lion was indeed honored on Blue Train -- Coltrane's only collection of sides as a principal artist for the venerable label. The disc is packed solid with sonic evidence of Coltrane's innate leadership abilities. He not only addresses the tunes at hand, but also simultaneously reinvents himself as a multifaceted interpreter of both hard bop as well as sensitive balladry -- touching upon all forms in between. The personnel on Blue Train is arguably as impressive as what they're playing. Joining Coltrane (tenor sax) are Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Kenny Drew (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), and Philly Joe Jones (drums). The triple horn arrangements incorporate an additional sonic density that remains a trademark unique to both this band and album. Of particular note is Fuller's even-toned trombone, which bops throughout the title track as well as the frenetic "Moments Notice." Other solos include Paul Chambers' subtly understated riffs on "Blue Train" as well as the high energy and impact from contributions by Lee Morgan and Kenny Drew during "Locomotion." The track likewise features some brief but vital contributions from Philly Joe Jones -- whose efforts throughout the record stand among his personal best. Of the five sides that comprise the original Blue Train, the Jerome Kern/Johnny Mercer ballad "I'm Old Fashioned" is the only standard; in terms of unadulterated sentiment, this version is arguably untouchable. Fuller's rich tones and Drew's tastefully executed solos cleanly wrap around Jones' steadily languid rhythms. Without reservation, Blue Train can easily be considered in and among the most important and influential entries not only of John Coltrane's career, but of the entire genre of jazz music as well.

Maybe it’s the blueness of the cover, or its chamber-like sound, but John Coltrane’s Blue Train, like Miles Davis’s Kind of Blue, frequently puts listeners in a reflective mood.

The cover photo of Blue Train, Coltrane’s second album as a leader and the only recording he made for Blue Note, shows the saxophonist seemingly deep in thought, his face, arms and shoulders, and the mouthpiece of his instrument, saturated in a blue chiaroscuro. It’s a profound album cover, probably one of the greatest ever printed.

The session found Coltrane at an important juncture in his career. About four months earlier, he had quit using heroin, and at the time of Blue Train’s recording, he was performing regularly at the Five Spot in New York in Thelonious Monk’s quartet. It’s probably safe to assume that his newfound sobriety, coupled with the influence of Monk’s awkwardly refined sense of harmony, gave Coltrane a lot to think about.

On Blue Train, Coltrane is in very good company. To start, there are his two old bandmates from the Miles Davis Quintet, drummer Philly Joe Jones and bassist Paul Chambers. (Davis had kicked Coltrane out of his group about five months prior to this recording.) Pianist Kenny Drew fills out the rhythm section, while trumpeter Lee Morgan and trombonist Curtis Fuller (the only player from this session who’s still alive) complete the front line.

The title track, a haunting 10-minute blues, establishes Coltrane as one of the great interpreters of the form in jazz. In its starkness, it feels like a nod to the modal music Coltrane would later play, most notably on the 1961 album My Favorite Things. Still, Coltrane solos with lots of notes, using long tones and uneven phrases—and he sounds restless, as though he is trying to keep hold of all the ideas sloshing around in his mind. Morgan enters after Coltrane, with a spare and memorable opener. (He was very good at those. Listen to his solo on the title track of Art Blakey’s Moanin’, a Blue Note release recorded a year later, for another instance.)

On “Locomotion,” the album’s third track, Morgan explodes like a firecracker into a suspenseful, eight-bar break. His ensuing solo is an intricate braid of sound; his phrases never tangle. (Such virtuosity prompted the critic A.B. Spellman to describe Morgan’s performance as “one of the great jazz trumpet solos.”) The trumpeter’s brassy articulation serves as a good foil to Fuller’s smooth, soft-toned lyricism on trombone.

“Moment’s Notice,” another Coltrane original with fast-moving chord changes, presages the recording of “Giant Steps”—Coltrane’s impossibly methodical composition that now exists almost solely for pedagogical purposes—by about two years. “Lazy Bird,” too, which supposedly draws from Tadd Dameron’s “Lady Bird” (which, in turn, draws from the standard “Have You Met Miss Jones?”) is another bellwether of Coltrane’s intensely focused attention to harmony.

And then there is the ballad “I’m Old Fashioned,” the only track on the album that Coltrane didn’t write. It is simply lovely. Coltrane could play very sweetly when he wanted to, and this song marks the musician as a refined and sensitive ballad player—one of the best in jazz.

To call Blue Train a hard bop album, as many have done, sort of misses the point of Coltrane’s singular, and expansive, vision. Coltrane was not a hard bop musician, just like his then-boss, Thelonious Monk, cannot be described as a bebop musician, although he recorded with Charlie Parker, Max Roach and Dizzy Gillespie, among others. If you want to try to understand Coltrane, it helps to look atBlue Train almost as a living thing, a signpost indicating some of the many roads he would explore in the 10 years before his early death. But it also exists just fine on its own.

Track listing:

1. Blue Train 10:40
2. Moment's Notice 9:08
3. Locomotion 7:12
4. I'm Old Fashioned 7:55
5. Lazy Bird 7:04


John Coltrane – tenor saxophone
Lee Morgan – trumpet
Curtis Fuller – trombone
Kenny Drew – piano
Paul Chambers – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

Eric Johnson - 1990 "Ah Via Musicom"

Ah Via Musicom is the third studio album by guitarist Eric Johnson, released in 1990 through Capitol Records. The album reached No. 67 on the U.S. Billboard 200 and remained on that chart for 60 weeks. All four singles charted on Billboard's Mainstream Rock chart, with three of them being top 10 hits: "High Landrons" at No. 31, "Righteous" at No. 8, "Cliffs of Dover" at No. 5 and "Trademark" at No. 7. "Cliffs of Dover" went on to win the Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance at the 1992 Grammys.

"Cliffs of Dover" has endured as Johnson's best-known song and is a mainstay at his concerts. It was ranked No. 17 in a list of "100 Greatest Guitar Solos" by Guitar World magazine, No. 34 in a list of "50 greatest guitar tones of all time" by Guitarist magazine, and remains a highly regarded staple within the guitar community.

Several other songs are dedicated to fellow guitarists: Johnson stated in a March 1990 interview with Guitar Player magazine that "Steve's Boogie" is dedicated to Austin-based pedal steel guitarist Steve Hennig, while "Song for George" is dedicated to an 80-year-old guitarist friend of his named George Washington. Furthermore, "East Wes" is dedicated to jazz guitarist Wes Montgomery, and takes its name from the 1966 album East-West by The Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

After being overlooked on his debut, Tones, guitarist Eric Johnson burst onto the airwaves with the surprising hit "Cliffs of Dover." Armed with excellent chops and a clear tone, Johnson took a tired formula and made it sound fresh again. Despite his talents on the fret board, he plays with great restraint and chose to explore a variety of styles, including rock, pop, blues, country, and jazz. While his singing is not quite as interesting as his guitar playing, it is not obtrusive and is at times quite pleasing. This recording has reached near-classic proportions within the guitar community.

Everyone from Carole King to Cat Stevens borrowed Eric's electrifying licks, but he finally got his own moment in the sun when this LP hit in '90. A masterwork of heavy rock fusion (with excursions into country and blues), it topped many a chart that year and went multi-platinum; it now returns on 180-gram audiophile vinyl, mastered from the original tapes. Includes Cliffs of Dover; Desert Rose; Trademark; Righteous; Forty Mile Town ; the title track, and more six-string heroics!

Eric Johnson is a guitar virtuoso. He is mostly known for his proficiency on the electric guitar. His playing style would tend to put him in the category of guitar "shredder". Eric is not from the pure "shredder" school where a lot of the playing consists of running various muscial scales at blistering speed. I rate Eric's use of shredding as being more melodic and soulful. He uses it when it fits the context of the song or passage being played. In other words, he doesn't make his living shredding, but it is a tool he uses when appropriate. I would consider this CD to be his signature CD. Nice blend of instrumentals as well as vocal songs. His best known piece, "Cliffs of Dover" is outstanding. Kind of a blend of Jimi Hendrix meets Mozart. Beautiful classical sounding melody done on a searing guitar.

Track listing:

01 Ah Via Musicom 2:04
02 Cliffs Of Dover 4:10
03 Desert Rose 4:55
04 High Landrons 5:46
05 Steve´s Boogie 1:51
06 Trademark 4:45
07 Nothing Can Keep Me From You 4:23
08 Song For George 1:47
09 Righteous 3:27
10 Forty Mile Town 4:13
11 East Wes 3:28


Eric Johnson – lead vocals (tracks 3, 4, 7, 10), guitar, piano, electric sitar, arrangement, engineering, production
Jody Lazo – vocals (tracks 7, 10)
Steven Hennig – guitar (track 5)
Steve Barber – keyboard, synthesizer, arrangement
Tommy Taylor – drums (tracks 1–7, 9–11), percussion (tracks 4, 7, 10), arrangement
Paul Bissell – percussion (track 1)
James Fenner – percussion (tracks 10, 11)
Roscoe Beck – bass (tracks 1, 3, 7, 9, 10), arrangement
Kyle Brock – bass (tracks 2–6, 11), arrangement
Reggie Witty – bass (track 7), arrangement
Wee Willie – harmonica

Monday, December 25, 2017

Various Artists - 1997 "Yule Be Boppin'", Bluenote

This is one of the better Christmas jazz collections available. The 15 selections each utilize different artists and were recorded especially for this CD. Kurt Elling's version of Steve Allen's "Cool Yule," and Pat Martino's "Santa Claus Is Coming to Town," Javon Jackson's "Santa Baby," Bobby Watson and Jack Walrath on "Cristo Redentor," and Charlie Hunter's solo guitar version of "Christmas Time Is Here" are highlights. Other featured players include Dianne Reeves ("Jingle Bells"), Eliane Elias (romping on "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm"), Bob Dorough (remaking "Blue X-Mas"), Fareed Haque, Sweet Daddy Lowe, Judi Silvano, Jacky Terrasson, Benny Green, Miles Griffith, Rachelle Ferrell and Joe Lovano. An excellent set of mostly offbeat versions of seasonal favorites.

For that hardened jazz boho on your list, this 15-piece slab serves up a lot of cool yule trimmings. There are goodies for baddies here, including Javon Jackson, who takes you on a drum-lead, saxophone-improv trip during "Santa Baby," exploring all the nooks and crannies of Santa's workshop. Bob Dorough reprises the cynical classic "Blue X-Mas" while Sweet Daddy Love and the Blue Note Ad Hoc Orchestra revisit that beatnik staple "Bebop Santa Claus." Other noteworthy tracks include Jacky Terrasson soulfully welding "Adeste Fideles" and "Little Drummer Boy" in a groovin' orgy of organ-chased gospel rhythms and sprite piano riffs. No hip set would be complete without "Zat You, Santa Claus?", here handled admirably by Benny Green and Miles Griffith (although no one can lay a finger on Louis Armstrong's version). Cool stuff, even for nonjazz stiffs.

A later Blue Note take on the Holiday sound – but one that features some surprisingly nice numbers by artists who were on the label's roster during the 90s! There's a spirit here that takes us back to older Holiday jazz albums – a feel that's never too slick or gimmicky, and which shows a genuine feel for the music without tricking it out too much. Titles include "Christmastime Is Here" by Charlie Hunter, "Peace On Earth" by Rachelle Ferrell, "Cristo Redentor" by Bobby Watson, "Carol Of The Bells" by Joe Lovano, "Blue X-Mas" by Bob Dorough, "Zat You Santa Claus" by Benny Green, "Santa Baby" by Javon Jackson, and "Cool Yule" by Kurt Elling. (Out of print.)

Track listing:

01 –Kurt Elling Cool Yule 3:27
02 –Pat Martino Santa Claus Is Coming To Town 4:27
03 –Dianne Reeves Jingle Bells 2:09
04 –Eliane Elias I've Got My Love To Keep Me Warm 4:28
05 –Bob Dorough Blue X-mas 5:37
06 –Fareed Haque You're A Mean One Mr. Grinch 5:25
07 –Javon Jackson Santa Baby 4:19
08 –Sweet Daddy Lowe And The Blue Note Ad Hoc Orchestra Be-Bop Santa Claus 4:28
09 –Judi Silvano I'd Like You For Christmas 4:49
10 –Jacky Terrasson 'Adeste Fideles / Little Drummer Boy' Jam 3:27
11 –Benny Green featuring Miles Griffith Zat You Santa Claus 3:33
12 –Bobby Watson (2) / Jack Walrath Cristo Redentor 7:18
13 –Rachelle Ferrell Peace On Earth 4:19
14 –Charlie Hunter Christmas Time Is Here 4:04
15 –Joe Lovano Carol Of The Bells 4:35

Friday, December 22, 2017

Chick Corea - 1968 [2002] "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs"

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is a jazz piano trio album by Chick Corea, released December 1968 on Solid State Records. In more recent times, it was acquired by EMI/Blue Note and reissued on CD with bonus tracks. The musicians on this album are Corea (piano), Miroslav Vitouš (bass), and Roy Haynes (drums). Aside from the jazz standard "My One and Only Love" and Thelonious Monk's "Pannonica", all tracks are original compositions (with some being non-composed free improvisations, such as "The Law of Falling and Catching Up" or "Fragments"). The same line-up recorded on ECM Records in 1981 Trio Music and in 1986 Trio Music, Live in Europe.

Now He Sings, Now He Sobs is among the greatest piano trio albums ever released. Recorded in 1968, the record firmly established Chick as a pianist and composer with a unique vision, one that floated free of traditional genre distinctions and conventions, into new and thrilling territory. With veteran drummer Roy Haynes and brilliant bassist Miroslav Vitous, Chick creates a new language of his own, instantly recognizable from the first, classic cymbal flourish and piano run of “Matrix.” The trio is locked in, totally attuned to each other, and operating at a tremendous level. This is jazz of the highest order.

Corea had been paying his dues for over half a decade, developing great affinity for Afro-Cuban Jazz while working with Mongo Santamaria, and Sonny Stitt among others, composed, arranged and in the process greatly incrementing the dimension of albums such as Blue Mitchell’s “Boss Horn”, seen his compositions recorded by the likes of Hubert Laws, Donald Byrd or by his for a while boss Stan Getz and even released his 1st album as a leader – which was given the title of one of those songs from the Mitchell’ album-, an album where he used a band format to work on his songs;
           he’d been enchanting all those who contacted his music, with his talent, vitality, virtuosity and a new perspective in composing and making the pieces unfold; this perspective had points in common with Coltrane’s open 4tet explorations and in particular with McCoy Tyner’s style, but Corea’s vision eventually included some other stylistic appendices; this album displays several ways of reformulating those concepts while working on  a platform  he hadn’t tested yet and at the end of the day was the beginning of a long lasting and productive trio friendship.

If Corea is adventurous his partners never let him down either: 6 years his junior, Miroslav Vitous the 20 years old Czech bass player is all but conventional, accompanies with intricate and meandering restlessly walking or running lines and his explorative solos as on “Matrix” or even better on the pair of “Now He…” , are the epitome of creative abandon; as for the some 15 years his senior Roy Haynes, his vast experience brought him all but stiffness, as boldly and flexibly he either keeps the beat with unrelenting ride cymbal drive and sporadic, unexpected,  sensitive and perfectly timed inspired rolls or he jumps up front to argument on the meaning of the piece.

Consisting of only five tracks the album is launched at breakneck velocity with Hard-bop virtuosity by the almost 14 minutes long tour-de-force “Steps-What Was”; on the 2nd part after a drum solo, Corea flirts with fragments of and delineates what “Spain” would become, both with overtly similar melodies and in a preview of its harmonic and rhythmic complexity; on the title track the pianist alternatively  conveys joy and pain with open and glad major intervals or with closed, altered minor  and weeping chords; his control of the shades of harmony is incremented with impressionistic Classical instincts on “Now He Beats…” either conveying aggressiveness  or lyricism, before Vitous and Haynes enter midway through the 10 minutes-plus piece and without interfering with the pianist’s shifting states-of-mind, and turning abstraction into organic pulsations install a communal vision which allows them to alter the mood or at the snap of a finger  revert to it;

“The Law of Falling…” are 2 ½ minutes of avant-garde, Musique Concrète, knocking and hammering on piano and bass strings and on the instruments wood proper, sweeping chimes, brisk pizzicato runs and drum rolls, a brief and in no way painful glimpse at still other alternative routes, yet what’s impressive, and if not enlightening definitely stupefying, is  how an album where  only one theme - “Matrix” with its Tyner-esque Hard-Bop adventures -, was rehearsed in a conventional manner, yielded such a bountiful crop of land marking and earmarking case-study material, admittedly mostly spontaneously created by improvising atop and around mere sketches.
This mix of mechanical empathy and creative impetus famously impressed Miles, who a couple of months later would use Corea’s piano talent for the 1st of his participations on “Kilimanjaro”

“Now He Sings…” with Bonus Tracks
…To increment amazement levels  on all of us common mortals, the rest of the pieces recorded during the 3 dates that the sessions for the album lasted ,and which had not been used, have been added as bonus tracks on the CD reissue: from the Oriental tainted and flutteringly Boppish “Samba Yantra”, and the elliptic Bossa with purposely understated but nevertheless solid time-keeping of “Bossa”, to the controlled explosion of 20th Century Classical and Avant-Garde instincts on  “Fragments”, and the modulations on a succession of opening and closing frames on the beautiful and uplifting “Windows”, past the 2 parted improvisational experiment for piano and bass of “Gemini” and up to a new found virtuosity without loosing the sentiment on a take on Monk’s “Pannonica” and a quasi-dysfunctional  but consistently effective love statement on “My One and Only Love”, this is almost a doubling of the pleasure….

In 1999, the single "Now He Sings, Now He Sobs" was given the Grammy Hall of Fame Award.

Track listing:

01 Steps-What Was (13:50)
02 Matrix (6:28)
03 Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (7:03)
04 Now He Beats The Drum-Now He Stops (10:35)
05 The Law Of Falling And Catching Up (2:28)
06 Samba Yantra (2:41)
07 Bossa (4:45)
08 I Don't Know (2:43)
09 Fragments (4:04)
10 Windows (3:12)
11 Gemini (4:24)
12 Pannonica (3:00)
13 My One And Only Love (3:34)


Chick Corea – Piano
Roy Haynes – Drums
Miroslav Vitous – Bass