Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Larry Carlton - 1990 "Collection"

Larry Eugene Carlton (born March 2, 1948) is an American guitarist who built his career as a studio musician in the 1970s and '80s for acts such as Steely Dan and Joni Mitchell. He has participated in thousands of recording sessions, recorded on hundreds of albums in many genres, for television and movies, and on more than 100 gold records. He has been a member of the jazz fusion groups The Crusaders and Fourplay and has maintained a long solo career

The first volume of GRP's Larry Carlton Collection takes the listener from the beginning of his solo career up to 1990. Starting off with one cut from his first Warner Bros. album, Larry Carlton, the collection goes on to include two tracks each from Sleepwalk and Friends, two each from the acoustic guitar albums Alone/But Never Alone and Discovery, and one from On Solid Ground. In addition, the CD throws in two then-new tracks, "Small Town Girl" and "For Heaven's Sake" -- pleasant melodic pieces with acoustic guitar lead, nothing extraordinary. Along the way, you'll hear some very catchy tunes long identified with Carlton ("Smiles and Smiles to Go," "High Steppin'," and "Minute by Minute"), a mellower rendition of "Nite Crawler" than the version he recorded as a Crusader, and the relaxed, funky "Bubble Shuffle." For some changes of pace, there is an affectionate tribute to the surf sounds from near his hometown of Torrance ("Sleepwalk"), and one harder-edged number, "Blues for TJ," that finds Carlton crossing swords with B.B. King virtually as an equal. Mostly, though, this is ingratiating smooth jazz that very often transcends the conventions of the idiom.

Like so many other Los Angeles studio musicians, guitarist and composer Larry Carlton was faced with a choice a number of years back: whether to go solo and develop a name for himself, or to continue the less risky, more lucrative existence of a session guitarist, making good money and recording with prominent musicians. Fortunately for fans of this eclectic guitarist, he chose the former, and has recorded under his own name for Warner Bros., MCA Records, GRP Records, and various other labels since 1978.

Carlton's studio credits from the ''0s and early '80s include work with musicians and groups like Steely Dan, Joni Mitchell, Michael Jackson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Herb Alpert, Quincy Jones, Bobby Bland, Dolly Parton, Linda Ronstadt, and literally dozens of others. Among his more notable projects as a session guitarist were Joni Mitchell's critically acclaimed Court and Spark album and Donald Fagen's Nightfly album. For much of the '70s, Carlton was active as a session guitarist, recording on up to 500 albums a year. Although he recorded a number of LPs under his own name as early as 1968's With a Little Help from My Friends (Uni) and 1973's Playing/Singing (Blue Thumb), he didn't land a major-label contract until 1978, when he signed with Warner Bros.

Carlton began taking guitar lessons when he was six. His first professional gig was at a supper club in 1962. After hearing Joe Pass on the radio, he was inspired to play jazz and blues. Wes Montgomery and Barney Kessel became important influences soon after he discovered the jazz guitar stylings of Pass. B.B. King and other blues guitarists had an impact on Carlton's style as well. He honed his guitar-playing skills in the clubs and studios of greater Los Angeles while he attended a local junior college and Long Beach State College for a year until the Vietnam War ended. Carlton toured with the Fifth Dimension in 1968 and began doing studio sessions in 1970. His early session work included studio dates with pop musicians like Vikki Carr, Andy Williams, and the Partridge Family.

In 1971, he was asked to join the Crusaders shortly after they'd decided to drop the word "Jazz" from their name, and he remained with the group until 1976. In between tours with the Crusaders, he also did studio session work for hundreds of recordings in every genre. But it was while he with the Crusaders that he developed his signature, highly rhythmic, often bluesy style. His credits include performing on more than 100 gold albums. His theme music credits for TV and films include Against All Odds, Who's the Boss, and the theme for Hill Street Blues. The latter won a Grammy award in 1981 for Best Pop Instrumental Performance.

Carlton delivered his self-titled debut for Warner Bros. in 1978, shortly after he was recognized for his groundbreaking guitar playing on Steely Dan's Royal Scam album. (Carlton contributed the memorable guitar solo on "Kid Charlemagne.'') He released four more albums for Warner Bros., Strikes Twice (1980), Sleepwalk (1981), Eight Times Up (1982), and the Grammy-nominated Friends (1983), before being dropped from the label. He continued studio session work and toured in between, emerging again in 1986 on MCA Records with an all-acoustic album, Discovery, which contained an instrumental remake of Michael McDonald's hit "Minute by Minute." The single won a Grammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance in 1987. Carlton's live album Last Nite, released in 1987, got him a Grammy nomination for Best Jazz Instrumental Performance.

While working on his next album for MCA, On Solid Ground, Carlton was the victim of random gun violence, and was shot in the throat by gun-wielding juveniles outside Room 335, his private studio near Burbank, California. The bullet shattered his vocal cords and caused significant nerve trauma, but through intensive therapy and a positive frame of mind, Carlton completed work on On Solid Ground in 1989. He formed Helping Innocent People (HIP), a non-profit group to aid victims of random gun violence.

Despite the tragedy foisted on him in the late '80s after he was shot, with a long period of hospitalization and rehabilitation, Carlton continued his active recording and performing schedule over the next two decades, beginning with a number of albums during the '90s on the GRP label: 1992's Kid Gloves; 1993's Renegade Gentleman; 1995's Larry & Lee (with Lee Ritenour); and 1996's The Gift. Carlton also released the 1995 holiday collection Christmas at My House on MCA. And in 1997 he replaced Lee Ritenour in the popular, contemporary jazz outfit Fourplay, first appearing on the group's 4 album in 1998.

The 2000s found Carlton as active as ever, recording live and in the studio as both leader and collaborator for a variety of labels. Two albums on Warner Bros. began the decade, Fingerprints -- including guest appearances by Michael McDonald, Vince Gill, Kirk Whalum, and Vinnie Colaiuta -- in 2000, and Deep Into It in 2001. A popular concert draw in Japan, Carlton could be heard as a collaborator on two live recordings from that island country during the decade, Live in Osaka (with Steve Lukather), issued in 2001 on the Favored Nations label, and Live in Tokyo (with Robben Ford) on 335 Records in 2007.

Meanwhile, his albums as a leader continued, with Sapphire Blue and Fire Wire released by Bluebird/RCA in 2004 and 2005, respectively, and The Jazz King -- with Carlton leading an all-star band performing music he composed on commission to celebrate the 80th birthday and ascension to the throne of Thailand’s King Bhumibol Adulyadej -- issued by Sony BMG in 2008. In 2009 Carlton appeared as guest guitarist on selected dates during Steely Dan's U.S. summer tour. Take Your Pick (with Tak Matsumoto) appeared in 2010. Always happy to meet with the press, Carlton has a sweet, peaceful personality, and listeners continue to hear it in his unique rhythmic and warm guitar chords and ringing guitar tones. Carlton was featured on and produced vocalist Michele Pillar's holiday album, I Hear Angels Calling, in 2011. Also appearing in 2011 was Larry Carlton Plays the Sound of Philadelphia, followed by Four Hands & a Heart, Vol. 1 in 2012.

Track listing:

01 Small Town Girl 5:40
02 Smiles And Smiles To Go 5:47
03 Minute By Minute 4:57
04 For Heaven's Sake 5:10
05 Nite Crawler 5:20
06 Blues For TJ 5:18
07 10 P.M. 5:05
08 Sleepwalk 4:34
09 Tequila 4:08
10 Bubble Shuffle 5:23
11 Hello Tomorrow 5:23
12 High Steppin' 5:43

Personnel:

Larry Carlton, BB King, Dean Parks - Guitar
Abraham Laboriel, John Pena, Pops Popwell - Bass
Joe Sample, Alan Pasqua, Michael McDonald, Brian Mann, Terry Trotter, Don Freeman, Eric Pershing - Keyboards
John Ferraro, Rick Marotta, Jeff Poraco, John Robinson - Drums
Michael Fisher, Paulino da Costa - Percussion
Michael Brecker, Gary Grant, William Reichenbach, Jerry Hey, Kirk Whalum - Horns
Larry Williams - Woodwinds
Larry Carlton, Al Jarreau, David Pack, Michele Pillar - Vocals

Monday, April 16, 2018

Return To Forever - 2008 "Returns"

Returns is a live album by the fusion band Return to Forever. Released in 2008, it is the first recording by the band after a hiatus of 32 years. A video recording of the band's live performances from the "Returns" tour at Montreux, Switzerland and (bonus material) Clearwater, Florida was also released in 2008 by Eagle Rock Entertainment as Return to Forever – Returns: Live at Montreux 2008.

When Chick Corea reassembled the members of the most commercially successful version of his Return to Forever ensemble in 2008 and embarked on an extensive tour, it was the jazz fusion event of the year. Younger fans barely born when the ensemble's high watermark, Romantic Warrior, was released in 1976 could finally see the group in the flesh. Based on this sizzling double-CD document culled from the tour's highlights, 32 years didn't dim the quartet's enthusiasm or uncanny instrumental precision and interplay. It includes extended versions of half the tunes on Romantic Warrior, the title cut from No Mystery, and three selections from Where Have I Known You Before, with that disc's "Song to the Pharaoh Kings" clocking in at a whopping 27 minutes. Corea keeps his synths reproducing the '70s sounds of the original recordings, which is great for those who want to relive the albums, but brings a somewhat dated touch to much of this. In reality, there are very few bands in 2008 creating this space-progressive jazz-rock fusion, and certainly none with the fine-tuned talents of these guys. Those chops are displayed early on a 13-minute version of "Vulcan Worlds" that can only be described as explosive -- so much so that it elicits multiple rounds of rapturous applause as each member takes his turn in the spotlight. It's especially exciting to hear guitarist Al di Meola once again shredding with his old band, since much of his recent material has been acoustic and world music-oriented. Stanley Clarke remains one of jazz's finest bassists, grounding the sound but also taking dynamic solos that place his instrument in a lead guitar position. Hearing him trading frenzied, electrified licks with di Meola is one of the many pleasures of this reunion.

But the band is intent on showing its quieter side too, with individual and duo collaborations that are predominantly unplugged. First up, Corea and di Meola join forces on "Children's Song #3," then the guitarist romps on acoustic as the piece ends with Corea returning to join in on his famed "Spain." Disc two tamps down the fireworks by featuring lengthy acoustic improvisational work from Corea, Clarke, and drummer Lenny White in that order, that provides a contrast, some might say breathing room, to the fiery group compositions, but also drag down the energy and slow the show's momentum. For jazz students, this is a mini master class for each instrument, yet how often others will return to these sections that comprise nearly half an hour of the second platter's running time is questionable. A 12-minute "bonus track" of "500 Miles High," a song from Light as a Feather, the RTF album with an earlier version of the band that did not include di Meola or White, is tacked on to the second disc. The set closes with producer Sir George Martin presenting the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award to the band, Corea's brief acceptance speech, and a short acoustic performance of "Romantic Warrior." It should be noted that this album's sleeve photos are from the associated DVD of the band's Montreux 2008 set, but only one tune here was recorded at that performance.

Seventies fusion supergroup Return to Forever's reunion and 2008 world tour was one of the year's biggest jazz events. At performances including its Ottawa International Jazz Festival show, the group did more than give a bunch of grays and no-hairs a chance to relive their youth. With a combination of prerequisite testosterone ("This is a man's band," said drummer Lenny White) and some updating to the material, the group proved that its music remains relevant. Returns—a two-CD set that documents a complete RTF performance with a couple of bonus tracks thrown in—documents the cathartic excitement of being there and makes clear that this music still stands on its own.

Returns is the live album that this classic RTF line-up—White, keyboardist Chick Corea, bassist Stanley Clarke and guitarist Al Di Meola—never released back in the day. With improvements in both instrument and recording technology, the group sounds better than it ever could have before. Grabbing some of the best material from the guitar-centric RTF's four album run—Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (Polydor, 1973) through Romantic Warrior (Columbia, 1976)—it capitalizes on individual growth since that time, making this a far more versatile RTF.

Stretched to 38 minutes, the title track from Romantic Warrior includes solo features from Corea (which breaks, midway, into an unexpected, hard-swinging version of Miles Davis' "Solar"), Clarke (referencing some of his own '70s solo albums) and White (a powerhouse solo that segues smoothly back to the song). It's part of an unplugged middle section that also includes a stunning feature for Di Meola and a vibrant group take of the lyrical but thematically knotty title track from No Mystery (Polydor, 1975). Seventies RTF never sounded this good.

But it's the electric RTF that is remembered most, and Returns delivers plenty of high octane playing, especially on a 27-minute "Song to the Pharoah Kings," from Where Have I Known You Before (Polydor, 1974). Often criticized for being more style than substance, Di Meola dispels that perception once and for all throughout the set, even supplanting original RTF guitarist Bill Connors' iconic solo on "Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy." Still capable of light-speed finger work that leaves most in his wake, Di Meola has grown significantly since being recruited, at 19, to replace Connors. With greater harmonic sophistication and attention to space, he's the star of the show (among a group of stars) alongside Corea, whose meatier synth tones have never sounded better, adding a broader textural palette to the group.

Rather than being regurgitated as original arrangements, Clarke's "Vulcan Worlds" and White's "Sorceress" get extended workouts—and receive contemporary updates as well, with Di Meola's solo section dropping to a wonderfully greasy, hip hop-informed half-time feel.

The RTF reunion and vigorous performance of Returns say, in no uncertain terms, that high-energy fusion, with complex writing and muscular soloing, is back and relevant in a big way—and it's about time.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Return+To+Forever

Tracks Listing:

(Disc 1)
1. Opening Prayer (2:02)
2. Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (3:44)
3. Vulcan Worlds (13:45)
4. Sorceress (11:24)
5. Song to the Pharaoh Kings (27:17)
6. Al's Solo, including: Children's Song #3, Passion Grace & Fire, Mediterranean Sundance, Cafe 1930, Spain (8:56)
7. No Mystery (8:53)

Total Time 74:59

(Disc 2)
1. Friendship
Chick's Solo, including Solar (8:54)
2. Romantic Warrior (7:20)
3. El Bayo de Negro (Stanley's Solo) (11:25)
4. Lineage (Lenny's Solo) (7:39)
5. Romantic Warrior (Continued) (3:06)
6. Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant (14:10)
(Bonus Tracks)
7. 500 Miles High (12:54)
8. BBC Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Sir George Martin; live performance of Romantic Warrior (8:21)

Total Time 72:49

Personnel:

Chick Corea – Minimoog Voyager, Rhodes Midi Piano Mark V, Yamaha grand piano C3MP, Sequential Circuits Prophet-5, Yamaha Motif
Al Di Meola – acoustic guitar, electric guitar
Stanley Clarke – electric bass, acoustic bass
Lenny White – drums

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Return To Forever - 1976 [1999] "Romantic Warrior"

Romantic Warrior is the sixth studio album by the American jazz fusion band Return to Forever, released in 1976 by Columbia Records. After releasing their previous album, No Mystery (1975), their fourth for Polydor Records, the group moved to Columbia and retreated to Caribou Ranch near Nederland, Colorado to record their next album. It was also their first to be credited solely to Return to Forever, removing the "featuring Chick Corea" moniker. The album is more avant-garde and less funky than No Mystery, and remains the band's highest selling album with over 500,000 copies sold in the US.

Chick Corea contributed the longest compositions and the other members each composed one piece. The opener, "Medieval Overture", with its distinctive melodic motifs, sets the mood for the rest of the album. Lenny White's "Sorceress" starts with a funky riff and is distinguished by Corea's synthesizers. The title track is fully acoustic. It has a long intro, which is followed by a short theme consisting of one riff. Each group member, excluding White, plays a long solo. In the end, an extended outro follows, during which fast unison patterns are heard. Al Di Meola's and Stanley Clarke's songs on side two are notable for their humorous qualities. Al Di Meola's song, "Majestic Dance", relies on rock riffs and distorted lead guitar sound, but features also fast harpsichord-like synth figures. Clarke's "The Magician" is a very complex composition, featuring playful melodies, and again, rapid unison lines. The last track of the album is Corea's "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant", which is the longest song of the album. It has a more conventional melody as a main theme, but otherwise it follows the style of previous tracks. Notable is the intense keyboard solo showcasing Corea.

The most popular and successful lineup of Return to Forever -- Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White, and Al Di Meola -- was coming off the Grammy-winning No Mystery when it recorded its third and final album, Romantic Warrior. It has been suggested that in employing a medieval album cover (drawn by Wilson McLean), using titles like "Medieval Overture" and "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant," and occasionally playing in a baroque style, particularly in Clarke's "The Magician," Corea was responding to Rick Wakeman's successful string of albums on similar themes. Certainly, the music suggests that the musicians have been listening to Wakeman's band, Yes, among other progressive rock groups. But they bring more of a traditional jazz approach to their sound, particularly in the opening statement of intent "Medieval Overture" and the original side one closer, "The Romantic Warrior," both of which feature extensive acoustic piano soloing by Corea. The original side two -- Di Meola's "Majestic Dance," "The Magician," and "Duel of the Jester and the Tyrant" -- is much more in a jazz-rock style, with Di Meola particularly rocking out on extensive, fast-paced electric guitar solos. Meanwhile, the rhythm section of Clarke and White is always extremely busy, maintaining a funky, driving pulse and several cross rhythms no matter what's going on above it. This is particularly noticeable, naturally, on White's sole composition, "Sorceress," but it continues to keep the music in the fusion camp even when Corea is sounding like a more traditional jazz pianist. Romantic Warrior is the sound of a mature band at the top of its game, which may help explain why it was Return to Forever's most popular album, eventually certified as a gold record, and the last by this assemblage. Having expressed themselves this well, they decided it was time for them to move on.

The final album by the longest-lasting "classic" lineup of the group (which consisted of Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke, Lenny White and Al DiMeola) was Romantic Warrior, on which they continued their experiments in the realms of jazz-rock and related music genres, and was lauded by critics for both the technically demanding style of its compositions as well as for its accomplished musicianship.

This is a Classic Fusion Jazz album! Listened to it thousands of time (probably) as a young adult. And, it was one of the most amazing concert (and I have been to some great ones!) I have ever been to. Return to Forever of this era was one of the best bands ever! And, this is easily their best album ever!

When Al Dimiola, Lenny White, Stanley Clark, and Chick Corea were totally and absolutely in sync with the lightening fast riffs... OMG! It blew me away!!! And, is a memory that stays with me 40 years later.

Another fantastic classic for Chic Corea & Return To Forever with musicians Chic, Al Dimeola, Stanley Clarke & Lenny White creating 6 exciting pieces of futuristic jazz, hard to believe that this cd was released in 1976. Tracks like Medieval Overture, Sorceress, The Romantic Warrior & the vibrant Duel Of The Jester & The Tyrant are simply off the charts with musical genius flowing everywhere. 2 songs I should also mention that are great in they're own right are The Magician & Majestic Dance, for this very reason this wonderful collection of music gets an easy 5 star review.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Chick+Corea

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Al+Di+Meola

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Stanley+Clarke

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Lenny+White

Tracks Listing:

1. Medieval Overture (5:14)
2. Sorceress (7:34)
3. The Romantic Warrior (10:52)
4. Majestic Dance (5:01)
5. The Magician (5:29)
6. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (11:26)

Personnel:

Al Di Meola – electric guitars, acoustic guitar, soprano guitar, handbells, slide whistle
Chick Corea – acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Hohner Clavinet, Mini Moog, Moog 15, Micromoog, ARP Odyssey, Yamaha YC45d organ, Polymoog, marimba, percussion
Stanley Clarke – Alembic bass with Instant Flanger, piccolo bass, acoustic bass, bell tree, handbells.
Lenny White – drums, timpani, congas, timbales, handbells, snare drum, suspended cymbals, alarm clock

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Kenny Burrell - 1988 "Pieces Of Blue And The Blues"

On paper, Kenny Burrell's three-guitar band with Bobby Broom, Rodney Jones, and a bass/drums rhythm section looks pretty good. Though individually they all sound quite different, this meeting of the minds, recorded over two days in October of 1986 at the Village Vanguard, harnesses the sound of Jones to a certain degree, and lets Broom a little loose in his soulful groove tendency. All are quite competent and professional players who understand the subtleties and understated harmonic arena Burrell lives in, so things work quite well in terms of sharing the load. There's very little competition at stake, the guitarists rightfully trade space and phrases, and play few extended unison lines, so the listening is enhanced if you do pay attention. Jay McShann's "Confessin' the Blues" is a good warmup opener, as the acoustic guitar of Burrell sets an animated tone, then he switches to an amplified model after everyone plays several choruses. The workout tune of the set is Duke Pearson's famed "Jeannine," an energetic, chord-infused hard bopper as the three trace the melody with an occasional squiggled line. A deft solo by Jones gets the ball rolling on "Blue Days, Blue Dreams" in the most cooperative effort, everyone similarly divvies up melodic phrases during "'Round Midnight" as you'd expect, and the band has the most fun on the closer, the jam-styled "No Hype Blues." A correction is in order on the credited title "Salty Papa" with Burrell leading the band in a blues shuffle on the hybrid six-string banjo, the guitarjo. Liner note author Leonard Feather says it is an intro to a Dinah Washington record, while Burrell claims it is an old riff he and his mates played in his native Detroit. The latter statement is more true, as it is the direct melody line of the adapted traditional piece "Hastings Street Bounce" as heard on the Pepper Adams/Donald Byrd album 10 to 4 at the Five Spot. It seems this one-shot effort could be looked at via a jaundiced, too-many-cooks-spoil-the-broth eye. The music is good, not particularly great or memorable, but certainly a credible effort, likely better heard at the venue on the nights in question.

Fiery and mellow Jazz guitar competence abound, this slice of an '86 vanguard gig pretty much delivers what is expected and rarely exceeds expectations, but still offers enough enlightened ambiance to reaffirm we are in the presence of a great musician. With only decent audio quality and the discontinued manufacturing, you've got one for addicts of the straightforwardly clean player only.

Track listing:

1. Confessing The Blues 9:55
2. Raincheck 6:17
3. Blue Days, Blue Dreams 7:56
4. Salty Papa 4:33
5. Jeannine 5:12
6. Round Midnight 6:36
7. No Hype Blues 5:21

Personnel:

Kenny Burrell, Bobby Broom, Rodney Jones - Guitar
Dave Jackson - Bass
Kenny Washington - Drums

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Allan Holdsworth - 1997 "I.O.U. Live"

I.O.U. Live is a live album by guitarist Allan Holdsworth, released in 1997 through Cleopatra Records. According to Holdsworth, the tracks were taken from video footage of a 1984 concert in Japan, which later became a bootleg circulating under the name of Tokyo Dream: Allan Holdsworth in Japan. He therefore considered it an unauthorised release and not part of his discography.

Released in 1997 on Purple Pyramid Records. Catalog Number: CLP 9970-2 This recording was taken from the "Tokyo Dream" video concert. Recorded live at Yubinchokin Hall-Tokyo, Japan 5/14/84.

This is the only live IOU. Recorded in Japan in 1984. Magic. My copy was released thru Purple Pyramid records 1997. Highly recommended. All of the Allan Holdsworth recordings are worthy. There are bootlegs out there which have dropouts and who's sound quality is very uneven but this is not one of those by any stretch of your musical imagination.

This album, recorded for a Japanese tv show, and released against Allan's wishes, is nevertheless in my opinion, his most accessible work ever. Gone are the keyboards on this date, so every note that's not vocal, drum or bass, is Holdsworth himself. When you realize this, your jaw will drop open.

Allmusic review of Holdsworth's I.O.U. studio album:

After the train-wreck disaster of Holdsworth's first solo release, the infamous Velvet Darkness, it wasn't until three years later that he reconsidered doing a real solo release versus the earlier ripoff of an authorized studio mishmash product he suffered. So in 1979 he recorded I.O.U. on a wing and a prayer and loans (ergo, an IOU recording project). With his very successful stints with other groups in the intervening time period, such as UK and Bill Bruford, Holdsworth's guitar prowess and name were clearly on the map. Holdsworth now needed to be the leader he clearly was and thus release an official solo record. The real Allan Holdsworth unleashed is at last revealed on I.O.U. in his original compositions and well-crafted soloing, versus being merely part of a group and forced to stay within certain boundaries of other bandmates' design. I.O.U., as a solo release, is high-quality jazz fusion interplay, offering emotive compositions, ethereal guitar atmospherics, complex chordal progressions, and intense legato explosions of guitar that set the standard for many guitarists to come. There is no acoustic guitar this time, but a wee bit of Holdsworth on violin appears in one song.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Allan+Holdsworth

R.I.P. Allan Holdsworth

Track listing:

All tracks written by Allan Holdsworth, except where noted.

1. "Road Games" 4:25
2. "White Line" (Holdsworth, Gerry Brown) 7:02
3. "Panic Station" (lyrics by Paul Williams) 4:14
4. "Letters of Marque" 6:41
5. "Material Real" 7:30
6. "Metal Fatigue" (lyrics by Williams) 5:10
7. "Where Is One?" 8:02
8. "The Things You See" 7:01
9. "Was There (Something)" 6:58

Total length: 57:03

Personnel:

Allan Holdsworth – guitar
Jimmy Johnson – bass
Chad Wackerman – drums
Paul Williams – vocals

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Tal Farlow - 1981 [1999] "On Stage"

Other than a Prestige date in 1969, this was guitarist Tal Farlow's first recording in nearly 17 years. He is heard at a reunion with vibraphonist Red Norvo and matching wits with pianist Hank Jones, bassist Ray Brown and drummer Jake Hanna. Recorded at the 1976 Concord Jazz Festival, this was Farlow's first of six Concord albums, and it led to a slightly higher profile for him than during the past decade. Highlights of the joyous occasion include Norvo's feature on "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else," a heated "Lullaby of Birdland" and a colorful rendition of "My Shining Hour." Highly recommended to straight-ahead jazz fans.

This reunion between Tal Farlow and Red Norvo was recorded at the 1976 Concord Jazz Festival and originally released in 1981. Now available on CD, the session marked their first time together in many years. Along with Charles Mingus, Farlow was a member of the Red Norvo Trio of 1949. Mingus stayed for only a brief time, but the guitarist stayed with him until 1953. Then the two went their separate ways; Farlow preferring to stay home and perform at local venues. Thus, this reunion served as a prod to bring the guitarist back into the fold; he recorded a handful of albums shortly after this one.
Truly an all-star session with plenty of solos and fours, the program brought out well-worn standards for the festival audience. Hank Jones displays his light piano touch a cappella on "The Very Thought of You," coloring every phrase with expressive right hand motion and carefully selected left-hand harmony. Performed as a quartet without guitar, "The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else" features piano and vibraphone trading fours with similar styles, both of them delicate and swinging. Farlow begins his medley of "A Time for Love" and "My Romance" unaccompanied and with subtle fire before bringing the quartet together again; Norvo lays out for that one. We lost Tal Farlow in 1998 and Red Norvo in 1999. Their decision to lead an all-star reunion twenty-three years ago resulted in a superb album that’s finally available on CD.

Knowledgeable jazz fans would probably guess a couple of things about this release just from looking at the names of the musicians: first, that this set must have been recorded some years back; second, that this set must be tasteful and tasty indeed. Both guesses would be correct. This live set was skillfully recorded by Concord engineer Phil Edwards at the Concord Jazz Festival back in August 1976. It was released as an LP in 1981, and is making its debut on CD more than two decades after being recorded. Farlow (guitar), Jones (piano), Norvo (vibes), Brown (bass), and Hanna (drums) are all masters of their instruments, and they certainly seemed to have enjoyed playing together during that Bicentennial summer. The songs are standards (e.g., "Lullaby of Birdland," "In a Mellow Tone") and the atmosphere is one of convivial music making that the audience seemed to really appreciate. More then three decades later, we can appreciate it, too.

Tal Farlow, Red Norvo, Ray Brown, Hank Jones and Jake Hanna recorded live at the Concord Pavillion in August 1976. A real toe-tapper from start to finish. What more needs to be said?
Simply put, this is one of Concord Jazz's best releases from both a music and sound quality point of view. But just when you think Farlow is going to steal the show with his wonderful guitar solos, Hank, Ray and Red get in the act too. Get this one before it disappears, or, better yet, contact Concord Records and lobby them to reissue this one in their new series of 30th anniversary releases on SACD. THEN you'd really know how great this one sounds!

Tracklist:

1. The One I Love Belongs To Somebody Else 6:11
2. My Romance 7:01
3. Lullaby Of Birdland 7:46
4. My Shining Hour 7:38
5. The Very Thought Of You 2:45
6. Rose Room 6:42

Personnel:

Tal Farlow- guitar;
Red Norvo- vibraphone;
Hank Jones- piano;
Ray Brown- bass;
Jake Hanna- drums.

Charles Mingus - 1960 [1986] "Mingus Revisited"

Mingus Revisited (originally released as Pre-Bird in 1961) is an album by jazz bassist and composer Charles Mingus consisting of music that was composed before Mingus first heard Charlie Parker, hence the Pre-Bird title. The music is scored for various sized large jazz ensembles and features many soloists prominent at the time of recording. The album includes two tracks which are contrapuntal arrangements of two swing era pieces, whereby "Take the "A" Train" (left channel) is paired with a simultaneous "Exactly Like You" (right channel), and likewise "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" with "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart".

This is an LP reissue of a set that was originally titled Pre Bird because it features some of the advanced originals that Charles Mingus wrote prior to hearing Charlie Parker. The bassist leads an undisciplined but colorful 25-piece orchestra on three titles including an Eric Dolphy feature on "Bemonable Lady" while the other five tracks are by a ten-piece (including two pianos) band; Lorraine Cousins sings "Eclipse" and "Weird Nightmare." It's an interesting set of typically unconventional music by Mingus.

Mingus Revisited aka Pre-Bird is one of the legendary Mingus sessions, where the size of the band was increasing rapidly from rehearsals to the actual recording sessions. Producer Leonard Feather wrote about the incident in his book Earwitness To An Era (Part Five, chapter Westward):
Of all my experiences as a producer, none was more traumatic than the attempt, in 1960, to record an album for Mercury Records with Charles Mingus.
... After two days of crisis during which it seemed the album might never be made, I walked into the studio on the date of the session and could hardly believe my eyes. We had a twenty-two-piece orchestra, with Gunther Schuller conducting! Eric Dolphy, Clark Terry, Slide Hampton, Jimmy Knepper, Joe Farrell, Booker Ervin, Yusef Lateef and Paul Bley were among the participants.

Charles Mingus / Mingus Revisited: This Great album was originally titled "Pre-Bird" and then changed to "Mingus Revisited". By whatever name this album comes by, it is an excellent collection of songs. This one has Mingus' compositions plus two well known Duke Ellington numbers that are wonderfully interpreted by Mingus. This is a very entertaining CD. Five Stars

Track listing:

1. "Take the "A" Train" (Billy Strayhorn) / "Exactly Like You" (Jimmy McHugh/Dorothy Fields) – 3:40
2. "Prayer For Passive Resistance" – 3:57
3. "Eclipse" – 4:01
4. "Mingus Fingus No. 2" – 3:39
5. "Weird Nightmare" - 3:42
6. "Do Nothin' Till You Hear From Me" (Duke Ellington/Bob Russell) / "I Let a Song Go Out of My Heart" (Duke Ellington/Irving Mills/Henry Nemo/John Redmond) - 3:41
7. "Bemoanable Lady" - 4:30
8. "Half-Mast Inhibition" - 8:14

All compositions by Charles Mingus, except where indicated

Personnel:

Max Roach - drums
Gunther Schuller - conductor
Marcus Belgrave - trumpet
Ted Curson - trumpet
Clark Terry - trumpet
Hobart Dotson - trumpet
Richard Williams - trumpet
Robert Di Domenica - flute
Eric Dolphy - alto saxophone, flute
Yusuf Lateef - saxophone, flute
John LaPorta - saxophone
Danny Bank - saxophone
Bill Barron - saxophone
Joe Farrell - saxophone
Eddie Bert - trombone
Slide Hampton - trombone
Jimmy Knepper - trombone
Charles "Majeed" Greenlee - trombone
Paul Bley - piano
Roland Hanna - piano
Charles Mingus – bass
George Scott - drums
Dannie Richmond - drums
Sticks Evans - drums
Lorraine Cusson - vocals

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Vital Information - 1998 "Where We Come From"

Modern electric jazz and the funky soul of the '60s fuse into a rollicking trip down memory lane on WHERE WE COME FROM. Vital Information, the long- lived pet project of leader and world-renown drummer Steve Smith, make a distinctive change from their usual format of hard-edged fusion on this, their eighth album. The emphasis here is on the soulful instrumental grooves of their youth, the music that originally enticed these world-class musicians to take up their instruments in the first place.

From the influence of Jimmy Smith, the Meters and Tony Williams' Lifetime, Smith and company serve up a spicy gumbo of groovy tunes and have a grand old time in the process. The unrestrained casualness of this disc is contagious as Smith jauntily drives his bandmates through the slippery funk of "Dr. Demento" and the James Brown-ish "Listen Up." The spirit of the bayou is evoked on the zydeco grooves of "Swamp Stomp" and "Sitting Ducks." The jazz element has never been lost, though, as a swinging version of Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick," the Brubeck-influenced "Take Eight," and Ornette Coleman's "Happy House" clearly illustrate. Finally, even the Ventures' effect is felt in the classic surf music styling of "008."

Vital Information's Where We Come. This one offers 77 minutes of intense rhythmic fusion that's loosely influenced by the Meters and Booker T and the MGs.

Vital Information has gradually shed its jazz-lite tendencies to become a first-rate fusion ensemble. Drummer Steve Smith is the only original member in what is now a four-man all-star group. The current lineup was last heard from in 1996 on the catchy but substantial Ray of Hope.

Where We Come From showcases four talented musicians who have enough confidence in their collective abilities to attempt a more low-tech approach. This release has Smith on drums, former Santana keyboardist Tom Coster playing B-3 organ, Fender Rhodes and accordion, Jeff Andrews on bass, and Australian Frank Gambale on guitars.

Drummer Smith has been one busy dude of late. In addition to his usual session work in pop, rock and country circles, he recently teamed with Victor Wooten and Scott Henderson to form the jazz-metal trio Vital Tech Tones, and then with Larry Coryell and Tom Coster on the incendiary fusion release Cause and Effect, also reviewed on this page. All three of Smith's 1998 CDs are outstanding, but Where We Come From gets the nod as my favorite.

Gambale is particularly impressive here, whether playing fuzzy-toned phrases on the funked-up "Dr. Demento," fast-paced blues on a swinging version of Led Zeppelin's "Moby Dick," George Benson-style jazz on "First Thing This Morning," or Duke Levine-ish rock on "Bob." Gambale lends Vital Information a more pop-oriented sound than most fusion ensembles, but his accessible style enhances rather than detracts. He's an extremely versatile guitarist.

Coster's organ helps drive many of these cuts. The former Santana keyboardist plays both organ and accordian on the Cajun-spiced "Swamp Stomp," but most interesting is his inside-out accordian work on Ornette Coleman's "Happy House." Like Steve Smith's post-Journey work, Coster's playing has progressed from happy-jazz to fiery fusion in the years since he left Santana.
He and Gambale have never sounded better, and Smith and Andrews hold up the bottom end with enthusiasm and skill.

This CD is a great mixture of many styles. You can find jazz,fusion,funk and even tango on this CD. I strongly recommend this CD to anyone who likes great music. Also, if you like old sounds, like Hammond B3, buy it, you'll love it. Where We Come From is a must-have for any fan of funky fusion.

https://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Vital+Information

Track listing:

01. Dr. Demento ( 3:10 )
02. Moby Dick ( 8:20 )
03. Craniac Trilogy Part 1: Transport ( 00:53 )
04. Listen Up ( 4:53 )
05. Craniac Trilogy Part 2: The Extraction ( 1:16 )
06. First Thing This Morning ( 5:12 )
07. Take Eight ( 6:10 )
08. Craniac Trilogy Part 3: The Implant ( 2:17 )
09. Bob ( 3:59 )
10. Cranial Joy: Completion
11. Happy House ( 2:30 )
12. Cranial Meltdown: Dementia ( 1:28 )
13. Blowfish Blues ( 5:40 )
14. Sitting Ducks ( 5:20 )
15. Once In A Lifetime ( 10:43 )
16. 008 ( 7:11 )

Total Time : 76:02

Personnel:

Frank Gambale / guitar
Tom Coster / Hammond B3 Organ, Fender Rhodes, accordion
Jeff Anderews / electric & acoustic bass
Steve Smith / drums

Friday, March 23, 2018

Santana - 1970 [1998] "Abraxas"

Abraxas is the second studio album by Latin rock band Santana, released in September 1970. In 2016, the album was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry due to its "cultural, historic, or artistic significance. The title of the album originates from a line in Hermann Hesse's book, Demian, quoted on the album's back cover: "We stood before it and began to freeze inside from the exertion. We questioned the painting, berated it, made love to it, prayed to it: We called it mother, called it whore and slut, called it our beloved, called it Abraxas...."

The album cover features the 1961 painting Annunciation by German-French painter Mati Klarwein. According to the artist, it was one of the first paintings he did after relocating to New York City. Carlos Santana reportedly noticed it in a magazine and asked that it be on the cover of the band's upcoming album. Abraxas is now considered to feature a classic of rock-album covers.

Santana's 1970 follow-up to their Woodstock-propelled smash '69 debut found leader Carlos Santana further expanding his San Francisco group's already broad musical boundaries. To wit: two hit singles that emanated from opposite ends of the spectrum--"Black Magic Woman," originally written and recorded by English blues-rock guitarist Peter Green and Fleetwood Mac, and New York Latin percussionist/dance music king Tito Puente's infectious "Oye Como Va." Tying blues, rock, and salsa together in one pancultural package, Abraxas also featured such standout tracks as "Gypsy Queen" and "Singing Winds, Crying Beasts." The latter underscored the growing Eastern sensibilities of guitarist Santana.

The San Francisco Bay Area rock scene of the late '60s was one that encouraged radical experimentation and discouraged the type of mindless conformity that's often plagued corporate rock. When one considers just how different Santana, Jefferson Airplane, Moby Grape, and the Grateful Dead sounded, it becomes obvious just how much it was encouraged. In the mid-'90s, an album as eclectic as Abraxas would be considered a marketing exec's worst nightmare. But at the dawn of the 1970s, this unorthodox mix of rock, jazz, salsa, and blues proved quite successful. Whether adding rock elements to salsa king Tito Puente's "Oye Como Va," embracing instrumental jazz-rock on "Incident at Neshabur" and "Samba Pa Ti," or tackling moody blues-rock on Fleetwood Mac's "Black Magic Woman," the band keeps things unpredictable yet cohesive. Many of the Santana albums that came out in the '70s are worth acquiring, but for novices, Abraxas is an excellent place to start.

This is one of those timeless Classics that gets better and better as time goes by...Nearly 50 years on I never tire of the depth, rhythm and vitality of this album and it sounds as fresh as it did in the 70,s.
As a musician and a band they obviously matured and perfected their interplay over the ensuing decades but never have they sounded as alive and with it as on this their 2nd album , considered by many an all time Gem, and considered by most Santana peers as their finest hour and certainly commercially one of their most successful.

When one listens to BLACK MAGIC WOMAN, SE A CABO, OYE COMO VA, the incredible INCIDENT AT NESHABUR and the all time fave SAMBA PA TI, how can anyone doubt the sheer brilliance and quality of this album?? THIS is SANTANA at their very very best!!

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=Santana

Tracks Listing:

1. Singing Winds, Crying Beasts (4:48)
2. Black Magic Woman / Gypsy Queen (5:17)
3. Oye Como Va (4:17)
4. Incident At Neshabur (4:58)
5. Se A Cabo (2:49)
6. Mother's Daughter (4:25)
7. Samba Pa Ti (4:46)
8. Hope You're Feeling Better (4:10)
9. El Nicoya (1:29)
Bonus Tracks on 1998 Legacy remaster:
10. Se A Cabo (Live *) (3:47)
11. Toussaint L'Overture (Live *) (4:52)
12. Black Magic Woman/Gypsy Queen (Live *) (4:57)

* Recorded at the Royal Albert Hall, april 18, 1970.

Line-up / Musicians:

- Carlos Santana / guitars, vocals
- Gregg Rolie / keyboards, vocals, arrangements
- David Brown / bass
- Michael Shrieve / drums
- Michael Carabello / congas, arrangements
- Jose 'Chepito' Areas / timbales, congas, arrangements
With:
- Alberto Gianguinto / piano (4)
- Rico Reyes / vocals (3,9), percussion (9), arrangements

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Thelonious Monk - 1967 [1996] "Straight, No Chaser"

Straight, No Chaser is an album by jazz musician Thelonious Monk, released in 1967. The album was reissued on CD in 1996, including restored versions of previously abridged performances and three additional tracks.

Straight, No Chaser is undeniably one of those classics, and finds Monk in the good company of his long-time companions--Charlie Rouse, Larry Gales, and Ben Riley.

For this CD, reissue producer Orrin Keepnews has added approximately 25 minutes of never-before-heard Monk, meticulously re-editing lost portions of issued titles while discovering two complete, previously unissued performances.

This is the sixth studio album cut by Thelonious Monk under the production/direction of Teo Macero for Columbia and as such should not be confused with the original motion picture soundtrack to the 1988 film of the same name. The band featured here includes: Monk (piano), Charlie Rouse (tenor sax), Ben Riley (drums), and Larry Gales (bass). This would be the final quartet Monk would assemble to record with in the studio. While far from being somber, this unit retained a mature flavor which would likewise place Monk's solos in a completely new context. At times, this adaptation presents itself more subtly than others. For instance, Monk's extended solo in "Locomotive" never reaches beyond itself due in part to the tempo-laden rhythm section. The contrast of styles, however, appreciates the caliber of this particular solo, including an obvious assertion by Monk which leads the band, albeit temporarily, into playing double-time. Other recommended quartet selections on this disc include a liberated version of the title track, which highlights some stellar interaction between Monk and Rouse. The same can be said for "We See," which features the hardest bop on the album. In addition to the quartet sides, Straight, No Chaser contains two unaccompanied piano solos: "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" and "This Is My Story, This Is My Song." [The original disc only included six performances, half of which were edited due to the stringent time constraints of vinyl; subsequent reissues not only restored all of the previously abridged performances, but also added a trio of sides, two of which ("I Didn't Know About You: Take 1" and "Green Chimneys") are issued here for the first time.]

"Straight, No Chaser" was released on Columbia Records in 1967. What amazes me about Monk besides his brilliant musicianship was the fact that he wasn't the person the media made him out to be. He was in fact a genuine, hard-working artist trying to make ends meet. He was also a family man. Miles Davis, who had a feud with Monk during the 50s and 60s, wrote in his autobiography that Monk was "a sweet guy." Don't let the "image" of a reclusive, drug-addict, and eccentric tunnel dweller scare you away from his music, because he wasn't like that at all.

This recording contains some of Monk's best performances and sidemen: Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone, Larry Gales on bass, Ben Riley on drums, and, of course, Monk on piano. This in my opinion was his best group. Each of the musicians had an understanding of Monk's compositions better than any other musicians he's played with before. Charlie Rouse is the perfect foil to Monk. Rouse has a warm sound and is also technically amazing. You have to be gifted to play Monk's compositions. Though many of the melodies to his tunes seem simple, it's what the harmony is doing that confused people. Even John Coltrane and Sonny Rollins had trouble playing his tunes. In fact, Sonny Rollins had such difficulty with "Brilliant Corners" that the producer had to edit together three seperate tracks and Coltrane has said that he gets "lost" when he's playing some of Monk's tunes. I find this really incredible because both Rollins and Coltrane can play over just about any chord changes thrown at them. I guess my question is how did Rouse become such a walking encylopedia of Monk? Was it long practice sessions? Was it Monk explaining everything in detail to Rouse? Could be, but I think what it was is Rouse's empathy for Monk and his compositions. This is what kept Rollins and Coltrane from really understanding the inner-workings of these pieces. Rouse was indeed an amazing Monk sideman. The bass player, Larry Gales and drummer Ben Riley also play an crucial role in Monk's music. They are the backbone of this quartet and they provide such a great support system.

"Straight, No Chaser" is a classic bebop jazz album and should appeal to fans of this type of jazz music. Every song is a world within itself and should inspire all who are willing to listen. Highly recommended.

Track listing:

1. "Locomotive" (Th. Monk) - 6:40
2. "I Didn't Know About You" (Duke Ellington) - 6:52
3. "Straight, No Chaser" (Th. Monk) - 11:28
4. "Japanese Folk Song (Kōjō no Tsuki)" (Rentarō Taki) - 16:42
5. "Between the Devil and the Deep Blue Sea" (Harold Arlen) - 7:36
6. "We See" (Th. Monk) - 11:37
Bonus tracks on CD reissue
7. "This Is My Story, This Is My Song" (Phoebe Knapp) - 1:42 (better known by the title "Blessed Assurance")
8. "I Didn't Know About You" (D. Ellington) - 6:49
9. "Green Chimneys" (Th. Monk) - 6:34

Personnel:

Thelonious Monk - piano
Charlie Rouse - tenor sax
Larry Gales - bass
Ben Riley - drums

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Tommy Bolin - 1976 [1996] "Live at Ebbets Field"

Due to the success of his back-to-back appearances at Denver's Ebbets Field club in 1974, Tommy Bolin chose to premiere his new Tommy Bolin Band at the venue in May of 1976. Included in this top-notch band were ex-Vanilla Fudge keyboardist/singer Mark Stein and drummer Narada Michael Walden (nowadays a producer), while Norma Jean Bell (saxophone) and Reggie McBride (bass) rounded out the group. Like all Tommy Bolin concerts and albums, the music is extremely varied. Included is one of Bolin's trademark songs, the swaggering "Teaser," which remains sadly overlooked by classic rock radio. You'll also find reggae sounds on "People People," jazz fusion balladry on the Narada Michael Walden-sung "Delightful," and the funky groove of "The Grind." It wouldn't be a Bolin concert without a song for Tommy to show off his guitar talent, and here it's "Marching Powder." A strong album, it's only slightly diminished by a far, far too long drum solo (almost ten minutes!), which is completely unnecessary, since the majority of the people buying Tommy Bolin CDs are doing so to hear his memorable songwriting and guitar skills. Still, it's worthy of any serious Tommy Bolin fan's time.

This recording is taken from the master radio broadcast tape from one of the first performances of The Tommy Bolin Band. This historic first lineup of Tommy’s solo band put on a high energy, unique live performance that not only showcased Tommy, but also Narada Michael Walden on drums and vocals, and original Vanilla Fudge keyboardist and vocalist Mark Stein.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=tommy+bolin

Track listing:

1 Teaser 6:20
2 People People 8:00
3 The Grind 3:21
4 Wild Dogs 9:01
5 Delightful 5:03
6 I Fell In Love 5:40
7 Marching Powder 14:42
8 Lotus 7:06
9 Homeward Strut 9:01

Pesonnel:

Guitar, Vocals, Producer [Original Live Recording] – Tommy Bolin
Bass – Reggie Mcbride
Drums, Vocals – Michael Walden*
Keyboards, Vocals – Mark Stein
Saxophone, Vocals – Norma Jean Bell

Monday, March 12, 2018

Jörg Kleutgens - 1993 "J.K Special" featuring Dave Weckl

Unlike many drummer-led dates in which percussionists do not establish that it is their session, Weckl's stamp can clearly be detected on any release bearing his name. His blistering beats and phrases occupy a prominent place in the mix, and he is clearly the best player among this session's assembled cast, although speedy electric bassist Jörg (J.K.) Kleutgens provides booming lines and rapid-fire progressions. The songs, like many fusion and instrumental pop pieces, are fragments with light, quickly forgettable melodies and minimal solo space. Other than a forum for Weckl's percussive feats, this qualifies as a pleasant but hardly vigorous workout.

A funky bass sound with Dave Weckl's drum technique.....Wonderful music that you have to listen. Excellent Album. A masterpiece. Definitely one of my favorite all time jazz albums. Even as a guitarist, I have been a long time fan of Weckl and Chick Corea.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=dave+weckl

Track listing:

1. Crossfire (4:43)
2. S.W.I. (4:11)
3. Bodega (5:06)
4. Shine on Me (7:00)
5. Special (5:47)
6. I Still Love You (5:59)
7. B.A.C. (5:27)
8. Ride Home (5:42)

Total Time: 43:58

Personnel:

Bass Written-By, Producer, Recorded By, Mixed By – Jörg (J. K.) Kleutgens*
Drums – Dave Weckl
Guitar – Dirk K.*
Keyboards – Chris Erbstösser

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Frank Zappa - 1970 [1990] "Weasels Ripped My Flesh"

Weasels Ripped My Flesh is the seventh studio album by the American rock band the Mothers of Invention, released in 1970. It is the second album released after the Mothers' disbanding in 1969, preceded by Burnt Weeny Sandwich. In contrast to its predecessor, which predominately focused on studio recordings of tightly arranged compositions, Weasels Ripped My Flesh largely consists of live recordings and features more improvisation.

Given Zappa's already stated penchant for expressing his music in "phases"—We're Only in It for the Money was written up as "phase one of Lumpy Gravy"— Zappa fans occasionally label this album Phase Two of Burnt Weeny Sandwich. Both albums consist of previously unreleased Mothers tracks released after Frank Zappa disbanded the original group in 1969.

Whereas all but one of the pieces on Burnt Weeny Sandwich have a more planned feel captured by quality studio equipment, five tracks from Weasels Ripped My Flesh capture the Mothers on stage, where they employ frenetic and chaotic improvisation characteristic of avant-garde jazz and free jazz. This is particularly evident on "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue," a tribute to the multi-instrumentalist, who died in 1964 and is cited as a musical influence in the liner notes to the band's Freak Out! album. The song opens with a complex melody over a 3/4 rhythm, breaking into howls and laughter at the three-minute mark, then the theme is repeated and elaborated; after a brief rave-up section, the number concludes in stop-start fashion.

Zappa's classical influences are reflected in characteristically satirical fashion on "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask", a play on Claude Debussy's "Prélude à l'après-midi d'un faune (Prelude to the Afternoon of a Faun)". "Oh No" is a vocal version of a theme that originally appeared on Zappa's Lumpy Gravy album, as well as a pointed barb aimed at the Beatles and John Lennon's "All You Need Is Love". "The Orange County Lumber Truck" incorporates the "Riddler's Theme" from the Batman TV show. The album's closer and title track consists of every player on stage producing as much noise and feedback as they can for two minutes. An audience member is heard yelling for more at its conclusion.

In contrast to the experimental jazz material, the album also contains a straightforward interpretation of Little Richard's R&B single "Directly From My Heart to You", featuring violin and lead vocal from Don "Sugarcane" Harris. This song is actually an outtake from the sessions for the Hot Rats album.

The album also documents the brief tenure of Lowell George (guitar and vocals), who went on to found the band Little Feat with Mothers bassist Roy Estrada. On "Didja Get Any Onya?", George affects a German accent to relate a story of being a small boy in Germany and seeing "a lot of people stand around on the corners asking questions, 'Why are you standing on the corner, acting the way you act, looking the way you look, why do you look that way?'"

The Rykodisc CD reissue of the album features different versions of "Didja Get Any Onya?" and "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask", which featured music edited out of the LP versions. The extended version of "Didja Get Any Onya?" features a live performance of the composition "Charles Ives", a studio recording of which had previously been released as the backing track for "The Blimp" on the Captain Beefheart album Trout Mask Replica, produced by Frank Zappa. The 2012 Universal Music reissue reverts to the original LP versions.

A fascinating collection of mostly instrumental live and studio material recorded by the original Mothers of Invention, complete with horn section, from 1967-1969, Weasels Ripped My Flesh segues unpredictably between arty experimentation and traditional song structures. Highlights of the former category include the classical avant-garde elements of "Didja Get Any Onya," which blends odd rhythmic accents and time signatures with dissonance and wordless vocal noises; these pop up again in "Prelude to the Afternoon of a Sexually Aroused Gas Mask" and "Toads of the Short Forest." The latter and "The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue" also show Frank Zappa's willingness to embrace the avant-garde jazz of the period. Yet, interspersed are straightforward tunes like a cover of Little Richard's "Directly From My Heart to You," with great violin from Don "Sugarcane" Harris; the stinging Zappa-sung rocker "My Guitar Wants to Kill Your Mama," and "Oh No," a familiar Broadway-esque Zappa melody (it turned up on Lumpy Gravy) fitted with lyrics and sung by Ray Collins. Thus, Weasels can make for difficult, incoherent listening, especially at first. But there is a certain logic behind the band's accomplished genre-bending and Zappa's gleefully abrupt veering between musical extremes; without pretension, Zappa blurs the normally sharp line between intellectual concept music and the visceral immediacy of rock and R&B. Zappa's anything-goes approach and the distance between his extremes are what make Weasels Ripped My Flesh ultimately invigorating; they also even make the closing title track -- a minute and a half of squalling feedback, followed by applause -- perfectly logical in the album's context.

Frank Zappa disbanded the Mothers in 1969, with the band mired in financial struggle, personality clashes and creative squabbling. But the bandleader was as crafty as he was prolific: Determined to make the most of unused live and studio recordings, Zappa started tinkering with the archival material, resulting in two 1970 LPs, Burnt Weeny Sandwich and its demented younger brother Weasels Ripped My Flesh.
Zappa's original plan for the post-Mothers era was to release all the material in a massive, 12-record set. But he nixed the idea after considering the financial logistics.

Zappa would explore jazz themes more overtly under his own name, veering into big-band fusion with acclaimed albums like 1973's The Grand Wazoo. But as he explained in a 1970 interview with Sounds, those influences had been there all along.
"One of the reasons why the Mothers have never been associated with jazz is because most reviewers have never listened to jazz," Zappa said. "They wouldn't guess unless it said on an album cover that we were influenced by jazz. If I had stated on an early album that I had been influenced by Eric Dolphy or Archie Shepp, then for the last five years they would have been writing about jazz influences instead of Stravinsky influences. ... The group has always been encouraged in jazz-type improvisation within a framework of atonal music. The trouble is that most of the audience thinks of jazz as going from Louis Armstrong to Blood Sweat and Tears. They don't know about today's self-determination music."
Frank Zappa would revive the Mothers brand later that year, recruiting a hoard of new members – some legendary (keyboardist George Duke), some infamous (three former Turtles, including vocalists "Flo and Eddie"). The band's awkward transitional phase – documented on LPs like 1970's Chunga's Revenge and the 1971 soundtrack 200 Motels – only illustrates the original line-up's charm and potency.

http://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/search?q=frank+zappa

Track listing:

01 Didja Get Any Onya? 3:44
02 Directly From My Heart To You 5:17
03 Prelude To The Afternoon Of A Sexually Aroused Gas Mask 3:35
04 Toads Of The Short Forest 4:48
05 Get A Little 2:35
06 The Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue 6:53
07 Dwarf Nebula Processional March & Dwarf Nebula 2:12
08 My Guitar Wants To Kill Your Mama 3:35
09 Oh No 1:46
10 The Orange County Lumber Truck 3:18
11 Weasels Ripped My Flesh 2:05

Personnel:

Frank Zappa – lead guitar, vocals
Jimmy Carl Black – drums
Ray Collins – vocals
Roy Estrada – bass, vocals
Bunk Gardner – tenor saxophone
Lowell George – rhythm guitar, vocals
Don "Sugarcane" Harris – vocals, electric violin
Don Preston – organ, RMI Electra Piano, electronic effects
Buzz Gardner – trumpet and flugel horn
Motorhead Sherwood – baritone saxophone, snorks
Art Tripp – drums
Ian Underwood – alto saxophone

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Pharoah Sanders - 1971 [1987] "Thembi"

Thembi is the seventh album by free-jazz saxophonist Pharoah Sanders, released in 1971.

The album is named after Sanders's wife. Sanders moved away from the long, intense compositions of his solo albums and produced an album of shorter tracks. He and other musicians played a large variety of instruments. Sanders played tenor, alto, and soprano saxophone, bailophone (African thumb piano), small percussion instruments, and a cow horn.

Sanders's other major collaborator, pianist and composer Lonnie Liston Smith, performs on Thembi (though this would be the last time they recorded together). Also featured are violinist Michael White, bassist Cecil McBee, and percussionists Chief Bey, Majid Shabbaz, and Nat Bettis. "Thembi", "Astral Travelling' and "Morning Prayer" were included on the two-disc anthology, You've Got to Have Freedom, on Soul Brother Records. ' Lonnie Liston Smith began experimenting with electric keyboards while recording this album.

On Thembi, that was the first time that I ever touched a Fender Rhodes electric piano. We got to the studio in California — Cecil McBee had to unpack his bass, the drummer had to set up his drums, Pharoah had to unpack all of his horns. Everybody had something to do, but the piano was just sitting there waiting. I saw this instrument sitting in the corner and I asked the engineer, 'What is that?' He said, 'That's a Fender Rhodes electric piano.' I didn't have anything to do, so I started messing with it, checking some of the buttons to see what I could do with different sounds. All of a sudden I started writing a song and everybody ran over and said, 'What is that?' And I said, 'I don't know, I'm just messing around.' Pharoah said, 'Man, we gotta record that. Whatcha gonna call it?' I'd been studying astral projections and it sounded like we were floating through space so I said let's call it 'Astral Traveling.' That's how I got introduced to the electric piano.

Thembi has been criticized for its somewhat cut-and-paste feel (it was compiled from two sessions, recorded in 1970 and 1971); the Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD, written by Richard Cook and Brian Morton, offers a particularly harsh assessment. However, Ashley Kahn, author of The House that Trane Built: The Story of Impulse Records, describes it as "a career high-point: [it was] co-produced by Michel and rock producer Bill Szymczyk, who together introduced Sanders's music to advanced studio techniques of the day — close miking, overdubbing, and effects like reverb, echo, and phasing."

Recorded with two different ensembles, Thembi was a departure from the slowly developing, side-long, mantra-like grooves Pharoah Sanders had been pursuing for most of his solo career. It's musically all over the map but, even if it lacks the same consistency of mood as many of Sanders' previous albums, it does offer an intriguingly wide range of relatively concise ideas, making it something of an anomaly in Sanders' prime period. Over the six selections, Sanders romps through a tremendous variety of instruments, including tenor, soprano, alto flute, fifes, the African bailophone, assorted small percussion, and even a cow horn. Perhaps because he's preoccupied elsewhere, there's relatively little of his trademark tenor screaming, limited mostly to the thunderous cacophony of "Red, Black & Green" and portions of "Morning Prayer." The compositions, too, try all sorts of different things. Keyboardist/pianist Lonnie Liston Smith's "Astral Traveling" is a shimmering, pastoral piece centered around his electric piano textures; "Love" is an intense, five-minute bass solo by Cecil McBee; and "Morning Prayer" and "Bailophone Dance" (which are segued together) add an expanded percussion section devoted exclusively to African instruments. If there's a unifying factor, it's the classic title track, which combines the softer lyricism of Sanders' soprano and Michael White's violin with the polyrhythmic grooves of the most Africanized material (not to mention a catchy bass riff). Some fans may gripe that Thembi isn't conceptually unified or intense enough, but it's rare to have this many different sides of Sanders coexisting in one place, and that's what makes the album such an interesting listen.

It is strange that two of the most striking albums made by saxophonist Pharoah Sanders during the first flush of late 1960s/early 1970s astral jazz have been so often overlooked in reissue series. Tauhid (Impulse!, 1967)—the recording which launched astral jazz, the style Sanders fashioned alongside harpist/pianist Alice Coltrane—and Thembi have been available only intermittently during the last 20 years.

Tauhid is unalloyed bliss from start to finish, a sweet and lyrical evocation of Eastern mysticism which established astral's template: prominent African and Asian percussion instruments; velvet-sandpaper saxophone vocalizations and multiphonics; hummable tunes and melody-centric improvisations; rock steady bass ostinatos; piano vamps; chanted vocals; rich collective grooves.

Thembi inhabits this territory over four of its six tracks, but steps out of it on the other two. The album was recorded during two sessions—in Los Angeles in November 1970 (tracks 1-3), and in New York City in January 1971 (tracks 4-6)—with some changes in personnel. Sanders, pianist Lonnie Liston Smith and bassist Cecil McBee were present at both sessions; violinist Michael White was in Los Angeles, though was featured little; traps drummer Roy Haynes and four percussionists replace Los Angeles' drummer Clifford Jarvis and percussionist James Jordan in New York.

The album opens with Smith's "Astral Traveling," a lush, sweeping group workout foursquare in the astral paradigm; in 1973, Smith, too, used it as an opening track, on his solo debut Astral Traveling, on ex-Impulse! producer Bob Thiele's Flying Dutchman label. The tune is given an exquisite performance on both albums, with Sanders' presence giving his Thembi version the edge.

But on Thembi, "Astral Traveling" proves to be the calm before the perfect storm. "Red, Black & Green," which follows, is as ferocious as is suggested by its title, a reference to the colors made emblematic by black liberation movements in the US and Africa. At 8:56 minutes, it is the second longest track on the album, and Sanders' overdubbed saxophones are foregrounded practically throughout, played in a style closer to the tumultuous one adopted by Sanders when he was a member of saxophonist John Coltrane's groups in 1966-67. Here, Sanders' sole concession is to play within a marginally more lyrical harmonic framework.

"Thembi" returns to the melodic, ostinato-driven palette of "Astral Traveling," before the album once more switches out of the astral comfort zone.

"Love," is an unaccompanied, 5:12 minute bass solo. If you are already reaching for the "skip track" button, don't do it. McBee turns in a corker, starting conventionally enough, albeit with frequent use of percussive, "Africanized" string-on-wood effects, before focusing on cleanly articulated high-harmonics (well recorded by producer Ed Michel and engineer Bill Szymczyk). Given all the tirelessly iterated ostinatos McBee contributed to Sanders' music—here and on Izipho Zam (Strata East, 1969) and Impulse!'s Jewels Of Thought (1970), Summun, Bukmun, Umyun (1970), Black Unity (1972), Wisdom Through Music (1972) and Village Of The Pharoahs (1973)—he was owed this five minutes alone, and he seizes them; "Love" is the sort of track that gives bass solos a good name.

The closing "Morning Prayer" and "Bailophone Dance" return to more familiar, collective astral territory. "Morning Prayer," at 9:11 minutes the longest track, revisits the fierce tenor heard on "Red, Black & Green," but in an amiable, ostinato-driven groove. "Bailophone Dance," built around a traditional West African cross-rhythm, makes good use of hand drummers Chief Bey, Majid Shabass, Anthony Wiles and Nat Bettis.

Delicious, essential listening.

Track listing:

1. Astral Travelling (Lonnie Liston Smith) - 5:48
2. Red, Black & Green (Sanders) - 8:56
3. Thembi (Sanders) - 7:02
4. Love (Cecil McBee) - 5:12
5. Morning Prayer (Sanders/Liston Smith) - 9:11
6. Bailophone Dance (Sanders) - 5:43

Personnel:

Pharoah Sanders – tenor and soprano saxophones, alto flute, koto, brass bells, balaphone, maracas, cow horn, fifes
Lonnie Liston Smith – piano, electric piano, claves, percussion, ring cymbal, shouts, balaphone
Michael White – violin, percussion
Cecil McBee – bass, finger cymbal, percussion
Roy Haynes – drums
Clifford Jarvis – drums, maracas, bells, percussion
Nat Bettis, Chief Bey, Majid Shabazz, Anthony Wiles – African percussion
James Jordan – ring cymbal

Leo Kottke - 1981 "Guitar Music"

Guitar Music is an album by American guitarist Leo Kottke, released in 1981. The album is all solo guitar played on a Gibson J-45 and a Lundberg-Martin 12-string.

A classic 1981 release, "Guitar Music" is a self-explanatorily-titled instrumental album by one of the most wide-ranging guitarists of his era. Leo Kottke is influenced by a huge variety of musics, as evidenced by the covers of "Tumblin' Tumbleweeds", "All I Have to Do Is Dream" and a glorious country-blues version of Santo and Johnny's classic "Sleepwalk."
"Part Two" and "Available Space" are watery, jazz-tinged melodies, but the six-part "Some Birds" suite is one of Kottke's most impressive compositions ever. Varied yet subtly linked, these six pieces are small gems. The new age aspects of Kottke's mid-'80s releases have their roots in this extended work, but there's nothing amorphous or muzak-like about this album.

I am a bit of fan of Mr Kottke - ever since hearing 6 & 12 String Guitar way back when. Have a few other albums of his and have even seen him perform when he has visited Australia. Impressive stuff. Haven't bought anything of his for quite some time and stumbled across this one on Amazon - saw the good reviews and bought it. Dont know how I did not know about it - maybe it was never originally released in Australia. Anyway this is what Leo does best - tasty, clever and stylish playing. This album perhaps doesnt have the fire and energy of 6 & 12 String Guitar but in some ways it is the better for it - a bit more mellow and rounded. To be honest its a four and half star album but you cant do that on the rating sytem. If you have other albums by Leo Kottke you will be sure to enjoy this - well worth it.

This is a re-mastered cd from a vinyl press nearly thirty years ago. I wore out my record. Classic Kottke, with some of his own compositions. A good introduction to a genuine American treasure. Kottke has few peers in the history of solo guitar. This is one of his five best albums. If you would like to just sit back, relax and enjoy some beautiful music, than you need to buy this CD. We saw him live and his music will live in my heart forever.

Track listing:

01 Part Two 1:44
02 Available Space 1:35

Side One Suite 10:30
03  Some Birds
04  Sounds Like...
05  Slang
06  My Double
07  Three Walls And Bars
08  Reprise: Some Birds

09 Perforated Sleep 2:42
10 Strange 2:34
11 Little Shoes 1:32
12 Jib's Hat 2:17
13 Tumbling Tumbleweeds 2:42
14 Agile N. 1:45
15 A Song For "The Night Of The Hunter" 3:05
16 All I Have To Do Is Dream 1:42
17 Sleep Walk 2:23

Personnel:

Leo Kottke - Acoustic 6- and 12-String Guitars

Jennifer Batten - 2997 "Momentum"

Jennifer Batten's Tribal Rage: Momentum is the second studio album by guitarist Jennifer Batten, released on August 5, 1997 through East West Records and reissued in June 2008 through Lion Music.

Tribal Rage is Jennifer Batten on guitars, guitar synth, keys, talk box, and dentist drill guitar, Ricky Wolking on bass (fretted and non), talk box, and other bizzare sound manipulations, with Glen Sobel doing drums and percussion. And what is all this fuss over Batten about?

She is amazingly fluid, so many tricks up her sleeve, so many voicings, techniques, and sheer bombast that you are overwhelmed with what torture and delicate touch she lays on a guitar. Slapping, tapping, bending, pulling off, hammer ons, slides — and with both hands! Throwing in a Whammy pedal when all her hands are too busy, she then creates so much wailing, swooping, and mutiple harmonics, that your aural dynamic sense nears overload. The effect is one steady onslaught of unique sounds you thought guitarists could only offer in tidbits, in certain moments, for lead breaks, at song intros or outros. Yet Batten constructs a whole CD’s worth of magical moments of a guitar doing things you rarely hear. She goes beyond Vai’s insane excursions and tops it off by tipping her hat and then running past Satriani’s finer weirdness.

This lady is an artist crafting a whole new dimension of guitar sounds, weaving it all together into song, and best of all it works. Her music is not endless backflips or clowning around — Batten hears another land’s strange echoes and offers a curiously interesting reply. With her Tribal Rage crew at her side a world of wonder unfolds. Seven quality cuts ranging from 7:10 to 9:33 let the whole crew stretch. There is some seriously cool bass work and severely challenging percussion happening here as well.

Batten has toured with big names like Jeff Beck and Michael Jackson. So what does Jeff Beck think of her playing? Beck says, “Incredible stuff, very impressive. She’s very dedicated. I just see her in her little house somewhere, doing nothing else. Because you can’t get that good unless you do.” I have to agree.

As guitar fans would easily recognize Holdsworth’s, Torn’s, or Rypdal’s guitar voice— Batten’s flexible-axe voice is a clear signature. I must say I’ve never heard anyone do anything quite like Batten’s continuous stream of note-bending, tapping, swells, controlled feedback, harmonics, and lightning-fast riffs. Prepare to enter into another dimension of guitar where elasticity is the word.

“Jennifer Batten’s Tribal Rage – Momentum” CD was a labour of love which was developed over a period of several years. “Momentum” is a hybrid of rock and very exotic sounds, including African percussion, Australian didgeridoo, Caribbean steel drums and Scottish bag pipes all wrapped up in a inviting album of diverse influences and sounds.

Looking back on the album’s creation Jennifer comments, “Glen Sobel, Ricky Wolking and I set out to make this a rich sonic journey for ourselves and the listener. We wanted to take them around the globe and included a lot of elements from different cultures. We spent a lot of hours developing, rehearsing and jamming in Glen’s mother’s shoe closet. You couldn’t fit more than the 3 of us and our equipment in there, but the price was right. We set out to be as open minded and creative as possible”.

A really astonishing work from a female guitar slinger who accompanied Jeff Beck and Michael Jackson on world tours back in the day. Her fellow musicians: Ricky Wolking on bass and Glen Sobel on drums and percussion are nothing short of jaw dropping when faced with some demanding roles. If you're into first rate guitar work with plenty of speed, harmonics, fresh, original ideas and the ability to see them to sizzling fruition, this album will be one that you whip out and say to your friends, "Check this out!

Jeff Beck was once quoted as being shocked when he saw Ms. Batten in person for the first time. To wit: "...I expected someone who was introverted and did nothing but practice all the time, because you'd have to do nothing but practice all the time to be that good!!!". Amen to that observation. I have followed with a passion her 2-handed techniques from her days as a GP magazine columnist. I got my 1st taste of what it could sound like from one of her GIT teaching tapes. NEVER could I dream that the amalgamation of her composition skills and technique (i.e., her total artistry) could be so beautifully, powerfully devistating as reflected on this and her other 2 CDs (5-stars for the lot of them). Just stunning stuff. Simply put, if anyone wants to hear a true guitar visionary apply her musical gift and craft in a spellbinding way - buy the CD(s) - be silent - just listen and absorb (sit down if you can - but you'll likely be too energized to allow it)! Who should know brilliance better than the maestro Jeff Beck; he is, he said she is, and the resultant truth is most obvious.

Track listing:

1. "Wodaabe Dancer" 8:30
2. "Elephant Stomp" 7:10
3. "Zulu Wedding" 9:30
4. "Scottsman in the Carribean" 8:57
5. "The Swarm" 9:19
6. "Glow" 8:45
7. "Unplug This" 9:34

Total length: 61:45

Personnel:

Jennifer Batten – guitar, guitar synthesizer, keyboard, talk box, background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Glen Sobel – drums, percussion
Ricky Wolking – bass, banjo, talk box, background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Chris Tervitt – spoken vocals (track 4)
Sean Wiggins – spoken vocals (track 6), background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Benny Collins – spoken vocals (track 7)
Bret Helm – background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Janis Massey – background vocals (tracks 1, 4)
Sylmarian Pygmee choir – background vocals (tracks 1, 4)

Friday, March 2, 2018

Greg Koch - 2001 "The Grip!"

"The Grip!" is a collection of songs from guitarist Greg Koch's five previous independent releases plus three new tracks added from this prolific songwriter/ musician's cachet of twisted tunes. "The Grip!" fuses rock, blues, jazz, and country into one incredible package sure to make new believers and diehard fans of music lovers everywhere. Favored Nations president and noted guitarist Steve Vai states, "Greg Koch is one of those rare guitarists that can blend various styles with a light hearted approach and a tremendous amount of technique. Hearing him play is inspiring to a guitar player to try to achieve greatness on the instrument," while Guitar One chips in with "Koch can't lose with his over-the-top chops, feel for melody, crisp tone, unpredictability, and, above all, unpretentious sense of fun."

It doesn’t take long to figure out why Milwaukee, WI resident, guitarist, Greg Koch resides as a first call session musician for radio and TV advertisements. Hence, the artist displays his multifaceted talents during his debut for guitarist, Steve Vai’s “Favored Nations” record label.
Basically, Koch possesses enviable chops, yet seems adept and undeniably at ease performing from within a variety of contexts. Besides various personnel changes, the leader opts for the guitar, drums, and bass format, although harmonica performer, Steve Cohen lends his talents to the piece titled “Defenstrator.” Meanwhile, the guitarist works his way through a series of blues, rockabilly, surf, and hard rock grooves that generally span three to five minutes in length. Koch also renders a justifiably hard-edged spin on Hendrix’ “Spanish Castle Magic,” where he utilizes his electric guitar equipped whammy bar to great effect. Here, Koch viciously disfigures a series of scathing lead lines while seemingly inflicting pain upon his axe of choice. However, not all of these seventeen works hold up for the long haul, as a sense of invariability permeates the proceedings about mid-way through the set. Otherwise, Koch provides more than enough fireworks via his fancy fretwork and diverse bag of tricks throughout the majority of this rather upbeat production.

Greg Koch is a prolific and ubiquitous guitarist, one heralded by the likes of Steve Vai as a huge talent. He is one fifth progressive, metallic, blues-ridden, bluegrass and rock combined into one harmless assault. The tracks themselves play out like semi-intellectual keystone capers written into interesting beer commercials. The constant highlight of each number, however, is the lead playing of Koch, which is never undermined by the backgrounds of near muzak-like musicians. They are only there to propel and to not merely fulfil without substance. The energy comes out faster and in full force than that of the actual super-quick rotation of a compact disc spinning in its host player.

If you like modern day, edgy, multi genre, guitar music, this is yer kinda CD! You'd get a steamy plate o' blues, country, rock, jazz fusion that sizzles! Greg Koch plays guitar so hot it's like dinkin' a glass of Tabasco and Sriracha sauce! Why the food analogy you ask? Well, it best describes the tunes, which are like complex spices, saffron and curry, sugar and chocolate all rolled into one. Something is bound to satisfy. The whole CD is burnin' with pathos and humor. This is my first foray into the wonderfully twisted musical world of Greg Koch, I'm a believer, and as $ will allow I will snatch up all the Koch I can. My only complaint is I didn't get any info on who the other players, song writers and guest artists etc. were on the CD . .ahh the trouble with downloadable music, but all the morsels were, and are tasty and in the immortal words of Schwarzenegger in "The Terminator" ; "I'll be boch . . . . for more Koch"!!

From the other reviews here you will see that Greg Koch is a phenomenal guitar player. He is able to offer virtuoso compositions of a great variety of musical styles on this disc. Not one to take himself too seriously, (too many great guitar players fall into that mode at some point) Koch plays with fire and a great sense of humor (Albert's Back and has joined a death metal band for revenge, and Blind Lemon Pledge...funny stuff). This is a guy who loves to play guitar. Nice variety, there isn't a weak tune on the whole disc. Kudos on the very cool "Blue Note" records type CD artwork front and back. Great artist, great disc.

https://jazz-rock-fusion-guitar.blogspot.com/2015/09/greg-koch-2003-radio-free-gristle.html

Track listing:

01. Zoiks
02. Spank It
03. Holy Grail
04. Carlos Dale
05. Spanish Castle Magic
06. Chief’s Blues
07. Draw My Number
08. Defenestrator
09. Alberts Back
10. Tonus Diabolicus
11. Walking Wounded
12. Steppin’ Out
13. Big Jim
14. Absinthe
15. Dylan the Villian
16. Blind Lemon Pledge
17. The Grip

Personnel:

Greg Koch - Guitar
Tom "Damn" Good - Bass
Kevin Allen - Bass (5,12,15)
John Calarco - Drums
Gary Koehler - Drums (2,5,10,12,15)
Kevin Mushel - Bass (2,10)
Steve Cohen - Harmonica (8)