Saturday, 17 February 2018

Patrick Marcel's Ostinato from 1985, by request-- highly recommended

Out of the blue, a commentator asked me for this record and it piqued my interest thanks to the youtube samples.  (Amazing what rarities show up there!  It just threw me off my chair when I saw that the ultra-unknown German Fried Chicken Band was already youtubed. Incidentally, if anyone remembers the Trump 'Make America Great' Haunted song on that post, someone finally solved that mystery by saying a bandmember wrote the song!)

This hugely talented artist unfortunately only made one record, you will notice he plays both guitars and keys and uses the latter for percussion, making this a one-man band project.  Here is his website, with his guitar school in Lyons. Did he play with any of those great French luminaries of the zeuhl or fusion styles?  It would be surprising if he didn't since there is some influence from the genre apparent here.

A track called Contrastes is just magically reminiscent of those old glorious zeuhl days although it recalls more the zeuhl-light of late Widemann  than Jacques Thollot:

Artwork By [Sculpture] – Maurice Jean
Artwork By [Sleeve Conception, Recto] – Eric Pastor
Artwork By [Sleeve Conception, Verso] – Roger Groslon
Composed By, Arranged By, Sequenced By, Guitar, Synthesizer – Patrick Marcel
Recorded By, Mixed By – Patrice Tavernier
Synthesizer, Percussion – Roger Lassalle

Enregistré et mixé en septembre et octobre 1985 au studio Tavernier - Montmiral (drôme)
Sections Rythmiques, Cuivres, Bois et Cordes:
Synthétiseur multitimbres + expandeur controlé par séquenceur digital et séquenceur de rythmes
Synthé. sur A2, A4 et B2, percussions sur A3 et B2
Premier solo sur A4, dernier solo sur B2

Enjoy it, and thanks for the request-- keep those requests coming guys... I mean, as long as they're as good as this one!

Wednesday, 14 February 2018

NTSU's The Zebras in The Spirit Soars from 1980

Here's some fantastic fusion that I can guarantee you've never heard before, at least not here before, again from the North Texas State University-- what a hotbed of jazzical musicality!  Checking in the database here you can see this dynamic group comprised a number of keyboard players, with the producer being Dan Haerle (who wrote some of the tracks).  The reason for all this is clear from the back blurb:

"In Feb. 1980, Dan Haerle, associate professor of music and a member of the jazz studies faculty at the NTSU school of music formed an electronic keyboard ensemble, appropriately called The Zebras.  The ensemble consists of 5 keyboard players, a bass player, drummer and percussionist, all students at NTSU.  Each of the k. players plays two or more instruments such as electric piano, organ, clavinet, string or bass ensemble and monophonic or polyphonic synthesizers.  This versatility results in up to 15 different keyboards being played at the same time in concerts.  The musical effect is that of a well-produced record album that requires extensive overdubbing of parts in a recording studio, but can be created in a live performance by The Z.  The original purpose of The Z., was to provide advanced k. players in the jazz studies program at NTSU with an intensive reading situation typical of contemporary studio work.  Also, the music performed by The Z. is usually new and related to current music idioms that involve electronics, such as funk and fusion styles.  The scope of The Z. repertoire, as evidenced on their first album, is quite varied, and ranges from Bach to bebop and 'space music'.  The Z. have performed at the Wichita (Kansas) Jazz Festival and at the National Association of Jazz Educators' Convention in Chicago in January 1982 where producer Vince Morette heard them for the first time.  It was as a result of this first hearing that Mark Records was fortunate enough to bring to you: The Zebras."

And fortunate we are to hear them too, with this their sole release.  Consistently excellent from beginning to end in my opinion, the high energy and the differences in sound, as mentioned due to the use of various keyboards, make this a fantastic slice of the college band days -- R.I.P...

An amazing composition from one of the keyboardists, Bill Howard, called M-87, reminds me a lot of pro New Zealand fusioneers Dr. Tree, with its madly mobile dissonances riffing over the thumpingly off-binary bass rhythms:

Yeah, the Spirit surely soared, back then-- fer shure...

Monday, 12 February 2018

Humez Bros. Life of Bongo Bill (USA 1976), by request

A DIY type opera concept album presumably from a handful of University students from Cambridge, Mass.,  mixing sun worshiping Egyptian memes, the Epic of Gilgamesh, operatic singing, and some bluegrass or barbershop quartet tunes-- mostly accompanied by the piano, not the usual orchestral or chamber instruments: like, what?

Check out how the baroque recitativo played on harpsichord (as in Mozart's Don Giovanni) sounds here laid down by these kids:

Even more out there is the description of the story, to be found on the blurb on the back of the sleeve:

  Bongo Bill is born of the union of the sun with Peter Leitmoor Tief.  He subsequently courts and wins Anna McCassor, a ray of sunlight.  But (boy loses girl) how are they to live happily ever after if, owing to her singular physiology, Anna is obliged to absent herself from Bill daily from dusk to dawn?  The solution is plain enough: Bill will simply circle the globe daily with Anna.  As the story is about to end happily, the question of Peter's spiritual well-being is anastrophically raised and rapidly resolved, he will have nightly congress with Nut.  The sun is praised and they live happily ever after.

  Happily ever after you say?  A life of perpetual sunlight would make any man dream of flight to the realm of night.  Bongo Bill is no different from you or me: tired and disgruntled, he ponders Zeno's paradoxes and falls asleep.  If the moon falls into the marketplace in ancient Anatolia, Bongo Bill follows.  In a local tavern a weathered ferryman recalls the legendary Gilgamesh and his quests.  Bill awakens from the cyclic dream of escape to the fact that Anna has borne him a son.

Unfortunately the linkage between side a's Egyptian and Sun themes, and side b's Epic of Gilgamesh with the death of Enkidu, is highly awkward in my opinion.

The finale:

Let's recall my wife's infamous comments which are so a propos here, 'they were all stoned back then...'

Better is the poem at the top of the verso:

I wait for the night
When my Nut will arrive
With the heliacal rising
Of Sothis

On the tips of her breasts
And her milky way mons
Will my members illumined
Tonight delightfully
Touch and alight

For a light second miming
The heliacal rising
Of Sothis

Saturday, 10 February 2018

Back to Jeannie Lewis: Live in 1974 on Bastille Day

As usual, we have to make sure there's nothing too interesting hiding in the incomplete discographies, and this one from 1974 seemed pretty obvious sitting there between the other two albums posted earlier... but you never know, right?  Well, never knowing is sometimes better for certain things, like this album.  It's a mixed bag, unfortunately that left out the inventive prog of the 1976 double LP.  Compositions are from a mixture of sources, including Graham Lowndes as mentioned earlier.

Notice the first side is almost 28 minutes long!

"A retrospective, introspective, prospective programme of songs and such 
"LOOKING BACKWARDS TO TOMORROW" a final farewell fantasy 
JEANNIE LEWIS AT THE STATE THEATRE (Sydney) on Bastille Day, 1974"

Wednesday, 7 February 2018

North Texas State University Lab Band (NTSU) in '75 and '78

The series was recommended by a commentator and when I saw the 1975 installment with the involvement of Chick Corea and Lyle Mays, I knew it had to be worth hearing.  The B1 track is in fact the sole composition from the former luminary, and it's called What Was, available for your listening pleasure here on youtube.

Just to backtrack a little, the discography makes it clear this was a very enduring franchise in the pantheon of university jazz big bands, which we've already covered pretty extensively.  Note the famed Peabody College one, for example.  On Wikipedia you can find an extensive history, perhaps too extensive, where the band is called the "One O'clock Lab Band," but:

Leon Breeden (1921–2010) presided when "The One O'Clock" was added as part of the official name in the early 1960s. North Texas has several lab bands, each bearing the name of their respective rehearsal times.  When Leon Breeden took over the Lab Band Program in 1959, there were four lab bands, then referred to as "Units:" One O'Clock, Two O'Clock, Three O'Clock, and Five O'Clock. At that time, the Two O'Clock was the premier band known as Laboratory Dance Band A.

Note that from wikipedia's Lyle Mays page, you can see that at the tender age of 22:

He graduated from the University of North Texas after attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He composed and arranged for the One O'Clock Lab Band and was the composer and arranger of Grammy nominated album Lab 75.

I'm going to be brutally honest here and state that his contributions were a bit disappointing to me, especially given the creative oddness of the titles of his pieces which raises high expectations, having little resemblance to the masterpieces with Metheny and on his solo album.

The 1978 installment is a really tastefully smooth and enjoyable slice of big band fusion from the late 70s, very typical of the times and their far remove from the unfortunate early days of the big band genre. The first track from 1978 called Elf:

Monday, 5 February 2018

Takeshi Inomata & The Third's Morning Glory (1972 version) by request

This particular version, quadrophonic for what it's worth, of the album is the one ripped.  Notice the presence of Kimio Mizutani on guitars, famous for his 1971 prog opus Path Through the Haze.  The composer throughout is Norio Maeda whose work I'm really not all that familiar with though it seems most of his albums are stuffed with those standards I've complained about before.

All in all, this record features some very nice big band / fusion, smoothly rolling chords and the customary electric keyboards and drums pumping the music along.  The track called Alone has such a nice I Remember Clifford groove to it:

Saturday, 3 February 2018

Herbert Joos Quartet ‎– Ballad 1 (1979, Germany) by request

Back to the German jazz which has served us well here in these pages, to fulfill a request.  We've had some Herbert Joos (trumpet, flugelhorn) before-- most recently here, but also on the Daybreak album and in the band Part of Art.

This record is from 1978 and he's rounded out by Jürgen Wuchner on bass, Thomas Cremer on drums, & Paul Schwarz on piano. Notice he played in the Frederick Rabold group, and teamed up with Roidinger and Joos in 1975 for that great New Jazz Ensemble record.

Anyways, with this record, you get what you were expecting, no less, and no more presumably.

"All composed by H. Joos except Green Meadow by Schwarz, and Variation, by the bassist."

The lovely composition called Variation:

Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Aussie Jeannie Lewis: Free Fall through Featherless Flight (1973) and Tears of Steel (1976)

I love that 2nd cover, just so wildly different.  And the upside down foot on the verso of her first!  Great concept.  Oh the creativity of those long ago days!

The first album which is really just SSW pop-rock with relatively little in the way of progressive moves, can be zoomed through relatively quickly, though a heartbreakingly titled track called Fasten Your Wings with Love stands out:

Listen to how she ascends to the summit of that high C in the course of the chorus a la Bianca Castafiore, high enough to shatter the uppermost glass windows of the burj khalifa.  Quite awe-inspiring vocal cords there.

There is nothing here to prepare you for her 1976 double album, which doesn't just dip its toes into progressive rock, it takes a long bath in it, though unfortunately not consistently throughout.
When I first heard the song called "Face" I really almost fell off my chair, this time, hearing its abrupt changes from one minute to the next:

Almost like a cubist version of a crooner's song.  This was written by another Aussie called Peter Boothman.  I thought for sure the artist herself had written the lyrics:

If we peeled off the layers 
would you be afraid to appear
with a mask made of clay

You can see that the songs are selected from a very wide range of sources, including Graham Lowndes (note that he made two highly recommended folk albums in those days), Jimmy Webb (our old favourite the Moon is a Harsh Mistress, not as good as Radka Toneff's however), Paul Williams, David Bowie, etc., but I'll let you discover these riches for yourself.

Suffice it to say you can look forward to hitting the title track: Tears of Steel - 14 minutes long, with "lyrics" by Pablo Neruda.

Album is dedicated to her father.  Thanks Jeannie...
More to come from  her.

Monday, 29 January 2018

Back to Anders Koppel with the 2-LP Album from 1987

When I saw this one hasn't been available thus far, digitally, I thought I better grab it.  On the one hand his 1977 work was magnificent, on the other hand, we know he headed down a bit of a dark side street in his Bazaar phase.

So there's a lot of material here to slog through, not all of it good of course, many a promising composition turns silly halfway through as if we were watching one of those 1960s Hollywood comedies in which everyone starts running around in circles followed by a small firetruck.  I personally can't stand dixieland music or simple blues and it drives me crazy to have to listen to either one.  On top of that, on side b the tracks run into each other which caused me a great deal of frustration and grief.

First track is called Indgang:

Pay attention to the long tracks, of which there is one on each of sides c and d, they are well worth hearing.

Note that all regular instruments are played by Koppel, which is admittedly rather impressive-- especially since both electric guitar and keyboards are equally highly proficient.

A collection of musical pieces used for films, theater and commercials.

Friday, 26 January 2018

Ken Narita's 1972 album

Another fabulous pop-rock Japanese SSW monster discovered by my friend, let those blissful finds keep on a-truckin'...  Narita-san seems to have made a few back in the day, at least one other album preceding this was disappointing for me and very simple in composition compared to the intricacy in evidence on this parcel, which in contrast is colored in by some really jaw-dropping arrangements in the standard seventies-pop manner.

The song about "green" really grew on me, with its repeated melancholy minor verse resolving into a Carpenters-like chorus (Superstar, maybe?), surrounded by an outrageously well charted string section, with harp tinkling and electric guitar soloing all over the place around the singing.

 A few songs are just as good.  Similar, really, to School Band, but less dynamic.
Great little gem.  Thanks a million!

Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Buki-Yamaz from 1975 to Live 1978 (new rip of first)

I think we all know this light fusion band from Denmark which again featured some Latin sounds added (as was the case with Tequila, or even Dopo Jam), a proper rip was requested for their first and accordingly is presented today; for me the best work was the second though, which had a bit of an edge in the compositional beauty dept.:

(The second track, called Rainflower.)

Note that Aske Bentzon, who played the flute so perfectly throughout these works, made a great solo album subsequently, called Badminton, check it out: it fits in nicely as a continuation of the oeuvre of this band.  Kasper Winding, the drummer of Buki, is his half-brother apparently.  Our old favourite Kenneth Knudsen (Anima, Coronarias Dans, Entrance, and Secret Oyster) played synths on the first album, but disappeared by the second.

Aske travels to paradise:

Monday, 22 January 2018

Cardboard Village's 1973 Sea Village

Let's go with a total change in direction today.  I recall one commentator mentioning what a relief it is to hear a bit of gentle acoustic folk as a break from all the fusion here.

Relatively advanced songwriting in the folk dept. is featured on this 1973 one-off from US band. 
B6's gentle Three-dollar Hat:

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Danish Bazaar in Live 1978, Gibbon Jump, Nimbus, and Live 1987

From discogs:

Danish worldmusic/folk band formed 1977 as Peter Bastian, Anders Koppel and Mehmet Ozan collaborated on the soundtrack for the 1977 movie "Aftenlandet". They were later joined by Flemming Quist Møller. After the first album "Live" Ozan left the group that after several stand-in's were used remained a trio. The style is folkmusic from the Balkans, Africa and Brazil.
In May 2012 the band announced they would disband after the summer concerts.

So yes of course this is highly ethnically propulsed and whether or not you enjoy it depends on your liking or perhaps tolerance for ethnic incursions in music.  I personally am left cold by the tablas plus sitars and other drony sounds that seem to stay in the same key or chord for way too long like a pungent incense stick reek that gets on your nerves in those third world stores full of woven handmade naturally sourced crap.  And I think most of us who live in the Northern hemisphere are getting just a bit tired of those ethnic incursions if you know what I mean, at the risk of being politically incorrect, with the notable exception of the majority of our political leaders who make those condescending fatherly decisions for the rest of us.

On the track called Zyrak from the 1980 work it's our old prog friend the tritone of course that provides the plaintive sound of the starting chord (i.e. E on top of a B flat chord), which later cleverly resolves to a key of F major thanks to the peregrinations of a sexy sax blowing hard, getting more and more aroused-- oops, he just got fired from his job for that:

I suppose what I would most complain about in these albums is the simplicity of the ethnic fusion, such a far cry from the standout Matao for example, or from the intricate inventions of my old favourite artist and also favourite point of reference Georg Lawall.

From Nimbus, the 2nd track is passable, again recalling the Samla Mammas crew:

I threw in the 1987 Live album which is really just Koppel playing supermarket hammond sounds with rhythm section backing, in a very random and all over the place overdrawn set of classical-themed compositions, as if he were trying to entertain a delegation of Turkish nougat dealers wearing fez's too low over their ears.  He could do much better than this.  And more Koppel to come, soon...

Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Joachim Sherylee and Jacky Giordano albums, by request

There's a ton of music here to go through, or perhaps to slog through, and in no way could I describe myself as an expert on library records, there are many out there of course who know far more than me.  All I can really do is present some of my favourite tracks from these albums and hope you haven't heard some of these before.  Here's his probably incomplete discography.  Many albums as usual are hidden under aliases, such as the requested Joachim Sherylee ones.

I suppose 1974's Challenger is the best known from him, but I didn't think it was the best, though the track called See Off shows his compositional abilities in the dreamiest of moods:

An earlier album called Rhythmes et Melodies, perhaps his first release (?) from 1973, I thought was simply average, disappointingly lacking anything too strong to cling to.  It's not included below.

For funk fans though the years 1975 to 1978 were his golden age, with just a never ending series of dynamic and interesting beats topped by that beautiful fuzzy organ plus guitar sound.  Not so much progressive composition, but 1977's Music Report just knocked me out, reminding me most of the famous April Orchestra album by Puccio Roelens: dynamic and well-written 70s funk instrumentals.  What could go wrong?  The gorgeous title track of Music Report:

Well, what went wrong is that electronic music in the late 70s beat up the funkosphere, so that following the 2 organ albums, Giordano jumped on the 'simple electronic' bandwagon of Jean-Michel Jarre where musical simplicity and atrocious repetition in the style of Etudes for Children was valued.  I include here the later albums Electronic, Sequences, and Paysages 2.  Here and there though the great composer could still shine brightly with a beautifully written complex track like Wind of Sun:

Unfortunately most of that album (Electronic) was written by Benoit Hutin, who is noticeably inferior.

I want to save some last words for my favourite Giordano album which is Paysages 1. This is cowritten with someone unknown to me called Paul Baile who went on to make the third in the series (anyone know if it's worth pursuing?)

It presents a completely different style of music, the A.R. Luciani / Milan Pilar school of melded pop - classical composition, but with the utmost delicacy and just exemplary composing acumen and imagination.  Is it the combination of the two that worked so well?  Distinct to the remainder of the Giordano oeuvre the instrumentation involves harp, flute and other chamber instruments.  Thus Glistening Dream is representative:

How to explain?
So the search for the most beautiful music carries on.

I forgot this excellent one: