Monday, 21 May 2018

More Jun with jazz vocalist Martha Miyake in 1977

Here, unfortunately, Jun is in the background and Miyake, who sounds quite similar to my old favourite Sugano from these pages takes the stage with a bunch of cover versions.  The best rendition is the old classic (made famous perhaps by Nancy Wilson), "Guess who I saw today":

A classic song with a great story...  today on the radio it has been replaced by "I'm in love with your body-- Come on, be my baby, come on-- Come on, be my baby, come on."

Friday, 18 May 2018

More Jun with Queen Emeralda's Fantasy, from 1983

Another composer appears on two tracks, one Seiji Yokoyama.  On discogs, the following explanatory note:

Image album with new synthesizer music and rearrangements inspired by Queen Emeraldas.
released with obi and insert.

Then, pursuing the Emeraldas link, the following on wiki:

Queen Emeraldas (Japanese: クィーン・エメラルダス Hepburn: Kuīn Emerarudasu) is a manga written and illustrated by Leiji Matsumoto, which was later adapted into a four-episode anime OVA of the same name. Queen Emeraldas is the story of the pirate spaceship, Queen Emeraldas, which is captained by the mysterious and beautiful Emeraldas, a strong and powerful privateer. Sometimes, character Emereldas is referred to as Pirate Queen Emeraldas.

So it's a shame this queen wasn't able to inspire Jun more in the progressive direction, at least for us, as the Tale of the Heiki was in 1978.

The most heartbreakingly gorgeous track is probably the closer by Jun:

Note, however, the similarity in sound to the Daisy Chain masterpiece from earlier...

Wednesday, 16 May 2018

Back to Jun Fukamachi with his first two SSW albums (1971-1972)

The two first albums from this fusioneer star traveller were in fact within the singer-songwriter genre along the lines of solo McCartney (minus guitar) or Elton John (minus the country and blues), or, most similarly, the earlier Ken Narita masterpiece I posted not that long ago.  Though I shall then be brutally honest and declare that Fukamachi as rock/pop singer was simply not as strong altogether, surprisingly, perhaps explaining why he changed lanes into high speed fusion in the mid-70s.

So you can quickly get an impression on your own here's the second track from the 1971 album, notice the acoustic piano plus vocals style, enhanced by some nice fuzzy guitar colors:

Listening to this again it just amazes me what a profound influence Paul McCartney had on pop music.  Note the echoey vocals (a la Wyatt on Soft Machine) in the middle too. The whole album follows along the same lines really, with occasional discrepancies of more bluesy or symphonic (added strings) compositions, some slight jazz touches here and there, definitely no fusion to be found.  Nothing too stand-out-ish though.

The second album sadly continues in the same medi-mediocre vein. On track a2, the standard, very disappointing downgoing A minor chord progression (the Stairway to Heaven / While my Guitar Gently Weeps progression) aided by a nicely arranged string section, is mitigated by a very emotional chorus sung quite beautifully in the centre of this short piece:

Again, move along folks, there's no fusion to be seen here. Not that I mind well-written pop rock, there's been tons of excellent Japanese songwriting in this blog before (Tranzam, the School Band) as I'm sure you'll all agree.

Notice that it wasn't until 1975 that the fusion Saturn V exploded off the launch pad, leading to an almost unbroken decade of masterpieces from "Introducing Jun Fukamachi" to 1985's "Alien" progressive masterpiece.

Someone asked to have those big packages of semi-compleat material shot up into the cybersphere again and I'll do that so you can get everything I have in three, except these 2 albums, and except some more of the missing Fukamachi albums from that glory period which will be coming here very shortly...

Sunday, 13 May 2018

Czech band SHQ (Motus 1972, Jazz Nebyeki 1973, Parnas 1982 and Karel Velebny's Nonet from 1968)

Thanks to Destroyer and his research for pointing out to me the Mini Jazz Klub series and those who helped out in the second last post, particularly the well known Simon in the following comment.  To be specific, he shared the numbers 4, 8, and 18.  If you listened to those you got a good idea of the whole series, since they range between excellent fusion (SHQ) and relatively innocuous big band by the numbers, e.g. Pratzky BB with Milan Svoboda (a familiar name, from the April Orchestra 32 masterpiece!!  In case you don't know, I posted that one here.)  And it gets worse: some of them are listed on discogs as dixieland jazz, words that to me are almost as atrocious as kazoo symphonies.

We'll likely be hearing more from this series, despite the fact you are paying the price of an LP for a few minutes of music here, at least the Czech record dealers are reliable and inexpensive, but what is most appealing is that it seems the releases contain non-LP material, new compositions.

I noticed No. 18 involved this band called SHQ which made a couple of albums in the early 70s that looked interesting.  Surprisingly there is more info than usual on discogs here:

Czech jazz combo, founded by Karel Velebný and Jan Konopásek in 1961 after both musicians quit the Czechoslovak Radio Dance Orchestra. The group name is an abbreviation of “Spejbl + Hurvínek Quartet/Quintet”; the Spejbl & Hurvínek Theatre in Prague was the group’s original employer. 
Note: Many group name variations have been used on releases or quoted in publications, but with the exceptions of a brief mid-1960s period without Karel Velebný (a combo also known as the Reduta Kvintet), all releases should be filed under this artist. That includes name variations like: S+HQ, SH kvartet, SH kvintet, SH/Jazz Quintet, Sága rodu SHQ, Happy Music SHQ, and others.

I included the nonet album from the late 60s with the above three, and found most to be a bit disappointing, for example in comparison to similar competitors Impuls, Energit, etc., and the Jazz Fables which looked so promising for a concept album, really was a downer.  The best track for me was the Anemones and Crabs:

Though each track has the unfortunate tendency to stay stuck in its tonic, this one in particular combines that with seemingly unnecessary wild digressions, like a Parkinsonian with occasional choreiform tendencies.  The Parnas album from the early 80s reverted back to acoustic general jazz and is probably for that reason unnecessary.  In the end, perhaps their best output was Simon's Mini Jazz Klub 18 from 1978, a clear tribute to the strength of this series.

I threw 'em all together in one file again.  Sorry about that, chief.

Friday, 11 May 2018

Back to JOCR with 1982's TOČR + JOČR ‎in Matiné Populární A Jazzové Hudby

For this 1982 outing, side one's TOCR is the dance orchestra and side 2's JOCR is the jazz orchestra, both from Czech radio.  Think about those times, when you could have a professional orchestra just devoted to radio broadcasts that everyone listened to together, so unlike social media or youtube's uber-idiotic viral videos.

Accordingly, we have mostly easy listening and/or simple (pre-1800) classical music on side one, including some pretty syrupy vocals-- think Tony Bennett or [choke] Harry Connick Jr..  Whether or not you like this depends on your tolerance for easy listening, good as it might be.  The JOCR group on the other hand tries to have it both ways, with composed classical music and fusion thrown into the mix, just as we like.  One quite interesting track is called Trubaci and it's by someone called Pavel Blatny:

In fact we are well acquainted with him from an album I posted earlier, which was fully composed by him, called Dialogy - Studie.

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

Czech singer Eva Olmerová with Michael Kocab, JOCR, in the early 80s

Continuing on with the Czech LPs, here's an artist who made some nice music in the early 80s, but clearly belonging to the 70s.  On the first album she lays bare her jazz credentials, sounding like an Ella doing fusion.  Here's the great Michael Kocab track called Monolog:

Btw Kocab is well known to all of you-- whether or not you realize it-- from the stunning fusion masterpiece Prazsky Vyber - Zizen.

On the later album unfortunately she takes a turn into the smooth jazz / doo-wop direction, anachronistically, though understandable for that period in the early 80s, and therefore disappoints. I didn't check if fusion master Kocab is still on board or if he is, averted his eyes and ears.

Monday, 7 May 2018

Back to Huje with 1984

The next year from the prior posting here's the 1984 installment.  Notice that unlike Starbucks this band doesn't allow white people inside, in fact, it's the photographic negative of your typical local Starbucks.  (Apparently in the early 80s a white trumpeter was arrested for showing up to HUJE band practice.)

I really like the dynamism of the Spirit Cry:

This is a composition by Gregory Charles Royal, who plays lead trombone, prophet 600 and misc. percussion.  What he says about this in the liner notes is interesting:

"Spirit Cry, which was recorded on my first album called Dream Come True, was inspired by the Wayne Shorter composition Free for All, which was recorded by Art Blakey and Jazz Messengers, with whom I've had the pleasure to play.  It was my intent in this arrangement that the bold french horn intro build through the solos and be relieved by the contemporary section.  After a brief recap, the composition winds its way down to the trombone and horn duet... this composition is dedicated to my parents, Drs. George and Gladys Royal."

Friday, 4 May 2018

Greek Mariangela in 1975

Many of you might be already familiar with this super-cute album which I heard just recently, its claim to fame being partly or mostly that it was produced by Vangelis.  The singer is highly reminiscent of Olivia Newton-John, one of my old childhood favourites, especially in this insanely naive song:

Yes girl, it's time to be a woman now, because today you can post your abuser's name on MeToo, accuse him of assault, have trolls gang up on him online with death threats to him and his children, make him lose his job, perhaps go to jail then be labelled forevermore as a sex offender, unwelcome in any community-- how times have changed, can you imagine that just over 40 years ago you could take advantage of a presumably teenage virgin like her, no matter your age, and then dump her quicker than you pull on your right pant leg?  Of course we've changed, as I've said before, in a mostly positive direction, towards more rights for all people regardless of 'minority' status (or 'majority' in the case of the female gender), and it's remarkable how gradual and unnoticeable that change has been-- at least if your last name is not Trump or you're not Russian.  Will the change continue to be positive, as Steven Pinker in his recent book, suggests?  Personally, I think that depends entirely on whether you live in one of the lucky countries (of Europe or North America or parts of Asia) or if you live in a country like Somalia or Afghanistan, where things are definitely not getting better.

Which is why I love so much these hopelessly naive albums from the seventies...

Wednesday, 2 May 2018

7 Akira Ishikawa and Count Buffaloes albums

First track off African Rock, called Prayer:

A brief bio of him:

Japanese jazz drummer, session drummer. Born in Kanagawa Yokosuka. November 10, 1934 - February 10, 2002.
He joined Shin Matsumoto and New Pacific on drums. This was his musician debut.
After that he travels across the band with Akira Miyazawa Modern Allstars, Toshio Hosaka and Emanaries.  Later he became active as Toshiyuki Miyama and New Hard drummer.
After that he joined the Count Four and he formed a band with the session members at that time called Akira Ishikawa And The Gentures (meaning local people gathering). This was his band leader group. This was the band that became the base of Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffaloes.

You can see under his own name a ton of releases, none of which I'm familiar with.  Anyone know anything about those, regarding quality?  Then, in the famous group complete with buffalos, another excessively prolific series.  Again, suggestions of high quality fusion/progressive in there are quite welcome.

For myself this is standard funk-fusion with not too much to hang on to, for the most part, very professionally done, but lacking in composing originality.  The later albums seem to veer dangerously into elevator muzak and feature far too many cover songs for my taste.  On the other hand the earlier ones are so indebted to percussive African rhythms they forget to change chords or even provide a melody to sustain us through a half side's music.

Monday, 30 April 2018

Kubist Tier: 20th Letter of the Alphabet -- RIO (USA, 1986)

Looking at the song titles in the image just above or here on the release page for discogs we can tell we're dealing with something interesting, especially in conjunction with the oddball artist name and album title.  20th letter? not 27th?  Many thanks again to my friends for bringing these crazy finds that are still apparently out there waiting to be brought to light and sound.

Quite a bit like the angular off-fusion of Strangeness Beauty or Free Funk Trio from these pages before, we have all instrumental wacky RIO/jazz, perhaps more the former than the latter, with compositions by collective but preferentially from the rhythm pair of drummer Danny Frankel and bassist Darryl Tewes.  You can see the latter went on to create other apparently one-off bands with the creative names of Acre Foot, Page Eight, and The Dark Bob, all the way forth on the fourth dimension up to the year 2014.

Dirk's definitely on the Needle for track A2:

Many thanks again to the dear friends who find these gems.

Saturday, 28 April 2018

Jose Pedro Beledo in Escape 1985

This is a wonderful, absolutely delightful unknown mixture of Spinetta Jade-type lush latin pop-fusion with inventive, rich chord changes in a tropically sweet exciting package, and the progressive American style of intellectual electric guitar that we've heard before from the likes of Rick Bishop or Scott Goudeau from these pages.  There is a nice bio online which briefly mentions this album, as well as a second called El Cefiro, which, obviously, needs to be now found, but little on discogs.

The first track demonstrates the awesome professionalism and inventive songwriting:

Fantastic and unknown find.  Thank you again...

Wednesday, 25 April 2018

Jun Fukamachi plays on the completely unknown cassette Daisy Chain, from 1983, recommended

A famous keyboardist who was also quite prolific in the era, and a lost and unknown cassette... is it like having heaven on a stick? On several tracks you will notice he achieves an impressive Jasper van t'hof-like complex meld of fusion and synthesizer melodiousness in perfect harmony.  He seems to be playing on multiple keyboards (overdubbed) with the occasional guitar accompaniment, occasionally solo, and on some tracks including rhythm section, but the result is quite enticingly full and appreciably fusion. 

As far as I can tell this wasn't released to LP, nor does it appear in the list of his releases.  What luck to have it unearthed by our wonderful musical miners...

Will these old wonders never cease?

I'll include all the other Fukamachi albums that I have on file, there are I think 20 in total, three separate files to download for limited time only. 

Albums are the following: 1975 Rokyu, 1975 Introducing, 1976 Spiral Steps, 1976 Fukamachi at Steinway (possibly incomplete), 1977 Triangle session, 1977 Sgt. Peppers, 1977 Sea of Dirac, 1977 Second Phase, 1978 Tokyo Fusion Night, 1978 On the Move, 1978 New York all stars live, 1978 Dream of Heike, 1978 Evening Star, 1980 Quark, 1982 Synth Fantasy, 1982 Solo Vol. 1, 1982 The Keep - DG, 1983 The Keep - Rockin, 1985 Alien, 1986 Nicole.

Pay attention to the 1978 Dream album, it's masterful, and probably his best work.

Monday, 23 April 2018

Polish composer Jerzy Milian in 73, 75, 78

The material looked interesting especially the ballet / classical album at the top, but proved a bit disappointing in comparison to other such third stream or funk-fusion finds from Eastern Europe.  Which surprised me, as the region tends to be pretty solid in the seventies.
From discogs:

Jerzy Stanisław Milian (April 10, 1935 – March 7, 2018) was a jazz musician, painter, composer and vibraphonist.

A track from 1975 that reminds me a lot of the better known, and perhaps superior J. Stivin:

I apologize for throwing together all three albums here in one file, or to use the correct idiotic verbiage, 'we apologize for any inconvenience this may cause you.'  Actually, I really don't give a dang about your inconvenience.  How about the inconvenience of having to listen to my wife complain all day about me spending my time on this blog and music?