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Album · 2015 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 3.52 | 2 ratings
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Slivovitz has been around for about a decade now, and “All You can Eat” is their fourth album. While Slivovitz has always been an interesting band, with “All You can Eat’, they seem to step up their game with a stronger, more mature sound and are proving themselves to be a force to reckon with on the international fusion scene. Slivovitz hails from Italy, but their music reveals influences from the Middle East, and Eastern Europe as well. Some have referred to their music as ‘gypsy’ influenced, but their influences are far more diverse than that. Along with the ‘ethnic’ European sounds, Slivovitz can also recall the music of Fred Frith and Frank Zappa, as well as other artists who mix diverse international influences. In line with their musical vision, Slivovitz uses an eclectic array of instruments that includes violin, saxophone, trumpet and harmonica, all backed by a muscular guitar driven jazz-rock rhythm section. This large group functions like a mini-orchestra that has many tone colors to draw upon.

The core of Slivovitz has always been Ricardo Villari on violin, Marcello Gianni on guitar, Derek Di Perri on harmonica and Pietro Santangelo on saxophone. Over the years, their rhythm section has been changing a member at a time, it’s the new current team of Vincenzo Lamagna on bass and Salvatore Rainone on drums that has pushed Slivovitz into a stronger more cohesive sound. The hot trumpet work of Ciro Riccardi is the icing on the cake. All of the tracks on here are good, but three stand out due to their well developed arrangements and strong melodies; “Persian Night”, “Yahtzee” and “Hangover”. Along with good solos, interesting arrangements are a key feature of Slivovitz’s appeal.

MAX JOHNSON Something Familiar

Album · 2015 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 3.50 | 2 ratings
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I really enjoy the trend when biggest European labels,traditionally associated with mainstream jazz, release more and more high level modern advanced jazz recordings.

Danish SteepleChase,one of the European leader of hard bop and post bop releases,past spring released excellent Danish avant-garde jazz guitarist Pierre Dorge album "Blui". Now Spanish Fresh Sound label,for decades known as largest re-issuer of archival mainstream jazz (and home for debuting mainstream jazz artists from all over the world) presented new NYC-based bassist Max Johnson trio album "Something Familiar" with groovy free-bop on it.

To be honest,Pierre Dorge (for SteepleChase) and Max Johnson (for Fresh Sound) both are not a newbies, just their new music is more significant on the burgeoning new adventurous jazz scene. And the missed link between two bands/releases is excellent Colorado-born trumpeter Kirk Knuffke, who re-vitalized listeners interest to free-bop in full.

So, on "Something Familiar" bassist Max Johnson leads acoustic trio with trumpeter Kirk Knuffke and drummer Ziv Ravitz, his regular collective for some years. Music here is modern free-bop, current reincarnation of Eric Dolphy's early avant-garde works, showing full respect to his (and some other early free-bopers) legacy. Sound is groovy, minimal but full-bodied,often quite muscular - as it was in Late į0s-early š0s American jazz. Tunes snippets are spilled here and there making all sound easy accessible, but whole mosaic of them is really of free form.

Rhythm section is strong here, but a real hero is still trumpeter Kirk Knuffke. His trumpet sings, leads melodies and adds distorted improvised solos totally controlling music's flow. As on other Knuffke's most current albums (this year's "Arms And Hands" for example),he is a modern free-bop magician revitalizing old,almost forgotten (and criminally undeveloped) idea for new life. Slightly less consistent than Knuffke's (and some other leading free-bopers of new generation)best works, this album sounds fresh, easy accessible and adventurous.

Everyone interested in this new (or better to say new version of really old) jazz sub-genre must give this album a chance.

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MAL WALDRON The Seagulls of Kristiansund: Live At the Village Vanguard

Live album · 1989 · Post Bop
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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One among most significant American ex-patriots on European jazz scene pianist Mal Waldron has recorded quite a lot of live material (mostly in Sweet Basil and Village Vanguard) which has been used for Waldron albums series for years ahead.

Leading a truly strong band (usually - quintet) Waldron played longish version of some his better tunes (usually between ten and twenty minutes long jam-like compositions,still with well controlled structure and generally easy accessible),which on vinyl albums of the era often were placed one per side. Quintet recordings (with Woody Shaw on trumpet,Charlie Rouse on tenor saxophone and flute,Reggie Workman on bass and drummer Ed Blackwell) came as two Italian Soul Note label albums - "The Git-Go: Live At The Village Vanguard" and "The Seagulls Of Kristiansund". Former contains just two compositions, and the later - three, with title song lasting longer than 26 minutes and filling all side B.

Mid'80s generally is quite a successful period for Waldron who recorded lot of strong material at that time. Blues and bop-rooted progressive post bop became his signature sound, with drone-like left hand playing which often gave rock-like aesthetics to genuinely very jazzy music.

All three album's compositions(Waldron originals) come from earlier times, where album's title song has been released for the first time as far as in 1977 (on "One-Upmanship" album with Steve Lacy and Manfred Schoof,among others). Waldron was a master of strong tunes so all three long compositions sound almost as easy as popular rock/pop songs of the time. Repetitive structure and piano droning don't destroy their integrity and when the music stops playing there is a feeling that it would be good to start same listening once again.

"The Seagulls Of Kristiansund" is with no doubt album's true top - slightly melancholic beautiful tune doesn't requires any visual addition - listener easily founds himself on north sea shore with sax very realistic bird-like screams and common matured dreaming atmosphere. This music surprisingly has meditative qualities on a manner of Indian ragas - when repetitive saturated music incorporates listener to specific atmosphere where he wants to stay for a longer.

As good as some other live Mal Waldron recordings from same few years, "The Seagulls Of Kristiansund" is good listening for fans of original tuneful post bop and excellent entry for those interested in Waldron more current works.


Album · 1979 · Hard Bop
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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With today’s internet, different regions of the jazz world are so well connected that once obvious regional differences in music are slowly disappearing. Its just too easy for artists all around the world to keep up with what’s happening in NYC, or London or Tokyo, or anywhere else with any kind of jazz scene. Such was not the case in the late 70s, particularly in Communist controlled countries such as Poland, where the latest musical trends from NYC were not as important as daily survival and trying to duck the watchful eye of ‘the authorities’. In 1979, much of the jazz world was mired in fuzak, while the ‘new lion’ movement, and a new downtown NY scene were just around the corner. None of these latest trends were happening in culturally cut-off Poland, where jazz musicians operated without the restrictions of following the latest trends from the US. All of this background helps explain this somewhat ‘odd for 79’ “Swing Party” album by Poland’s Krzysztof Sadowski, on which Sadowski plays old school swing/hard bop/soul jazz with a full stop organ sound that recalls lounge music of the 1950s. It’s a well made and spirited album, but if it had come out in the states in 79, it would have been a complete oddity, which is of course is not necessarily a bad thing.

Long winded cultural explanations aside, “Swing Party” is a solid piece of organ based hard bop groove that recalls pre-Jimmy Smith organists such as Wild Bill Davis and Doc Bagby. Not only is the music tastefully retro, but Sadowski uses a full ‘theatre’ sound on his Hammond, a sound that had disappeared from the international jazz scene a couple decades earlier, replaced by the leaner sound of Jimmy Smith and his many followers. Sadowski is aided on here by four powerful tenor soloists whose soloing styles range from bluesy Sonny Stitt, to more ‘outside’ Coltrane influenced flights. The tunes range from well known standards such as “Tenderly” and “Honey Suckle Rose”, to some neo-bop originals by Sadowski.

If you enjoy 1950s Hammond organ based jazz, this record will not disappoint, Sadowski’s playing is energetic, and the same can be said for his four tenors, all of whom sound like they deserved more recognition outside of Poland. The only thing that will let on that this record was actually recorded in 1979 is the recording date marked on the outside liner notes.


Album · 1975 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 4.52 | 2 ratings
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After success of kind and underground following of his early releases,one among best Japanese advanced jazz pianist Yosuke Yamashita released series of very strong albums,which never received true fame. Mid-70s in Japan (and even more that - in Western world) were years of fusion fever and yesterday's free jazz stars were almost forgotten in one day.

"Frozen Days" released in 1975 is one of such Yamashita's album, and it's very special on its own manner.Cover photo is a piece of art itself - all three trio members are pictured in a rural ambiance,most probably a barn, in a very last autumn's day when sun is a rare guest,it's still no snow outside, but dry grass with first traces of freeze on it shows that another short warm season is finished. Every time I look on this cover it recalls me Haruki Murokami's "A Wild Sheep Chase", excellent Japanese existentialism book about fragility and meaningless of life,released seven years after "Frozen Days" has been released.

Yosuke,originally heavily influenced by Cecil Taylor, here plays lighter, less percussive and more expressionistic. Saxophonist Akira Sakata, regular Yamashita's trio member and future Japanese scene star, is not so screamy and noisy as often. He is still full of explosive energy, but it's better controlled and his liquid soloing is touched by lite sadness. As very often in Japanese jazz, here is enough space for silence, but somehow all music is extremely well framed on a manner of artistic miniature.

All three musicians still play as on any other of trio's album of that time - as if their lives depend on it, but it's a rare album where attentive listener can hear that they as well play as if there is no tomorrow. And quite surprisingly, there almost feels no drama, just understanding, accepting it as higher power and Buddhist reconciliation.

Being of the same highest technical level as some other Yamashita's works of that time, "Frozen Days" is different by that very unique not only for Yamashita's music, but for Japanese jazz in whole,emotional coloring.It is not "Samurai jazz" anymore, it's "Haruki Murakami jazz",find this album and probably you will be seriously surprised.

CLAUDIO MILANO Ukiyoe - Mondi Fluttuanti (as NichelOdeon with Insonar)

Album · 2014 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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Both NICHELODEON and InSONAR are projects initiated by the vocal star of the show Claudio Milano who created these projects to be large collectives designed to revolve around a rotating cast of avant-proggers who want to create some most unconventional music. NICHELODEON dates back to 1997 while InSONAR only began in 2010. On this collaborative affair the two collectives merge to bring us some of the most fluid and visceral music i have ever heard. This is one of the most complex albums i have ever listened to and likewise one of the most difficult to review. Everything about this album demands extreme diligence in paying attention to the details. Even the titles are complex! This album is officially a collaborative release called UKIYOE (MONDI FLUTTANTI) / QUICKWORKS & DEADWORKS. The artists are NICHELODEON with InSONAR and FRANCESCO PALADINO. Let me clarify this for you. This is a double release that contains one CD and one DVD. The CD musical journey is performed by NICHELODEON with InSONAR and it is titled UKIYOE (MONDI FLUTTANTI) while the DVD part was created by FRANCESCO PALADINO and is titled QUICKWORKS & DEADWORKS. The theme of the whole project actually revolves around water. Water is the focus because it such a main component of all of life and the main constituent that allows our planet to sustain it. This work is chock full of symbology and once i inquired into the subtler meanings i was bombarded with all kinds of analogies, proverbs and unlikely influences. Worry not for you don't have to understand all of this to enjoy this music but it does allow you to explore as deeply as you wish. Putting that into the context of water, you can either choose to merely skim the shallow shores and only get your feet wet or if you are brave enough you can plunge into the deepest recesses of the the oceanic trenches where only bio-illuminating creatures break the cold abysmal monotony.

Claudio has explained to me that these musical expressions were created in the 2013-14 time continuum when he experienced profound insight and spent an entire month creating the accompanying beautiful paintings and illustrations that grace front, back, the inside and out with a whole little booklet included. Everything on this release is tied to the overall theme starting with the visual art itself. The jellyfish serve as an omen of how beauty can be dangerous, fragile and most of all fleeting, which brings us to the title of the album.

The title of the album UKIYOE comes from UKIYO MONOGATARI which is a concept that was put out in the first works of Asai Ryōi (浅井 了意?, c. 1612 ? January 29, 1691) who was a Bhuddist priest in the early Edo period in Japan. UKIYO is the concept that life is transitory and nothing lasts forever and that one's energy must be put into lasting spiritual matters that would continue on to the next life. I see the jellyfish as representing the beauty of the physical world but the dangers of handling matters in the wrong way can leave you wounded and scarred with precious energies wasted and a spiritual stinging. The imagery of the jellyfish and impressionist artwork lends well to the music at hand with its often ethereal and ability to evoke a sort of liquid conscious response to its fluidity and rhythmic drifting hither and tither like a jellyfish at the mercy of the tides. The music itself seems to follow the same ebbs and flows only in the sonic ethers of music.

The music was constructed in a most ambitious way. Each member created his/her own arrangement for each track with Claudio Milano acting as the conductor as well as avant-opera star. The tracks were mixed with the contributions of the acting members in order to create the larger-than-life kaleidoscope of sound that this music exudes. On board with this project are several musicians with an interactive orchestra that amounts to over 30 individuals. The music is really hard to pigeon-hole into any particular category and is fairly eclectic but there is a strong underlying theme of both Mediterranean cafe music with a heavy use of traditional accordion sounds, classical opera and on the wilder sides can conjure up Henry Cow, early King Crimson and even some jazz, electronica, drones and percussive outbursts that find their way into the mix. The music tends to begin the album on the more accessible side and ends with a kind of Krautrock chaotic ending.

Each track is filled with complex life experiences dealing with all kinds of human experiences that tend to be quite difficult. For example:

1 Veleno (Poison) is a tale of a failed son who wants to die but cannot bring himself to suicide for love of his parents so he turns to the fantasy world to escape life's disappointments

2 Fi(j)ùru d'Acqua (Flower/Son of Water) takes lyrics from a Rilke poem and deals with concept of nature as benign and creator of all beauty.

3 Marinaio (Sailor) deals with the concept of needing to kill in order to survive and how promises can become betrayal.

4 Ohi Mà - Nel Mare che hai Dentro ? (Oh Mother! About the Sea you have Inside) is about the reduction of dreams and dignity to mere economics in order to survive in a world where everything has become a market commodity. This track is sung in a local dialect of Southern Italy.

5 I Pesci dei tuoi Fiumi (The Fish of your Rivers) is taken from Ezekiel in the Old Testament where God is described as the Bringer Of Abundance.

6 MA(r)LE is the agglutination of "Mar (sea)" and "Male (evil)" in Italian and represents the sea as a bearer of death as an uncontrollable fury such as experienced by the shipwrecked people in the short DVD film that accompanies the disc.

Ah, now for the film! It is a short one at just over 26 minutes. It is tied in to the overall theme of the music and is presented in a surreal detached manner. In this regard it reminds me of "Eraserhead" in the fact that there are long dramatic pauses accompanied by TV narration and just plain strangeness! It starts with two couples, one older and one younger staring at the boat that they had to dock because of a reported storm. They decide to wait it out in one section of a castle i presume. The next twenty minutes or so shows them mostly staring at each other but interacting in strange ways. I have only seen this once and it obvious there's all kinds of subtext to it all. The dialogue is minimal with most talk being from a TV narration about snakes! It is very surreal to say the least. Claudio's vocal acrobatics pop in from time to time with some accordion music. I was originally unable to view the DVD because of those damned regional variations that prevent us in North America from viewing European DVDs but Claudio was gracious enough to convert it to a file i could download. Grazie :)

All i can say is this is one strange album but it has more than enough to reel you in instantly and then keep you hooked by constantly unleashing new surprises. It is as murky as the turbulent ocean and as placid as an alpine lake. The interaction of the musicians is impeccable and the orchestral cooperation is on the highest level of professionalism. I will have to count this one as a slow burner and one that gets better the more i experience it. Claudio has the vocal range of Celine Dion but the creative display of Mike Patton. The accompanying vocalists seem to dance together in the sonic dance floor and the instrumentation can create the most pleasant and addictive melodies or act as the musical equivalent of a tsunami crashing against the shores sweeping all life and structures out to sea. While i can't say i comprehend every aspect of the symbology i have learned about this release, i can say that i have been really enjoying this one a lot lately and since this is my very experience of anything by NICHELODEON or InSONAR i have high hopes that there is much more intricate creativity just bursting out in other releases. Highly recommended.


Live album · 1958 · Bop
Cover art 4.96 | 4 ratings
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Although Thelonious Monk’s contributions to jazz are highly regarded, it doesn’t mean that everything he recorded was gold. Especially towards the end of his career, Monk’s performances could be inconsistent or uninspired. Also, with shifting band personal, Monk sometimes had to work with musicians who did not exactly click with his difficult music. This leads to the question, which of his albums show Monk and his band at their best? Amongst possible candidates for this honor, the live set “Misterioso” rates very high. Not only is Monk on fire here, but he has an excellent band too, with the always imaginative Roy Haynes on drums, rock solid Ahmed Abdul Malik on bass and the high flying Johnny Griffin on tenor sax. In fact, Griffin’s soaring performance almost steals the show. There are only two Monk albums that feature Griffin, the other one is “Monk in Action”, which is the other half of the live set that makes up this disc.

“Misterioso” was recorded in Augaust 1958 at NYC’s Five Spot at a time when Monk’s career had just peaked, and the new avant-garde, which would make Monk no longer appear to be such an iconoclast, was just starting to appear. Surely Johnny Griffith’s astonishing rapid flow of notes is an under-rated predecessor to the new free jazz stylists. Griffith’s ‘sheets of sound’ tend to stay tonal, but the sheer intensity of his playing was a ‘new thing’. Some early critics felt Griffith’s excessive approach was at odds with Monk’s well-timed minimalist approach, but the two musicians actually compliment each other well, and both sound very happy to interact with each other’s direction and vision. Roy Haynes also contributes to the rhythmic interplay, and adds some excellent drum solos that demonstrate how a creative drummer can convey, and re-construct, the melody of a tune.

For Monk collectors, “Misterioso” is a must have, and for those wishing to check out his music, this is a great place to start. The almost kitsch beat-era album cover is a plus too.

BUCKETHEAD Monsters And Robots

Album · 1999 · DJ/Electronica Jazz
Cover art 5.00 | 1 rating
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My very first experience with BUCKETHEAD was 1999’s MONSTERS AND ROBOTS which to this day still remains his best selling album. This is for good reason. For all his eclecticness and productivity, the sounds he creates on this 5th album are by far some of the most accessible and most dynamic in balancing all the elements he has become known for. All the funk, metal, jazz, DJ turntables and electronica come together in perfect harmony on this one. This is BUCKETHEAD’s defining moment and the fact that all these sounds work so well together is because of his avant-garde style being smoothed out with the efforts of Les Claypool from Primus who helps out constructing many of the tracks, plays bass and even contributes vocals on “The Ballad Of BUCKETHEAD.”

Also on board here is Bootsy Collins (Parliament, George Clinton, James Brown, Praxis etc) lending some vocals on four tracks, Bryan Kei Mantia (Godflesh, Praxis, Primus etc) on drums, SF Bay Area DJ Disk on turntables as well as rap vocals by Ovi-Wey, Max Robertson and The Chicken Scratch Choir. The results of this menagerie of talents is what makes this amongst the most golden of finds in the Easter egg hunt in vastness of BUCKETHEAD’s discography.

The album begins with the energetic electronica meets heavy metal “Jump Man” (3:38) with Bootsy Collins declaring he can’t ever stop workin’ hard. This is beautiful aggressive metal riffage that has an electronica drum backing and some seriously flavorful guitar solos. In the middle it changes into a serious funky bass line with electronic embellishments and then back to the main metal riffage. This is an awesome track where every element is perfectly balanced and a deliciously discerning glimpse into the album’s brilliance in general.

Track two “Stick Pit” (4:28) starts with a jittery guitar solo and a steady pummeling bass line designed to simultaneously soothe the soul and unravel the nerves. It changes into a hard metal riffage with cool electronic effects that dance with the jittery guitar solo. This one is all instrumental and conjures up the image of cruising the streets of a town filled with chickens like its their day before meeting their maker at the slaughterhouse.

Track three “The Ballad Of Buckethead” (3:38) is a Les Claypool showcase with a funkier than slunk bass line that actually clucks like a chicken and is the only track where Les lends his vocal duties explaining the origin of the chicken lover. This has an accompanying video and is a very surreal and needless to say bizarre experience all the while keeping one in that feel good funk mode that classic 70s funk bands like Parliament and Funkadelic were so adept at evoking.

“Sow Thistle” (4:28) is one of the strangest on the album. It has Bootsy Collins narrating the quandaries of living in the universe and the perplexing properties of time, life and humankind’s irrational fears that are leading to our demise. Musically this has a rather avant-garde DJ beat that is 4/4 in timing but has bizarre electronic embellishments, scorching avant-garde solos and a very strange breakdown at the end that creates a musical instability that leaves the listener scrambling for some order that has totally broken down.

“Revenge Of The Double Man” (3:34) starts with a nice grungy guitar riff, funky bass and drums and has a subdued vocal arrangement. Riffs alternate and change it up. Nice drumming and creative use of turntables and electronic effects. Melodic and powerful.

“Night Of The Slunk” (5:43) is a nice echo guitar riff that is melodic and has a nice electronic drum beat backing it up. It alternates with a heavy guitar riff chorus. It has a jangly guitar riff bridge. Extremely well done in every way. Also contains one of the best solos that pops in when least expected but is the crescendo of the subtleties.

“Who Me?” (2:08) is a short but sweet unaccompanied acoustic guitar track that has BH playing a melodic riff and then strikes a dissonant note with a vocal reactions. Repeats a few times with variations.

“Jowls” (4:25) is quite an oddball. It starts out with a crazed voice shouting “Save Me The Slunk” and then turns into a weird metal riffage that has squealing guitar solos, funky bass sections and avant-garde soloing that all melds together so well. The funky bass has an interesting slight dissonance with the guitars. Another gem that grew on me. At the end we get to hear which parts of a freshly slaughtered carcass are consumed!

“The Shape vs Buckethead” (5:40) is yet another oddball. Starts off with a lowered vocal saying “Did i hear you say is life worth living?” plus more dialogue then a scream and then just-inhaled-helium vocals by Bootsy Collins which continue the narration. A nice funky beat and avant-garde guitar squeals continue the horror story that alternates all the introductory vocal styles, dialogue and instrumental prowess. Very weird! Very cool! The mantra? “I’m not afraid to die, i just don’t wanna be there when it happens!” Cool guitar solos, production and electronic embellishments.

“Stun Operator” (4:13) begins with an impressive drum roll then a string of simple guitar chords. The funky bass kicks into high gear and then some background muffled voices and avant-garde guitar arpeggios. Weird! Spooky! Cool! Showcases Les Claypool’s magnificent bass skills.

“Scapula” (4:04) is an electro funky metal track that alternates between a steady psytrance beat that alternates with a metal riff and some supplemental mood inducing noises, guitar slides, vocalizations and even an unexpected solo that take you into the stratosphere.

“Nun Chuka Kata (4:28). The finale is an indo-raga meets metal feeling groovy track that starts off with a guitar riff that has the most pleasant distortion and a nice simply drum beat. As it progresses there is a jittery guitar riff and nice turntables, electronic effects. The track ratchets up the tension and concludes with a one of the most brilliant uses of lead guitar to end its majesty which at the very end finds it ending its reign with a pleasant trancy sounding drone.

MONSTERS AND ROBOTS is one of my absolute favorite BUCKETHEAD albums. Granted this took me a while to fully comprehend its magnificence but was easily accessible upon first listen. Perhaps it won’t be an instant hit for everyone but it has stayed with me for over ten years and i can pop this on anytime and still feel as excited about it as i did in the beginning. This is probably the most accessible of his higher energy creations and i would totally recommend this to any BUCKETHEAD newbies as the perfect jumping off point to explore the chicken lover’s musical universe for in my opinion it just doesn’t get any better than this one (at least from what i’ve heard so far!) The creativity is turned up to 11 and the production is absolutely flawless in how all the different sounds fit together. Brilliant! If you only check out 1 (one) album in BUCKETHEAD’s massive discography, make it this 1 (one) !

AREA Crac!

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 4.24 | 10 ratings
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After the bleak (but brilliant) CAUTION RADIATION album, AREA return to an even more accessible sound started on their debut album. Well, accessible AREA style. Still not the easiest of listening but at least they have a template of musical scales that you can get into including the signature Macedonian scales and even some progressive funk on “L'elefante Bianco.”

This album is more about crafting cohesive songs and less about lurking into the free-jazz-fusion experimentation although some of the experiments from CAUTION are incorporated. This album is another winner for me. It's as tight as ever and Demetrio Stratos' vocal skills are still incredible (which we get more of this time.)

This is the album that made them popular in Italy and this is also the album that extended their music into France. This was also the first part of their existence where they benefited from a stable lineup (considered the classic period) that allowed them to tour. This is by far their easiest album to like on the first spin so if you are totally new to this band, CRAC! may be a better entry to this band's discography than even the impressive debut album.

MYRA MELFORD Trio M : Big Picture

Album · 2007 · Avant-Garde Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Virtuosic pianist Myra Melford's music represents a significant link between more traditional advanced jazz of AACM and modern adventurous eclectic jazz of New York and Chicago. Studied composition with Henry Threadgill,she plays melodic and accessible music,which is far from simple or straightforward.

Among many of her different projects,Trio M (with acoustic bassist Mark Dresser and drummer Matt Wilson) is probably the brightest example demonstrating her ability to connect old and new. On Trio M debut album "Big Picture" one can find members originals,mostly already played and recorded before with different line-ups, but here them all sounds different.

Myra herself plays strongly Cecil Taylor-influenced percussive piano,which doesn't sound aggressive at all though. Her playing is more tuneful and less rhythmic comparing with Taylor, and all compositions have strong melodic line as well. Free jazz bassist Mark Dresser in pair with tradition-rooted drummer Matt Wilson(who played with Dewey Redman,Cecil McBee and Lee Konitz among many others)surprisingly build well-tuned groovy rhythm section which leaves lot of internal freedom for well-framed songs.

Probably the main effect from albums music comes from that HOW this trio of equal musical partners play their music.Each separate song and the album in whole sounds as if it would be played by guitar power trio,just the music have been adapted for free jazz piano trio. In other words, groovy muscular rhythm section pushes music ahead still having it under control every moment, freer solos and rhythm changes are hidden vitriolically and resulting music sounds simple and quirky at the same time. Depending on listener's experience and preparing to accept it, one can hear here something what recalls The Bad Plus nu jazz (as mentioned one of album's listener on Amazon)or Henry Threadgill kind of avant-garde jazz.

In both cases listener usually enjoys a lot of what he's hearing.Perfect entry album for those coming from rock-jazz background and interested to dig freer jazz deeper as well.

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