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146 reviews/ratings
KING CRIMSON - In The Court Of The Crimson King Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
GUNESH - Вижу Землю (I See The Earth) World Fusion | review permalink
AREA - Arbeit Macht Frei (Il Lavoro Rende Liberi) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
MILES DAVIS - Bitches Brew Classic Fusion | review permalink
SLY AND THE FAMILY STONE - Life (aka M'Lady) Funk | review permalink
AREA - Caution Radiation Area Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
WEIDORJE - Weidorje Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
FISHBONE - Fishbone Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
NATIONAL HEALTH - Of Queues and Cures Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
NATIONAL HEALTH - National Health Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
ALICE COLTRANE - Ptah, the El Daoud Avant-Garde Jazz | review permalink
DIXIE DREGS - What If Classic Fusion | review permalink
CHARLES MINGUS - The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady Progressive Big Band | review permalink
SUN RA - Space Is the Place Progressive Big Band | review permalink
HIROMI - Hiromi's Sonicbloom ‎: Time Control Classic Fusion | review permalink
MAGMA - Magma (aka Kobaïa) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
YES - The Yes Album Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
SOFT MACHINE - The Soft Machine Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
SOFT MACHINE - Volume Two Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
FISHBONE - The Reality of My Surroundings Jazz Related Rock | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Jazz Related Rock 71 4.30
2 (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion 10 3.85
3 Classic Fusion 10 4.05
4 World Fusion 9 3.94
5 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 5 4.60
6 Jazz Related RnB 4 3.13
7 Hard Bop 3 3.83
8 Progressive Big Band 3 4.67
9 Latin Rock/Soul 2 4.25
10 Nu Jazz 2 4.00
11 Pop Jazz/Crossover 2 3.50
12 Post Bop 2 4.75
13 Jazz Related Blues 2 3.75
14 DJ/Electronica Jazz 2 4.00
15 Exotica 2 4.00
16 Funk 2 4.25
17 Bop 2 3.75
18 Big Band 2 4.00
19 Boogie Woogie Piano 1 5.00
20 Acid Jazz 1 3.50
21 Avant-Garde Jazz 1 5.00
22 Bossa Nova 1 3.50
23 Cool Jazz 1 5.00
24 Gospel Jazz 1 4.00
25 Ragtime 1 3.50
26 Third Stream 1 4.00
27 Vocal Jazz 1 3.50
28 Jazz Soundtracks 1 4.00
29 Latin Jazz 1 4.00

Latest Albums Reviews

BLUE EFFECT Conjunctio

Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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There were two great early prog rock bands that emerged in the former Czechoslavakia in the city of Prague, capital of the current Czech Republic. MODRY EFEKT (or Blue Effect) began merely as a blues rock band but displayed meagre progressive touches on their debut “Meditace (Kingdom Of Life)” whereas JAZZ Q PRAHA formed all the way back in the early 60s were predominantly inspired by the late 50s avant-garde jazz greats such as Ornette Coleman, Cecil Taylor and the great Sun Ra. While MODRY EFEKT managed to release their debut album the same year, this collaborative effort between the two groups would be JAZZ Q PRAHA’s debut appearance and the album had such an impact on both bands that it would forever steer their cross-pollination efforts into entirely unforeseen musical arenas. This album is unusual in many ways.

First of all only the first and last tracks are the only collaborative efforts that feature both bands playing together. The second track is a MODRY EFEKT only affair and the same goes for JAZZ Q performing the third. Secondly, this album came out all the way back in 1970 behind the Iron Curtain where almost every aspect of an artist’s creative process was controlled by the state. It is an astounding miracle that these two bands could have created something this utterly wild and complex at this early stage of progressive rock’s history when many of these tracks remind the listener of contemporary and future acts. Most likely this is because the album is entirely instrumental with no lyrics so censorship was unneeded since there are no references to politics. This music is insanely advanced and is one of those crazy complex prog albums that will require many jazz, prog and classical appreciation classes to master any intelligible understanding on much of the album’s run.

The album is only 39 minutes and 45 seconds in length but the beginning track “Coniunctio I” swallows up 19 minutes and 15 seconds of its real estate. This is by far the most demanding track on the entire album as it begins with screeching saxes and erupting organs swirling around in a cacophonous din before it finally cools down into a bass driven groove with a 60s psychedelic rock vibe complete with echo effects and ghostly guitar licks. After a couple minutes or so it turns into a heavy rock sequence that offers a taste of heavy blues rock with a sizzling sax that spirals out of control into free jazz territory along with some kind of whistling noises and frenetic organ counterpoints. Wow! There’s nothing i can think of from this period of prog history that matches the intensity of this track and were only about five minutes in which enters i swear a louder version of Miles Davis’ “Bitches Brew” which ironically came out the same year only half a globe away (before the internet or even legal access to American music) as a bass groove chugs along and keyboards dance Voodoo rituals around the bass driven campfire. After seven minutes it erupts into a bluesy guitar rock frenzy as Radim Hladík delivers one of the most demanding guitar solos of the era. Even Jimmy Page or Hendrix didn’t get this heavy. After eight minutes it changes abruptly to a pastoral symphonically embellished flute solo that slowly ratchets up the tension into a jazzified melody with an oscillating keyboard effect and some kind of bells. The mood remains placid and subdued for a while as a jazz bass line finally enters and eventually sounds more like hard bop but then a Thelonious Monk style piano run casually strolls into the picture and then goes plain nuts but finally at the 14 minute mark an ostinato bass line hypnotically entrances while a fluttery flute line plays over it but after a couple minutes it ventures into a segment that reminds me of that frenetic part of Pink Floyd’s “Saucerful Of Secrets” before the organ solo part begins. This track is phenomenal! At this early stage it has everything prog all rolled up into one. It has symphonic aspects, psychedelia, dissonance, heaviness, pastoral segments, blues, jazz, classical. Wow! A masterpiece of the ages.

“Návštěva u tety Markéty, vypití šálku čaje“ is performed only by MODRY EFEKT and along with the next track by JAZZ Q PRAHA provides a centrifuge effect that allows the listener to distinguish which elements of the first track were provided by each band. It also allows a break in the freneticism and over-the-top complexity with a significantly more light-hearted bluesy rocker in a psychedelic rock framework that utilizes a beautiful flute to weave a melody like a fluttering butterfly through the track’s shorter six minute time run. If you are familiar with MODRY EFEKT’s debut then you will realize that the blues rock, the melodies and the psychedelic parts of CONIUNCTIO are in their camp and this second track provides all of those musical elements and creates a beautiful flute dominated psychedelic rock track that also becomes heavy with guitar and soloing. In fact, it sounds a lot to me like many of those Focus tracks such as “Eruption” on their second album only with more erratic rocking parts.

“Asi půjdem se psem ven“ is solely performed by JAZZ Q PRAHA and like the MODRY EFEKT track gives an insight into which aspects of CONIUNCTIO belong to the band’s signature sound. This track is straight out of the jazz playbook which starts off somewhat straight forward but soon spirals out into avant-garde jazz heaven and reminds me a lot of some of the space jazz that Sun Ra & his Space Arkestra were pumping out in the mid to late 60s. The time signatures of each instrument all exist in their own musical world and the combo thereof results in a cacophonous din that apexes in a frenetic John Zorn type of saxophone frenzy a good decade or so before he was assaulting eardrums with his own similar style.

“Coniunctio II” continues the collaboration of the first track but is completely different. It begins with a sumptuous flute melody but is backed up by a jarring dissonant guitar counterpoint and quickly picks up and becomes a rather Hendrix-esque guitar jam type sound with a Tullish flute accompaniment and at this point is the most normal sounding track of the album. It remains jammy sounding but ratchets up the tempo, dynamics and finds more instruments joining in until it reaches a cacophonous crescendo but at the heart of it remains a bluesy rock jam despite all the horns whizzing away at light speed.

CONIUNCTO is one of my favorite albums ever to have emerged from the old Soviet dominated Eastern European block. This album titillates not only in a musical sense as it simultaneously pleases and assaults the senses but is fascinating to experience such a great work from the “forbidden” part of the world where the likelihood of a prog masterpiece emerging was virtually nil and only mere months after King Crimson, East Of Eden, High Tide, Marsupilami and other British prog bands were getting started. This album also shows the strong promise of collaborative efforts. Often these sorts of projects end up becoming watered down but the two bands found the right dynamic synergy to push each other further, the results of which steered MODRY EFEKT’s path more towards jazz and likewise JAZZ Q added more rock elements when they would finally release their debut three years later. This one is an absolute under the radar masterpiece. Be warned though that this is nearly a 10 on the progometer as it is dense, complex and often impenetrable especially when the JAZZ Q elements are on full steam. This album has all the elements of early prog rolled into one package. It’s heavy at times, it’s pastoral and symphonic at times, it’s psychedelic, it’s jazzy, it’s bluesy. It can be highly melodic with happiness inducing hooks or it can be dismally frightening with dissonant avant-garde jazz outbursts. One of my faves.


Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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Formed in the late 60s in what was the former Czechoslavakia which was very much behind the Iron Curtain and musically speaking a million miles away, yet certain bands not only kept up with the times with underground bootleg albums but also managed to weather the political storms and emerge as one of the most successful bands of the era from Eastern European nations. MODRY EFEKT (in the Czech language) or BLUE EFFECT (but have also gone by M. EFEKT, MODRý EFEKT and THE SPECIAL BLUE EFFECT) formed in Prague (now the Czech Republic) in 1968 and led by vocalist and guitarist Radim Hladík who would remain the constant member in the band’s initial two decade plus run. While soon becoming one of Czechoslavakia’s major jazz-fusion and progressive rock bands of the ages.

MEDITACE is a fine mix of Czech language 60s type sounding music primarily based in blues rock not unlike early Led Zeppelin but even at this stage they were showing traces of progressive rock as they were recording this in 1969 with many track including the opener “Paměť lásky” showing less influence from blues and rock and more Western classical elements dominating whether it include choral vocal arrangements, symphonic atmospheres or instrumentation. MODRY EFEKT were masters at creating strong catchy pop rock hooks even at this early stage in their development and although there is no progressive touches of the jazz-fusion type, tracks like “Blue Efect Street” show extremely strong ear worms with bluesy guitar workouts and clever arrangements including the use of a sitar. Most of all MODRY EFEKT demonstrate how beautiful rock music can sound in their native Slavic language tongue although side two was recorded in English which proves that the band had their sites on cracking into the international market from the beginning.

While MEDITACE is laced with excellent rock and pop tracks for their time and place, what’s really lacking at this point is a sense of cohesiveness for an album style as the tracks flounder back and forth from blues rock to classically symphonic and then to folky with almost Motown type walls of sound and then back to more Western generic sounding blues rock. Overall not a bad debut at all especially for being in a region of the world that controlled every aspect of artistic integrity however it would take the soon to be released second album with their country’s other progressive rock giants Jazz Q to steer the band into the more familiar jazz oriented progressive rock that they would stick with for the rest of their days. While i wouldn’t call this debut essential by any means, it certainly shouldn’t be skipped over either. It is quite the pleasant listen if not polished into perfection.


Album · 1966 · Exotica
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Now here’s a little oddity from the 60s in celebration of the life of the great Adam West who played the first BATMAN on the 60s campy tongue-in-cheek TV series. Due to the popularity of the series it seems that everyone was trying to make a buck off of it and this relic from 1966 was brought to life by a New Jersey toy company trying to get in on the action. After all everyone was getting a piece of this pie by latching on to that catchy theme song riff and and that famous na-na-na-na-na-na-na-na sing-along theme track. Amongst those copping a feel were Neal Hefti, The Who, The Kinks, Jan and Dean, Link Wray, Nelson Riddle, The Marketts, The Ventures, Bruce & The Robin Rockers, The “V” Rangers, The Revengers, Bob Kuban & The In-Men, Al Caiola & His Orchestra, The Standells and Sun Ra. Wait a minute? Whaaaat? SUN RA?

Yes! Sun Ra but only under the guise of THE SENSATIONAL GUITARS OF DAN & DALE which included Sun Ra himself along with members of his Arkestra. Together they teamed up Al Kooper’s Blues Project and created this album marketed towards children with catchy surf guitar rhythms based around themes on the BATMAN TV series and the album title being BATMAN AND ROBIN. Although anonymous on the album it is known that Sun Ra performed on the organ, along with his Arkestra mates John Gilmore and Marshall Allen on saxes, Jimmy Owens on trumpet and Tom McIntosh on trombone. From the Blues Project Steve Katz and Danny Kalb played guitars.

Since this was a money grab of sorts, the Tifton label taylor made for this project decided in order to keep licensing fees as well as royalties to a minimum, all the tracks except for the “Batman Theme” itself were based on whatever was in the public domain therefore everything from Chopin’s “Polaise Op. 53,” Tchaikovsky’s “Fifth Symphony” and the love theme from Romeo and Juliet were pirated and arranged into generic rock ’n roll and surf guitar riffs that sometimes sounded suspiciously too close to contemporary popular music icons like The Beatles (“The Riddler’s Retreat” comes a little too close to “She Loves You’s” signature melodic touches.) While most of the tracks are instrumental rock ’n roll jams, there are a couple tracks including the “Batman Theme” that have an uncredited vocalist who hits all the right notes so gracefully that i wish she were included on more of the tracks!

The whole incarnation known as DAN & DALE is a little murky as they released a whole slew of substandard releases and it’s unknown but rather dubious that either Sun Ra or Blues Project had anything to do with them. Don’t in anyway expect anything close to the extraterrestrial space jazz that Sun Ra & His Arkestra were churning out by the minute in the same time period of the 60s. This album was designed for kids and is nothing more than kitschy garage rock mixed with surf rock and space age pop albeit with some jazzy touches but what a fun little collection of numbers they churned out as the band takes bland and seemingly uninspired titles such as “Batman and Robin Over The Roofs” and add life to them with a tasteful masterful musicianship that adds a zest to the simple songs like only true professionals can.

While i wouldn’t call this a long lost masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, i can recommend this if you want to feel like you’ve fallen into an Austin Powers movie that simulates the era and in the midst of the groovy light shows in a smoked filled nightclub setting you can imagine this groovy music playing in the background while wild stoned-out hippie chicks are dancing the Watusi, the Hully Gully or just free floating across the dance floor! For a kids’ based album this one is real treat to listen to and one that has all the sweeter taste having the great Sun Ra & his Arkestra members involved.

SUN RA Jazz by Sun Ra Vol.1 (aka Sun Song)

Album · 1957 · Progressive Big Band
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Although he was born a mere earthling named Herman Poole Blount in the unassuming US state of Alabama in 1914, the future jazz master would claim to have had a visionary experience that transported him to Saturn and in the process transmogrified his very being into the more familiar musical legend SUN RA. He claims this happened around 1936 which is the period when the solar system was beginning its transformation from a third to fourth density process so certain carbon-based lifeforms very well could have had their DNA amplified in the process. Whatever the case, SUN RA was different than the rest and like all good aliens kept his secret identity well under wraps for the the next few decades while playing with the likes of Coleman Hawkins and Fletcher Henderson just to name a couple of the big talents of the 40s. Come the 1950s though and SUN RA was finally born (short for Le Sony’r Ra) and his Saturnian visions were allowed to take control. Although RA would skirt through the 50s somewhat under the radar fitting well into the world of hard bop and progressive big band, even at that stage he was somewhat of a fish out of water leaving his indelible stamp of idiosyncrasies on the jazz world.

Finally in 1957 the first SUN RA album was released although many other tracks were recorded dating back to the late 40s which would not be released until 1973’s compilation album “Deep Purple” (aka “Dreams Come True”) let them out of the vaults. Upon first pressing this debut was titled JAZZ BY SUN RA and appeared on the short-lived Transition Records and very much in a limited quantity complete with an extensive booklet of photos and liner notes. Ten years later many of the early recordings were purchased by Delmark Records and when this album was re-released in 1967 it was given the new title SUN SONG which it has been known as ever since. While both releases were faithful with tracks remaining in the same order, a feat not much adhered to in the early jazz years, the extra track “Swing A Little Taste” was added when a CD reissue finally arose in 1991. Even at this early stage SUN RA was calling his musical army of musicians THE ARKESTRA and incorporating strange unorthodox sounds, beats and rhythms to his take on jazz.

JAZZ BY SUN RA / SUN SONG shows a well-seasoned artist who was already an accomplished band leader and although his full alien potentials hadn’t quite drifted to the esoteric and space induced levels of the 60s, there is a lot that emerged askew from the normal status quo of late 50s bop and big band jazz. The ARKESTRA at this point consisted of a ten piece playing behind the great RA himself. Rhythmically and stylistically SUN SONG comes off mostly as a hard bop jazz ride but performed in big band style with the ensemble pumping out a parade of sax, trumpet and trombone riffs in a syncopated improvisational setting of swing. However, despite the first upbeat track ushering in a big band type of feel, the second “Call For All Demons” displays RA’s love of percussion hitherto unknown in the jazz world borrowing more from traditional African percussive rhythms than anything from the jazz scene of the day but even as the track begins sounding like something totally outside of the jazz world, the ARKESTRA effortlessly adapts the big band swing sound around these complex rhythms and intricate time signature workouts complete with RA’s jazz piano runs.

SUN SONG was produced by Tom Wilson, who at the time was a complete unknown in the music biz but went on to produce other top notch 60s acts such as Frank Zappa, Simon and Garfunkel, Bob Dylan and even the Velvet Underground. While SUN SONG was not the album that made the great SUN RA stand out from his contemporaries in hind site it should have since it offers in plain site a completely new way of mixing rhythms, harmonies and dynamics shaded with jazz instrumentation and big band orthodoxies. SUN SONG is widely considered the most accessible SUN RA release where he showed he can play by the rules before he really went for it and then broke them. Far from struggling to fit into the then popular big band world of the era, SUN RA actually proves he can keep up with the greats of the era and throw in a multitude of his own ideas in the process. SUN SONG ranges from the upbeat swinging introductory track to the more intimate danceable numbers such as “Possession.” While not the appropriate place to begin to explore SUN RA’s most extraterrestrial musical offerings, SUN SONG / JAZZ BY SUN RA is an excellent place to hear how much of what would come to be was slowly unleashing itself within a more orthodox big band jazz context.


Album · 2008 · (Post-70s) Eclectic Fusion
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JEAN LOUIS is a rather unique freeform avant-garde jazz meets avant-prog type of power trio from Paris, France. So original is their sound that they managed to come in second in the La Defense National Jazz Competition in 2007. Their self-titled debut release came out the year following and displays all their interesting fusion styles with a healthy diverse palette of eclectic influences. The band is a mere trio with Aymeric Avice on trumpet, Joachim Forent on double bass and Fracesco Pastacaldi on drums but like any excellent power triumvirate of sound, have the ability to encapsulate a much larger band experience with a huge swath of styles and eclecticism that makes this eponymous debut quite an intriguing listen. While no guitarist on board, Forent manages to make his bass sound as fuzzed-out as a peach orchard often reminding me of bands like Zu or Aluk Todolo in the process.

The rhythms are quite the strange mix of avant-garde jazz with Avice’s angular trumpet playing style and avant-prog type of rhythmic or should i say anti-rhythmic spastic meanderings. So think a mixture of 60s Sun Ra with a Miles Davis flare mixed with Thinking Plague and a noisy math rock band like Lightning Bolt and you’ve got half the picture! This band doesn’t stay still too long and after an intense hardcore workout they delve into extremely psychedelic meltdowns. Just check out the mind bending freakiness on “Airbus.” In addition to the instruments listed i swear there are other sounds to be found on here. My guess is that they use different percussive objects as there are lots of clanking and banging sounds. There is also a distinct cello sound on “Tranche” which means there must have been some studio guests participating.

This album is a major wild ride that has taken me forever to find on physical format as the CD is out of print and quite expensive but can be heard on the band’s Bandcamp site. This is one that must be experienced to be believed. The dynamic shifts from the passively surreal to the full out aggressive assaults on the eardrums is staggering as each member deftly weaves his respective instrumental riffs in a perfect complimentary way. This album has it all. Intricate melodies, scary storms of cacophonous walls of din, distinct jazz parts, avant-prog run amok and progressive workouts of exquisite virtuosity. The members of JEAN LOUIS are clearly aiming for the most ambitious of the ambitious music nerds out there of which i am one of! This is one of those relentless type of albums that just slaps you in the face with one surprise after another therefore I LOVE IT!!!

Latest Forum Topic Posts

  • Posted 16 days ago in THE PERSISTENCE OF PROG ROCK
    Excellent article! Thanks for sharing 
  • Posted 46 days ago in New album from Steve Vai
    I got the double CD last year. It's quite worth having if you like Vai's music. It's definately a bridge between "Flexible" and "Passion And Warfare." Have been meaning to write reviews but too much music, not enough time!
  • Posted 2 months ago in Guitarist J. Geils found dead in Groton home
    This little quirky piece of sophisto-pop is one of my favorite albums of all timeR.I.P. - mr. J


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