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YES Fragile Album Cover Fragile
YES
4.76 | 25 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Songs in the Key of Life Album Cover Songs in the Key of Life
STEVIE WONDER
4.82 | 12 ratings
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PARLIAMENT Mothership Connection Album Cover Mothership Connection
PARLIAMENT
4.81 | 11 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Album Cover The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.67 | 50 ratings
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SOFT MACHINE Third Album Cover Third
SOFT MACHINE
4.65 | 62 ratings
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YES The Yes Album Album Cover The Yes Album
YES
4.69 | 20 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Album Cover Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
JIMI HENDRIX
4.64 | 36 ratings
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YES Close To The Edge Album Cover Close To The Edge
YES
4.68 | 21 ratings
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YES Relayer Album Cover Relayer
YES
4.66 | 23 ratings
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NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures Album Cover Of Queues and Cures
NATIONAL HEALTH
4.67 | 17 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.59 | 45 ratings
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CURTIS MAYFIELD Superfly Album Cover Superfly
CURTIS MAYFIELD
4.85 | 6 ratings
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jazz related Music Reviews

JOHNNY "GUITAR" WATSON A Real Mother For Ya

Album · 1977 · RnB
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js
You have to admit that “Real Mother For Ya” has a pretty funny, campy album cover. Yes that’s Johnny’s mom pushing him in a baby carriage that has been made to look like a gold Rolls Royce, implying that young Johnny has grown up to do pretty well for himself in the music business, which indeed he did. Starting in the 50s, Watson was a star guitarist and vocalist in the blues world, especially in Houston where he was from. Moving out to LA, Johnny made the transition to a modern funk sound, and did so convincingly, scoring several big hits, while still maintaining much of his blues flavor. One such big hit was this album’s title track, with its humorous tales of ironic disappointment, rip-offs and plain bad luck. These are the kind of lyrics that anyone can relate to and Watson delivered them with plenty of funny asides in his distinctive twangy voice. The song became a real mover on the dance floor with its double heavy bass reinforced with a heavy analog synthesizer. As is typical for dance records, the title track comes first on side one so that DJs will have no problem finding it.

Sometimes albums like this, which are centered around a big hit, have nothing but filler after the hit passes, but the rest of “Real Mother” contains some well written and creatively produced tracks. Johnny covers all the bases on here, writing all the songs, playing all the instruments except horns and drums, and taking care of production as well. Watson is a great producer, different parts stand out and shimmer as he achieves great separation and clarity, and often puts some semi-psychedelic glitter on things. Johnny’s writing style combines blues, RnB, jazz and art pop, like a mix of Curtis Mayfield, The Ohio Players, The Crusaders and The Beatles. Some interesting tracks include the somewhat spacey, “Your Love is My Love”, on which Watson delivers all the vocals through a vocoder foreshadowing today’s frequent use of such vocals and, “I Wanna Thank You”, on which Johnny reveals he is just as good on the piano as he is on the guitar. “Nothing Left to be Desired” has a dreamy middle section on which Watson builds vocal layers over a jazzy chord progression. Johnny’s lyrics are never deep or heavy, but he delivers them with plenty of clever humor and spoken asides. Looking at the horn section, I see frequent Frank Zappa sideman Walt Fowler on trumpet. As many already know, Watson delivered some humorously over the top vocals on Zappa’s “One Size Fits All”.

YUJI MUTO & MIZUKI Glow

Album · 2022 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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DamoXt7942
Really really surprised at their soundscape, to be honest.

The album "Glow" released in June 2022 was produced by a twin guitar project Yuji MUTO & MIZUKI. Yuji is already known as a guitar virtuoso with musical diversity like jazz, rock, metal, hardcore, ambient, or something, and has been quite active for launching various projects like Next Order, Palstic Dogs, and some duo improvisational jazz rock projects. He invited another glorious guitarist, Mizuki, as a partner for this new unit, and the two geniuses created an enchanting album full of unpredictable but comfortable ambience. I've already heard from Yuji that this album was completely kinda fantastic and an ambient ensemble but could not believe it in a sudden manner ... I assumed there would be something heavy or metallic somewhere in this production, actually. But his words are really true, and I pleasantly find his 'greatly ambivalent' guitar technique with Mizuki's wondrous storytelling can grab my heart out strictly.

From the beginning of the first shot "Thaw", calm, fluent, gorgeous phrases are wrapping the audience up. They extend mysterious polyrhythmic sentences around the turf but we cannot feel any awkwardness via them. Sounds like their eye and mind contacts should have perfectly been united and matured. They play such crazy complicated melodic and rhythmic lines in a normal, 'without-struggle' way. The third "Astral", where female hummings are addictive, is also a complex tune but we cannot find any turbulence nor weariness but heartwarming, relaxing atmosphere deeply in it. "Sakura (Cherry Blossom)" has simple repetitive phrases saturated with momentarily dreamy texture. Very monotonous but never boring nor disappointing. We can enjoy slow tempo peaceful quietness plus brilliant mysticism via "20-6", one of my favourite tracks ... let me say this is a sorta musical icon of theirs. On the contrary, the following one, "Caelum", possesses clear, unambiguous guitar-oriented personal touches all around. Also this should be their flavourful flavour, methinks. The last "Beginning" (pretty sweet that they play the song with such a title at the last of this album) makes us feel their primitive positive intention, regardless of calm, easygoing vibes. Every single track involves heartwarming marvelous aroma. Recommended for lots of people tired under such a tough situation.

BRAD MEHLDAU Suite : April 2020

Album · 2020 · Third Stream
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js
“Suite: April 2020” is Brad Mehldau’s attempt to capture his feelings during the pandemic while he and his family stayed home to keep from catching or spreading the infectious germs that were sweeping the world. There is of course a good bit of melancholic reflection, but also a small dose of joy that comes from time spent with family. It is a solo piano recording of course, so many solo albums came out during this time from many artists.

The first nine tracks are the highlight of the album. These tracks do flow much like a suite and you will probably find yourself listening to these as a whole, rather than as separate tracks. These are the tracks that dwell on the more somber side of the pandemic, the solitude and reflection that many of us went through. As through composed semi-classical piano pieces, these nine are quite brilliant and sound much like mid-20th century French neo-classical piano works, particularly recalling the piano compositions of Francis Poulenc. Any of these tone poems would hold up well in a contemporary classical concert. A couple tracks that follow are more light-hearted, almost silly, as they attempt to capture the feeling of family fun. These songs are okay, but unfortunately they break the hypnotic spell that Brad built during the first nine performances.

Next up, Mehldau performs an interesting cover of Neil Young’s “Don’t Let it Bring You Down”, introducing a bit of his trademark intertwining contrapuntal lines. This is followed by Billy Joel’s “New York State of Mind” which sounds like a fairly standard lounge version, maybe Brad wanted to leave the song alone and let it speak for itself. Apparently the closing number is a Mehldau original as there are no song writing credits given, but its title and music sound like a sentimental pop song from a bygone era. If you put together a CD that featured the first nine tracks plus the Neil Young cover and left the others out, you would have a more consistent suite.

FRANK ZAPPA Joe's Corsage

Live album · 2004 · Jazz Related Rock
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UMUR
"Joe's Corsage" is a full-length album release by US avant garde rock act Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention. The album was released through Vaulternative Records in May 2004. "Joe's Corsage" features archive material recorded in 1964-1965. Some or probably most of it while the band were still called The Soul Giants. The album was compiled by archivist Joe Travers. Most of the material are demo recordings of tracks that in their final form would appear on the band´s debut album "Freak Out! (1966)", but also a few tracks that would appear on "Absolutely Free (1967)" and "We're Only In It For The Money (1968)". In addition to the demos there are also a couple of live cover tracks by Righteous Brothers and Marvin Gaye. There are also a couple of interludes on the album where Frank Zappa speaks of the origins of the band and his influences, taken from interviews from the sixties.

If you are already familiar with the early material by the band and the doo woop/r´n´b style of tracks like "Anyway the Wind Blows" and "Go Cry On Somebody Else's Shoulder" you pretty much know what to expect from "Joe's Corsage". The versions on this album vary from the ones that ended up on the studio albums, but for the most part the tracks aren´t terribly different from the studio versions. A track like "I'm So Happy I Could Cry", which ended up being titled "Take Your Clothes Off When You Dance" on "We're Only In It For The Money (1968)" featuring a new set of lyrics, is one of the tracks that sound a bit different from the studio version, but otherwise I think there are little here that´ll be of interest to anyone but the most hardcore collectors. Still the recordings are of good quality with a, for the time, remarkably good sound production and of course there´s nothing wrong with the quality of the material either, so a 3 star (60%) rating is fair.

FRANK ZAPPA Orchestral Favorites

Album · 1979 · Third Stream
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UMUR
"Orchestral Favorites" is a live album release by US artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through DiscReet Records in May 1979. It´s the successor to "Sheik Yerbouti" from March 1979. All material featured on "Orchestral Favorites", was originally meant to be featured on the shelved "Läther" box-set, but ended up being released as one of four individual album releases, instead of the collective work that would have been the "Läther" box-set.

The 5 tracks featured on "Orchestral Favorites" were recorded during three sessons on the 17th-19th of September 1975, at Royce Hall on the UCLA campus with conductor Michael Zearott and the 37-piece Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Symphony Orchestra. The first two sessions were recorded as concerts with an audience, while the last session was done without an audience. Zappa spliced the best parts from the three sessions together and added an overdub guitar solo on "Duke of Prunes". It´s a combined classical orchestra and rock group performance, so in addition to the classical music instruments like violin, oboe, and clarinet, the music also features regular rock music instrumentation of guitars, bass, keyboards, and drums. The music is fully instrumental.

The melodic, dynamic, and symphonic "Strictly Genteel" opens the album. An early version of this composition with vocals was included on the "200 Motels" (1971) film and soundtrack. Themes from "200 Motels" (1971) are also used on the closing track "Bogus Pomp". "Pedro's Dowry" and "Naval Aviation in Art" are avant garde tinged classical music pieces, showing Zappa´s more experimental side. "Duke of Prunes", which was originally featured on "Absolutely Free" (1967), is featured here in a re-arranged classical orchestra/rock group version. The above mentioned overdubbed guitar solo is pretty intense, featuring an almost constant near feedback noisy approach.

While "Orchestral Favorites" certainly features a couple of intriguing moments, it´s arguably the least interesting release culled from the shelved "Läther" material. According to Zappa he spend around $200,000 on this project, and honestly I can´t say I think those money was well spend. A 3 star (60%) rating isn´t all wrong though as there are enough great elements to warrant that rating.

jazz related movie reviews

KING CRIMSON Neal And Jack And Me

Movie · 2004 · Jazz Related Rock
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Sean Trane
This DVD will please many of the third Crimson phase fans combines two tours: the Beat tour and the Three Of A Perfect pair. Oddly enough, they are presented in a non- chronological order, but this is a very minor point. One of the things I was particularly uneasy about was Bruford's use of electronic percussions and drums and we get a load of those "things" and like all technology novelty, the risk is that it ages poorly and sadly here, it is the case. Another point I had not appreciated is the stage presence of Adrian Belew, which is clearly copied from David Byrne from his collaborations with The Talking Heads - I love the T Heads, but Belew's stage antics are too derivative and ill fitted for Crimson. There are a few tracks present twice and most notably the boring Mate Kusadai.

Strictly on the visual front, Crimson was clearly making efforts to look hip and appeal to a more new-wave-ish public. Those were the days! But I never said that they were good, either!

Among the bonuses, are a video clip and a few titbits, but sadly still missing is that mini- concert footage filmed for the Discipline release and them playing four tracks in front of a red curtain. I may be severe with my rating of this DVD but I am not a real fan of that era.

GONG Classic Rock Legends

Movie · 2000 · Jazz Related Rock
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seyo
This video contains live performances from 1990 Live on TV album. Four original members of GonG are present: Pip Pyle, Didier Malherbe, Gilli Smyth and an oddball-harlequin persona of the spiritus movens, Daevid Allen.

Performance is focused on their legendary Radio Gnome Invisible trilogy, with 3 starters from Camembert Electrique. Since I have no idea what GonG looked like on scene back in the early 1970s (that is, before I took a peek at several Youtube clips recently), I guess this DVD makes up a lot for that, the age of the performers notwithstanding.

In fact, seeing these unique art-performers in their senior age can just assure you how the music and art in general can surpass generations, years and ages if you wish. Musicianship is great, movie direction very good with several cameras shooting from different angles, while only the engagement of the dancers to invoke the mystical gnomey creatures may be seen as too over-stressed.

The finale presents perhaps too long goodbye with the extended "I Am You" jam, but when Daevid jumps down into the audience you can actually see the highly emotional and spiritual connection between the band and the people, done in an almost religious-like chanting. This is excellent video and should be seen by all those who have at least some knowledge of the Planet GonG trilogy repertoire!

BILL BRUFORD Bbc Rock Goes To College: Live 1979

Movie · 2006 · Jazz Related Rock
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Dick Heath
I remember seeing this originally on BBC 2 a few weeks after it was recorded in one of the canteens of Oxford Poly, and getting a mix of intense pleasure. In particular pleasure from the tour de force that Holdsworth had developed into (and screamed out at me on Feels Good To Me)and the unknown bass-wiz Jeff Berlin. But there was disappointment over Annette's contribution to the set - when her husky voice breathed sex at me on the album.

Now here from the Beeb's archives is the original 70's video quality footage as originally shown on 625 lines. The pleasure points remain, with some details emphasised. However the disappointment is worse, in particular there is a promise of something special as Peacock flounces on part way through the set, dressed as the fashion queen,(thereby drawing the contrast with the blokes in the band). However,again the expectation of something special evaporates quickly - the diva can't 'deave' live in sympathy with the music, the band i.e. her vocals are poor. Fortunately we don't have to suffer this for long and thank goodness for the skip button.

Yes this is a short recording*, and isn't there a missed opportunity here? One DVD burn (of a copy of a copy, etc.) of this gig I saw some years ago and suffering horribly from colour dropout, had the addition of two extra numbers by Bruford recorded off from the Old Grey Whistle Test - here with I think Neil Murray deputing for Jeff Berlin. Surely the Beeb could had offered these as well?

*Interesting to see another Rock Goes To College recording of Herbie Hancock & the Headhunters recorded at the now defuncted Chelsea College, that had resurfaced on BBC 4 2 years ago, was an hour long.

STING Bring On The Night

Movie · 2005 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
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Slartibartfast
The concept here is a documentary of a band forming, The Blue Turtles Band, rather than a band at their peak or breaking up. Fortunately it is heavier on the music than the documentary.

The first half takes place in a French countryside chateaux and consists of presentable songs from nine days of practice sessions for what was to be their first show. Everyone in the band seems to be having a good time. The chateaux provides nice a nice backdrop to the sessions. The second half is the show itself.

Since this was Sting's first post Police effort, there's a lot of reworked Police songs mixed in with tracks from the first album. It's sort of like the Police meets jazz with Andy Summers ejected so Sting could play guitar. The band line up is primarily younger jazz musicians that already had a good reputation for work they had done before hooking up with Sting.

There are interview excerpts between the songs. One of the more interesting ones was Miles Copeland, Sting's manager and Stewart's brother going on about negotiations with the rest of the band. He was extremely dismissive of the band in relation to Sting when it came to monetary compensation. I suspect that was more about himself getting a bigger piece of the pie than a reflection on Sting, although I do recall him guest appearing on a Saturday Night Live show with Steve Marting and Steve introducing him as Stin-gy.

I originally saw this one in a theater and was really pleased to see it released being reworked with "high definition digital anamorphic picture transfer and digitally remastered surround audio." It actually does look a little sharper than I recall and I think the orginal sound was just stereo.

BILL BRUFORD Bbc Rock Goes To College: Live 1979

Movie · 2006 · Jazz Related Rock
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Slartibartfast
This is incredible. I had the good fortune of seeing Bruford, unfortunately post Holdsworth, at the now defunct Atlanta Agora. I did get to catch Holdsworth touring for his I.O.U. album, but that's another story. My first pass through this concert really gave me the goosebumps.

It is unfortunate that this DVD is only 41 minutes, but the set list is excellent. Four tracks from Bruford's best album, One of a Kind. Annette Peacock even shows up for a couple of songs. I always thought that she didn't fit in well with this kind of music, but it's nice to see her all the same. I hope I'm wrong, but I don't think there's any live video out there of Alan Holdsworth, so seeing him in action is a special treat. One of the things I remember most from seeing Bruford was that at times Jeff Berlin's picking fingers were a blur and seeing him again live, I know I wasn't imagining it. Dave Stewart, or as I like to call him, The Dave Stewart, not that Eurythmics guy, is also a lot of fun to see in action. I noticed he had a music stand with no sheet music, but a synthesizer diagram, interesting. And then of course there's Bill. Those of you who may dislike his electronic drum work, I'm not one, will be happy to him playing strictly acoustic. What can I say? He's really one of best drummers around. The audio quality is excellent and sometimes the camera man crop off Holdsworth's left hand when I'd like to see it, but other than that, this is really nice for a concert captured in 1979.

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My Favorite Things Hard Bop
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Frameless 21st Century Modern
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