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jazz related top albums

Showing only albums and live's | Based on members ratings & JMA custom algorithm

PARLIAMENT Mothership Connection Album Cover Mothership Connection
PARLIAMENT
4.89 | 9 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Album Cover The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.67 | 33 ratings
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SOFT MACHINE Third Album Cover Third
SOFT MACHINE
4.65 | 48 ratings
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STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.68 | 20 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Innervisions Album Cover Innervisions
STEVIE WONDER
4.77 | 11 ratings
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CURTIS MAYFIELD Superfly Album Cover Superfly
CURTIS MAYFIELD
4.99 | 5 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention) Album Cover One Size Fits All (as Frank Zappa And The Mothers Of Invention)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.61 | 31 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA Over-Nite Sensation (The Mothers) Album Cover Over-Nite Sensation (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.62 | 25 ratings
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MARTIN DENNY Exotica Album Cover Exotica
MARTIN DENNY
4.94 | 5 ratings
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AREA Arbeit Macht Frei (Il Lavoro Rende Liberi) Album Cover Arbeit Macht Frei (Il Lavoro Rende Liberi)
AREA
4.65 | 15 ratings
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STEELY DAN Countdown to Ecstasy Album Cover Countdown to Ecstasy
STEELY DAN
4.64 | 16 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Magick Album Cover Magick
JOHN ZORN
4.86 | 6 ratings
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Original Hits The Andrew Sisters
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WAYNE HORVITZ
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The Elements of King Crimson
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KING CRIMSON
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A Quartet For Guitars
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NG4 QUARTET
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Born to Dub You
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AUGUSTUS PABLO
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MINA AGOSSI
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NEXT ORDER
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MARCO BENEVENTO
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SUPERFLUOUS MOTOR
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MORAINE
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PEPPINO D' AGOSTINO
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NICHOLAS PAYTON
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GENE RAINS
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JOHN BASILE
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PINK MARTINI
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CHRIS LETCHFORD
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ACOUSTIC ALCHEMY
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The Party
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jazz related Music Reviews

ALIEN FASHION SHOW Alien Fashion Show

Album · 1998 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
ALIEN FASHION SHOW were one of the many swing revival bands that graced the 90s. These veterans of the LA club scene consisted of Eldon Daetweiler (trumpet / vocals), his brother Jeff Daetweiler (drums), Todd Thurman (guitar), Jeff Allen (bass) and Woodchuck Saito (keyboards). They released their one and only eponymous album in 1998 on the Surfdog label after becoming a hit on the West Coast lounge lizard circuit.

The music is clearly digging into the sounds of yesteryear with the main focus on a loungy style of jazz but there is plenty of rockabilly and piano jazz as well. I personally find this whole affair to be a noble effort but frankly it pales in comparison to the much better contemporary bands going for this retro sound such as Cherry Poppin' Daddies, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and the masters of all things swing revival the Squirrel Nut Zippers. I find the vocals a little lackluster and devoid of the passionate delivery the well played music is demanding.

Much of the music isn't as swingin' as I would like and when it bursts open the rockabilly gates it sounds like a cover band of the Brian Setzer Orchestra with moments when it sounds like they could cross a line into Stray Cats territory. Overall not a horrible album but just not enough meat and potatoes to add enough calories for a satisfying meal. Probably my favorite two tracks are remakes. The first is “Detroit Swing City” which is a cover and play on words of KISS' famous “Detroit Rock City” and a decent cover of “Roxanne” by The Police otherwise there is a whole heap of filler and scant moments of interest.

ESTHER PHILLIPS The Country Side Of Esther Phillips (aka Release Me!)

Album · 1966 · Jazz Related Blues
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Matt
Esther Phillips hit rock bottom by 1954 at 19 years of age and stayed there till 1962 after leaving Johnny Otis’ band in 1950 . She was known as Little Esther back then and in her first year with Johnny Otis she had a string of hits but as a roller coaster climbs to the top one knows where it is going next and Esther took that ride down at a quite a speed. She left Johnny Otis’s band after the first year and went solo but the hits stopped. She recorded thirty songs with her new record label Federal with only one getting to number eight on the charts. She went back home to Texas and worked clubs and venues locally but drug addiction kept getting in the way and luckily for Esther a young Kenny Rogers saw one of her shows in 1962 and signed her to his brother’s record label, Lenox. She went on to record a Ray Price hit “Release Me” (1963) which was a Country song and made it number one on the R&B charts and number eight on the Pop ones. After a brief hiatus at Lenox Esther signed with Atlantic Records and recorded her first album “And I Love Him” in 1965 which was released in 1966 with a follow up in the same year “Esther Phillips Sings” but she was not finished yet for 1966 when she also released “The Country Side Of Esther Phillips”.

The title explains the album’s theme quite sufficiently and all are given a beautiful Soul injection from Esther with the Anita Kerr sisters providing backing vocals throughout the album’s duration which was recorded down in Nashville for even more Country authenticity. Ray Charles was the ground breaker for these type of integrated albums with his release in 1962 of “Modern Sounds In Country And Western” which today is considered his greatest album by many and “The Country Side Of Esther Phillips” is not far behind for quality. Eleven tracks were included within the album with two Hank Williams’, being “I Can’t Help It” and “Why Should We Try Anymore” and Esther makes them her own with a stunning Soul interpretation of both. “I’d Fight The World” a Hank Cochrane song is given a lovely Soul rendition and for me is one of the top songs included. “Just Out Of Reach” was a Ray Price hit and an album single for Esther, “Be Honest With Me” is simply superb which is a Gene Autry and Fred Rose composition( Hank Williams covered many a, Fred tune). Even an early Charlie Rich “No Headstone on My Grave” with a Blues feel injected is just another album highlight with “After Loving You”, “Am I That Easy To Forget”, “Just Out Of Reach” and also included is a beautiful Soul version of “I've Forgotten More Than I’ll Ever Know About Him”. “Release Me” is a different version to Esther’s 1963 single and for myself it is actually an improvement with more emotion contained within.

“The Country Side Of Esther Phillips” is the female version of Ray’s “Modern Sounds In Country And Western” and could be considered the greatest female take of a Soul/Country album ever recorded. Esther had her own distinct sound with her voice bringing a distinct magic to this album and she sang from her guts with all the necessary emotion placed beautifully within every song. Many say her later Kudu Label material is better due to her hit “Home Is Where The Hatred Is” but for me it is the Atlantic albums with this being her jewel. We lost her far too young, she was only 48 back in 1984. If like myself you love these Country/ Soul albums and find this and Ray Charles enjoyable another good one is Joe Tex’s, “Soul Country” on Atlantic as well.

YES Drama

Album · 1980 · Jazz Related Rock
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VerticalUprising
"YES CANNOT BE YES WITHOUT JON ANDERSON!"

No. If you think that, you can just leave.

Jon Anderson, the main vocalist (and percussionist), left the band antecedent to the release of YES' 1978 release Tormato. This left many, MANY people stunned at this, and it was a collective idea that YES was finished. "After all," people said, "no one could replace the great vocalist who had been the soul head of the band during his age."

So after Anderson resigned, the producer of many previous YES albums, Trevor Horn, took his place as lead vocalist. The band, being under ever increasing stress to make a YES album for the ages even with the lack of Anderson.

And In my opinion, they did it. Although perhaps not as "progressive" as say Fragile or Close to the Edge, Horn took YES in a brief direction of progressive hard rock.

The album, starting out with the ten and a half minute epic 'Machine Messiah', comes in with very traditional - heavy metal edge. This song has been voted on boards across the internet as the heaviest YES song there is. The metal shouldn't scare you away from the aspect of the epic not being good old progressive rock. Having a ten minute recording, there has to be fluctuation from sound to sound in order to not bore the listener., and they do it very well. You'd have to listen to the track itself to know what I'm talking about. But TL;DR, this song is my favorite from the album. The album bridges with the slightly unnecessary 'White Car' into 'Into the Lens'. The latter is extremely reminiscent of RUSH's older material, and I think it would be enjoyed by anyone who likes them.

The album does retain, as I said before, fluctuations between prog rock and harder, RUSH-y rock. The prog is, however, undoubtedly YES. The tracks (although they are few), will keep you pretty interested throughout. It is true that Horn may not be able to hit some of the high notes that Anderson could, but to me, this is kind of a relief. High-pitched vocalists have always been a pet peeve of mine.

From a jazz point of view, you will not find much on here. This is less the old jazz-fusion-Anderson era and more, as said before, a progressive hard rock album. I would pick it up though for an interesting listen.

But overall, pick up the album. It is interesting, and important to any fans' YES collection.

Go give it a listen.

ERIC HOFBAUER Prehistoric Jazz – Volume 1(The Rite of Spring)

Album · 2014 · Third Stream
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js
It seems every time you turn around these days someone has a new jazz version of “The Rite of Spring” out. Possibly the recent 100 year anniversary of the piece has something to do with that. A certain high profile piano trio got a lot of attention recently for their rendition of “Rite”, but their version was turgid and unimaginative compared to this far better version by the less known guitarist Eric Hafbauer and his four creative band mates (Jerry Sabatini - trumpet, Todd Brunel - clarinet, Junko Fujiwara - cello, Curt Newton - drums). This version of “Rite” uses the melodies and structure of the original for some very imaginative improvisations that also manage to stay true to the integrity of Stravinsky’s original piece.

There are so many interesting cross-references at work here, Hofbauer seems to have thought of everything. First of all, the sound and approach of this ensemble often sounds a bit like 1920s jazz, which would have been the era in which “Rite” could have been first played as an experimental jazz piece. None of this is obvious or ‘museum like’ as Hofbauer also draws on many modern elements such as free improvisation and more. The 20s sound of the ensemble and the modern NYC eclectic influences blend seamlessly, the end result is a piece that fits well with the music of today, but could almost pass as an avant-garde piece from the 20s as well. The 20s was a very experimental time in jazz, with a lot of borrowing from modern composers, and its possible Hofbauer may be paying tribute to that.

The other interesting cross-reference comes when you notice that when “Rite” is played with this small ensemble, it sounds a lot like Stravinsky’s “History of the Soldier”. “History” was one of Igor’s follow-ups to the massive “Rite”, a small scale piece by contrast, “History” was one of his first pieces to show a strong influence from jazz, both in the instrumentation and in the music. Possibly the key to bringing all these elements together, the 20s jazz and the latter jazz influenced Stravinsky pieces, is the fact that there is a clarinet on board instead of a saxophone. Todd Brunel’s clarinet playing is what gives this rendition of “Rite” so much of its flavor. All of this may sound academic, but despite their sensitivity to nuance, Eric and his crew approach this music with sly humor and a sense of chaotic fun.

Eric Hofbauer’s version of “The Rite of Spring” never gets boring or predictable, the main melodies of the piece come and go while they mix with all manner of diversions and excursions. Eric is able to accent the modernist elements of this piece, both in the context of its time period and today, and show the connecting similarities in both decades. This rendition really brings new life to Stravinsky's creation, and I think Igor would have enjoyed hearing it. The added plus is Hofbauer’s guitar playing, which somehow can capture some of the color of Stravinsky’s original orchestrations.

FISHBONE Bonin' In The Boneyard: Set The Booty Up Right

EP · 1990 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
FISHBONE released their third EP - BONIN' IN THE BONEYARD after their full album “Truth And Soul.” In fact the title comes from the track off that album and contains two variations of it. The first is called “New And Improved Bonin” and the second is called “Bonin' In The Jungle.” The style on this album totally neglects any punk and metal leanings from the previous album and instead reverts back to the full jazzy ska sound from their debut EP. This five track EP is chock full of funk more so than any other FISHBONE release. The bass is on fire here and the zaniness and spontaneity have at least come back into play. The best tracks are “Love And Bullshit” and “Hide Behind My Sunglasses” which are fully fueled funkified madness and display a biting sense of humor that the band seemed to have reclaimed. Up to this point they seem to shine more brightly on their Eps than full albums but that was about to change starting the next year. As for this one it is a decent listen but really there's nothing on here that's outstanding. A late addition to my collection but not one I feel I have been deprived of. Good but nothing more.

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 Jazz/Crossover
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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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