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PARLIAMENT Mothership Connection Album Cover Mothership Connection
PARLIAMENT
4.89 | 9 ratings
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SOFT MACHINE Third Album Cover Third
SOFT MACHINE
4.65 | 48 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Album Cover The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.66 | 34 ratings
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STEVIE WONDER Innervisions Album Cover Innervisions
STEVIE WONDER
4.75 | 12 ratings
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STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.66 | 22 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
4.59 | 32 ratings
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AREA Arbeit Macht Frei (Il Lavoro Rende Liberi) Album Cover Arbeit Macht Frei (Il Lavoro Rende Liberi)
AREA
4.66 | 15 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA Over-Nite Sensation (The Mothers) Album Cover Over-Nite Sensation (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.60 | 26 ratings
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MARTIN DENNY Exotica Album Cover Exotica
MARTIN DENNY
4.94 | 5 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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jazz related Music Reviews

PRINCE JAMMY Kamikazi Dub

Album · 1979 · Dub Fusion
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js
If you ask most lovers of Dub music, what was the album that got them started, or what is still their favorite album, there is a very good chance they will pick Prince Jammy’s classic “Kamikaze Dub”. Jamaican Dub music first appeared in the mid-70s under the guidance of the creative master mind, King Tubby. By the late 70s, two of his top co-workers, Scientist and Prince Jammy were ready to branch out on their own, and they did. Both Jammy and Scientist were poised to take dub to a whole new level, but Jammy’s record came out first, and that’s why “Kamikaze Dub” is often cited as the album that raised the bar for good. After its release, many Jamaican producers aspired to create the same swirling psychedelic sound that Jammy presented on these near perfect tracks.

This music has aged very well, there is a certain economical neatness on here that implies the digital age, but this was all done painstakingly by hand towards the end of the analog era. This is truly a labor of love as each echo and phase shifter is placed logically, no gratuitous tacky effects mar the final product. The intelligent choice of effects adds to the quality of ‘Kamikaze’, I’m not sure if they were using the new Electro-Harmonix small stone phase shifter, but it sure sounds like it, or something similar. The musicianship on here is outstanding as well, with other Dub stars taking part such as Sly and Robbie on drums and bass, Augustaus Pablo on keyboards, Headley Bennett and Bobby Ellis on horns, as well as many others. The bright effects treated piano and organ parts that borrow from art rock and classical music are often the icing on the cake.

As mentioned earlier, when “Kamikaze Dub” came out in 1979, it became the gateway drug for many a future dub addict. At that time, Miles Davis had retired his psychedelic fusion band, and psych-rock pioneers, Pink Floyd, were slipping into corporate sludge, the time was right for something new, and Price Jammy hit the spot.

VIJAY IYER Mutations

Album · 2014 · Third Stream
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snobb
American pianist Vijay Iyer ECM debut opens with "Spellbound And Sacrosanct, Cowrie Shells And The Shimmering Sea" - solo piano composition,coming from his first ever album, released in 1995 (Memorophilia,Asian Improv Records ‎– AIR 0023). But on "Mutations" this song sounds not like free improv, but as well-composed chamber piece. "Vuln,part 2" coming next changes the mood radically - Iyer's piano sounds are walking over deep electronics pulsation more common on ambient or left-field recordings.

Rest of the album is completed with one long suite,composed by Iyer and played by him (on piano and electronics) and strings quartet."Mutations I-X" is perfect title for music presented under that title - mostly pre-composed,it flows changing its form,mood and timbres but staying generally almost the same. All compositions are minimalist,with lot of space and cross-stylistic by their origin. Strings quartet (cello,viola and two violins) sound sometimes chamber,but more often - dark,dissonant or even streetwise(in places their droning recalls "Apocalyptica plays Metallica" aesthetics). Iyer plays very ascetic piano here and there, more often he's a source of different electronic voices and noises.

Main pleasant surprise with "Mutations.." is that being a product of many (and often polar)influences,music here doesn't sound chaotic or eclectic. All techniques and aesthetics are so carefully used that final product sounds as new unity,tasteful,stylish,ambitious and accessible at the same time.

As many cross-genre recordings of similar origin, "Mutations" isn't music for everyone's ear. Jazz purists wouldn't find much jazz here (probably not at all),chamber snobs will be shocked by flippant use of electronics,noise and drones combining it with string quartet's music,but fans of advanced (and very cinematographic,or probably better to say - modern theater soundtrack-like)music will find lot of joy and new ideas here. Excellent Vijay ECM debut - opening label's already a bit conservative doors wider.

GONG Camembert Electrique

Album · 1971 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
No this isn’t quite the “Radio Gnome Triology” despite the first short track being titled “Radio Gnome” but despite the lack of Steve Hillage’s spaced out echo guitar trippiness, Daevid Allen in cahoots with Gilli Smyth manages to create a healthy dose of Canterbury psychedelia on his own terms. CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE is the second release by Daevid Allen’s GONG and probably one of the most rockin’ of the entire GONG discography. On this release it is Daevid Allen who plays guitar and bass as well as handling the expected vocal duties. BTW although my remastered copy says the first track is “Radio Gnome” i see it listed as “Radio Gnome Prediction” on the very first vinyl release as well as other subsequent releases. How clever, hmmm?

This is an interesting transition album that feels like it has connections to the heavy psych of the 60s while branching out its tentacles into a new 70s space rock style garnished with all the zaniness and humor that the Canterbury scene was so famous for. If you listen to the old Wilde Flowers and Soft Machine demos with Daevid Allen still in the band, you can trace some of these riffs to those days, only with the addition of Gilli Smyth’s famous space whispering and the excellent addition of Didier Malherbe’s excellent sax and flute to create some really good solid musical madness on this one. This is a great example of how to combine the Canterbury whimsy with space rock, progressive heavy rock and healthy doses of anarchic psychedelia with totally original experimental elements.

This indeed was time of the birth of the space age hippie music and Daevid Allen’s decade long roster of ideas that were suppressed and underdeveloped really were allowed to bloom for the first time on CAMEMBERT ELECTRIQUE. This is really a fun album! Musically, lyrically, rhythmically etc. Just look at the zany titles of the songs: “Mister Long Shanks, O Mother, I Am Your Fantasy,” “Dynamite: I Am Your Animal,” “Fohat Digs Holes In Space!” This is just wonderful music being melodic, demented, innovative, unique, experimental, daring, sacrilegious, comical, uproarious and above all spaced out, maaaan! While most of GONG’s discography displays complex band interactions, this is the one that screams out that it’s Daevid Allen’s baby and what a cute and adorable little baby it is! Sadly Daevid passed away recently on 13 MARCH 2015. Thank you Daevid for all this excellent music and R.I.P. No doubt this music will entertain for a very long time to come :)

JAMES BROWN Hot

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related RnB
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js
Ironically titled “Hot”, this album, except for a few cuts, is not, but instead marks the beginning of James Brown’s long downhill slide that will take up the rest of his career. At this point, there was really no where else for James to go but down. His successes from the 60s into the early 70s made him one of the most energetic, creative and visionary artists in the pop/RnB/rock field, and his wide reaching influence was topped only by Hendrix and the Beatles. Its hard for any artist to burn bright for ever, and “Hot” is evidence of that.

It’s a strange mish-mash that makes up this thrown together album. Side one opens with title song, “Hot”, which is basically a direct lift of David Bowie and Carlos Alomar’s famous “Fame” riff retooled to sound like James and his group. Some are critical of this one, but it hits a solid groove. This is followed by a couple older pop songs updated for no particular reason other than to fill up an album. They’re not bad tracks really, but hardly great either. Track three, “Try Me”, is a terrible update of one of James’ classic ballads. The orchestration is sweet simple corn syrup that would be a better fit on a children’s album or something by Rick Wakeman. Side one closes with some bizarre psychedelic funk that would be alright except that there are these incidental vocal noises that are mixed too loud.

Side two starts strong with the classic funk of “Woman”, easily the best track on the album. The rest of side two is made up of more pop re-makes, some better than others. The best of these is “Most of All”, a doo-wop flavored tune with sophisticated jazzy orchestrations and interesting time change-ups, it also features some of James' best vocals on the album. The re-make of Brown's classic “Please, Please, Please”, seems unnecessary, but at least the arrangement is not near as bad as the previous “Try Me”.

There are a few tracks on here that James Brown fans will want to pick up, but almost any previous James Brown album is better than this one. Unfortunately, James will continue the rest of his career in less than stellar fashion, but fortunately, that will in no way tarnish the best of his early work.

QUIET SUN Mainstream

Album · 1975 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
QUIET SUN is a strange little beast. The jazz-fusion band existing in the Canterbury Scene was one of the few to incorporate highly distorted rock guitar in its sound. The band actually started under the ridiculous Pooh And The Ostrich Feather moniker in 1970. The band’s existence has everything to do with Robert Wyatt who with Bill McCormick the bassist brought this idea into fruition. MAINSTREAM is the first and only offering from this band which formed and disbanded and then reunited and because of Phil Manzanera’s success in Roxy Music allowed this group to reform and record these ideas and finally release this wonderful musical magic in 1975.

The band consisted of percussionist old-school friend Charles Hayward (This Heat, Mal Dean’s Amazing Band, Radar Favourites, Dolphin Logic), bassist Bill MacCormick (Matching Mole, Robert Wyatt, 801 w/ Manzanera, Eno, etc) and of course, Phil Manzanera, who is most famous for his lead guitar work in Roxy Music but is also less famous for his Latin American music hailing from Colombia and Venezuela. This album, however, was his very first collaborative effort and what a beautiful one it is.

While MAINSTREAM incorporates all those wonderful, delectable sounds that make up the Canterbury scene of jazz-rock fusion like the beautiful jazz-rock offerings of Hatfield and the North, QUIET SUN offers some serious rock guitar to the mix above and beyond the call of duty. It didn’t hurt that Brian Eno participated in the project as well as long time music critic and Nick Drake popularizer Ian MacDonald who not only contributed as a lyricist with QUIET SUN but also lent his vehement support of the band’s credentials in the progressive musical world.

Really, how can you go wrong with such progressive classics titled “Mummy Was An Asteroid, Daddy Was A Small Non-Stick Kitchen Utensil”? The Canterbury scene is here in full swing with the addition of excellent guitar contributions. The musicianship is absolutely brilliant and the tracks may need a bit of time to grow on you but ultimately they have won me over big time. This is an album that whispers in my ear that it’s time to hear it again.

When i ordered this i expected a simple original album format but i ended up with the 2011 remastered version that is in a strange form of a booklet that explains the entire history of the band and although it doesn’t fit neatly in the midst of my CD collection, it does present itself as a standout amongst the crowd in not only packaging but also in its unique approach of incorporating the Canterbury Scene with the hard rock that dominated the mid-70s. I, for one, find this to occupy a unique niche in all of music history at a particular time and place. The irony is that this album which was an idea of the earliest of 70s almost never came to be. I am grateful that it did because it is one beauty in the making.

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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