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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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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 | 35 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 | 33 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA Over-Nite Sensation (The Mothers) Album Cover Over-Nite Sensation (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.60 | 27 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
4.64 | 16 ratings
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JOHN ZORN Magick Album Cover Magick
JOHN ZORN
4.86 | 6 ratings
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STEELY DAN Countdown to Ecstasy Album Cover Countdown to Ecstasy
STEELY DAN
4.63 | 16 ratings
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jazz related Music Reviews

KEIJI HAINO Peter Brotzmann, 灰野敬二 Keiji Haino, Jim O'Rourke: Two City Blues 1

Live album · 2015 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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snobb
Japanese guitarist Keiji Haino is a cult figure on country's traditionally influential alternative music scene. Started playing guitar in early 70s, he developed Derek Bailey and his compatriot Masayuki Takayanagi free-improv guitar music adding rock-machismo image what probably doesn't look all that casual but fits well to Japanese underground jazz/rock/improv music tradition.

During last few years Haino increased his international notoriety prolifically playing and recording with such genre leaders as Oren Ambarchi and Jim O'Rourke.

Here on his newest live release from concert at Shinjuku Pit Inn in Tokyo,recorded in 2010, Haino plays with Jim O'Rourke and European free jazz icon German sax player Peter Brotzmann. Everyone familiar with prolific Brotzmann's legacy knows how dominating he is even on collaborative recordings, surprisingly here on "Two City Blues 1" he isn't.

Combination of two free-improvs electric guitarists and free sax player could sound weird, but generally it works quite well. "Two City Blues 1" isn't first common work for Haino and Brotzmann, their "Shadows",released on Japanese DIW label are quite well known. Guitarist Jim O'Rourke is regular musical partner for Haino for some last years as well. Still fully improvised music sounds a bit raw, it often sounds like each of three musicians just plays his own music without paying of lot attention what two others do.

As it was already mentioned above, surprisingly Brotzmann (or any other trio's member) doesn't dominates and both two compositions sound as three equal musicians recital. Music is not too fast,not too noisy (at least - not for Brotzmann,Haino or O'Rourke standard), even meditative in moments, but main problem here is there is absence of true communication between artists here.

"Two City Blues 1", actually released few months after the release of "Two City Blues 2" (which was released on CD and vol.1 as vinyl only)is another album in massive collection each of three trio's members already has released,Haino followers will probably enjoy it but generally it is far not his best work (even more same could be said about Peter Brotzmann).

STEVE LACY Explorations (with Subroto Roy Chowdhury)

Album · 1987 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
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snobb
"Explorations" is an obscure album, credited to Indian sitar player Subroto Roy Chowdhury and soprano sax player Steve Lacy, but actually its Chowdury's trio playing with Lacy as a guest artist.

Subroto Roy Chowdhury made his name in India and Europe during the 70s as a traditional raga player, even if his main scenes in Europe were mostly jazz festivals. Here on this unorthodox recording he shares the leader role with jazz avant-garde rooted sax player Steve Lacy, and surprisingly it works perfectly.

This album was recorded in Tonstudio Bauer (main German studio servicing ECM artists for decades). On "Explorations" three tracks, only Tabla player Shibsankar Ray and Patricia Martin (on Tambura) play on all three. Basically all three of these tracks are ragas, or based very much on ragas, but what differs from track to track is who leads, Lacy on sax or Chowdhury on sitar. On opener "Saxoraga", Lacy takes the lead as the rhythm section builds and provides a rhythmic basis for Lacy's soulful and thoughtful improvisation. Many a 70s musicians dabbling in Indian music from outside the tradition could be accused of 'esoteric noodling', but "Explorations" is absolutely free of that. Lacy is a well-known student of Indian composition and did not enter into this recording session lightly.

On the second composition "Spontaneity", Subroto Roy Chowdhury plays his usual raga music as a trio leader (Lacy does not participate). After the expected quiet opening, this one eventually builds to an intense torrent of rhythms. Some may find this somewhat similar to ragas they have heard by Ravi Shankar or Ali Akbar Khan.

All of side B is filled with a twenty-two minute long composition on which all four musicians play. Subroto Roy Chowdhury and his trio lead, while Lacy's sax adds excellent small ornaments to their music, which as a result sounds more cosmopolitan and modern.

This album has been released on vinyl and CD in 1987 by the tiny German Jazzpoint label, and never re-released after that. "Explorations" is recommended for Lacy fans, as well as for those with interest in Indian ragas. This album can become an excellent discovery, opening a new, unusual side of Lacy and Subroto Roy Chowdhury both.

YES Relayer

Album · 1974 · Jazz Related Rock
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siLLy puPPy
Hot on the heels of their “Tales From Topographic Oceans” tour Rick Wakeman decided to jump ship from the mighty YES due to creative differences with “Tales From Topographic Oceans,” the whopping double album that dipped too much into the ethereal imagination of vocalist Jon Anderson. In order to find the proper replacement to fill Wakeman’s hard-to-fill shoes, the band searched high and low and even auditioned Vangelis who didn’t quite fit in with this crowd. After the dust settled they settled for the Swiss keyboardist Patrick Moraz whose only real band experience was with the progressive rock band Refugee. The band sallied forth without Wakeman and without him conjured up one of their most complex and challenging albums of their career with RELAYER. This album is really perfect in every way. It takes all the complexities and diverse elements found on pretty much all of their previous works and stitch them together in creative new ways while still adding a lot of experimentation to the mix. This is probably one of the most complex albums that took me the longest to appreciate. The music is so jittery and bombastic that i didn’t know what hit me the first time i heard this. I couldn’t understand why anyone would like this. Granted it was one of the first progressive rock albums i got into along with other YES albums, but happily after a gazillion and one listens to this i can honestly say not only has it aged well, but it has gotten better after each subsequent listen and continues to do so to this very day.

There are many similarities with previous albums although there are many more differences. The album attempts to take the variety of diverse complexities from “Tales…” and condenses them into a single three track album which in that regard is similar to “Close To The Edge” where the first track “The Gates Of Delirium” takes up a whole side on the original LP and side two consists of two tracks. There is less time for spaced out wandering and more focus on extremely tight band interactions that spiral out a healthy amount of variations on different complex melodies. After the mixed reviews of “Tales…” the band returned to the top of the charts with RELAYER as it was a huge hit on both sides of the Atlantic. This is probably one of the most complex albums i can think of to actually hit the top 5 on the Billboard album charts and be certified gold soon after its release. Obviously YES had no problem carrying on without Wakeman and i believe that without him is the reason they could experiment even more leaving behind the classical keyboard approach and taking on harder sounds where the keyboards were more designed to be a surreal fugue behind the guitar and bass.

The album begins with the monstrous behemoth “The Gates Of Delirium” which at 21:50 remained their lengthiest single track for much of their career. The track is based on Leo Tolstoy’s “War And Peace” and has different sections that run the gamut of symphonic progressive rock, hard rock, experimentalism and even some musique concrète. The very last section called “Soon” was actually released as a single. This song was designed to convey the feel of a battle scene where each section segues into the next ranging from the chaotic to the melodic as heard in the “Soon” section which concludes the horrific battle with a melodic prayer offering hope for the future. The battle scene is notorious for the crashing of car parts that Alan White and Jon Anderson would collect and hang up to randomly bang upon. There is one chaotic part where Alan White pushes the whole collection over creating a massive cacophony.

The second track “Soundchaser” is easily one of my all-time favorite pieces of musical magic. This track embodies virtually every possible trait of progressive rock that i could imagine. It shows deep emotional connection, outstandingly technical prowess, consonance, dissonance, fantastic structure, OMG soloing, perfectly balanced dynamics between the bombastic and subtle and an excellent adaption of adding funk and jazz-fusion to the YES sound. It is just perfectly paced with Steve Howe’s guitar solos being amongst the strongest highlights of an impressive-in-every-way track. The slide guitar adds a slippery slide feel with proggy time sigs to die for with punctuated vocal interruptions a la Jon Anderson’s “cha-cha-cha’s” . I really want this to be a twenty minute track as well as its mere 9:31 isn’t quite enough musical bliss for me!

The last track “To Be Over” is the most accessible track on the album that creates a complex melodic arrangement of the guitar and electric sitar. It starts out as a lovely ballad with dreamy vocals accompanied by slide guitar and a nice mellow break after the frenetic outbursts of “Soundchaser.” The counterpoint soloing keyboards are heaven on Earth. This song builds in tempo and breaks into a more hard rocking sound while retaining the overall mellow feel of the introductory melody only with more energetic guitar, bass and drum action. A great way to wind down one of the most bombastic symphonic progressive rock albums in all of history.

And if all the music wasn’t enough. RELAYER has one of my favorite album covers of all time by Roger Dean. The silver and grey wrap around ice cavern scene offers up a dreamy fantastical Tolkien type landscape that complements every aspect of the music. It offers the placid otherworldliness with the contrasting hues of grey with the dangers that lurk ahead as witnessed by the serpent that stands in the way of the path to the magical kingdom. I really don’t have desert isle lists and the like because my musical tastes are as fickle as a breeze changing at the drop of a hat. I find most music can be satisfying at some particular moment and then not so at others but RELAYER is an album that satisfies anytime, anywhere and as frequently as i want. I still have a hard time retaining these melodies in my head yet they are as pleasant to hear every single time, therefore RELAYER is without doubt my current all-time favorite YES album and a mandatory desert-isle pick for its ability to be the musical gift that never stops giving me what i want out of it. 5 stars to the 5th power and beyond. It doesn’t get much better than this.

PHISH Fuego

Album · 2014 · Jazz Related Rock
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VerticalUprising
That'll do, Phish, that'll do. The band's 2014 release of Fuego promised many fans a comeback for those in want and need of a new record. For me, at least, on listening, they delivered. Although the band seems to be tightrope walking on their guitar strings and seem to be trying harder to do a bang up job, they do accomplish just that. In fact, it somehow seems that they are trying to revive the progressive flare that the band had back in the early 90's.

The one track that I absolutely adore is the opening title track. It is extremely memorable, and the band has quite a lot of energy going towards it. From the jazz-rock highlighted opening to the downright prog rocking middle and end, this song signifies Phish's reincarnation. But alas, this song is the most memorable, because the rest of the songs follow the same path of the time-weathered sound the band had and has still. Another great thing about the album is that, for the most part, the alternative-style that they had taken on with their early-late 2000's that I never really enjoyed.

So, all in all, this album was not a flop, whatsoever. For an example of something that wasn't as satisfactory is the band Boston's release of Life Love and Hope in the year prior. Now this was an album that the band sort of shriveled up and died, mostly due to their overwhelming irrelevancy in the market. However, even though Phish may be even less known today, they're still able to make a great album to please their fans no matter what. For my rating, I'd give it somewhere between 3.5/5 and a straight out 4. But, for the sake of Phish, I've rounded it to give them the benefit. Here's to them.

PHISH Rift

Album · 1993 · Jazz Related Rock
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VerticalUprising
If you thought that Phish's first three releases were progressive, then this album is the creative peak of the band's specific progressive style. Not to say that this is any better than the album prior to this, A Picture of Nectar, which happens to be my favorite album by the band, but this is definitely more along the lines of what the usual prog-lover would enjoy. This album is more akin to something like an early 80's/late 70's band as opposed to a 90's jazz rock band. Taking that into account, let's dive into the review. The title track starts well enough, with a very cliche-style Phish sound of racing cowbell and lighthearted a Capella. I started to quickly notice that it had a much more dark and feel, almost like Rift was trying to contain a story within it. It was such a surprise, it hooked me to the rest of the album. 'Maze' is the song every talks about, with it's 'Llama' style quick pounding rhythm with melodic quiverings in the background. 'My Friend, My Friend' and 'Weigh' are two songs that are great jazzy blues numbers, and are A+ style songs for the Phish peruser. 'All Things Reconsidered' is a spin on the National Public Radio's iconic theme-song for their show titled "All Things Considered". It's an actually quite strange mix if you think about it, but nothing really surprising seeing as we're talking about Phish. 'Mound' has probably the best a Capella the members have performed in all of their time. It speaks the story of a "broken old man in a world unkind", and is really actually quite heart-touching. Quite fantastic if I do say so myself. That's all for true highlights that got me really hard, but trust me, the entire album is fantastic.

If you're looking for a highlight of the 90's, look towards the first four album of Phish's studio discography. This album has joined the ranks of the majestic three respectively. Go give it a listen.

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
Cover art Buy this album from MMA partners
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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