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YES Fragile Album Cover Fragile
YES
4.77 | 17 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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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Album Cover Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
JIMI HENDRIX
4.66 | 33 ratings
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SOFT MACHINE Third Album Cover Third
SOFT MACHINE
4.63 | 57 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Album Cover The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.63 | 44 ratings
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SANTANA Caravanserai Album Cover Caravanserai
SANTANA
4.57 | 46 ratings
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CURTIS MAYFIELD Superfly Album Cover Superfly
CURTIS MAYFIELD
4.85 | 6 ratings
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STEELY DAN Aja Album Cover Aja
STEELY DAN
4.58 | 26 ratings
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JIMMY SMITH Back at the Chicken Shack Album Cover Back at the Chicken Shack
JIMMY SMITH
4.63 | 15 ratings
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YES The Yes Album Album Cover The Yes Album
YES
4.64 | 13 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.54 | 39 ratings
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jazz related Music Reviews

PANDORA SNAIL War And Peace

Album · 2015 · Jazz Related Rock
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UMUR
"War And Peace" is the debut full-length studio album by Russian, St.Petersburg based progressive rock act Pandora Snail. The album was released through the Moscow based label Artbeat in March 2015. Pandora Snail was formed in 2008 and went through quite a few lineup changes in the first couple of years. The lineup who recorded "War And Peace" are Ulyana Gor (keyboards, composer, vocals), Oleg Gorgadze (guitar, electric guitar, conposer, vocals), Kirill Klyushin (bass guitar, contrabass), Artem Gareev (violin), and Igor Cheridnik (drums, percussion).

Stylistically the music on the 11 track, 62:01 minutes long album is an eclectic type of progressive rock drawing influences from not only the classic 70s prog rock artists, but also from jazz rock/fusion, classical music (the band mentions Sergej Rahmaninov as an influence), and folk (among other things). There is even an occasional use of heavy distorted guitars featured on some sections of the album, so it is definitely a type of music featuring influences from many genres and musical styles. "War And Peace" is still a stylistically very consistent album though, and there is a good flow throughout the playing time. And putting this many elements into a cohesive sounding musical style is not easy, which serves as a testimony to how skilled Pandora Snail are as composers.

The music is predominantly instrumental with an organic yet tight playing rhythm section, atmospheric keyboards, guitars, and a very dominant use of violin as the lead instrument. The compositions are for the most part quite catchy, although some tracks are structurally relatively complex. Except for the 16:36 minutes long "James Pont" and the 8:05 minutes long closing track "Satori", the tracks generally aren´t that long though. It´s not music that is hard to get into, although it´s certainly not easy listening either. It´s just that some of those violin melodies are spot on and nicely hook laden. Because he is so dominant in the soundscape it´s hard not to mention Artem Gareev´s performance on the album as something special, but the rest of the musicians performing on the album are equally as skilled. The high level playing is definitely one of the great assets of "War And Peace".

The compositions are strong too though, and it´s all packed in a powerful, organic, and overall well sounding production, which helps bring the best out in the music. This is generally a very interesting album, and considering that it´s a debut album its a very strong one too. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

FRANK ZAPPA Zoot Allures

Album · 1976 · Jazz Related Rock
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UMUR
"Zoot Allures" is an album release by US, California based rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through Warner Bros. Records in October 1976. It's the successor to the 1975 "Bongo Fury" collaboration album with Captain Beefheart. "Zoot Allures" was originally meant to be released through the DiscReet Records label, but Herb Cohen (Zappa's then manager/business partner and co-owner of DiscReet Records) and Zappa had a falling out (which ended in a lawsuit), and the album was therefore released through Warner Bros. Records. It would be Zappa's only release through the label, as he would also experience great trouble with that label and their business methods resulting in one of the longest release breaks of his career, as his next release "Zappa in New York" wasn't released until March 1978 (through the DiscReet Records label, although still distributed though Warner Bros. Records).

Many of Zappa's albums consist of both studio and live recordings recorded at various locations and times (sometimes combined on the same track), and that's also the case on "Zoot Allures", although most tracks on the album were actually recorded in May-June of 1976 at the Record Plant Studios on Los Angeles. There are three exceptions on the album. The first is "Wonderful Wino", which is a track that Zappa co-wrote with former Mothers of Invention bassist Jeff Simmons, and which in its original version was featured on the latter's 1969 solo album "Lucille Has Messed My Mind Up". The version of "Wonderful Wino" included on "Zoot Allures" was recorded in 1972/1973. The second exception is "Friendly Little Finger", which was recorded partially in 1973 and finished in October 1975. The last exception is the instrumental "Black Napkins", which is a live recording from Osaka, Japan from February 1976.

Most of the basic tracks (bass, guitars, drums, vocals, keyboards) which were recorded at the Record Plant Studios, were recorded by the duo of Frank Zappa and Terry Bozzio. The latter recorded all drum tracks, and the former recorded everything else. The album however does feature quite a few guest appearances by Zappa regulars like Ruth and Ian Underwood, Roy Estrada, Captain Beefheart, and Bruce Fowler.

In usual Frank Zappa mode "Zoot Allures" is a stylistically eclectic release. It's one of Frank Zappa's more easily accessible and humourous releases and tracks like "Wind Up Workin' in a Gas Station", "Ms. Pinky", "Wonderful Wino", and "Disco Boy" are all both funny and a little silly (in a good way). In the other end of the spectrum are the two instrumentals "Black Napkins" and the title track, which both feature a darker and more melancholic sound. The same can be said about "The Torture Never Stops", which is a long atmospheric track with some thought provoking lyrics.

"Zoot Allures" features a warm, organic, and detailed sound production, which suits the material perfectly and upon conclusion it's a good quality release by Frank Zappa. It's not among his most standout releases nor among his best, but it's still highly entertaining and filled to the brim with excellent musicianship, adventurous songwriting ideas, and strong production values. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

FRANK ZAPPA Zappa in New York

Live album · 1978 · Jazz Related Rock
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UMUR
"Zappa in New York" is a live double album release by US rock artist Frank Zappa. The album was released through DiscReet Records in March 1978. The album actually saw a limited release in the UK in early 1977, but it was soon withdrawn from the record stores. Warner Bros. Records who Frank Zappa had signed a distribution deal with, insisted on removing and thereby censoring the track "Punky's Whips" and also removed references made to "Punky's Whips" on the "Titties & Beer" track. This meant that a small war broke out between Warner Bros. Records and Zappa, who in his contract with the distribution company had made sure that he had complete artistic freedom. The censored March 1978 version of "Zappa in New York" was therefore released by Warner Bros. Records without the consent of Zappa. The full uncensored version of the album was re-released in 1991 by Zappa. It was originally Zappa's intention to include some of the live recordings on his 4-record box set "L'ther" release in late 1977, but the box set release was shelved as a consequence of the lawsuit between Zappa and Warner Bros. Records.

While recording of "Zoot Allures (1976)" took place Zappa began to form a core touring lineup for a world tour in 1976/1977 (the tour lasted from October 1976 to February 1977) featuring Zappa on vocals and guitars, Terry Bozzio on drums and vocals, Ray White on guitars and vocals, Eddie Jobson on keyboards, violin, and vocals, and Patrick O'Hearn on bass and vocals (Bianca Thornton was part of the lineup through November 11th 1976 on vocals and keyboards). The material featured on "Zappa in New York" were recorded in December 1976 at a series of concerts at the Palladium in New York City. The recordings feature quite a few guest/session musicians in addition to the above mentioned core lineup. Among the guests are the Brecker brothers on tenor sax, flute, and trumpet and Zappa- regular Ruth Underwood on percussion and synthesizer.

Most of the tracklist consists of tracks which had not seen a studio recording (except "Sofa" and "Big Leg Emma", and on the 1991 re-release version also "Cruisin' for Burgers", "I'm the Slime", and "The Torture Never Stops"), and in that respect "Zappa in New York" is a more interesting live release than most. The opening trio of tracks (on the 1991 version of the album "Cruisin' for Burgers" is placed as song number 2 on the tracklist) "Titties & Beer", "I Promise Not to Come in Your Mouth", and "Punky's Whips" (the middle one is an instrumental), are comical rock tracks with loads of sexual references, and especially "Punky's Whips", with it's homo erotic suggestions proved to be a bit too much for the censor people at Warner Bros. Records. "Titties & Beer" is a great example of how good Zappa and his band were at improvising. Most of the track is tightly structured and prepared, but when the biker protagonist (played by Zappa), and the devil (played by drummer Terry Bozzio) have their talk about signing a deal with the devil, they both improvise which is great fun (while Bozzio also keeps the beat).

Other highlights on the album are the impossible to play instrumental "Black Page #2" and the humourous dating song Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me?. "The Illinois Enema Bandit" is a great heavy blues rock track, although it's a bit overlong and some people may be offended by its controversial subject matter (telling the story of the crimes and conviction of real life armed robber and sexual offender Michael Hubert Kenyon). The 16:57 minutes long "The Purple Lagoon/Aproximate" is in large part an improvisational piece, and to my ears not one of Zappa's best, although it's a very well performed mostly improvised piece of music, featuring a lot of jazz type soloing. Personally I prefer the structured "Aproximate" part of the track, but that part is only a few minutes long.

The sound production is raw, organic, and maybe most important, feels like a "real" live recording, although Zappa made many overdubs on the recordings in early 1977. Appearing here the tracks and the flow of the album can sometimes feel a bit fragmented, because the material were recorded at different shows but overall "Zappa in New York" is a good quality live release by Zappa. A 3.5 - 4 star (75%) rating is deserved.

SOT Redwings Nest

Album · 2014 · Jazz Related Rock
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UMUR
"Redwings Nest" is the 2nd full-length studio album by Norwegian avant/progressive rock act SOT. The album was released through Sotanic Sounds in June 2014. "Redwings Nest" features the same three-piece lineup who recorded the band´s debut full- length studio album "Kind of Saltz (2011)". Skjalg Reithaug (guitars, vocals), Lars Andreas Haug (tubmarine, trumpet, sounds), Anders Hunstad (drums, piano).

The music on the album continues the adventurous take on jazz rock and progressive/avant garde rock as SOT introduced on "Kind of Saltz (2011)". There is a proud Scandinavian tradition for playing a slightly twisted take on this kind of music, which an artist like Samla Mammas Manna is also an example of (without further comparison). It´s this catagory that SOT also belong in. While there are many nods towards jazz because of the scales and the notes chosen, the fusion drumming, and the use of tuba and trumpet in a rock music format, this is certainly not straight jazz (whatever that is). These guys simply wouldn´t be content with playing within the boundaries of a certain musical style and they make sure to incorporate enough challenging and intriguing genre pushing elemens for that never to happen. They even stretch as far as to incorporate heavy metal sounding riffing to some of their tracks. Examples of that can be found in the title track (a charming avant garde rock beast of a track) and in "Second Row".

So it´s safe to say the listener is met with an adventurous and challenging listen when spinning "Redwings Nest". Fortunately SOT also know how to write a song that sticks. Not necessarily in a mainstream vers/chorus format but still accessible and inviting, even though "regular" commercial radio listeners might not agree with me here (but who cares about them?).

The three guys in the band are greatly skilled and an incredibly well playing unit. Like the case was on the debut album the tuba, which is playing the bass parts, is one of the things in the soundscape that really stands out a lot. Who would have thought that a tuba could sound so amazing and powerful (almost brutal at times) in a jazz rock setting? The rest of the instruments and the sparse vocals (both male and female) also work really well together and the whole thing is packed in a powerful and organic sound production which suits the music perfectly.

This is neither the most complex nor the most demanding jazz rock album in the world (although it´s still pretty challenging), but it´s a damn charming one, that refuses to bow to convention, and that´s always praise worthy. To my ears "Kind of Saltz (2011)" and "Redwings Nest" are pretty equal in quality and also in style and if you enjoy one it´s pretty likely you´ll enjoy the other too. SOT are arguably a class act (whith a charming wacky side) and prove it once again on "Redwings Nest" and a 4 star (80%) rating is fully deserved.

GENE HARRIS AstralSignal

Album · 1974 · RnB
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js
In the early to mid 70s, many a jazz musician was drawn to both the growing impact of the new funk groove, as well as the psychedelic sound borne from the 60s. Gene Harris was no exception as his “AsrtralSignal” album from 1974 bears trademarks from that groovy early 70s era, which is also reflected in the very ‘cosmic’ title of the album. Gene Harris was no stranger to mixing jazz with dance rhythms, in fact his entire career was built around a solid reputation as one of the top soul jazz artists from the mid 50s until the 70s and beyond. With “AstralSignals”, Gene took things one step further from his gospel based roots to embrace the new funk style of Sly Stone and James Brown. On this funk foundation, Harris layered multiple horns, vocals and electronic instruments to build his imaginative arrangements.

The album opens with a heavily reverbed cosmic statement from Gene before we launch into an exotic instrumental topped with wordless vocals. Next up, a very funky synth intro leads the band into Sly Stone’s well known song chant about racial name calling. After a laid back instrumental with more wordless vocals, Harris closes out side one with some of his signature gospel riffs on the piano in a double tracked solo performance.

Side two kicks off with a rockin instrumental version of Credence’s “Green River”. On Chicago’s “Beginnings”, Gene handles the lead vocals and sheds some new tone colors on this well known number. This side closes out with some more funk-jazz jams with Harvey Mason’s “Higga Boom” being a real highlight. This album has its ups and downs, but the ups make it well worth it for fans of funk jazz, exotic lounge music, rare groove and other jazz related crate digging.

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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