Ben Miler
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41 reviews/ratings
HERBIE HANCOCK - Sextant Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Head Hunters Funk Jazz | review permalink
LES MCCANN - Invitation to Openness Fusion | review permalink
RETURN TO FOREVER - Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy Fusion | review permalink
LENNY WHITE - Venusian Summer Fusion | review permalink
RETURN TO FOREVER - Chick Corea & Return To Forever : Light As A Feather Fusion | review permalink
HERBIE HANCOCK - Crossings Fusion | review permalink
AREA - Maledetti (maudits) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
COLOSSEUM/COLOSSEUM II - The Grass Is Greener Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
PAUL HORN - Inside (aka Inside the Taj Mahal) Jazz Related Improv/Composition | review permalink
CLEARLIGHT - Clearlight Symphony Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
NEW TROLLS ATOMIC SYSTEM - Tempi Dispari (as New Trolls) Fusion | review permalink
GONG - Camembert Electrique Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
MAGMA - 2 (aka 1001° Centigrades) Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
MAGMA - Mekanïk Destruktïw Kommandöh Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
OZRIC TENTACLES - Arborescence Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
EMBRYO - Rache Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
SAMURAI - Samurai Jazz Related Rock | review permalink
TRAIN - Coo-Coo Out! Fusion | review permalink
AL DI MEOLA - Land of the Midnight Sun Fusion | review permalink

See all reviews/ratings

Jazz Genre Nb. Rated Avg. rating
1 Jazz Related Rock 19 4.21
2 Fusion 14 4.39
3 Jazz Related Improv/Composition 3 4.17
4 Funk Jazz 2 4.25
5 Avant-Garde Jazz 1 4.00
6 Jazz Related Soundtracks 1 4.00
7 World Fusion 1 4.50

Latest Albums Reviews


Album · 1970 · Jazz Related Rock
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Some probably felt King Crimson hit a brick wall with In the Wake of Poseidon, considering it nothing more than a clone of its debut. That's a bit unfair, because you really can't imagine "Cat Food" and "The Devil's Triangle" having been already explored on its predecessor. True "Pictures of a City" has a "21st Century Schizoid Man" approach, "Cadence and Cascade" resembles "I Talk to the Wind", and the title track is similar to "Epitaph", but that's just side one. On Lizard, Greg Lake and Michael Giles were gong, in comes Andy McCulloch (who later played in Fields and Greenslade)and Gordon Haskell (who already provided vocals on "Cadence and Cascade"), plus a horn section, many members coming from Soft Machine. This is without a doubt the jazziest of the King Crimson albums. "Cirkus" shows that Gordon Haskell has his own voice distinct from Greg Lake. "Indoor Games" shows a less serious side, while "Happy Family" appears to address the breakup of the Beatles (you can even see the Beatles on the cover of the album). "Lady of the Dancing Water" is probably the weakest thing on the album, a pleasant ballad, but nothing much more. The title track is the only side-length piece Crimson ever done. Jon Anderson made a guest appearance (Yes apparently wanted Robert Fripp to replace Peter Banks in Yes, but Fripp declined because he probably knew where Yes was heading, and wouldn't be compatible with the band, and Yes was more democratic than Crimson). There are some bolero/big band jazz passages, and some really strange typical Crimson type parts with Mellotron and even Fripp's trademark sustained lead guitar at the end. It wasn't an easy listen. The rock critics were never kind to this album, even some fans thought they went off the tracks here. But I gave it a few listens, and the payoff was great. It's another great album worth having.


Album · 1978 · Fusion
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I can understand why I stayed away from Al Di Meola solo albums, but looking back, this is a prime example not to judge a book by its cover. 1978's Casino is his third solo album, which sports such a tasteless cover you may expect some horrific lounge jazz/fuzak, but I am happy to say it's nothing of the sort. He continues on the same Latin/flamenco fusion he explored on Elegant Gypsy, so that means if you like that album, you'll have no problem with Casino, although I don't feel the album really brings anything new to the table that he didn't already do on Elegant Gypsy. A good deal of the album bears more than a passing resemblance to Santana, I guess Di Meola was inspired by albums like Caravanserai, Welcome and Borboletta enough to record albums in a somewhat similar style. While I enjoy those Santana albums, I tend to have problems with some of the vocal songs, and Al Di Meola avoids that problem by making it all instrumental (although Land of the Midnight Sun did feature one vocal track, it was surprisingly nice). "Fantasia for Two Guitars" is one of those all-flamenco guitar pieces he tends to include on his albums, but the rest of the album has various help from various musicians, including Mingo Lewis, who, unsurprisingly played in Santana. There's also a version of Chick Corea's "Senor Mouse", which a version was recorded by Return to Forever off their 1973 album Hymns of the Seventh Galaxy. The RTF version naturally didn't feature Di Meola's guitar playing, but instead Bill Connors. Still this version is quite recognizable, but I imagine RTF performing this piece live quite a bit with Di Meola on board. At first I was a bit dismissive of Casino, but gave it another listen and found it actually an excellent album and worth having if you enjoy Latin fusion.

ALICE COLTRANE Turiya Alice Coltrane & Devadip Carlos Santana : Illuminations

Album · 1974 · World Fusion
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I'm certain Carlos Santana wanted to meet up and perhaps collaborate with John Coltrane, but it was obviously too late as he passed away in 1967, and Santana had just formed and their debut album won't see the light of day for another two years. It's clear Mr. Santana was a big fan. At least many years later, after being a disciple of Sri Chimnoy, and already releasing a coupe of fusion albums with Santana (Caravanserai, Welcome) and with John McLaughlin (Love, Devotion, Surrender), he got to collaborate with John Coltrane's widow Alice Coltrane. I knew right away this wasn't going to be a Santana album. Much of side one consists of orchestral passages with Mr. Santana's unmistakable guitar playing and some really nice harp playing from Ms. Coltrane. This is truly stuff that you can't imagine being on Caravanserai, Welcome or Borboletta. It's great stuff indeed. "Angel of Sunlight" is the closer to Love, Devotion, Surrender in spirit, has that same intense jamming, although with more of an Indian influence. Tablas are used but also drumming from Jack DeJohnette, and congas from Armando Peraza, Afro-Cuban percussionist, who, unsurprisingly, played with Santana. I also dig the cover, it reminds me of artwork you'd see on various versions of the Bhagavad Gita, which I guess was intentional, given Mr. Santana's association with Sri Chimnoy (Alice Coltrane wasn't a disciple of Sri Chimnoy, though). Rather unique stuff that's well worth having!

RETURN TO FOREVER Chick Corea & Return To Forever : Light As A Feather

Album · 1972 · Fusion
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This is apparently the first true Return to Forever album as the previous album, entitled Return to Forever, was released as a Chick Corea solo album, but it featured the same musicians, so that's how the name stuck, I guess. Light as a Feather continues the Brazilian jazz/Bossa Nova influence, with Flora Purim providing vocals and husband Airto Moreira on percussion. Chick Corea uses strictly electric piano and Stanley Clarke provides only stand up bass here. This is an incredible album, it doesn't have the break-neck Mahavishnu Orchestra-fast playing of Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy or the progginess of Romantic Warrior, it has a more relaxed vibe, but what a wonderful mood Chick Corea and Co. creates here, with lots of lengthy instrumental fusion passages, and of course a Brazilian feel that is ever present. Every time I hear Flora Purim sing, I expect her to either sing in her native Portuguese (she doesn't, she sings in English, since this was aimed for the American audience, naturally) or break into "The Girl From Impanema". Never happens. I wasn't sure if I would like this album, but instead it really knocked my socks off. Usually vocals in fusion albums are a big turn-off for me, but of course Flora Purim being Brazilian works amazingly well here, giving that Bossa Nova influence. If you like Brazilian jazz as well as fusion this album is a totally required!

AL DI MEOLA Land of the Midnight Sun

Album · 1976 · Fusion
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Having been blown away by Return to Forever's Romantic Warrior (an album that literally took me years to warm up to, though, but once I did...) and Lenny White's Venusian Summer, I went and tried Al Di Meola's debut album, Land of the Midnight Sun. Like Lenny White's Venusian Summer, he doesn't hire a steady band, just whatever musicians want to appear, but Mingo Lewis of Santana (of the Caravanserai/Welcome/Borboletta-era), Jaco Pastorius, Steve Gadd, Stanley Clarke, even Chick Corea, and others appear. The first two cuts sound a whole lot like Romantic Warrior-era RTF meets Santana, which is no surprise given the members involved. He does a unaccompanied Bach piece on acoustic guitar, and do an atmospheric spacy prog number "Love them from 'Pictures of the Sea'". Surprisingly Stanley Clarke provides vocals here in that spacy prog manner, which does this piece justice. "Morning Fire" is a multi-movement suite, but it's basically one long jam with tons of fretless bass playing from Jaco Pastorius. In fact this was a big reason he ended up a member of Weather Report and became a valuable asset to the band. The last piece is largely Chick Corea on piano and Al Di Meola on guitar, and a rather relaxed piece.

This is truly a great album of Latin-influenced fusion, that I can highly recommend to those who enjoy Return to Forever (naturally) and fusion-era Santana.

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