Jazz Music Reviews from Slartibartfast


Live album · 2015 · Jazz Related Improv/Composition
Cover art 3.93 | 3 ratings
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My first encounter with David Torn was also an ECM album - Cloud About Mercury. I actually found it used sometime shortly after it's release in 1986. I didn't know who David Torn was but was well aware of his fellow bandmates - Mark Isham, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford. He might be better know by some as a gueest musician. He's worked with Tori Amos, Laurie Anderson, David Bowie, Happy Rhodes, Jeff Beck, and David Sylvian to name a few. Also had a more prominent role in Bruford Levin Upper Extremeties; Levin Torn White; as well as leading up Torn, Karn, and Bozzio.

For those who are acquainted with Torn as a guest musician he does have a fairly trademark style that once you get to know you will recognise even if you don't already know he's on as a guest musician.

As far as I know this is his only true solo project to date. He plays guitar and an electric oud (a guitar like instrument used in middle eastern and mediterranean music). No credit is given to whatever he's using for his loops.

The music is played solo without overdubs as near as I can tell. It's very ambient and should certainly be of interest to people who like Robert Fripp's solo guitar works.

DIXIE DREGS Live At The Montreaux Jazz Festival

Movie · 2005 · Fusion
Cover art 4.93 | 2 ratings
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This was the Dixie Dregs lineup that I first come to know live and otherwise. The Montreaux Jazz Festival performance was used for side two of the LP Night of the Living Dregs. I had no idea the concert was filmed. This represents the band at their prime. Keyboardist Mark Parrish, would soon be replaced by T Lavitz, who is a better keyboard player, but this as this performance testifies, he was no slouch either. Oddly enough, the back cover of this DVD shows a band picture with the original keyboardist from Freefall, Steve Davidowski (guess there was only room for one Steve in this band). Steve Morse was at his most inspired around this time, even though he has certainly grown in skill over the years.

The set list is a little disappointing as it lacks some of the prime cuts from What If (Night Meets Light, Odyssey, Travel Tunes, What If), but I'm not complaining. Now I have something more than just memories of the many Dregs shows I saw back then. It is more of a forward looking set which includes Attila The Hun, that didn't show up on an album until three years later. Also of note, but of less interest to progressive rock fans, is the bluegrass style ditty, Kathreen, never released on a regular album, but only showed up on their demo album, The Great Spectacular, from 1975. If you have a copy of that album, you have something rare, indeed.

Thrown in for bonus are two live TV appearances, one on American Can'tstand (Bandstand) and one on Don Kirschner's Rock Concert. On the former, you get to see them both try out a vocalist, in an attempt to appeal to a more mainstream audience, and with Mark O'Connor, who only played with them for one album, but a few great live shows before the band disbanded for a few years.

As great as the band studio albums were, the live shows took things to an even higher level. Now you can see what you missed, unless you didn't.

JOHN ZORN Nosferatu

Album · 2012 · Jazz Related Soundtracks
Cover art 3.95 | 2 ratings
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Bram Stoker is 100 years dead as of April 2012. Imagine that. Nosferatu is actually the name of a movie released in 1922 based on Stoker's novel Dracula but the studio wasn't able to get the rights the novel. The music was created for a modern Polish stage production that is supposed to be "of" the novel. I wasn't able to verify what they are actually calling the play, but anyway...

I was a big horror movie fan and also a movie soundtrack fan when I was a kid before I got into prog and jazz and classical so I had to go for this album and it has some of all of that all rolled together. Before you even get to the music you have to take a look at and a feel of the package. The Tzadic label gets two thumbs up for all the CD album packaging and artwork I have encountered so far. The outer cover is a velvety textured black cardboard with dark red slick textured lettering and a little bat on the front. The back is also smooth and velvety with dripping blood from the top edge. The booklet is more of a matt finish but also uses slick clear lettering on the front and clear slick blood streaks running down from the top edges of the pages in various patterns. The booklet has a few pages of pictures from the production (play, dance?) and it looks like it would be really good to see. Maybe it will make it to DVD one day.

Two other albums come to mind and they are Philip Glass's Dracula soundtrack for the Bela Lugosi movie that did get the novel rights and Harold Budd's (not at all about Dracula or Nosferatu) She Is A Phantom. The latter album comes closer to it for having vibes and a more atmospheric quality to the music. Put the three together and you'll have a nice spooky trio.

The track names are fairly indicative of the music you get as the characters and story themes inspire the music. Desolate Landscape starts out the album with foreboding dark ambient music. Mina mellows it out a little while with piano and vibes. The Battle of Good and Evil noisy as you would expect from a battle between good and evil. John gets to in a little of his trademark sax strangling of course. Very industrial sounding a little Nine Inch Nailsish.

Sinistera and Van Helsing have that spooky vibes driven sound that makes me think of the Budd album. Fatal Sunrise brings back some mellower sax work and Bill Laswell steps forward with some atmospheric bass. Hypnosis comes in and spins around your head vibes and electric piano. The Lucy theme has some similarities to another piece from another album, but I can't quite put my finger on it right now. All of the non-undead persons titled pieces on this are really down to earth, mellow, and contemplative. Nosferatu on the other hand is screwy and creepy with rat noises and Zorn's breath.

The Stalking is one of those trademark Bill Laswell ambient dub style pieces. It's a long stalking too, as all stalking should be I guess. Old horror movie stalkings tend to be that way. It's the longest piece. The bass plods on along and creepy keyboards and squealing sax drift in and out and about. The Undead is a quiet piece with John on piano. Death Ship sounds like a creaky old vessel on a dead sea. Jonathan Harker has Rob Burger, the main keyboardist in the group, taking center stage in a duet with the group's percussionist, Kevin Norton, on vibes.

Vampires At Large, bass and electric keyboards lurking about. Renfield, piano and vibes again, hesitant, a little mysterious. Stalker Dub wraps it up, figures, did you remember to shoot it in the head with a silver bullet? No wait? that's all wrong. The stake, the stake, aieeee!!!

ARCANA Arc Of The Testimony

Album · 1997 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 4.50 | 1 rating
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Imagine Tony Williams, Bill Laswell, Pharoah Sanders, and Buckethead walk into a bar…

You don’t have to.

Apologies to Byard Lancaster, Graham Haynes, and Nicky Skopelitis. You guys apparently also walked into the same bar at the same time and the end result is one intense album, but I’m not familiar you guys.

This is oh my God intense instrumental music. Also Tony William’s last album before he died.

Ironically I was browsing around for Buckethead stuff and ran into this, Arcana, which also happened to be the name of the company I was working for at the time.

Spacey jazz rock with a little metal seasoning. So synthymetaljazzrockfusion? Not well known but well worth getting to know.

WILDING BONUS Pleasure Signals

Album · 1978 · Fusion
Cover art 3.93 | 2 ratings
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If you haven't heard this one it's sort of like a long lost Brand X album. I confess to knowing nothing more of Wilding and Bonus beyond this album. The music here is very much in the vein of '70's Brand X and has appearances by Phil Collins, John Goodsall, John Giblin, Robin Lumley, Morris Pert.

But even if you take away the nekkid women cover it's still a really fun instrumental album and very much in the vein of what Brand X was doing at the time.

I should probably rectify the lack of familiarity with Danny Wilding and Pete Bonus. Also fortified with Bayette and Rebop Kwaku Baah.

JOHN ZORN Ipsissimus (with Moonchild Trio)

Album · 2010 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 3.72 | 8 ratings
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What can one say about this album? The cover sleeve blurb says "Weaving sonic dramas around the legacies of Magick and Alchemy." Okay, I'll buy that and I did. "Powerful secrets are realized through intensity and extremes of experience." John Zorn. Can't say I wasn't warned.

Seven Sigils kicks the album off in high gear with a heavy driving bass line by Trevor Dunn thunderous drums from Joey Baron and then its whoooaaaa de deen heh hah he huh heh whoooo de naahh - Mike Patton doing scat language vocalizations, and then John Zorn appears and starts to strangle a saxophone. But it works and that's the important thing. However this one album I probably never ever ever be able to play for anyone I know in its entirety in one sitting. Maybe only many of the parts for a few seconds at best.

It really is like a soundtrack to a really intense horror movie. Not one of those boring slasher affairs but one that keeps you on the edge of your seat in a more intellectual fashion. Maybe more like a David Lynch flick. In fact you could pair this up with either the Lost Highway soundtrack or Octaves Of The Holy Innocent by Hellborg/Buckethead/Shrieve. The Book Of Los eases the tension of the opener a little, but still has a spooky aspect to it. Marc Ribot's guitar takes center stage on this one, the searing guitar branding your ass flesh. And thennnneeeooogghhh lalalala nnnddduu mmmsoo tnndkllll. OK, you really have to have a little sense of humour with the vocalizationsAaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrruuuuuuuuuuhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

So anyway, be expected to be taken on a ride of dissonance and wonder and darkness and harmony and horror and beauty and whatever the hell else you want in it or aauurrgghh. If I had an odd division in my collection, I'd have to place it there.

On a final note. The art of the cover isn't dead with the CD: this one's a digipak with three dark themed paintings I don't recognize. It is contained within a gold slip cover that has an equilateral cross cut out in the center of the front and a circle on the back, revealing two of the paintings.

JOE JACKSON Night and Day II

Album · 2000 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
Cover art 3.95 | 3 ratings
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Stories and the City.

My first encounter with Joe's music was Stepping Out (From the original Night And Day) on MTV. Didn't really move me to explore his music any further. When I finally did give the the original a listen a few years later, I really started to appreciate his song writing skills.

Night And Day one is basically a New York City themed album with nice musical diversity, as the city is, and so is Night And Day II.

It's basically a tribute to the city and the people who live there. All the songs are linked together making the album a single piece. It opens up with a short instrumental Prelude followed by a general tribute titletd Hell Of A Town. Having visited there a few times, I can attest to that.

Then on to the inhabitants with Stranger Than You. You might be pretty odd personally but...

"At 83rd and Amsterdam there's an Indian Jew Who pierced all his private parts with a permanent screw He sleeps on a bed of nails Which came from outer space And in my taller tales I gave him pride of place"

It's also about finding someone special amongst the especially odd.

Why has a nice exoctic ethnic feel to the music and is about an imigrant's point of view about the odd things you see compared to your familiar home country.

Glamour And Pain has a heavy disco flavor to it. A whore's point of view/story about a regular customer. Tosses in that piano riff from Stepping Out towards the end. Lead vocal by an actual drag queen.

Dear Mom. A boy looking for his sister who ran away and became a stripper. He finally finds her and she won't come home. Your left wondering if the son won't come back either.

Love Got Lost. Lead vocal by Marianne Faithful. Washed up old rich lady's lament.

Just Because... "you're paranoid, don't mean they're not out to get ya." A bit of an angry strings tune. "Need some non-alcoholic whiskey and Giuliani charm."

Happyland. About a fire in a Latin American night club and a couple. One made it out alive, the other didn't. Joe loves doing the salsa music.

Stay. "Here darkness never quite descends." Nice mellow wrap up to the suite.

It's a bit of a spooky album coming out not too long before you know what. Those now destroyed symbols of the city in a prominent spot of the cover. The city carries on. Joe is a wonderful composer and has put together a beautiful piece here.


Album · 1978 · Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Drop the vocal tracks and you'd have a pretty good album.

Eh, they aren't all that bad and I guess kind of obligatory for 1978. Suitable for airplay on one of those radio stations that had a "jazz" program. In Atlanta it was 94 Q's Jazz Flavors. I don't remember if they played anything off this album or not. But I digress. "Mi ii id night, da aa an cer, uh-uh." (just a little too disco) And hell, You're Still On My Mind could have been a successful pop ballad had it been played on the right stations.

The balance of the tracks on this album are smoking hot jazz rock/fusion, with the exception of Short Film For Nicki, which is a nice mellow piano solo from Joachim. Kuhn seems quite proud of his synthesizer array, four Rolands in all are detailed in the credits. Great cover art for this album. Fits nicely for the music.

Most notable for me was the prescence of Jan Akkerman on guitar, which is ironic because 1976's Springfever has Philip Catherine, who took Jan's place in Focus briefly.

MILES DAVIS The Complete Bitches Brew Sessions

Boxset / Compilation · 1998 · Fusion
Cover art 4.92 | 5 ratings
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An album which probably needs no introduction for most older jazz fans.

This box set entered my collection around the time of the 30th anniversary of the recording sessions. I didn't get to know this album in it's original release format. By that time I had barely gotten to know the music of Miles but had been well acquainted with the work that many of the artists present in these sessions had gone on to make later- Corea, McLaughlin, DeJohnette, White, Shorter, and Zawinul, in particular.

The danger of getting a complete sessions set of Davis' music is that you will get tracks that show up on other albums in the same version. This one overlaps with Big Fun. But what fun sprawling four CD box set this one is. About a third of the material is "newly discovered".

If you can judge a book by its cover, this one's got a thick silk covered outer sleeve which contains a slide out hard back book with a metallic blue spine. The book is 148 thick pages on the album and the sessions and includes, remembering Miles by Carlos Santana,an introduction by Michael Cucuna, an overview essay by Quincey Troupe (the co-author of Miles' autobiography - a must read if you haven't), and session-by-session analysis by Bob Belden. A nice mixture of reminiscences and the original liner notes by Ralph J. Gleason. Of course the most important component: four sleeves containing four discs of music.

For those writing looking back, the album brings back the era. For me the music is untethered to that period and has a timeless quality to it.

MARK ISHAM Vapor Drawings

Album · 1983 · Post-Fusion Contemporary
Cover art 3.52 | 2 ratings
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If you've ever seen a movie called Never Cry Wolf, then you'll know what to expect from this album. Recorded around the same time as Mark did the soundtrack, it shares a lot of the musical themes. Vapor Drawings has sort of an arctic wasteland atmosphere.

This is pretty much a creature of the studio creation with Isham playing almost all of the instruments backed up with a percussionist, Peter Van Hooke. Synthesizers dominate the music, but there is an ample dose of Mark's horns. What you get is sort of a fusion, progressive electronic, ambient mix. And yes most of this music would be suitable for a soundtrack.

JONI MITCHELL Shadows And Light

Movie · 1980 · Vocal Jazz
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Joni Mitchell meets The Pat Metheny Group.

What can I say? This was my real introduction into the music of Joni and what a place to start! She had really entered a new phase and the tracks offered span from Court And Spark up to Mingus (and of course, the song Shadows And Light, exclusive to the live album).

The concert was an outdoors affair at the Santa Barbara County Bowl. The liner notes say that "this concert catches Joni at the height of her artistic excellence." Having explored her albums after and before this era, I can wholeheartedly agree with that. Jaco Pastorius, who had a reputation at that point of being erratic in live situations, seems to be in a good mode. The camera work is good and the concert is now available on DVD with 5.1 Dolby Digital Audio all of which make for a show worthy of revisiting from time to time.


Album · 2000 · Vocal Jazz
Cover art 3.00 | 1 rating
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A sentimental journey into modern love?

Joni Mitchell's only traditional jazz album that I am aware of. She takes a trip back to past and covers what are basically vocal jazz standards from the 30's, 40's, and '50's. One from the 20's and one from the '60's as well. Also two of her own from 1968 (the title track) and 1972 redone in that style. The collection is a concept album of sorts. The concept being "the arc of a modern romantic relationship".

She teams up with an orchestra, bass, and drums. Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Mark Isham also show up in appearances as featured soloists.

Alas, for me this album is more interesting in concept than in execution. I much prefer her fusion excursions.

L SUBRAMANIAM Conversations

Album · 1984 · World Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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If memory serves this was the album that introduced me to L. Subramaniam as I was already familiar with Stephane Grappelli. The pair work well together. Six are tracks with the both of them. There's a arranged and adapted Paganini Caprice 5 without Stephane and one piano solo by Grappelli. I did not know he played piano.

Unlike the other Subramaniam duet I have, with Larry Coryell, the two are accompanied by other musicians. And this one is an electric music affair with bass, drums, and keyboards. Not your standard swing or Indian music offered here but rather fusion with a French and Indian accent. Worth checking out particularly if you are a fan of Jean Luc Ponty's '70's fusion albums.

GARY BURTON Dreams So Real

Album · 1976 · Post Bop
Cover art 3.90 | 5 ratings
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I have a few albums that have Pat Metheny and Gary Burton working together and this is one of the best. Perhaps it is due to the album being made up of only Carla Bley compositions. At the time this was recorded, 1975, Gary had been on the scene for a while and Pat was still an up and comer. I don't want to slight Mick Goodrick's, Steve Swallow's and Bob Moses's contributions to the ensemble, but it was the first two that drew me to this album. Didn't hurt that I first heard it on the radio.

The music ranges from laid back to higher energy stuff, but most of it does have a dreamy quality to it thanks in no small part to Burton's vibes.


Album · 1981 · Fusion
Cover art 4.07 | 4 ratings
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Freigeweht, free blown?

When I first heard some this album it was on the radio and the announcer said the word loosely translates into set free by the wind, which sounds much better.

However you take it this is one of those intersections between Eno (Brian) style ambient and jazz. It's a very atmospheric album musically. Bruninghause makes good use of the synthesizer (model unknown) and a lot of his piano work is very textural. And since in addition to a drummer, he is accompanied only by Wheeler playing flugelhorn and Hoff on oboe and English horn, perhaps "free blown" is sort of a tongue in cheek joke.

STING Bring On The Night

Movie · 2005 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
Cover art 3.52 | 2 ratings
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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.


Album · 1977 · Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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David Earle Johnson is perhaps better known for who he's played with than for his solo material. This marks his first solo effort. Really not a true solo as this is more of a Johnson/Jan Hammer duet album, but Johnson gets the lead credit or only credit for most of the songs. It is a percussion driven album though with DEJ providing vocals for three tracks and JH doing the keyboard and drum kit work. Of course they have to mix it up a little - Jan plays Log on one track and David plays Moog Drum on a couple of tracks.

All of you familiar with the first incarnation of Mahavishnu Orchestra know Jan Hammer. Unfortunately, too few are acquainted with Jan's post MO albums. The first one where David and Jan worked together was on Jan's solo album The First Seven Days. I just looked it up on Wikipedia and it seem Mr. Johnson was also on an album called Voyage to Uranus the year before that one. Huh huh huh huh, huh huh, huh huh.

Time is Free was released the same year as the unfortunate Hammer album Black Sheep. Then, after this one came another fairly dreadful Hammer album and then another really good Johnson/Hammer duo album, Hip Address. Unfortunately, Mr. Johnson died in 1998, R.I.P. The guy was an excellent percussionist. Not too shabby with lyrics and vocals, either.

First up is Grandma's House. "Let's go to Grandma's house, there we can sing loud, all of the best songs." Well, not at any of my grandmother's houses, but what the heck. This one has Jan doing his trademark guitar imitation synthesizer thing. David Earle does vocals and percussion. The song shifts gears in the middle and start to get a little Mahavishnuesqe. Jan goes back to a keyboard sounding like a keyboard. David Earle does some spacey vocalizations through an Echoplex. Song then wraps up with a repeat of the opening lyrics.

Lofts is nice jazzy fusiony piece with Jan contributing drums in addition to the keyboards as he does on many of the tracks here and he did on his duo album with Jerry Goodman.

Time Is Free. "Boom boom bang bang, look out here it comes again. Can't stop the way it flows, it never knows why it goes." A fun little ditty. David Earle would go on to appear in Col. Bruce Hampton/The Late Bronze Age's Outside Looking Out, which also has Paul McCandless.

Ramtide starts with a massive sounding percussion avalanche by DE. Jan kicks in with what may be an arpeggiated synth line and also drums. Nice mostly percussion jam.

Ten Little Times is another Hammer imitating guitar bit. Johnson does a thing called a Moog Drum solo that's really cool. It may likely be heard no where else but here. More MO flavored music here.

Juice Harp. A play in words on Jew's Harp. (Probably not a lot of people familiar with that silly little instrument, akaa jaw harp or mouth harp. Supposed to be one of the oldest musical instruments in the world) I'm guessing the song was named after Jan's synthesizer impression of the instrument.

Sea, Sand and Sun. Opens with DEJ on treble kalimba solo. The a nice duo of Jan on piano and DEJ on various percussion.

Safes. Lots of cool synthesizer licks and percussion on this one. A very complex composition.

Skin, Log, Sand Street Suite. Skins must be the furious opening conga solo, the log must be the percussion duo which follows. Sand Street? Well, there's a lot of them in the U.S. Maybe referring to the one in New Orleans? Another fine song demonstrating that a song can be built with just percussion, although Jan does put in a little synthesizer. Jan's musical contribution is Hammer at his best, not like the overly commercial material he was starting to do around this time.


Album · 1974 · Fusion
Cover art 3.52 | 28 ratings
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Mahavishnu Orchestra meets an actual orchestra, London Symphony, that is. MO vs. the LSO? This has got to be one of the greatest integrations of an orchestra into progressive music and I suspect they all had blisters on their fingers by the end of the recording session. These guys all get a tough workout.

Many people lament the break up of the original MO lineup, but I'm not in that camp. Apocalypse is John McLaughlin's first outing as the MO without any of the original members and I love that period but, this is my favorite MO album. The music here is very apocalyptic, but some of the song titles don't quite fit the theme: Power of Love, Smile of the Beyond, Hymn To Him. Vision Is A Naked Sword and Wings of Karma, I can kind of get.

The Power of Love is a rather mellow starter for the album, but it has some kind of ominous undertones going on in the music.

After a brief moment of silence, Vision Is A Naked Sword, sneaks up on you and the music is very dark. Over 14 minutes of intense Mahavishnu and London Symphony Orchestra interplay. But it's not all totally bleak. Almost like a musical short story.

Things mellow out again with Smile of the Beyond, but not completely. And you get a first for MO, vocals, female vocals no less. Gayle Moran, who is also the keyboardist for this lineup has a really pretty voice. There will be more pieces to come in the soon to be future, but fortunately vocals in MO have been occasional. Usually not much room for them in this kind of music. This one starts out with Moran singing and the other orchestra, but then the band really takes off and jams about midway, before a return to the beginning, still a little bit of ominous feeling at the end. I think Moran's keyboard work is a little bit of a departure from the style that Jan Hammer, who preceded her.

Wings of Karma starts off continuing and intensifying the quiet ominous sound. After giving LSO a could opportunity play, the band really takes off again. Then you get the band and the orchestra trading licks and the music starts to pick up speed. And then, a sudden mellow ending.

Hymn To Him also starts out mellow. There's enough music packed into this one track to fill up a whole album by itself. This track is sort of the Supper's Ready of jazz-rock/fusion. Actually, it probably takes you to even more places musically. The hectic climactic section of this piece goes on for several minutes and I'd be highly surprised if everyone's fingers aren't blistered by the time slows down. Things end on a rather upbeat note.

The interplay of all the musicional elements is just spectacular. Jean-Luc Ponty, Ralphe Armstrong, and Michanel Walden are excellent successors to Jerry Goodman, Rick Laird, and Billy Cobham Respectively and respectfully. Also of note, the album was produced by George Martin of Beatles fame and Michael Tilson-Thomas conducted the London Symphony Orchestra.

And of course, things just wouldn't be the same without John, who is the core. Can't compliment the guitar work on here enough.

Hey, I was looking at the credits on the back of the CD case, and I notice Columbia Records is at 666 Fifth Avenue. Hmm.


Movie · 2007 · Fusion
Cover art 3.61 | 4 ratings
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The 1984 appearance of the MO was a lineup that didn't have any of the previous MO lineup of musicians except for John. Still there was a pretty impressive roster. Jonas Hellborg, on bass, steals the show. I suspect he's been rather influenced by Jaco at this point. Also, we also have Bill Evans, fairly fresh out of his stint saxing with Miles Davis. There's also a fine drummer, Danny Gottlieb, who'd played with Pat Metheny prior. Don't know much about Mitchell Forman. With John experimenting with the Synclavier Guitar so much, the keyboards are almost redundant in this ensemble. I had a hard time sitting through this at first. It definitely has that '80's taint, if you know what I mean. But I've warmed up to it. It's a bit like an attempt to return to the magic of the original lineup that doesn't quite get there. Still, if you judge it in the context of the time, it's not too bad.

I got this for one reason and one reason only, it was the two video bits from the Apocalypse lineup of Mahavishu Orchestra. Actually calling them bits isn't quite accurate. Wings of Karma and Hymn to Him are actually decently long pieces. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had some actual orchestra musicians with them there at Montreaux. The first inkling I got that there was some live footage from this MO lineup was a poor quality video of Smile of the Beyond on a certain video clip web site many of us know of. It's very disappointing that we only get two clips from the show with video and the rest are audio only. I'm guessing the rest of the original footage has been lost. One can only hope that it will resurface. The performance is a bit more structured than the more compact MO's could be live, but that's to be expected due to the larger number of musician's involved. Still the core band does get to work in some improvisation, McLaughlin in particular.

This release is all in all a pleasant surprise for 2007, but there's more video out there from the older Mahavishu Orchestras, and I hope to see that material surface soon. It gets a four on the round up.

JON HASSELL Last Night the Moon Came Dropping Its Clothes in the Street

Album · 2009 · World Fusion
Cover art 4.05 | 3 ratings
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I became familiar with Jon Hassell through his work with Eno. I haven't yet become familiar with all of Jon's self-titled discography, but this is by far my favorite. Worldly and yet other-worldly. Hassell has apparently had a strong interest in dreams simply based on song titles and album titles from his work in the past, but here I think he has gone his deepest into the realm.

I suspect even those with a contempt for "ambient" music might just find something to latch on to here. In my case, I came to appreciate music of this nature when I got hooked on the ambient first. There is music here which surpasses mere "wallpaper". Challenge yourselves and you may be rewarded.

JIMI HENDRIX Live at Winterland (Jimi Hendrix Experience)

Live album · 1987 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 3.52 | 2 ratings
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Jimi Hendrix is a dish best experienced live.

I don't have a lot of Hendrix in my collection, but this one happened to be the second CD I bought, back in the late '80's. When so much stuff was being released on CD from the LP masters, Ryko had the decency to put out something of true quality. The first mixdowns of the original multi-track recordings were transferred to digital and digitally mixed and mastered. "this 70+-minute program makes full use of both the expanded frequency range and playing capacity of the Compact Disc". Oooh! Ah, the days when CDs were a novelty.

It really is a fine set of his music. Like any great live album you don't get reguritations of studio material and when he does covers, he puts the originals to shame.

Hendrix, Redding, and Mitchell made for one smoking trio. Joined on Killing Floor by Jack Cassady of the Jefferson Airplane.

Kind of spooky that the original concert happened over three nights, starting one day after my sister was born. (I was three years old.) Two more years and Hendrix would be gone leaving us to wonder where he might have gone musically...

JEFF BECK Performing This Week...Live At Ronnie Scott's

Movie · 2008 · Fusion
Cover art 4.10 | 5 ratings
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Holy crap, there's a new Jeff Beck live DVD out there!.

...I thought as I saw this at the record store. This is why it's important to keep those local independent brick and mortar record stores open: you'll never know what you'll find browsing.

As near as I've been able to find out, Jeff Beck (THE Beck, not that other guy) hadn't been touring in a long time, but rather was sticking to special performances. To make up for it, sort of, he did a week's worth of shows at London's Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in late November 2007. I've never been there, but it looks a little large as some jazz clubs go but still reasonably intimate. I'm pretty sure you don't need binoculars to observe any performances there.

Jeff has assembled an interesting set of musicians, the oldest being Jeff himself (b. 1944), Vinnie Colaiuta (1956) on drums, Jason Rebello (1969) on keys, and Tal Wilkenfeld (1986) on bass. Vinnie I know best from association with Zappa, Jason's new to me but I found out has worked with Sting, Tal (new to the music scene) hails from Australia and judging from her performance she is someone to really keep your eye on. Guests appearances by Joss Stone, Imogen Heap, and Eric Clapton, heyyy.

The set list, not really the proper term as it must have been culled from all the shows, is an impressive collection of material spanning Jeff's career so far. Original stuff includes Beck's Bolero {is this not actually a cover?}, Led Boots, Scatterbrain, Angel, Blast From The East, Rollin' And Tumblin'. Also some nice covers thrown in for good measure including Eternity's Breath!, Cause We've Ended As Lovers {never really seemed like a cover to me}, People Get Ready, A Day In The Life, You Need Love). You also get some interviews as bonus material and the DVD booklet is a nice read. 21 tracks altogether, mixed in Dolby 5.1 and DTS surround sounds with a 16:9 video format, I might add.

Wish I was there but this is the next best thing. It's one hell of a way to experience one hell of a guitarist. It's a live assortment, but due the quality and quantity I am rounding this one up.


Live album · 2002 · Fusion
Cover art 2.98 | 5 ratings
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The original Lux Aeterna was a classical piece for 16 solo voices composed in 1966 by Ligeti, who Rypdal claims as an influence. Rypdal's was a piece commissioned by the Molde Jazz Festival. Unlike Vossabrygg, this one is more of a classical/jazz fusion rather than jazz/rock, with heavy emphasis on the classical, maybe a smattering of rock if you take the electric guitar into account.

The commission was to celebrate the installation of a new organ at the Molde church in Norway. I looked it up on the web, it's a huge pipe organ. In addition to the organ in this music there is of course, Terje on electric guitar, trumpet, and a soprano playing the role of soloists with a chamber ensemble of 18 musicians (violins, violas, cellos, double-bass, percussion, and piano).

I think most fans of classical music will appreciate these compositions, very haunting, dreamy, and like most Rypdal, has that feeling of a cold Norwegian winter. The music in first movement, Luminous Galaxy, certainly fits the title in mood and atmosphere. The second movement, Fjelldåpen (baptized by the mountains) was inspired by a climb to the top of one of the smaller mountains in the area where he grew up when he was a kid. The third movement, Escalator, features, the strings and trumpet with some beautiful tuned percussion at the end. The fourth movement, Toccata, is solo organ, so you get to hear just what that monster is capable of. The concluding movement, Lux Aeterna, features the soprano and chamber ensemble with all the other soloists contributing bits here and there.


Live album · 2006 · Fusion
Cover art 3.17 | 7 ratings
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If you like the Bitches Brew, this just might appeal to you. Not a redo, something new.

Recorded in April of 2003 at the Vossa Jazz Festival in Norway, Vossabrygg did not actually get released until three years later. It's actually a commissioned piece, but the liner notes don't reveal whether or not it's totally composed or is a combination of structure and improvisation as I suspect Davis' Bitches Brew was. I don't think you really can make music of this nature without improvisation, though.

As the liner notes say Vossabrygg was inspired the Brew but only the first track, Ghostdancing, has an actual musical quote from the Pharoah's Dance on it. The rest is original music very much in the style of Bitches Brew to the extent that you might mistake some of it for being lost material from those sessions. Rypdal, while sometimes seeming to channel 1970's John McLaughlin, for the most part still sounds distinctively Rypdal.

THE CRIMSON JAZZ TRIO King Crimson Songbook, Volume 1

Album · 2005 · Post Bop
Cover art 3.96 | 4 ratings
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King Crimson meets A Charlie Brown Christmas.

Well, OK the drummer, Ian Wallace was in the KC and the musical style certainly reminds me of what remains one my favorite soundtracks of all time. In fact, I tend to think that if you had introduced this album to the jazz loving public around that time (1965) it might just be regarded as a classic jazz album to this day. Even though the original King was known for embracing jazz elements on their earlier albums, these are tracks from the 1969-1984 era totally reworked as jazz pieces. Who knew that hiding inside King Crimson's songs were some cool jazz tracks trying to get out?

I think it is a testament both to the brilliance of Crimson's original compositions as well as the talent of the musician's involved in this project that it all works so well. A lot of the tracks you can kind of see reworked as pure jazz when you first read the list, but Three Of A Perfect Pair and Matte Kudasai work unexpectedly well. 21st Century Schizoid Man and Red were a bit of surprise, too. Cat, Food, Ladies Of The Road, and I Talk To The Wind, I could see. My favorite, last but not least, and not last really, Starless. Maybe that's the only one that might be out of place in parts back in the time before there was a King Crimson, but not by too much.

Fripp says on the liner notes "I have heard as if for the first time," these songs. I got the same feeling.


Album · 2007 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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Hey! You got art in my metal! Hey! You got metal in my art!

Between the art and the metal lies jazz, and a nice Indian flavoring.

Really one of the top albums of 2007, hear me now and believe me later. It's been quite unappreciated so far, maybe time will tell, it came out late in the year. As I write this I'm thinking it may just take a little more time. The only musician I am familiar with on here is Jonas Hellborg. If you think you know all the great bassists in progdom and don't know Hellborg, then you have a missing piece my friend.

This band just makes some really intense and dense instrumental music. Sometimes it's nice to have instrumental music that is just simple but not too complex. Sometimes you have to have something intense, and here you are. These songs really take you to interesting places. A taste expanding experience for the metal fan as well as the non-metal progressive music fan. We can all just get along.

TERJE RYPDAL The Singles Collection

Album · 1989 · Fusion
Cover art 4.06 | 5 ratings
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The Singles Collection title is a bit of a joke. Unless, I'm very much mistaken, Terje Rypdal has never had any singles. True the tracks are shorter in length than the typical TR track. I do think the material offered here is his most "accessible" material, both in terms of a typical progressive fan and even a wider audience in general. It may have a bit too much of that '80's sound, which will probably put off fans of his earlier stuff. Not me, I picked it up around the time of it's release in 1988, having already been a fan of TR and really liked it. It's really nice blend of many of his influences, a bit of a departure from his previous material, but still distinctively Terje Rypdal.

Even though this is listed as a Terje Rypdal release, he actually had formed a guitar, bass, and drum trio in 1984 called The Chasers which had toured some before the keyboardist was added in 1987.

A quote from the liner notes (a very long essay) by Steve Lake: "The band premiered some of the material that would make up The Singles Collection at the Molde Jazz Festival, Terje's dissatisfaction with the state of contemporary jazz . giving the performance a confrontation air. By now the rock reference was unequivocal. Jazz people could take it or leave it. The Chasers were burning it up, having a ball, trying to cram Rypdal's bizarre chain of influence into vigorous little tunes alternately streamlined and swollen with ideas."

Unfortunately as I write this, the CD is out of print. There is an LP version apparently released just this year, so I'm hoping there will be a CD re-release in the near future and maybe those of you interested in this one will get lucky.


Album · 1973 · Fusion
Cover art 3.10 | 15 ratings
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Santana made such a fine jazz/rock album with Caravanserai, Welcome may have been a bit of a disappointment with his j/r oriented fans. But maybe a return to form for his pop fans. The LP got a decent amount of play around the house when I was in my teens. My older brother and mother were big Santana fans at the time. My sister has subsequently become one. My wife is a fan of the really early stuff and the latter stuff. One big Santanarama family. I didn't really latch on to it in the LP era when I first caught ear of it. I've come to appreciate it more now that I've picked up the remastered CD.

The opening track, Going Home, is really promising. Has a nice symphonic sound to it. It's followed a more pop track (with vocals, of course), Love, Devotion, and Surrender. The album starts a pattern of alternating between commercially appealing vocal tracks and really good instrumentals. The album really delivers at the end. Flame-Sky with John McLaughlin piece stands out in particular. A nice jam, and if you like that you need to check out Love, Devotion, and Surrender, the Santana/McLaughlin duo album released in the same year.

With the remaster, you also get a bonus track, Mantra. Another really good instrumental piece.

All in all, a really joyous album, with no dark moments. Well, maybe the lovey dovey songs a bit in a perverse kind of way. Still an interesting progression from the first three albums, yet as always, distinctively, Santana.

JEAN-LUC PONTY Jazz Violin Summit (With Stephane Grappelli And Stuff Smith)

Boxset / Compilation · 1999 · Swing
Cover art 3.50 | 2 ratings
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This album is a real odd bird. I found the LP many years ago in a bin at a salvage store. The credits were rather poor on the LP as they are also on the 1999 CD release. I welcome anyone out there who has better information on this album to send in an update for the entry of this because I'd really like to know more about it.

It's listed on Jean Luc's web site as "Violin Summit" 1966, which is correct for the last six tracks (second side of the LP). The first five tracks are what are really of interest to most Ponty fans. The first five tracks are obviously not from 1966 but most likely from the early 70's, judging from the style of the music. One of the biggest clues here is track three - Memorial Jam for Stuff Smith, who died in 1967.

Some interesting footnotes, Stuff Smith is credited in the liner notes as being "one of the first to play amplified violin". Grappelli was one of the masters of Jazz violin most famous for playing with Django Reinhart in the Hot Club of France band. I had the honor of shaking his hand at his trailer when he played at Chastain Park, Atlanta many years ago!

I've been enjoying this album's music for many years (first side mainly) and it's certainly a must have for Ponty fans. Obscure yet obtainable.

LARRY CORYELL A Retrospective (A Sequel To His Story)

Movie · 2007 · Fusion
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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As Larry moves into his 60's, he hasn't lost his touch. I was actually expecting a more comprehensive look back on his music. Considering the amount of music Coryell has created, that's really an impossibility. What you get is a resurrection of his early electric period in the '70's primarily. Turns out that for what I have from that period, I'm getting a lot of stuff I haven't heard. Those who have followed his career know that he went through a long acoustical guitar period and currently plays more straightforward jazz rather than jazz rock/fusion. If he's going to start moving back to that kind of music, you can count me in.

What's nice about this set of music is it really doesn't sound dated. It's rather fresh. Although I must admit I am hearing some of it for the first time.

One complaint though, the musician's credits aren't in the box or booklet except for three of the guests. I know the white haired guy playing guitar is Larry. The bass player was really impressive. And I did get that Larry's son Julian was the primary second guitarist.

Anyway, seeing Larry play live electric on DVD is great. It's been years since I last saw him live and in person, but never on electric, if memory serves. Also a great way to get to know this important musician. You get two DVDs which include rehearsal footage and interviews.

BILL BRUFORD Bbc Rock Goes To College: Live 1979

Movie · 2006 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 4.00 | 2 ratings
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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.

CARLOS SANTANA Live At The 1988 Montreaux Jazz Festival With Wayne Shorter

Movie · 2005 · Fusion
Cover art 3.50 | 1 rating
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Lots of good music happens at the Montreaux Jazz Festivals. I'm a little envious of those who can attend regularly. According to the DVD cover blurb for this one:

"It began almost as a lark when Carlos Santana encountered his longtime friend and hero Wayne Shorter on the concert trail in Atlanta, GA, in 1987. Carlos said, "Let's start a rumor that we're putting a band together."

Wayne's eyes got bigger and brighter as he smiled and then responded: "Yeah, Carlos, let's start a rumor."

A few months later the Carlos Santana/Wayne Shorter Band performed its debut concert at The Fillmore in San Francisco, the beginning of a 26-concert tour throughout the U.S. and Europe. The performance of this magnificent band was recorded at Montreux, Switzerland, on July 14, 1988, and includes interviews with Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter and festival creator Claude Nobs."

Excuse me if I quoted that too extensively.

Hard to figure out whether to place this one under Carlos Santana or Santana. Most of the musicians are from the Santana band at the time. Wayne Shorter and Patrice Rushen are special guests. Leon "Ndugu" Chancellor replaces Graham Lear on drums.

This is a lot jazzier than the studio albums Santana was releasing at the time. It's something special to see this one time collaboration between Santana and Shorter. The quality of the video and audio are top notch.

JONAS HELLBORG Octave of the Holy Innocents

Album · 1993 · Eclectic Fusion
Cover art 4.17 | 2 ratings
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I discovered this album browsing for Buckethead stuff. I discovered Buckethead through Colonel Claypool's (Les) Bucket of Bernie Brains. Actually turned out I had already had some Buckethead in my collection - Bill Laswell's Divination, Ambient Dub Volume One, for some time. By the way, Buckethead is overdue for his own entry on this site. His solo work ranges from progressive metal, that will give any other metal artist here a run for their money, and extremely mellow stuff, too. Have just barely scratched the surface of Hellborg's albums with this one. Of course Shrieve, I knew from Santana's first lineup and Automatic Man. This is a phenomenon I like to call the progressive rock web. Just about every progressive artist is linked to another in some way. Maybe one day when I have a lot of free time on my hands I'll map it out with MS Access.

So I ordered this one not knowing what to expect on the basis of my familiarity with Buckethead and Michael Shrieve. There's really nothing in the progressive rock world that I can compare it to, which is one of the things that makes it a masterpiece. Beyond that, there's stellar compositions and awesome musicianship. Acoustic instruments pushed to their boundaries.

The opener, Rana and Fara is an over 15 minute piece that takes you on a musical journey with mellow parts and very intense parts. It's almost hard to believe that this stuff is being created on just acoustical bass, guitar. and drums. There are some occasional vocal bits that aren't credited that kind of medieval/gregorian chant sounding which give the track a rather spooky feeling.

Death That Sleeps In Them, after the intense highs and mellow lows of the previous track, this one kicks off in high gear. More of those chant like vocals, though they do take back stage to the bass, guitar, and drum. The guitar work here has a heavy Middle Eastern sound to it.

The Past Is A Different Country, I Don't Live There Anymore, reminds me of the quieter pieces on Mahavishnu Orchestra's Inner Mounting Flame. Sorrowful, melancholy music. Hellborg does some stuff with the bow on the acoustic bass that sound flue like. You'll hear stuff and think, hey that's violin, But no, it's Hellborg on bass with a bow again.

Child King starts off high energy yet subtle. I think they had Tutankhamun in mind for this one.

Kildogo also kicks off in high gear, those Gregorian chant vocalizations make another appearance here and there in this piece.

If you don't want to open a can of worms that will lead you to a bunch of music you don't have, but you must get, avoid this one like the plague.


Album · 1980 · Fusion
Cover art 4.00 | 1 rating
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I was unaware of this album's existence until 2002. Apparently, with the exception of whoever added this one to the discography, no one else on this site is aware of it to this day. Kudos to One Way Records for releasing some good progressive music that might have gone down the memory hole. New copies of Hip Address are available dirt cheap on the Internet, but that's no reflection on the music. Fans of the original Mahavishnu Orchestra and the more progressive side of Jan Hammer should enjoy this one. Nice to see Jan alternating progressive stuff while veering off into more pop territory at the time.

David Earle Johnson actually headlines this album, with Jan getting second billing. Still he's half of the musicians here. The songs Night and Bamboo Forest are reprised from Oh Yeah?

This album would have made a great double with 1978's Time Is Free. I'm pretty sure that with the two years that had passed, Jan was able to avail himself of some of the latest synthesizer technology and I like what I hear on this album a little better. There's certainly some drifting into the sound he had for the Miami Vice soundtrack. I wonder sometimes if that soundtrack is why Jan doesn't seem to get much respect around here. This album is a creature of the studio, but it's well done. Hard to identify all percussion David Earle is using sometimes, but the CD gives them credit.

Here's my track by track outline for now -

Rebel Trot opens with David on congas. Jan kicks in keyboards soon. Then David Earle vocal. Nice opening Jam.

Green & Black. More treble kalimba from Johnson. Piano from Jan. Nice mellow piece. Reminiscent of original MO's mellow stuff.

Punk Luck. Another piece with DEJ's vocals.

Siete Parati. Very festive instrumental piece.

Hip Address (Vocal). Kind of a spooky song in that it was written back in 1980 or so and the lyrics seem applicable to the recent hurricane Katrina disaster.

Night. Hard to say if the original on Goodman and Hammer's Like Children is better or this version. It's a shame Hammer Goodman and Johnson won't be able to do this one all together.

Bamboo Forest. Originally from Oh Yeah? Bamboo gets a vocal this time. Got to visit Maui's bamboo forest on my honeymoon in 2002. Might not be the same bamboo forests. Still a cool song.

Hip Address (Instrumental). Percussion extravaganza, say no more.

For those that are interested, you can get a free new instrumental M

JAN HAMMER Black Sheep

Album · 1979 · Pop/Art Song/Folk
Cover art 1.76 | 3 ratings
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I'm almost wondering why I inflicted this remaster on myself other than to fill out the spot being vacated by Jan Hammer's "The Early Years", a compilation CD.

My first encounter with Jan's band he called Hammer was an LP called BLACK SHEEP an LP. fortunately it was available used for $2.00. I remember the first time I put my needle down on track 1, "Jet Stream", and wondering "what the hell is this crap?". I had previously acquired a new MELODIES LP and was disappointed somewhat, it did have a couple great tracks and bits in the rest I could sink my teeth in to. I'd really hoped he would have returned with better form and have an album opener like "Magical Dog" on OH YEAH?. At the time there wasn't much on this album that appealed to me. I've lightened up in my opinion on the album after re- listening these songs. Aww, heck, I'll do the song by song review, since I may be the only one:

"Jet Stream", purporting to be a rock 'n' roll song, has lyrics about opening your ear to new music, probably directed at his fans of Jazz/Rock and Symphonic Prog material.

Next comes "Heavy Love", just your average blues track. Not as annoying for me as it used to be. His Jan Hammer Group collaborators - Fernando Saunders (Bass) and Tony Smith (Drums) are on these first two tracks and only one other.

"Black Sheep" is fairly simple song. I came to like it a bit more when I copied a few of the tracks from the LP to a home made CD a few years ago. Nice bass line. Jan does some congos and also drums for most of the rest of these tracks. Unfortunately, David Earle Johnson (percussionist) is nowhere to be seen on this album. Jan did do a duo album with him that was released the same the year, TIME IS FREE (LP on the Vanguard label, currently [11/27/06] available in the US as an import), a much better album for the prog fans.

I still like "Light of Dawn" as much today as when I first heard it. It's a simple keyboard and vocal love song. Jan did the lyrics and he did a good job.

"Hey Girl" is a studio-generated piece with Jan only doing keyboards, drums, and vocals. Another dull attempt for Jan to do something pop. Probably only notable thing about this is that he apparently does a pretty good bassist imitation in addition to his trademark synthesizer mock guitar. No bassist or bass credit is given for this track.

"Waiting No More" sounds like a decent pop song. Too bad it didn't make to the charts. I don't think anything else charted until the Miami Vice soundtrack. Jan on everything except lyrics again.

Next up comes a cover of Jimi Hendrix' "Manic Depression". Might have been a fun live cover, but here he appears to be just showing off his mock guitar capabilities. I might be too harsh, he may have been intending more of a tribute piece. Still, one of the more progressive pieces here.

The last track "Silent One" is a 5 star piece by virtue of 4.5, which rounds to 5. Lyrics are by his wife, Ivona Reich. It starts out as a simple keyboard and vocal piece. Jan does all instruments and Bob Christensen (also on a few other tracks here) provides vocals. It's a love/love lost song. The second half of the song has a nice build up in musical intensity. The whole song structure is a lot like the last track on LIKE CHILDREN "Giving In Gently/I Wonder.

JAN HAMMER Jan Hammer Group : Oh, Yeah?

Album · 1976 · Fusion
Cover art 4.31 | 8 ratings
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I got this as an LP originally at a local Atlanta used record store for $2.00 along with Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer Like Children more than a few years ago (those were the days). They made excellent companions which I taped on opposite sides of a 90 minute cassette. These albums were apparently fairly rare as I don't think I have ever seen any other copies for sale used or new. I even went to the trouble of making a CD from the LPs complete with little booklets from scans of the cover art.

I haven't seen any information on why it took so long for these to be remastered and released on CD. They are some of Jan's finest work post Mahavishnu. I think it's a testament to the quality of the original production that the remaster doesn't seem to improve much on the sound compared to CD version I made. Always a pleasure to be free of the LP needle noise of course, although my copies were in really good shape.

Back to this album, the instrumental songs are very high energy. Some progressive purists may be put off by the three vocal pieces. Oh Yeah?, in particular, has a heavy funk edge to it, but for me they just broadened my musical horizons a little. Those who have a problem with the vocal bits, will find the instrumentals very satisfying.

SANTANA Caravanserai

Album · 1972 · Latin Rock/Soul
Cover art 4.58 | 46 ratings
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My older brother and mother became big fans of Santana in the later '70's. I was not as much, so I never acquired any of his LPs. Didn't really need to, of course. I can't say that I've heard everything in his enormous catalog, but I think this one stands out as the most progressive efforts of the Santana band. One of the things I like about this album is that it's reverse of the trend of some progressive acts trying to go more pop (particularly in the late '70's and early '80's). Santana went heavy into prog territory!

The first three albums were reasonably progressive in the sense of exploring new musical territory, (excellent album covers, too), but this one is much more instrumentally focused. Although I believe it was in my brother's collection for a while, I don't remember it getting played a lot. This album was really a nice discovery for me. I acquired the new CD release and gave it a close listening for the first time in 2004. While the older material seems to be anchored to late '60's early '70's (not a bad thing, indeed). This stuff has more of a timeless quality to it. One can only hope that after three recent popular successes: Supernatural, Shaman, and All That I Am, Santana might get the urge to venture once again into more progressive territory.

Some trivia: Greg Rollie (the first keyboardist) and Neal Schon (second guitarist added with Santana III) left after this one. They formed Journey which, I understand, started out progressive and drifted into being that dreadful pop outfit that many us of here have heard enough of, incidentally or otherwise, to last a lifetime.

PAT METHENY One Quiet Night

Album · 2003 · Fusion
Cover art 3.19 | 10 ratings
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I believe this is Pat's first album of just solo guitar work. I've got a lot of CD and DVD Metheny in my collection, and I hate to say it, but as time goes on, I find his work is becoming less interesting, and not particularly groundbreaking anymore. My favorite stuff is his '70's and early '80's work. I won't deny he is still making good music, though.

For those who find album cohesion important to you, this is basically a collection of really nice mellow acoustic guitar music, which according to the liner notes, is what he set out to do. Also of note is that he used a non-standard guitar tuning and played a baritone guitar, which he says challenged him ways of playing that he wasn't used to. Anyone already a Pat fan or who just likes good solor guitar work should probably enjoy this. Just doesn't move me that much, but still a keeper for my collection.


Album · 1979 · Jazz Related Rock
Cover art 4.33 | 28 ratings
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Saw these guys at the Atlanta Agora on tour for this album (minus Holdsworth, dammit). The guitarist was John Clark (not too shabby). I did get to see Holdsworth later on the I.O.U. tour and a rathole club called 688. (Got autographs there!)

Too young to be at the Agora, but so fortunate. I wasn't all that enthusiastic about going at first, but once the music started, I was hooked. One of the things I remember most was Jeff Berlin's picking fingers. They were moving so fast it was like nothing I've ever seen before. Almost a blur! Not just empty headed noodling, but very complex bass work. Not having the benefit of hearing this album before, I rushed out to buy it the next day (was already familiar with U.K.). This album takes off from where U.K.'s U.K. album (1978) left off probably more so than Danger Money does.

Dave Stewart's keyboard performance on this one is incredible. I still get chills listening to The Sahara of Snow. Really inspired me to take up the synthesizer a few years later. Bruford's work here really shows that a drummer isn't just a person who hangs out with musicians (joke). This was just before he started adding electronic drums and participated in the '80's reformation King Crimson. I seriously would not have expected a drummer driven project to be this good. I still prefer Holdsworth's work in other groups to what he's done on his own.

An excellent quartet here and the addition of any other musicians would probably be too much. Not that I mind any of the vocal bits done under the moniker of Bruford. This music is timeless. The compositions are rich and complex. Each tune could probably be expanded into a whole album's worth of material with good results. The music tells many tales here and vocals would be superfluous. The only music that comes to mind that compares to from this time was Steve Morse/Dixie Dregs' What If album, the song Odyssey, in particular.


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