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YES Fragile Album Cover Fragile
YES
4.76 | 26 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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SOFT MACHINE Third Album Cover Third
SOFT MACHINE
4.65 | 63 ratings
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FRANK ZAPPA The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers) Album Cover The Grand Wazoo (The Mothers)
FRANK ZAPPA
4.66 | 51 ratings
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YES Close To The Edge Album Cover Close To The Edge
YES
4.70 | 22 ratings
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JIMI HENDRIX Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience) Album Cover Are You Experienced (Jimi Hendrix Experience)
JIMI HENDRIX
4.64 | 38 ratings
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YES Relayer Album Cover Relayer
YES
4.66 | 24 ratings
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YES The Yes Album Album Cover The Yes Album
YES
4.66 | 22 ratings
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NATIONAL HEALTH Of Queues and Cures Album Cover Of Queues and Cures
NATIONAL HEALTH
4.68 | 18 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Larks' Tongues In Aspic Album Cover Larks' Tongues In Aspic
KING CRIMSON
4.59 | 47 ratings
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KING CRIMSON Red Album Cover Red
KING CRIMSON
4.59 | 44 ratings
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jazz related Music Reviews

GEIR SUNDSTØL The Studio Intim Sessions vol. 1

EP · 2022 · Dub/Ska/Reggae
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js
Every now and then you come across an album on which every note is so perfectly placed that it sparkles like a rare gem. Such is the case with Geir Sandstol’s “The Studio Sessions Volume 1”. Geiris is a very popular session musicians who specializes in a variety of string instruments such as guitar, dobro, pedal steel, banjo and the Indian Shankar guitar. He occasionally releases solo albums which are usually sparse ambient affairs that reflect the wide open spaces of Norway, but his new album reveals something entirely different, dub reggae from Jamaica. The Nordic guitar work is still there, but everything is backed with very well played dub riddims.

This music is attractively somber and melancholic, often reminding one of early Bill Laswell albums such as “Hear No Evil” and “Hallucination Engine”, and also Ry Cooder’s sparse slide guitar work for the “Paris Texas” soundtrack. This is music for reflection that reaches deep into your soul. Every track is thoughtful and essential, there are no wasted moments on here. Album opener, “Gem”, features the purest dub, while other tracks are closer to dub fusion similar to the work of Laswell again, and Jah Wobble. The Indian Shankar guitar blends with the pedal steel guitar providing nice tone colors on “Dogg”. On “Snik”, Geir plays the stringed harp producing an exotica styled melody. Sampled choir gives album closer, “Whole” a spiritual impact. The top track though may be “C’est Vide en Ville”, on which Middle eastern melodies alternate with a folk melody sung in French. Throughout the entire album the expected dub style ambient breaks and psychedelic effects add to the soundscapes.

YES Magnification

Album · 2001 · Jazz Related Rock
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tupan
Very good! I was curious about the most recent albums of Yes, because I've only listened to their ultra classic Fragile - one of my favorite albums of all time. Magnification is a truly "symphonic" album: the keyboards were been replaced by real orchestration, conducted by Larry Groupë with maestry. This gave a more organic feel to this album, a very positive achievement in my opinion. This album have many highlights: Spirit of Survival (good lyrics), Magnification, Don't Go (nice lyrics too), Give Love Each Day, the epics Dreamtime and my favorite, In The Presence Of. The short songs are interesting too, there's no filler in this album! I recommend Magnification to all the fans of symphonic prog.

SHEMEKIA COPELAND Done Come Too Far

Album · 2022 · Jazz Related Rock
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snobb
American singer Shemekia Copeland spent the last decade releasing strong blues albums, rooted in tradition, but with a touch of freshness. Her voice is easy recognizable, and her straight-to-face, often naïve lyrics, are both her strong trademarks. Shemekia's previous album, "Uncivil War", released in 2020, offered faster and a more rhythmic touch on blues, still being a mixed bag containing some top-songs and fillers as well. With "Done Come Too Far", Copeland explores the new territories even deeper. Still with strong blues roots, she bravely moves towards high-energy blues-rock. From the very first sounds of the new album, she offers simply, groovy pieces, which blow listener's hats away from their heads. "The Talk", strongest album's blues, demonstrates how great a blues singer she really is. "Gullah Geeche" is an acoustic country-blues with banjo and fiddle on the front, and "Why Why Why" is an old-fashioned ballad. "Fried Catfish and Bibles" is pure Americana, with banjo and fiddle again, really danceable. Shemekia returns to heavy blues-rock on the title song, a duet with guitarist and singer Cedric Burnside. "Barefoot in Heaven" is already characteristic Copeland RnB with soloing from Will Kimbrough's electric guitar. She returns back to a country piece with "Fell in Love With a Honky". "The Dolls Are Sleeping" is an acoustic ballad (with Oliver Wood on acoustic guitar). On "Dumb It Down", one can enjoy electric organ. "Nobody but You", the closer, is straight-ahead heavy blues rock again.

As many previous Shemekia's albums, the newest one is a mixed bag of some strong songs and some fillers, offering a wide range of blues and Americana this time. Her best songs are really great songs, those which are not as successful, can sound a bit boring. Still, she offers here on this album a lot of what her fans love most of all - her unique voice.

ONENESS OF JUJU / PLUNKY & ONENESS / PLUNKY Bush Brothers & Space Rangers

Album · 1996 · RnB
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snobb
On the wave of the unfading popularity of African influenced jazz in England, UK-based label Strut continues their series of US funk-RnB bands from 70s Oneness Of Juju reissues. The band's debut, "African Rhythms", has been reissued by Strut in 2002, and in 2018 once again. Band's second album, "Space Jungle Luv"(originally from 1976), has been reissued by Strut in 2002 and 2021. "Bush Brothers & Space Rangers", chronologically the band's third recorded album, received its European reissue in 2022 for the first time ever (recorded in 1977, this album has been released for the first time in 1996 only, and reissued only once after - in 2002 in Japan).

Oneness of Juju were the mid-70s continuation of early 70s SF/NYC - based sax player James Plunky Branch's avant-garde jazz band Juju, who moved to Richmond, Virginia in late 1974 and switched the direction towards funk and RnB. Their debut album (still partially with old Juju line-up) under the new name, "African Rhythms", was critically acclaimed, and contained more commercially popular music for the time with a mix of funk and RnB with African-spiritual jazz elements.

For their third album, recorded two years later, the band adds guitarist Ras Mel Melvin Glover, drummer Tony Green (instead of Babatunde) and pianist Brian Jackson (both - from Gil Scott-Heron's band) and percussionist Okyerma Asante. As a result, they loose a bit of funky edge, but receive a more sophisticated sound.

The album's opener,"Breezin'", is probably better known from George Benson's instrumental version, but it's originally a Bobby Womack song, and it comes with vocals here, a nice dreamy relaxed RnB piece. "African Rhythms", Plunky's original, is represented here by a longer very percussive acoustic version, and it sounds even better then on the band's debut, one of the album's top tracks. "Nooky", another Plunky original, is placed somewhere between the band's earlier funk-jazz and the more polished RnB, with soloing sax on the front all the time.

Side B opens with an interesting example of an early "ecological" protest song, "Be About The Future". "Afro Beat" is a very percussive funky song. "Plastic (Is Easy To See Thru)" is another one of the album's top cuts, very much a George Clinton-like piece of P-funk. The album's closer, "Rhythms Timelessness", is a two minutes-long funky instrumental with lots of guitar soloing on the front.

Japanese P-Wine reissue for the first time presented 5 never before released bonuses, on the latest Strut reissue they are available as downloads. "West Wind" is a longish relaxed African-ballade with a flute, "All Blues" is a bluesy RnB with lot of sax and piano soloing and strong vocals, sounds a bit out of place here though. "The Stuff To Make You Move", is danceable RnB and the more funky, "Get Your Head Together", with male vocals, both don't add much to the album.

JOHNNY "GUITAR" WATSON A Real Mother For Ya

Album · 1977 · RnB
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js
You have to admit that “Real Mother For Ya” has a real mother of an album cover . Yes that’s Johnny’s mom pushing him in a baby carriage that has been made to look like a gold Rolls Royce, implying that young Johnny has grown up to do pretty well for himself in the music business, which indeed he did. Starting in the 50s, Watson was a star guitarist and vocalist in the blues world, especially in Houston where he was from. Moving out to LA, Johnny made the transition to a modern funk sound, and did so convincingly, scoring several big hits, while still maintaining much of his blues flavor. One such big hit was this album’s title track, with its humorous tales of ironic disappointment, rip-offs and plain bad luck. These are the kind of lyrics that anyone can relate to and Watson delivered them with plenty of funny asides in his distinctive twangy voice. The song became a real mover on the dance floor with its double heavy bass reinforced with a heavy analog synthesizer. As is typical for dance records, the title track comes first on side one so that DJs will have no problem finding it.

Sometimes albums like this, which are centered around a big hit, have nothing but filler after the hit passes, but the rest of “Real Mother” contains some well written and creatively produced tracks. Johnny covers all the bases on here, writing all the songs, playing all the instruments except horns and drums, and taking care of production as well. Watson is a great producer, different parts stand out and shimmer as he achieves great separation and clarity, and often puts some semi-psychedelic glitter on things. Johnny’s writing style combines blues, RnB, jazz and art pop, like a mix of Curtis Mayfield, The Ohio Players, The Crusaders and The Beatles. Some interesting tracks include the somewhat spacey, “Your Love is My Love”, on which Watson delivers all the vocals through a vocoder foreshadowing today’s frequent use of such vocals and, “I Wanna Thank You”, on which Johnny reveals he is just as good on the piano as he is on the guitar. “Nothing Left to be Desired” has a dreamy middle section on which Watson builds vocal layers over a jazzy chord progression. Johnny’s lyrics are never deep or heavy, but he delivers them with plenty of clever humor and spoken asides. Looking at the horn section, I see frequent Frank Zappa sideman Walt Fowler on trumpet. As many already know, Watson delivered some humorously over the top vocals on Zappa’s “One Size Fits All”.

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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