:::The Jazz Composer's Orchestra:::

Posted: Friday, 20 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , , , , , ,

German-born composer/trumpeter Michael Mantler and his then-wife Carla Bley were instrumental in developing within jazz the idea of self-sufficiency and independence from established record companies. Their creation of the Jazz Composer's Orchestra, with recordings released on their own label, was the culmination of this endeavor, and the first recording was one of the masterpieces of creative music in the '60s. Mantler had come from the European avant-classical tradition and sought to provide an orchestral framework supporting some of the most advanced musicians in avant-garde jazz -- and he succeeded magnificently. His style tends toward the brooding and darkly romantic with harsh, cynical edges, a perfect foil for the robust, shackle-breaking improvisations found herein. The cloudy, roiling swirls that open "Communications #8," echoed by Bley's stabbing piano chords, lay the groundwork for inspired soloing by Don Cherry and the pre-Last Tango and still extremely fiery Gato Barbieri. Subsequent pieces include an amazing feedback showcase for Larry Coryell and a gorgeous, somber work featuring bassist Steve Swallow and trombonist Roswell Rudd. All of this is a preview for, well, "Preview," an utterly incendiary flight by Pharoah Sanders over a pounding rhythm by the orchestra, a piece that will leave the listener bruised, battered, and exhilarated. Except that the best is yet to come: a 34-minute, two-part composition, a concerto for Cecil Taylor and orchestra, that finds the pianist at the height of his powers, just beginning to enter the third phase of his development where he fused ultra-high energy playing with rigorous logic and heartbreaking beauty. The breadth of this piece, its expansiveness, and its tension between order and chaos is one of the single high watermarks of avant-garde jazz. Communications is a masterwork in and of itself and laid the basis for stunning work by others in decades hence, notably Barry Guy and his London Jazz Composer's Orchestra. It's an essential document for anyone interested in avant jazz and late-20th century creative music.
:::Review by Brian Olewnick:::

The Jazz Composer's Orchestra – s/t (1968)

A1. Communications # 8 (13:52)
A2. Communications # 9 (8:08)
B1. Communications # 10 (13:26)
B2. Preview (3:23)
C. Communications # 11 Part 1 (15:10)
D. Communications # 11 Part 2 (17:47)

Bass - Alan Silva (tracks: C, D) , Bob Cunningham (tracks: C, D) , Charlie Haden , Eddie Gomez (tracks: A2, B1, B2) , Kent Carter (tracks: A1) , Reggie Johnson (tracks: C, D) , Reggie Workman , Richard Davis (tracks: A1) , Ron Carter (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2) , Steve Swallow (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
Conductor, Producer - Michael Mantler
Cornet - Don Cherry (tracks: A1)
Drums - Andrew Cyrille (tracks: A1, C, D) , Beaver Harris (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
Flugelhorn - Lloyd Michels , Randy Brecker (tracks: A1) , Stephen Furtado (tracks: A2, B1, B2, C, D)
French Horn - Julius Watkins , Bob Northern
Guitar - Larry Coryell (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
Piano - Carla Bley (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2) , Cecil Taylor (tracks: C, D)
Saxophone [Alto] - Bob Donovan , Frank Wess (tracks: A2, B1, B2) , Gene Hull (tracks: A1) , Jimmy Lyons (2) (tracks: C, D)
Saxophone [Baritone] - Charles Davis
Saxophone [Soprano] - Steve Lacy (tracks: A1) , Steve Marcus (tracks: A2, B1, B2, C, D)
Saxophone [Tenor] - Gato Barbieri (tracks: A1, C, D) , George Barrow (tracks: A1, A2, B1, B2) , Lew Tabackin , Pharoah Sanders (tracks: B2)
Trombone - Jimmy Knepper , Roswell Rudd (tracks: B1)
Trombone [Bass] - Jack Jeffers
Tuba - Howard Johnson

:::Heavy Machinery:::

Posted: Thursday, 19 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , ,

This is one of those special projects that doesn’t happen often, when a few marvelous players get together to do a truly liberated collection of music. The Johansson Brothers (Sweden) have been making great heavy prog for years with many top people and this is one of the best documents of that run, putting Jens (keys), Anders (drums) and master axeman Allan Holdsworth in the same room to weave some spankin’ progressive jams. This mercurial combination makes Heavy Machinery one of the hottest and hippest instrumental CDs around.
:::Review by Atavachron:::

Anders Johansson, Jens Johansson & Allan Holdsworth - Heavy Machinery (1996)

1. Joint Ventures 5:48
2. Beef Cherokee 4:02
3. On the Frozen Lake 4:52
4. Mission: Possible 5:15
5. Good Morning, Mr. Coffee 7:25
6. Siouxp of the Day 4:02
7. On the Fritz 5:24
8. Tea for One and a Half 6:22
9. Never Mind Our Weather 5:54
10. Macrowaves 24:55

Allan Holdsworth – Guitar
Anders Johansson – Drums
Jens Johansson - Keyboards


Posted: Wednesday, 18 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

If is England’s answer to Chicago or the much less proggy Blood Sweat & Tears, and with no small surprise the UK answer approaches Chicago’s quality and easily surpasses BS&T. But comparing If to Chicago is at best unsatisfactory and at worst is misleading: not more instrumental than Chicago (and no trumpet or trombone), If is also less of a straight brass rock outfit, and more of a real jazz rock group, often coming close to Colosseum or Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, than the pure mushy garbage R’nB of BS&T or Electric Flag. The septet is based around wind players Dave Quincy and Dick Morrissey, the main songwriters. The original line-up on this album will remain unchanged much like their US alter-ego Chicago for quite a while. Starting out on the absolutely delightful Reaching Out On All Sides (also issued as a single), the group shows a real knack for writing inventive jazzy tunes that have a rock edge, while making it interesting for demanding music fans. All Sides comes with a good searing guitar solo, underlined by Mealing’s organ, then the saxes come in a very Heckstallian fashion. Hodgkinson’s voice is fairly close to Chicago’s singer. The lengthy instrumental About The Box is probably the A-side’s highlight, with Morrissey’s flute drawing a long solo before the two saxes cut away in a Heckstall manner, allowing for Smith’s guitar to wallow much like Clempson’s did. This second track is probably the most Colosseum-like of the album. Rounding off the first side is the 7-mins What Can A Friend Say, which boasts a very brassy rhythm’n blues, in this case reminiscent of Chicago or The Flock, but boasting yet another stellar electric guitar.
The flipside is made of four shorter tracks, with the rapid 100 mph soul number “Woman, Can You See?” track, where the repeating sax riffs and chorus and a sizzling solo of the same instrument. Conscious Mind did not steal its name, as it is easily the easiest track on the album, this being the attempt at mass exposure via the single. Best forgotten if you ask me. Dockland is a strange and slow (almost doomy) track, which seem to emphasize dark atmospheres, but Smith’s guitar is again the main solo instrument, again a bit reminiscent of Hiseman’s tribe. The closing Promised Land is an upbeat funky track that contains plenty of intricate arrangements, but cannot escape a pop feel, but positively said. The bonus tracks are no added value as they are the single version of two album tracks, therefore only adding a déjà-entendu feel.
Recently, Repertoire records just re-issued the first two in a mini-lp format, and I only wish they’d get the license to do the same with the next two, but whether this is likely is difficult to say since the first two were issued on Island records, while the next two were on United Artists. In either case, this first album is an absolute must for those wanting to find the perfect link between brass-rock (since If did not have brass instrument proper, but woodwind instruments) and jazz-rock.
:::Review by Sean Trane:::

If – s/t (1970)

1. I'm Reaching Out On All Sides – 5:44
2. What Did I Say About The Box, Jack? – 8:22
3. What Can a Friend Say? – 6:56
4. Woman Can You See (What This Big Thing Is All About) – 4:12
5. Raise The Level of Your Conscious Mind – 3:16
6. Dockland – 4:45
7. The Promised Land – 3:44

Dennis Elliott - Drums
J.W. Hodgkinson - Vocals
John Mealing - Keyboards, Vocals
Dick Morrissey - Saxophones, Flute
Dave Quincy - Saxophones
Jim Richardson - Bass
Terry Smith - Guitar


Posted: Monday, 16 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: ,

This is pure, undiluted Sonny Sharrock. Taking advantage of the overdubbing process, Sharrock accompanies himself in a series of duets that demonstrate the range of his playing, from menacing to tender. The songs are fairly simple; a brief introduction and chord statement lays the foundation, then Sharrock flies about on top of it. The purity of his tone is both powerful and beautiful. "Broken Toys" is almost like a lullaby after the flying shrapnel of "Devils Doll Baby," where Sharrock shows off his dizzying, visceral slide guitar technique. "Black Bottom" is his take on the blues. "Princess Sonata" is a beautiful suite that encompasses all these aspects of his playing. Guitar makes a nice counterpoint to both Seize the Rainbow, a more rock-oriented release, and Ask the Ages, his reunion with Pharoah Sanders. Bill Laswell deserves some credit for revitalizing Sharrock's career in the '80s, and for sympathetic production on all three of these recordings. Guitar is a beautiful statement by one of jazz music's most unique voices.
:::Review by Sean Westergaard:::

Sonny Sharrock - Guitar (1986)

1. Blind Willie (4:50)
2. Devils Doll Baby (4:07)
3. Broken Toys (6:33)
4. Black Bottom (3:56)
5. Kula-Mae (5:05)
6. Princess Sonata (13:00)

Engineer [Assistant] - Jeff Lippay
Guitar, Written-By - Sonny Sharrock
Producer - Bill Laswell , Sonny Sharrock
Recorded By, Mixed By - Mike Krowiak

:::Iron Man:::

Posted: Saturday, 14 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , , , , , ,

The companion piece to Conversations (recorded at the same mid-1963 sessions with producer Alan Douglas), Iron Man is every bit as essential and strikes a more consistent ambience than its widely varied twin. It also more clearly anticipates the detailed, abstract sound paintings of Dolphy's masterwork Out to Lunch, in large part because this time around the program is weighted toward Dolphy originals. "Iron Man," "Burning Spear," and the shorter "Mandrake" all have pretty outside themes, full of Dolphy's trademark wide interval leaps and playful sense of dissonance. Yet there's enough structure and swing to make their roots in hard bop perfectly clear, and once the front-line horns blast out the themes, the ensemble shifts into a more cerebral, exploratory mode. In the absence of a piano, Bobby Hutcherson's vibes are a crucial anchor, outlining dissonant harmonies that hang in the air almost spectrally behind the rest of the group. Most of the same musicians from Conversations appear here, including trumpeter Woody Shaw, flutist Prince Lasha, altoist Sonny Simmons, and soprano sax player Clifford Jordan. And once again, Dolphy duets with bassist Richard Davis, twice this time -- on bass clarinet for Ellington's "Come Sunday" and on flute for Jaki Byard's "Ode to C.P." Both are lovely, meditative pieces filled with conversational exchanges between the two players, illustrating what similar wavelengths they were on. Between Conversations and Iron Man, split up the way they are, one has to give a slight edge to the latter for its more cohesive presentation, yet these are classic sessions in any form and constitute some of the most brilliant work of the early-'60s avant-garde.
:::Review by Steve Huey:::

Eric Dolphy - Iron Man (1963)

1. Iron Man (9:09)
2. Mandrake (4:45)
3. Come Sunday (6:26)
4. Burning Spear (11:54)
5. Ode To C.P. (8:08)

Bass - Eddie Kahn , Richard Davis
Drums - J.C. Moses
Flute - Prince Lasha
Saxophone [Alto] - Huey Simons
Saxophone [Alto], Clarinet [Bass], Flute - Eric Dolphy
Saxophone [Soprano] - Clifford Jordan
Trumpet - Woody Shaw
Vibraphone - Bobby Hutcherson

:::Wake Up!:::

Posted: Friday, 13 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety:

If you ever read Asbjornssen's Cosmic Dreams at Play, you will know how high esteem he holds this band. His article finishes this way: WHAT AN AWESOME GROUP THEY WERE! I cannot say it any better as the three albums they made in their prime were all drastically different from each other yet so unmistakably OOF (much like Floyd did all of their albums so different, yet all so FLOYD). Their music is absolutely theirs and sound like nothing else and although they are Germans, I hesitate to call it Krautrock or as some call it Krautjazz. They develop a strange mix of psyched-out rock with a good sense of jazz rock (although not quite as much in this debut album), add a good dose of flute/sax dominated prog rock and give themselves a maximum space for instrumental interplay even if Moran’s voice holds an important role (and is an acquired taste in the same way that Peter Hammill or Roger Chapman are an acquired taste) with some non-sensical lyrics laying out their hippy ideals. With an abstract artwork this debut album (released on the legendary Kuckuck label) is aptly named Wake Up, even if the goal is to send you into dreamy trip, the music is raw, just the way the Germans liked it, reminiscent of their crosstown colleagues of Amon Duul II.
Right from the first repetitive note of Drechsler’s guitar, soon underlined by Herring’s organ and Moran Neumuller’s flute, in the opening White Negro, you just know you’re flying in a wonderful universe where time seems to be a very random dimension and the dreamy soundscapes are an invitation to tripping around the universe. The tougher-sounding God Save The Queen is more of rougher guitar-lead early 70’s UK proto-prog ala EBB or BechKendel, but the middle section (recorded a bit too low) shared between the folky flute and the organ is a great counter-point using the full dynamics contrasting with the return of the opening section. Hey John is an almost 10-min wild flute-lead jam that can sound like Deep Purple’s Mandrake Root in the middle.
The flipside jumps at your throat with the short but powerful No Name track that could easily be called You’re Wasting Time, and even if there are obvious flaws in recording levels, this track is most likely to also claim the album’s title, Wake Up! World’s end is a fairly doomy track that still trails a bit of 60’s into it, sometimes reminding of Floyd (Herring’s organ and Spori’s drumming sound like early Floyd circa Saucerful Of Secrets), while Moran’s flute is more reminiscent of Traffic’s Chris Wood and the guitar reminding us a bit of Krieger in The Doors’ epic track The End. Ending the album is the lengthy Dark Darker track, which is a bit disjointed in its psyched-out moods especially Moran’s flute racing up and down the ladder of sanity. This is one track where the group shows an excellent aptitude at light improvisation that lead to wild jamming, a thing that we would see much more of in the next three albums. Again the raw sound gives the impression that this record could’ve easily been recorded live in the Anglo-Saxon world, with only the approximate accent of Moran giving a hint otherwise. The closing section is a hard-driving Atomic Rooster-like heavy prog.
As with most German band singing in English, the vocals are not perfect but this is very minor as the texts (lyrics) are easily understood and are of a very social/political nature that they could also be classified in German only category Polit-rock (never thought you'd read about such a category, Uh? ;-) This IMHO only adds to the quality of the music and does not make it dated just for that reason. Technically absolutely brilliant (D-E A + HCH). Just by the weird song titles, one can see that this band is heavy, I mean HHHEEEAAAVVVYYY , man !!
:::Review by Sean Trane:::

Out of Focus - Wake Up! (1970)

1. See how a white negro flies (5:48)
2. God saved the queen, cried Jesus (7:28)
3. Hey John (9:35)
4. No name (3:06)
5. World's end (9:55)
6. Dark, darker (11:37)

Remigius Drechsler / guitar
Hennes Hering / keyboards
Moran Neumüller / vocals, saxes
Klaus Spöri / drums
Stefan Wisheu / bass


Posted: Thursday, 5 February 2009 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , ,

In 1969 it seemed that New York City was the center of the universe as far as the world of jazz was concerned. At this focal point was a manifestation of daring musicians who were on the threshhold of redefining jazz with Miles Davis as their chief architect. His " Bitches Brew " sessions spawned many revolutionary ideas towards jazz, most notably new philosophies towards improvised music and the use of volume. Around the same time a young sparkplug named Larry Coryell who had played guitar on innovative recordings by Herbie Mann, Gary Burton and others was creating his own adventurous music releasing three hybrid albums which seeked to fuse jazz and rock attitudes into one creature. His fourth endeavour, "Spaces" was about to transcend jazz as it was known at the time and plant a seed for what was to come.
Coryell had no problems attracting interest for this new project and recruited four exceptional musicians who all, at on time or another, had played with maestro Miles. Guitarist John McLaughlin was a perfect sparring partner. McLaughlin, who had just arrived from Europe, was playing with the newly formed jazz-rock outfit Tony Williams`Lifetime and had also played on the " Bitches Brew " sessions and, like Coryell, he had jammed with Hendrix and shared Coryell`s interest in certain aspects of rock music. Drummer Billy Cobham had already made his mark and in addition to playing briefly with Miles he had apprenticed in US Army bands and played on recordings by Horace Silver and George Benson. Bassist Miroslav Vitious had played with Miles while keyboardist Chick Corea had just joined Miles`band.
While "Spaces" has been frequently referred to as the purveyer of `70 fusion ( and this may be true to a point ) it is more of a jazz record than anything. It didn`t sound like any jazz record up to that point but has probably been referred to as the forerunner of fusion because the individual musicians went on to form or become part of the heavyweight fusion groups of the `70s, The Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report, Return To Forever and Coryell`s own fusion group The Eleventh House. Nonetheless, unquestionably " Spaces " was certainly the embryo from which fusion blossomed.
The album, in it`s short 36 minutes and 42 seconds covers many points on the jazz spectrum. An ominous bowed bass passage from Vitous introduces the title track, " Spaces ( infinite ) " which develops into an atonal guitar exchange between Coryell and McLaughlin and certainly the high point of the work. Subtle psychedelic undertones can be heard but there`s no overkill and it is by far the " rockiest " piece on the album with some use of distortion. " Rene`s Theme" while exluding the rythmn section is more than adequately compensated for with the frenzied bop-like rythmn patterns on behalf of both guitarists on this acoustic track which blends elements of Coltrane and Django who were big influences on both guitarists. To those unfamiliar with the guitarists` playing at the time ( and both had found their distinctive voices by 1969 ) it might be hard to discern who is playing what but not to worry the liner notes solve this problem. In General, Coryell does most of the soloing ( hey he`s allowed, it`s his record OK ) while McLaughlin provides well timed rythmn inserts. An example of Coryell`s insane soloing can be found on " Wrong Is Right" where he let`s loose with a lightning speed silent barrage which would defy any guitar player`s immagination. Two of the more pensive pieces on the album also feature some interesting experimentations. " Gloria`s Step " is introduced by another bowed bass passage from vitous and at first on might think it`s a cello playing. " Chris ", which is obviously a Bill Evans inspired piece, features Chick Corea on electric piano. His playing here is both poetic and enticing and imerses the listener into an almost surealistic pleasurable dream which complement Coryell`s rising and falling guitar ideas. A mention also should be made of Cobham who pulses his way along with the group and fits in so perfectly sometimes you forget he`s there because of some of the grooves he gets into.
Nothing really peaks on " Spaces " and while lacking the razzle dazzle of the fusion bands it inspired, it relies on raw in-your-face sincere playing on behalf of all the musicians with only minimilistic use of volume & distortion. No studio tricks or wah wah pedals here folks. If you`re expecting an amps turned to eleven last man standing guitar battle royale then you`l have to look to other avenues. What you get here is two young virtuoso guitarists interacting beautifully who obviously have respect for each other`s respective talents. By a long shot one of the more challenging jazz albums ever recorded and even if it runs a mere 36 minutes+ it seems like an eternity. Perhaps not the best starting point for one wishing to explore the musical mind of Larry Coryell but if you`re looking for something adventurous you`ve come to the right place with " Spaces". Fusion before fusion. Precious. 5 stars what else.
:::Review by Ian Gledhill:::

Larry Coryell – Spaces (1969)

1. Spaces ( Infinite ) ( 9:16 )
2. Rene`s Theme ( 4:06 )
3. Gloria`s Step ( 4:29 )
4. Wrong Is Right ( 9:00 )
5. Chris ( 9:31 )
6. New Year`s Day In LA, 1968 ( 0:20 )

Larry Coryell / guitars
John McLaughlin / guitars
Chick Corea / electric piano
Miroslav Vitous / double bass
Billy Cobham / drums

:::Symphony For Improvisers:::

Posted: by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , , ,

For his second album, Symphony for Improvisers, Don Cherry expanded his Complete Communion quartet -- tenor saxophonist Gato Barbieri, bassist Henry Grimes, and drummer Ed Blackwell -- to a septet, adding vibraphonist Karl Berger, bassist Jean François Jenny-Clark, and tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders (who frequently plays piccolo here). The lineup has a real international flavor, since Barbieri was from Argentina, Berger from Germany, and Jenny-Clark from France; Cherry had gigged regularly with all three during his 1964-1965 sojourn in Europe, and brought them to New York to record. With all the added firepower, it's remarkable that Symphony for Improvisers has the same sense of shared space and controlled intelligence as its predecessor, even when things are at their most heated. Once again, Cherry sets up the album as two continuous medleys that fuse four compositions apiece, which allows the group's improvisational energy and momentum to carry straight through the entire program. The "Symphony for Improvisers" suite is the most raucous part of Cherry's Blue Note repertoire, and the "Manhattan Cry" suite pulls off the widest mood shifts Cherry had yet attempted in that format. Even though the album is full of passionate fireworks, there's also a great deal of subtlety -- the flavors added to the ensemble by Berger's vibes and Sanders' piccolo, for example, or the way other instrumental voices often support and complement a solo statement. Feverish but well-channeled, this larger-group session is probably Cherry's most gratifying for Blue Note.
:::Review by Steve Huey:::

Don Cherry - Symphony For Improvisers (1966)

Symphony For Improvisers (19:40)
1a Symphony For Improvisers
1b Nu Creative Love
1c What's Not Serious
1d Infant Happiness
Manhattan Cry (19:17)
2a Manhattan Cry
2b Lunatic
2c Sparkle Plenty
2d Om Nu

Artwork By [Art Direction And Design] - Michael Boland
Artwork By [Cover Design] - Reid Miles
Artwork By [Creative Direction] - Gordon H Jee
Bass - Henry Grimes , Jean-François Jenny-Clark
Composed By - Don Cherry
Cornet - Don Cherry
Drums - Edward Blackwell
Other [Original Liner Notes] - A. B. Spellman
Other [Reissue Liner Notes] - Bob Blumenthal
Photography [Cover Photograph, Liner Photographs] - Francis Wolff
Producer - Alfred Lion
Recorded By, Remastered By - Rudy Van Gelder
Reissue Producer - Michael Cuscuna
Saxophone [Tenor] - Gato Barbieri
Saxophone [Tenor], Piccolo Flute - Pharoah Sanders
Vibraphone, Piano - Karl Berger