Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Jarka - 1971 - Ortodoxia


01. Osceli Rescaldat
02. Popiada
03. Resposta
04. Sube la silla roja
05. L.I.A.I
06. Noche de Pez
07. Retorna
08. No Estes Cohibido
09. Ortodoxia

- Jordi Sabatés / keyboards
- Alfonso de Lucas / bass
- Pedro van Eeckout / drums
- Danny Somoza / guitars

Jarka was the early 70's Spanish band of keyboardist Jordi Sabates. He plays piano, electric piano and organ, backed by bass and drums . Playing with a strong jazz sensibility, Jarka also differed from their Spanish contemporaries in the noticeable lack of any influence from Spanish culture or folk music. They released just two albums in early seventies, which were re-released in 1992 both on one CD.

The music on Ortodoxia is predominantly in a jazz-fusion style reminiscent, perhaps, of Soft Machine or other early 70s European jazz-rock groups. Sabates' definitely carries the group with his deft playing, laying down some tasty jazz licks on the piano as well as occasionally turning to the organ or electric piano for more of a fusion approach. The primarily acoustic bass playing of Alfonso de Lucas is also quite impressive, showing a strong familiarity and versatility with the jazz idiom. With these two players coming from an obviously solid jazz background, the drumming, although quite tasteful and inventive, seems a little out of place with its more rock influenced styling, perhaps reminiscent of Robert Wyatt. The album overall is rather average; there is some good playing and some nice moments, but nothing that really stands out as spectacular.

The 2nd album adds some guests, but the overall sound is still firmly on the keyboards with rhythm section. Some parts are quite jazzy, while others sound like early progressive rock mixed with a sort a Canterbury jazz/rock sound. Expanded to a four piece, with the addition of a guitarist as well as a new drummer, the album is a significant improvement over their first. Sabates' playing really shines here, and it is obvious that he could have held his own in any of Miles' line-ups. His style is probably most reminiscent of Herbie Hancock; somewhat impressionistic with a keen sense of chordal colors. His chops work best on the piano, but he also knows how to make his Fender Rhodes growl and bite, and there is some fine playing featuring that classic jazz electric piano sound as well. The guitar, present on maybe half the tunes, is also excellent, and may remind some of a slightly less aggressive John McLaughlin in his Miles Davis days.

Ortodoxia is the title of Spanish jazz-rock ensemble Jarka's 1971 debut. Jarka is led by keys man Jordi Sabates, with the main focus being on his piano playing. A cohesive rhythm section completes the trio and forms a solid basis for his solos. The nine-track set list is an eclectic mix of styles, although the emphasis is on the acoustic jazz idiom.

Track 1, Osceli Rescaldat, is quite bluesy and features an infectious melody with a boozy midtempo groove. The electric guitar of guest musician Danny Somoza features prominently on this and the final track, making these two the most rock oriented cuts on the album. Sabates's pivotal organ, playing sustained chords, carries the fairly simple guitar melody along nicely. Around midway saxophone joins in with the guitar and we get a brief unison passage, before the sax brings it home. Great start to the album.

The next track, Popiada, is more urgent but equally catchy. Jordi's fingers glide over the piano keys supported on a bed of upright bass and rock-inspired drums. Resposta is very impressionistic in nature, featuring a sparse arrangement and airy themes. Piano trills, clean guitar and intermittent bass create feelings of space and repose. Track 4, Sube La Silla Roja, is another fast paced track and is one of the main highlights on the album. The piano lopes along on a swinging rhythm that includes probably the best drumming of the set. This is the longest piece on the album at 6.28, so there's even room for short drum and bass solos.

L.I.A.I is another ambient piece, featuring eerie saxophone along with splashing cymbals and subterranean drums. Noche De Pez consists of a speedy rhythm of hi-hat semiquavers and upright bass, with piano and guitar chiming in occasionally. Track 7, Retorna, is a contrapuntal dialogue between piano and organ. The melody is bright and cheeky, with it bouncing and winding continually between the two keyboards to good effect. The penultimate No Estes Cohibido is played at a relaxed tempo, with lilting piano and West Coast-inspired guitar. The album closer and title track is a real surprise, featuring dissonant, distorted guitar in the mould of Robert Fripp.

This is a fine album that deserves to be given some attention. It contains some excellent compositions that strike a good balance between acoustic jazz and electric rock. As such I feel this album would work well as an introduction to jazz for those wanting to test its waters for the first time.

For some reason that eludes me the song titles on my cd are totally different than on the old LP I used to have, I copared both, and they seem to be the same... If someone can shed some light on this I would surely be grateful!



  2. Hi. Songs file are correct but the name of the tracks as they appear in the "back, png" image are not from this album. The names are on the disc you can see this link
    Thanks for the music.