Wednesday, July 8, 2020

Christoph Kemmler & Friends - 1983 - Christoph Kemmler & Friends

Christoph Kemmler & Friends 
Christoph Kemmler & Friends

01. Friends Are Necessary
02. Chris The Fusionist
03. Why You Did Try To Own Me
04. From Me To You To Them To All
05. Daily Experience
06. You Will Fit In
07. Rebirth Of The Firebirds
08. It Could Be

Axel Knabben: Sax
Charly Gielen: Bass
Markus Turk: Trumpet
Rainer Kreisherr: Vocals
Rudolph Hillebrener: Keyboards
Martin Litfinski: Drums
Butz Dahn: Vibes
Toto Haake: Percussion
Christoph Kemmler: Guitar

Oh yes! Starting off with a super funky jam session including solos for everyone in the band, Kemmler on guitar blows the other players out of the water. He shows off some more of his funky guitar skills on the second track called, amazingly, “Chris The Fusionist.” One very remarkable thing for a private German fusion LP from 1983: It has RAPS! And they are a lot better than you’d expect from a German. (Forget about Falco!) There’s more fusion madness on the B-side with “Rebirth of the Firebirds” and it closes out with a mellow track called “It Could Be.” Smooth.

Afrodisia - 1980 - Elephant Sunrise

Elephant Sunrise

01. T.M.F.F.
02. Elephant Sunrise
03. Psychic Summers
04. Could It Only Be Me
05. Sugar Free
06. Good Thang
07. Wild Turkey
08. Goin' Down To The Disco
09. Zugabe (Encore)

Bass, Vocals, Handclaps – John "Dr. Thump" Rainey*
Drums, Percussion, Handclaps, Vocals – Gerald "Moonchild" Draper*, Ingo "Dr. Funkenstein" Marté*
Guitar, Bass, Vocals, Handclaps – Mike Priebe
Guitar, Vocals, Handclaps – Michael Koschorreck
Keyboards, Vocals – Darnell Stephen Summers
Lead Vocals – Delaware "Big John" Johnson (tracks: B4)
Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Jerome Durant
Violin, Vocals – Michael Mahla
Vocals – Delaware "Big John" Johnson

A combination of US soldiers with local musicians from Worms, Germany, Afrodisia. 'Elephant Sunrise' has become a collectors item because every song's a winner! The music spans soul to funk to disco and jazz with great ease.
Rare work from a funky group who really lead with their basslines and love their rhythms – so much so that vocals are often an afterthought when it comes to the grooves! These guys are German, but they've got a righteous sound that really lives up to the flavor of the cover – and we're guessing that the combo is one of those unique hybrids of American and European players on the overall scene – working with wickedly tight sounds on the bass and drums, dosed throughout with jazzy keyboard solos, tenor sax riffs, and lots of funky guitar. 
The band's leader Darnell Summers is originally from Detroit and is the brother of Headhunter Bill Summers who also features on the album as a player and songwriter. 'Sugar Free' is highly regarded by aficionados on the soul scene for it's glowing summer sounds and is one of the two songs that Bill Summers co-wrote on the album. This is one album not to be missed!

George Gruntz - 1984 - Theatre

George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band

01. El Chancho 15:14
02. In The Tradition Of Switzerland 9:18
03. No One Can Explain It 6:22
04. The Holy Grail Of Jazz And Joy 25:16

George Gruntz   Keyboards
Bill Pusey   Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Marcus Belgrave   Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Tom Harrell   Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Palle Mikkelborg   Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Peter Gordon   French Horn
Tom Varner   French Horn
Dave Bargeron   Trombone, Euphonium
Julian Priester   Trombone
David Taylor   Bass Trombone
Howard Johnson   Tuba, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone
Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky   Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet
Charlie Mariano   Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute
Seppo Paakkunainen   Tenor Saxophone, Flute
Dino Saluzzi   Bandoneon
Mark Egan   Bass
Bob Moses   Drums
Sheila Jordan   Vocal

Digital recording, July 1983, Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany.

Lyrics to "The Holy Grail Of Jazz And Joy" after Alfred Lloyd Tennyson.

The Swiss jazz musician, composer, and arranger George Gruntz is known for thinking big. Having served as the JazzFest Berlin artistic director from 1972 to 1994, he is clearly comfortable in juggling hefty amounts of musical information. This is reflected also in his music, which has dealt with a number of formats over the years, ranging from intimate piano works to expansive suites on political and cultural themes. Theatre, his only album for ECM, sits somewhere in the middle. The result is a work that never quite knows where it’s going. One look at the roster tells you that, at the very least, this is a remarkable assembly of musicians. On that note, some of the better moments can be found breathing in the bandoneón of Dino Saluzzi, who also composed the opening “El Chancho.” Saluzzi’s gentle persuasion leaves the most ripples in this pool, and deepens the proceedings with ancestral yearnings. Trumpeter Palle Mikkelborg also brings glory to the table, while bassist Mark Egan (of onetime Pat Metheny Group renown) adds a sinewy backbone. The growling tuba and brass menagerie of “In The Tradition Of Switzerland” swells like some boppish nightmare turned inside out, so that its darkness becomes its skin and its light remains hidden except through performance. Freer abstractions abound, coalescing into the album’s most powerful: a solo from saxophonist Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky. A cathartic highlight, and all the more so for being contrasted by the wooden flutes that follow. With the introduction of sputtering words, we encounter touches of Michael Mantler alongside allusions to Duke Ellington and Ornette Coleman. Sheila Jordan brings her smooth and sultry lines to bear on “No One Can Explain It,” carrying on the torch through “The Holy Grail Of Jazz And Joy.” Jordan adds much-needed spunk to an album that has by this point begun to lose some of its drive, especially in this final track, a 25-minute paean to the art that bubbles with big band personality and ends with a slow fling into the night, a popped champagne cork, a bid and farewell.

From the bizarre cover photograph, one would think this was a live album of some importance. What we get, however, is a relatively intimate and respectable studio session. There’s no need to drop everything and buy this, and may have more value to the ECM completist than the workaday listener. Will move some more than others.

George Gruntz - 1981 - Live at the Quartier Latin

George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band
Live at the Quartier Latin

01. No One Can Explain It 10:35
02. Black Narcissus 11:45
03. Ready Go! 13:00
04. So Much We Don't Know & The Water 6:06
05. The Tango 9:25
06. Pistrophallobus 15:35
07. The Mazurka 8:43
08. Take The A-Train 15:00

Alto Flute, Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Bob Malach
Baritone Saxophone, Flute, Violin, Kantele – Seppo Paakkunainen
Bass – Gordon Johnson
Bass Trombone – Runo Ericksson
Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky
Drum – Peter Erskine
Electric Piano [Rhodes], Organ [Yamaha], Synthesizer [PPG] – Jasper Van't Hof
Grand Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes], Synthesizer [ARP 2600], Clavinet, Arranged By [All Arrangements] – George Gruntz
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Alan Skidmore, Joe Henderson
Trombone – Eje Thelin, Erich Kleinschuster
Trombone [Lead] – Jiggs Whigham
Trumpet [Alternate Lead], Flugelhorn – Americo Bellotto
Trumpet [Lead], Flugelhorn – Lew Soloff
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Charles Sullivan, Tom Harrell

All tracks recorded April 7 & 8, 1980 at Quartier Latin, Berlin

Produced For MPS Records By Euromusic Switzerland
All tracks mixed May 27,28,29,1980

This double album represents the 1980 version of Swiss pianist/composer Gruntz’s celebrated all-star international ‘Concert Jazz Band’. Over the years, each one of Gruntz’s bands was stacked with a new set of jazz greats, but his aim was always to mold the band in the Ellingtonian fashion: each member was picked, not only because he fitted into the group concept; it was especially important that he contributed a unique creative color to the band’s palette. As usual, Gruntz gives the musicians plenty of space to play over his sophisticatedly rich arrangements. No One Can Explain It has an otherworldly symphonic feel, with Swedish trombonist Eje Thelin’s silky smooth soloing, American Bob Malach’s passionate Tenor, and Germany’s E-L Petrowsky on soprano. Joe Henderson’s Black Narcissus has become a jazz standard. Gordon Johnson’s bass solo over an earie synth background leads into the theme. Henderson’s masterful tenor is followed by Tom Harrell’s mellow solo on flugelhorn. Jasper van’t Hof’s Ready Go! takes off with a theatrical baritone sax solo. The theatrics continue with Malach’s funky tenor, Jiggs Whigham’s muted trombone, and a spacy  on synth’d-up keyboards. From Gruntz’s World Jazz Opera, So Much We Don’t Know & The Warner feature high-register trumpet master Charles Sullivan, tenor saxophone firebrand Alan Skidmore and the slashing drums of Peter Erskine. Definitely not for amateurs, Gruntz’s The Tango accompanies the musicians on a hallucinatory dance, with the trumpet of Argentinian Americo Bellotto, violin, and bass trombone taking the lead. With its upbeat calypso feel, Pistrophallobus partakes in the warm breezes of the Caribbean, with Sullivan, Henderson, Petrowsky and Erskine reflecting the piece’s sunny disposition. Gruntz transposes The Mazurka into the modern music world and beyond. Van’t Hof, Harrell, Bellotto and Erskine have the solo honors. Gruntz’s arrangement of the Strayhorn classic, Take the A-Train, sticks close to the original, highlighted by Eric Kleinschuster’s swinging trombone and Skidmore’s off-the-rail sax solos ending with Gruntz (r. channel) and van’t Hof (l. channel) battling it out on the Rhodes piano. The critics lauded the GGCJB 1980 Spring tour with such kudos as, “Brilliant music mastering all contemporary languages”, “The Highpoint of this year”, and “unanimously praised” – it’s well deserved.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

George Gruntz - 1979 - GG - CJB

George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band

01. Destiny 11:25
02. Morning Song Of A Spring Flower 9:00
03. Napoleon Blown Apart 9:30
04. Cinderella Friday Night 12:14

Alto Saxophone, Alto Flute, Soprano Saxophone – Jerry Dodgion
Bass – Mike Richmond
Drums – Elvin Jones
Guitar – John Scofield
Harp – Lois Colin
Keyboards – George Gruntz
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Lew Tabackin
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Alan Skidmore
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Bennie Wallace
Trombone – Eje Thelin, Jimmy Knepper, Mike Zwerin, Runo Ericksson
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Allan Botschinsky, Americo Bellotto, Benny Bailey, Earl Gardner, Franco Ambrosetti, Palle Mikkelborg, Woody Shaw
Tuba, Bass Clarinet, Baritone Saxophone – Howard Johnson

One of Europe’s most venerated band leaders, Swiss pianist-composer George Gruntz fronted small and large groups stacked with international jazz greats. This live GGCGB date is a dazzling example. All are internationally renowned jazz masters, many, such as long-time Mingus trombonist Jimmy Knepper, were innovators on their instruments; some, such as Americans drummer Elvin Jones, guitarist John Scofield, and trumpeter Woody Shaw are jazz legends. The compositions highlight Gruntz’s arranging skills and allow for a lot of open blowing. Destiny opens up with a propulsive Elvin Jones drum solo, followed by Scofield’s compelling play and Swiss musician Franco Ambrozetti’s luscious, warm flugelhorn. Gruntz’s lovely ballad Morning Song of a Flower has soloists Ambrozetti flitting between tenderness and a sunny medium-tempo. Napoleon Blown Apart begins with Mile Richmond’s plucked bass on into Gruntz’ Japanesque piano runs and Tyner-like chords followed by an upbeat jazz waltz and British saxophonist Alan Skidmore’s incendiary solo. Elvin explosively trades eights with the band before Lew Tabackin’s swinging tenor brings the band home. The fanciful Cinderella Friday Night features Lois Colin’s cascading harp lines the great Danish musician Palle Mikkelborg’s breathily kaleidoscopic flugelhorn (with a musical aside to the Beatles), and Skidmore’s frenetic tenor. Allmusic calls the album “stunning music by ensemble”; it stands as verification of Gruntz as one of the prime movers in European jazz.

George Gruntz - 1976 - Live At The Schauspielhaus (The Band)

The Band Directed By George Gruntz
Live At The Schauspielhaus

01. Triple Hip Trip 7:36
02. Epitaph For A Friend 11:27
03. Nix Tango-Time 3:15
04. Alpen Honky-Fonk 4:47
05. El Commendador 10:37
06. The Mazurka 6:48

Electric Piano [Rhodes], Synthesizer – George Gruntz
Bass – Niels H.Ø. Petersen
Drums – Daniel Humair
Reeds – Flavio Ambrosetti
Trumpet – Franco Ambrosetti
Percussion – Dom Um Romao
Reeds – Alan Skidmore, Charlie Mariano, Eddie Daniels, Ferdinand Povel
Trombone – Erich Kleinschuster, Jiggs Whigham, Jimmy Knepper, Peter Herbolzheimer
Trumpet – Benny Bailey, Dusko Gojkovich, Jon Faddis, Palle Mikkelborg
Tuba, Bass Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Howard Johnson

Recorded: March 14/76 at Zürich Schauspielhaus, Switzerland
16-track recording equipment by Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg, Germany

Formed in 1972 by the four most influential Swiss jazz musicians of the period, saxophonist Flavio Ambrozetti, son trumpeter Franco, drummer Daniel Hummair, and band arranger/director, pianist George Gruntz, this 19-member orchestra was a unique mix of international all-stars. With inspired, cutting-edge compositions and an input of new blood with each new outing, what became known as The Concert Jazz Band marched at the forefront of international big bands. MPS recorded the first four albums of this historic group, which by 1978 was solely in the hands of Gruntz. Daniel Humair’s hallucinogenic Triple Hip Trip begins with American Howard Johnson on bass sax and Gruntz on synth, before moving into the theme in 6/8. Brit tenor giant Alan Skidmore and the USA’s Benny Baily take solo honors. Written in memory of Swedish trombone great Ake Persson, the somber Epitaph for a Friend features the composer, Franco Ambrosetti’s poignant flugelhorn solo, followed by American sax master Charlie Mariano on soprano and Mingus band member trombonist Jimmy Knepper. The open-ended free-for-all Nix Tango Time features Dom Um Romeo’s amazing ‘talking’ percussion and Howard Johnson’s equally vocal tuba blues solo. Flavio Ambrozetti’s Alpen Honky-Fonk testifies that you can get can get downright down and dirty in those mountains as Franco’s trumpet fills the Alpine air with funk. The forceful El Commendador features Palle Mikkelborg on flugelhorn, composer Flavio on soprano, and Eddie Daniels on flute. Gruntz’s The Mazurka combines the lively Polish triple meter folk dance with rock, contemporary jazz, and a taste of India and Mariano’s mesmerizing solo on the North Indian double reed instrument, the Nagaswaram. American Gillespie protégé, trumpeter John Faddis has the last say with a flashy solo. Another very special album of creative magic performed by George Gruntz and Co.

George Gruntz - 1972 - The Alpine Power Plant (The Band)

The Band
The Alpine Power Plant

01. Our Suite Dig 11:00
02. Pistrophallobus 10:15
03. Witch Stitch 12:27
04. English Waltz 6:50
05. The Tango 7:37
06. Gravenstein 5:55
07. Saint Charity 9:07
08. The Age Of Prominence 19:43

Benny Bailey: Trumpet
Dexter Gordon: Trumpet
Dusco Goykovich: Trumpet
Eddie Daniels: Sax, Clarinet, Flute
Erich Kleinschuster: Trombone
Herb Geller: Sax, Trombone
Jiggs Whigham: Trombone
N.H.Ø. Perdersen: Bass
Phil Woods: Sax, Clarinet
Runo Ericson: Trombone
Sahib Shihab: Sax, Percussion
Virgil Jones: Trumpet
Woody Shaw: Trumpet
Åke Persson: Trombone
George Gruntz: Piano
Daniel Humair: Drums
Flavio Ambrosetti: Sax
Franco Ambrosetti: Trumpet

Recorded April 5 & 6, 1972 at Ambrosetti Mansion, Gentilino, Lugano, Switzerland and in concert at Lugano-Casino-Kursaal

Formed in 1972 by Swiss jazz giants pianist George Gruntz, alto saxophonist Flavio Ambrosetti, his son, trumpeter Franco Ambrosetti, and drummer Daniel Humair, The Band would later metamorphose into the George Gruntz Concert Jazz Band. The predilection towards a combination of international jazz all-stars and home-grown compositions is already in evidence on this, their first album, and a bevy of jazz greats are along for the ride. The complex contrapuntal Our Suite Dig features brilliant solos by trumpeter Franco and father Flavio on alto before settling down into a loping ¾ that moves back into a riveting 4/4 and a taste of ensemble freedom. The samba feel of Pistrophallobus has US trumpeter Virgil Jones’ hot solo followed by a hard-swinging Eddie Daniels on tenor and father Flavio on soprano, with drummer Humair escorting the band back to the theme. Witch Switch fuses jazz and funk, with soulful solos by Gruntz, alto icon Phil Woods, trumpet star Dusco Goykovich, trombonist Jiggs Whigham, and Humair. The beautiful English Waltz features trumpet greats, Woody Shaw and Benny Bailey, and on the fanciful The Tango, Bailey switches to flugelhorn followed by bass trombone, bowed bass, and some collective shenanigans. With its Mingus-like symphonic sound Gravenstein is a vehicle for Wood’s alto magic, while Saint Charity has a ‘Freedom Jazz Dance’ feel, with Herb Geller on soprano, Äke Persson’s boogaloo trombone solo, and Sahib Shihab’s muscular baritone. The Age of Prominence highlights solos that include two legendary Afro-American jazzmen – tenor saxophonist Dexter Gordon and trumpeter Woody Shaw. An exceptional double-album both for its compositions, arrangements and the masterful improvisation; but don’t take my word for it: take a listen.

George Gruntz - 1974 - Monster Sticksland Meeting Two

George Gruntz
Monster Sticksland Meeting Two

01. Intercourse II
02. Drum Fanfare
03. Whiskey On The Rocks
04. Tribute To Jimmy
05. Düse Strasphey
06. High, Higher, Highlands
07. Fudiweggli
08. Antipodes Commonplace
09. General-Arabi

Alto Saxophone – John Tchicai
Bass – Jean-François Jenny-Clark
Drums – Daniel Humair
Percussion – Tony Oxley
Piano – George Gruntz
Soprano Saxophone – Charlie Mariano, John Tchicai

Drums – Alfons Grieder, Daniel Humair, Felix Gruntz, Felix Voellmy, Hans Engler, Mix Lauener, Otto Wick
Drums [Seargeant Pipe Band] – Joe Noble
Ensemble – Basel Drum Corps, British Caledonian Airways Renfrew Pipe Band, Ensemble Basel Fife Corps
Percussion [Fifes] – André Dubois, Dury Schmid, Franz Freuler, Josv Schaub, Niggi Maurer, Raymond Wyler, René Spinnler, Ruedi Grüninger, Werner Kunz

Recorded live by Tonstudio Bauer, March 31, 1974 Basler Stadtheater, Basel (Switzerland).
Produced By Basler Nachrichten

In 1974, some seven years after the first Basel ‘Sticksland’ meeting, a 36-man percussion extravaganza took place that once again featured a top-flight jazz ensemble together with the Basel drum and fife corps of Alfred Sacher and Georges Mathys. Now add a Scottish drum and fife corps with the former and reigning Scottish drumming champions Jimmy Catherwood and Joe Noble, kilts and all, as well as some 300 fifers hidden in the audience of a theater packed to overflowing. The results: a Carnival Happening! Once again Gruntz masterfully ‘mediates’ the affair with his arrangements and conducting; on the jazz side, drummer Daniel Humair returns, joined by the British percussion free spirit Tony Oxley, master saxophonists Charlie Mariano and John Tchicai, and bassist JF Jenny-Clark. Intercourse II finds the jazz sextet in collaboration with the Basel tambour drummers, with Mariano and Tchicai supplying the fiery dialogue on sopranos, while Drum Fanfare highlights the masterful precision of Scottish drumming. Scottish bagpipes and Basel fifes march together on Whisky on the Rocks, as the jazz sextet steps along with the Scottish drummers on Tribute to Jimmy. The Scottish and Basel drummers battle it out on Düse Strasphey, and on Gruntz’s haunting High, Higher, Highlands the sextet blends with the Scottish pipes. The Basel fifes march in concert with the jazz rhythm section on Fudiweggli, whereas Antipodes is a masterclass in drum styles, with Catherwood (Scott.), Humair (jazz), Sacher (Scott.), Oxley (Jazz), and Noble (Basel tambour) the inspiring instructors. The traditional General-Arabi tops off the concert with everyone, including hundreds of fifers among the audience, joining in on the grand finale. A brilliant meld of diverse rhythmic traditions makes for a once-in-a-lifetime musical experience!

George Gruntz - 1974 - 2001 Keys - Piano Conclave

George Gruntz
2001 Keys - Piano Conclave

01. Flight 6-2A-A5 5:03
02. For Dennis 5:48
03. They're Coming, They're Coming 6:38
04. Suite For Harold (Dedicated To Harold Rhodes) 6:58
05. Intermission 10:53

Bass – Henri Texier
Drums, Percussion – Erich Bachträgel
Electric Piano – Fritz Pauer, George Gruntz, Gordon Beck, Jasper Van't Hof, Joachim Kühn, Martial Solal
Harpsichord – Fritz Pauer, George Gruntz
Mellotron – Jasper Van't Hof
Organ – Gordon Beck
Piano – Fritz Pauer, George Gruntz, Gordon Beck, Joachim Kühn, Martial Solal
Synthesizer – Fritz Pauer, George Gruntz

A very cool album from keyboardist George Gruntz – and one that may well feature 2001 keys, given that the lineup is all keyboardists – with work from Gordon Beck, Jasper Van't Hof, Fritz Pauer, Martial Solal, and Joachim Kuhn! The set features a huge amount of Fender Rhodes – plus bass from Henri Texier and drums from Erich Bactragle – with a feel that's very much in the best MPS fusion moe of the time! 
An exceptional record featuring keyboardists George Gruntz, Joachim Kuhn, Jasper Van t'hof, Martial Soial, you know you can't go wrong with these talented musicians. Each track features one composition by one of the all-stars, you'll hear some outrageous funky riffs but also incredibly progressive passages, quite a bit of group improv. Kuhn reprises Intermission from his Association PC days. To me the highlight is "They're coming, they're coming" which starts slow and atmospheric with a rocket launch through dark dark space before hitting some streams of solar wind then building up to a huge thick sound with mellotronic strings, kaleidoscopic electric keys over a deep and slow bluesy riff, as if we're crashing at light speed through a star cluster in the centre of andromeda galaxy, in an incredible crescendo.

Thanks to the mighty osurec for this record. One must mention the ridiculous cover, possibly one of the worst any progressive record has ever had, ever. Stay tuned, we go back to northern Europe for more funky jazz-rock soon, before we revisit the US for aor and fusion, for forgotten chamber jazz-rock (my personal favourite sub-genre), back to switzerland for more soft sounds, and through it all we will hear from master shige with his rarities.

George Gruntz - 1968 - St. Peter Power

George Gruntz
St. Peter Power

01. I'll Remember Clifford 2:48
02. Summertime 4:03
03. God Bless The Child 2:28
04. Lonely Woman 2:45
05. My Funny Valentine 3:20
06. You Don't Know What Love Is 2:34
07. Nobody Knows The Trouble I've Seen 2:34
08. Django 4:47
09. Yesterdays 2:33
10. Jesus Maria 3:09

Bass – Eberhard Weber
Drums – Daniel Humair
Organ – George Gruntz

Recorded July 15 & 16, 1968 at the Kloster- und Pfarrkirche St. Peter/Black Forest, Germany

The church organ’s role in classical music runs from Buxtahude and Bach on through to such contemporary composers as Hindemith and Messian, but jazz musicians have tended to stay clear of this mighty instrument and its orchestral power. Not so Swiss jazz maestro George Grunz; on this 1968 MPS album, accompanied by two European jazz masters, bassist Eberhard Weber and drummer Daniel Humair, Gruntz utilizes the organ as “a vehicle to elevate some of the most beautiful ballad-like melodies to a world of sound completely new to jazz.” Benny Golson’s elegiac tribute to trumpet icon Clifford Brown I Remember Clifford, Billie Holiday’s poignant God Bless the Child, the Spiritual Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen, and Carla Bley’s Jesus Maria find a natural home in this Church setting. And a languorous version of Summertime, Grüntz’s poignant interpretation of Ornette Coleman’s Lonely Woman, the loving care given to the classic standard My Funny Valentine, the pathos of You Don’t Know What Love Is, the bright swing of John Lewis’ tribute to the legendary gypsy guitarist Django Reinhardt, and the baroque chordal play that permeates Yesterdays ring clear and true in this ecclesiastical setting. Playing on a three-manual Baroque organ built for the St. Peter Abbey Church in Germany’s Black Forest by the world-famous Klais Orgelbau, Grüntz has transposed the spiritual passion of jazz onto the church organ.

George Gruntz - 1967 - Noon In Tunisia

George Gruntz
Noon In Tunisia

01. Salhé 1:05
02. Maghreb Cantata
Is Tikhbar 1:17
Ghitta 5:08
Alaji 4:26
Djerbi 3:36
M'rabaa 4:11
Buanuary 8:52
Fazani 3:21
03. Nemeit 5:55

Bagpipes [Mezoued] – Jelloul Osman
Bass – Eberhard Weber
Bendir – Hattab Jouini, Moktar Slama, Salah El Mahdi, Jelloul Osman
Drums – Daniel Humair
Goblet Drum [Darbouka] – Hattab Jouini, Salah El Mahdi
Ney – Salah El Mahdi
Oboe [Zoukra] – Moktar Slama
Piano, Conductor, Composed By – George Gruntz
Soprano Saxophone, Flute, Tambourine – Sahib Shihab
Tabla – Hattab Jouini, Jelloul Osman
Violin – Jean Luc Ponty

Recorded June 2nd and 3rd, 1967 MPS Tonstudio, Villingen/Black Forrest

Renowned Swizz pianist/composer George Gruntz became entranced by the music of the North African Maghreb on his 1964 visit to Tunisia. Over the next few years he revisited the area, taking in the melodies, rhythms, and improvisational styles of a Bedouin music rooted in 1000 years of nomadic culture. With the intent of integrating this music with jazz, Gruntz assembled the crème of the Bedouin players and a top-flight group of like-minded jazz musicians. Sahle, the divine demon who gave voice and song to the people of the desert, serves as a brief vocal introduction to the meat of the album, Gruntz’s six-movement Maghreb Contata. In the first movement, Tikhbar, the musicians get to know each other in this cohering group improvisation. The Ghitta is both a rhythm and a name for the African oboe, played here by the instrument’s leading exponent, Moktar Slama, with soprano and nay (bamboo flute) joining in on this passionate percussive mix. The Alaji rhythm features a duo between French violin great Jean-Luc Ponty and bassist Eberhard Weber. On the meditative pastoral Djerbi Salah El Mahdi improvises on the nay with impressive piano backing. The pulsating M’rabaa rhythm features outstanding oboe and soprano solos. The Contata continues with Buanuara (the man who carries the flower) with its intense climax of cross-rhythms and mixture of solo and group play, and Fazani, a Bedouin theme transformed into jazz riff as percussion and wind instruments pound out their impression of the Maghreb. Nemeit, the “Song of Loneliness”, combines North African song form and modern jazz harmonies as a fitting end to this amalgam of music fired in the heat and passion of North Africa.

George Gruntz - 1967 - Drums And Folklore: From Sticksland With Love

George Gruntz 
Drums And Folklore: From Sticksland With Love

01. D'Reemer 2:10
02. From Sticksland With Love 13:20
03. Hightime Keepsakes 6:20
04. Intercourse 5:23
05. Change Of Air 3:30
06. Sketches For Percussion 4:25
07. Retraite Celeste 7:20

Bass – Jimmy Woode
Drums – Charly Antolini, Daniel Humair, Mani Neumeier, Pierre Favre
Piano – George Gruntz
Saxophone – Nathan Davis
Trumpet – Franco Ambrosetti

Part of MPS’s groundbreaking ‘Jazz Meets the World’ series, this 1967 album combines the Basel Carnival tambour and jazz drumming traditions. The Basel tambour band of Alfred Sacher and Georges Mathys’ assemblage of top fife players join up with four internationally renowned Swiss jazz drummers. Presiding over the gathering: pianist-composer-arranger George Gruntz, ‘the perfect mediator’. Sacher’s drum corps lead off with the traditional march D’Reemer (the Romans), a piece whose origins are shrouded in the mist of time. Composed by Gruntz, the title piece introduces the four Swiss jazz drummers. The theme integrates tambour and jazz drum traditions before the four solos – Charlie Antolini professes the swing style of Buddy Rich, Daniel Humair exhibits his ‘melodic’ approach, Pierre Favre shows restraint and a love of symbol colors, and Mani Neumeier takes an eclectic multi-perussion path. The next section features an Antolini-Favre duo followed by Neumeier-Humair. Then there’s Humair disassembling his drum set, a climactic quartet duel, and back to the tambour style. Hightime Keepsakes features Gruntz’s quintet with Favre on drums. The piece runs through a series of motifs and features Nathan Davis’ stunning soprano sax solo. On Intercourse, jazz and the drum corps converse, with the tambour drums trading places with Antolini halfway through each of the bass, trumpet, and sax solos, while on Change of Air the Basel fifers play together with Humair and the jazz rhythm section. Based on lanquenet Marches from the 1499 Swabian War, Gruntz’s Sketches for Percussion exploits the myriad percussive possibilities by combining the tambour and jazz drummers in various groupings. Retraite Celeste (Heavenly Retreat) ends the album in a folkloric tour de force, as the full jazz ensemble along with the Basel drummers and fifers create a finely woven asymmetric percussive tapestry. Joachim E. Berendt captured the album’s importance: “The musical breath of the times swings in records such as these.”

I was looking for this album, because Gruntz's "Noon in Tunisia" from the same year is such an interesting and good work. The original title is "Drums and Folklore: From Sticksland with Love". The concert happened in the Stadttheater in Basel. Involved in this very percussive experiment, sponsored by SABA, are two swiss carnival-bands, "Alfred Sacher's drum clique" and "George Mathy's five corps", which have a lot of space to do their things, together with George Gruntz - piano, Nathan Davis - sax, Franco Ambrosetti - trumpet, Jimmy Woode - bass and the four drummers Charly Antolini, Pierre Favre, Daniel Humair and the later Guru Guru Elektrolurch-spacecadet Mani Neumeier.

Before it comes to the mixing experiment, which, compared to the experience of "Noon in Tunisia", isn't as spectacular as one could hope, the concert starts with drumming and drumming and drumming, as the album title implied. The "Folklore" is sometimes near to military march rhytms. On the other side, their are a lot of traditional folklore streetbands, knowbody would have the idea to dance to, it's just for walking along and maybe whistle some melodies. I must say I was astonished about the enthusiastic ovations by the audience in the pauses of the (technically good) drumming. I had to wait patiently for the more interesting parts, where the jazzband is more in the forground. But, as I mentioned above, it didn't had the effect, that makes "Noon in Tunisia" so unique. And sadly for my taste the jazzier parts with this interesting musicians are a little bit too short.

Don't get me wrong, all the playing is surely good in a technical way. But this sponsored experiment isn't able to touch my soul. So it's really difficult to score this album. Because this concert was an unusual idea and the jazz players are really good, 

George Gruntz - 1965 - Jazz Goes Baroque 2 (The Music Of Italy)

George Gruntz 
Jazz Goes Baroque 2 (The Music Of Italy)

01. Francesco Durante Danza, Danza Fanciulla 4:15
02. Antonio Vivaldi Allegro From 'Il Pastor Fido' 2:24
03. Claudio Monteverdi Lamento D'Arianna 4:28
04. Girolamo Frescobaldi Aria Detta 'La Frescobalda' 5:15
05. Benedetto Marcello Allegro From Sonata In F-Dur Op. 2 Nr. 1 3:17
06. Tomaso Albinoni Allegro From 'Concerto San Marco' 3:16
07. Giovanni Battista Pergolesi Aria De Polidoro From 'Flaminio' 5:05
08. Domenico Zipoli Sarabanda 3:54
09. Bernardo Pasquini Aria 3:05
10. Domenico Scarlatti Allegro From Cembalo-Suite Nr. 10 3:27

Bass – Peter Trunk
Drums – Daniel Humair
Flute – Leo Wright, Raymond Guiot, Sahib Shihab, Stefan Von Dobrzynski
Harpsichord – George Gruntz

George Gruntz - 1964 - Goes Baroque

George Gruntz
Goes Baroque 

01. Das Frauenzimmer Verstimmt Sich Immer
02. The Earl Of Salisbury (Pavana)
03. Le Croc En Jambe
04. Gavotte En Rondeau
05. Ouvertüre - Bourée - Hornpipe Aus Der "Wassermusik":
06. Ciacona F-Moll
07. Lachrimae Antiquae Pavan
08. Musette En Rondeau
09. Corrente
10. Corrente - Gavotta Aus "Concerto Grosso Nr. 9 In F-Dur"

Bass – Peter Trunk
Clarinet, Soprano Saxophone – Klaus Doldinger
Drums – Klaus Weiss
Flute – Emil Mangelsdorff
Harpsichord – George Gruntz

Recorded in West-Berlin, April 27 and 28, 1964

When the jazz pianist George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band played at Ronnie Scott's club in London a dozen years ago, they caught listeners unawares with a blend of the ambiguities and mysterious undercurrents of Gil Evans's partnerships with Miles Davis, and the punch and power of a conventional swing group. Gruntz, who has died aged 80, was one of the few internationally acclaimed Swiss-born jazz musicians, and had an unusually broad vision.

It was his Concert Jazz Band – or just plain CJB – under Quincy Jones's baton that backed an ailing Davis in 1991, on the trumpeter's swansong visits to the classic scores from Miles Ahead, Porgy and Bess, and Sketches of Spain. No bandleader could have been better suited than Gruntz to furnishing a premier-league international orchestra in his homeland for one of the historic events of late 20th-century jazz.

A native of Basel, Gruntz studied at conservatoires there and in Zurich. In his mid-20s he became a member of Swiss swing-to-bop saxophonist Flavio Ambrosetti's groups, and in 1958 he performed and recorded at the Newport jazz festival, as a member of American trombonist and educator Marshall Brown's International Youth Band. Gruntz played for the Youth Band's Yugoslavian representative, the trumpeter Duško Goyković (1960-61), and then in a bebop trio that accompanied American stars including Donald Byrd, Dexter Gordon and Lee Konitz on their trips to Europe. From 1963 Gruntz – who had previously been supporting himself as a car salesman – devoted himself exclusively to music, touring with the vocalist Helen Merrill, and performing in the saxophonist Phil Woods' European Rhythm Machine (1968-69).

In 1964 he aired his classical-harpsichord skills on the crossover album Jazz Goes Baroque. Three years later he explored Middle Eastern instruments for the Bedouin-inspired project Noon in Tunisia, and showed his openness to free-jazz in 1969 in a brief partnership with Ornette Coleman's trumpeter Don Cherry. The restlessly energetic Gruntz was also music director of Zurich's Schauspielhaus theatre (1970-84), and artistic director of Berlin's prestigious international jazz festival, the Berliner Jazztage (1972-94).

Gruntz combined these assignments with a busy schedule as an innovative bandleader and player, working in the 1970s with his unique Piano Conclave – a six-piano band plus rhythm section, which at various times employed such European piano stars as Martial Solal, Joachim Kühn and Gordon Beck. He premiered his settings for The Rape of Lucrece at Southwark Cathedral in 1975, and two years later composed a complex percussion-orchestra piece for the Montreux jazz festival.

Principally, however, this was the period in which his most famous big-band creation, the CJB, came into its own. In 1972 Gruntz had become a co-founder of a large ensemble, the Band, with Ambrosetti, his trumpeter son Franco, and Swiss drummer and painter Daniel Humair. Six years later, Gruntz took over the group, renamed it, and made it a successful and stylistically broad outfit that toured the world, with American heavyweights including singer Sheila Jordan, guitarist John Scofield and saxophonist Dave Liebman in the lineup at various times. The band was augmented by former Evans sidemen for Davis's famous farewell at the 1991 Montreux jazz festival, and the following year they were invited to China, on the first official jazz tour of that country.

A democratic, charming and humorous bandleader, Gruntz meticulously wrote at least two featured spots per gig for all his soloists on the band's tours, frequently featured band-members' original compositions, and regularly picked up the tab for high-class restaurant evenings with his players on the road.

Gruntz also wrote Money: A Jazz Opera with the American poet Amiri Baraka in 1982 and the following year he wrote the oratorio The Holy Grail of Jazz and Joy. In 1988 he collaborated with the beat poet Allen Ginsberg on the opera Cosmopolitan Greetings. The most ambitious of these ventures was Chicago Cantata – commissioned by the city's jazz festival in 1991 – a mix of jazz, blues, soul and gospel music with the Art Ensemble of Chicago's Lester Bowie and Malachi Favors, saxophonist Von Freeman, and gospel stars Pops Staples and the Norfleet Family in the lineup.

Radio Days, a 10-CD retrospective of Gruntz's works, was released in 2007, and though in declining health, the irrepressible maestro performed in the US with the CJB late in 2012. The long-time Gruntz trumpeter Marvin Stamm described him as "the face of Swiss jazz, and a strong enough presence to gather a slew of top American and European players into his Concert Jazz Band, many of whom … returned again and again".

"Jazz Goes Baroque," was recorded on April 27 & 28, 1964, featuring ten works -- of such composers as Telemann, Couperin, Händel, Rameau, Pachelbel and Corelli -- adapted & jazzified by German jazz maestro George Gruntz, who exclusively plays (superbly!) harpsichord throughout the session. Besides his brilliant improvisations, flutist Emil Mangelsdorff and reedman Klaus Doldinger (of later Passport fame, here heard on clarinet & soprano sax) also shine, supported by the impeccable rhythm section of Peter Trunk (acoustic bass) and Klaus Weiss (drums).

Georg Gruntz - 1960 - Mental Cruelty

Georg Gruntz 
Mental Cruelty

Add caption

Original 1960 10 inch:

A1. Main Theme 1:53
A2. Blues And Theme 2:47
A3. Students' Hang Out 1:04
A4. Morning After The Wedding Night 1:24
A5. Music For Night Children 5:20
A6. Jazz Appreciation I (Motif For Ted) 3:24
B1. Jazz Appreciation II (Motif For Ted) 1:10
B2. Good Time Joe 0:40
B3. Swiss Tease 0:43
B4. Romance 3:28
B5. Spanish Castles 2:43
B6. Nick And Marlene 2:02
B7. Proposal 4:50
B8. Final Theme 0:23

Official 2003 Release:

01. Main Theme 1:53
02. Blues And Theme 4:47
03. Student Hang Out 1:04
04. Morning After The Wedding Night 1:24
05. Music For Night Children 5:24
06. Jazz Appreciation I (Motif For Ted) 3:24
07. Jazz Appreciation II (Motif For Ted) 3:27
08. Swiss Tease (Tango) 1:27
09. Romance I 1:00
10. Romance II 0:40
11. Stroll On Theme 1:10
12. Good Time Joe 0:40
13. Latin Scroll On Theme 0:40
14. Main Theme - Romance 3:28
15. Spanish Castles 2:43
16. Nick And Marlene 2:02
17. The Proposal 4:50
18. Final Theme 0:23
Unreleased Tracks
19. Student Hang Out 1:18
20. Main Theme Version X 1:00
21. Main Theme Version Y 2:20

Recorded in 1960. Mastered at AirWave Studio, Chicago.

Alto Saxophone, Flute – Marcel Peeters
Bass – K. T. Geier
Drums – Kenny Clarke
Piano, Composed By – George Gruntz
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Barney Wilen
Trumpet – Raymond Court

Atavistic's Unheard Music Series, curated by John Corbett, has unearthed some obscure and curious music. So far most of it has been avant-garde and experimental sounds, pressed on vinyl years ago and hitherto available only to collectors. This session by pianist/orchestra leader George Gruntz is an exception to the UMS rule and proves itself to be an exceptional bop recording.
Swiss pianist George Gruntz was hired to create a soundtrack to the film Mental Cruelty, and taking a note from the 1957 Miles Davis work on L’Ascenseur Pour L’echafud, he hired French saxophonist Barney Wilen and legendary drummer Kenny Clarke. As with L’Ascenseur Pour L’echafud, Gruntz built these tracks around a repetition of themes, all very hip bop phrasings.
This recording can barely be called a reissue, as it appeared on only about 100 LPs before it was pulled from the shelves for legal problems, only to survive in rare collectors' circles.
Gruntz, now known for his large concert bands, plays this one in the very cool stylings of Miles Davis’ late Prestige outings. This relaxin’ music draws from the pop and sway of bop, with a knowing nod by way of a few waltzes and a tango. Barney Wilen, whom Miles adored back then, is on his game with a big round tenor sound; and Kenny Clarke keeps the beat casual throughout. His solo on “Music For Night Children” is a certain blindfold test for all students of modern drumming.
There is much to like in this hip – when "hip" meant something – recording.

John Corbett wasn't kidding when he said that he was going to start releasing non-vanguard jazz titles in the Atavistic Unheard Music Series. If this is a representative example, then bring them on. Pianist and composer George Gruntz is in the company of saxophonist Barney Wilen, drummer Kenny "Clook" Clarke, and a pair of unknown Europeans on bass and another saxophone. The unheard record in question is a 1960 soundtrack to a Swiss film called Mental Cruelty, which was made by a former soccer star. The soundtrack was issued by Decca, briefly, on 10" EP, until the musicians realized it -- they were paid for a film soundtrack, not a recorded one. Decca refused to pay, lost in court, and had to destroy what remaining vinyl they had, making this a thousand dollar collector's item. Given that this was Gruntz's first soundtrack, it's extremely impressive. There are 18 tracks, all of them in the prevailing hard bop style of the day with some cool and noir-ish elements thrown in. But it feels more like a blowing session in the same way the Miles Davis soundtrack to L'Ascenseur pour L'Echafaud by Louis Malle did; loose blowing based on images and rushes from the film. Wilen is in especially fine form here: His tone has that big full sound with just a hint of the edge of Sonny Rollins in it. Gruntz is obviously a cocky, confident young pianist, but he is humbled by Clarke's mastery on the swinging bop tunes and even on the two waltzes, which were the first Clarke had played on record in his life. This is more than a cool jazz record; it is a bit of hipster history with the chops to back up its obscurity. Highly recommended.

The original issue of George Gruntz's 1960 soundtrack to Mental Cruelty was as obscure as it gets. The 100 LPs printed at the time immediately disappeared into the abyss due to some corporate bullshit, leaving a gaping black hole at the start of the Swiss pianist's recording career and a severe market price for the record in the range of $1000.
Atavistic's appropriately titled Unheard Music Series imprint has picked this disc up for reissue, including all 18 tracks plus three additional scraps from tape. At the time Gruntz was hovering in obscurity and generating untold numbers of film soundtracks, theater scores, and operas. He would enter the spotlight later in his career, but at this time he was anything but a household name. Working with French saxophonist Barney Wilen in various configurations, he also briefly joined forces with drummer Kenny "Klook" Clarke. Both appear prominently here.
My initial impression based on the title of the film and the last name of the artist was pure trepidation. What a surprise it was to hear a swinging, relaxed jazz issue forth, somewhere between cool and bop. The "Themes" that recur throughout the disc help unify it and ensure a light but wholesome feel. The through-composed "Main Theme" opens the disc, a freely swinging stroll through the garden. Its melody is so classic that it almost sounds cliche, but that only exemplifies the way these tunes convey a strange sense of familiarity. A sedate blues follows, then a "Student Hang Out" straight out of the Miles Davis Prestige songbook (Raymond Court nimbly holding court on the trumpet).
Down the road the group touches pointedly on tango and a "Romance" with Wilen's voices on soprano and tenor sax eerily resembling Coltrane's early '60s work. A tiny 40-second hunk of fire on "Good Time Joe" yields to a Latin feel (coaxed along by Clarke in elegant style) and later a mid- tempo waltz. With a brief 23 seconds of theme, the soundtrack closes. (Bonus tracks expand briefly on already-familiar tunes.)
The brevity of these pieces (only four of which span more than three minutes) ensures a minimum of solo time, focusing the group's sound on arranged passages and straightforward themes. For the most part, Gruntz hangs low, content to accent the horns and ensure continuity, and it seems that his cohorts appreciate the subtlety and nuance of these pieces. It's tempting to single out soloists for their brief contributions, but in the end the compositions sit foremost. Of course, the main attraction (in terms of star value) is drummer Kenny Clarke, whose playing here never grabs the spotlight but always reinforces forward momentum. And, lest it be forgotten, he's a virtual epicenter of swing.
A fine resurrection, wonderfully romantic and completely unpretentious.

Thursday, June 18, 2020

Wizard - 1971 - The Original Wizard

The Original Wizard

01. Freedom 5:15
02. Come And See The Bride 3:56
03. What Do You Know About Mary? 2:24
04. Opus Ate 3:25
05. Goin' Away 2:48
06. Killing Time 4:57
07. Got To See My Way 2:37
08. Ride 3:00
09. Seance 3:46
10. Talkin' To God 2:32
11. Evergreen 3:50
12. Got Love 3:09
13. Freedom 4:03

Tracks 12 and 13 are bonus tracks from the Penguin 45 P-100-A

Drums – Chris Luhn
Guitar, Vocals – Benji Schultz
Lead Vocals, Bass – Paul Forney

The University Of South Florida at Tampa, 1970: Paul Forney was playing gigs as a bass player when a good friend of his Charlie Souza (later of Cactus fame) gave him Ben Schultz's number. Ben invited Paul to play a gig with them, straight jam. no rehearsal. Ben apparently took an immediate liking to Paul. Chris Luhn was Brother's roadie. Ben Schultz met Chris during his sophomore year at the University of South Florida in Tampa.

 When they were not performing on stage, they were rehearsing, writing and jamming with everyone in sight. The road trips consisted of a 1967 Pontiac Bonneville pulling a U-Haul trailer full of instruments, amps, and a half-assed p.a. system that Ben and their then-manager had soldered together in Ben's family room. The highlight of that first summer "tour" was the Goose Lake Festival, outside Detroit.

Wizard crashed with the members of Third Power, and spent the better part of two weeks sleeping all day. and jamming all night with the Power, and whoever happened to drop in. including some of the people from Catfish, Frijid Pink, Bob Seeger. And God-knows-who else. By the time they bull shitted their way on to the program at Goose Lake, they had been together for only about ten weeks, but had logged about 1,000 hours of rehearsing and jamming. Chris was the oldest member of the group at 19 but the guys nevertheless managed to achieve a great sense of pride and accomplishment in their work.

Eventually,  Wizard caught the attention of Decca Record's Bob Fletcher, who brought the group to Atlanta for a recording session. The session lasted only a few days. Virtually every song on the album The Original Wizard was a "live" take (i.e., no dubbing and no multiple tracks). The following winter, they played one of their more memorable gigs at an indoor festival at the Hollywood (Florida) Fair-grounds. Van Morrison was the big draw for the night, and they were supposed to have gone on in the morning. Because of some snafu, the band wound up sitting around the fairgrounds until about 5:00 p.m. when they were practically shoved onto the stage.

Although Wizard continued to perform on the same stage with groups like Chicago. Mountain, Rod Stewart and Iron Butterfly, they never made it back into the studio. Within 16 months of forming, the group born so spontaneously just called it quits. After the break up of Wizard. Paul went on to play with the trio "Bacchus" for several years and played a lot of clubs in Southern Florida. He did stints with Timmy Thomas.

Little Beaver, Gwen Macrae, and the Jimmy Castor Bunch until finally quitting the tour circuit in 1980 and earning a degree in Electrical Engineering from USF. He retrained in classical music but now enjoys a career in industrial automation and lives, plays, and works in Southern California. Ben Schultz went on to both live and studio work with the likes of Carmine Appice, Schultz & Butcher,, Buddy Miles , Belinda Carlisle, Gregg Alexander, Barefoot Servants, Steve Stills, Diana Ross, Small Faces, Rod Stewart, Ric Ocasek and Rick Nelson.

He now resides in Southern California. Chris wandered wandered in and out of college before settling in in Baltimore where, in 1982, he went back to school, getting a law degree in 1985 and set up a law practice in upstate New York. None of the band deludes themselves that this release will do anything other than gratify some collectors and trivia buffs. Still, here it is, for whatever it is worth. After twenty-seven odd years, Ben, Paul and Chris have reestablished their friend-ship, and are humbled to know that there are some "out there" who still care about raw, loud, no-holds-barred rock. They hope that this offering satisfies a small measure of that craving.
(cd liner notes)

Musically, The Original Wizard is hard-driving, power-trio rock informed by bits of both the blues and psychedelia, and, as such, it is one of countless albums trying to rise out of the crowded acid-rock field that had grown increasingly ponderous and meat-headed since the '60s, when psychedelia began as a means more than an ends. By the early '70s, that field had morphed mostly into excessive hard rock, characterized by self-importance, pedestrian songwriting, and overlong solos, and even the most popular bands tended toward self-absorbed posturing. On their only album, Wizard could not escape those stylistic tendencies entirely because they had been informed by them, but their sound was considerably more imaginative and interesting than much hard rock from the period, including many of the similar bands who earned far more commercial popularity than they did. The album certainly has its share of less-than-interesting moments; it has too many of the hallmarks of period hard rock. The band occasionally comes across as far too full of themselves as well. Their music is loud, aggressive, and marinated in the sort of ominous, mystical chord changes that make it seem "important," even when a composition is not so. There are plenty of indulgent, overblown solos on the album; lyrically Wizard asserts a period political consciousness that is none too novel, shouting about "freedom," expressing outrage at the recent Kent State killings ("Killing Time"), threatening to drop out of society ("Goin' Away") or attain enlightenment ("Séance," "Talkin' to God"), and conspicuously burying the word higher in song about a "girl" named Mary. And yet, although nearly every song contains a slight blemish of the grandiose, the bits of inspiration and moments of sonic excitement that pop up outnumber the missteps. The songwriting is uneven, but when Wizard is on -- variously recalling the Doors, Steppenwolf, Jimi Hendrix, and fellow acid-rock obscurities Stack, in a positive sense -- they're much more imaginative than most of their peers. The highlights require some treasure hunting, but they are certainly present. Wizard's single, "Got Love," has a joyous, almost country-gospel sensibility along the lines of Delaney & Bonnie, and there are even more country inflections on "Ride" and the understated boogie "Goin' Away." "Come and See the Bride" opens with a fabulous organ-dirge-to-pop-song explosion, while "Séance" is legitimately mystical. When the guitar playing is reigned in -- as it is on the mumbling wah-wah of "Got to See My Way" and in the echoing lines on "Evergreen" -- it is phenomenal. The Original Wizard certainly has a wealth of ideas; had it been given a bit more thought and care, it might have actually been good.

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

Led Zeppelin - 1980 - Tour Over Dortmund

Led Zeppelin
Dortmund, Germany

Tour Over Dortmund 1980
Wendy wecd-107/108
Soundboard and Audience

01. Train Kept A Rollin'
02. Nobody's Fault But Mine
03. Black Dog
04. In The Evening
05. The Rain Song
06. Hot Dog
07. All Of My Love
08. Trampled Underfoot
09. Since I've Been Loving You
10. Achilles Last Stand
11. White Summer
12. Kashmir
13. Stairway To Heaven
14. Rock And Roll
15. Whole Lotta Love Intro
16. Heartbreaker
17. Whole Lotta Love Outro

Led Zeppelin’s first proper tour in three years, and what would be their last, began at the Westfallenhalle in Dortmund, Germany on June 17th, 1980.  In what was thought to be the second step in their comeback (Knebworth in 1979 the first and the US tour in the fall of 1980 the third), it is remarkable to hear their attempt to find a more eighties sound. 

With the scaled back set list devoid of solos and long jamming, the concerts averaged about an hour and a half.  A good audience recording exists for this date and was used on vinyl on Live In Dortmund West Germany 1980. 

All of the subsequent releases of this show are sourced from the soundboard including Dinosaurs Rule Part 1 (Flying Disc CD 6-803) and Dinosaurs Rule Part 2 (Flying Disc CD 6-804), Return Of The Auschwitz (Neptune) and finally Dortmund 1980 (1980-1, 2).  It is an excellent sounding and balanced recording that is missing the opening notes to “Since I’ve Been Loving You” and the second half of “Rock And Roll.” 

Compared to the earlier issues Wendy is slightly louder with no hints of distortion or overzealous mastering and can be considered to be excellent.  When this label released the Bremen tape several years ago they used one of the Mannheim soundboards to fill in the gaps, but with Dortmund they chose to leave the gaps alone. 

This could have been improved if they edited the audience recording to complete the show and thus far no silver release has done so, but for a one source title this is very nice.  The tape begins with Zeppelin’s first performance of “Train Kept A Rollin'” in ten years.  Plant loses count during the guitar solo and tries to come in to the final verse a bit early.  The song segues into the Presence track “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” (minus the phased guitar introduction).

After “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” Bonzo can be heard laughing and saying “intermission!  intermission” in response to the energy and the fact that this was their first pubic show in almost a year.  “Well we’re here aren’t we?”  Jimmy Page says afterwards. 

“Okay we got a little number now it’s called, in a little rough translation, ‘Schwartz Hund.'”  Plant flubs some of the lyrics but overall the performance is fine.  “Good evening. Danke schon.  Smooth, eh?  Everytime we do gigs we seem to have to say it’s been a long time.  It’s only been ten months since the last one” Plant says before a limp version of “In The Evening.” 

The set slows down a bit with “The Rain Song” which is introduced as about “love affairs that have gone adrift.  And last night some love affairs in Dusseldorf went adrift.  Tonight, who knows?”

“Hot Dog” is dedicated to one of the Showco staff and is one of the few times Pages tries to duplicate the solo on In Through The Out Door. 

During “Since I’ve Been Loving You” Plant screams before the guitar solo, “take me to the bridge” and includes some lyrics from “I’m Gonna Crawl”:  “I don’t care if I have to go by plane, I don’t care if I have to go by train.” 

“Achilles Last Stand” is oddly introduced as a song “also recorded by Ted Nugent.”  Plant laughs at the end of “Kashmir” when he explains it was written in Morocco.  He then tries to wake up the audience by shouting “All Right!” 

“What are you, fast asleep?”  he asks.  The second encore has a strange medley of “Heartbreaker” in the middle of “Whole Lotta Love.”  Zeppelin liked to recontextualize their music live.  The “Out On The Tiles” introduction to “Black Dog” is the most enduring, but this one sounds like a failed experiment.  It is clunky, awkward and was never again attempted. 

Monday, June 15, 2020

Das Waldemar Wunderbar Syndikat - 1976 - I Make You Feel Good

Das Waldemar Wunderbar Syndikat
I Make You Feel Good 

01. Peter Gunn 3:10
02. White Cliffs Of California 3:16
03. King Kong And His Love Affairs 2:57
04. Svenska Flicka 4:14
05. All She Left Was The Old Procul-Harum-Record 4:21
06 ..Kriminal Tango 3:47
07. Exodus 4:00
08. Gretna Green Divorce Jive (Aufgerollter Schotten-Rock) 3:17
09. Scarborough Man, That Was Not Fair 3:03
10. See You At The Rum-Bar 4:00
Gottfried Böttger (piano), 
Rale Oberpichler (vocals), 
Jasper van't Hof (piano), 
Jean-Jacques Kravetz (piano, organ), 
Daby Lucas May (accordion), 
Johnny Müller (harmonica, flute), 
Konrad Schittek (bagpipes), 
Wolfgang Schlüter (marimba), 
Bernie Prock (congas), 
Helmuth Franke (guitar), 
Marletta Palon (vocals), 
Thomas Kretschmer (guitar), 
Dave King (bass, synthesizer), 
Curt Cress (drums), 
Paul Vincent (guitar), 
Thor Baldursson (piano, clavinet), 
Kristian Schultze (piano, synthesizer), 
Steffi Stephan (bass), 
Bertram Engel (drums), 
Udo Lindenberg (synthesizer, Mellotron, vocals)
Olaf Kübler (saxophone) 

A regular requested this obscure album that is a real who is who of the German musical scene...not to be missed!

Dick van der Capellen Trio - 1967 - The Present Is Past

Dick van der Capellen Trio
The Present Is Past

01. Woiczischke
02. M.L.U.
03. The Present is Past
04. Der alte Fritz

Dick van der Capellen, bass
Martin Van Duynhoven, percussion
Chris Hinze, piano, flute, alto flute, piccolo flute
Theo Loevendie, bass clarinet (2)
Erik Van Lier, bass trombone (2)

Recorded April 25, 1967 in Soest, Netherland.

Finally a CD reissue of what were undoubtedly the first truly original Dutch jazz works -- the legendary Boy Edgar's Big Band's Now's the Time from 1965 and Finch's Eye from 1966. These two albums gave Netherlands jazz the boost it so sorely needed to emanate from underneath the American shadow and forge a jazz identity of its own. With his influences ranging from Duke Ellington and Count Basie to Stan Kenton and the classical musician of Jean Sibelius, composer, arranger, and medical doctor Boy Edgar created a band comprised of all the elements of the Dutch jazz world in the early '60s. That included equal parts older players who were still reading swing charts from the '30s, bebop connoisseurs from the '40s, hard bop and cool jazzers from the '50s, and a host of young lions who had heard the large group "free jazz" works of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. Now's the Time showcases them all together playing tasteful, innovative charts with lush harmonies and killer soprano solos from Piet Nordjik, a young player who has never gotten his due as a stylist on the instrument though he truly deserves to be widely recognized for his bluesed-out wailing found here. He is the only player featured as a soloist on all six of the former album's selections -- and in a saxophone section of seven horns, no less. Now's the Time has stood the test of it well, sounding fresh, even, and wonderfully arranged 36 years after its first appearance. There is a weakness in the trumpet section, as the fire of the rest of the band leaves them in the shadows most of the time, but compared to everything else that's here -- swing, hard bop, free jazz, Ellington, modal music, and so on -- it's easy to forgive. Standout cuts are Parker's title track, Coltrane's "Blues Minor," with its velvety smooth and dark textures, and a positively wild reading of "Blue Monk," with horns blaring all over the piano lines and loving every minute of it. Finally there is Theo Loevendie's "Return," a true composition of the new Dutch jazz with its outlandish counterpoint and stacked harmonies all strung together in a mass of elegant yet emotional sonic pathos. Finch's Eye fares less well for its time because it was simply trying too hard to be of of its time, as well as taking into consideration many of the changes in pop and jazz. Still, there is the debut appearance of Willem Breuker and his melding of his composition "28" with Edgar's "21" for "2128," making for his first appearance as a soloist in any context, and the stock-in-trademark humor was there right at the beginning. Listen to him bend those fifths during his solo and you'll swear you are listening to a Raymond Scott arrangement. Finally, Loevendie's title track, the first formally "new" or "free" Dutch jazz, showcases Breuker blowing in the breaks as the band swirls around him in an oddly dissonant tone poem. In all, a revelatory reissue, giving listeners a picture of how the Dutch gained their strong, individual identity as a jazz region; these two LPs were no doubt the inspiration for many Netherlands musicians to come.

Boy's Big Band - 1966 - Finch Eye

Boy's Big Band
Finch Eye

01. Black Sea 4:50
02. Plain Blues 7:15
03. 2128 6:05
04. I Remember Vienna 9:20
05. Finch Eye 9:35
Alto, Baritone, Tenor & Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet – Herman Schoonderwalt
Alto, Tenor & Soprano Saxophone – Piet Noordijk,
Alto & Soprano Saxophone – Theo Loevendie
Alto Saxophone – Tinus Bruyn
Baritone & Tenor Saxophone – Joop Mastenbroek
Baritone Saxophone – Leo Gerritsen
Baritone & Tenor Saxophone – Toon Van Vliet
Bass – Dick Van Der Capellen
Bass – Jacques Schols
Drums – John Engels
Flugelhorn, Trombone – Cees Smal
Flute – Chris Hinze
Mellophone – Wim Kat
Piano – Cees Slinger
Tenor Saxophone – Harry Verbeke
Trombone – Eric van Lier
Trombone – Marcel Thielemans
Trombone – Rudy Bosch
Trumpet – Ado Broodboom
Trumpet – Jan Van Hest
Trumpet – Jan Vleeschouwer,
Trumpet – Wim Kat
Trumpet – Wim Kuylenburg

Recorded September 7 and 8, 1966 in Amsterdam

Finally a CD reissue of what were undoubtedly the first truly original Dutch jazz works -- the legendary Boy Edgar's Big Band's Now's the Time from 1965 and Finch's Eye from 1966. These two albums gave Netherlands jazz the boost it so sorely needed to emanate from underneath the American shadow and forge a jazz identity of its own. With his influences ranging from Duke Ellington and Count Basie to Stan Kenton and the classical musician of Jean Sibelius, composer, arranger, and medical doctor Boy Edgar created a band comprised of all the elements of the Dutch jazz world in the early '60s. That included equal parts older players who were still reading swing charts from the '30s, bebop connoisseurs from the '40s, hard bop and cool jazzers from the '50s, and a host of young lions who had heard the large group "free jazz" works of Ornette Coleman and John Coltrane. Now's the Time showcases them all together playing tasteful, innovative charts with lush harmonies and killer soprano solos from Piet Nordjik, a young player who has never gotten his due as a stylist on the instrument though he truly deserves to be widely recognized for his bluesed-out wailing found here. He is the only player featured as a soloist on all six of the former album's selections -- and in a saxophone section of seven horns, no less. Now's the Time has stood the test of it well, sounding fresh, even, and wonderfully arranged 36 years after its first appearance. There is a weakness in the trumpet section, as the fire of the rest of the band leaves them in the shadows most of the time, but compared to everything else that's here -- swing, hard bop, free jazz, Ellington, modal music, and so on -- it's easy to forgive. Standout cuts are Parker's title track, Coltrane's "Blues Minor," with its velvety smooth and dark textures, and a positively wild reading of "Blue Monk," with horns blaring all over the piano lines and loving every minute of it. Finally there is Theo Loevendie's "Return," a true composition of the new Dutch jazz with its outlandish counterpoint and stacked harmonies all strung together in a mass of elegant yet emotional sonic pathos. Finch's Eye fares less well for its time because it was simply trying too hard to be of of its time, as well as taking into consideration many of the changes in pop and jazz. Still, there is the debut appearance of Willem Breuker and his melding of his composition "28" with Edgar's "21" for "2128," making for his first appearance as a soloist in any context, and the stock-in-trademark humor was there right at the beginning. Listen to him bend those fifths during his solo and you'll swear you are listening to a Raymond Scott arrangement. Finally, Loevendie's title track, the first formally "new" or "free" Dutch jazz, showcases Breuker blowing in the breaks as the band swirls around him in an oddly dissonant tone poem. In all, a revelatory reissue, giving listeners a picture of how the Dutch gained their strong, individual identity as a jazz region; these two LPs were no doubt the inspiration for many Netherlands musicians to come.