Monday, April 6, 2015

ZAO - 1973 - Z=7L


01. Marochsek (7:13)
02. Ataturc (5:49)
03. Ronach (4:39)
04. Atart (3:31)
05. La Soupe (7:20)
06. Satanyia (6:46)

- François Cahen / electric piano, piano
- Yochk'o Seffer / saxophone, clarinet
- Joël Dugreno / bass
- Jean-Yves Rigaud / electric violin
- Jean-My Truong / drums
- Mauricia Platon / vocals

ZAO was founded at the beginning of the seventies by Yochk'o "Jeff" Seffer (saxophone, clarinet) and François "Faton" Cahen (pianos), both ex-members of MAGMA's first era, that includes "Kobaïa" (1970), "1001 ° centigrades" (1971) and "Uniweria Zekt-the Unnamables" (1972).
If one regard MAGMA as the central trunk of the Zeuhl tree, ZAO would be equivalent to an early side branch very close to the stock. ZAO's music, at least at the beginning of their career, is therefore an extension of MAGMA's first era, with a light music, at times weird, with hints of jazz, contemporaneous music, Hungarian folk (Yochk'o is a native of Hungary) and obviously of Zeuhl. Nothing in common with the absolute incantatory power of "MDK" and "Kohntarkhosz" to which Yochk'o Seffer and François Cahen didn't want to contribute.

In the first album, "Z = 7L" (1973), the very complex melodic instrumental layers are enriched with the wonderful voice of Mauricia Platon (with its kobaïan accents), but unfortunately she was missing on the follow-up "Osiris" released in 1975.

ZAO will break from its Zeuhl roots and the music will lean towards some jazz-rock fusion more and more debatable and debated.

"Shekina" (1975) augmented by the presence of a string quartet and "Kawana" (1976) remain respectable albums of the French jazz-rock fusion scene but "Typhareth" (1976) recorded just after Yochk'o Seffer left the band is of little interest. ZAO will then split but the members will gather anew in 1994 with the release of "Akhenaton" (once more jazz-fusion inflected), the album that saw the band reform but without any follow-up. It seems that the band planned to reform this year (2004) with the return of Yochk'o Seffer. To be continued ? Moreover, we can note that ZAO's bassist, Joël Dugrenot, will join for a short while the French symphonic progressive band CLEARLIGHT.

As others have mentioned Cahen and Seffer left MAGMA because Vander was now in control of the musical direction that MAGMA would take, instead of it being a band effort as on the first two albums. Seffer and Cahen's last recording with MAGMA would be under the name of UNIVERSIA ZEKT. It's interesting that MAGMA's next album ("MDK") after these two left would emphasize female vocals, because ZAO's first recording that would come out the same year (only sooner) would also emphasize a female vocalist.Two very different records mind you. I think the vocals here and on "MDK" are what will make or break the two albums for you, because they are so prominant. The female vocalist Zao hired was a much in demand backing vocalist named Mauricia Platon, who is nothing short of incredible. Seffer being Hungarian badly wanted a violinist for this project,so they hired Jean-Yves Rigaud. Jean-My Truong was added as the drummer, he had played in a band with Seffer before Seffer had joined MAGMA. Joel Dugrenot was added as the guitarist. The album cover was painted by Seffer.

"Marochsek" starts off rather ominously before Mauricia yells "Zao !" and then goes off into some unique vocal melodies. Unfortunately this would be the only studio record she would record with the band. Keys, bass, sax and drums fill out the sound. Some good guitar after 4 minutes. She is amazing 5 1/2 minutes in with liquid sounding keys to follow. "Ataturc" has a nice jazzy soundscape with vocal melodies. The tempos shift and violin comes in. Vocals stop as the song calms down. The drums, bass and piano become prominant before violin comes back. Vocals are back before 5 minutes. "Ronach" is all about her vocals that sound like another instrument. They are very high pitched at times. In "Atart" it's like Mauricia is competing with the sax and she is definitely holding her own. The bass is relentless. Great tune.

"La Soupe" has a nice little intro before i'm blown away by not only her vocals, but the bass and drums. This is killer ! Some beautiful horn / vocal interplay before we get a sax solo. 3 minutes in the violin comes in. Great sound ! Then some ripping guitar as drums pound. The song calms down as only bass can be heard at first. Vocals are next, then a full sound. "Satanyia" features violin, vocal, bass and drum sounds but not much of a melody until after a minute. Her vocals are deeper here with a fantastic melody to follow. The tempo and mood continues to change. Themes are repeated including her deep vocals. Her vocals are so good 6 minutes in as the drums pound.

Well it took a while, but this became everything I had hoped it would be. I wasn't expecting the vocals that were presented or the violin, but it all worked perfectly. I much prefer this over MAGMA's "MDK", and it's a step better than MAGMA's first two albums in my opinion. Brilliant !

Faton Cahen & Yochk'o Seffer Septet - 2006 - Zao Family

Faton Cahen & Yochk'o Seffer Septet
Zao Family

01. Koborlo    
02. Attila    
03. Soulefuji
04. Gingko    
05. Sandor    
06. Phase 2    
07. Zzee    
08. Osaka    
09. Hathor    

Faton Cahen (p)
Yochk'o Seffer ( ss,ts)
Aude Miller (v)
Roland Arnassalon (v)
Jean-Philippe Bardon (viola)
Marie Gremillard (cello)
Francois Causse (dr #2,5,6,9)
Mino Cinelu (perc #1,3,4,7,8)

Maison Klaus - 2000 - Live

Maison Klaus

01. Strange Brew 7:52
02. Don't Look Away 6:46
03. Something You Got 4:37
04. Charlie & le Docteur 9:36
05. Maggie 7:38
06. Stop Messin' Around 4:52
07. Eddie Who? 11:21
08. Witch Queen of New Orleans 13:39
09. (They Call It) Stormy Monday 5:14

Klaus Blazquiz: Vocals, Percussion
Pierre Chereze: Guitar
Giles Erhart: Keyboards
Eric Seva: Saxophone
Laurent Cokelaere: Bass
Eric Lafont: Drums

Le Grand Blues Band - 1992 - Le Grand Blues Band

Le Grand Blues Band 
Le Grand Blues Band

01. Walking by Myself 3:38
02. Stanley's Hop 3:47
03. Le Grand Blues Band 4:04
04. Caledonia 3:09
05. Fallin' Back in Love With You 6:10
06. The Duck 3:30
07. Witch Queen of New Orleans 4:40
08. Tobacco Road 2:57
09. Everybody Get Up 5:09
10. Mystery Train 4:48
11. Brett's Stuff 3:32
12. Satisfy Suzy 3:37
13. Odd Rush 1:47
14. Le Grand Blues Band (Encore) 0:20

Philippe LEROUX - Drums
Laurent COKELAERE - Bass
Arnaud DUNOYER DE SEGONZAC - Keyboards
Marco PAPAZIAN - Guitar
Jean-Do SALLABERRY - Guitar
Klaus BLASQUIZ - Vocals & Percussion

During the Spring ’89 Michel FUGAIN tour, four of his musicians decided to form a group to play the music they love and share: the blues. They are Laurent COKELAERE, Philippe LEROUX, Arnaud DUNOYER and Marco PAPAZIAN; Jean-Do SALLABERRY soon joined them.

The GRAND BLUES BAND really started up with the arrival of Klaus BLASQUIZ, as you well know, a multi-faceted artist whose career started in blues bands during the sixties before he joined MAGMA (between 1969 and 1981), then he sang with the ODEURS (at the beginning of the 80's) as well as writing for the rock magazines (Rock et Folk…).
Since the autumn of 1989, the group has been giving over fifty concerts per year in many Parisien clubs, sometimes with major artists like Mino CINELU, Slim BATTEUX or Jean-Jacques MILTEAU.

The GRAND BLUES BAND music is a well-balanced mixture of blues, southern rock, Cajun and even salsa music. Their songs include covers from many masters of the blues (RY COODER, LITTLE FEAT, STEVIE RAY VAUGHAN, ROBBEN FORD), as well as their own original recordings in the rock/blues style.
Le grand Blues band
CD (New Rose 422430)

Their debut CD is of course not Zeuhl music or avant-rock and therefore would not normally be mentioned in Ork Alarm! But of course any album that features Klaus could be of interest to many of you, especially if your tastes in music stretch beyond the pretty restrictive ground we usually cover. I’m no fan of the blues, (except for Beefheart) but I can tell you that the musicianship is excellent and Klaus’ vocals are in perfect English (thanks to all those ZZ TOP and DOOBIE BROTHERS albums in his collection, no doubt). Highlights of this 51 minute album are a fine rendition of ‘Tobacco Road’ (J.D. Loudermilk) and ‘Walking by myself (J. Rodgers). My favourite piece however was the classic ‘Witch queen of New Orleans’. Apart from those, there are as mentioned above, several tracks which are more straight rock composed by the group, such as ‘Brett’s stuff’ by Arnaud Dunoyer which is melodically pleasant if not particularly adventurous. A more stirring rock tune is ‘Stanleys hop’ written by Milteau who guests on this album, as do Batteaux and the excellent guitarist, Jean-Michel Kajdan (ex-Alien).

Paga - 1988 - Haunted


01. Haunted (10:17)
02. In a Spiral (8:19)
03. Memorial (6:03)
04. Kings for a Day (11:32)
05. Rainy Days, Lonely Nights (4:19)
06. Shortcut (2:25)

-Bernard Paganotti / bass, vocals
-Bertrand Lajudie / keyboards
-Claude Salmieri / drums, percussion
-Klaus Blasquiz / vocals, percussion
-Ronald Mehu / choruses

Paga was the 80's vessel for former Magma members Bernard Paganotti and Klaus Blasquiz to flex their remaining Zeuhl muscles in public, alongside periodic bouts of some less exhilarating  AOR impulses. In the time since their 1985 debut outing, they've jettisoned the sax player and swapped drummers, but the results deliver a similar mixture of overtly Zeuhl (and thus overtly satisfying) prog gestures alongside the aforementioned AOR-esque exploits, but with the former fortunately outweighing the latter. New to the mix this time 'round is a bit of 80's King Crimson influence that meshes tidily enough into their praxis and seems almost a given for those flying prog flags around that time.

Paga - 1985 - Paga


01. Talk Back (7:40)
02. Mitchinoku (7:50)
03. Show Town (5:00)
04. Une Parcelle d'Urantia (12:53)
05. Final d'Urantia (1:44)

-Bernard Paganotti / bass, Chapman Stick, Rhodes, cabassa, Simmons, P.P.G., vocals
-Claude Salmieri / drums, Simmons
-Patrick Gauthier / acoustic piano, Moog, P.P.G., vocals
-Carol Rowley / vocals
-Maria Popkiewicz / vocals
-Christian Leroux / guitars
-Yvon Guillard / trumpet
-Alain Guillard / saxophone, flute
-Koyko Okumura / vocals
-Chizuru Hosoya / vocals
-Kirt Rust / drums
-Jean-Phillipe Goude / Rhodes

Out of the ashes of WEIDORJE arose PAGA.

Although the first of the Paganotti albums is listed as BERNARD PAGANOTTI's "Paga" and the subsequent "Haunted" and "Gnosis" are listed under the different project name of PAGA GROUP, the three are sometimes referred to under the label PAGA and are seen as a trilogy, but PAGA is sometimes seen as a continuation of WEIDORJE (which would sort of make it a quadrilogy). After the bassist and composer Bernard Paganotti had worked with MAGMA (1976 -77 albums) and formed WEIDORJE (album release - 1978) for a sole effort with the keyboardist Patrick Gauthier, who had been keyboardist with MAGMA (and HELDON), he composed and released an album utilising fellow WEIDORJE founder, Gauthier. This album was released as BERNARD PAGANOTTI - "Paga" (1985). Other WEIDORJE alumni also contributed to the project, including the legendary Jean Phillipe-Goude, Allain and Yvon Guillard, as well as Kirt Rust.

After "Paga," the project led to PAGA GROUP. PAGA GROUP released two albums, "Haunted" (1988) and "Gnosis" (1993). Not only is PAGA GROUP a continuation of the original "Paga" album project, but the PAGA project is a kind of continuation of WEIDORJE. It is a reunion of members, as has been noted, and the "Paga" albums two best compositions, as I hear it, and these are teriffic, are "Mitchinoku" and "Une Parcelle d'Urantia." These tracks were essentially Paganotti compositions intended for WEIDORJE, but they had never been released or fully realised. Paganotti's bass-work dominates, and the sound carries over from WEIDORJE. Both share a similar jazzy Zeuhl approach as well as instrumental technique, but the "Paga" album may be seen to suffer from New Wave leanings as well as jazz-lite elements; nevertheless, I believe it to be a fine, rewarding and exciting album to seek out. On another note: Zeuhler Laurent Thibault, the first bassist for MAGMA, who then joined MOVING GELATINE PLATES, and then went "solo," co-produced Paganotti's "Paga" album.

The "Paga" project reunion albums (PAGA GROUP) become more jazzy and less Zeuhl. although there is a clear continuation of sound. Whilst they are jazz-lite at times, "Haunted" is, I think, more of a jazz/rock fusion than Zuehl album; however, it is still informed by Zeuhl (Zeuhl elements run through it). With "Gnosis" the trend away from Zeuhl continues. It becomes more acoustic and into lighter, smoother jazz territory, but all three are very accomplished and enjoyable efforts for me. The PAGA players are all in fine form. The "Paga" album (the first) is highly recommended to WEIDORJE fans, both as a worthwhile album to hear in its own right, but also as a companion piece to "Weidorje." "Haunted" will still appeal to appreciators of Zeuhl, and is also recommended to Fusion fans. I would recommend "Gnosis" to those who are more into Jazz-Fusion and need not appreciate Zeuhl. Due to the obvious Zeuhl connections, the Zeuhl category seems the best place to highlight this project.

This is a MONSTER album by MONSTER Bass player Bernard Paganotti. Lovers of Bass Guitar, keep an eye out for this one !! BP onced passed through MAGMA, lending his virtuosic Bass skills to help create a phenomenal Live album (also odd tracks on various albums). Zheul Bass playing is in a league of its own, plenty of distortion and complex riffing, often sounding humanly impossible. Moving on, he formed 'WEIDORJE', releasing another heavily Bass oriented classic. It's not all just about the Bass Guitar, though. Keyboards play an important role, frantic Drum-work in an effort to keep the flow of the relentless compositions going smoothly, guitars and brass instruments included to expand the sound and enhance the shape of the final product. In 1985, Paganotti had assembled a new band featuring old friend Patrick Gauthier on Keys and a superb drummer by the name of Claude Salmieri. He even got his old band Weidorje together for a lengthy epic, resulting in this album 'Paga', released on a small, private label, 'Cream Records', and every bit as engaging as his previous work, and a valuable contribution to 'Zheul' prog. The opening song 'Talk Back' is a funky, up-beat number utilising many techniques of Bass playing, and an incredible Fretless Bass solo. Bernard handles the lead vocals (he makes a decent singer) and includes some female back-up singers. This one is sung in English. The production has great depth and clarity, and Salmieri proves to be a worthy Drummer. 'Mitchinoku' is a driving, Zheul track sung in Japanese (I guess) and features his wife, Naoko Paganotti. The final section is a triumphant piece with a catchy melody. Side 2 kicks off with a New-Wave influenced song, 'Show Town', sung in English again and features a deep, rumbling Bass-line. The near-13 minute 'Une Parcelle D'urantia' features old band-mates from Weidorje, and is an absolutely amazing track. From humble beginnings, the track moves through many sections, with the Bass being the focal-point, and drummer Kirt Rust puts in a mammoth effort on Drums - he seems to have improved technically from his earlier days. The Guillard brothers adding Flute, Trumpet and Sax to the brooding middle section, where complex interplay takes place between the female vox, Gauthier's Piano and the wind instruments, afterwards returning to earlier melodies and finishing with a storming riff. Fully breath-taking. The album finishes off with a very short piece, but it sounds complete, it's complex and incredibly dramatic.