Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Om - 1971 - Om


01.Excusa 6-8 (12:21)
02.No ho sap ningu (6:23)
03.Zitro's Ache (5:33)
04.Excusa Num.1 (12:54)
05.Vindra La Llum (4:30)
06.Waiting of Godot (4:36)

Martí Soler: Keyboards, Percussion
Toti Soler: Guitar, Percussion
Peter Hodgkinson: Drums
Romà Escales: Flute
Jordi Sabatés: Piano
Jordi Llorens: Sax
Manolo Elías: Bass
Xavier Garcia: Trumpet
Tim Hodgkinson: Trumpet, Saxophone, Flugelhorn

 Om - led by superb catalan guitarist Jordi ‘Toti’ Soler after his previous band Pic- Nic split- were one of the most interesting outfits to ever come out from Barcelona. Starting in 1968, their first recordings were done as a backing group for other artists like folk- singer Maria del Mar Bonet or american hippie Joe Skladzien, but most notably Pau Riba whom they backed on his debut LP the legendary Dioptria, one of the finest pieces of european psych ever. During all their early work, the band benefited from the organ playing of one of the most talented catalan pianists, Jordi Sabatés (of Ocells del més enllà fame) as well as the musical talents of two english brothers: drummer Peter Hodgkinson and his brother Tim on sax and keys (this is, of course, the same Tim Hodgkinson who founded Henry Cow, together with Fred Frith).

By the time they released their LP on Edigsa in 1971, Om was already an experienced band, with important studio work on their back and countless gigs, having backed american blues- man Taj Mahal in his Madrid 1969 concerts. One particularity of Om was that, rather than having an established line- up, they worked as a musical concept where it was not so important the individuals playing as it was the resulting sound. Their only LP shows how, through the works of Miles Davies, Gary Burton and John McLaughlin, they had developed their sound from its original psych/folk- rock beginnings to an intensely psychedelic jazz rock fussion. A classic album that is hardly known outside Spain and ranks amongst the best of the era, sharing shoulders with similar underground european experiments by Min Bul, Colhemec Ensemble, Xhol, Dharma Quintet, Sunbirds, Full Moon Ensemble or the more progressive output of the british jazz of the era: John Surman’s Trio, Nucleus or Michael Gibbs.

Jarka - 1972 - Morgue O Berenice

Morgue O Berenice

01. Superman fallido
02. Moyenne girl
03. Occidente
04. Morgue o berenice
05. Esquizofrenia
06. Duet
07. Woody's rag

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

This obscure Spanish album has very little to do with prog rock really, or even jazz rock. It has much more in common with Herbie Hancock's solo albums from the 60's as well as Miles' Bitches Brew period. Probably the strongest link to rock is the use of fender rhodes, which is still overshadowed by the more frequent acoustic piano. Guitar tone is always jazzy clean, never distorted, think of MacLaughlin's playing on the late 60s Miles Davis albums. There is some good interplay going on in here, but the compositions are not the strongest. There are not really any tunes one will remember and sing in the shower. Very interesting is the last track, "Woody's Rag", which sees the band attempting to play straightforward bluegrass, and while it's quite enjoyable, they are obviously more at home at jazz. If you are a big fan of "Bitches Brew" or "In a Silent Way", then you might enjoy this one as well!

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!

Scope - 1975 - Scope II

Scope II

01. Tamotua – 4:19
02. Firsky Frog Funk (R. Nieuwland) – 5:49
03. Shuttle Service – 7:57
04. Ant-Artica – 6:44
05. Big Ferro – 4:49
06. High Checker – 3:06
07. Shuffle Funk Dog (R. Nieuwland) – 5:31
08. The Zebra Part I (R. Nieuwland) – 2:03
09. The Zebra Part II (R. Nieuwland) – 4:12

– Rik Elings – pianos, organ, synthesizers, bass, flute, producer
– Henk Zomer – drums, percussion
– Rens Nieuwland – guitar, producer
– Erik Raayman – bass, piano, percussion
– Rob Franken – piano, synthesizer

his albums is a strong example of typical Dutch prog jazz fusion from mid-70-s. Musicians all are competent, and musicianship is good if too calculated. I often notice the same moment with Dutch jazz - usually technically perfectly trained musicians play very calculated, cool, a bit soulless music.
Similar situation is with this album. Music is strongly influenced by symphonic prog and classic music. Sound is slightly mellow, and always very optimistic. In fact , by atmosphere they are similar to Focus music of similar period, and guitar sound is a bit influenced by Jan Akkerman.

Scope - 1974 - Scope


01. Watch Your Step
02. Can You Follow Me
03. Kayakokolishi
04. Yesternight’s Dream
05. Description
06. Walpurgis Night
07. Chewing Gum Telegram
08. The Queen Can Do No Wrong

– Rik Elings – pianos, organ, mini moog, flute
– Henk Zomer – drums, percussion
– Rens Nieuwland – guitar
– Erik Raayman – bass, piano, percussion
– Jochen Petersen – soprano saxophone

Formed in Zwolle in 1971,SCOPE were a four-member prog/jazz outfit,who was born out of the ashes of the band Strange Power.Founding members were drummer Henk Zomer and keyboardist/flutist Rik Elings.Reportedly the band started as a symphonic rock group,but soon they switched to a more jazzy progressive style.SCOPE played a lot of gigs in their country and Germany and finally they recorded their self-titled debut for ther Negram Lanel on German ground.
Their style is a combination of classic progressive rock with Canterbury influences and jazz/rock of the RETURN TO FOREVER school.Guitarist Ren Nieuwland performs fantastically with a variety of tempos,as he was given a lot of space for endless,improvisational and delightful solos,not far from JOHN MCLAUGHLIN's work with the MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA.Elings is also on the top of this performance with his nice electric piano in the vein of CHICK COREA, while he also plays some dominant organ parts in a couple of songs.The funky bass lines belong to talented bassist Erik Raayman,while Zomer is also present with some steady and confident drumming.Parts of the album are characterized by the massive interplays of the members,reminding of their fellows SUPERSISTER and there are also some really dark parts with haunting flutes and slow guitars,where the band comes closer than ever to classic 70's progressive rock.For fans of varied,instrumental, jazzy progressive rock played with inspiration and talent,this is a great musical adventure.Essential for the fans of the afore-mentioned styles.

Sky High - 1979 - Sky High

Sky High 
Sky High

01. Beta   
02. Disko Krisko   
03. Summer Lives   
04. Plate Glass Reflections   
05. You Were Lyin'   
06. Photographs And Letters   
07. Put Up Or Shut Up   
08. Pow! I'm Alive   
09. Orion   
10. Life Is Worth Living   
11. Duke

Jack Dolejsi
Darcy Dolejsi
Lloyd Tomczak
Darvin Appel
Murray Soehn
Keith Soehn
Greg Fehr
Diane Badder
Maureen Osiowy

Here's an album that has been getting some buzz lately within the collector community, and the ebay prices have soared because of it. I received info from both The AC and Midwest Mike roughly at the same time, and both unequivocally panned it. Of course, the first two tracks are pure late 70's mirror ball disco numbers, certainly not the sounds one wants to hear when shelling out hundreds of $.

I found the music to be relatively pleasant, not too far removed from the French band Cortex. Though by no means does it exude the exoticism of their first couple of records.

The AC says: "Here we go again... Another one of those "Jekyll and Hyde" LPs that couldn't quite decide whether it wanted to aim for the charts or pursue something musically interesting. The first side is absolute dreck, a nauseous brew of cheese-tacular disco, whiter-than-white funk rock and trite AOR/pop tracks that will have you clawing your ears out. There's one sort of proggy AOR piece towards the end that's okay, but the rest is just unspeakably bad. Then we hit side two, and it's almost like an entirely different album. A frenetic instrumental fusion track leads things off, complete with some scorching lead guitar. Unfortunately, there's one more bit of pain to endure, in the form of a hilariously bad lounge-funk number, but after that they finally turn the corner for good. The remainder consists of a couple tracks of pleasant spacey fusion with female vocals, followed by another excellent instrumental jazz-rock workout. So, we end up with about an even split in the good-to-crap ratio here. The group were from Regina, Saskatchewan (where the albums was also recorded), but the label was based out of Vancouver. To be honest, this album is a very marginal entry for this list, but I think it's worth highlighting due to the fact that it's just recently emerged onto the collector scene and is already garnering some very high prices. Recommended only to obsessive genre completists (like myself)