Saturday, July 9, 2016

Pantheon - 1972 - Orion


01. Daybreak (2:32)
02. Anaïs (4:58)
03. Apocalyps (10:53)
04. The madman (1:21)
05. Orion (19:28)

CD Bonus Tracks:
06. I want to know (2:42)
07. Masturbation (2:36)
08. Anaïs (3:27)

- Ruud Woutersen / organ, spinet, piano, ARP synthesizer, vocals
- Albert Veldkamp / electric guitar, bass guitar
- Hans Boer / flute, saxophone, vocals
- Rob Verhoeven / drums, percussion

PANTHEON comes from the Netherlands Canterbury scene of the early 70s. They began their career as a high school band in 1971, beginning with five members, and they won first prize at a national talent contest in The Hague at the annual Rekreade Festival. The win culminated in a recording session with record company Phonogram.

PANTHEON became a quartet, youthful as none of the members were over 21, and recorded their first single, "I want to know / Master Basion". The single B side was initially censored by Phonogram from Masturbation to Master Basion.

The band members consisted of Ruud Woutersen (organ, spinet, piano, ARP synthesizer, vocals), Albert Veldkamp (electric guitar, bass guitar), Hans Boer (flute, saxophone, vocals), and Rob Verhoeven (drums, percussion).

The recording led to a number of live performances, such as Pop temple Paradiso and a number of other large concert halls drawing in fans of the progressive scene. The band even opened for legends such as FOCUS and SOLUTION.

A second single followed, "Daybreak / Anaïs", and received airplay on radio and television. Phonogram producer Tony Vos, resolved to record an album in 1972 with the band. "Orion" became the sole album for the band before they disbanded, released on the infamous Vertigo label. "Orion" received some critical success, and through Paul Acket's booking agency, the band were playing concerts abroad, as a supporting act for MUNGO JERRY during their Switzerland tour. PANTHEON were also the opening act for THE STEVE MILLER BAND in the Doelen, Rotterdam, another career highlight.

Lack of financial and commercial insight, along with a cocky attitude towards the record company and booking agencies, led to the band breaking up. There was a failed attempt to reform with a new lineup including ex-FOCUS drummer Pierre van der Linden. They played at various revival concerts with the original line up up to 1992 before calling it a day.

These days Ruud Wouterson owns a busy recording studio and writes ballet music/film scores, Albert Veldkamp is a popular guitar teacher, Rob Verhoeven owns an advertising agency, and Hans Boer provides management courses.

 This album is the only album from a dutch band to be released on the Vertigo "Swirl" label. It is also the only album Panthéon ever released. Panthéon made music similar to Focus and Solution. Jazzy, canterbury like progressive rock. They started as a fivepiece highschoolband and won a recording session at a national talent scout festival. The recorded single gave them attention and this paved the way to record an album.
The album opens with Daybreak, which resembles Focus' House Of The King a bit. The melody is played by the flute and it has a guitar solo in the middle. There are also some wordless vocals like Thijs van Leer could have done. Anaïs also reminds me of a softer song by Focus, again the song is driven by flute and guitar. It is a very peaceful track. With Apocalyps the sound changes more to the Solution direction. The main instruments are saxophone and organ, although the flute appears on this one also. This is a very sunny and jazzy track. The Madman is a funny short warm-up piece that leads to the highlight of the album, Orion. In this track both the Focus and the Solution side come together. It contains great melodies. I mention Focus and Solution a lot in this review, but that doesn't mean that Panthéon are just copy cats. They have an unique sound of their own, it is just to point out in which corner of the proglandscape Panthéon can be found.

The cd contains three bonus tracks, who were released as singles in 1972. Anaïs is an edit of the album track and Masturbation (at the time released as Master Basion because of the suggestive title) and I Want To Know would later be incorporated in Orion. This is a must for everyone who enjoys a good portion of instrumental prog.

Keith Jarrett - 1974 - Belonging

Keith Jarrett 

01. Spiral Dance 4:08
02. Blossom 12:18
03. 'Long As You Know You're Living Yours 6:11
04. Belonging 2:12
05. The Windup 8:26
06. Solstice 13:15

Keith Jarrett piano
Jan Garbarek tenor and soprano saxophones
Palle Danielsson bass
Jon Christensen drums

Recorded April 24 and 25, 1974 at Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

From beginning to end we are treated to a mélange of moods in this, the first effort from Keith Jarrett and his European quartet. Compositionally astute and clearly the work of steadied hands, Belonging finds each musician in fine form. Whether it is Garbarek’s punctilious doubling in the buoyant “Spiral Dance,” Danielsson’s mellifluous bass solo in “Blossom,” or Christensen’s rollicking snare in “The Windup,” everyone gets their moment in the spotlight. Jarrett’s fingerwork is, of course, superb throughout, but it is the energy underlying his playing—the very spirit of his pianism—that really seems to drive things forward. The album is zigzagged, fading adeptly from head-shaking abandon to heavy darkness from one cut to the next. Ballads make up the longest passages on Belonging and seem to turn ever inward within the confines of their own emotional borders. For the most part, sax and piano are explicitly unified, as if trekking on either side of the same divide, although sometimes they seem to look in opposite directions, as if involved in a long-running debate, unsure of whether reconciliation can be had in the throes of so much dialogue. Jarrett’s jilted approach is well suited to these down-tempo moments while the bass gently asserts its tremulous presence in the background. Garbarek’s sudden entrances weave a dense stratosphere of brassy elegance. “’Long As You Know You’re Living Yours” is pure Jarrett and provides Garbarek with plenty of space to run amok with his screeching serenade. The title cut is another ballad, this one of a different shade than the rest; not an alleyway, but a brief lapse into self-pity. As the album’s center, it also encapsulates a core theme: this music evokes a past from which one cannot escape or, more positively, simply a sense of belonging as the title would imply, the inescapability of one’s roots in place and time. Overall, this is an essential example of what ECM can do when it throws a handful of singular talents into a studio.

Jan Garbarek - Bobo Stenson Quartet - 1976 - Dansere

Jan Garbarek - Bobo Stenson Quartet

01. Dansere 15:03
02. Svevende 4:58
03. Bris 6:11
04. Skrik & Hyl 1:30
05. Lokk (Etter Thorvald Tronsgard) 5:39
06. Til Vennene 4:47

(ECM 1075)

Jan Garbarek saxophones
Bobo Stenson piano
Palle Danielsson bass
Jon Christensen drums

Recorded November 1975 at Talent Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

There is a tendency in ECM’s formative jazz releases toward immersive beginnings. Dansere is no exception, with its introductory flutter of sax and glittering piano runs. Comparing this album to Belonging, which features Keith Jarrett in the same company as Bobo Stenson is here, it’s amazing to consider the differences with another pianist at the fulcrum. One musician’s worth of difference may not seem like much on the back of an album jacket, but here it translates into essentially ten new voices with their own sensibility of time and space. Stenson’s abstractions throughout bleed into the listener’s mind like a smearing of watercolor across absorbent paper.

This is music that has woken up after a long slumber—so long, in fact, that now it struggles to face the morning glare. The musicians seem to play with their eyes closed, grasping at fading tendrils of memory so close in dreamtime yet otherwise so distant. Whereas some of us might grab a note pad and try to capture as many of those fleeting moments before they escape us upon waking, each member of this quartet finds an instrument and sets his recollections to music. The album finds the time to stretch its vocal cords, to take in the air, to look outside and judge the weather from the clouds and the moisture it inhales.

The title track is the most demanding journey here, carrying us through a gallery of moods and locales, and fades out beautifully with Christensen’s rim shot clicking like a metronome into the heavy silence. In “Svevende” Stenson emotes a laid-back aesthetic, finding joy in quieter moments. Though we are by now fully awake, we still find ourselves regressing to the darkness of sleep and its promise of vision. Every moment leaves its own echo, so that each new note carries with it a remnant of all those it has left behind. “Bris” picks up the pace a little and showcases Garbarek in a heptatonic mode. Stenson also has some memorable soloing here, working wonderfully against Christensen’s drums and Danielsson’s steady thump. Somehow the motives remain melancholy, speaking as they do in languages they have yet to understand. “Skrik & Hyl” features a sax/bass duet of piercing incantations before Stenson brings us back down to terra firma in “Lokk.” The title here means “herding song” and feels like a call home. It unfolds like the dotted plain on the album’s cover, a desert under a hanging moon or an ocean swept by a lighthouse. “Til Vennene” is the end of a long and fruitful day. Yet in spite of the album’s pastoral flair, I find this final track to be rather urban. It shifts and settles like a drained glass of scotch, leaving only that diluted rim of sepia at the bottom: a mixture of melted ice and solitude. You feel just a little tipsy, straggling home through the rainy streets. Memory and sorrow swirl without blending, like every rainbow-filmed puddle you pass in gutters and potholes. You wander as if you are walking these streets for the first time, knowing that your legs will get you home regardless of your inebriation. Your only footholds are those brief moments of bliss shared among friends; the only times when trust was never absent. Your world becomes blurry…or is it you who blurs?

Jan Garbarek - Bobo Stenson Quartet - 1973 - Witchi-Tai-To

Jan Garbarek - Bobo Stenson Quartet

01. A. I. R. 8:15
02. Kukka 4:32
03. Hasta Siempre 8:10
04. Witchi-Tai-To 4:24
05. Desireless 20:25

Jan Garbarek soprano and tenor saxophones
Bobo Stenson piano
Palle Danielsson bass
Jon Christensen drums

Recorded November 27/28, 1973 at Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher

Regarding jazz, Louis Armstrong once famously quipped: “Man, if you have to ask what it is, you’ll never know.” For those still feeling lost, let Witchi-Tai-To provide one possible answer. As Jan Garbarek’s oft-touted masterpiece, this is not an album to shake a stick at. If anything, it is one to be shaken by.

Carla Bley’s “A.I.R.” (All India Radio) summons this classic soundscape with a ceremonial thumping of bass, working toward saxophonic flights of fancy. Before long, Garbarek descends from his cloud with a pentatonic flavor before again riding the thermals of his generative spirit. This segues into a rousing piano exposition from Stenson, running with the adamancy of a child who thinks he can fly. The avian soprano sax returns as if to espouse the wonders of the air while also warning of its hidden hazards, catapulting itself into the vanishing point. “Kukka,” by bassist Palle Danielsson, is a relatively somber, though no less effective, conversation. It gives ample room for piano and bass alike to make their voices known and ends with another ascendant line of reed. Carlos Puebla’s politically charged “Hasta Siempre” seethes like radical folk music in search of an outlet. Drums and piano enable a boisterous towering of improvisatory bliss. Garbarek is a wonder, grinding out the most soulful sound he can muster, while Stenson’s frolicking runs practically stumble over their own momentum. In the title track by Jim Pepper, the rhythm section’s windup pitches more soulful solos from Garbarek, who can do no wrong here. His clarity of tone and conviction are sonically visionary and ideally suited to his cadre of fellow soundsmiths. Last but not least is “Desireless.” This Don Cherry tune is given a 20-minute treatment that surpasses all expectations. It’s a mournful closer, a song of parting, an unrequited wish. It tries to hold on to a rope that is slipping through its fingers, even as it struggles with all the strength at its disposal to keep the music alive. Garbarek refuses to go down without an incendiary swan song, however, and by the end it is all we have left.

Much has been said in praise of the Danielsson/Christensen support in this outfit, and one would be hard-pressed not to feel the intense drive the duo invokes at almost every moment. To be sure, this is a team of musicians whose independent visions work flawlessly together, and whose end result is an essential specimen in any jazz collection. Witchi-Tai-To is a struggle against time from which time emerges victorious. Thankfully, we can always start the record over again.

Jan Garbarek Quintet - 1971 - Sart

Jan Garbarek Quintet 

01. Sart
02. Fountain Of Tears - Part I And II
03. Song Of Space
04. Close Enough For Jazz
05. Irr
06. Lontano

Jan Garbarek tenor and bass saxophones, flute
Bobo Stenson piano, electric piano
Terje Rypdal guitar
Arild Andersen bass
Jon Christensen percussion

Recorded on April 14/15, 1971, at the Arne Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
(ECM 1015)

One could hardly ask for a more dynamic super group than that assembled on Sart. Garbarek’s first album of this boxed set is also his second for ECM and throbs with these young musicians’ intense desire to lay down new paths. Four of the album’s six compositions are by Garbarek. The first of these is the title cut, which takes up more than one third of the album’s total length. After an eclectic swirl of wah-pedaled guitar riffs from Terje Rypdal, Bobo Stenson’s sweeping pianism, the fluttering drums of Jon Christensen, and erratic bass lines of Arild Andersen, Garbarek’s entrance alerts us with all the import of an emergency siren. It’s an arresting beginning to an arresting album, evoking at one moment a 70s action film soundtrack and the next a clandestinely recorded late-night jam session. “Fountain Of Tears ­ Parts I & II” forges a harsher sound before swapping reed for flute. With the support of Stenson’s electric piano, Garbarek slathers on the sonority for a striking change of atmosphere. In “Song Of Space,” sax and guitar double one another almost mockingly before Rypdal hops a more intense train of thought, in the process mapping the album’s most epic terrain. Garbarek is only too happy to lend his compass. “Irr” turns Andersen’s nimble opening statement into a full-fledged narrative, along with some enjoyable adlibbing from Garbarek and Stenson. Andersen and Rypdal round out the set with respective tunes of their own. “Close Enough For Jazz” is a brief interlude for bass and reed full of unrequited desire, while “Lontano” finishes with Rypdal’s meditative, twang-ridden charm.

More expressive than melodic, per se, this is engaging free jazz that’s constantly looking for debate. Such is the sense of play through which it thrives. At times the music is so spread out that one has difficulty knowing if and when a “solo” even occurs. Regardless, Garbarek’s playing is knotted, but also carefully thought out. As in so much of his output during this period, he tends toward a sobbing, wailing quality that adds gravity to relatively airy backdrops. This is music with patience that demands just as much from the listener. It lives on the edge of its own demise, always managing to muster one final declaration before it expires.

Charlie Mariano & The Karnataka College Of Percussion - 1983 - Jyothi

Charlie Mariano & The Karnataka College Of Percussion 

01. Voice Solo 5:03
02. Vandanam 7:48
03. Varshini 8:30
04. Saptarshi 6:46
05. Kartik 11:08
06. Bhajan 6:27

Charlie Mariano soprano saxophone, flute
R. A. Ramamani vocals, tamboura
T. A. S. Mani mridangam
R. A. Rajagopal ghatam, morsing, konakkol
T. N. Shashikumar kanjira, konakkol

Recorded February 1983 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg
Engineer: Martin Wieland
Produced by Manfred Eicher
ECM 1256

Since 1964 the Karnataka College of Percussion has been committed to its mission of expanding awareness of Indian Classical (especially Carnatic) music. Part of this outreach has involved a number of jazz-oriented and fusion projects through which the institution has spread its affirmative message. Thus do we come to this intriguing, if seemingly forgotten, collaboration with American saxophonist Charlie Mariano, who left us in 2009 at the age of 86. The result is a fluid and respectable blend of cultural signatures that transcends any ties to genre in favor of a purely emotive experience. The voice of R. A. Ramamani figures prominently, as in the ruminative opening track, titled simply “Voice Solo.” She traces long stretches of landscape, one hill at a time, where the dry rolling plains offer up their secrets for the reward of rain. Her prayers are bifurcated through overdubbing, lending both a smile and a promise to the title. In this diffusely lit portal we find only further portals. In “Vandanam” we are regaled with tales of old by Mariano’s rolling flute, gilded by the pleasant jangle of the kanjira and mridangam. Ramamani’s ululations walk hand in hand with flute for a unified sound. “Varshini” and “Saptarshi” are smooth and graceful spaces in which voice is both cause and effect. Mariano’s soprano is a voice in and of itself, caught in flurries of percussion and passionate resolutions. These lively stops give way to the interweaving lines of reed and voice in “Kartik,” which closes on some transportive drumming from T. A. S. Mani on mridangam. Lastly is “Bhajan,” featuring doubled voice and a palpable communication with the beyond. As the drums anchor us, so too do they spring forth to those less definable stretches of land, where only the human voice can wander in its ephemeral laudation, threaded by the twang of the morsing (Indian jaw harp) and dancing a slow and careful surrender.

Without neither pretension nor ulterior motive, Jyothi is a delicacy in the ECM catalogue and a careful coming together of thought and performance to be taken as it comes…and goes.

Bobo Stenson - 1971 - Underwear

Bobo Stenson 

01 - Underwear 07:41.55
02 - Luberon   09:19.65
03 - Test      03:38.55
04 - Tant W    08:55.60
05 - Untitled  03:57.40
06 - Rudolf    06:12.40

Bobo Stenson: Piano
Arild Andersen: Bass, Cello, Guitar
Jon Christensen: Percussion

Recorded May 18 & 19, 1971 at the Bendiksen Studio, Oslo
Engineer: Jan Erik Kongshaug
Produced by Manfred Eicher
ECM  1012


This LP from ECM's early days finds Swedish pianist Bobo Stenson leading bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Jon Christensen in a program of uncompromising, collectively improvised post-bop. Andersen is prominent in the mix and plays just tons, all of it totally relevant to the music. Christensen provides structure, drawing on his breathtaking talent to contribute a dazzling range of color, a deft, flawless pulse, and fresh rhythmic ideas for the pianist and bassist. Stenson stakes out a middle ground, communicating closely with his partners and underpinning the group with subtle cues and harmonic shifts. Stenson's title track, a great post-bop, piano-bass-drum performance, goes for broke, but with discipline and a shared sense of purpose. From delicate beginnings, the pianist's two ballads, "Luberon" and "Tant W.," build steadily in power and intensity. Ornette Coleman's "Untitled" gets a short, manic workout, reminiscent of pianist Keith Jarrett's involvement with Coleman's music. "Test" is a mesmerizing piano vamp, over which Andersen adds arco effects, as Stenson strums and plucks from inside the piano, and Christensen busies himself with miscellaneous percussion toys. The concluding track, "Rudolf," is an Andersen reworking of Miles Davis' "Mademoiselle Mabry." Although structured as a piano trio, this set's main attraction is the opportunity to hear, up close, the enormous talents of Christensen and Andersen. That, in turn, though, says something about the egalitarian spirit of Stenson. — Jim Todd

With such a solid trio of musicians and a name like Underwear, you just know this one’s going to be good. And sure enough, Stenson kicks things off just right with the spirited title track, throughout which every instrument bubbles in a witches brew of fine flavors. Exuberant drumming, flurried bass lines, and a tightly knit sense of composition make this one of the great openers of ECM’s extensive jazz lineup. Hot on its heels is “Luberon,” the album’s requisite ballad, the placement of which both emphasizes the liveliness of the opener while also bolstering its own lyrical sensibilities. “Test” lays on a more organic sound of percussion and scraped piano strings. This delicate backdrop continues as Stenson breaks into a clearly defined melodic improvisation, prompting cries of ecstatic joy before succumbing to a forced fadeout. “Tant W.” brings us into more laid-back territory with its alluring conversation between piano and drums. Once the bass joins in, the groove becomes certifiably infectious. After this block of Stenson originals, we are treated to a pair of fine closers. Ornette Coleman’s “Untitled” runs with reckless abandon through frenzied pyrotechnics, priming us for the comforting “Rudolf” (Andersen). The latter’s fluid piano intro becomes the heart of the piece, echoing in an otherwise bass-dominant space.

Stenson is entirely on point, as if he were inborn with a finely attuned sense of melody and articulation. His playing is democratic and guides with a gentle hand, always managing to cover so much of the keyboard in a single cut. Andersen’s busy fingers provide the album’s backbone, while his gorgeous vibrato and twang-ridden charm work wonders in the softer moments. And Christensen’s drumming never fails to excite. Triply inspired soloing and a synergistic core make Underwear a prime choice for the ECM newbie and veteran alike. A simply fantastic album, this is one for the ages.

Europe - 1983 - Europe


01. Take Me (For What I Am)
02. Good Thing Going
03. Hideaway
04. Runner in the Night
05. Abandon Ship
06. Which Side You're On
07. It Doesn't Hurt Anymore
08. Sarah-Lee
09. Time Is Running Out On Us
10. The Roar of Guns

Bass, Backing Vocals – Bert Veldkamp
Drums, Percussion – Roger Wollaert
Guitar – Johan Slager
Keyboads, Vocals, Percussion – Ton Scherpenzeel
Lead Vocals, Backing Vocals, Mouthorgan, Vocoder – John Philippo

"Europe is a symphonic rockband, founded by keyboardist/composer Ton Scherpenzeel and guitarist Johan Slager after the departure of Kayak in 1982. John Philipp from Sfinx is the vocalist. Together with producer Gerrit-Jan Leenders the band enters the studio Bandstand in Hilversum. On the first and only, self-titled album they continue where Kayak had left. The Dutch Europe should not be confused with the Swedish hard-rock band with the same name.
After of the break of the dutch progressive rock KAYAK in 1982,ton scherpeenzel and johan slager together with members of other progressive band TAURUS went to form EUROPE.the result is this album who sound like the more pop face of KAYAK circa "phantom of the night" and "periscope life" ,my favorites songs are "good thing going" and the beatiful symphonic " abandon ship" the rest are decent pop songs,the next year the band split and scherpeenzel is called by andrew latimer for work with CAMEL for the album "stationary travaller" and the tour of "pressure points" concerts.

Interview with Ton:
Ton: Oh yeah, that was as I recall by far the least successful undertaking of mine, commercially speaking. And I don’t includeOrion. It was a sort of a code name for Kayak. Still, there are some good songs on that album too but looking back I think we should have given it more thought than we did before we went ahead with this project. We were planning to release it as a Kayak album, but then we ran into troubles because of the financial mess that had something to do with our former manager. We had such bad times those two years before, that we were glad to be able to make music and we decided not to use the name Kayak. You know, we actually did a few shows with that line up with Philippo, sl*g.r, Veldkamp, Wollaert and Westveen), but I realized this line up wouldn’t last long and if it not had been another band I feel there’s no reason why we wouldn’t be playing some of the songs from that album today."