Thursday, November 17, 2016

Afrique - 1973 - Soul Makossa

Soul Makossa

01. Soul Makossa 4:30
02. Kissing My Love 3:02
03. Sleepwalk 3:36
04. Let Me Do My Thing 4:45
05. Slow Motion 4:09
06. Hot Mud 4:10
07. House Of Rising Funk 3:27
08. Dueling Guitars 3:27
09. Hot Doggin’ 3:23
10. Get It 3:24

David T. Walker (guitars)
Arthur Wright (guitars)
Charles Kynard (organ)
Joe Kelso (horns)
Paul Jeffery (horns)
Steve Kravitz (horns)
King Errisson (percussion)
Paul Humphrey (percussion)
Wallace Snow (percussion)
Charles Taggart (percussion)
Chino Valdes (percussion)
Chuck Rainey (bass)
Ray Pounds (drums)

Soul Makossa is a ten-track Funk/Afro-Cuban hybrid by the Los Angeles-based and long deceased big band Afrique whose 13 musicians were also recording under the name The Chubukos. Released in 1973 on Mainstream Records, the album is anything but mainstream, at least not during its original release date which coincides with the first cautious blendings of Funk with symphonic structures which then turned to that frilly glitz-blitz genre called Disco. Soul Makossa, however, refrains from being linked to Disco as it sports comparably complex melodies and shattering textures.

 An interesting division cuts through the presented material, resulting in interpretations of evergreens and pseudo-classics on side A, with side B being exclusively reserved for all-new cuts written by Funk arranger Richard Fritz. Needless to say that Soul Makossa is not the most cherished album by vintage Exotica fans, and true enough, it is indeed supercharged with spiky organs, screeching guitars and sax blasts… but also delicate bongo blebs and conga coppices as well as various other Latin percussion devices. The band features the talents of three saxophonists Steve Kravitz, Joe Kelso and Paul Jeffrey, the whopping amount of five percussionists Charles Taggart, Chino Valdes, King Errisson, Paul Humphrey and Wallace Snow, guitarists Arthur Wright and David T. Walker, organist and major contributor Charles Kynard, drummer Ray Pounds as well as bassist Chuck Rainey. If one loves Disco intrusions enshrined in pristine Funk amethysts, this is definitely one album to cherish. But how do Exotica or Space-Age fans profit from it, if at all?

Exotic albums about Africa can start in many different ways, most of them alienating both the true fan of World music and ethnomusicologists alike, but here on this album, the eponymous opener Soul Makossa at least tries to enmesh the Funk of Los Angeles with the wide steppes of Africa… and is the only vocal track on an otherwise purely instrumental album. Originally written in 1972 by saxophonist Manu Dibango from Cameroon, the band does not waste any precious time and unleashes the well-oiled Funk guitars right from the get-go, ameliorates them with slick city sax bursts and many cool “Makossa” chants and toasts, even a backing choir is on board. Surprisingly enough, pentatonic horn cascades make it to this critter. Vintage Exotica fans might be offended by the constant level of chants, but these oral devices truly work in the polished surroundings. Bill Withers’ Kissing My Love turns things down a notch as the band presents a slower midtempo prowler with Charles Kynard on a particularly bouncing cosmic organ. The guitars’ wah-wah effect is multiplied, Chuck Rainey’s high bass slaps waft through the tropical heat, and Ray Pounds’ bongo accents keep the rain forest near.

Two tracks into this leftfield Funk classic, and the view through Exotica glasses turns steamy due to the laid-back heat this record emits. In lieu of Exotica tunes, Funk reigns across the lands of Soul Makossa… with a welcome twist coming right up in the shape of Santo & Johnny‘s smash hit Sleepwalk, and granted, it has never been interpreted this way before. While the Farina Bros.’ original from 1959 is undoubtedly timeless – or alternatively way ahead of its time – and excitingly dense, Afrique keep the golden-shimmering guitar aorta of the original, but otherwise transmute the post-modern evergreen in 3/4 time with Joe Kelso’s tenor sax and Steve Kravitz’ baritone next of kin, both of which themselves are illumined by Charles Kynard’s ethereal organ washes. The applied aquatic bubble filter on the saxophone may be gimmicky, but lives up to the frequency-bending techniques of Funk.

 Let Me Do My Thing by R&B luminary Frank Brunson follows and injects a new, more uplifting style to the album which could grow into a show tune version if more than three brass players were on board. Cha Cha Cha roots are hidden in this upbeat mélange, Latinized piano sprinkles twirl around Arthur Wright’s and David T. Walker’s guitar interplay, and cautiously clanging percussion instruments leave pristine remnants of galactic rays in this instrumental which is followed by the closer of side A, the gorgeously bongo-driven Slow Motion by Funk and Disco producers Kenneth Gamble and Leon Huff. Enchanting with an upper midtempo groove, sun-soaked crunchy guitars, a bustling staccato on these stringed instruments as well as eclectic organ arabesques, Slow Motion is anything but the phenomenon its title suggests.

 Side B turns out to be the more valuable one, depending on the listener’s conception of a good album, for this is a side which features new material by the band, with no rendition whatsoever. All of the songs have been written by Richard Fritz, and they usually fathom out more interesting textures. Hot Mud proves exactly that. It is a bog-standard midtempo Funk brute from LA, but with the important inclusion of Charles Kynard’s organ which is delightfully incisive and alkaline, resembling a robotic entity gone wild. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but very iridescent nonetheless.

House Of Funk puts the Brazilian bongos and caixhas into the spotlight in a deliberately dun-colored anacrusis before the luminosity of the polyphonic organ and the spheroidal guitar twangs turns things around, with the percussion runlet remaining important. While Dueling Guitars merges the sunset-colored state of Arizona and its back porch lutes with acidic electric guitar movements and a shapeshifting, accelerated rhythm, Hot Doggin’ is special due to its Rockabilly complexion and the archetypical billow-like Surf Rock formations onto whose adventurous breeze screeching electric guitars are grafted. The finale comes along in the form of Get It and borrows that Rockabilly rhythm, but otherwise relies heavily on sun-soaked guitars and ardored Hammond organ prongs.

Soul Makossa is no Exotica album, not even when Santo & Johnny’s Sleep Walk is interpreted, but as I tend to say apologetically, it is still close enough to the genre’s outer rim to be worth one’s while, although with many restrictions and reservations. The listener has to feel close to the textures and patterns of Funk. Electric guitars there are aplenty, as are wah-wah, bubble filters and steamy organ shards, all of them being elements that are not found in vintage Exotica works, let alone in symphonic compositions. The minimum unit shared by these genres is the Afro-Cuban percussion which graces the entirety of the ten tracks. Be it guiros, caixhas, cowbells, bongos or congas, the percussionists and drummers know how to add rain forests to conrete jungles.

The melodies are not overly catchy, quite a surprise in the given context, but this leads the attention to the textures and, additionally, might enchant a group of listeners that is otherwise not too keen on funky craziness: devoted Jazz listeners. This impression is not spawned out of the blue, but nurtured by the mildly convoluted saxophone spirals and the flurry of interdependencies in each composition. Especially so on side B does the devotion for experiments increase, but one does not necessarily notice this, as the labyrinthine tone sequences are injected into streamlined Rockabilly grooves. If you want Funk with glints of proto-Disco or magnanimously wide panoramas, I cannot help myself but mention Geoff Love’s and Norman Newell’s British Mandingo project for the umpteenth time on AmbientExotica. There, Funk and Exotica meet, mesh and clash in four albums (and one Best Of) from 1972–1975. On Soul Makossa, one better worships, absorbs and expectorates the groove.

Batti Mamzelle - 1974 - I See the Light

Batti Mamzelle 
I See the Light

01. Lament
02. San Juan
03. Caroni
04. Seasoning
05. Voodoo Man
06. Get Out Of My Way
07. Love Is Blind
08. Bird
09. I See The Light
10. Streaking

All music arranged by Batti Mamzelle Special thanks to Robert Bailey who had a jam on Mellotron Produced by Robert Bailey for Straight Ahead Productions Recorded at Essex Music Studio, London, 1974
Engineer: John Rollo

Front cover illustration by Peter Goodfellow
Backcover photo by Brian Cooke/Visualeyes Ltd

Peter Duprey – Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals
Winston Delandro – Lead Guitar, Backing Vocals, Electric Piano, Spanish Guitar
Richard Bailey – Drums, Backing Vocals, Percussion, Timbales
Miguel Barradas – High Tenor Pan, Backing Vocals, Percussion, Timbales and other Pans
Ralph Richardson – Tenor Pan, Backing Vocals and other Pans
Russell Valdez – Double Tenor Pans, Backing Vocals
Frank Ince – Congas, Backing Vocals
Jimmy Chambers – Lead Vocals

Batti Mamzelle at John Peel

This Album has been a long time coming. Seems like Batti Mamzelle have spent the best part of a year in various recording studios trying, perhaps too desperately sometimes, to capture on vinyl the essence of their live music. It’s been a struggle. The band originally started on this album way back in June 1973, but always there seemed to be one basic problem. That fusion of raw excitement and musical expertise, which works to well for the band on stage, never quite made the right connection.

Well, a few months back, Batti finally picked up on Robert Bailey as producer. Bailey, of course, was formerly the Keyboards player with Osibis. His kid brother, Richard, is Batti’s drummer and their father. McDonald, is the band’s manager. A family affair. This album is the result. Enjoy it.

The idea behind Batti Mamzelle has been floating around for some time now, even before Richard Bailey joined up with Johnny Nash’s backing band, The Sons Of The Jungle, in 1972.

Richard, you see, is from Trinidad. His idea, quite simply, was to form a rock band incorporating Trinidadian steel pans. It all began to take shape during the early part of 1973 when he finally assembled the pan section – Miguel Baradas, Ralph Richardson and Russell Valdez – and discovered the whole concept knitted together just fine.

All the band are from Trinidad and the name Batti Mamzelle is French patois for “crazy lady”, the local term for a dragonfly. The focal point of the band is, obviously, the pan section. All three of the pan players came to Britain in the early Sixties as members of Dixieland which was, despite the name, Trinidad’s premiere steel band. They stayed on in Britain, eventually forming a spinoff band called Les Flambeaux. Miguel was the leader of the band in those days, but he finally split some three years ago to do session work. And then, of course, came Batti. Richard, together with lead guitarist Winston Delandro and bass player Peter Duprey started out in some band called Ojah who were so rumour suggests, quite hot in Europe. Then Richard and Winston found themselves touring America as Sons Of The Jungle.

Vocalist Jimmy Chambers, meanwhile, was with Dada for a time. When the band finally became Vinegar Joe. Jimmy tried to make it as a solo singer before he was offered the gig with Batti. I first heard the band one May afternoon in a small rehearsal room off London’s Charing Cross Road. They’d been together for just about two months but, even at that time, they sounded formidable.

They had one of the tightest rhythm sections I’d heard. Still do, in fact. And Richard, today has got to be THE best young drummer in Britain. No messing. That rhythm section made a superb job of underpinning the pans, with Frank Ince’s conga work filling out the overall sound. Pretty weird it was, too. The pans had both rhythmic and melodic capabilities, colouring the band’s music. They gave a whole new depth and range, opening up different possibilities.

All that was a year ago. Since then Batti have been through something of a frustrating time. But they’ve been on the road, played a couple of weeks residency at London’s Howff Club and, well, they’ve finally recorded this album. The highlights, for me at least, are “Love is Blind”, “Bird” and the atypical “Voodoo Man”.You might find others. It’s a good first album, one which ably demonstrates the band’s potential. Be the first on your block to pick up on Batti Mamzelle.....
Rob Partridge, Melody Maker

This is the sole record from this little known band from Trinidad. Batti Mamzelle went to the UK to record ‘I See The Light’ on the very small Cube label. The album is an exciting mix of deep funk/soul grooves blended with the sounds of Trinidadian traditional Steel Drum and simple fuzzed out guitars.
The project was driven by the Bailey family. Produced by Robert Bailey (formerly the keys player with iconic psych/Funk band Osibisa), and managed by McDonald Bailey (father) but more importantly, lead by a 17 year old Richard Bailey (brother), who would go onto become a very prominent drummer/percussionist, forming several bands and line ups throughout the mid 70’s and touring across Europe and the US.
The whole album is driven by the awesome percussion sections and the solid bass grooves.
Key tracks are Voodoo Man and I See The light/Streaking which is an awesome Fuzzed out Funk jam session.
This is a pretty funky record and should be picked up if ya find it. Though supposedly being rare, it’s quite an affordable LP

Sir Edward - 1973 - Power of Feeling

Sir Edward 
Power of Feeling

01. Keep On Moving On
02. Where Is The Love
03. People Make The World Go Round
04. Stocking Cap
05. Rocky Mount Willie
06. Betcha By Golly Wow
07. Peace, K.D.

Bongos – Jumma Santos
Drums – David Lee
Electric Bass – Victor Gaskin (tracks: A2, A3, B1, B2)
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Piano – Joe Bonner
Guitar, Flute – George Davis
Saxophone [Saxophones], Flute – Sir Edward
Vibraphone – Omar Clay
Bass – Wilbur Bascomb Jr.

Cover has wrong track order. Above is the vinyl/labels one.

Vick hadn't put out an album in five years before releasing "The Power of Feeling" in 1973 under the pseudonym "Sir Edward".

The album came out on Bernard Purdie's short-lived Encounter Records in 1973 - see the base of this post for an (almost complete) label discography.
"The Power of Feeling" seems to have been recorded somewhere between the first and second Compost albums, and can perhaps be seen as an attempt to further some of the commercial ambitions and sonic qualities of Jack DeJohnette's project, albeit more in the "composed" vein of the burgeoning CTI style of accessible jazz-related music than the party funk represented on the Compost albums (particularly the first one, on which Vick seems to be just jamming along).

The following year would see Vick return to more "jazz-rooted" soul-jazz projects like Shirley Scott's "One for Me" and Larry Willis' "Inner Crisis", which would in turn lead to the more intimate and acoustic Vick album "Don't Look Back", but for now he wasn't going to let go of his wah-wah pedal.

While there's still conjecture in some online sources as to whether this actually was Harold Vick, the back cover (above) of Vick's "Commitment" release from 1974 confirms that it's him. I'm still unclear as to why Vick released this under a pseudonym, as it's clearly his own production and arrangements. The inner sleeve contains photos of all band members bar Vick, who's in silhouette on the cover.

The opening track "Keep on Moving On" (see preview at top of post) is denser than the version on the Shirley Scott album, with multi-tracked reeds replacing the call-and-answer of organ and sax in the other version, and guitarist George Davis supplying the requisite Wah-Wah Watsonesque "wakka-wakka".

As always, Davis is a strong asset, whether switching into Grant Green-style soul jazz and then psych-funk on tracks like Vick's "Stocking Cap" or fronting on flute for an extended version of "People Make The World Go Round". Although his guitar work can be heard on some early 70s Dizzy Gillespie albums and Lonnie Smith's "Mama Wailer" , this appears to be his first flute date since Joe Zawinul's 1970 self-titled album.

The other strong presence here is keyboardist Joe Bonner, fresh off a series of Pharoah Sanders' albums - "Black Unity", "Live at the East" and "Village Of The Pharoahs". This appears to be his first rhodes recording, but he switches to electric with aplomb, instantly understanding the different dynamics and referencing Hancock-like patterns in his solo work.

Bonner switches to acoustic piano for what is probably my favourite track, "Peace, K.D.", a dedication to trumpeter Kenny Dorham, who had died in December of 1972. It's a beautiful modal piece that starts out like a "Prince Of Peace" Sanders-style song - if Leon Thomas were to suddenly begin yodelling it wouldn't feel at all out of place. Starting with some textured and panned piano string scrapes, Vick and Davis build melancholy flute harmonies over Bonner's colour swathes, while Vick contributes some of his most sensitive playing here with a soprano sax overdub.

Harold Vick himself is a mixed bag on this album. His best work comes when he's on raw sax or flute and fully in control of his dynamics - few reed players can get such sensitive detail in their phrasing. However, on tracks like "Rocky Mount Willie" he often sets up the main melodies through electric wah-wah sax, and he's not fully at ease with integrating wah-wah rhythms and frequency shifts in his patterns - there's no subtlety to his footwork as he pushes the pedal all the way, every time, on evenly-spaced sixteenth notes or triplets.

While there's some great stuff here, there are some fairly unimaginative readings of "Where Is The Love" and "Betcha by Golly Wow", in which Vick sticks much too closely to the original melodic/harmonic structures, despite some good solo work from Davis on the former and Bonner on the latter.

Vick brought percussionist Jumma Santos from the Compost sessions. Santos, who contributes a variety of instruments here, had also recently worked on albums by Roy Ayers, Larry Young, Marion Brown and Noah Howard. He'd started the decade with two heavy credits : playing percussion on Miles Davis' "Bitches Brew" and appearing with Jimi Hendrix at Woodstock.

Vick had worked with the other percussionist Omar Clay on Joe Chambers' "The Almoravid" in 1971 and Johnny Hammond's "Wild Horses Rock Steady" in 1972. Clay had also played on albums by Gene Harris and Marlena Shaw the year before.

This is turning into a yearbook parade, hey? Drummer David Lee is the head of the school's chess club - no that's not true - he had worked with George Davis on both the "Zawinul" album and Dizzy Gillespie's "The Real Thing", as well as appearing on albums by Sonny Rollins and Lonnie Liston Smith.

Busy bassist Wilbur Bascomb Jr. had just made an album called "Black Grass Music" with his band Bad Bascomb, and a renowned funk 45 called "Just a Groove in G" which was famously sampled in DJ Shadow's "The Number Song" from "Entroducing".

Bascomb had also recently played on Roy Ayers' "Change Up The Groove", Ellerine Harding's "Ellerine", Marlena Shaw's "From the depths of my soul", Lightning Rod's "Hustler's Convention", and Ronnie Foster's "Sweet Revival".

Finally, bassist Victor Gaskin made his name on a series of Cannonball Adderley albums, such as "74 Miles Away", and had worked recently on Hal Galper's "Guerilla Band", Barry Miles' "White Heat" and Oliver Nelson's "Swiss Suite".

Technical note : This is not the best quality piece of vinyl I've ever come across - it's mostly OK, but there's some slight distortion on the flute in a few sections of "People Make The World go Round" which I couldn't clear up.

Anyway I hope you enjoy this one

Harold Vick - 1974 - Don't Look Back

Harold Vick 
Don't Look Back

01 Don't Look Back
02 Melody for Bu
03 Senor zamora
04 Stop and Cop
05 Lucille
06 Prayer

Harold Vick- tenor sax, C flute, soprano sax, bass clarinet
Joe Bonner - piano, tuba
Kiane Zawadi - euphonium
George Davis - alto flute, guitar
Virgil Jones - flugelhorn
Sam Jones - bass
Billy Hart - drums
Jimmy Hopps - Percussion

Harold Vick emerged in the early 1960s as a saxaphonist with a distinctive, lyrical tone who retained a blues edge as the soul-jazz scene played back and forth with post-bop modernism throughout the decade, then followed the development of new forms in the 1970s.

Influenced by Gene Ammons, he played in the band of vocalist Lloyd Price from about 1958-1960 before joining Jack McDuff's band. He became a preferred tenor sax player for all the top-shelf soul-jazz organists like McDuff, John Patton and Jimmy McGriff.

In fact, he played with so many hammond organists that he has his own clickable org-hammo-gram.

His debut 1963 album "Steppin' Out" (Blue Note) sits firmly in the blues / early soul-jazz camp, with John Patton on the B3 and frequent collaborator Grant Green on guitar. The opening track "Our Miss Brooks" referred to Ellen Brooks, who had been Vick's girlfriend but was now going out with John Patton, who she married the next year. Ahh, musical tension in the studio! Listen to the above clip and imagine her sitting with a glass of wine, Yoko-like, at the back of the studio while the organ and sax face off. Nevertheless, Vick recorded another session with Patton the next year, but this was rejected by Blue Note and he moved on.

In 1966 he released "The Caribbean Suite" on RCA, built around an eight-part suite of the same name by British saxophonist Kenny Graham, with Vick adding some of his own tracks. Vick (on flute and soprano sax) is accompanied by Bobby Hutcherson, Albert Dailey and others, with Latin percussion by Montego Joe and Manuel Ramos. A bold change of pace and great stuff, you can almost hear Martin Denny and Bacoso drinking beers together in the jungle bushes behind, watching through binoculars. Thanks as always to Bacoso for re-upping this in relation to this post.

Later in the year, he released "Straight Up", more straight-ahead than the previous album, but with the laid-back settings nonetheless giving you an opportunity to experience the subtle expressiveness of his playing against a backdrop of guitar, piano, vibes and trumpet. There's a few bossa tracks, and Vick adds soprano sax and flute to his woodwind arsenal.

Vick recorded the album "Commitment" in 1967, but it wasn't released until 1974 on Muse, just before "Don't Look Back". Listen to the killer track "hnic" above, with Victor Feldman ripping it up on piano - Walter Bishop plays piano on most other tracks. The track also features Mickey Roker - drums; Herb Bushler - bass; Malcolm Riddick - guitar; and Vick on flute.

1967's "The Melody Is Here" was later re-released as "Watch What Happens" with some additional tracks. Three tracks feature a quartet with Herbie Hancock, Bob Cranshaw and Grady Tate, the rest feature "The Harold Vick Orchestra" which includes Jimmy Owens, Joe Farrell, Hancock and others with a chorus of female voices. "Ode To Trane", above, comes from the Hancock quartet sessions.

In the early 1970s, drummer Jack deJohnette formed the band Compost with Harold Vick, Jumma Santos and others, seemingly as an excuse to go crazy on the wah-wah clavinet in a party funk-rock atmosphere. Vick seems to be enjoying himself immensely on sax and flute, often grabbing Jack's wah-wah pedal. Two albums were released : "Compost" (1972) and "Life Is Round" (1973), with vocalist Lou Courtney joining for the second album.

In 1973 Vick released an album called "Power Of Feeling" under the pseudonym "Sir Edward" on Bernard Purdie's Encounter label.

There's still conjecture on Dusty Groove, Soul Strut and other places as to whether this actually was Harold Vick, or indeed even Sonny Stitt - but a quick look at the back cover of the "Commitment" release from the following year confirms that it's Vick, via a somewhat disparaging comment from Fred Norsworthy, who's much keener on the 1966 material :

Players include Joe Bonner (rhodes), Wilbur Bascomb (bass), Omar Clay (drums), and Jumma Santos (percussion). Harold's clearly stolen the wah-wah pedal from the Compost sessions for this album.

Vick later re-recorded the track "Keep on Moving On" from this album on Shirley Scott's fantastic 1974 Strata-East release "One for Me", which features some of his best playing.

His 70s sideman discography is somewhat daunting, with appearances on many great albums by Joe Chambers, Larry Willis, Pharoah Sanders, Walter Bishop Jr, Mike Longo and others

So let's move on to today's album - 1974's "Don't Look Back" was recorded and released in the wake of Harold Vick's recovery from a heart attack, which may partially explain the passion with which he approaches his playing throughout. The title track "Don't Look Back" is a joyous melodic number that Vick himself attributes to new love experienced in his time of crisis. It was later covered on the Shirley Scott "One For Me" album (with Vick on sax), and also on Nat Adderley's same-titled album "Don't Look Back" in 1976.

His work on sax and flute has a harder, more intense edge to it than his other recordings - check out his tenor work on "Lucille" - while still displaying the subtlety of his best work - listen to his multi-tracked coda "Prayer", where Joe Bonner's rhodes mixes in with Vick's clarinet, flutes and saxaphone.

Trumpeter Virgil Jones is a strong presence on this album, frequently trading solos with Vick on tracks like the latinesque "Senor Zamora" - his recent work had included a high profile arranger's role on Charles Earland's "Intensity"; and performances on albums as diverse as McCoy Tyner's "Song Of The New World" and Leon Spencer's "Where I'm Coming From".

There's great supporting work on piano and rhodes from Joe Bonner, who'd been on the "Sir Edward" album, and was about to record his own albums "Angel Eyes" and "Lifesaver", having recently worked with Azar Lawrence , Pharoah Sanders, and the Oneness Of JuJu.

As well as appearing on the aforementioned Tyner and Shirley Scott albums, euphonium player Kiane Zawadi had recently worked on Archie Shepp's "Attica Blues" and Dollar Brand's "African Space Program". He contributes a great solo here on "Melody For Bu", which is dedicated to organist Bu Pleasant, on whose Muse album Vick played the same year, and which also includes the track. Both Zawadi and Virgil Jones had worked with Vick almost a decade before on "Oh! Pharoah Speak" by Pharoah Sanders and the Latin Jazz Quintet.

George Davis appears on alto flute on three tracks, as well as wah-guitar on the spiritual-flavoured "Stop and Cop" - see my "sidebar" on his career near the base of the Mike Longo post. Drummer Billy Hart now wins the "Most Labelled" award for this blog.

Bass player Sam Jones has a sideman discography even longer than some of my blog posts, but had recently been with Vick on Shirley Scott's "One For Me", as well as appearing on Clifford Jordan's "Glass Bead Games", Eddie Jefferson's "Things are Getting Better" and countless others.

Vick's final album as a leader was "After The Dance" in 1977, named after the Leon Ware - Marvin Gaye penned title track. While I'm generally partial to some mixed disco-jazz albums of the period, this one suffers from some unimaginative track choices and arrangements, although I quite like the single "Things Aint Right", an Esther Marrow cover that mixes some blaxploitation-style wah-wah and orchestral textures with the disco beat, even if Vick's sax is a little incidental to the overall plot ...

Harold Vick continued to work frequently as a sideman until his death in 1987 from a heart attack. Saxaphonist Sonny Stitt composed a tribute track on his 2000 album "This Is What I Do" called "Did you Hear Harold Vick?", which is more of a funky, playful number rather than a mournful dirge.

Here's Harold's take on the tracks :

Don't Look Back
describes a new and positive feeling/attitude that I possess as a result of a gift of love received by me
during a period of crisis

Melody for Bu
was written for Ms Bu Pleasant, a warm and fiery multi-talented lady who leads her own trio.

Senor Zamora
was written for a special brother I met along the road of music who has always reached out to help others.
His name is Antonio zamora and he is currently the director of the Black Cultural Center, Perdue University

Stop and Cop
was inspired by a childhood buddy Ivory (Nab) Spearman who is presently the proprietor of a neighborhood store The sign over the front reads "Stop and Cop"
Think about it.

was one of my favorite ladies of all times. Once upon a time she graced this planet as she dwelled in Rocky Mount North Carolina. Her name was Lucille Vick and my memories of her are all warm for she was beautiful -she was my grandmother

Harold Vick - 1974 - Commitment

Harold Vick

01. Commitment 5:10
02. H.N.I.C. 5:00
03. A Time And A Place 6:10
04. Out Of It 5:30
05. Wild Is The Wind 4:18
06. Blue Gardenia 4:24
07. From Within 4:48

Sax, FLute - Harold Edward Vick
Bass – Herb Bushler
Drums – Mickey Roker
Guitar – Malcolm Riddick
Piano – Walter Bishop
Vibraphone – Victor Feldman

In 1966, three years after his organ n' sax debut "Steppin' Out", Vick released two quite different albums on RCA Victor : the latin-flavoured "Caribbean Suite" and the relatively straight-ahead "Straight Up".

"Commitment" was generally thought to also have been recorded in 1966, languishing in the vaults until Muse put it out in 1974. However, due to some help from the folks over at the Organissimo forums, it seems that this album was most probably recorded for RCA Victor on May 1-2, 1967. Sessions on those dates are listed as having exactly the same lineup, with three same-named tracks. The other four tracks here are the Vick compositions, so I think we can safely assume that he re-named them seven years later. This would mean there are still three unreleased tracks somewhere, including a version of "Sunny".

It remains a mystery why this album was shelved for seven years. Vick released one more album with RCA, 1968's orchestrated "Watch What Happens". He went on to Encounter Records for the funky "Power Of Feeling" in 1973 under a pseudonym, then had a heart attack in April 1974. However, by August he was back in the studio recording "Don't Look Back" for Strata-East.

Sometime in the last four months of 1974, Muse released these 1967 recordings as "Commitment", and then Strata-East released "Don't Look Back". Independent label war ?

While the instrumentation is the same as that of "Straight Up" from the year before - saxaphone, guitar, vibes, piano, bass and drums - this is a more live, less orchestrated band who break out more often, harking back to some of the rawness of the "Steppin' Out"album.

Even in straight-ahead jazz tracks like "Commitment" and "Out Of It" there's a sense of communication between the soloists that is sometimes missing from Vick's more heavily 'arranged' albums from the 60s. Vick flourishes in this looser atmosphere, and his playing is beautiful and lyrical throughout.

There's a fantastic up-tempo take on Jimmy Heath's "A Time and A Place" , which you may know from Heath's 1974 album, or versions by Art Farmer, Milt Jackson and others. The jazz dancers should cream themselves over this one, with solid solos from Vick's tenor, pianist Walter Bishop Jr (last seen here with "Cubicle"), vibesman Victor Feldman, and guitarist Malcolm Riddick showing some Grant Green-like moves.

Victor Feldman, who's a significant presence on this album, takes over Bishop's piano chair for "H.N.I.C" to contribute a fiery, percussive piano solo that winds around Vick's flute throughout the track.

While mostly heard on tenor sax on this album, Vick switches to soprano for a beautiful reading of "Wild is the Wind" , supported just by Feldman's vibes, and Bishop's piano, backed by sparse work from Herb Bushler's bass and Mickey Roker on drums.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this album,

Harold Vick - 1968 - Watch What Happens

Harold Vick 
Watch What Happens

01. Watch What Happens 2:44
02. Ode To Trane 5:05
03. Serenata 3:03
04. Where Butterflies Play 2:34
05. If Ever I Would Leave You 6:45
06. This Hotel 3:10
07. Eloquence 3:41
08. Angel Eyes 5:30
09. Whisper Not 2:58
10. Guava Jelly 2:35
11. Autumn Sunset 3:30

Harold Vick - tenor sax
Jimmy Owens - trumpet, flugelhorn
Tom McIntosh - trombone
George Marge and Joe Farrell - reeds
John Blair - violin
Herbie Hancock - piano
Everett Barksdale - guitar
Bob Cranshaw - bass
Grady Tate - drums
Teddy Charles - vibraphone
Dave Carey - percussion
uncredited female vocal chorus

In this 1967 album (also released at some stage as "The Melody is Here" we get Vick in two settings :

Three tracks feature a quartet comprising Harold Vick on sax , Herbie Hancock on piano, Grady Tate on drums and Bob Cranshaw on bass. The standout track from the quartet session is Joe Bonner's beautiful "Ode to Trane", with superb understated solos from Hancock and Vick.

The other eight tracks are arranged and conducted by the idiosyncratic Ed Bland, a classical composer who sidelined in in individualistic soul and RnB arrangements - check this great post at Office Naps for a rundown on Mr Bland. The aforementioned quartet are joined by an uncredited nameless female chorus, trumpeter Jimmy Owens, reeds man Joe Farrell and several others.

Bland seems here to arrange in tones rather than in individual instruments, with lots of unison work from the voices, vibes, piano, reeds and so on, with the characteristics of each instrument - percussive, melodic, tonal etc - emphasised in different parts of each note. While Vick gets to break out with solos, everyone else is tightly arranged in the manner of a conducted orchestra - though featured pianist Herbie Hancock gets to break out on a few tracks.

It's all quite breezy and light with smatterings of a cocktail ambience - but we're talking good quality cocktails, so drink up! The ones that are sticking with me are the move themes "This Hotel" (from Richard Quines' "Hotel"); "Watch What Happens" (from Jacques Demy's experimental musical 'The Umbrellas of Cherbourg', which also gave us Catherine Devenue), and Vick's shuffling "Eloquence".

Hit this one with some deceptively strong cocktails.

Compost - 1973 - Life Is Round

Life Is Round

01. Seventh Period 8:07
02. Moonsong 4:27
03. Compost Festival 5:19
04. The Ripper 3:53
05. Buzzard Feathers 6:22
06. Changing Streams 5:16
07. Mon Cherry Popsicool 5:28
08. Restless Wave 4:19
09. Life Is Round 3:31

Bass – Jack Gregg
Drums – Bob Moses (tracks: A1, A3, B2, B3, B5), Jack DeJohnette (tracks: A2, B1, B4), Jumma Santos (tracks: A4)
Guitar – Ed Finney (tracks: B3 to B5), Roland Prince (tracks: A1 to B2)
Organ, Clavinet – Bob Moses (tracks: A2, B1, B4)
Organ, Clavinet, Piano – Jack DeJohnette (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B2, B3, B5)
Percussion, Congas – Jumma Santos
Saxophone, Flute – Harold Vick
Vibraphone – Bob Moses (tracks: A4)

In the early seventies, Compost was Jack DeJohnette's band project. Jack DeJohnette, of course, of Miles Davis fame and later, one of the members of Keith Jarrett's acoustic trio. With Miles, DeJohnette was part of the "revolution" the trumpeter launched with his seminal album, Bitches Brew. The Keith Jarrett Trio, on the other hand, was at once a restorative project - it was here that the standards wave of the 80s and 90s really started - and progressive in the way that acoustic trio (piano, bass, drums) influenced all the trios that came later, until today.

Also as a drummer, not just as a sideman, DeJohnette has proved to be one of modern Jazz's most influential exponents. However, as much as he has been part of modern Jazz's most important contributions, the projects where he was in charge have been  consistently nice, but never essential records. In this aspect her resembles another Miles Davis alumnus, Ron Carter (who, at the end of the day, is my acoustic bass hero number One).

The music of Compost can be roughly categorized as electric Jazz. If one compares Compost's third and last studio album, Life Is Round from 1973 with some of DeJohnette's other combatants from his Miles Davis years, who were by 1973 all involved in their own band projects - Chick Corea and Return to Forever, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter with Weather Report, or Miles himself, just to name the most influential ones - Compost seems harmless, almost mainstream. Perhaps it is.

However, now, forty years down the road, a music aficionado wouldn't care too much about the trench battles of those years.
And from that point of view, Life Is Round fares rather well. Not so much because the compositions or the sound are unique, but because this is band is hot: Bob Moses with some great work on the electric keyboards, Roland Prince, guitar, Ed Finney, Jack Gregg, bass, Harold Vick, sax, who sounds great in this context, Jeanne Lee, vocals (on two tracks), Jumma Santos, percussion, and Lou Courtney, vocals and production.

The band visits several areas - Funk, Rock, Jazz, Caribbean. Towards the end, on Restless Wave, they evoke Jimi Hendrix and the final title track, even echoes of Free Jazz can be heard.

Compost - 1972 - Compost


01. Take Off Your Body
02. Thinkin'
03. Bwaata
04. Happy Peace
05. Country Song
06. Sweet Berry Wine
07. Funky Feet
08. Inflation Blues

Bob Moses - drums, vocals
Jack Gregg - bass
Harold Vick - tenor sax, flute
Jack DeJohnette - drums, organ, clavinet
Jumma Santos - congas, percussion

You can call this a supergroup. Lots of well known names in jazz. Jack DeJohnette and Jumma Santos played together during the Bitches Brew sessions with Miles Davis. Bob Moses began his career with Rahsaan Roland Kirk and later on with Gary Burton. Harold Vick played with Grant Green, Jack McDuff and many more.

These musicians found each other and called themselves Compost. A dirty word for an amazing band. Two drummers in the group, but one of them does the vocals and drums. Bob Moses picks up the vocals on this album. He isn’t always on the spot and doesn’t always deliver the right sound, but you can’t blame him for trying.

Clearly you can hear the fun of the bandmembers on this album. Take Off Your Body kicks it off and attracts your attention. Speedy groove, funky clavinet, uptempo bass parts, crazy lyrics by Bob. Very African groove with a psychedelic twist. A lot of songs are just joyful. You can hear the African influence, but also folk, rock and funk. Bob Moses isn’t the best singer, but his vocals cheers you up. Plus the uptempo percussions and groovy clavinet. Highlights are Take Off Your Body and Funky Feet. No difficult lyrics or complex beats. It’s Jazz-Fusion but in a hippie mode kind of way.

Larry Willis - 1973 - Inner Crisis

Larry Willis 
Inner Crisis

01. Out On The Coast 4:30
02. 153rd Street Theme 6:43
03. Inner Crisis 6:25
04. Bahamian Street Dance 4:32
05. For A Friend 6:58
06. Journey's End 7:11

Bass – Eddie Gomez, Roderick Gaskin
Drums – Al Foster, Warren Benbow
Guitar – Roland Prince
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Harold Vick
Trombone – Dave Bargeron

Inner Crisis by Larry Willis is one of the very finest examples of electric jazz-funk from the mid-'70s. With sidemen who included guitarist Roland Prince, drummer Al Foster, tenor saxophonist Harold Vick, and trombonist Dave Bargeron, as well as bassists Eddie Gomez (acoustic) and Roderick Gaskin (electric), Willis assembled a session that was long on composition and tight on the big groove. Willis' long front lines accentuated deep soul and blues' cadences that were hallmarks of music that walked the line between tough lean groove and the pulsating rhythm of disco without losing its jazz roots to sterile fusion tropes, thanks in large part to his willingness as a pianist to play as part of an ensemble rather than as a soloist. Tracks such as "153rd Street Theme," with its loping saxophone lines juxtaposed against deep groove basslines, offer a deeper perspective on the funk; the shimmering modal intensity of the title cut nods to the expansiveness of Miles Davis' "In a Silent Way,"and the blissed-out soul of "Journey's End," accentuates the wide-open engagement with lyricism that was frequently left out of the electric jazz equation during the period. Along with the other tracks here, they offer a moving, wonderfully conceived and articulated aspect of the music that has been sadly overlooked by all but the most devoted fans of the genre.

Larry Willis - 1970 - A New Kind of Soul

Larry Willis
A New Kind of Soul

01. Lickin' Stick 3:12
02. Someday Soon 4:47
03. Funky Judge 4:25
04. Mayibuye 3:20
05. Consola Coa 5:37
06. Walking Backward Down The Road 4:59
07. Holiday In Barbados 2:57
08. Hard To Handle 2:54

Piano – Larry Willis
Bass – Victor Sproles
Drums – Al Foster
Flugelhorn – Jimmy Owens, Joe Newman, Marv Stamm*
Guitar, Electric Guitar – Al Gafa

Lawrence Elliott "Larry" Willis (born December 20, 1940) is an American jazz pianist and composer. He has performed in a wide range of styles, including jazz fusion, rock, bebop and avant-garde.

Willis was born in New York City. After his first year studying music theory at the Manhattan School of Music he began performing regularly with Jackie McLean. After he graduated he made his first jazz recording, McLean's Right Now!, which featured two of Willis' compositions. His first recording of any type, however, was as a singer with the Music and Arts Chorale Ensemble, performing an opera by Aaron Copland under the direction of Leonard Bernstein. He decided to concentrate on jazz because of the difficulties African American musicians had in finding work in concert music. He is still recording and touring around the world.

Throughout his career he has performed with a wide range of musicians, including a stint of seven years as keyboardist for Blood, Sweat & Tears (beginning in 1972). He spent several years as pianist for Nat Adderley, as well as Roy Hargrove. His latest recording with Paul Murphy, Exposé, demonstrated the fusion principles of bebop and avant-garde jazz. His composition "Sanctuary" began exploring works employing strings.[1] After a successful performance in Frank Lloyd Wright's Annie Pfieffer Chapel at Florida Southern College's Child of the Sun Jazz Festival he was commissioned to write a full scale orchestral work for jazz trio and orchestra. He received the Don Redman award in 2011, and the Benny Golson Jazz Master Award at Howard University in 2012.

Kiyoshi Sugimoto 
L.A. Master 

01. Yeh! Boogie (Sugimoto) - 6:41
02. Got a Baby Feels Like a Woman (Sugimoto) - 5:43
03. Salling Along (Sugimoto) - 5:22
04. Ivory Flower (Sugimoto) - 6:04
05. I'm Blind to All But You (Sugimoto) - 2:59
06. Moving (Sugimoto) - 8:43

Kiyoshi Sugimoto - electric guitar, acoustic guitar
Toshiyuki Daitoku - piano
Haruo Togashi - electric piano
Tsunehide Matsuki - electric guitar
Akira Okazawa - electric bass
Yuichi Togashiki - drums
Motoya Hamaguchi, Nobu Saito, Tatsuya Nakamura - percussion
Yasuaki Shimizu - tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, alto saxophone
Jake Concepcion - alto saxophone

Recorded at Studio A, Onkio Haus, Sound City, Freedom Studio, Toshiba-EMI Studio, Tokyo on December 5, 1976 - October 27, 1977.

Kiyoshi Sugimoto - 1975 - Our Time

Kiyoshi Sugimoto 
Our Time

01. Our Time 6:38
02. Jones Street 13:15
03. Take My Blues!! 7:04
04. Quiet Pulse 6:00
05. Marmalade Sky 5:16

Bass – Akira Okazawa (tracks: 1, 2), Isao Eto (tracks: 4,5), Masaoki Terakawa (tracks: 3)
Drums – Akira Ishikawa (tracks: 3-5), Motohiko Hino (tracks: 2), Shuichi Murakami (tracks: 1, 2)
Electric Piano – Hideo Ichikawa (tracks: 1,2)
Electric Piano, Keyboards – Hiromasa Suzuki (tracks: 3-5)
Guitar – Kiyoshi Sugimoto
Percussion – Fujio Saito, Larry Sunaga
Rhythm Guitar, Harmonica – Tsunehide Matsuki (tracks: 3)
Saxophone – Takao Uematsu
Trombone – Eiji Arai Group (tracks: 5)

Recorded at Nippon Columbia No.1 Studio, Tokyo on December 28, 1974, January 10 and 28, 1975.

Kiyoshi Sugimoto - 1972 - Guitar Method

Kiyoshi Sugimoto 
Guitar Method

01. Everybody's Everything
02. Questions '67 And '68
03. Madman Across The Water
04. Sweet Caroline
05. It's Me That You Need
06. Imagine
07. Black Dog
08. It's Too Late
09. Get In On
10. Gypsys Tramps & Thieves
11. The Story In Your Eyes
12. Super Star

Kiyoshi Sugimoto_guitar
Hiromasa Suzuki_piano & electric piano

A Cover album of great rock/pop standards revisited by great japanese jazzmen, Kiyoshi Sugimoto (guitar) & Hiromasa Suzuki (keyboards) from Columbia Japan Method Series. The fusion of jazz & pop beats with electric guitar solo, psychedelic organ, strings section & horns big band. The Suzuki' arrangements reminiscent of the approach taken by Creed Taylor for his CTI label : a straight ahead jazz way. A touch of Jazz Rock with Santana' Everybody's Everything, Led Zeppelin' Black Dog, The Moody Blues' The Story In Your Eyes & T-Rex' Get In On without forgetting some vintage tunes & ballads pop from 60s/70s of John Lennon, The Carpenters, Cher or Elton John. Performed by Kiyoshi Sugimoto & The Hiromasa Suzuki Orchestra. All tracks arranged by Hiromasa Suzuki.

Kiyoshi Sugimoto - 1971 - Babylonia Wind

Kiyoshi Sugimoto 
Babylonia Wind

01. Babylonia Wind
02. Mrs Darius
03. Rosetta Stone
04. Colasabard Hill
05. Hieroglyph

Kiyoshi Sugimoto_guitar
Takao Uematsu_tenor saxophone
Hideo Ichikawa_organ & piano
Yoshio Ikeda_bass
Motohiko Hino_drums

Very deep rare groove recording including Jazz Rock & Free improvisations, an essential of japanese Jazz originally issue for the Takt Jazz Series from Columbia record. Babylonia Wind is the second solo album performed by Kiyoshi Sugimoto who playing in a Quintet formation featuring the same rhythm section as in his previous LP, Country Dream (1969), with the addition of Hideo Ichikawa (replaces Hiromasa Suzuki) and the saxophonist Takao Uematsu. All tracks are original compositions of Kiyoshi Sugimoto, all arranged by himself.

Tantalus - 1978 - Sitting in a Dream

Sitting in a Dream

01. Sleeping Beauty
02. Bad Times For James Bond
03. The Ocean
04. Crystal Ball
05. Caterpillar's Change
06. Jonny's Dream

Bass – Curd-Jürgen Wulle
Drums – Wolfgang Terk
Guitar, Vocals, Cover – Klaus Bauer
Keyboards, Vocals – Bodo Burkhardt

Generic, but tasteful, symphonic progressive. Elements of Camel and Pink Floyd abound. Nice keyboard and guitar leads, and mediocre vocals. Pretty much what you would expect from this era of German symphonic rock. File next to Shaa Khan, Fly and Indigo.

Pantincruel - 1981 - Courants D'Airs

Courants D'Airs

01. Jaberwocky
02. Rue Froide
03. Ghinea
04. Ceuf
05. Trud
06. Tantris
07. Packland
08. Oun Mezo Kilo de Limon

Philippe Cailly batterie, percussions
Frédéric Frérot guitares
Sylvain Frérot basse, contrebasse
Paul Hecht trompette, bugle
Michel Trudelle saxophones

Recorded and mixed at Studio du Village, Cairon, Calvados, France, July 1981

Pantincruel - 1979 - J'Y Retourne Immediatement

J'Y Retourne Immediatement

01. J'y Retourne Immédiatement
02. Le Savon, Le Savoir Et Le Lavoir
03. Staphilosaxo
04. Le Gros Loup
05. Oeuf

Bass – Sylvain Frérot
Drums, Percussion – Bruno Delhaye
Electric Piano – Philippe Janet
Guitar, Vocals – Frédéric Frérot
Saxophone – Michel Trudelle

Originating from Caen (Calvados, Basse-Normandie, north-western France), Pantincruel started life as a left-field jazz meets anarchy-rock in the vein of Etron Fou Leloublan. Their debut LP is quality unclassifiable music in that genre. After that the band had a hiatus of a few years, with some members forming the split-off group Angulaire. A further three albums appeared later, but in a very different jazz style.

Obscure late-70's French jazz rock act.The line-up of the band was Frederic Frerot on guitars,Sylvain Frerot on bass,Bruno Delhaye on drums and percussion,Philippe Janet on electric piano and Michel Trudelle on saxes.First album ''J'Y Retourne Immediatement'' came out in 1979.

This one opens with the self-titled track,which is also the longer one,clocking at over 11 minutes.Soft jazz musicianship which gets boring along the way due to the extended isolated solos by guitars,electric piano and percussion.What was actually missing from the opening cut,that is sa  and bass solos,is present at the follower ''Le savon, le savoir et le lavoir''.The dialogues between bass and sax are decent and the track contains also plenty of vocals with a humurous edge.Vocals are also present at ''Staphilosaxo'',but the music is unfortunately closer to free jazz than jazz rock.The short ''Le gros loup'' might be the most interesting track in here,opening with theatrical vocal lines and becoming very complex along the way with strong guitar work,great drumming and lovely piano tunes after the middle.The closing ''Oeuf'' continues from where ''''Le gros loup'' stopped,very complex jazz rock with nice breaks and changing moods with the electric piano shining again.

''J'Y Retourne Immediatement'' is sounding very similar to hundreds of jazz rock albums released not only in France,but in whole Europe around the same period and thus it is not exactly a recommended work.However most of the jazz-heads of this planet will find plenty to like in this.

Noco Music - 1987 - Noco Music

Noco Music 
Noco Music

01. L'Inspecteur 3:08
02. Marakatou 2:33
03. Simply Nice 4:05
04. Jijona 2:44
05. Valsambo 4:40
06. La Descente Du Rhin 2:47
07. Sundance (À Christian Bedez) 4:35
08. Sombrero 4:20
09. Château Christal 3:50
10. Da Oggi 4:09
11. Procession (À Friedemann) 4:23

Saxophone – Philippe Geiss
Synthesizer, Piano, Vibraphone, Marimba – Emmanuel Séjourné
Drums – Denis Dionne
Percussion [Conception], APercussion, Drums – Armando Lorente

The last Noco Music album, from 1987. When a progressive band reaches such a late date we never know what to expect, and indeed this year or 1986 seems to be the cutoff where the last holdouts gave up permanently the progressive spirit (with a couple of notable exceptions like Alcatraz). There is still a little bit of the old magic -- at least once one gets past the first 2 throwaway tracks. You will discern the same sweet combination of vibes and sax sounds, melancholy and distant, like Paul Verlaine's "voix lointaine et calme et grave... [avec] l'inflexion des voix chères qui se sont tue" [Mon Reve Familier].
What about the eighties influence? Let's look at the back cover-- is the band wearing silly tight suits with very thin ties? check. Do they sport mullets and the shorter guy has a moustache like Hall and Oates? yup. Are they banging on drums in shiny robotic outfits a la Devo? you betcha. Setting aside the photography though we can admit there is still quite a bit to enjoy on this record, which was essential to complete the discography of this unusual band, as mentioned earlier, consisting of the brilliant duo of Emmanuel Séjourné and Philippe Geiss.
If you listen to the two samples below, you can almost believe you are back in the late seventies in the heyday of prog, when the future looked bright for complex, classical-influenced, intelligent, virtuoso-played, melded-with-jazz music, before punk and new wave turned the clock back to simple music for everyone, a clock that currently is still turning backwards so fast it's breaking the reverse speed of sound. Whatever that might be.

Noco Music - 1983 - Saxophones Et Percussions

Noco Music
Saxophones Et Percussions

01. Le Petit Âne Blanc
02. La Meneuse De Tortues D'Or
03. La Cage De Cristal
04. La Marchande D'Eau Fraîche
05. Bajo La Mesa
06. Aria
07. L'Age D'Or
08. Golliwogg's Cake Walk
09. Doctor Gradus Ad Parnassum
10. Ogives
11. Sonatine Bucolique
12. Le Jardin De Dolly
13. Impromptu

Bass Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Sopranino Saxophone – Philippe Geiss
Guest, Vibraphone, Marimba – Jean-Louis Hennequin
Vibraphone, Marimba, Xylophone – Emmanuel Séjourné

On the cover there is a gold sticker indicating this record won "grand prix audiovisuel de l'europe," and I agree it deserves the prize, whatever the heck it is.

In progressive circles Noco Music is famed for their "Evasions" album, which is not at all their best.
Briefly, the duo consists of Philippe Geiss and Emmanuel Sejourne which the liner notes indicate were both born in 1961 (making them only 22 in the recording of this). The notes continue to indicate the duo decided to undertake a reinterpretation of neglected classical pieces (obviously, from French composers) from the early 20th century, of which the only really recognizable is Debussy's pieces, which I slaved over myself as a teen piano conservatory student many years ago and have trouble listening to without some nausea for this very reason.

The only instruments employed are saxes (Geiss) and vibes and marimbas (Sejourne) with the help of Jean-Louis Harlequin on more vibes and marimbas. In fact I'm not sure why the assistance of another percussionist was required, since it's clear many of the pieces were dubbed, witness the sax chords Geiss plays in layers on the Aria piece. (He is the only musician playing on this track, amazingly.) There is no need for more instruments because the range and depth of emotion we get from these two fills all the gaps to give you a full and dynamic repertoire. Notice the exquisite use of the sopranino sax on the first track which sounds like an oboe, and the aforementioned sax chords on the "Aria" track. In other tracks Geiss uses a bass sax (who'ld have thought?) for the bottom notes for an incredibly dramatic, sustained effect.

It's no secret if you've been following this blog that I love european chamber music and the progressive spirit of 30 years ago that took that tradition and melded it with rock and jazz. That's exactly what this record is all about, taking compositions from a lifetime ago and using jazz instruments and new interpretations to create something unarguably and ineluctably gorgeous. I've listened to this record dozens of times since I got it and I know I will listen many times more. And stay tuned, soon to come: the last ST album from Noco Music for a completion of this band.

I understand that those who don't have a taste for pure classical will be disappointed with this: there is no drumset or guitar. But I know in the field of prog, there are those who prefer more composed elements (or RIO), some prefer more rock or electric guitar, some more jazz or fusion. We try here to keep every one of those groups happy with the utmost variety.

I honestly believe this record to be a genuine treasure that does not deserve to be buried and forgotten, in the uniqueness of its effort and the beauty of its result it should stand as a representative of the highest order of what human creativity and imagination can accomplish in beauty.

Noco Music - 1982 - Evasion

Noco Music 

01. Cultures 3:35
02. Come On 6:23
03. Gaal 6:22
04. Free 3:18
05. Eclipse 3:36
06. Fat Blues 3:34
07. Cana 4:18

Congas, Percussion – Jean-Louis Hennequin
Saxophone [Baritone, Tenor, Alto, Soprano, Sopranino], Double Bass, Percussion – Philippe Geiss
Synthesizer, Recorded By, Mixed By – Patrice Peyrieras
Tabla – John Boswell
Vibraphone, Marimba, Percussion, Piano, Arranged By – Emmanuel Séjourné
Voice – Marie-Anne Hill

Recorded in September 1981 and August 1982 at Studio de Beauvais, Limoges, France.

"Strasbourg band on the outer reaches of jazz & uniquely odd creative French fusions, with primitive/avant edges."

Machines Have Landed - 1981 - Machines Have Landed

Machines Have Landed 
Machines Have Landed

01. The Conversation
02. Trekies Intro
03. Trekies (We're Not Alone)
04. The Battle
05. Floss
06. Framed
07. Tower Of Glass
08. Windstruck
09. Sundays
10. Mind & Body

Drums – John Persichini, Ralph Friedrich
Guitar – Tony Moretta
Keyboards, Lead Vocals, Guitar – Blaine Selkirk

An obscure Canadian band, which propably came from Ontario, but without much more info around it.The leading figure appeared to be Blaine Selkirk, who sung, played the keyboards and guitar and produced the band's only album ''Part one'' from 1981.Two drummers are in the line-up John Persichini and Ralph Friedrich with Tony Moretta handling the guitar.The album was recorded at the Evolution 2000 Studios in Brampton, Ontario and was released on the unknown, Burlington-based North Shore Records.

The allbum sounds like a Pop/Prog Rock/Theater play with alternative narrations and singing parts, dominated by period synthesizers and drum beats, having a decent instrumental depth with a slightly pompous style and strong influences from British and US Prog Rock from the 70's.The intense singing lines and the pompous use of keyboards come close to some emphatic sections of STARCASTLE, but the symphonic echoes are less pronounced, instead the album has a discreet spacey background, which recall parts of VISITOR 2035's debut.The groovy cuts and the 80's-sounding beats and synths are flirting with what GIZMO were doing at the same time.The most spacey themes come from some nice synth/guitar runs with sequencers in the background, while the slightly distorted vocals are helping also.But you can also draw strong comparisons with bands like TWELFTH NIGHT or compatriots HEADS IN THE SKY in a style that crosses the British Neo Prog territories, using the lines of GENESIS both in vocal and instrumental sections, albeit with an obviously updated sound.Second side is more diverse and convincing with some dramatic tunes and spoken parts, featuring haunting guitar moves and horror-like keys towards the end, which sound a bit more psychedelic and spacey.

Le Grand Nébuleux Et Les Laveurs De Consciences - 1978 - Les Pirates Du Cortex

Le Grand Nébuleux Et Les Laveurs De Consciences
Les Pirates Du Cortex

01. Mogue
02. Les Pirates Du Cortex
03. Mayday
04. Manali
05. Sekou Toure Blues

Alto Saxophone – Patrice Quentin
Baritone Saxophone – Gérard Amsallem
Bass, Acoustic Guitar – Christian Nys
Drums, Percussion – Robert Plisson
Guitar – Jean-Pat Rochow
Percussion – Patrice Abaoub
Piano, Synthesizer – Thierry Joubertex
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Antoine Duvernet
Vocals – Alain « Mickey » Durand, Jean-Pierre « Jappy » Gormond
Synthesizer – Didier Laure on track 3
Guitar [Solo] – Philippe Gohard on track 1

Recorded in April 1978 at studio « Pense-Folie »

The band is referred to under the shortened name "Le Grand Nebuleux" on the cover spine and labels.
 Another of those rare gems from Paris in the late-1970's, the kind of Mahjun with a lot more Zappa/Mothers "The Great Nebulous" had three sax players (all later in Urban Sax) and the most vibrant/fiery rhythm section, in a music that fused so many styles into their own that it's impossible to describe unless you already know this distinctly French jazz/folk/rock mix, laced with humour and daring invention.

Iskander - 1982 - Bohème 2000

Bohème 2000

01. Winterhagen 1 8:55
02. Winterhagen 3 5:15
03. Gleitflug 8:00
04. Draussen 10:10
05. Elnteg Tnaig 2:03
06. Dollarhut 8:21

Aufgenommen im Juli, 1982, Tonstudio Ebel, Kassel

Bass, Synthesizer [Prophet, Arp] – Ulrich Mennenöh
Drums – Hajo Kann
Electric Guitar, Acoustic Guitar – Martin Firniss
Electric Guitar, Vocals – Michael Pichmann
Electric Piano [Rhodes], Synthesizer, Flute, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals – Klaus-Jürgen Knüppel

 Iskander's debut is a real under the radar delight, and mixes symphonic rock with psychedelic guitar and a variety of progressive ideas. The album is pretty much forgotten today, but was quite well known within those that were tuned into the "Eurock" circle back in the 1980s
A great part of "Boheme 2000" put into the fore excellent intrumental pieces made of melodic keyboards sessions and exquisite, fresh & peaceful guitar lines. If you want to have an obvious comparaison you need to go on Novalis, Camel, Grobschnitt's musical experiences in symphonic prog rock featuring nice,pleasant, accessible sounds sometimes improvisational but always dense and dynamic. It is a keyboard / guitars based band with talented musicians and a great feeling, delivering both intense and technical compositions. An easy listening and recommended effort!

Gebärväterli -1978 - Im Tal der Emmen

Im Tal der Emmen

01. Ich Bin Der Postillion D'Amour, Aber Meine Uhr Geht Vuur 8:05
02. Der Don Juan Hat Seine Turnschuh' An 5:50
03. Im Tal Der Emmen 5:00
04. Schubi Dubi Kong 7:40
05. Die Angespannte Beziehung Zwischen Einem Schmetterling Und Einer Distel 7:05
06. ...ück Zurückspulen! 5:45

Bass – Friedel Pohrer
Drums, Congas – Yogo Pausch
Flute – Dieter Weberpals
Guitar – Norbert Kirchner
Piano, Organ – Reinhold Weberpals
Tenor Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Bassoon – Mandi Riedelbauch
Trombone – Manfred Demetz

The Nuremberg cult band Gebärväterli is not only among connoisseurs and fans in this country known - in England, the US or Japan, you pay for a well-preserved slice "Valley of Emmen" up to 250 euros. Even then, the band developed a very independent version of modern music beyond the usual style borders and categories. After decades to meet  the musicians for the first time in original cast again and play a joint live concert. And that means exciting and above all timeless music. The songs move tonally between Zappa, Soft Machine and embryo . For the few who Gebärväterli know not so good, it should be mentioned that in the cult band of course true cult musician were at work or are:  percussionist Yogo Pausch drummed between the Thilo Wolf Big Band, NC Brown Blue Band or Peter moth Boum revival band pretty much at all, Which seemed percussive. Bassist and guitarist Friedel Pohrer  accompanied many years the English singer-songwriter Kevin Coyne . Flutist Dieter Weberpals played with his band Argile . Also trombonist Manfred Demetz and guitarist and percussionist Norbert Kirchner remained faithful to the music. Mandi Riedelbauch is since the 70s an indispensable artist of Nuremberg jazz scene. And  Reinhold Weberpals  continues to play exciting sounds on the original Hammond organ.

Exil - 1975 - Fusionen


01. Nur Ein Klein Menig 3:12
02. Kurzes Hundeleben 9:34
03. Die Gute Alte Anna 6:16
04. Schuhe 1 10:32
05. Ohne Uns 9:12

Electric Piano – Georg Eckl
Guitar, Drums – Berndt Steiner
Percussion – Bernd Funk
Tenor Saxophone – Bewin
Violin, Cello – Eva Lutz
Vocals, Cello – Jotwin

On Thomas Hayes's cd-reissue wishlist he tells; "Exil - Fusionen (Germany) 1975 FHZ. If you can imagine the 1975 era Embryo releasing "Embryo's Reise" from 1979, then I think you'd have a good idea of Exil's "Fusionen" release. Amongst the usual rock instrumentation there's lots of violin, electric piano and sax playing Eastern European and Asian influenced jazz rock. Aera's "Hand und Fuss" is another good reference as is an instrumental Emma Myldenberger circa "Tour de Trance". A very fine work." perhaps this is the only written information at net. This album enough good for not to be forgotten, any information welcome. A hidden treasure, gently whispers to our ears from 30 years ago!

Ex Ovo Pro - 1978 - Dance Lunatic

Ex Ovo Pro 
Dance Lunatic

01. Dance Lunatic 8:49
02. Burning John 4:28
03. Drowsy Day 4:53
04. Poly Whole 3:53
05. Moonfever 7:53
06. All These Nights 5:23
07. Blue Time 4:55

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Bassoon – Mandi Riedelbauch
Bass – Max Köhler
Drums, Percussion – Harald Pompl
Guitar – Roland Bankel
Piano, Synthesizer [ARP Odyssey, Solina] – Hans Kraus-Hübner

Great spacy prog/krautjazzrock with psych-elements and a funky-fusion edge,tons of great ARP synths-sounds,compared by some collectors to the music Marc Moulin used to play with PLACEBO.