Tuesday, January 31, 2017

George Russell - 1959 - New York, NY

George Russell 
New York, NY

01. Manhattan   
02. Big City Blues   
03. Manhattan-Rico   
04. East Side Medley: A) Autumn In New York, B) How About You   
05. A Helluva Town

Bass – George Duvivier (tracks: B1, B3), Milt Hinton (tracks: A1, A2, B2)
Bongos – Al Epstein (tracks: B1)
Drums – Charlie Persip (tracks: A1, A2, B2), Don Lamond (tracks: B1), Max Roach (tracks: B3)
Guitar – Barry Galbraith
Narrator – Jon Hendricks
Piano – Bill Evans
Saxophone – Al Cohn (tracks: B1, B3), Benny Golson (tracks: A2, B2), Gene Allen (tracks: B1, B3), McKusic (tracks: A2,B1, B2, B3), John Coltrane (tracks: A1), Phil Woods (tracks: A2 to B3), Sol Schlinger (tracks: A1, A2, B2)
Trombone – Bob Brookmeyer, Frank Rehak (tracks: A1, A2, B2), Jim Cleveland (tracks: B1, B3), Tom Mitchell
Trumpet – Art Farmer, Doc Severinsen (tracks: A1), Ernie Royal (tracks: A1, B1, B3), Joe Ferrante (tracks: A2, B2), Joe Wilder (tracks: A2 to B3)

George Russell was one of the most forward-thinking composers and arrangers on the jazz scene during the 1950s, but his work was generally more appreciated by musicians than the jazz-buying public. New York, New York represents one of many high points in his career. He assembled an all-star orchestra, including pianist Bill Evans (a frequent participant on Russell's recordings), Art Farmer, Bob Brookmeyer, John Coltrane, and Milt Hinton, among others. In Rodgers & Hart's "Manhattan," Russell has the soloists playing over the orchestra's vamp, while he also creates an imaginative "East Side Medley" combining the standards "Autumn in New York" and "How About You." His original material is just as striking as his arrangements, while vocalist Jon Hendricks serves as narrator between orchestra segments. While this release has been reissued several times, it rarely remains in print for long, so don't miss the opportunity to acquire this elusive CD.

George Russell - 1959 - Modern Jazz Concert

George Russell
Modern Jazz Concert

01. All About Rosie   
02. On Green Mountain   
03. Suspensions   
04. Revelations (First Movement)   
05. All Set   
06. Transformation

Alto Saxophone – John LaPorta
Arranged By, Conductor – George Russell, Gunther Schuller
Baritone Saxophone – Teo Macero (tracks: B1, B2)
Bass – Fred Zimmerman (tracks: B1, B2), Joe Benjamin (tracks: except B1, B2)
Bassoon – Manuel Zegler
Drums – Teddy Sommer
Flugelhorn – James Buffington
Flute – Robert DiDomenica
Guitar – Barry Galbraith
Harp – Margaret Ross
Piano – Bill Evans
Tenor Saxophone – Hal McKusick
Trombone – Jimmy Knepper
Trumpet – Art Farmer, Louis Mucci
Vibraphone – Teddy Charles
Vocals, Bass [Pizzicato] – Charles Mingus (tracks: B1, B2)

Modern Jazz Concert
Six Compositions commissioned by the
1957 Brandeis University Festival of the Arts, New York City
Track A1, A3: Recorded June 10, 1957
Track B1, B2: Recorded June 18, 1957
Track A2, B3: Recorded June 20, 1957

(Reissued in 1977 in Japan as Brandeis Jazz Festival)

Most of the material is representative of third stream experiments popular for a time in the late '50s and early '60s, with Bill Evans in the role as a hired hand rather than leader, the role that falls either to conductors Gunther Schuller or George Russell, with most of the tracks originating from a Columbia LP titled Modern Jazz Concert and having reappeared in various incarnations with other selections in earlier reissues. Russell's impressive modern big band scoring of his "All About Rosie" is easily one of the highlights, with terrific ensembles and solos. Charles Mingus' "Revelations" is rather ominous, often suggesting the influence of Igor Stravinsky. The last three tracks are from an unrelated live Newport Jazz Festival Verve recording by mellophonist Don Elliott, who leads a quartet with Bill Evans, bassist Ernie Furtado, and drummer Al Beldini through merely average arrangements of three standards. The piecemeal gathering of these very dissimilar sessions for two different labels is troublesome, though the difficulty in acquiring this music make this edition a viable option for collectors.

George Russell - 1956 - Jazz Workshop

George Russell
Jazz Workshop

01. Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub    3:49
02. Jack's Blues    3:44
03. Livingstone I Presume    3:24
04. Ezz-Thetic    5:12
05. Night Sound    3:53
06. Round Johnny Rondo    3:28
07. Fellow Delegates    5:37
08. Witch Hunt    3:47
09. The Sad Sergeant    3:24
10. Knights Of The Steamtable    2:34
11. Ballad Of Hix Blewitt    3:15
12. Concerto For Billy The Kid    4:42

Alto Saxophone – Hal McKusick (tracks: A1 to A6, B2, B6)
Composed By – George Russell
Double Bass – Milt Hinton (tracks: A1 to A6, B2, B6), Teddy Kotick (tracks: B1 to B5)
Drums – Joe Harris (3) (tracks: A1 to A4), Osie Johnson (tracks: B1 to B9), Paul Motian (tracks: A5, A6, B2, B6)
Guitar – Barry Galbraith
Piano – Bill Evans
Trumpet – Art Farmer

While George Russell was very active as a free-thinking composer, arranger, and bandleader, his biggest effect upon jazz was in the quieter role of theorist. His great contribution, apparently the first by a jazz musician to general music theory, was a book with the intimidating title The Lydian Chromatic Concept of Tonal Organization, where he concocted a concept of playing jazz based on scales rather than chord changes. Published in 1953, Russell's theories directly paved the way for the modal revolutions of Miles Davis and John Coltrane -- and Russell even took credit for the theory behind Michael Jackson's huge hit "Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'," which uses the Lydian scale (no, he didn't ask for royalties). Russell's stylistic reach in his own compositions eventually became omnivorous, embracing bop, gospel, blues, rock, funk, contemporary classical elements, electronic music, and African rhythms in his ambitious extended works -- most apparent in his large-scale 1983 suite for an enlarged big band, The African Game. Like his colleague Gil Evans, Russell never stopped growing, but his work is not nearly as well-known as that of Evans, being more difficult to grasp and, in any case, not as well documented by U.S. record labels.
Russell's first instrument was the drums, which he played in the Boy Scout Drum and Bugle Corps and at local clubs when he was in high school. At 19, he was hospitalized with tuberculosis, but he used the enforced inactivity to learn the craft of arranging from a fellow patient. Once back on his feet, he played with Benny Carter, but after being replaced on drums by Max Roach, Russell began to zero in on composing and arranging. He moved to New York to join the crowd of young firebrands who gathered in Gil Evans' "salon," and he was actually invited to play drums in Charlie Parker's band. But once again, he fell ill, finding himself in a Bronx hospital for 16 months (1945-1946), where he began to formulate the ideas for the Lydian Concept. Upon his recovery, Russell leaped into the embryonic fusion of bebop and Afro-Cuban rhythms by writing "Cubana Be" and "Cubana Bop," which the Dizzy Gillespie big band recorded in 1947. He contributed arrangements to Claude Thornhill and Artie Shaw in the late '40s and wrote the first (and not the last) speculative scenario of a meeting between Charlie Parker and Igor Stravinsky, "A Bird in Igor's Yard," recorded by Buddy De Franco.

While working on his Lydian theories, Russell dropped out of active music-making for a while, working at a sales counter in Macy's when his book was published. But when he resumed composing in 1956, he had established himself as an influential force in jazz. Russell's connection with Gunther Schuller resulted in the commission of "All About Rosie" for the 1957 Brandeis University jazz festival, and he also taught at the Lenox School of Jazz that Schuller co-founded. He formed a rehearsal sextet in the mid-'50s that became known as the George Russell Smalltet, with Art Farmer, Bill Evans, Hal McKusick, Barry Galbraith, and various drummers and bassists. Their 1956 recording Jazz Workshop (RCA Victor) became a landmark of its time, and Russell continued to record intriguing LPs for Decca in the late '50s and Riverside in the early '60s. Another key album from this period, Ezz-Thetics, featured two important progressive players, Eric Dolphy and Don Ellis.

Finding the American jazz scene too confining for his music, Russell left for Europe in 1963, living in Sweden for five years. From his new base, he toured Scandinavia with a new sextet of European players and received numerous commissions -- including a ballet based on Othello, a mass, and the orchestral suite Electronic Sonata for Souls Loved by Nature: 1980. Upon his return to the U.S. in 1969, he joined the faculty of the New England Conservatory of Music, where Schuller had started a jazz department, and this gave him a secure base from which to tour occasionally with his own groups. Russell stopped composing from 1972 to 1978 in order to finish a second volume on the Lydian Chromatic Concept. He led a 19-piece big band at the Village Vanguard for six weeks in 1978, played the Newport Jazz Festival when it was based in New York City, and made tours of Italy, the U.S. West Coast, and England in the '80s.

Russell's most imposing latter-day commissions included "An American Trilogy" and the monumental three-hour work "Time Line" for symphony orchestra, jazz ensembles, rock groups, choir, and dancers. In addition to The African Game and So What on Blue Note, Russell made recordings for Soul Note in the '70s and '80s and Label Bleu in the '90s, while continuing to teach at the New England Conservatory and leading his Living Time Orchestra big band into the 21st century. In 2005 George Russell & the Living Time Orchestra's The 80th Birthday Concert, released on the Concept label, celebrated the legendary octogenarian's contributions to the art of jazz with performances of some of his most groundbreaking extended compositions and arrangements. George Russell died in Boston on July 27, 2009 of complications from Alzheimer's disease; he was 86 years old.

This set, originally cut for RCA, was composer/arranger George Russell's debut as a leader. The original program (which includes such numbers as "Ye Hypocrite, Ye Beelzebub," "Livingstone I Presume," "Ezz-thetic" and "Knights of the Steamtable") has been joined by alternate second versions of "Ballad of Hix Blewitt" and "Concerto for Billy the Kid." Listening to the music, it is hard to believe that Russell only utilized a sextet (comprised of trumpeter Art Farmer, altoist Hal McKusick, guitarist Barry Galbraith, pianist Bill Evans, one of two bassists and one of three drummers). The ensembles are frequently dense, the harmonies quite original and there are often several events occurring at the same time; one would swear there were at least four or five horns being heard in spots. "Fellow Delegates" is particularly intriguing for it finds Russell playing chromatic drums while joined by Osie Johnson on wood drums; the otherwordly effect is worthy of Sun Ra. Even the more conventional pieces such as "Ezz-thetic" (based on the chords of "Love for Sale" but here almost resembling a Lennie Tristano line played backwards) sound quite advanced. Russell was able to utilize some of the more versatile and technically skilled players of the era, several of whom worked regularly in the studios. Recommended.

John Wetton - 1980 - Caught In The Crossfire

John Wetton
Caught In The Crossfire

01. Turn on the radio (3:47)
02. Baby come back (3:24)
03. When will you realise (4:34)
04. Cold is the night (5:22)
05. Papertalk (4:00)
06. Get away (4:30)
07. Caught in the crossfire (5:03)
08. Get what you want (3:18)
09. I'll be there (3:33)
10. Woman (4:33)

- John Wetton / guitars, bass, keyboards, vocals
- Simon Kirke / drums
- Martin Barre / guitars
- Malcolm duncan / saxophone
- Phil Manzanera / guitar

Born in Derby, raised in Bournemouth, John Wetton first cut his musical teeth on church music at his family’s piano. He often played the bass parts to help his brother rehearse tunes for services….an experience that led to John’s love of the relationship between top line and bass melodies. This is still a major feature of his music today.In his teens, John focused those melodies on the bass guitar and honed his skills by playing and singing with local bands. He also discovered a knack for songwriting with an early bandmate, Richard Palmer-James; a relationship that would continue to flourish through five decades.

John’s early work with a variety of bands allowed him to show off his impressive bass talents, but did little to showcase his equally impressive singing and songwriting skills. Frustrated, John began to listen a bit closer to the sales pitch of an old friend, Robert Fripp, who set about to reform King Crimson in 1972. The eventual Crimson core of Wetton, Fripp, and Bill Bruford is often considered the “classic” line-up, releasing three studio albums (“Larks’ Tongues in Aspic,” “Starless and Bible Black,” and “Red”) that truly stretched the band to its imaginative limits. But after a blistering show in New York’s Central Park in 1974, the band took a hiatus that became permanent.

Again, John quickly found work to bide his time, but comments from fans and even the media proved to John that there could still be some life in the Wetton/Bruford rhythm section of King Crimson. A series of phone calls and meetings proved to be all the momentum needed in getting U.K. off the ground. The line-up of Wetton, Bruford, Eddie Jobson, and Allan Holdsworth delivered a potent mix of jazzy fusion and progressive pop that brought great success, but also division in the band. After one album, Bruford and Holdsworth were out, and drummer Terry Bozzio in. The trio delivered one studio album and one live album before a demise similar to King Crimson…a hiatus that turned permanent.

At this point, John decided to turn his attentions to a solo career and entered the studio to record “Caught in the Crossfire,” an album that, in hindsight, shows a logical bridge from the music of U.K. to the eventual music of Asia. While most Wetton fans are now familiar with “Caught in the Crossfire,” not many people heard it in 1980. E.G. Records failed to give it the necessary promotion; a move EG blamed on John’s advancing age. He was 31 at the time…..

Feeling it was time to clean house, John parted ways with his old management, publisher, and record company, and joined forces with Brian Lane, who had just ended a successful run with Yes. John had already started  working with Atlantic Records’ A&Rman John Kalodner, Kalodner was moving to the newly-formed Geffen Records, and wanted to assemble a group that would unleash a new sound across the musical landscape while preserving the finest elements of progressive rock. He found his dream line-up with Wetton, Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer. This “fab four” of progressive pop would rule radio and record sales for a scant year and a half before losing Wetton in an unceremonious shake-up just weeks before MTV’s heavily-promoted Asia in Asia concert broadcast. Not long after, John returned to the Asia fold , and as a result,Steve Howe made his exit. The band entered the studio with new guitarist Mandy Meyer to record “Astra.” The album showcased a few Wetton/Downes classics such as “Rock and Roll Dream” and “Go,” but the die had been cast, and the record companyconfidence translated to lack of promotion,and loss of momentum equalled lost sales.

By the end of the ‘80s, interest in Asia reignited in Europe. John rejoined Carl Palmer, and eventually Geoff Downes, for a series of concerts that proved successful but left John empty. To him, Asia was sounding tired and he was ready for a break. Further enticing him was a solo deal with Virgin Records. So, after wrapping up a South American tour in 1991, John temporarily bid adieu to Asia… or so he thought.

With renewed energy, John moved to California and began work on his “Voice Mail” album, the first album to really show off his talents for emotional, autobiographical material. Two songs from the album, “Hold Me Now” and “Battle Lines,” have become classics among Wetton fans. In fact, “Battle Lines” eventually replaced “Voice Mail” as the album’s title when British producer Bob Carruthers selected it as the theme for his film “Chasing the Deer.” To promote the album, John embarked on his first solo tour and later released a live CD called “Akustika.”

Returning to the studio in the mid 90s, John contributed tracks to tribute albums featuring the works of Jethro Tull, Emerson, Lake & Palmer, and Genesis. He furthered the link to Genesis by signing on with Steve Hackett for his “Genesis Revisited” project, which culminated in several highly successful live performances in Japan.

Continued autobiographical songwriting led to 1997’s “Arkangel” album, an emotionally gritty album that would add more staples (“Arkangel,” “Emma”) to John’s live solo performances. 2000’s “Sinister” album, also entitled “Welcome to Heaven,” finished the trilogy of solo offerings. He further promoted these albums with extensive tours of Europe, Japan, and South America.

Despite being left off the tour schedule, American fans had plenty to celebrate in 2002 with the first-ever John Wetton Fan Convention in suburban Allentown, PA. Hundreds filled a local venue to spend a weekend with John, his band, and Geoff Downes, who joined John for a gala Saturday night concert which marked the first time the two had shared a stage in more than ten years.

Fans delighted in a resurgence of the Wetton/Downes team when John returned to the studio to begin work on 2003’s “Rock of Faith.” Two new songs written by John and Geoff ("I’ve Come to Take You Home” and “I Lay Down”) created a buzz among fans hoping for an eventual reunion of the original Asia line-up. That buzz roared in 2005 with the release of “iCon,” an album of original music by Wetton and Downes that the duo followed with a number of live shows. Fans cheered the fact that Wetton sounded as good in person, if not better, than he did during the heyday of Asia.

With Wetton at the top of his game (again), imagine what it would sound like if Downes, Howe, and Palmer all joined in!  It indeed happened in early 2006, as the four musicians responsible for Billboard's Number One Album of 1982 sat down in a London hotel and began the groundwork for a worldwide reunion tour. After a media blitz across the US, the tour kicked off in Rochester, NY in August of 2006. Fans quickly snapped up tickets as more and more dates were added.

Several months into the reunion tour, Asia and its fans were stunned to learn that John Wetton needed emergency heart surgery. During his hospital stay in London, worried fans flooded the switchboard with calls about his progress. Thankfully, John made a remarkably quick recovery and, after a few short weeks of resting at home, Asia returned to the road.

During this same time, John and Geoff released the second of their iCon albums, "Rubicon."  The historical meaning of the title was not lost on the musicians or their fans, as the songs reflected John and Geoff's personal and professional decisions to sever restrictive ties of the past and forge a positive new outlook.

As Asia set out on a much-anticipated second year of touring, fans demanded more. They wanted to hear what would happen if Wetton, Downes, Howe and Palmer sat down in a studio and created a new album. Fans got their wish as the band retreated to the studios at Liscombe Park and got to work on "Phoenix." The appropriately titled project was an incredibly balanced one, fully showcasing the writing and playing of each band member. John's thoughtful reflections on his health crisis and his healthy resurgence coloured many of the lyrics on the album.

Asia wrapped up months of touring in the spring of 2008 with a series of shows in Eastern Europe, leaving John and Geoff with time to craft their third iCon album.  The Phoenix tour resulted in the Live CD/DVD “Spirit of the Night”.   A track from that album, An Extraordinary Life, was also selected as the theme to America’s Got Talent.

The band’s success continued with the recording of the second album of their reunion, Omega.  The subsequent World Tour resulted in the release of “Resonance” which captured a live performance in Switzerland.

Wetton returned to his solo career in 2011 to record Raised in Captivity, an album of new compositions with Billy Sherwood.  A band was formed to tour the UK and Japan, playing music from the new album and a career spanning back catalogue.  Wetton’s other ventures during this period included the reunion of UK with Eddie Jobson and guest appearances for Cleopatra Records.

In 2012, ASIA returned to the studio to record XXX, proving that a reunion can last longer than first time around.  The album cover shows the ASIA dragon 30 years later and was supported by another World Tour, taking in America, Europe and Japan.

In 2013, Steve Howe announced he was leaving ASIA and Wetton was instrumental in selecting new guitarist, Sam Coulson, to join the band.  The band plans to record a new studio album, Valkyrie, for release later in the year…

Upon leaving UK, before reaching Asia, journeyman John Wetton released his first solo album, Caught in the Crossfire. Although a vocal doppelgänger of Greg Lake, as a songwriter Wetton was always more of a team player, so there was no occasion in Wetton's past work where you could say, "Aha, this is what he'd sound like on his own." And he is largely on his own here, handling vocals, bass, keyboards, and even guitar while writing all of the material (though Peter Sinfield does chip in on "Get What You Want"). The result is surprisingly good; Wetton is clearly more comfortable writing songs on the bass, but he fleshes them out nicely with keyboards, supported by Bad Company drummer Simon Kirke, embellished with the plaintive guitar leads of Jethro Tull's Martin Barre, and polished with a pair of saxophone solos from Malcolm Duncan. The songs could be seen as Asia on a more intimate scale ("Baby Come Back," "When Will You Realize?"), though in some cases the taut sound of UK is also evident ("Turn On the Radio"). While there are occasional missteps, such as borrowing the Monkees' "Daydream Believer" for "I'll Be There," there are also occasional moments of near-greatness, such as the haunting "Cold Is the Night." Far from the grab-bag approach that these maiden voyages often take, Caught in the Crossfire benefits from a consistent vision and execution. Wetton's not trying to dazzle you with his songwriting or range, just make an album of relevant, intelligent music. And he succeeds more often than not here. F.Y.I., the Renaissance reissue features different cover artwork than the original EG editions.

Phil Manzanera - 1975 - Diamond Head

Phil Manzanera
Diamond Head

01. Frontera 4:02
02. Diamond Head 4:30
03. 2Big Day 3:44
04. The Flex 3:32
05. Same Time Next Week 4:45
06. Miss Shapiro 6:40
07. East Of Echo 5:45
08. Lagrima 2:27
09. Alma 6:48

Phil Manzanera / guitars, keyboards, bass, fuzz bass, string synthesizer,
Robert Wyatt / lead vocals, timbals, cabasa, backing vocals
Brian Eno / backing vocals, guitar treatment, rhythm guitar, piano
John Wetton / bass, lead vocals, mellotron
Brian Turrington / bass
Paul Thompson / drums
Eddie Jobson / strings, fender piano, electric clavinet, synthesizer
Andy MacKay / soprano sax, alto sax, oboe
Bill MacCormick / fuzz bass themes, vocals
Charles Hayward / percussion
Dave Jarrett / keyboards
Ian McDonald / bagpipes
Sonny Akpan / congas
Doreen Chanter / lead vocals
Chyke Hainu / drums
Danny Heibs / bass
Mongezi Feza / trumpet

Phil Manzanera is one of the UK's best-known musicians and record producers, having shot to prominence in the early '70’s as the lead guitarist with the seminal band, Roxy Music. He is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s leading guitarists and is in much demand both as a performer and record producer.

Phil Manzanera was born in London to a Colombian mother and English father, and spent most of his childhood in different parts of the Americas : Hawaii, Venezuela, Colombia and Cuba. It was in Cuba that the young Manzanera, aged six, encountered his first guitar, a Spanish guitar owned by his mother. Phil’s early musical accomplishments were Cuban folksongs learnt against the upheaval of the Cuban Revolution.

In Venezuela the eight year old Phil started experimenting with the sounds of the electric guitar, a cello electric. During his teenage years Phil was absorbing and marrying the twin influences of 60’s rock and roll with the Latin-American rhythms of the merengue, cumbia and particularly the boleros of the Mexican, Armando Manzanero.

Manzanera was determined to join a professional band and by the New Year of 1972, aged 22, he had joined the recently formed Roxy Music as lead guitarist - the line-up at this time was Bryan Ferry, Brian Eno, Paul Thompson and Andy Mackay. Roxy’s rise was meteoric, with the band being hailed as the stylistic influence of the early 1970’s. During the next 12 years, until 1983 when the band members went on a 'long break’, Roxy Music released a series of international best selling albums, achieving ten UK top ten albums and touring extensively throughout the world. In parallel with Roxy Music, Manzanera has alway pursued solo projects, both recording his own albums and producing for others. All his previous solo albums have been digitally remastered and re-released with new artwork, available on his own label, Expression Records through his web-site, www.manzanera.com.

As a writer, producer and solo artist, Phil Manzanera has worked with many of the luminaries of modern music, such as Steve Winwood, David Gilmour, John Cale, Godley and Creme, Nico (Velvet Underground) and John Wetton (King Crimson, Asia). He has co-written material with many artists, including Brian Eno, Tim Finn, Robert Wyatt and David Gilmour. Manzanera co-wrote Pink Floyd’s single 'One Slip’ from their 1988 'Momentary Lapse of Reason’ album. In 2008 Manzanera co-produced David Gilmour: Live in Gdansk as well as David Gilmour’s 2006 chart topping album, On An Island, he also toured with Gilmour playing concerts in Europe and North America. Also in 2008 his production of Enrique Bunbury’s album Hellville DeLuxe,was no1 in Spain and Mexico enabling Bunbury to play the biggest ever concert in Mexico city to 120000 people.

Manzanera has performed in concerts all over the world, including 'Guitar Legends’, the five day guitar festival in Seville where he was musical director for the event as well as playing with Bob Dylan, Keith Richards, Jack Bruce and Richard Thompson. Phil has also played in Mexico, Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Spain, France Italy and the UK, including a ten date European tour with the Cuban band, Grupo Moncada. He played in WOMAD festivals in South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Phil ended the 20thCentury by appearing with Bryan Ferry at the British Gas Millennium Concert at Greenwich, the first time they had performed together in 18 years.

The Roxy Music 'long break’ came to an end in 2001 with a critically acclaimed, sellout 52 date world tour, featuring Bryan Ferry, Phil Manzanera, Andy MacKay and Paul Thompson. The world rediscovered Roxy Music and the band were shown to be as relevant and influential as ever. In the Summer of 2003 Roxy played 10 dates in the US followed by 13 European gigs in 2004, including performing at Live 8 in Berlin. After a five year wait, Roxy fans will be able to see the band this Summer in Festivals in the UK, Europe and Japan.

Phil Manzanera has his state of the art Gallery Studios in West London. The first recording was Robert Wyatt’s Mercury Prize nominated Cuckooland, and since then clients have included Roxy Music, Eno, Hot Chip, David Gilmour, Annie Lennox, Kevin Ayers,and Chrissie Hynde.

Phil Manzanera defies easy musical definition, preferring to continually explore new musical directions and experiment with sounds and styles, continuing Phil’s musical journey, one that takes many twists and turns , and shows his enduring passion and talent for making music.

Phil Manzanera's first post-Roxy foray into solo albums is a terrific all-star affair that still holds up enormously well. Calling on favors from Roxy members present and past, and those from the Cambridge/British art rock scene, Manzanera assembled a supergroup for every song. Robert Wyatt sings Spanish gibberish on the opener "Frontera," a rewrite of his own "Team Spirit." Brian Eno teams up for the sunny "Big Day" and the nonsensical "Miss Shapiro," both of which would not have been out of place on his own early solo albums. John Wetton (of several groups including Family and Asia) sings a duet with Doreen Chanter (of the Chanter Sisters and the Joe Cocker Band), and Bill MacCormick of Matching Mole and Quiet Sun sings his own "Alma," the album's closing ballad. Fans of any of the singers above, not to mention Manzanera, whose party this is, won't be disappointed. A majority of these tracks went on to form the set list for 801 Live.

When, in 1975, Phil Manzanera put together his debut solo LP Diamond Head, fans of Roxy Music already expected something special. The versatile guitarist was already well-known for his highly textured guitar work. For the record he enlisted the aid of a number of talented friends: Brian Eno (ex-Roxy Music), John Wetton (King Crimson, Family), Eddie Jobson and members of Manzanera’s old band Quiet Sun.

The original album featured nine songs, all composed totally (or in part) by Manzanera. From the Spanish language “Frontera” to the soaring instrumental of the title track, Diamond Head was both a showcase of Manzanera’s talents as a guitarist, composer and arranger. But it also served to show that he could create some damn good songs.

The one thing Manzanera didn’t do on Diamond Head was sing: he left the vocal duties in the capable hands of Robert Wyatt, Eno, Wetton, Bill MacCormack and others*. On tracks like the infectiously poppy “Big Day,” Listeners would be treated to the multiple-overdubbed singing of Eno; Manzanera concentrated on creating catchy guitar parts with innovative sonics. While about half of Diamond Head was comprised of instrumentals, the record was far from a guitar-wank excursion. Fascinatingly varied, the album included the funkified “The Flex,” featuring some tasty sax work from Jobson, and — as always – fascinating sounds from Manzanera’s guitar arsenal. The Latin flavor he’d explore in subsequent outings was already evident even on this early work.

Diamond Head was reissued in 2011 with bonus tracks (more on those forthwith). The album mixes progressive styles with proto-world music, art-rock and other styles. More commercially-oriented than Eno’s solo work, it’s occasionally every bit as adventurous. And it’s as close to an ego-free outing as could be imagined for a solo record: Manzanera affords his mates plenty of space to do their things. Wetton’s lead vocal on the tricky-beat “Same Time Next Week” (actually a duet with Doreen Chanter) is almost as musically off-kilter as King Crimson, yet it is somehow rooted in pop styles alien to that group.

Eno’s contribution to “Miss Shapiro” helps create an arty rocker that one-ups the Roxy Music approach; whether it’s Eno’s perfectly dispassionate vocal, the corkscrew guitar lines of Manzanera’s axe, or the whip-smart playing of the rhythm section, the song offers something for everyone. Manzanera’s heavily phased guitar is a major feature of “East of Echo,” a track featuring Quiet Sun. Notably, the timeframe for recording and mixing Diamond head was a mere 26 days; even more notably, during that period Manzanera and his Quiet Sun pals also recorded another album!

“Lagrima” is built around backwards Spanish-styled acoustic guitar, with evocative oboe playing from Andy Mackay. The soaring “Alma” features a Bill MacCormack vocal plus a Leslie’d guitar and some subtle string synthesizer work from Manzanera and Jobson.

The 2011 reissue of Diamond Head offers up a digipak, a lovely and informative booklet, and a pair of bonus tracks. “Carhumba” features a group of African musicians playing in a Latin style, with a searing Manzanera solo (of course). The song tips Manzanera’s hand toward his abiding interest in what is now called world music; had it been released in, say, 2002 instead of 1985, it could have been a hit. “Corazon Y Alma” is a lengthy piece — a demo of sorts – predating the Diamond Head sessions; it explores many of the musical themes fleshed out on the album proper. It marks one of the few notable uses of Farfisa organ (courtesy of Quiet Sun’s Dave Jarrett) in a jazz-prog setting. The song sounds a bit like Caravan, not surprising in light of Quiet Sun’s pedigree.

No catalog of progressive music should be considered complete without a copy of Phil Manzanera’s Diamond Head, and if you’re not going to track it down on vinyl, the 2011 reissue is the one to get.

Gordon Haskell - 1971 - It Is And It Isn't

Gordon Haskell 
It Is And It Isn't

01. No Meaning - (3:31)
02. Could Be - (3:18)
03. Upside Down - (4:31)
04. Just a Lovely Day - (3:59)
05. Sitting by the Fire - (3:44)
06. When I Lose - (0:26)
07. No Need - (2:51)
08. Worms - (4:46)
09. Spider (Robert Smith, Gordon Haskell) - (4:19)
10.Learning Not to Feel - (2:39)
11.Benny - (4:49)
12.When I Laugh - (0:24)

John Wetton - Organ, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals, Gut String Guitar, Vocal Harmony
Gordon Haskell - Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals
Bill Atkinson - Drums
Alan Barry - Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar
David Brigati - Vocals
Eddie Brigati - Vocals
Dave Kaffinetti - Piano, Keyboards, Electric Piano
Arif Mardin - Keyboards, Electric Piano, Horn Arrangements, String Arrangements
Neal Rosengarden - Piano
David Spinozza - Guitar, Rhythm Guitar

From Gordon Haskell's official page, about his latest album release.
Dear Friends,
I live quietly and freely, but industriously on a beautiful Greek island. I had no intention of writing or recording. I had had 60 years of life under English rule and had always found it too oppressive for my tastes.

In 2006 I finally gave up on England as a lost cause. Besides, the cost of living was beyond me and my taxes were going to finance wars. It was hardly encouraging. I shriveled up, starved of light. The vineyard was destroyed. Any good gardener knows the remedy for that.

My father, Professor Harry Hionides, was a Greek-American and whilst I never knew him, I had his Greek blood and humanitarian ways. After 60 years of mental imprisonment and frustration, and never-ending arguments, I am finally free.

When I first arrived on the island I began learning how to build my own house and with enormous help from my inspirational partner and soulmate we began to grow our own vegetables and fruit. Together we built a new and rewarding beautiful way of life.

Being able to provide shelter and food for oneself seems so obvious yet most of us leave the education system without the basic tools of survival. Most of us become dependent on somebody as a result. Our natural abilities and talents are too often overshadowed by our ambitions, put there by the good intentioned but misguided.

We begin our lives trying to please, trying to make someone proud of us. We can become successful, even President . Along the way we are obliged to make certain compromises to achieve those goals. George Bush is the perfect example of how any idiot can achieve his goal if you don’t mind the company you’re forced to keep and are willing to follow orders.

The song ‘How wonderful you are’ encapsulated the potential in each and every one of us . I had hoped the song would awaken those who felt oppressed by our idiotic authorities and we would start objecting and fighting back, but never mind. It’s a bit late now. Wars cost billions. Who did you think would pay for them? The Banks?

I had repeatedly rejected success over 40 years of ‘show business’ whether it was King Crimson or my own solo efforts simply because it felt phoney. Which in the main it was. My instincts never let me down. I had been right all along. I was simply outnumbered. Here on this island I find agreement and like minds. I have moved on. The new album “One day Soon” is here and I feel very good about it. There’s nothing more to say. Except that the fruit and vegetables never tasted so good as they do now.

I wish you all a good harvest on this amazing and beautiful planet. As I used to say in my previous life back in The Bent Brief and The Thomas Tripp, ‘May you be blessed with many goats!’ I remember you all with enormous love and admiration. Jazz was conversation. I’ll never forget listening to the jazz in Harry’s Bar. It was my education.
Thank you. Gordon Haskell Hionides

Gordon Haskell is usually thought of as a footnote in the history of King Crimson -- the only lead singer in the group's long list of personnel who never played a single live date with the band, though he was with them long enough to cut most of an album (Lizard) and get one performance ("Cadence and Cascade") onto its predecessor. Otherwise, he's been an enigma even to many Crimson fans.

Haskell's history with Robert Fripp goes back to the days they spent together in the mid-'60s as members of the League of Gentlemen, a band that backed various American R&B stars on tour and cut a couple of singles. Haskell was also a member of a Liverpool band called the Quotations, formed by ex-Big Three bassist Johnny Gustafson (before he joined the Merseybeats), who recorded for English Decca ("Alright Baby" b/w "Love You All Over Again") in 1964. His main group affiliation for most of the mid-'60s was the Fleur de Lys, a somewhat lightweight psychedelic band who recorded at least once under the pseudonym of Shyster. Haskell passed through the lineups of Rupert's People and Cupid's Inspiration, and, as a member of the Fleur de Lys, also played on records by Bill Kimber, John Bromley, Sharon Tandy, and Terry Durham. By the end of the '60s, he was a solo act, trying to establish himself as a singer/songwriter, and released a pair of singles in 1969 and 1970, "Boat Trip" and "Oh-La-Di-Doo-Da-Day," and one LP, Sail in My Boat, all for British CBS.

In 1970, as his former League of Gentlemen bandmate Robert Fripp was struggling to keep his current group, King Crimson, viable in some form and complete a second album, Haskell joined the band as successor to bassist-singer Greg Lake, who was leaving the lineup to join Emerson, Lake & Palmer. After singing on one song for that album, In the Wake of Poseidon, he joined a new Crimson lineup and recorded most of the next album, Lizard. As was often the case with Crimson lineups in those days, however, Haskell didn't last -- he and other members of the core band had left by the time Lizard was completed and released late in 1970, and he never worked live with the band.

Haskell cut a solo album, It Is and It Isn't, during 1973 (actually the album was recorded circa 1971 but saw the limelight round 1973-74), and worked with such artists as Tim Hardin, Alvin Lee, and Van Morrison. His solo work tends to be in a folk-like, singer/songwriter vein, reminiscent of Gordon Lightfoot with something of a progressive rock edge and more humor, some of it very sardonic. Based in southern England at the end of the '90s, he concertizes regularly in the Hampshire and Dorset areas, and he has continued his recording career into the '90s with his albums Butterfly in China and Hambledon Hill. In 1993, he also teamed up with Mike Wedgewood (ex-Curved Air and Caravan) to tour Scandinavia. In the late '90s, Voiceprint Records' Blueprint label reissued Haskell's solo albums of the '60s and '70s on compact disc. The massively popular "How Beautiful You Are" hit British airwaves in the winter of 2001, announcing Haskell's comeback to music. Harry's Bar followed the next year, fully bringing him back into the public spotlight after years of inactivity.
by Bruce Eder

Duncan Mackay - 1980 - Visa

Duncan Mackay

01. Visa
02. Peru Tu
03. Fistful Of Keyboards
04. See Sea
05. In The Pink
06. South American Express
07. Third Bird
08. Gin-Sing
09. Night Flight
10. Hand Gliding

- Duncan Mackay / keyboards
- Simon Phillips / drums

So. On Duncan Mackay's third solo album, he has thrown away his backing band, other than a light drum track by none other than Simon Phillips, completely rid himself of all Keith Emerson imitations from the previous ventures.

Track after track, Mackay gives us a sound that has the Euro-pop aspirations of Kraftwerk, the synthesizer swirling patches of Tangerine Dream.

Was this a collection of radio jingles paid for by Visa?  If you can get past the limited palette of electronic keyboard sounds and electronic beats, you may even find you can enjoy the tunes beyond the, for me, two or three minutes fade point.  'A Fistful of Keyboards', six bruising minutes long and 'Third Bird' with electronic bird calls added as a variation to the Jean Michel Jarre like theme are the most striking examples.

'Gin-Sing' manages to keep my interest throughout and sounds like something from Camel's 'Stationary Traveler' while 'Peru Tu' could have been on a Jan Hammer album.  'In the Pink', soft and dreamy, could have done without the tish-tish beat but then I don't like dancing.

Overall, there are more good than ugly sounds and if you can find it, don't hesitate to pay a few dollars more.

Duncan Mackay - 1977- Score

Duncan Mackay

01. Witches
02. Triptych
03. Spaghetti Smooch
04. Time Is No Healer
05. Fugitive
06. Score
07. Pillow Schmillow
08. Jigaloda
09. No Return

- Duncan Mackay / Keyboards, Yamaha Grand Piano, Hammond B3, Clavinet D6, Wurlitzer 200, Roland Sequencer, ARP 2600, ARP 2800, ARP 2701, ARP2100 ARP 2200
- Steve Harley / Vocals on "Time Is No Healer"
- John Wetton / Vocals (except for "Time Is No Healer")
- Clive Chaman / Bass, Fender Precision Bass
- Andrew McCulloch / Drums & Percussion
- Mel Collins / Flute on "Time Is No Healer"
- Wilf Gibson / Orchestra Arrangements
- Yvonne Keeley / Vocal effects

Duncan Mackay, on this, his second solo album, has moved slightly away from the Keith Emerson imitations that permeated his first album. Slightly, because the Emerson sound still appears. On the first track, Witches, a somewhat Spanish sounding symphonic proc piece, Mackay plays Emerson-like riffs on a honky-tonk tack piano, similar in sound to keith's in Benny The Bouncer. Acousic piano appears throughout the album, with Mackay providing obvious Emerson-influenced sounds.
Most obvious are Spaghetti Smooch, which sounds very much like a reworking of the main sections of Tarkus, played in 7 instead of 10, and Time Is No Healer, which owes a lot to Take A Pebble.

Despite the Emerson overtones, Mackay is developing his own style here. He does a nice job of layering piano, keyboard and synths all at the same time without making the songs too busy. One slight complaint is that his reliance on mostly Arp synthesizers makes many of the tones very similar to those used by Larry Fast at the same time.

And Mackay's inclusion of John Wetton and Mel Collins as sidemen brings him firmly into the nineteen seventies progressive rock family tree.

Duncan Mackay - 1974 - Chimera

Duncan Mackay 

01. Morpheus [11.29]
02. 12 Tone Nostalgia [8.23]
03. Song For Witches [19.56]

Bonus track

04. The Opening [7.03] recorded 1990

- Duncan Mackay / Vocals, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Denon electric piano, clavichord, ARP synthesizer
- Gordon Mackay / Violin, electric piano, piano
- Mike Gray / Drums

What do bands like ALAN PARSON'S PROJECT, BUDGIE and CAMEL have in common?

The logical answer would be very little, but the truth is that the common denominator is DUNCAN MACKAY, a guy who paradoxically completed his studios in Violin (He was elected the most promising violin player in UK at the age of 11) but was famous for his keyboard performances.

After earning a music scholarship in Shrewsbury Public School, he finished his studies in 1967 obtaining his L.T.C.L. and L.R.S.M diplomas in violin. Soon was invited to join the famous (In Latin America) SERGIO MENDEZ band (1970).

Is in this days the he works in his debut album "Chimera" that is released in 1974 with Duncan playing Vocals, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Denon electric piano, clavichord, ARP synthesizer, the album was brilliant but it was the year in which Tales from Topographic Oceans and The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway were released, and due to the tough and unfair competition, the album never received the credit it deserved, being that people was busy buying music from the already famous icons who were at their peak.

In 1975 he joined Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel with whom they release the hit single Come Up And See Me, Make Me Smile that reaches the peak of the British charts, but in the meanwhile, faithful to the music he loves, works and releases his second album Score that saw the light in 1977, with famous musicians such as John Wetton and Mel Collins (King Crimson), it's only recently that this album has reached the status of Collector's Item.

Around he date of release of Score, Duncan worked with famous musicians and bands as KATE BUSH, ALAN PRSON'S PROJECT, CAMEL and Budgie, and in 1978 releases his third solo album VISA, more oriented towards Electronic music.

In 1990, after working for several years with different bands and artists, MacKay's fourth album is released under the name A Picture of Sound.

After his last solo release, he continues working and teams Greg McEwan to form REUNION in 2003.

After checking this extensive career, seems unbelievable that DUBNCAN MCKAY wasn't added to Prog Archives before, but this are things that happen when a site manages such a huge database of artists an albums, but at last we are making justice to a great artist unfairly forgotten by us.

The album presents us an impressive display of keyboards of all kinds, piano, Hammond B3 organ, Denon electric piano, clavichord, ARP synthesizer ,etc, all taken to the maximum of their possibilities by MACKAY who does a very competent work. But that's not all, DUNCAN has a pretty decent voice and is supported by his brother Gordon, who adds some piano and violin, plus Mike Gray in the drums...Yes, it's true, no guitar or bass.

"Chimera" is opened with the strange "Morpheus", contrary to what the name may imply, the song has nothing dreamy or oneiric, as a fact is a frenetic song with multiple and radical changes of style, that go from pristine Symphonic with clear Rick Wakeman references to hard and excessive in the mood of Keith Emerson with a touch of Jürgen Fritz from TRIUMVIRAT.

The vocals are good enough and the drums are outstanding, a solid track from start to end, maybe a bit bombastic but strong and interesting

The second track "12 Tone Nostalgia" starts dramatic and sober, with a dramatic edge, and even when MACKAY explores all the possibilities of the keyboards, that heavy and almost Psychedelic atmosphere provided by the Hammond Organ adds emotion and sentiment.

The instrumental breaks marks a change; from being sober and nostalgic, the song changes into bombastic and unpredictable, MACKAY includes everything, from Bach inspired music to ELP oriented passages, and incredibly "REFUGEE" sounds (something hard to believe because both albums were released in 1974). Maybe people will say it's pompous and self indulgent....But that's the reason why I love it, at the end...Isn't that what we seek for in Prog Rock?

The original release ends with the 19:15 minutes epic "Song for Witches", a really strange song that begins with a clear Psychedelic inheritance, MACKAY and band jam with the instruments as if they were in the late 60's, and suddenly, when less expected they move into a frenetic Jazz section, with a slight MAHAVISHNU influence, but this doesn't last too long, MACKLAY as usual returns to the complex fantasia of sounds and influences that go from Classical, Baroque and Gothic to something that could had been released by THE NICE...The guys is absolutely versatile and this deserves credit.

My copy of "Chimera" is closed by a 1990 released bonus track contradictorily named "The Opening", even when it's obvious that MACKAY'S skills have improved even more, the sound is radically different, more modern and with a strong mainstream component in the vein of late ALAN PARSONS PROJECT, but we are here to talk about the original release, and even when the song is entertaining, sounds completely out of place in a 1974 release, and for that reason doesn't alter my opinion about the original album.

I believe "Chimera" is a forgotten gem that deserves no less than 4 stars, so except for people who dislike pompous music, it's highly recommended.

Chapman Whitney - 1974 - Streetwalkers

Chapman Whitney

01. Parisienne High Heals 4:04
02. Roxianna 3:46
03. Systematic Stealth 2:24
04. Call Ya 6:32
05. Creature Feature 4:14
06. Sue And Betty Jean 5:08
07. Showbiz Joe 4:07
08. Just Four Men 2:50
09. Tokyo Rose 2:26
10. Hangman 4:44

Roger Chapman - Percussion, Vocals
Charlie Whitney - Guitars
Linda Lewis - Vocals
Boz Burrell - Vocals
Mel Collins - Brass, Brass Arrangement, Woodwind
Jim Cregan - Vocals
Mike Giles - Drums
Rick Grech - Bass
Tim Hinkley - Keyboards
Neil Hubbard - Guitar
Godfrey Mclean - Congas
Max Middleton - Keyboards
Del Newman - String Arrangements
John "Poli" Palmer - Vibraphone
Ian Wallace - Drums
John Wetton - Bass, Vocals

The band, put out three consistent albums of funky booze rock in the mid to late '70s, but the origin of the band was not a mediocre affair. Roger Chapman and Charlie Whitney led their previous outfit, Family, through eight LPs of limited success, breaking up the band in late 1973. But their partnership continued and months later they set out to record a one-off album as a duo. A number colleagues contributed to the project, including alumni of Family (John Wetton, Ric Grech, Poli Palmer, Jim Cregan) and King Crimson (Wetton, Mike Giles, Boz Burrell, Ian Wallace, Mel Collins). The resulting LP, Chapman Whitney Streetwalkers, was released in May, 1974. The mixture of rockers and ballads was not Family; yet there was added depth to the music, stemming from the evolved songwriting and from the involvement of so many musicians. "Roxianna" and "Showbiz Joe" were part New Orleans jazz, continuing the Americana feel of Family's last album. "Systematic Stealth," a lovely textured ballad, and the slunky "Creature Feature" demonstrate the range of Roger Chapman's unusual voice, from gravelly crooning to just plain gravel. The album's most stunning moments, "Parisienne High Heels" and "Hangman," are brooding and hair-raising in their energy and dark themes. Chapman and Whitney kept drummer Ian Wallace and horn player Mel Collins to form a touring group, adding bassist Phil Chen and guitarist Bob Tench. Only Tench would stay for the full-fledged Streetwalkers band, which embraced funk and hard rock in a less subtle way than this first venture. Whitney's biting lap steel guitar would become a signature sound of the Streetwalkers, but the songwriting never matched what was accomplished on this album. ~ Patrick Little, All Music Guide

Rest Easy John Wetton

Bassist, singer and songwriter John Wetton has passed away in his sleep following a long fight with cancer at the age of 67

I first became aware of him as a teenager when the first Asia album came out, later I discovered his earlier work. 
Wonderful voice and a sad loss.
Rest easy.