Tuesday, June 20, 2017

The Paris Smith Quintet - 1983 - Thought Seeds

The Paris Smith Quintet 
Thought Seeds

01. Catman 8:16
02. Psalm 4:54
03. Lilith Came 4:30
04. Owlman 4:14
05. Pentatonia 3:11
06. Thought Seeds 5:28
07. Chico Be 8:15

Bass – Tyler Mitchell
Drums – Usama Pitts
Saxophone – Jimmy Ellis
Vibraphone – Paris Smith
Vocals – Carol Sawall

Spanning over three decades, Chicago vibist Paris Smith released privately three albums through his own imprint Oracle records. In the seventies The Quartets album with Kenneth Hill, In the early 80s Thought Seeds with vocalist Carol Sawall and in the mid-90s 53 Street Ghost with full ensemble. All material is self written, the mood, style and feel of three albums are uniquely different. Ranging from full-blown post-bop to soul-jazz slap! The originals are rare and have been demanding three figure sums on the vinyl collectible auction market.

Thought Seeds, the second album, originally released on Oracle records back in 1983. The Quintet is led by Paris Smith and features Carol Sawall on the vocals for the first time. Jimmy Ellis on saxes. Usama Pitts again on drums and Tyler Mitchell on bass. The albums favors a more mystified modal approach, there is one beautiful solo piece ‘Pentatonia’ and a duo vocal track ‘Lillith Came’ and let’s not forget the title track that is running wild with Carol’s vocals over a fantastic vibes ostinato. The original release has long been scarce, and copies have been demanding three figure sums on the online collectors market.

A Chicago underground jazz classic with all the right ingredients repressed in a 500 copy run - awesome & WELL recommended!!!

Forty Seven Times Its Own Weight - 1975 - Cumulo Nimbus

Forty Seven Times Its Own Weight 
Cumulo Nimbus

01. Weedhopper 7:55
02. March Of The Goober Woobers 5:35
03. 47 Tears 3:45
04. Jig 6:30
05. Halyards 5:35
06. Cumulo Nimbus 5:45

Bass, Electric Bass [Fender Bass] – Spencer Starnes
Drums, Percussion, Photography By – John Treanor
Piano, Electric Piano – Dude Skiles
Soprano Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Paul Ostermayer
Trumpet, Synthesizer, Electric Piano – Mel Winters (tracks: B3)

Independent funky fusion from Texas in the shape of Cumulo Nimbus on Fable Records from 1975.This has been a true collectors item for many years changing hands for silly money (I've been outbid on ebay more times than I care to remember)mainly on the strength of the magnificently titled furiously funky breakbeat and clavinet driven"March of the Goober Woobers".
As you can imagine I was delighted to see it's just been reissued on cd so I snapped one up at Dusty Groove and here it is in its magnificent entirety-all killer no filler!
Funky and free-thinking fusion from the Texas scene of the mid 70s -- a great indie album by a group who traveled in the same territory as the soul combo Starcrost! Although American, the work here has some great qualities that remind us of some of the best European fusion from the same time -- a sense of soaring, stretching energy -- and one that never resorts to too much jamming to carry across its message, and which juxtaposes heavier rhythms with some gentler tunes that really allow the horn parts some wonderful moments! Instrumentation include soprano sax, tenor, trumpet, electric and acoustic piano, and a fair bit of percussion too -- all recorded with a great sense of warmth, almost in the mode of some of the best Fantasy Records 70s sessions!

Starcrost - 1976 - Starcrost


01. False Paradise 2:31
02. Catharsis 3:59
03. Quicksand 5:05
04. Grandfather Clock 8:27
05. Flow 4:25
06. Run (Previously Unreleased) 5:23
07. Getting Going 5:59
08. Funky Little Home 3:29
09. Da Ba O 3:40
10. I've Got A Plan 3:59

Mike Mordecal : Trombone
David Deaton : Piano, Vocals & Guitar
Jim Spector : Bass & Vocals
Paul Pearcy : Drums, Congas & Percussion
John Mills : Soprano, Alto, Tenor Saxes, Flute
Liza Farrow : Vocals & Piano

All-time favorite rare groove classic, out of highly collectible LP on the Fable label! Still sounds fresh and modern...

Olli Ahvenlahti - 1976 - The Poet

Olli Ahvenlahti 
The Poet

01. The Poet 6:30
02. Sunday's Stuff 6:55
03. Aura 6:25
04. Sambatown (Rock Ridge) 7:15
05. A Day At The Zoo 6:20
06. Grandma's Rocking Chair 5:25

Bass – Pekka Pohjola
Drums, Percussion – Esko Rosnell
Percussion – George Wadenius, Tommy Körberg
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer – Olli Ahvenlahti
Soprano Saxophone – Pekka Pöyry
Tenor Saxophone – Eero Koivistoinen
Trombone – Bertil Strandberg
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Markku Johansson

Recorded in Stockholm, Sweden, March 1976.

This is his second and best known album The Poet. If there is any single tune that fits into the category ”best known pieces of Finnish jazz”, Olli Ahvenlahti’s Grandma’s Rocking Chair would be at the top of the list. The tune was first released in 1976. However, Grandma’s Rocking Chair did not gain a wider reputation until the early 1990s acid jazz boom when it was reissued in the Totally Wired 8 compilation and began to reach dance club audiences. The ‘third coming’ took place in 2001 when dj and house producer Kenny Dope released a remix of the tune. The fascination of Grandma’s Rocking Chair cannot be denied but, arguably, it could have been any other title from Ahvenlahti’s second solo album The Poet. Developing the style that was introduced in the author’s debut Bandstand, The Poet stands out as a landmark in its mixing of simple melody lines, modern jazz harmonies and cool rhythms.

Olli Ahvenlahti's a poet on the keys – one of the most soulful players in the 70s Finland scene, heard here on one of his greatest albums ever! The record's got a glowing grace that's really wonderful – part CTI-inspired electric fusion, without as much jamming as other European work of the time – but also an album of rounder, warmer tones – recorded with a slightly larger lineup that includes Eero Koivistoinen on tenor sax, and lots of great percussion at the bottom! Tunes have a subdued approach to funky jazz – still tight in the rhythms, but with more of a focus on the nicely shaded horn solos, and on Olli's great use of electric piano and organ throughout. 

Olli Ahvenlahti - 1975 - Bandstand

Olli Ahvenlahti 

01. Breeze 6:45
02. Countenance 6:12
03. The Daughter 6:31
04. Cadenza For Christina 5:45
05. Sandy 6:50
06. Havana Two 8:14

– Olli Ahvenlahti - pianos, clavinet, synthesizers
– Pekka Pöyry - alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute
– Pekka Sarmanto - bass
– Esko Rosnell - drums, percussion
– Bernt Rosengren - tenor saxophone
– Bertil Löfgren - trumpet, flugelhorn

When legendary producer Otto Donner of Love Records approached Olli Ahvenlahti and said: ”Olli, maybe it’s time for you to record your first solo album”, the pianist did not hesitate. After all, not too many jazz musicians had such a lucky break in 1970s Finland. Moreover, Donner was right. Olli Ahvenlahti had studied church music at the Sibelius Academy as well as English philology at the University of Helsinki. He had been active in the Helsinki club scene as well as in various studio sessions, including Pekka Streng’s prog folk LP Kesämaa and jazzfunk recordings for Eero Koivistoinen’s celebrated album Wahoo! Most importantly, Otto Donner knew that Olli Ahvenlahti was ready for the test. The young pianist had written music that demanded to be released in an album format.
At the time, Ahvenlahti was extremely interested in the electric jazz music that Miles Davis had popularised in the late 1960s. On the other hand, he had not abandoned his love for melodic piano improvisations á la Erroll Garner and, especially, Bill Evans. Recorded over five days in September 1974 in the Marcus Music studios, Stockholm (interestingly, a week earlier rock group Hurriganes had finished their all-time Finnish album classic Roadrunner in the same studios), and launched in April 1975, Bandstand brought together these two jazz traditions.

Sweet keys from 70s Finland – a great little set that's filled with jazzy work on electric piano and clavinet! Keyboardist Olli Ahvenlahti has a touch that's as warm and soulful as some of his counterparts on the American fusion scene – an approach that's not nearly as jamming or rock-influenced as some of the other European keyboardists of the 70s, and which is carried off here with a gliding, soaring approach to the groove! Olli's group on the set features trumpet and sax in the frontline – shading in the tunes with qualities similar to some of the most righteous work done on keyboard sets for Muse or Strata East in the 70s – funky one minute, cosmic the next, with tight head arrangements that state the colors of the tunes, then break into freer solos.

Giger Lenz Marron - 1978 - Where The Hammer Hangs

Giger Lenz Marron 
Where The Hammer Hangs

01. Requiem pro glm
02. Akademikimaus
03. Where the hammer hangs
04. Threedom
05. Checking the scene
06. Alvorada
07. Orient expression
08. Swinging kippe

Peter Giger (drums, percussion),
Günter Lenz (bass),
Eddy Marron (guitar, saz),

+ Trilok Gurtu (tabla, congas)

Recorded July 3&4, 1978 at Biton Studios, Frankfurt/Main.

Peter Giger's career is full of wild one-way streets. It's like he can do it all, equally at home playing it straight, or rattling through an assortment of percussion instruments in jams of thorny, implacable experimentalism. Where the Hammer Hangs and its sister slab Beyond are just a short stop in his considerable career. Both albums are presently out of print, and are obscure considering his other accomplishments in major jazz circles. If you're familiar with Giger's work in more mainstream engagements, it's probably best to come at these from the Dzyan angle (which was actually my introduction to Giger some time back). 

Giger Lenz Marron - 1977 - Beyond

Giger Lenz Marron 

01. Beyond 8:32
02. Quinar 5:58
03. Flying Wheel 4:39
04. Alyrio 5:29
05. Antep 7:39
06. Blues For Chaturlal 7:03

Double Bass, Electric Bass – Günter Lenz
Drums, Percussion – Peter Giger
Guitar, Baglama – Eddy Marron

Formed by former Dzyan members Peter Giger and Eddy Marron, along with jazz bassist Günter Lenz, this super trio offered a more jazz oriented yet similar music to Dzyan, but with a jazzier feel. Without the electronics and weirdness of Dzyan, their music centred around Peter Giger's flowery percussion and Eddy Marron's multi-guitars and ethnic saz, and was much more jazz-fusion based. Giger.Lenz.Marron dabbled with unusual time signatures and lots of experimentation with Eastern musics and off-beat rhythmic structures.

Beyond wase released on Giger's his own Någarå label, and stylistically speaking, pick up right where the Dzyan vehicle left off. There are differences. Just like Dzyan, you will hear searching group improvisations, hints of Eastern rhythm and instrumentation, druggy, reverb-laden guitar forays, and plenty of crossover from the above. But Giger Lenz Marron has fewer pedestrian handholds, less that is familiar, and seemingly no rules except for limitations imposed by the instruments themselves. It's like the ingredients of a Dzyan album, but set in a different project removed from whatever restriction was imposed by the group moniker. Although not a major pit stop on the timeline of such prolific musicians as these, the GLM trio interests me for its freedom of form as well as its connections to several trends that first emerged ten years prior. It proves that jazz is a many faceted thing that will continue to be wrought anew by the creative hands and minds that shape it.

Dzyan - 2010 - Mandala (SWF-Session 1972)

Mandala (SWF-Session 1972)

01. Resurrection (9:49)
02. Dragonsong (11:33)
03. Mandala - Transmigration (2:08)
04. Steel's Electric (6:30)
05. Daddy Groove (8:43)
06. Saz (8:08)
07. Celestial City (4:23)

- Lothar Scharf / drums, percussion, timpani
- Reinhard Karwatky / electric bass, contrabass, percussion, design (sound effects), photography
- Eddy Marron / electric guitar, baglama
- Gerd "Bock" Ehrmann / tenor sax
- Jochen Leuschner / vocals, congas, percussion

'Recorded "live" to analog 2-track at SWF-Studio U1, Baden-Baden (Germany), October 27, 1972

This was a posthumous release originally recorded live in studio back in 1972 but not released until 2010. I was a little nervous about this one only because I found the 1972 debut to be a little hit and miss for my tastes and this live recording came between that one and the followup "Time Machine" which I really like. And while the syle here may be more like the debut this one is a winner folks. Already since the debut the band has a new drummer and lead guitarist on this live recording. Not a bad thing though as the great Eddy Marron plays lead guitar on here, and he would also play on their next studio album "Time Machine". Interesting that the lead vocalist and sax player would also leave before "Time Machine" was recorded. I should also mention that only one track on here can be found on their studio albums making this a must for DZYAN fans.
"Resurrection" is the almost 10 minute opener. Lots of dark atmosphere to start on this one as sounds come and go. Some heavy outbursts a minute in including sax. The song finally kicks into gear before 3 1/2 minutes as the tempo picks up. Vocals around 4 minutes for the first time. Love the instrumental section before 5 1/2 minutes as the guitar starts to let it rip. Nice heavy rhythm section here too. This lasts for just over a minute then the vocals return. Atmosphere ends it. A good tune but my least favourite of the bunch. "Dragonsong" is the only track on here found on another album by them (debut) . Killer intrumental work as the vocals come in. Great sound ! This is the longest tune at 11 1/2 minutes. Love the sax playing over top when the vocals stop. Vocals are back after 4 1/2 minutes. Excellent guitar work 6 1/2 minutes in as Eddy lights it up for an extended period. A drum solo follows before 8 1/2 minutes. The music kicks back in a minute later. Big finish on this one. "Mandala-Transmigration" is a short two minute piece that is very atmospheric with no melody.

"Steel's Electric" is a jazzy offering with intricate drum work and lots of sax leads. Crunchy bass lines too on this one. The guitar comes to the spotlight before 4 minutes and Eddy is fantastic as usual. An awesome instrumental. "Daddy Groove" is laid back as the sax rips it up over top. Vocals follow in a bluesy style. The vocals give way to another hair raising solo from Eddy that starts before 4 minutes and continues until after 5 1/2 minutes when the vocals return. The vocals get pretty passionate at times. Another great track. "Saz" has a distinct Eastern sound to it with trippy percussion as well. Vocals 5 1/2 minutes in. A groovy track. "Celestial City" is also from 1972 but a live recording from an open-air concert. The sound isn't as good but it's fine. Love when it kicks in after 2 1/2 minutes and Eddy plays at the speed of light. The drummer is trying to keep up with him and the bass player too. Too much !

Dzyan - 1975 - Electric Silence

Electric Silence

01. Back To Where We Come (8:57)
02. A Day In My Life (4:03)
03. The Road Not Taken (4:54)
04. Khali (4:55)
05. For Earthly Thinking (9:38)
06. Electric Silence (4:30)

- Eddy Marron / acoustic, 6- & 12-string guitars, sitar, baglama, tambura, Mellotron, vocals
- Reinhard Karwatky / 4- & 8- string basses, 4- & 5- string double basses, Super String synth, Mellotron
- Peter Giger / drums, percussion

Recorded and remixed at Dierks Studios, Stommeln, Germany, October 1974.

Dzyan's third and last album, still as a trio and recorded in the Dierks studios and released on the legendary Bacillus label. Graced with a grotesque cartoon-like artwork, the album remains very much in the line of the previous two albums, even if they return to shorter track format resembling their debut album.
Opening with the reflective 9-mins Back Where We Came From, Electric Silence starts very strongly with Giger's marimbas and gongs, preceding Marron's slow increasingly-present guitar wails before Giger takes it over again. By the half of the track, the group is now in full flight with Karwatky's bass giving a Nucleus base on which both Giger and Marron can expand and improvise. Indian music is the main influence of A Day In My Life, just as on the previous album Kabisrain. Closing up the first side is The Road Not Taken (a reference to Time Machine artwork cover?), which is downright dissonant and comes close to atonal music if it was not for Marron's guitar wailing like an Indian sitar.

The flipside starts with an Indian-laced Khali (who'd have thought with such a name, right? ;-), where mellotrons are in the background. The same mellotrons pave the 9-min Earthly Thinking's intro over dissonant wooden block percussions first and steel drums second, then ensues a wide improvisation with only Karwatky staying wise and providing a base, thena drum solo ending in total sonic chaos with both Marron and Karwatky also going nuts. Closing with the album's title track (my fave) where the Mahavishnu Orchestra impressions return, reminiscing of the previous' album title track. Compared with their previous works his album does have a more ethnic feel (mostly Indian), but aesthetically- speaking it is just as Dzyann-esque as their previous two.

Just as excellent as their first two albums, Electric Silence closes Dzyan's recording career with an impeccable album and rounding up a very even discography where all three albums are equal in quality. It would be hard for me to choose just one album, meaning that you'd have to discard two choices as good as the one you've taken. So if anything, I'd suggest you start chronologically.

Dzyan - 1973 - Time Machine

Time Machine

01. Kabisrain (7:59)
02. Magika (8:45)
03. Light Shining Out Of Darkness (3:13)
04. Time machine (17:47)

- Eddy Marron / acoustic, 6- & 12-string guitars, baglama, vocals
- Reinhard Karwatky / bass, double bass, Super String synth
- Peter Giger / drums, percussion

As Dzyan's first album was more or less a studio/one-time project, the first line-up did not survive the album's release. So the group was reduced to a very-different trio with only Karwataky remaining from the previous one. In came Giger on drums and percussions and Eddy Marron on guitars. Graced with a full psych artwork representing their tree-bordered paths, this album is one of Germany's most acclaimed instrumental jazz-fusion album. It was recorded in the Dieter Dierks studios and released on the very collectible Bacillus label.

Made of three tracks, the first side starts on the superb 8-min ethnic-sounding Kabisrain with a distinct Indian influence. The following almost 9-min Magika is much harder to swallow/ingest as it starts out on a wild drum intro, and it never really lets up until its end. The tracks often veers dissonant and limit atonal, but does remain accessible (more so than Crimson's Moonchild or Providence) to most and in its second part the guitar does take the track into more conventional improv grounds, but still remains uneasy reminding some of Nucleus's Belladona works. The third (and much shorter) Light Shining Out Of Darkness is quite a change as it veers Flamenco-jazz in a way that Metheny or DeLucia would not disown. Easily the album's most accessible track.

A sidelong monster title track with its 18 minutes fills the flipside. The track can be seen as a manic Mahavishnu Orchestra meeting a brass-less Nucleus. If the track remains relatively on the subject, avoiding useless lengthy soloing, it does not avoid some lengths especially that Marron's guitars are the only fronting soloing instrument. However the track veers around the 1é-min mark and presents a very repetitive riff that makes the last 6 minutes a bit minimalist, but also a bore.

While Dzyan's second album is well in the line of their first album, it is more "concise", precise and urgent than the debut album.

Dzyan - 1972 - Dzyan


01. Emptiness (9:39)
02. The bud awakes (2:57)
03. The wisdom (10:21)
04. Foghat's work (6:31)
05. Hymn (1:12)
06. Dragonsong (7:31)
07. Things we're looking for (1:52)
08. Back to Earth (4:11)

- Jochen Leuschner / lead vocals, congas, percussion
- Harry Krämer / acoustic & electric guitars
- Gerd-Bock Ehrmann / tenor sax
- Reinhard Karwatky / bass, double bass, arranger
- Ludwig Braum / drums, percussion

- Günter Kühlwein / organ & electric piano (2,3,7)

Recorded at Rhein-Main-Studio, Frankfurt/M. 1972.

Named after the Indian sacred book of creation, this (at first) studio experiment recorded very quickly their first album (within two months of their creation) and it was released on the small Aronda label in April 72. Graced with an impressive artwork, the quintet's album develops an impressive sung jazz-rock that embodied almost every aspects of the genre, but there is a general Canterbury feel pervading through the album.

Dzyan's jazz-rock spectrum ranges from the full-blown early fusion ala Nucleus (the opening Emptiness) to the much rockier Dragonsong, the electronic and cello Hymn and the very vocal Bud Awakes (where the group shows an excellence sense of harmony). The first side of the albums holds two major tracks (one of which is slightly ethnic-sounding and strange: Wisdom) sandwiching a short one and is clearly my favourite. The excellent Fohat's Work (not really Gong here, although the sax.) is maybe the album's most accessible track with clear-cut solos, while Dragonsong has vocals that can resemble Wyatt's in SM's Third or Rock Bottom, but this dramatic piece can be considered like the highlight of the album as Bock's sax reminds of Malherbe and Karwalky's bass lines are driving the track at 100 MPH cruising speed. Comes a short Wyatt-esque interlude and then the album closes on the Rocking Back To Earth, indeed making come back from a great fusion trip as the artwork indicates.

By the time of their second album's recording, the group was completely different, being just a trio with only bassist Karwalki (who was the main writer anyway) left, but the sound of the group remained jazz-rock but veered much more towards experimental jazz mixed with ethnic music. Although this debut album is non-representative of Dzyan, it might just be their most accessible and a good intro to the band.