Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sir Roland Hanna - 1978 - This Must Be Love

Sir Roland Hanna
This Must Be Love

01. Orange Funk
02. This Can't Be Love
03. It's A Small World
04. The Interloper
05. It Never Entered My Mind
06. Thou Swell
07. I Didn't Know What Time It Was
08. Dancing On The Ceiling
09. My Romance

10. This Can't Be Love (Alt - Take 1)
11. It's A Small World (Alt - Take 1)
12. Dancing On The Ceiling (Alt - Take 3)
13. My Romance (Alt - Take 1)

Recorded February 2, 1978 in New York City

Sir Roland Hanna: piano
George Mraz: bass
Ben Riley: drums

Originally recorded for Progressive and reissued by the Audiophile label, this set matches the talented pianist Sir Roland Hanna with bassist George Mraz and drummer Ben Riley. Together they perform six Rodgers and Hart songs (including "This Can't Be Love," "Thou Swell" and "Dancing On the Ceiling"), along with three of Hanna's originals. The musicians are heard throughout in top form, often speaking in a single voice. Excellent modern mainstream music.

Roland Hanna With George Mraz - 1978 - Sir Elf Plus 1

Roland Hanna With George Mraz 
Sir Elf Plus 1

01. Yesterdays 5:55
02. Meeting Of The Minds 4:38
03. My Shining Hour 4:40
04. Majorca (Based On Etude 6 By Chopin) 5:30
05. Where's That Rainbow 7:09
06. What, Does It Matter? 6:38
07. My Heart Stood Still 5:31

Bass – George Mraz
Piano – Roland Hanna

Recorded at Macdonald Studio July, 1977

A talented pianist with a style diverse enough to fit into swing, bop, and more adventurous settings, Roland Hanna was one of the last in an impressive line of great pianists who emerged in Detroit after World War II (including Hank Jones, Barry Harris, and Tommy Flanagan). After serving in the Army and studying music at Eastman and Juilliard, Hanna made a strong impression playing with Benny Goodman (1958). He worked with Charles Mingus for a period in 1959, and went on to generally lead his own trios. Hanna was an integral part of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis orchestra (1967-1974), and in 1974 helped found the New York Jazz Quartet (with Frank Wess). He was given knighthood (thus the "Sir") from the President of Liberia in 1970 in recognition for a series of concerts held to benefit Liberian children. Hanna recorded many solo dates and often with a trio, but also composed many works for groups of varying sizes - both for jazz groups and classical ensembles. His piece "Oasis" for piano and orchestra was performed by the Detroit Symphony Orchestra in 1993. In addition to his busy performing schedule, Hanna was also an active educator and tenured professor at Queens College in New York. 

George Mraz has been a greatly in-demand bassist for straight-ahead dates ever since he emigrated to the United States in 1968. After a brief time playing violin and alto, Mraz studied bass at the Prague Conservatory and gigged at a club in Munich for a year. In 1968, he attended Berklee and he soon toured with Oscar Peterson (1970-1972). After moving to New York, Mraz became a member of the Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra (1973-1976), worked with Stan Getz (1974-1975), and has since played with most of the top jazz players, including Walter Norris, Pepper Adams, Roland Hanna, Zoot Sims, Tommy Flanagan, John Abercrombie, Carmen McRae, Jimmy Rowles, Stephane Grappelli, and countless others. Other than an obscure duo date with Roland Hanna for Trio in 1976, George Mraz surprisingly did not have an opportunity to lead his own sessions until the mid-'90s when he signed with Milestone. His album roster includes Jazz (1995), Bottom Lines (1997), Duke's Place (1999), and Morava (2001).

Mike Nock - 1978 - In Out and Around

Mike Nock
In Out and Around

01. Break Time 7:05
02. Dark Light 5:50
03. Shadows Of Forgotten Love 9:30
04. The Gift 7:05
05. Hadrians Wall 7:35
06. In Out And Around 8:40

Recorded at Sound Ideas Studio, New York City - July, 7, 1978

Bass – George Mraz
Drums – Al Foster
Piano – Mike Nock
Tenor Saxophone – Michael Brecker

Mike Nock is a New Zealand pianist who had been playing with some of the top names in jazz in the U.S., and he assembled an 'all star' band for this straight ahead jazz CD.
It features astounding playing by Mike Brecker. According to a recent discography, Brecker has now appeared on more than 150 CD's, so, I can't say this is his best record, but it is surely one of the best. The other Brecker CD's that I have heard are fusion, and I will hypothesize that because of the heavy funk supplied by a fusion rhythm section, the horn is required to play less, and as a result, Brecker coasts. Of course, Brecker coasts at 200 mph. However, on this record there is no electric bass, no drum machine, and no coasting. Brecker plays a long solo on the title cut that is at the limit start to finish. His usual ferocious technique is on display, and this time it is coupled with an emotional intensity that makes this solo like a roller coaster ride, with the excitement of hair-pin turns and the exhiliration of free fall. At his best, Brecker is awesome.

John Abercrombie Quartet - 1981 - M

John Abercrombie Quartet 

01. Boat Song 9:52
02. M 6:17
03. What Are The Rules 7:28
04. Flashback 6:13
05. To Be 5:14
06. Veils 5:42
07. Pebbles 4:42

Recorded November 1980 at Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg

John Abercrombie: electric and acoustic guitars
Richard Beirach: piano
George Mraz: bass
Peter Donald: drums

For its third ECM outing, the John Abercrombie Quartet produced this viscous and mysterious entity known simply as M. Strangely out of print, this seven-part exercise in burnished reflection plows its foggiest waters in “Boat Song.” Abercrombie’s guitar weeps like bells over a harbor, skimmed for flotsam by Richie Beirach’s somber piano. At nearly ten minutes, this is the longest track of the album, and its darkness haunts all that proceeds from it. We encounter this also in “To Be” (a rubato wave notable for George Mraz’s effortless bass work), and the harmonic inversions of “Veils.” Here, Abercrombie’s sinewy melodic lines stretch farthest, slowly immersing its hands into the “Pebbles” in which we find closure. Peter Donald’s drumming is particularly fine here and shines like sunrays from cloud-break.

Despite Abercrombie’s often piercing swan dives and a pirouetting rhythm section, even the liveliest moments in “What Are The Rules” (a rhetorical move proving there need be none) or “Flashback” never lift their feet too high off the ground. The latter’s circular conversations draw around us a perimeter that we are free to overstep. Yet after being bathed in such sonic finery, we feel reluctant to do so. The result is one of Abercormbie’s lushest albums, with a shadowy and tinny production style that writes a different story every time.

John Abercrombie Quartet - 1980 - Abercrombie Quartet

John Abercrombie Quartet
Abercrombie Quartet

01. Blue Wolf 8:20
02. Dear Rain 6:49
03. Stray 6:31
04. Madagascar 9:00
05. Riddles 8:07
06. Foolish Dog 6:16

Recorded November 1979 at Talent Studio

John Abercrombie: guitar, mandolin guitar
Richard Beirach: piano
George Mraz: bass
Peter Donald: drums

One year after debuting with Arcade, the John Abercrombie Quartet cut out the auditory paper doll that is this curiously overlooked sophomore effort. What set the quartet apart from its contemporaries was not only the fluid playing of its frontman and the ways in which it intertwines with that of musicians who are clearly beyond intuitive, but also the sense of development in the structuring and ordering of tunes. Beginning with the pianistic groove of “Blue Wolf” and ending on the acoustically minded “Foolish Dog,” this self-titled peregrination winds itself into a tour de force of solemn virtuosity. From Richie Beirach’s overwhelming cascades to the contortions of bassist George Mraz, we encounter a virtual entity of unity whose heartbeat counts off to the drumming of Peter Donald and whose eyes glow with Abercrombie’s characteristic pale fire. This body unfolds into a misty landscape, where the gusts of “Dear Rain” spread melodies into the open pastures that is our love for harmony. Looser gestures like “Stray” (here, both verb and noun) share appendages with the resignation of “Madagascar,” which falls like a sheet from a clothesline in an oncoming storm. As the quartet grows in fully, Abercrombie’s gentle remonstrations graze the bellies of clouds with the barest touch of curled fingers, allowing “Riddles” to build their conversational nests in the branches of an undisclosed longing.

No matter how “into it” these musicians get, they always display an admirable restraint, so committed are they to the thematic altar around which they cast their spells. There is a sound that lingers on the palate, one that finds in its cessation the birth of something new.

John Abercrombie Quartet - 1979 - Arcade

John Abercrombie Quartet 

01. Arcade 9:36
02. Nightlake 5:31
03. Paramour 5:06
04. Neptune 7:30
05. Alchemy 11:31

Recorded December 1978  at Talent Studio, Oslo

John Abercrombie: guitar, electric mandolin
Richard Beirach: piano
George Mraz: bass
Peter Donald: drums

Toward the end of Akira Kurosawa’s Kagemusha, a rainbow spreads its band across the ocean to warn General Katsuyori not to proceed into the Battle of Nagashino that lies ahead, for to do so will mean certain doom. Tragically, he ignores it and rushes himself and his men into an all-out massacre. Such omens are rare outside of the cinematic imagination. And yet, if the reader will allow me to draw a weak connection here, we find a similar image in Arcade, the cover of which signals to us a music that does heed that call and luxuriates in the sonic benefits of its deference.

The title track, with its buoyant bass line courtesy of George Mraz (onetime member of the Oscar Peterson Quartet) and an effervescent Richard Beirach (rightful heir to the Tatum/Evans legacy) on piano, frames John Abercrombie’s adventurous fingers like gloves, making shadow puppets against the taut screen of Peter Donald’s drumming. This formula works from the get-go and provides plenty of magic from which the quartet spins one glorious melody after another. A splash of rain brings us to the “Nightlake” with downcast eyes as Abercrombie lays his rubato soloing over a liquid rhythm section. The results showcase the quartet at its best. “Paramour” is another stunner. Lush and romantic, it works over the listener in waves. Mraz digs deep into his emotional reserves for this one. Meanwhile, things are a bit more cosmic on “Neptune,” where a bowed bass cuts a swath of moonlight in the nebular darkness. Abercrombie launches tiny rockets into the stars with his mandolin, tracing new constellations on the way to becoming one himself. In closing, the group shows us what “Alchemy” is all about. From its humble awakenings arises a majestic beast. Every appendage is an instrument animating the harmonious whole, tickled by Beirach’s ivory and gilded in a layer of cymbals. As its heart contracts, the guitar lets out a plaintive cry, running ever so delicately into the shadows of resolution.

Abercrombie’s pinpoint precision abounds, his mid-heavy picking amplified to buttery sweetness, and shares notable interplay with Beirach. Over a yielding backing, these sustained reverberations occasionally coalesce in bright tutti passages. The resulting sound is nothing short of enchanting. A neglected classic to be sure, Arcade is available on CD only in Japan, and is one of three fine John Abercrombie Quartet sessions that one can only hope are next in line for an Old & New Masters treatment.

Colin Towns - 1978 - Full Circle

Colin Towns 
Full Circle

01. Full Circle (Main Theme) 10:40
02. The Park
03. Have You Got A Magnificent Problem? (Inside The Mental Home) 2:19
04. 'Pretty Men Are Very Receptive' (The Seance) 3:15
05. Kate (Opening Sequence) 2:45
06. Olivia 4:50
07. Love Scene 3:22
08. 'Magnus' - The Unwelcome Intrusion 3:53
09. Full Circle (Everything's Right Now) 7:08

Original music written and performed by Colin Towns

The port of entry to the world of film composing can often appear out of nowhere; for Colin Towns, that sudden opportunity presented itself one day in 1976. A young producer, Peter Fetterman, struggling to find finance for his low budget feature Full Circle hit on an intriguing idea. What if a composer was hired to record a demo of the soundtrack before the film was shot? The tape could be sent along with the screenplay to potential backers who could then "hear" the film as well as read it.

At this time, Colin was an established keyboardist and songwriter principally working in the rock milieu. He had been in bands since he was thirteen and was equally conversant with the medium of jazz. In the mid- 70s, Ian Gillan, former lead singer with progressive band Deep Purple founded his own self-named outfit and went on the road. Colin joined the team and became an indispensable member. The group was an immediate sensation in Japan and signed with Virgin Records, a relationship that spawned several gold albums. Gillan was to continue rolling into the 80s, but Colin was adapting his style and considerable talents; he sought a new outlet and film and television beckoned.

Full Circle (The Haunting of Julia) was eventually made and released in 1978. One of the reasons the film got off the ground was Colin's score. Somehow, instinctively, the young musician had captured exactly the right mood. His gentle synthesizer and keyboard-based textures, inflected with atmospheric voices and off-kilter sounds, subtly evoked the sad, scared longing of the lead character Julia Lofting (Mia Farrow). Based on the novel "Julia" by Peter Straub, the story is delicately harrowing. Julia is responsible for the accidental death of her daughter. Traumatized and dysfunctional, Julia is drawn to places where children congregate -- parks, playgrounds etc. Occasionally she watches a child who uncomfortably resembles her own. Soon, Julia's entire world begins to close in around her. She moves to a new home and believes it to be haunted. Gradually it appears the "ghost" may be a woman whose own child died in similar circumstances. Beyond the necessities of the horror genre, the music for Full Circle is a beautiful piece of work. Rarely has a synthesizer been employed more effectively. This is not just a question of a memorable theme. This score is shot-through with a melancholy that is positively disquieting. Everything from the theme's circular sense of resolution to the music's narrative linkage incorporating the mesmerizing song "Olivia" functions admirably. So effective was this music in the film that almost every review enthusiastically mentioned the score -- an almost unheard of feat for an art film in the 70s. Soundtrack aficionados quickly defined it as: "Seminal ... One of the finest genre scores ever." Virgin Records issued the album which became one of the top ten soundtracks that year. A single was also released which enjoyed considerable success (heard on this CD as the first half of track one).

After Gillan Colin turned his attention full-time to film composing. A plethora of British pictures followed: Shady, Knights and Emeralds, Rawhead Rex, Slayground, Bellman and True, Vampire's Kiss and The Wolves of Willoughby Chase. For American television there was: Fellow Traveler, Daughter of Darkness, Hands of a Murderer and Curacao. His work for British TV includes: The Fear, Blind Justice, Capital City, The Fifteen Streets, Black Heath Poisonings, Clarissa and The Wedding Gift. The fall of 1994 will see the release of Colin's first major American feature assignment Puppet Masters for Disney's Hollywood Pictures division, a genre film based on the original "Body Snatchers" concept.

Not content to limit himself to film, Colin has also expanded his efforts in the concert hall. He has received several commissions for classical works, and his stirring three movement Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra is also presented here. A world premiere recording, this concerto was expressly composed for soloist Graham Ashton. Other concert pieces include: Postcards from the Front for chamber ensembles and Still Life and Shaking, a horn trio. Earlier this year Colin Towns' Mask Orchestra, a fifteen piece ensemble issued its first CD which was nominated as one of the top three jazz albums of 1994. Concerto for Trumpet and String Orchestra is a vivid portrait of Britain both past and present. It evokes the determination of an island people slogging through a rain-drenched landscape. It is really the sound of the worker's spirit; the particularity of the trumpet so reminiscent of the northern collieries and the brutal hardships contained therein. But sometimes the "spirit" breaks free and is allowed to float deliriously across the moors, through acres of purple heather and marsh, curving around the sheer, unclimable cliffs and finally onwards and outwards to the cold grey arms of the North Atlantic ocean.

On the other side of the Atlantic lies New York, and the closing piece on this disc. Colin's widely-praised American Suite captured all the sights and sounds of the new world. With 1930 Cityscape Colin returns to the jazzy crispness of Manhattan. Whereas American Suite focused on the birth and death of a single day, Cityscape's short-but-sweet punchiness features a great workout for saxophonist Phil Todd. This is a hip, hugely enjoyable homage to Gershwin and Bernstein; the ineffable sound of the speakeasy melded with the giddy uniqueness of the city's unforgettable skyline. It's possible sometimes to imagine music as a ball of energy, bouncing from country to country and travelling backwards and forwards through time, gaining energy and acquiring density. Its sheer inertia irresistible. If music is the true nature of boundless communication, then Colin Towns is an artist who speaks volumes in a language clear enough for all to hear.

Atlantis - 1978 - Top of the Bill

Top of the Bill

01. He's Got A Gun In His Hand 4:12
02. Hot Rocks 2:53
03. Out Of Tune 3:24
04. Don't Put The Lady Down 3:46
05. Northern Bounty 3:59
06. Haven't You Heard 5:26
07. Just Blues (Session) 11:28

Bass – Karl-Heinz Schott
Drums – Ringo Funk
Keyboards – Adrian Askew
Lead Guitar – Frank Diez
Rhythm Guitar – Rainer Marz
Vocals – Inga Rumpf

Atlantis was founded in the late summer of 1972 by Inga Rumpf (vocals), Jean-Jacques Kravetz (keyboards) and Karl-Heinz Schott (bass). These musicians previously played with the band Frumpy. The founding cast also included guitarist Frank Diez and drummer Curt Cress (formerly with the band Emergency).

After a few live performances in Germany, the first LP was produced in the studios of Island Records in London, which was especially popular in the USA, where Rumpf's blues-oriented voice was appreciated. Diez and Cress left the band after the recordings. For a four-week tour of England with Procol Harum and Traffic George Meier came as a guitarist and Udo Lindenberg as a drummer to Atlantis. These were replaced after the tour by Dieter Bornschlegel (formerly in the band Traumtorte) and Ringo Funk (formerly at Jeronimo), with which then the second LP It's Getting Better (1973) was recorded.

During another four-week tour of England, Jean-Jacques Kravetz left the band to join the band Randy Pie. Reiner Schnelle jumped in for him at short notice. At the end of 1973, the band ranked among the three most popular groups of the readership of the then important journal Musikmarkt. 

Already in the summer of 1974, the next personnel change took place. For Reiner Schelle came the British keyboardist Adrian Askew, for Dieter Bornschlegel came guitarist Alex Conti from the band Curly Curve. In this lineup, the third album Ooh, Baby was recorded in 1974.

In 1975, a tour through the US took place (usually as an opening act of Lynyrd Skynyrd), after which the band separated from Alex Conti, for now again the former guitarist Frank Diez and for the first time a second guitarist, Rainer Marz (formerly Ringo radio at Jeronimo), joined the group. The subsequent fourth LP Get on Board (1975) is clearly marked by hard rock American style, but was not a commercial success. 

In January 1976, Hull and Schott announced the dissolution of the band. However, there were until March 1976 still some more studio recordings that were released on the album Top of the Bill. 

Atlantis - 1974 - Ooh, Baby

Ooh, Baby

01. Brother 3:05
02. Son Of A Bitch's Son 3:51
03. Waiting And Longing 3:14
04. Mr. Bigshot 5:34
05. The Way I Choose 3:53
06. Ooh, Baby 2:53
07. Smiling People 3:33
08. New York City 4:41
09. Godfather 3:43
10. Leave It To The Devil 3:13

Bass, Backing Vocals – Karl-Heinz Schott
Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Ringo Funk
Grand Piano – Jean-Jacques Kravetz
Guitar, Backing Vocals – Alex Conti
Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Backing Vocals – Adrian Askew
Lead Vocals, Percussion, Backing Vocals – Inga Rumpf

Soloist, Piano – Jasper van't Hoff (tracks: B2)
Backing Vocals – Linda Fields

I  didn't have this or the next album when I did the original Atlantis/Frumpy posts, so here they are a bit late, but here they are!

One of Atlantis's stronger efforts in their typical 70's mainstream AOR style, with a nice balance of hard and soft tracks and some great heavy moments ("Godfather"), and funky pop ("Smiling People"). It's reasonably decent as a complete Lp, although still uneven (..like all of this bands Lp's) but it seems to play through the lesser tracks a bit more smoothly than the band's other efforts, so it gets knocked up a notch in my ratings.

I prefer the Euro edition of the Lp over the US as the lead in track "Brother" is much stronger than the fairly ordinary "Mainline Florida" which replaced it on US pressings.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Cecil Taylor And Buell Neidlinger - 1989 - The Complete Candid Recordings

Cecil Taylor And Buell Neidlinger 
The Complete Candid Recordings Of Cecil Taylor And Buell Neidlinger

101. Air (Take 5) 10:31
102. Number One (Take 1) 12:29
103. Number One (Take 3) 8:35
104. This Nearly Was Mine (Take 2) 10:47
105. Air (Take 9) 17:30

201. E.B. (Take 2) 9:55
202. Lazy Afternoon (Take 1) 14:46
203. Air (Take 21) 11:25
204. Air (Take 28) 8:45
205. Air (Take 29) 10:20
206. Port Of Call (Take 2) 4:15
207. Port Of Call (Take 3) 4:21

301. Davis (Take 1) 3:07
302. Davis (Take 3) 5:13
303. O.P. (Take 1) 7:25
304. Cell Walk For Celeste (Take 1) 11:24
305. Cell Walk For Celeste (Take 3) 9:43
306. Cell Walk For Celeste (Take 8) 11:38
307. I Forgot (Take 1) 8:28
308. Section C (Take 1) 10:14

401. Jumpin' Punkins (Take 4) 8:10
402. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Take 1) 10:04
403. Things Ain't What They Used To Be (Take 3) 8:53
404. Jumpin' Punkins (Take 6) 8:10
405. Cindy's Main Mood (Take 1) 5:08
406. O.P. (Take 2) 9:09

Baritone Saxophone – Charles Davis (2) (tracks: 4-1 to 4-4)
Bass – Buell Neidlinger
Drums – Billy Higgins (tracks: 4-1 to 4-6), Dennis Charles (tracks: 1-1, 1-4 to 2-7, 3-3 to 3-8), Sunny Murray (tracks: 1-2, 1-3)
Piano – Cecil Taylor (tracks: 1-1 to 2-7, 3-3 to 4-6)
Soprano Saxophone – Steve Lacy (tracks: 4-1 to 4-4)
Tenor Saxophone – Archie Shepp (tracks: 1-1, 1-5, 2-2 to 2-5, 3-1, 3-2, 3-4 to 4-4)
Timpani – Billy Higgins (tracks: 4-5, 4-6)
Trombone – Roswell Rudd (tracks: 4-1 to 4-4)
Trumpet – Clark Terry (tracks: 4-1 to 4-4)

Recorded at Nola's Penthouse Sound Studio, NYC.

Recording dates:
1-1 to 2-2: 12 October 1960
2-3 to 2-7: 13 October 1960
3-1 to 3-7: 9 January 1961
3-8 to 4-6: 10 January 1961

Buell Neidlinger, a bassist, cellist and educator who worked within a wide spectrum of jazz styles, from Dixieland to the avant-garde, died suddenly on Friday afternoon at his home on Whidbey Island, Wash. He was two weeks past his 82nd birthday.

His death was confirmed by his wife, Margaret Storer. The cause was a heart attack.

Neidlinger was best known for his early collaboration with pianist Cecil Taylor; they appeared together on six albums made between 1956 and 1961. He also recorded frequently with saxophonists Steve Lacy and Archie Shepp and trombonist Roswell Rudd; played in a trio with pianist Herbie Nichols; was the accompanying bassist on Tony Bennett’s hit 1962 recording of “I Left My Heart in San Francisco”; and collaborated prolifically with saxophonist Marty Krystall over a period of nearly 50 years.

He was extraordinarily prolific outside of the jazz world as well. Neidlinger worked in classical orchestras and was for nearly three decades the principal bassist in the Warner Brothers studio orchestra. His long list of pop credits included Steve Lawrence and Eydie Gormé, Chuck Berry, Frank Sinatra, the Moody Blues, Roy Orbison and Barbra Streisand.

Buell Neidlinger was born in New York City on March 2, 1936, and his family moved to Westport, Conn., when he was 2. He was a child prodigy on the cello, beginning to play the instrument at the age of 7. At 13, urged by a teacher to strengthen his hands by studying the upright bass, Basie veteran Walter Page became his bass teacher.

Admitted to Yale University to study classical music, Neidlinger stayed for one year. During that time he began playing jazz, joining the Dixieland band Eli’s Chosen Six along with trombonist and classmate Rudd. He briefly returned to Westport until trumpeter Max Kaminsky suggested he become a working musician in New York. Neidlinger moved there in 1955, and found work subbing for his mentor Page in the house band at Eddie Condon’s in Greenwich Village and playing with trombonist Conrad Janis’ band. That same year, Neidlinger met Lacy at a Yale alumni event in New York, and Lacy in turn introduced him to Taylor.

In 1956, Neidlinger made his first two recordings: Jazz at Columbus Ave., a session by Dixieland trumpeter Johnny Windhurst, and Taylor’s debut, Jazz Advance. He appeared on Lacy’s 1958 debut, Soprano Sax, and worked and recorded regularly with both Taylor and Lacy over the next several years before including them on his own debut record, New York City R&B, in 1961. He also worked in bands led by pianist Nichols and clarinetist Jimmy Giuffre, and began working as a session bassist—through which he recorded with Bennett—and delved into contemporary classical music with John Cage and Gunther Schuller, receiving a Rockefeller performance grant in 1965.

Disillusioned with New York, Neidlinger left the city in 1967. He moved first to Boston, where he joined the Boston Symphony Orchestra under Erich Leinsdorf and became a founding instructor in the jazz department that Schuller had founded at the New England Conservatory. Four years later he was offered a position at California Institute of the Arts, thus relocating to Los Angeles. While living in L.A., he became the principal bassist of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra; took the same position in the Warner Brothers Orchestra in 1973 (his first film credit was that year’s Soylent Green); and continued doing session work. Among his hundreds of sessions, he performed on hit records including Dolly Parton’s “Coat of Many Colors,” the Eagles’ “Desperado” and “Hotel California” and the Village People’s “Y.M.C.A.” He also performed on jazz vocal sessions by Diane Schuur, Carmen Lundy and the Manhattan Transfer, and worked in the late 1980s with both pianist Les McCann and alto saxophonist Anthony Braxton.

Neidlinger met Krystall shortly after his arrival in Los Angeles, and the two began a fruitful collaboration that would last for the rest of the bassist’s life. They made 16 recordings together and cofounded a label, K2B2 Records, in 1979.

Neidlinger retired from studio and performance work in 2000 and moved with his wife to Whidbey Island, in Puget Sound outside of Seattle. Returning to his first instrument, the cello, he lived out his days playing the instrument either at home or at a local coffee shop, as well as on occasional records on the K2B2 label. His final album—The Happenings, a trio date on which Neidlinger, Krystall and guitarist Howard Alden performed the compositions of Herbie Nichols—was issued in December.

Neidlinger is survived by Margaret Storer, his wife of 36 years; a daughter, Miranda Neidlinger; and a son, Mike Neidlinger.

A bewildering collection of music, varying from the often quite difficult Taylor to bop fare with a twist. There is a twinge of masochism mounting this on the turntable but for me Taylor is a litmus test. Some people, whose judgement is impeccable in most things, tell me they are enraptured  by Taylor, others class him somewhere between root canal treatment and filing tax returns. Punishment for some, but not as challenging as some later Taylor for others.  Each time I play him, which I do from time to time, I am checking whether I have turned the corner, a zen moment, and finally “got” Cecil Taylor . So far he continues to elude me, but I keep trying.
The presence of Buell Neidlinger and Dennis Charles and the occasional  Archie Shepp ensures the proceedings keep one foot on the ground. Where the other foot is can be hard to locate.
Somewhere I read Taylor described  as the only jazz musician with “absolutely no groove whatsoever”. That is not an insult, but a measured thoughtful description. The bass and drums – instruments whose main purpose is to deliver the groove – seem to operate independently of Taylor’s direction of the moment, not “free” improvisation, but playing a different tune from Taylor, occasionally crossing each other’s path. In a lesser way, it’s an adaptation  I associate with Charlie Rouse, and how he coped with the melodic and harmonic eccentricity (genius) of Monk. One of you is a genius, but it takes a rare  talent to  play together.

The sessions that comprise the four discs on this first-rate Mosaic boxed set were done in 1960 and 1961 for the short-lived Candid label. Taylor's concept had not yet evolved into a finished package; he wasn't always sure where he was going. There are solos that begin in one direction, break in the middle, and conclude in another. Tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp often sounds unsure about what to play and whether to try and interact or establish his own direction. At the same time, there is plenty of exceptional playing from Taylor, Shepp, and the drum/bass combination of Buell Neidlinger and Dennis Charles. You cannot honestly say everything works on these four discs, but there is never a dull moment. It won't please everyone, but listeners ready for a challenge should step right up.

Friday, March 23, 2018

La Banda Salsa - 1976 - Viva La Salsa

La Banda Salsa 
Viva La Salsa

01 La Comparsa 5:05
02 Pan Con Salsa 4:20
03 Eight Days A Week 3:15
04 And I Love Her 3:35
05 Tacumbe 4:00
06 Moliendo Cafe 4:15
07 Pa' Bailar 4:00
08 Sabroso 3:45
09 Bemba Colora: Quando Llegaré / Guajira / Guantanamera 7:30

Jaime "Patrón" Rodríguez: Bass, Guitar
Ignacio Navarro: Clavinet
Daniel Basanta: Percussion
Miguel "Jetrato" Jiménez: Drums
Eduardo "Shaft" Abarca: Guitar
Agustín Serrano: Piano
Cipriano "Don Cipri" Hincapié: Saxophone
Luis Cobos: Keyboards
Iván "Tonelada" Marcano: Percusion
Raúl "Donele" Gonzáles: Trombone
Jesús Albéniz: vocal
Raúl "Donele" Gonzáles: vocal

Recorded at Kirios Studios, Madrid, June 1976

Non album single track

Formed in the mid-70s in Colombia , by the musicians Jaime Rodríguez and Daniel Basanta, both former Columna de Fuego. La Banda Salsa edited some singles and only one album in 1976, recorded in Spain and released there and in Brazil, unfortunately the group disbanded at the end of the decade.
Viva la Salsa brings nine short tracks, and several covers (including "And I Love Her" by The Beatles). Music, of course, is highly influenced by Latin rhythms like cumbia and salsa and funk rock. The instrumental is rich with striking metals, woodwinds, percussion, keyboard and guitar solos, accompanying lyrics in Spanish, with several moments of chorus.
Interesting gem to Latin and funk rock fans, Why hasn't this been re-released remains a mistery to me, play this monster at a party and the dance floor fills up. Absolutely love this album. recommended.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

First Cosins Jazz Ensemble - 1977 - For The Cos Of Jazz

First Cosins Jazz Ensemble 
For The Cos Of Jazz

01. Please The Pleaser 5:00
02. Psalm 2:25
03. Gently But Nasty 3:44
04. Flat Meat 4:23
05. Beans And Sauce 3:28
06. A Plush Moment 4:09
07. Funky Johnson 2:55
08. Banana Peel 3:43
09. I Don't Know 3:18
10. Fit-It To The Rhythm 3:20

Keyboard - Stu Gardner
Saxophone – Rudy Johnson
Bass – David Shields
Drums – James Gadson, Nate Neblett
Guitar – Wah Wah Watson, Ray Parker
Keyboards – Larry Farrow,
Percussion – Allen Estes
Saxophone, Flute – Doug Richardson
Trombone – Dick “Slide” Hyde
Trumpet – Bobby Finley, Gary Grant

As the name of the group and album might hint, Bill Cosby was a major figure in putting this together — which makes sense, as he was pretty involved in the music world in the ’60s and ’70s in addition to his acting and stand-up comedy career. Indeed, Cosby is listed as a musical consultant and co-arranger on the record.

Musically, For the Cos of Jazz is pretty typical of the jazz/funk that was popular in the mid-to-late ’70s. It brings to mind one of my favorite bands from the period, the Crusaders. The arrangements and performances are tight, and range from smooth, lite-funk like “Please the Pleaser” and “Beans and Sauce” to more cookin’ and slappin’ numbers like “Psalm” and “Flat Meat.”

Wah Wah Watson - 1976 - Elementary

Wah Wah Watson 

01. Goo Goo Wah Wah 5:36
02. Love My Blues Away 5:30
03. Cry Baby 4:02
04. My Love For You Comes And Goes 4:37
05. Together (Whatever) 4:53
06. Sunset Boulevard 4:09
07. Love Ain't Somethin' (That You Get For Free) 4:19
08. I'll Get By Without You 6:01
09. Bubbles 3:18
10. Good Friends 6:12

Bass – Louis Johnson
Clavinet [Hohner D6] – John Barnes
Drums – Ollie Brown
Guitar – Ray Parker, Jr.
Piano – Clarence McDonald, Joe Sample
Piano, Electric Piano [Rhodes], Synthesizer [Arp 2600] – Sonny Burke
Synthesizer [Maestro Universal Synthesizer System], Talkbox [Voice Bag], Electronics [Echoplex, Maestro Sample And Hold Unit], Effects [Boomerang Wah Wah], Guitar, Vocals – Wah Wah Watson

Melvin "Wah Wah Watson" Ragin may be one of the most talented musicians you have never heard of. As a session musician for the famed Motown Records - he had the honor of serving as a member of the Motown studio band throughout the 1970s. Wah-Wah played guitar in numerous recording sessions for a venerable who's who of artistic leaders including, Marvin Gaye, Herbie Hancock, Michael Jackson, The Temptations, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Bobbi Humphrey and more. A Detroit native, Wah Wah Watson earned his nickname from his dominating control and precision on the Wah Wah pedal. His talents made him a highly sought after commodity throughout the funk and soul heyday of the seventies. In 1976 Wah Wah decided to take a crack at a solo career, and turned his attention toward the release of his first ever studio album, "Elementary". Enlisting the help of his friends, who just so happen to be equally great and notable studio musicians, Wah Wah crafted a timeless collection of jazzy-funk grooves that was eventually found a home on Columbia Records. Unfortunately, Wah Wah's solo's career was cut short as the album received critical acclaim but was a disappointing commercial failure. Columbia did not repress "Elementary" and it remained out of print for decades.

Whenever I listen to music, one thing I always do is look at which musicians play on an album. One man whose played on more sessions than the average musician has had gigs, is the one and only Wah Wah Watson, virtuoso guitarist and a man who weaves that unmistakable wah wah guitar sound. If I was to try to list the albums Wah Wah has played on, then I’d still be writing his list of credits later this week. These include The Temptations, Marvin Gaye, Quincy Jones, Rose Royce, The Beach Boys, Eric Clapton and Rose Royce. As I say, these are just a snapshot of artists Wah Wah’s accompanied. He’s been the go-to-guy for jazz, soul and funk artists since 1970. However, there’s much more to Wah Wah Watson than just a session guitarist. He was a member of Motown’s famous studio band The Funk Brothers, worked with every major Motown producer and is a songwriter and producer. While I’m reeling of remarkable facts about the master of the wah-wah pedal, I’ll give you one more fact about Wah Wah Watson. In 1976, Wah Wah Watson released his only solo album Elementary, which will be released by BBR Records on 30th July 2012. For anyone wondering about the title Elementary, just check out the album cover to Elementary. There’s Wah Wah complete with Sherlock Holmes deerstalker hat and puffing furiously at a pipe. No you’ll realize, to misquote Sherlock Holmes it’s Elementary my dear Wah Wah Watson. One thing you’re probably wondering though, why was Elementary Wah Wah Watson’s only album? That’s what I’ll tell you now.

How Wah Wah went from session musician came after he worked on Herbie Hancock’s 1975 album Man-Child. Wah Wah played on Herbie Hancock’s 1975 album Man-Child, forging a musical partnership that would see Herbie play on Herbie’s 1979 album Feets Don’t Fail Me Now and his two 1980 albums Mr Hands and Monster. Once the Man-Child was recorded, Bruce Lundvall president of CBS heard Herbie Hancock’s band live, with Wah Wah Watson weaving his wah-wah guitar and was astounded, totally blown away. There was Wah Wah with a bank of pedals, speakers and tubes surrounding him, all of which brought about this unique and unmistakable sound. Bruce realized hehad to sign Wah Wah Watson. After all, the guy was an innovator, totally way ahead of the musical curve. Soon, Wah Wah Watson was signed to CBS, with work ready to start on his debut album. For a musician like Wah Wah Watson, an experienced songwriter, musician and producer, this would be Elementary.

For his debut album Wah Wah Watson wrote three tracks, using his real name Melvin Ragin. The other seven tracks he wrote with various songwriting partners. This included writing two tracks Love My Blues Away and Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free) with Ray Parker Jr, who’d play guitar on the album. Dave Gruisin cowrote I’ll Get By Without You with Wah Wah. Herbie Hancock would cowrite Bubbles with Wah Wah. These tracks, plus five other tracks would be recorded with some of Wah Wah’s heavyweight musician friends joining him.

To produce what would become Elementary Wah Wah drafted in David Rubinson and Friends Inc. Recording sessions took place at several studios, in Los Angeles, including Village Recorders and Quad Tech. Wally Heider Recording studios in Los Angeles and San Francisco were used, as were Funky Features in San Francisco. In these studios, the all-star band would record. Herbie Hancock would join Wah Wah for the record sessions, while Ray Parker Jr played guitar, Joe Sample played piano and Sonnie Burke keyboards. The brass section included tenor saxophonist Ernie Watts and soprano saxophonist, while a rhythm section of drummer Ollie Brown and bassist Louis Johnson provided the album’s heartbeat. Wah Wah played guitar, while demonstrating his innovative side playing synths, Echoplex and a multitude of innovative instruments. Soon, the ten tracks that became Elementary were recorded. All that was left was for the Elementary to be released later in 1976.

On the release of Elementary in September 1976, the album sold poorly and failed to trouble the US charts. The same month Goo Goo Wah Wah was released as a single in the US, and again, failed to chart. A month later, in October 1976 Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free) was released as a single in the UK. Again, it failed to chart. Maybe the problem was that Wah Wah Watson’s debut album Elementary was far too ahead of its time, and record buyers would need to grow into his innovative, imaginative sound. Was that the case. That’s what I’ll decide, once I’ve told you about the music on Wah Wah Watson’s debut album Elementary.

Goo Goo Wah Wah opens Elementary, with Wah Wah’s unmistakable guitar drenched in echo, dancing its way across the arrangement, with the rhythm section, hissing hi-hats and keyboards for company. The sound is big, bold and dramatic with Wah Wah using the Voice Bag to good effect. His crack team of musicians combine with Wah-Wah as he innovates, not just with guitar, but with his effects. He fuses jazz, funk and even elements of rock, for six minutes, slowly and dramatically trailing the words “boogie, boogie, boogie using his Voice Bag.” In doing so, he innovates in such a way, that’s totally unique and absolutely compelling.

Love My Blues Away has a much straight forward sound, with bursts of subtle horns, accompanying the rhythm section as Wah Wah delivers a tender vocal. The tempo is slow, the band playing in such a way that matches the drama and hurt in the lyrics. They don’t overpower the tenderness of the vocal, with backing vocalists subtly accompanying Wah Wah. Later, after just two minutes, a blazing, emotive horn solo is unleashed by Ernie Watts, which is key to the song’s success. Lush strings are added, while the rhythm section grow the arrangement, which unfolds in waves. Similarly, Wah Wah’s vocal grows in power and pain, resulting in the best track on the album.

Cry Baby sees the rhythm section take charge of the track, before Wah Wah, accompanied by a jaunty piano delivers the vocal through the Voice Bag. This is effective, with the broody, dramatic rhythm section, keyboards and guitar enveloping his vocal. Although Sonny Burke’s piano playing plays an important part, it’s the rhythm section and of course the unmistakable sound of one and only Wah Wah Watson weaving his magic through the track that’s at the heart of the track’s inventive, innovative sound. 

From the inventive, innovative sound of Cry Baby, My Love Comes and Goes sees the introduction of the legendary backing vocalists The Walters Family. Their cooing, tender vocals are accompanied by keyboards, growling horns and lush strings while the rhythm section provide the track’s beautiful heartbeat. Wah Wah’s heartfelt vocal demonstrates just how good a vocal he is. He’s foregone the trickery of the previous track, his guitar playing more straight ahead. This results in a heart achingly beautiful track, that you’ll never, ever tire of. That I can promise you.

The unique sound of Wah Wah’s guitar opens the blistering Together (Whatever). It’s complete with gospel-tinged vocals from The Walters Family. With Wah Wah and his band creating a backdrop where funk and jazz combine, this is an intriguing combination. Punchy backing vocals accompany Wah Wah’s guitar which helps drive the track along, as The Walters Family add glorious testifying vocals. Again, Sonny Burke’s keyboards are at the heart of everything that’s good. He helps drive the track along, playing his part, before a sizzling, blazing horn adds the icing on this irresistible musical cake.

Elementary is a bit like Forest Gump’s box of chocolates,  “you never know what you’ll get next.” Unlike Forest’s box of chocolates, there’s no chocolates that remain uneaten in Wah Wah’s box of delights. When Sunset Boulevard opens, you wonder where Wah Wah wah-wah guitar is heading. Then his backing band provide a jaunty backdrop with the piano, rhythm section and horns combining. Meanwhile The Walter Family add some tight harmonies, their vocal exploding dramatically. Lush strings are added, while Wah Wah’s vocal is accompanied by an arrangement that sometimes, heads in the direction of jazz. Swathes of strings and backing vocalists add to the track’s drama and beauty. By the end of the track, you’re left with a feeling of contentment, at the track’s uplifting, feel-good sound.

It’s just drums and hissing hi-hats that open Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free), before Wah Wah weaves his wah guitar. Then his vocal enters, full of hurt and sadness, while The Walters Family add soaring, dramatic backing vocals. As the vocal drops out, the rhythm section, keyboards and Wah Wah’s guitar take charge. Meanwhile, strings cascade adding to the emotion and hurt in Wah Wah’s vocal. However, when Wah Wah and The Walters Family combine, this is a perfect combination. So good are the backing vocals, this seems to lift the band, as they lift their game even higher. The result is one of the most soulful, emotive and dramatic offerings from Wah Wah Watson on Elementary.

I’ll Get By Without You is a slow track, one that usually, the arranger would have a sound that’s sad, filled with emotion and heartache. Maybe this would be strings, even a haunting saxophone solo or piano. They wouldn’t usually add a wah-wah guitar. This is what happens here, but at the start, it’s played with subtlety, while Wah Wah’s vocal is filled with heartache and hurt. A piano, subtle rhythm section and strings combine with The Walters Family heartfelt vocals. Later, Wah Wah’s guitar grows in power, but neither overpowering, nor sounding out of place. Instead,  it plays its part this in what is a soulful song about love gone wrong, but with a twist.

Bubbles is an apt description for the track, with its slow, floaty sound, where Wah Wah’s guitar resonates, disappearing wistfully into the ether. He’s accompanied by the rhythm section, who play slowly, while Herbie Hancock adds electric piano. The arrangement meanders along, with Wah Wah’s wah-wah guitar augmented by a dreamy sounding guitar that provides a contrast. Keyboards, percussion and Herbie on piano provide the track’s laid-back jazzy sound that you lose yourself into. Its sound beckons, drawing you in. You don’t hesitate, you succumb, losing yourself for just over three mellow minutes.

Closing Elementary is Good Friends which has a quite different sound from the previous track. The album was released in 1976, at the height of disco’s popularity, so Wah Wah decides to close Elementary with a disco track. You’re swept along atop a combination of beautiful vocals from The Walters Family, Wah Wah’s guitar and a rhythm section, complete with buzzing bass. Lush strings and Wah Wah’s heartfelt vocal and woodwind all enter, adding to the slick, polished disco-esque sound. The vocals, strings and rhythms are perfect for this dance-floor track, which floats elegantly and beautifully along, bringing Elementary to a surprising, but very satisfying end.

Having wondered whether Wah Wah Watson’s debut and only solo album Elementary was was far too ahead of its time, I think that was definitely the case. Listening to Elementary, what I found was an innovative, imaginative album, where Wah Wah Watson fusea funk, soul, jazz, disco and even a touch of rock. Wah Wah moves seamlessly and comfortably between musical genres. One minute he’s at home funking it up on Goo Goo Wah Wah, before heading down a very different road on the ballad Love My Blues Away. From there, Cry Baby sees Wah Wah the innovator, unleashing his box of tricks, wah-wahing his way through the track using his Voice Bag. My Love Comes and Goes sees Wah Wah Watson balladeer enter, and this isn’t the last time. Love Ain’t Something (That You Get For Free) and I’ll Get By Without You see the reappearance of Wah Wah Watson balladeer. Then on Together (Whatever), Wah Wah up the ante, accompanied by gospel-tinged vocals from The Walters Family. Bubbles sees Wah Wah enter a mellow mood, with Herbie Hancock playing electric piano. Nothing however, prepares you for the sublime Good Friends, a disco floater that closes Elementary. You’re swept along by lush strings, The Walters Family’s beautiful vocals and of course a crack rhythm section. However, it’s ironic that it’s Good Friends a disco track that closes Elementary, because the album was released at the height of disco’s popularity. That another reason record buyers weren’t buying albums like Elementary. Basically, Elementary was released at the wrong time. Its innovative, imaginative sound was years ahead of its time and released when disco was King. Even with its nod to disco Good Friends, Elementary remains a hidden gem of an album that awaits unearthed by music lovers. Maybe if it had been released in a different time, Wah Wah Watson would’ve been a superstar. So take my advice, introduce all your Good Friends to Wah Wah Watson, a multifaceted singer, songwriter, musician and producer one his only album 

Reggie Lucas - 1975 - Survival Themes

Reggie Lucas
Survival Themes

01. Slewfoot
02. Tender Years
03. The Barefoot Song
04. Survival Themes
a. Season Of The Monsoon
b. Faces Of Fortune
c. Tabarca
d. Electric Reflection

Recorded July 29, 1975

Bass – Anthony Jackson, Michael Henderson
Congas, Percussion – James Mtume
Drums – Howard King
Electric Piano, Clavinet, Synthesizer – Hubert Eaves
Guitar – Reggie Lucas
Tenor Saxophone – John Stubblefield
Trombone – Clifford Adams
Trumpet – Joe Gardnen

Up until now, Reggie Lucas has been best known for: 1) his creative, funky rhythm guitar work (and occasional soloing) in Miles Davis' 1972-75 ensemble, and 2) his production work and songwriting for the likes of Madonna, Mtume, Stephanie Millls, and Phyllis Hyman (often paired with fellow Miles alum James Mtume). 1975's all-instrumental SURVIVAL THEMES finds Reggie seemingly on the move from the former to the latter, with one foot planted in both areas. The extended title track offers a suite of four Lucas/Mtume guitar/percussion duets. The approach has similarities to Miles' challenging AGHARTA/PANGAEA albums. The first three duets are semi-ambient explorations of melodic themes (ala some of the quieter passages on the before-mentioned Miles albums)...it sounds as if Lucas overdubbed a second guitar much of the time. The final "theme" offers a Hendrix-like sonic explosion (at first sounding a bit like Jimi's `Voodoo Chile', then quickly building to a Pete Cosey-like fury) over Mtume's electric percussion washes. This storm is far from quiet.
In contrast, the first three tracks offer a relatively conventional brand of funk-jazz that seems to find a mid-point between Miles' radical mid-70s period and the more radio-friendly music of the likes of Norman Connors...perhaps not as visionary as Herbie Hancock but with more bite than the crossover efforts by the likes of Donald Byrd and George Benson issued during this era. These tracks add drums (Howard King), bass (Michael Henderson, Anthony Jackson), keyboards (Hubert Eaves), and a horn section (on SLEW FOOT) to the core duo of Lucas and Mtume. TENDER YEARS has some mellow axe work by Reggie, while THE BAREFOOT SONG starts out quite smooth, but before you know it considerable heat is generated via extended solos from Lucas (reminds me a bit of Santana, but not a clone) and presumably Henderson (very funky and exploratory at the same time). Recommended particularly to fusion-era fans who'd like to hear Davis' 1970s musical approach backed off to varying degrees from the cutting edge...but not quite into a safety zone.
I really DO derive a lot of pleasure from this recording. This is the one and only indescribably awesome solo offering from guitar master Reggie Lucas. Recorded in July 1975 but not released until 1978 for some unknown reason, "Survival Themes" is 40 minutes of musical bliss that is half funk/jazz/rock fusion (It's not bland, it's just a fusion product of it's time and very well executed in my humble opinion) and half experimental/borderline ambient compositions veering more into the progressive rock realm (no drab noodling, just variations of several..."themes"). Percussion master, Mtume, is present on all seven pieces and injects his trademark Afrocentric vibe throughout. All seven cuts are absolutely amazing but the 9 minute plus "Electric Reflection" is so insanely intense that I couldn't even begin to simultaneously focus on anything else at all whatsoever while it is playing, for it instantaneously transfixes me and compells me to bask in all it's sonic potency throughout the entire duration. I'm sure Jimi was smiling down from the heavens when he first heard this one. I'm so grateful that I was fortunate enough to acquire a near mint copy of this extremely rare and sensational recording. I admonish you to give this album a listen if you haven't already done so. SEEK IT, FIND IT......LIVE IT!!!

Hubert Eaves - 1976 - Esoteric Funk

Hubert Eaves
Esoteric Funk

01. Call To Awareness 7:06
02. Painfull Pleasure 5:31
03. Slow Down 5:10
04. Flead Dancing 6:20
05. Song For Marlene 5:17
06. Under Standing 5:32

Recorded May 15,16 1976.

Bass – James Benjamin, John Lee (tracks: A3)
Congas, Percussion – Mtume
Drums – Howard King
Guitar – Reggie Lucas
Keyboards – Hubert Eaves
Reeds – Rene McLean
Trombone – James Stowe
Trumpet – Malachi Thompson
Vocals – Cheryl Alexander (tracks: B3)

Keyboard whiz Hubert Eaves was well known among his musical peers in the 1970s as a major sideman. His unique bank of sounds, his rhythmic left hand, and his willingness to experiment with all pop music forms made him a choice in studios with everyone from Gary Bartz to Phyllis Hyman. Few, however, were aware of this killer little slab of laidback yet totally evolved funk that he cut for the Inner City label in 1976 with members of Miles Davis' band -- Reggie Lucas and Mtume -- and other luminaries such as René McLean and Malachi Thompson. Eaves plays it all here, from ARPs to Moogs to the Rhodes to the Steinway. Over six self-composed and arranged tracks, Eaves creates a dreamscape of funky soul that had plenty of space and texture in its center while keeping a unique, airy groove over and under everything. The simmering "Call to Awareness" features a running bassline that flows instead of pops, the riff-laden "Slow Down" is a series of slow-tempo crescendos strung together in an ever-increasing dynamic platform that eventually bubbles over into a blissed-out chant. The album ends with a sweet, Roberta Flack-style vocal from Cheryl Alexander on "Under Standing" that doesn't quite fit with the rest of the set, but that's ok. The rest is rather stunning in its commitment to quality, understatement, and summery grooves.
All I can really say is that this is yet another ultra-obscure jazz-fusion gem that is simply top notch. Keyboardist, Hubert Eaves is an immense talent with a style all his own. This album also features guitar god Reggie Lucas and master Mtume on percussion. The key cuts are "Slow Down", "Song For Marlene", and the cosmic meltdown, "Call To Awareness" which has to be heard to be believed. This 1977 release is really really hard to find but well worth the search.

Various Artists - 1976 - Blue Note Live At The Roxy

Various Artists 
Blue Note Live At The Roxy 

Volume One
101. Alphonse Mouzon New York City 5:33
102. Alphonse Mouzon Just Like The Sun 4:18
103. Alphonse Mouzon Without A Reason 8:01
104. Ronnie Laws Captain Midnight 4:48
105. Ronnie Laws Night Breeze 8:18
106. Ronnie Laws Piano Interlude 1:44
107. Ronnie Laws Always There 3:30
108. Donald Byrd Places And Spaces 4:56
109. Donald Byrd (Fallin' Like) Dominoes 6:11

Volume Two
201. Carmen McRae Music 3:55
202. Carmen McRae Paint Your Pretty Picture 4:52
203. Carmen McRae Them There Eyes 1:52
204. Carmen McRae T'ain't Nobody's Bizness If I Do 5:00
205. Carmen McRae You're Everything 3:03
206. Councilman Dave Cunningham Presentation Of Proclamation 4:39
207. Earl Klugh Medley: Like A Lover / A Felicidade / Manha De Carnaval / Samba De Orfeu (12:56)
208. Blue Note All-Stars Blue Note '76 12:46

Recorded: June 28, 1976 at the Roxy, Los Angeles, California by Record Plant Remote Unit
Donald Byrd recorded live in Central Park, New York, N.Y. on July 19, 1976.

Volume One:
Drums – Steve Gutierrez (tracks: 4 to 7)
Drums, Percussion – Alphonse Mouzon (tracks: 1 to 3)
Drums, Vocals – Keith Killgo (tracks: 8, 9)
Electric Bass – Charles Fillilove (tracks: 1 to 3), Donald Beck (tracks: 4 to 7)
Electric Bass, Vocals – Joe Hall (tracks: 8, 9)
Electric Guitar – Bill Rogers (tracks: 4 to 7)
Electric Guitar, Vocals – Orville Saunders (tracks: 8, 9)
Electric Piano – Bobby Lyle (tracks: 4 to 7)
Electric Piano, Synthesizer – Kevin Toney (tracks: 9)
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Ronnie Laws (tracks: 4 to 7)
Guitar – Rex Robinson (tracks: 1 to 3), Tim De Huff (tracks: 1 to 3)
Organ – Kevin Toney (tracks: 8)
Percussion – Rudy Regalado (tracks: 1 to 3)
Synthesizer, Electric Piano – Robby Robinson (tracks: 1 to 3)
Tenor Saxophone, Vocals – Stephen Johnson (2) (tracks: 8, 9)
Trumpet – Donald Byrd (tracks: 8, 9)
Vocals – Kevin Toney (tracks: 8, 9)

Volume Two
Alto Saxophone – Gary Herbig (tracks: 8)
Bass – Bernard Baron (tracks: 1 to 5), Hubert Crawford (2) (tracks: 7)
Bass [Overdub] – Ron Carter (tracks: 7)
Drums – Edward Bennett (tracks: 1 to 5), Ndugu Leon Chancler (tracks: 7)
Drums, Percussion – Gerry Brown (tracks: 8)
Electric Bass – John Lee (tracks: 8)
Electric Piano – Marshall Otwell (tracks: 1 to 5)
Flute, Tenor Saxophone – Fred Jackson (tracks: 8)
Guitar – Earl Klugh (tracks: 7), Earl Klugh (tracks: 8)
Marimba – Bobby Hutcherson (tracks: 8)
Percussion – Leon Chancler (tracks: 8)
Piano – Robert Budson (tracks: 7)
Piano, Electric Piano – Gene Harris (tracks: 8)
Trombone – George Bohanon (tracks: 8)
Trumpet – Chuck Findley (tracks: 8)
Vocals – Carmen McRae (tracks: 1 to 5)

This was a live album to showcase Blue Note's more contemporary sound they were releasing around this time. The artists chosen to showcase this sound were Carmen McRae, Alphonse Mouzon, Ronnie Laws, Earl Klugh and Donald Byrd. Most of this is pretty bland renditions of what were good studio recordings; in particular Ronnie Laws embarrassingly weak version of "Always There", but the saviour of the show is Donald Byrd who does storming versions of "Places & Spaces" and "Dominoes". Also, there's a previously unheard track called "Blue Note '76" which is a total funk monster. This is performed by The Blue Note All Stars, who among others consist of Gene Harris, George Bohannon, and Bobby Hutcherson. I suupose with them three in the ingredients you're bound to end up with a pretty heavy gumbo.

Ray Gomez - 1980 - Volume

Ray Gomez

01. Make Your Move 4:28
02. U. S. A. 4:52
03. Waiting For The Big Time 5:54
04. West Side Boogie 5:41
05. Summer In The City 5:20
06. Love At First Sight 4:52
07. The World Will Keep On Turning 5:48
08. Blues For Mez 6:46

Randy Brecker: Sax
Rafael Cruz: Percussion
Diva Gray: Vocals
Lani Groves: Vocals
Jimmy Haslip: Bass
Will Lee: Bass
Ullanda McCillough: Vocals
Chris Palmaro: Keyboards, Vocals
David Sancious: Keyboards
Narada Michael Walden: Drums
George Young: Sax
Ray Gomez: Bass, Guitar, Keyboards

When listening to Volume, it soon becomes evident that Ray Gomez gets more soul, more feel, and more tone, than any other guitar player on the planet. Add in impeccable placed notes with "Albert King-like" timing, the album represents guitar playing that is hard to beat. Something else that needs to be said, Ray "rocks". He is very keen on the groove within a song. Besides blistering leads, Ray keeps funk and rock groove rhythm in his playing. One could listen to Blues for Mez or West Side Boogie and say, "Well, there's killer blues being played, funk being played, and a steady rockin' groove. In essence, Ray Gomez is nothing short of a powerhouse. He gets more out of a guitar than is almost humanly possible, yet he does not overplay. Ray has the uncanny ability to play exactly what is needed for a song, yet with innovation, feel, and soaring power. U.S.A. is actually my favorite song on the record. It also establishes another front -- that Ray is a damn good song writer and composer. Volume is a hidden gem that needs to be rediscovered. It's still relevant and fresh today as it was when first released.

Unfortunately, due to record company politics this album never had a chance (even though it charted in cities like St. Louis when it was released and did get some radio play). If you don't know who Ray is, he is a studio guitarist and also played for the likes of Stanley Clarke (in his touring band) and Roy Buchanan (who said that Ray was the best guitarist he ever heard). Other fans were George Harrison, Jeff Beck and Billy Gibbons. This set has a couple weak tunes, but generally this is a fantastic rock guitar extravaganza! "West Side Boogie" just kills (Shawn Lane loved Ray, and did this piece on his "Powers of 10 CD), and "Blues for Mez" is a beautiful moody blues tune with some great jazz phrasing. His vocals are good, the songs are (almost all) great, and his solos are to die for. This album can be found on CD sometimes from Audiophile Imports, very worthwhile if you can find it!

Mike Greene - 1977 - Midnight Mirage

Mike Greene 
Midnight Mirage

01. Joni 5:47
02. Midnight Mirage 3:19
03. Down To The Wire 3:50
04. Jay Bluweesie 2:50
05. Perfect Smile 3:48
06. Adobe Hideaway 3:20
07. I Need A Love 4:20
08. Smile To Me 3:07
09. Circles Round The Sun 8:06

Rande Powell: Drums and Percussion
David Michael: Guitars
Mike Greene: Vocals, Keyboards, Saxophones, and Flutes
Michael Holbrook: Bass

Percussion: Farrell Morris

Mike Greene was originally a member of the Hampton Grease Band - one of the wildest fusion outfits you never heard. Formed in Atlanta, Georgia during the tumultuous late '60s, Hampton Grease Band developed a big hippie following with their crazy experimental style and playing free shows throughout the South as well as supporting bands like Fleetwood Mac, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Captain Beefheart, Grateful Dead, Procol Harum and Jimi Hendrix. The group signed with CBS, releasing their one and only album 'Music to Eat' in 1971 which sold next to zero, eventually signing to Frank Zappa's Straight Records only to break-up in 1973. Following the split, Greene put together the Mike Greene Band releasing two albums on Mercury 'Pale, Pale Moon' in 1975 and a year later 'Midnight Mirage'.
Both albums are classic examples of Southern fusion and 'Midnight Mirage' is a good as it gets. Often you'll find Mike Greene in the Jazz sections of your local shop, or described as such by some internet sellers, but this is only partially true. This is heat-fried fusion with elements of world music and pop thrown on the fire. A lot of warm vibes here and Greene is a competent vocalist somewhat in the Michael Franks / Dan Fogelberg school as well as wonderful sax player which is a featured prominently throughout the record. Surrounded with stellar musicians that weave a colourful tapestry of sound, including his old bud in Hampton Grease Band - bassist Michael Holbrook; fans of Sea Level and the Allman Brothers Band should make space for this record in their collections and from the opening cut 'Joni' you get the feeling this is going to be something special. A few of the many highlights include the title track; a rockish instrumental featuring tasty guitar work from David Michael, the funky and sweet 'Perfect Smile' and the Allman Brothers influenced 'Adobe Highway' making for a dazzling album of light and dark tones and musical riches.
Mike Greene's albums have never been on CD which may very well be politically motivated. Following 'Midnight Mirage', Greene became increasingly active in the music business, eventually becoming president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences as well as running the 'Grammy' Awards for several years. Consistently controversial for the way he operated the Grammy's, promoted his own music to major labels and allegations of sexual impropriety eventually lead to his resignation in 2002. 

This is a nice, easy to listen to album. Kinda jazzy and light. All the musicians know their craft and do a very good job playing together as a tight ensemble. I’ve played this album since I bought it in the late 70’s and it’s still a satisfying listening experience today. I don’t have a whole lot else to say about it. Give it a listen and see if you want to hear it again after you’ve played it thru once. I’d be surprised if you don’t find it a nice addition to your musical collection. Just another one more of those bands that fell in between the cracks and deserves a chance to be heard.

Mike Greene - 1976 - Pale, Pale Moon

Mike Greene 
Pale, Pale Moon

01. Hermetically Sealed 4:25
02. I Do All I Can 3:33
03. Pale, Pale Moon 4:03
04. It's Hard 4:46
05. With A Knife 2:11
06. Just Me And You 5:30
07. In The Morning 3:43
08. I Wonder Why 4:11
09. Valdez Bailey 3:38
10. Why I Must Be Lonley 4:19

Bass – Mike Holbrook
Drums – Rande Powell
Guitar – David Michael
Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals – Mike Greene

I've played this one on and off over the last couple months and find it very pleasing listening. If you've heard Midnight Mirage then you could call this one M.M. #2 even though it was their first album. The songs on this album are extremely well done and very musical. Each musician is obviously very familiar with their instrument and they each bring quality playing individually together to form a cohesive arrangement.
As was the case so many times back in the 70's, this is just another quality band that got overlooked for some reason or another. I'd suggest that now you've got a chance to right that wrong. Take a listen to this one and Midnight Mirage and see if you can't find a tune or two that sticks with you.

Larry Young - 1976 - Spaceball

Larry Young 

01. Moonwalk (5:00)
02. Startripper (4:44)
03. Sticky Wicket (9:26)
04. Flytime (4:50)
05. Spaceball (5:07)
06. Message from Mars (7:29)
07. I'm Aware of You (5:09)

Larry Coryell / vocals
Larry Young / organ & keyboards
Ray Gomez / guitar
David Eubanks / bass
Abdul Hakim / percussion
Danny Toan / guitar
Jim Allington / drums
Al Lockett / flute, vocals & saxophone
Paula West / vocals
Barrett Young / percussion
Farouk Abdoul Hakim / percussion
Clifford Brown / percussion

Larry Young's final album is a wonderfully quirky strange album, the kind that only Larry can put out. Funky jazz, early progressive rock, lounge exotica, bizarre disco and other types of instrumental music all come together on this strangely naive album that was out of step with the sophisticated and slick world of jazz fusion in 1976. Larry's synthesizer tones leap out of the mix and sound like those novelty synth records from the late 60s, it is as if he has just discovered the synthesizer ten years after the fact.
Some bands and artists that might come to mind as you listen to this rare gem include Bo Hanson, Sun Ra, Keith Emerson, Return to Forever, Nina Rota, Tony Williams Lifetime, Les Baxter, Frank Zappa and especially Parlaiment/Funkadelic, particularly their prog-rock influenced keyboardist, Bernie Worell.

My favorite cuts on this album are the ones in which Young plays in an instrumental style that sits just between instrumental progressive rock and 60s exotic synthesizer records. His layered keyboards and synthesizers have that pure analog sound that was becoming harder to find in the late 70s. On the other hand, the tunes that are less successful are the disco leaning funky jazz tunes. These cuts may have been his attempt at commercialism, but after he added all his weird synth lines, they ended up sounding pretty bizarre, and a little too 'creative' for most dance floors.

Along with Young, another big star on this album is guitarist Ray Gomez, one of the great overlooked fusion guitarists of the late 70s and beyond. He plays a couple blazing solos as well as some rapid syncopated rhythms.

I don't think this album is for everyone, a lot of people would probably be turned off by the cheeezy exotica elements, but I happen to enjoy records that combine exotica with prog-rock/fusion ie Bo Hanson's Lord of the Rings, Fripp-Summers' Bewitched, Andy MacKay's In Search of Eddie Riff, Phil Manzenera's Primitive Guitars and Return to Forever's synthesizer based fusion. This album isn't quite weird enough to belong in one of those incredibly bizarre music compilations, but it is close.