Friday, October 26, 2018

Heavy Joker - 1976 - Heavy Joker

Heavy Joker 
Heavy Joker

01. Ace Of Spades 3:10
02. That's It! 5:00
03. Heavy Joke 3:30
04. Canasta Funk 2:35
05. Ambrosia 5:50
06. Symphonia 19:55
 a. Highway Habits
 b. Leaving For Cala Bassa
 c. Suburban Heaven
 d. Transylvania Chase

Bass – Henrik Bødtcher
Congas, Percussion – Klaus Nordsø (tracks: B1b)
Drums, Percussion – Jan Sivertsen
Grand Piano, Organ, Electric Piano, Vibraphone, Marimba – Max Leth Jun.
Guitar, Strings – Michael Bruun
Keyboards – Kasper Winding (tracks: A2)
Soprano Saxophone – Jesper Nehammer (tracks: B1d)
Strings – Palle Mikkelborg (tracks: A3)
Tenor Saxophone – Anders Gårdmand (tracks: A4), Jesper Nehammer (tracks: B1c)

Heavy Joker was a Danish short-lived Jazz/Fusion act. Started out as a Tyggegummibanden (mid 70's rock and cover songs pop band that released three albums) side project band for members Michael Bruun, Henrik Bødtcher (both ex Thor Hammer, Henrik also of Buki-Yamaz fame) and Jan Sivertsen, who would all co-found Tøsedrengene after Heavy Joker's second and final album.

The opening side of the LP contains five tracks, each credited to a different member and guest keyboardist Kasper Winding, with ''Canasta Funk'' featuring also sax player Anders Gardmand.The music is mostly excellent, keyboard-based Prog/Fusion with also some fiery guitar at moments and plenty of shifting moods, ranging from breezy Fusion with dominant synths to Canterbury-styled jazzy Prog with powerful keyboard work, electric piano and fast tempos.Still Heavy Joker's approach reveals a strong melodic content at moments as in ''Heavy Joke'' and ''Ambrosia'', characterized by light symphonic FOCUS-like melodious themes and great keyboard/piano treatments.The flipside contains the great long 20-min. instrumental opus ''Symphonia'', composed by Max Leth Jun and divided in four parts.It marks no significant changes to the style already presented, maybe the guitars of Michael Bruun and the keyboard overtones have a Latin-flavor at moments, but the overall approach is demanding still easy-listening Prog/Fusion with superb diversity and strong presence of percussion, sax, vibraphone and marimba.From keyboard-led interventions to jazzy sax solos and from ethnic tunes to virtuosic solos, ''Symphonia'' is a decent and tight instrumental journey, mixing the aesthetics of Jazz and Prog/Fusion in equal doses.

Very good, still pretty unknown debut by these Danish masters, with both technical and melodic parts.Strongly recommended, and even more if you are deep into jazzy Prog.

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