Friday, November 30, 2018

Dennis Weise - 1979 - Valhalla

Dennis Weise 

01. Machine Time Ship
02. Y M Alim-Kader
03. Breathe the Form
04. Alien Rock
05. Hedonic Rapture
06. The Big Apple Mystery
07. The Return of the Akpallus Mutants (Part A)
08. The Return of the Akpallus Mutants (Part B)
09. 93rd Current
10. Valhalla

Producer, Recorded By, Engineer, Cover: Dennis Weise
Synthesizer, Vocals, Percussion, Electric Piano, Piano, Organ, Mellotron, Marimba: Dennis Weise

Recorded and Engineered in Hartford, Connecticut & San Diego, California

Here's another album that seems to have disappeared from the face of the internet. I think I probably got it off the Mutant Sounds blog back in the day (credit where credit's due) but obviously that link is long-gone. So, here ya go...

Dennis Weise ( a/k/a Dr.Wize) is an accomplished musician, composer, keyboardist, and vocalist. He studied music at Trinity College under the illustrious modern classical composer, Samuel Barber. He later earned a doctorate at the United States International/ Alliant University in San Diego. When not performing, Dennis is a practicing psychologist in West Palm Beach, Florida. 
In 1978 he recorded with jazz giant Herbie Hancock on “Rock-it”, Columbia Records best-selling extended play single. He also performed with the progressive European band Gong, and recorded with the Wailers band members in the famed Tough Gong studio in Jamaica in 1982. Next Dennis independently produced two solo albums “Valhalla” (1979), and “Consciousness Program” (1980), and recorded original music for the Eurock: “American Music Compilation” album (1982). His first ambient CD entitled “Towards the One” was released in 1995, distributed in the US by Valley Recordings. Dennis' band recorded the follow up “Corps of Discovery” (1998), and “Anima Manna” (2000). While Dennis' earlier work tended toward ambient electronica, the influence of dance music can be heard in his later work.

This is really fucking strange stuff. The first time I heard it, I assumed it was some obscure library release, because it's pretty heavy on the analog synths and soundtrack vibes. But, it's apparently not's a private press release that is intended to be an 'album.' More or less, it's almost like an outsider music version of Faust or something. This guy clearly digs krautrock but the musicianship is amateurish. Songs go nowhere, and often do about-faces for no particular reason.

When it's good, though (as on 'Alien Rock') it is VERY good. A must hear for all fans of 70's private press weirdness, the Residents, or library music. Also, the track subtitled '93rd Current' would seem to indicate that Weise is either a fan of Aleister Crowley, or he has some connection to the group Current 93 (who weren't formed til '82...about 4 years after this record came out)

This brainburning floorsucking acid mindbomb's unprecedented conflation of liquidly phasing astral keys, searing sustain guitar and unhinged avant-rock structural permutations is one for the ages. You can catch bits of everything from The Cosmic Jokers to Bomis Prendin to The High Fidelity Orchestra to Arthur Brown's Kingdom Come within this kaleidoscopic cyclotron. Strong, strong medicine. Avoid operating heavy machinery when caught in it's vortex. 

Denis Wize - 1980 - Consciousness Program

Denis Wize
Consciousness Program

01. Thought Proceeds Action 0:57
02. Love In Foam And Surf 4:49
03. Only Time We've Got 0:58
04. Anima Manna 6:03
05. Consciousness Program 5:26
06. Back To Earth 0:30
07. Rosita Facilita 4:00
08. Light As Air 3:55
09. Balfazzar 4:58
10. Celestial Cungo Dub 8:30

Published By – Dennis Weise

From the old mutant-sounds:

Fathoms deep acid glaze firmly intact, Dennis Weise (here known as Denis Wize) lovingly extracts the nascent tendencies toward the overtly avant-gardeish from the fecund lysergic overgrowth of his debut (posted by moi a few days back) and dramatically foregrounds them along the first side here, strewing kosmiche signifiers along the way to lure the better-living-through-chemistry set into the sublimely sticky psychological venus fly trap of his "Consciousness Program", only to unexpectedly burst into a heavenly 20 minute clouds-parting bliss-morph of Deuter cum Don Robertson proportions across the entire B-side. 

"Hi, This is Dennis.
My daughter just directed me to these comments. Thanks for the interest in my music. I have done a couple of cd's to look out for. I did "Towards the One" as Doctor Wize, in 1996 (I just saw it on Itunes). I did a couple of (this may piss some off) dance albums "Corps of Discovery", in 1998, also as Doctor Wize, and "Anima Manna" in 2000, as Corps of Discovery. I have a couple of old not so good videos on you tube, I think it's under Doctor_Wize. I have several unpublished albums. I have been working on one for the past two years, that mixes newer electronica with my older elements. I hope to get more out eventually.
Peace & Love
Dennis Weise"

Denis Wise - 2018 - Wize Music (1979 - 1984)

Denis Wise
Wize Music

01. Hedonic Rapture
02. Balfazzar
03. Machine Time Ship
04. Ya Alim-Kader
05. Celes
06. Alien Rock
07. Light As Air
08. Valhalla
09. Love In Foam And Surf
10. Andro

Producer, Recorded By, Engineer: Dennis Weise
Synthesizer, Vocals, Percussion, Electric Piano, Piano, Organ, Mellotron, Marimba: Dennis Weise

Perhaps one of the most unique and unlikely exponents of the highly collectible genres of ambient electronics, experimental tape-music and PINA (Private Issue New Age) this English born Jamaican raised sound designer, artist psychologist and existentialist furrowed his own ublinkered path through lesser chartered electronic fields for many moons before eventually teaming up with Bill Laswell (with Material) and Daevid Allen in New York to bring self-taught synthesis to Gong during their most oblique periods. Creating two impossibly rare self pressed vinyl LPs of conceptual inner-visionary outer-galactic angular tonal-dronal alien-art soundscapes in the process, the man known under figure shifting guises such as Dennis Wise/Denis Weise/Dr. Wise etc, combined a culture of sound system circuitry and radiophonic trickery adding Tea-pot poetry and sci-fidelity future-folk to his magnetic mesh! Presented here as the first ever dedicated ize Music collection this record combines compositions spanning 1979-1984 in both a solo capacity as well as small-group projects featuring members of the Emerald Web band.

Imagine a comic book where a Funkenstein monster called “Laraaji-Scratch Perry” invaded your record shelf while Komendarek and Holger Czukay kept lookout… Dr. Dennis might be the only one Wise enough to outsmart all of them with his powerful amorphous anaesthetic.


Popera Cosmic - 1969 - Les Esclaves

Popera Cosmic 
Les Esclaves 

01. Filmore
02. Batman
03. Aurore Cosmic
04. L. S. D.
05. Etreinte Métronomique
06. Philadelphie Story
07. La Chanson Du Liévre De Mars
08. Les Esclaves
09. Monsieur Noel
10. Quelle Audace
11. Metropolitain
12. Ambiance
13. Indicatif

Arranged By – William Sheller
Conductor – Paul Piot
Producer – Jean Eckian

Sitar – Serge Franklin
Voice – Évelyne Buyle, Yves Jouffroy

For the few people lucky enough to have heard the entire album in the five decades since its release, the mythical Popera Cosmic LP is now considered to be France’s first dedicated psychedelic album and the shrouded blueprint for the hugely influential Gallic concept album phenomenon that followed – including Serge Gainsbourg’s Histoire De Melody Nelson and Gérard Manset’s La Mort D’Orion.
Spearheaded by François Wertheimer (songwriter for Vangelis, Barbara and BYG Records), composed with future Jodorowsky soundtracked and genius all-rounder Guy Skornik, and based on an embryonic concept co-conspired by a teenage Jean Michel-Jarre, this instantly deleted 1969 recording is a true essential for any outernationalradicalised record collection. With credentials that mark the birth of the cosmic funk (later disco) that helped shape the influential sound of France today, this LP also includes the first pressed instrumentals by members of Space Art, some of the best orch rock arrangements by William Sheller (Lux Aeterna, Eriotissimo) and orchestrator Paul Piot (Jean Rollin), as well as sitar psych benchmarks courtesy of uber legend Serge Franklin – all pinned down by the rhythm section that would later be known to prog aficionados as Alice.
Subtitled Les Esclaves (The Slaves), this street theatre/rock opera (influenced by the work of Julien Beck’s Living Theatre) now celebrates its 50th birth-day standing firmly as a sonic tome to the birth of the no-no era (that rebuked France’s yé-yé hamster wheel) leading directly to the thematic progressive network of Wakhévitch, Manset and Magma while comprising an inter-Gallic intergalactic super group from the early annals of France’s pop psych revolution. Imagine a rock opera where the cast of Mister Freedom perform Clash Of The Titans at the foot of The Holy Mountain – then pinch yourself…

Finders Keepers have never shied away from prog or concept albums before, but they’ve netted themselves something of a big fish in terms of psychedelic classics here. Popera Cosmic was a landmark album that helped shape the French psychedelic direction that would follow – from Serge Gainsbourg through on to Jean Rollin, Gong and Magma, this stands as the germ that began many musicians’ journeys. The record is headed by songwriter Francois Wertheimer, who would go on to write for Vangelis and was a fixture at BYG records. He paired up with Jodorowsky collaborator Guy Skornik and the two based the record on a concept from a young Jean Michel-Jarre.

As for the record itself, its up there with the most outre psychedelic pieces. The album was inspired by French street theater in its narrative and sweeps through styles from blistering psych freakouts to barroom sing-a-long and lush orchestral folk with string arrangements courtesy of William Sheller and Paul Piot. Further support comes from the rhythm section from French prog legends Alice, who keep the record clicking through its stylistic changes flawlessly and add a dose of heaviness on the psych-stompers.

The record was instantly deleted at the time of its release and lay as a collector’s totem until now, so it seems high time this was available on a wider basis. Beyond fans of the French psychedelia this would influence, those who have been in thrall of The Holy Mountain, SF Sorrow or Head can feel free to dig in. Or, if you wish there existed a mash of Gong’s Flying Teapot, Les Mis on a heavy head of DMT and Haphash and the Coloured Coat, look no further. 

Arti E Mestieri - 2015 - Universi Paralleli

Arti E Mestieri 
Universi Paralleli

01. Alter Ego (6:31)
02. Dune (3:44)
03. Pacha Mama (3:00)
04. L'ultimo Imperatore (6:57)
05. Finisterre (5:21) *
06. Johann (2:05)
07. Restare Immobilo (3:59)
08. Borea (4:42) *
09. Pandora (3:40) *
10. Linea D'Ombra (4:22) *
11. Comunicazione Primordiale (2:37) *
12. La Luce Il Fondo Al Tunnel (6:05)

* Not on LP edition

Bonus Track on 2015 Italian release:
13. Nato (4:47)

Bonus Track on 2015 Japanese release:
13. La Porta dal Cielo (3:21)

Iano Nicoló / vocals (3,7,9)
Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / acoustic & electric guitars, keyboards, producer & mixing
Marco Roagna / acoustic & electric guitars (9)
Piero Mortara / piano, electric piano, keyboards, accordion (8)
Lautaro Acosta / acoustic & electric violins
Roberto Puggioni / fretted & fretless basses
Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

Mel Collins / soprano sax (2), flute (2,3)
Arturo Vitale / soprano sax (7)
Lino Vairetti / vocals in "Nato"

Universi Paralleli is the last, long awaited, studio album by Arti e Mestieri, a band from Turin that have been active, one way or another, for more than forty years. It was released in 2015 on the Cramps - Sony label with a renewed line up featuring, along with founder members Gigi Venegoni (acoustic and electric guitars, keyboards) and Furio Chirico (drums, percussion), also Iano Nicolò (vocals), Piero Mortara (accordion, piano, keyboards), Lautaro Acosta (violin, electric violin), Roberto Puggioni (bass, fretless bass) and Marco Roagna (acoustic and electric guitars) plus some prestigious guests such as Arturo Vitale (sax), Mel Collins (sax, flute) and Lino Vairetti (vocals). The creative vein of the band has not run out along the years and the songwriting is still brilliant, blending jazz rock, melody and Mediterranean colours with excellent results. On the album cover there's the picture of a sculpture by Lugi Farina that in some way recalls their debut album Tilt - Immagini per un orecchio, but with a touch of modernity that could give you an idea of the musical content. According to the liner notes, the music and lyrics of this work deal with the subject of parallel universes, emotional contrasts that are mirrored, for instance, in double lives or double personalities...
The opener "Alter Ego" is a great instrumental track where acoustic and electric instruments draw new images for you ears with soaring melodic lines defying the gravity force flying high over jazzy patterns... I think that it's a very introduction for a wonderful album!

"Dune" is a beautiful instrumental with Oriental flavours that leads to "Pacha Mama" where we can hear for the first time on this work Iano Nicolò's vocals. The lyrics deal with environmental issues. In fact, the title refers to the goddess of fertility revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. Mother Earth here is depicted as a dying entity, poisoned by the greediness of humankind. Men driven by gold are sucking the divine maternal sap like vampires while deserts of sand are rapidly replacing lakes and rivers...

A strong, melancholic wind of nostalgia blows through the notes of the following "L'ultimo imperatore" (The last emperor). The title seems to refer to the film of the same name directed in 1987 by Bernardo Bertolucci about the life of Puyi, the last Emperor of China. The lyrics do not try to tell a story but draw evocative images about parallel universes and fading memories where distorted and manipulated revolutions are celebrated by godless priests in doomy cathedrals that can't hide the pervasive sense of loss and emptiness of a faithless ritual performed by rote...

"Finisterre" and "Johann" are two charming instrumental pieces drenched in a kind of dreamy romanticism that lead to the heartfelt "Restare immobile" (Remaining motionless) where the music and lyrics depict the eternal contrast between reality and dreams. You can pin down a fragment of reality on a blank page and anaesthetize your memories. Poetry and dreams can set you free and when your mind begins to fly you're able to take off on a journey across far, extraordinary worlds, even without moving your body!

The melancholic instrumental "Borea" (Boreas) is full of delicate autumnal colours and soaring folksy melodies with accordion and violin in the forefront. The music draws evocative northern landscapes while the title refers to the god of the north wind, one of the four seasonal Anemoi in ancient Greek mythology... It leads to the joyful "Pandora" where the music and lyrics conjure up strange images and cheerful dances. Here the wind takes you onwards and you set off on a magical journey to discover new moons and better days...

The following "Linea d'ombra" (Shadow line) is darker and tense. It's another beautiful instrumental that leads to the pyrotechnic drum solo "Comunicazione primordiale" (Primordial communication), full of savage energy and exotic flavours. Next comes the instrumental "La luce in fondo al tunnel" (The light at the end of the tunnel) that is more relaxed and shines for his perfect mix of jazz and classical influences.

The last track "Nato" (Born) is credited as a "bonus track" and features the special guest Lino Vairetti from Osanna on vocals. It's a wonderful piece that deals with a strong sense of nostalgia for a lost emotion that was born from a thought or maybe from a kiss, or a lie, a tune, a sound, a poem, a sin, a shout or just from a moment of madness that now your are trying to find again between a smile and a tear, between the clouds and the stars, in an image or in a deep, cold abyss inside you soul or... wherever you want! It's just a magic moment that fled away and you're still desperately running after it...

On the whole, I think that this is wonderful album and a real must for every Italianprog lover!

Arti E Mestieri - 2013 - The Live

Arti E Mestieri 
The Live

01.Gravita 9.81
04.Comin' Here To Get You/Si Fa Luna
05.Giro di Valzer Per Domani
06.Alba Mediterranea
07.Il Figlio Del Barbiere
08.A Loro Due

Bass – Roberto Puggioni
Drums – Furio Chirico
Guitar – Gigi Venegoni (tracks: CD-1 to CD-12), Marco Roagna
Keyboards – Beppe Crovella
Vocals – Iano Nicolo'

Live in Clubcitta' Kawasaki, Japan, November 5th 2011 for the Italian Progressive Rock Festival

This CD+DVD was taken from two different concerts: the CD from the Festival at ClubCittà in Kawasaki, Japan, on November 5, 2011 and the DVD from the Festival of Veruno, Italy, on September 2, 2011, with special guests: guitarist Gigi Venegoni, original member of the formation, in the CD, and Mel Collins and David Cross, ex King Crimson, in the DVD.This production tells perfectly the two musical paths woven into the history of the group, developing with various improvisations and just the mood of the individual members.

Two previously unreleased extra tracks: Veruno (the two Crimson) and an Italian version of Exiles, make the performance unique. Arti & Mestieri, which are now back in the studio for a new unreleased album coming out later this year, show, even if there was need, that they are a live band that knows how to deliver an incredible potential.

The reinterpretations of the songs, makes them completely different from the original ones, adding a new freshness and vivacity that will allow fans to enjoy the old versions of inestimable refinement, and the new fans to know and appreciate what this band can express on a stage.

Arti E Mestieri - 2006 - Live In Japan

Arti E Mestieri 
Live In Japan

01. Gravità 9,81 (4:34)
02. Strips (4.26)
03. Corrosione (1:30)
04. Positivo/Negativo (3:40)
05. In Cammino (6:14)
06. Valzer per Domani (4:12)
07. Mirafiori (5:53)
08. Nove Lune Prima (0:56)
09. Mescali/Mescalero (2:36)
10. Nove Lune Dopo (1:06)
11. Aria Pesante (4:10)
12. Dimensione Terra (3:52)
13. Kawasaki (6:11)
14. Glory (2:44)
15. Marilyn (5:24)
16. Arcansiel (3:53)
17. Alba Mediterranea (4:37)
18. 2000 (9:23)

Beppe Crovella / Hammond organ, Mellotron, synthesizers, Fender Rhodes electric piano, acoustic piano
Furio Chirico / Drums, percussion
Alfredo Ponissi / tenor-alto-baritone sax, flute
Roberto Cassetta / electric bass, back vocals
Marco Roagna / electric & acoustic guitars
Lautaro Acosta / violin
Iano Nicolò / lead vocals, percussion

Arti & Mestieri 's First Live In Japan was recorded live in concert in June, 2005 at Club Citta in Kawasaki, Japan. The set list included spirited rendition of the Tilt album minus three songs, seven tracks from their release Giro Di Valzer Per Domani, and six more recent tracks. The songs easily segue without a rest until the end of each suite, only allowing the Japanese audience to show their restrained affection rarely. Their music follows in the footsteps of Return to Forever, some PFM, and the lighter side of Mahavishnu Orchestra. They never stray into Canterbury territory and follow the scripted chord changes fairly tightly.
Due to their tight instrumentation, the band has a big sound, sometimes like one of Zappa's jazz orchestras toned way down, sometimes like an enhanced Weather Report or the Dixie Dregs. Although their songwriting is quite innovative and unique, I would say those bands have the greatest influence on the group's playing and arranging. The vocals (all in Italian) are not the centerpiece of the music, but offer another instrument to be arranged into the song.

There is plenty of mellotron from Beppe Crovella, and the instrumental solos, duets and trios abound using sax, electric violin, electric piano, bass, and clarinet. "Strips" includes wonderful violin solos behind electronic grand piano. Often a languid section breaks into an instrumental duel.

Some of the tracks are much more arranged than others, leaving you with the feeling that the show drifted off of and onto their pre-arranged schedule. If you know Arti y Misteri, you will note the great production values of this album, the tight musicianship and the band's enthusiasm, even after thirty years. If you are new to the band, then this will guarantee your follow up with at least the first two albums.

Arti E Mestieri - 2005 - Estrazioni

Arti E Mestieri 

01. Alba Mediterranea (4:40)
02. Gianfranco (4:24)
03. Danza Di Luna (6:03)
04. Petra (5:01)
05. Aura (2:52)
06. Cinderella (0:53)
07. Il Canto Del Mattino (3:52)
08. Prometeo (1:41)
09. Ode (2:15)
10. Gravita 9,81 (5:32)
11. Flautofonie (4:02)

Marco Roagna / electric & acoustic guitars
Beppe Crovella / Hammond, piano, Mellotron, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, clavinet, Yamaha Motif, Moog, accordion, orchestral sounds (sampled), vocals (1), producer & mixing
Corrado Trabuio / violin
Alfredo Ponissi / soprano,alto,tenor & baritone saxes, flute, clarinet
Roberto Cassetta / bass, vocals
Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / acoustic & electric guitars (4,11)

New recordings of a selection of old songs

After a brilliant career 30 years long, this "Estrazioni" confirms such a remarkable talent regarding A&M and their good creativity as well.then consider their experience and you understand the meaning of their efforts still nowadays!! For instance you can listen to an old tune of progressive jazz, entitled "Gravità 9:81", dedicated to Demetrio Stratos, but you can find also a typical blend (for their excellent standard) of rock and jazz, plus the Mediterranean melodies, characterizing the music colours of my Country!! The same job has been performed for example by "Periferia del Mondo", but perhaps with a different approach-sometimes a bit forced- even paying their tribute to the ensemble of A&M itself: as for all these reasons, especially by considering the longevity of this latter, you remain satisfied at the end. The short duration -42 minutes- avoids such a disturbing "mannerism" regarding the jazz progressive scene, by means of an intelligent arrangement and an elegant choice also concerning their fine harmonization!

Arti E Mestieri - 2002 - Articollezione

Arti E Mestieri 

01. Scacco Matto (0:52)
02. Glory (2:47)
03. Young Man's Tale (1:33)
04. Morning Rose (3:01)
05. Night Trip (1:28)
06. Necropoli (6:26)
07. Gravità 9.81 (2:51)
08. Da Nord a Sud (5:18)
09. Silently Dancing (3:40)
10. Comin' Here to Get You (parts 1-2-3) (6:26)
11. Inside (3:34)
12. Young Man's Tale pt.2 (2:30)

- Furio Chirico / drums, percussion
- Beppe Crovella / keyboards and synthesizer solo on (6)
- Gigi Venegoni / guitars and "mellotronized" Farfisa Compact Duo
- Artuto Vitale / saxes
- Giovanni Vigliar / lead vocals, violin and percussion
- Marco Gallesi / bass

- Marco Cimino / synthesizer on (6)
- Corrado Trabuio / violin on (6)
- Max Bertola / lead vocal and bass on (2) and (5)

Collection of alternative versions recorded between 1972 and 1975 except 'Necropoli' recorded in 2001 at Electromantic Synergy

Arti E Mestieri - 2000 - Murales

Arti E Mestieri 

01. Arc En Ciel (3:56)
02. 2000 (7:36)
03. Astrotango (4:21)
04. No Fly Zone (4:44)
05. Nove Luna Prima / Zoetrope / Bonaventura Moon (5:41)
06. Alba Mediterranea (6:31)
07. Ambaradan (3:12) *
08. Terra Incognita (5:52)
09. Ali (2:03)
10. Quarto Di Luna (4:24) *
11. Sun (5:13) *
12. Strade (4:44)
13. Gravità 9,81 (4:13) *

* Not on LP

- Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / acoustic & electric guitars
- Marco Cimino / polyphonic synth
- Beppe Crovella / Hammond, pianos, Minimoog, harmonica
- Marco Gallesi / bass
- Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

- Corrado Trabuio / acoustic & electric violin

Arti e Mesteri's reunion album finds them taking on a much smoother, cooler, and laid-back approach to jazz fusion. Despite the presence of a few mischevious Zappa-esque flourishes here and there to remind us of the firey and mischief-loving albums of their early career, by and large this album leans much closer to the jazz side of fusion than the rock side - but when it's jazz as beautiful and soothing as this album is at its best, I'm not inclined to complain.
Unlike many other bands, Arti e Mesteri avoid falling into the trap of making a reunion album which tries too hard to sound just like their classic-era material: instead, they've produced a piece which shows they've paid attention to developments in fusion and jazz over the course of their hiatus. The end result is a capable album which sounds like an entirely different band. It's nice, but at points the production style does feel a little cold and hollow and the group don't quite have enough strong material to fill out the running time. Indeed, they resort to rerecording their own Gravitia 9.81 from their debut album to round things off.

On balance, this is no embarrassment, but at the same time it isn't a pillar of the genre in the same way Tilt was.

Arti E Mestieri - 1985 - Children's Blues

Arti E Mestieri 
Children's Blues

01. Mulele (8:52)
02. Eby (1:52)
03. Children's Blues (10:04)
04. Ouagadougou (6:48)
05. Next Time (3:42)
06. Waiting For Laura At Bantora Hotel (10:31)

- Mario Petracca / electric guitar
- Antonio Salerno / keyboards, co-producer
- Claudio Bonadè / alto saxophone
- Gigi Mucciolo / trumpet, fluegelhorn
- Johnny Capriuolo / trombone
- Umberto Mari / electric bass
- Furio Chirico / drums, percussion, co-producer

- Flavio Boltro / trumpet solo (4,6)
- Siro Merlo / tenor saxophone (5)
- Tony Palmieri / congas (6)

 Another interesting re-issued album from the label "Electromantic", as well as the definitive jazz approach of A&M, closer to other music genres, strictly not "progressive". Ok sometimes their stuff reminds me of the jazz-progressive genre regarding a few instrumental bands in Italy (think for example of "Linea C", such a competent ensemble co- founded by Stefano Cerri, unfortunately recently missed forever.); nevertheless their exploration in the direction of a few "diverse" music styles (like that concerning the World Music) is always interesting, in spite of relegating the excellent technical drumming by Furio Chirico to a marginal role (almost as a simple rhythmical accompaniment). For instance the horn section and the sax create a remarkable interplay with the electric guitar and the keyboards too, even though naturally their impact is not as much stunning as that unique regarding the most famous album of A&M, entitled "Tilt".anyway even the present 80's obscured work is worthy and useful too, being in my opinion almost equal to "Giro di Valzer per Domani": however try to re-discover both and be happy!!

Arti E Mestieri - 1983 - Acquario

Arti E Mestieri 

01. Acquario (6:27)
02. Funghi (6:12)
03. Mescalito (4:18)
04. Tiroxina (4:46)
05. Rama (4:38)
06. Muscle (3:58)
07. Stagno E Debiti (2:05)
08. Romantik Bidone (5:01)
09. Bobinga (2:04)
10. Containers (2:58)

Luigi Tessarollo / guitars
Antonino Salerno / Yamaha electric grand piano, Fender Rhodes
Siro Merlo / tenor & baritone saxes, winds arrangements (2,4,10)
Guido Scategni / contralto sax, concert flute
Umberto Mari / fretted & fretless basses
Furio Chirico / drums

Willy Fugazza / guitar (1)
Flavio Boltro / trumpet (2,4,10)
Mauro Brignolo / trombone (2,4,10)

 Well first of all as this work represents their comeback also on stage (dated 1983) but with a different line-up (except on the original member-Mr Chirico), I think that A&M showed a diverse clever approach and a great versatility too, in the early nineties, which is very interesting. The re-printed version by Electromantic makes me feel so good, cause of its live recording without any "post-production", as well as of its pretty jazz mood, being never banal. Antonino Salerno is a remarkable composer, involved with a difficult role: He had to replace Mr Rovella, the keyboardist, and this "event" is regarded as a remarkable effort still today, if you listen to some music critics.anyway actually- at that time- He was even helped by U. Mari on bass guitar and other important session men, playing the wind instruments in a noteworthy manner, which made his job easier.but as it's a bit lacking the reference to their past, above all talking about their recent music project, you can remain unprepared at the end: you're in front of a completely restructured ensemble; otherwise you could appreciate the piano solo (K. Emerson-oriented) in "Stagno e debiti", even though sometimes the instrumental section, being without any vocal parts , creates a "tiring" mood, especially for their new listeners.

Arti E Mestieri - 1979 - Quinto Stato

Arti E Mestieri
Quinto Stato

01. Quinto Stato (emarginato) (4:35)
02. Vicolo (3:20)
03. Arterio (sclerosi) (3:08)
04. Torino Nella Mente (4:55)
05. Mercato (5:25)
06. D'essay (3:15)
07. Arti (2:25)
08. Sui Tetti (6:05)

Claudio Montafia / guitar (1,3,4,6,7), flute (2,4)
Marco Cimino / electric piano, synthesizers, clavinet, fretted & fretless basses (4), vocals (4,7)
Arturo Vitale / soprano (4,8) & alto (5,8) saxes, piano (5), vocals (5)
Marco Gallesi / fretted & fretless basses

Gigi Fregapane / backing vocals (5,8)
Gino Torni / backing vocals (5,8)
Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / electric guitar (1)
Flavio Boltro / trumpet (6)
Rudi Passuello / vocals (1,3,6), bassoon (2)
Furio Chirico / drums

With Fusion discredited as a mere ground for chops show-offs and Prog entangled in an identity crisis veering towards simple Pop or overblown Symphonic, minimalist or down-to-Earth genres as Punk or Disco were all the rage; after their confirmation as one of the exponents of the Jazz-Rock movement with Giro di valzer per domani in 1975, Arti & Mestieri pushed the pause button as guitar player Gigi Venegoni  went on to front his own band Venegoni & Co., or collaborated with Arturo Vitale in bass player Marco Gallesi’s short lived project Esagono sole studio effort Vicolo; Curiously this was to be the band  which would provide part of the human capital to fill the vacant slots in the dismembered Arti & Mestieri when in 1978 the group started working in what would be their 3rd release: Marco Cimino, keyboards and Claudio Montafia, guitars and flute. 

That said, and from the original A&M, only Gallesi and drummer-extraordinaire Furio Chirico are all over this record, fuelling it with their formidable rhythm engine, whereas past member  Vitale contribute with his sax on a couple of tracks, he also wrote. 

But if the band has not changed beyond recognition, they do seem to have missed the writing skills of Beppe Crovella and Venegoni who had been responsible for two thirds of the intricate and complex music in their initial discography; on the other hand and with the group basically reduced to a quartet their kaleidoscopic sound also suffered, although the flute, Vitale’s sax and Flavio Boltro’s flugelhorn on “D’Essay” somehow work to compensate the loss. 

In short, if this mostly instrumental album is still filled with fine Jazz-Rock pieces, which may lack the adventurism, novelty or even the dynamics of their previous work,  border the cheesy as on “Arti” or where the influences of the contemporary and million-selling  Weather Report are often palpable, what coarsely distinguishes “Quinto Stato” is new singer Rudy Passuello, owner of  a harsh and rough voice, who often seems to struggle to make the lyrics fit in the music and who has an attitude more in tune with Motörhead’s Lemmy (!)than with the fluid Fusion sound of A&M. Thankfully, only three tracks use his gifts (!) and even those not extensively, so if you can live through the opening title track, you’ll still be rewarded with enough moments of stupendous musicianship – not at the reach of the average player -which will make you get back to it every once in a while.

Arti E Mestieri - 1975 - Giro Di Valzer Per Domani

Arti E Mestieri 
Giro Di Valzer Per Domani

01. Valzer Per Domani (2:12)
02. Mirafiori (5:55)
03. Saper Sentire (4:40)
04. Nove Lune Prima (0:55)
05. Mescal (2:00)
06. Mescalero (0:35)
07. Nove Lune Dopo (1:08)
08. Dimensione Terra (1:30)
09. Aria Pesante (3:53)
10. Consapevolezza Parte 1a (3:22)
11. Sagra (3:06)
12. Consapevolezza Parte 2a (1:12)
13. Rinuncia (2:48)
14. Marilyn (2:40)
15. Terminal (2:20)

Gianfranco Gaza / vocals
Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / guitar, ARP synth
Beppe Crovella / acoustic & electric pianos, synths, spinet, celesta, clavinet, Hammond organ
Giovanni Vigliar / violin, vocals, percussion
Arturo Vitale / soprano & baritone saxes, clarinet & bass clarinet, vibes, clavinet, melodica, vocals
Marco Gallesi / bass
Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

While many consider Arti's first album Tilt to be their best album and one of the most important fusion albums to come from Italy, I personally consider Giro di Valzer as at least an equal to their debut. Granted, it's not as innovative as Tilt but I think that this album shows more maturity in composition and less tendency to improvise and experiment (not that that's always a bad thing).
There's definitely a sense that some of the fusion elements aren't as potent as on the first album. Beppe Crovella comes to the fore more here and uses instruments that aren't typical of fusion, like mellotron and harpsichord (not mentioned in the liner notes but it appears quite prominently). But the main difference is in terms of the songwriting and the melodies. Some of the melodies definitely have a more symphonic feel to them and I would guess that this is mainly due to Crovella's contribution. Don't get me wrong, the prevailing elements are still those of jazz-rock. The electric piano is still the main keyboard instrument, as was the case with most fusion bands of the time and the saxes, violins, vibraphones and other percussive instruments still speak in the voice of fusion but every now and then the violin seems keen to play something resembling classical music rather than jazz.

The main composer is probably still Gigi Venegoni, whose sometimes blazing and sometimes passionate and emotional guitar playing is the basis for many Arti melodies. Furio Chirico is still a dynamo of a drummer. He seems to be the engine that drives this band. He seems to be a relentless source of energy. Some passages that he plays are simply beyond belief; he plays them at such a tremendous speed and with such technical proficiency.

The main problem still remains the vocals. Although they recruited a singer for this album, he doesn't really perform his duties with very much critical acclaim. The vocals on Tilt were just as good (or maybe just as bad?), so there was really no need to recruit a new singer. But fortunately not many songs have vocals on them. I will however admit to liking the vocals on Rinuncia with the contrast between the tenor and bass voices.

This is definitely an album that is at least an equal to Tilt and deserves to be acknowledged as an excellent work of art. 

Arti E Mestieri - 1974 - Tilt - Immagini Per Un Orecchio

Arti E Mestieri
Tilt - Immagini Per Un Orecchio 

01. Gravità 9,81 (4:05)
02. Strips (4:39)
03. Corrosione (1:37)
04. Positivo / Negativo (3:29)
05. In Cammino (5:36)
06. Farenheit (1:15)
07. Articolazioni (13:24)
08. Tilt (2:29)

Luigi "Gigi" Venegoni / electric & acoustic guitars, ARP2600 synthesizer (8), co-producer
Beppe Crovella / Pianos, ARP2600 & Eminent synths, Mellotron, Hammond organ
Giovanni Vigliar / violin, vocals, percussion
Arturo Vitale / soprano & baritone saxes, clarinet & bass clarinet, vibraphone
Marco Gallesi / bass
Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

One of the most emblematic Italian prog albums with that simple but stunning album, which could probably the progressive spirit: indeed that wide funnel could be where the progressive movement engulf all of their individual or collective influences and transfer them into a tank for the mix, thus producing an incredibly varied and complex end product. This suggestive imagery belongs to yours truly, but I doubt I will be the only one who thought about it. It is further reinforced by the subtitle of the album's name: imagination for the ear. Often classified as JR/F, this band doesn't make pigeonholing that easy, especially when the violinist induces a bunch of symphonic or classical shades into the overall mix. A sextet from Rome (despite the majority being from Turin), the group is lead by three or even four frontmen, including a wind player (Vitale) and a string (violin mainly) player (Vigliar) as well as the more standard keyboards (Crovella) and guitar (Venegoni), thus allowing a very varied (in principle) sound. Let's not forget to mention drummer extraordinaire Furio Chirico and the no-less awesome bassist Gallesi.

What you will find on the slice of wax or vinyl is a fairly-typical Italian-sounding group, stuck between the more symphonic (early PFM or BMS) and the jazzier penchant (Perigeo or later PFM) of the Italian scope of prog, but not venturing in its more-experimental side like Area or Stormy Six (if you except the short closing title track) or its prog folk slant (Saint Just).

A mostly instrumental album, despite two sung tracks, A&M plays a very demonstrative melodic prog oscillating between symphonic and jazz styles, which give them a good but not unique quality to stand out from the mass of their compatriots. Indeed, while the sax gives the blue-notes sonorities, the violin and mellotrons counter with more European influences, despite the compositions being mostly that of guitarist Venegoni. Opening on the slightly Mahavishnu-esque and instrumental piece of Gravitation 9.81, you find yourself slipping without warning into the Crimson-like layers of Trons of the following piece of Strips, whose vocals are quite PFM-sounding. The short Corrosione is more of a transition piece that will polarize us into the +/- track (again Mahavishnu, but with added vibes) in order to prepare to the Cammino, a slow-evolving and gradually incandescent, in great part due to Vitale's winds and Venegoni's fiery guitar solo, before the short Scacco piece ends the side rather abruptly.

The flipside is mostly hogged by the album's highlight, the 13-mins+ Articolazione, the other track featuring vocals, but it is sandwiched by two short track, the first of which Farenheit is Maha-inspired, while the closing Tilt piece is definitely more abstract and totally musically out of context of the rest of the album: interesting but artificial. Let's go back to the epic, truly the more complex and energetic piece of the album in the "Crimson meets PFM" mode, but featuring some IMHO expandable texts, but clearly the centrepiece of Tilt. I'm not sure if the album's production was perfect or is it that the music could've used a tad more energy and dynamics, but maybe a remastering would be helpful.

While there are some undeniable Mahavishnu influences that make this album interesting to fusionheads, it's likely to interest more progheads, especially if you've heard the previous The Trip formation, you will impressed by the progress they made.. I often wonder how the group might have sounded and fared without the violin, out of pure speculation (he's not a composer anyway), but it's quite pointless since imagining A&M without Vigliar is unthinkable, because his sound is somewhere between Goodman, Lockwood or Ponty. Not essential (IMHO) to either jazz or prog fans, but Tilt is definitely worthy of some attention from both sides.

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

The Trip - 2016 - Live '72

The Trip 
Live '72

01. Repent Walpurgis (Fortuna) (5:52)
02. Caronte (6:31)
03. Interview with Joe Vescovi (5:22)
04. Two Brothers (6:43)
05. Ode A Jimi Hendrix (10:49)

Joe Vescovi / keyboards
Arvid "Wegg" Andersen / bass, lead vocals
William "Billy" Gray / guitars, vocals
Pino "Caronte" Sinnone / drums, percussion

Recorded at the Piper in Rome, 28 January, 1972

One of many English bands coming to Italy in search of success during the beat-era, The Trip, included a young Ritchie Blackmore in its first line-up, along with founder members Arvid "Wegg" Andersen, Billy Gray and drummer Ian Broad. A line-up change brought two Italians in, keyboard player Joe Vescovi (later the leading figure in the band) and drummer Pino Sinnone. 'Live '72' captures the January 1972 performance at the Piper in Rome, the last concert with the historical line-up. This unpublished document is evidence of the energy and power of one of the best bands in Italy's '70s prog scene.

The Trip - 1973 - Time Of Change

The Trip 
Time Of Change

01. Phapsodia (20:02)
02. Formula Nova (4:53)
03. De Sensibus (4:12)
04. Corale (5:28)
05. Ad Libitum (4:29)

Joe Vescovi / keyboards, vocals, arrangements
Arvid "Wegg" Andersen / bass, vocals
Furio Chirico / drums, percussion, vocals

1973's "Time of Change" was their final album, by which they were no longer recording for RCA, but for Trident, a small, independent Italian label best known for giving us the likes of SEMIRAMIS and BIGLIETTO PER L'INFERNO. The band at this point consisted of keyboardist Joe Vescovi, bassist Arvid "Wegg" Andersen, and drummer Furio Chirico, all credited to vocal duties. It's Andersen who was there from the beginning when they were residing in England (although I suspect Arvid "Wegg" Andersen was Danish-born, given his name). If the name Furio Chirico sounds familiar, well, the next band he was in was ARTI & MESTIERI. He was also on their previous album, "Atlantide", but not their previous two ("Caronte", and their self-entitled 1970 debut).

Don't expect fusion-oriented prog like you do ARTI & MESTIERI, expect keyboard- driven prog, with some ELP influences. The album starts off with the side- length "Rhapsodia". Here you get treated with lots of Hammond organ, piano, Eminent, and synthesizers. A lot of the music tends to be a bit on the cheery side, which threw me off. The vocals tend to be on the hard rock side. And while the song titles are in Italian, they are sung in English. I don't really detect an accent. What's known is the vocals are often in the hard rock vein. When Joe Vescovi played piano, it was often in the ragtime style, like what Emerson did on "Jeremy Bender", "The Sheriff", and "Benny the Bouncer". The organ in the music is often ELP-like. The lyrics are a bit on the cheesy side. And if you enjoyed Chirico's drumming on ARTI & MESTIERI, you'll enjoy it here, as he often plays just as fast, often hard telling the difference between a roll and a fill. "Formula Nova" is a totally amazing instrumental demonstrating the finest quality of this band, where the intensity doesn't let up. "De Sensibus" is a bizarre experimental piece, dominated by percussion. "Corale" is a classically-influenced number, while "Ad Libitum" is a instrumental, jazz-influenced piece, dominated by piano (played in the normal fashion).

Not exactly essential, but worth having if you're an avid Italian prog collector.

The Trip - 1972 - Atlantide

The Trip

01. Atlantide (5:25)
02. Evoluzione (3:10)
03. Leader (2:44)
04. Energia (3:24)
05. Ora X (2:55)
06. Analisi (4:07
07. Distruzione (8:15)
08. Il Vuoto (0:49)

- Joe Vescovi / keyboards, vocals, arrangements
- Arvid "Wegg" Andersen / bass, vocals
- Furio Chirico / drums, percussion

- Enzo Martella / Fx

Everyone of us have our personal stories about how we discovered a band or an album or a song in particular, i, personally like to share those stories when writing a review. So about 1 year ago i was lurking on a local website where we can sell/buy (kind of an ebay) things, i found a seller offering some of his prog albums, i remember there was some VdGG, Soft Machine etc, and the name of The Trip appeared, i had heard only one song of them in a compilation named Il Pop Progressivo, but didn`t catch my attention, when i got interested was when i read the description of the band made by that seller, among some things, he said that Ritchie Blackmore was the founder guitarist of the band, that only fact caught my attention and of course i searched for The Trip`s music.

So believe it or not, The Trip`s first guitarist was the same Ritchie Blackmore we all know, and that led me to discover that this was not actually an Italian band, but an English one which went to Italy searching for better luck. They had released The Trip and Caronte both very different to each other, and their third effort was Atlantide when a legendary Italian drummer named Furio Chirico joined the band, and Joe Vescovi took the leadership of the band, i believe this was their pinnacle and most succesful moment.

The album is pretty short actually, just half an hour of music, but nice music of course and featuring 8 songs. It opens with the self-titled song Atlantide, a strong keyboard driven song which shows since the very first moment the leadership of Vescovi, the music will remind you immediately to ELP, the style is pretty similar. Evoluzione features vocals for the first time, english lyrics so its not the typical vocal of an italian band, i mean the characteristic RPI vocal style. This song shows a psychedelic touch in the non-vocal moments, reminding me a bit of Eloy. Leader starts again with those lush keyboards, then Chirico`s drumming and Andersen`s bass appear, and this now reminds me to The Nice, not ELP but The Nice. Energia has a great sound, when you have so good musicians the result will be great, actually what i least like on the album are the vocals, this is an instrumental song again with a psych feeling and may sound as a movie theme, keyboards takes all the attention. Ora X in this song the vocals return with a rockier feeling, ala Lonely Hearts Club Band, the last minute of the song is a powerful ending, though it fades out very softly. Analisi starts with a piano intro, then the vocals and a church organ along with some kind of funeral drumming, after a couple of changes, it returs to the same style and finishes stronger. Distruzione the longest track and without a doubt best one, the first minute is just some background noises, then it becomes stronger and it has a crescendo with the superb Chirico`s drumming, then after a silent moment, bass enters and keys after it, the sound is again very ELP like, this song may be divided in various movements since it has several rythm and time changes, there are some moments that may sound just like an improvisation. Il Vuoto, this is simply the outro, just one minute of keyboard music, the goodbye of the Atlantide.

It is a nice album, but not outstanding nor very complex, it didn`t provokes the same satisfaction as some other albums, give it a try, you may like it more than me, also i`d like to warn you, if you are looking for italian symphonic prog or rock progressivo italiano (whatever concept you have in your own mind) this is not what you would expect. Now i would give it 3 stars, just good but non-essential.

Enjoy it!

The Trip - 1971 - Caronte

The Trip

01. Caronte 1 (6:45)
02. Two Brothers (8:15)
03. Little Janie (4:00)
04. L'Ultima Ora e Ode a J. Hendrix (10:18)
05. Caronte 2 (3:32)

William Gray / electric & acoustic guitars, vocals
Joe Vescovi / Hammond organ, piano, church organ, Mellotron, arrangements, lead vocals
Arvid "WEGG" Andersen / bass, lead vocals
Pino Sinnone / percussion

Obviously one Italian album looking towards the British isles and not just for the music influences, but in its artwork also, but with good reasons since a good part of the members are British, with even Ritchie Blackmore (!!) being a one-time member. Your standard rock quartet with an impressive duo upfront of Vescovi (vocals and KB) and Grey (guitars), the group alternates between Vanilla Fudge (Stein(s organ sound) and The Nice.

A usually short Italian classic (just over 30 min), the album is quite impressive but at the same time awkward in its mix of influences and musical spectrum. Some rather weak track (Little Jamie) is rubbing shoulders to real excellent epics (Two Brothers and the first title track), whilev the other major track Ultima Hora E Ode A Hendrix is an uncomfortable almost-plagiarism to the great master of the XIXth century. This leaves the brilliant interplay between the two soloists, but unfortunatel guitarist Grey will leave at the end of the album, taking with him the drummer. Grey will not be replaced, but Furio Chirico (of Arti e Mestieri) will step in and the group will veer towards jazz-rock for their remaining two albums.

Although hardly flawless (being typically excessive like only our Italian friends can be ;-) Caronte is one of the most influential Italian prog albums, and is a must to understand how the country became a powerhouse in progressive rock during the 70's.

The Trip - 1970 - The Trip

The Trip
The Trip

01. Prologo (8:09)
02. Incubi (8:23)
03. Visioni Dell'aldilà (8:50)
04. Riflessioni (5:46)
05. Una Pietra Colorata (2:26)

Billy Gray / guitar, vocals
Joe Vescovi / organ, vocals, arrangements
Arvid "Wegg" Andersen / bass, vocals
Pino Sinnone / drums, percussion

The band was established in London in 1966, when Riki Maiocchi of I Camaleonti fame decided to create a new band to explore the new opportunities brought about by the advent of psychedelic rock. In London, Maiocchi had met with Ian Broad, who joined in Maiocchi's project; they also recruited Ritchie Blackmore (on guitar), Arvid "Wegg" Andersen (bass and vocals) and William Gray (also on guitar). The band debuted in Italy as "Maiocchi and the Trip". Blackmore left in December 1966 and returned to London where he continued as a session musician until 1968 when he joined Deep Purple. He was replaced by Luciano Galdolfi. When Gandolfi, Maiocchi, and Broad left, new and fundamental additions were made to the personnel, namely Joe Vescovi (keyboards) and Pino Sinnone (drums).

In 1970, the band (who had been renamed "The Trip") signed for RCA Italiana, releasing their first, eponymous album. At the time, progressive rock was still not clearly defined as a genre; The Trip is in fact a rather traditional rock and blues album. Also in 1970, the band was featured in a surrealistic Italian movie by the title Terzo Canale: Avventura a Montecarlo.

With such a name and such a title, you can easily imagine which type of music this Italian band is playing. Pure psychedelic glory of course!
And I have to say that it is quite enjoyable to the ears of yours faithfully. Totally early Floyd oriented, this album is sung in English (when vocals apply).

The opening number, which is an instrumental, is a highlight of this album. More A Saucerful Of Secrets oriented I would say: it is demoniac psychedelia from the good old days. With "Incubi", the band gets back a bit more in time, and the sound is more "Piper" oriented. Instrumental passages are quite well performed but the vocal parts are not that great (but this is general remark as far as I'm concerned).

"Visioni dell'Aldilà" is a weird track in its early stages (but Roger said about ASOS that it couldn't be called a "song"; so?). Vocals are better than usual; but there is no structure in this song. Themes are changing all the time: so be prepared for quite an experience! What a ride!

At a certain moment ("Rifflessioni"), the band doesn't seem to know in which direction they want to go. This song is a pitiful melting pot of several influences (mainly pop, boogie, AND decadent music).

The closing number is a childish pop/psyche song which sounds quite outdated (but hey! This was released in 70). All in all, I quite like this album. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Chet Baker - 2007 - Indian Summer

Chet Baker
Indian Summer (The Complete 1955 Concerts in Holland)

01. Introduction By Chet Baker 1:16
02. Tommyhawk 6:10
03. Indian Summer 7:54
04. I'm Glad There Is You 5:39
05. But Not For Me 6:21
06. My Funny Valentine [Incomplete] 1:19
07. Tommyhawk 6:00
08. Indian Summer 8:12
09. Someone To Watch Over Me 5:50
10. Imagination 3:27
11. C. T. A. 3:14
12. Exitus / Closing Announcement By Chet Baker 1:05

Bass – Jimmy Bond
Drums – Peter Littman
Piano – Dick Twardzik
Trumpet, Vocals – Chet Baker

Tracks 1-6: Concertgebouw, Amsterdam, Saturday, September 17, 1955
Tracks 7-12: Kurhaus, Scheveningen, Sunday, September 18, 1955

A long-awaited release because it's one of the very few documents of Baker's 1955 quartet with Dick Twardzik. The Scheveningen concert had been available before in extremely poor sound quality as The Lost Holland Concert, but now the Dutch Jazz Archive has unearthed much better quality air check tapes made from the original broadcasts on Dutch radio, paired them with the previously unissued tapes from the Amsterdam concert on the previous day, and released them on CD, so that these historic documents are now for the first time available in a sound quality that you can actually hear what the musicians were playing.

It is, however, not exactly a revelation. A month before his his first session for Barclay in Paris, it's obvious that the next big step in Baker's musical development was still ahead of him. Throughout these recordings, he appears as a talented, spirited trumpeter, but at the time it seems that he had only just discovered hardbop and was mostly still caught up in the lightweight west coast jazz. It is clear that he was at the beginning of a development when these concerts were cut, but technically, they're not very far from his early Pacific Jazz records. The most impressive musician here is really pianist Dick Twardzik, and it's understandable why his death from a heroin overdose barely a month later is considered such a loss.

Unfortunately, the title of this CD is not to be taken very literally: these are the complete recordings that exist from the Holland concerts, they are not the complete concerts. This is painfully obvious in what starts as a beautiful rendering of "My Funny Valentine", which is cut short after only 80 seconds when the tape reel ran out at that point.

It's a showcase of early Chet and certainly a must-have for Chetophiles, it's also vastly preferable to The Lost Holland Concert because of its significantly better (though by no means impeccable) sound, but it's not really an essential item in Baker's discography.

Chet Baker - 2007 - In Paris: The Complete 1955-1956 Barclay Sessions

Chet Baker
In Paris: The Complete 1955-1956 Barclay Sessions

October 11, 1955
101 Rondette 2:08
102 Mid-Forte 3:06
103 Sad Walk 4:13
104 Re-Search 4:59
105 Just Duo 4:11

October 14, 1955
201 Piece Caprice 5:10
202 Pomp 4:40
203 The Girl from Greenland 5:14
204 Brash 5:54

October 24, 1955
301 I'll Remember April 5:52
302 There's a Small Hotel 3:45
303 These Foolish Things 4:42
304 Lover Man 4:51
305 Autumn in New York 7:05
306 Summertime 4:13
307 You Go to My Head 5:51
308 Tenderly 6:38

October 25, 1955
401 Chet [complete take] 3:24
402 Chet [false start] 0:14
403 Chet [complete take] 3:16
404 Chet [complete take] 3:10
405 Chet [master take] 3:21
406 Dinah [complete take] 3:14
407 Dinah [complete take] 3:07
408 Dinah [master take] 3:01
409 Vline 3:02
410 In Memory of Dick [complete take] 3:13
411 In Memory of Dick [false start] 0:34
412 In Memory of Dick [complete take] 3:08
413 In Memory of Dick [false start] 0:05
414 In Memory of Dick [false start] 0:05
415 In Memory of Dick [complete take] 3:03

November 28, 1955
501 Alone Together [complete take] 3:46
502 Alone Together [complete take] 3:47
503 Alone Together [master take] 4:22
504 Exitus [complete take] 7:18
505 Exitus [incomplete take] 1:58
506 Exitus [master take] 8:45
507 Once in a While [false start] 0:09
508 Once in a While [false start] 0:09
509 Once in a While [master take] 5:46
510 All the Things You Are [complete take] 7:18
511 All the Things You Are [complete take] 6:03
512 Everything Happens to Me [false start] 0:21
513 Everything Happens to Me [complete take] 3:38

December 26, 1955
601 Chick-Eta [false start] 0:43
602 Chick-Eta [complete take] 5:14
603 Chick-Eta [false start] 0:32
604 Chick-Eta [false start] 0:05
605 Chick-Eta [false start] 0:04
606 Chick-Eta [master take] 6:06
607 How About You? [false start] 0:05
608 How About You? [false start] 0:11
609 How About You? [complete take] 4:30
610 How About You? [false start] 0:22
611 How About You? [false start] 0:21
612 How About You? [false start] 0:25
613 How About You? [master take] 4:33
614 Exitus [complete take] 4:07
615 Exitus [complete take] 4:39
616 Exitus [complete take] 4:28
617 Exitus [complete take] 4:51
618 Exitus [complete take] 5:15
619 Dear Old Stockholm [complete take] 7:50

February 10, 1956
701 Speak Low [complete take] 4:39
702 Anticipated Blues [incomplete take] 2:17
703 Anticipated Blues [false start] 0:04
704 Anticipated Blues [false start] 0:06
705 Anticipated Blues [false start] 0:21
706 Anticipated Blues [complete take] 2:53
707 Anticipated Blues [false start] 0:05
708 Anticipated Blues [complete take] 2:42
709 Anticipated Blues [master take] 2:56
710 Tasty Pudding [incomplete take] 2:29
711 Tasty Pudding [incomplete take] 2:28
712 Cheryl [incomplete take] 2:06
713 Cheryl [incomplete take] 2:06
714 Cheryl [false start] 0:05
715 Cheryl [false start] 0:08
716 Cheryl [incomplete take] 3:16
717 Cheryl [false start] 0:04
718 Cheryl [false start] 0:27
719 Cheryl [complete take] 3:22
720 Tasty Pudding [incomplete take] 2:15
721 Tasty Pudding [complete take] 6:21
722 Tasty Pudding [incomplete take] 4:17
723 Tasty Pudding [master take] 4:44

March 15, 1956
801 Mythe 3:00
802 Not Too Slow 2:54
803 In a Little Provincial Town 3:00
804 Vline 2:53

The Chet Baker Quintet
Chet Baker, trumpet
 Robert "Bobby" Jaspar (disc 6)
 Jean-Louis Chautemps (disc 7), tenor saxophone
Maurice Vander (disc 6)
Franc¸ois "Francy" Boland (disc 7), piano
Benoit Quersin (disc 6)
 Edgar "Eddie" de Haas (disc 7), double bass
Jean-Louis Viale (disc 6)
Charles Saudrais (disc 7), drums)

The Chet Baker Orchestra
Chet Baker, trumpet
 Bernard "Benny" Vasseur, trombone
Jean "Poppy" Aldegon (disc 4)
Andre´ "Teddy" Ameline (disc 8), alto saxophone
Armand Migiani, tenor saxophone
William Boucaya, baritone saxophone
Rene´ Urtreger (disc 4)
Francy Boland (disc 8), piano
James "Jimmy" Bond (disc 4)
Benoit Quersin (disc 8), double bass
Nils-Bertil "Bert" Dahlander (disc 4)
Pierre Lemarchand, drums (disc 8)
Pierre Michelot, conductor) (discs 4 & 8)

Chet Baker Quartet
Chet Baker, trumpet
Richard "Dick" Twardzik, piano, celesta
Jimmy Bond, double bass
Peter Littman, drums

Recorded in the Pathe-Magellan Studio, Paris, France, on
October 11, 1955 (disc 1)
October 14, 1955 (disc 2)
October 24, 1955 (disc 3)
October 25, 1955 (disc 4)
November 28, 1955 (disc 5)
December 26, 1955 (disc 6)
February 10, 1956 (disc 7)
March 15, 1956 (disc 8).

Chet Baker's sessions in Paris 1955-56, originally released on Chet Baker Quartet Vol. 1, Chet Baker Quartet Vol. 2, Chet Baker and His Quintet with Bobby Jaspar and Mythe are deservedly regarded among his best material from the 1950s, because they show for the first time a maturity and technical prowess much superior to that on the early 1950s Pacific Jazz sessions.

In 1986, Fresh Sound released the "complete" Barclay recordings on five vinyl discs; two years later, Barclay released the "complete" Barclay recordings on four compact discs [1][2][3][4], adding one CD full of additional alternate takes to the Fresh Sound package. All of these have been out of print for a while now, even though reissues of Chet Baker Quartet Vol. 1 and Chet Baker Quartet Vol. 2 have been available on mid-price CDs since 2003, and Chet Baker and His Quintet with Bobby Jaspar was finally reissued in 2010.

Almost ten years after its first "complete" set, Barclay now has another go at the Barclay sessions with an even more "complete" set, which is released on no fewer than eight compact discs. This sounds quite promising at first, but unfortunately, part of the trick is really in the packaging, both in a good way and in a bad way.

Let me start with the bad way: First of all, no entirely new recordings have been discovered. The 15 "previously unreleased" tracks on this release are simply additional alternate takes of previously available tracks, and about half of them are not even full takes. Second, the CDs are organised strictly on a by-session basis, meaning that the two sessions with Dick Twardzik, recorded on October 11 and 14 respectively, both of which would fit generously onto one CD, are split up on two CDs, each of which ends up being under 20 minutes in length.

The remastering of the tracks is solid, better than on the 1988 CDs, but there is not a lot of room for improvement considering the limitations of the original mono sources. Which is where the packaging comes in again, in the good way: the added value of this set is really how exquisitely it's packaged. The richly illustrated 84-page booklet does not only sport numerous, wonderfully reproduced photographs, some of which are nothing other than stunning documents of jazz photography, it also contains lengthy essays by Francis Marmande and Alain Tercinet (in English and French), an interview with composer Bob Zieff, and Baker's entire 1955/56 tour schedule. Of course there are also reproductions of the original album covers, concert programs and other paraphernalia, all on 12" glossy paper. 

Each of the cardboard sleeves containing the CDs lists the precise recording and initial release data, including information on tracks that were recorded, but lost. Don't slip those CDs out too fast, by the way -- you may fail to notice that each of them is in fact housed in an additional inner sleeve that has extra liner notes about the respective recording session on it. 

This box set is aimed directly at devoted Chetophiles, who will no doubt appreciate the separated and meticulously documented sessions, the full range of alternate takes and above all, the wonderful booklet. Everybody else may possibly find the €75 price tag a bit too steep and the slew of alternate takes perhaps somewhat unnecessary, especially as the most important recordings from this box are available on three CDs for well under €10 each.

It's still a beautiful collection of some top-notch performances though.

Chet Baker - 2007 - Chet Baker & Crew Featuring Phil Urso & Bobby Timmons - At The Forum Theatre

Chet Baker
Chet Baker & Crew Featuring Phil Urso & Bobby Timmons 
At The Forum Theatre

101. Tabu
102. Halema
103. To Mickey's Memory
104. Down
105. I Can't Get Started
106. Revelation
107. Lucius Lou
108. Worryin' The Life Out Of Me
109. Something For Liza
110. Medium Rock
111. Pawnee Junction

201. Extra Mild
202. Chippyin'
203. It's Only A Paper Moon
204. Music To Dance By
205. Autumn In New York
206. A Night On Bop Mountain
207. Slightly Above Moderate
208. Jumpin' Off A Clef
209. Line For Lyons
210. Mickey's Memory (Alternate Take)

Bass – Jimmy Bond
Drums – Peter Littman
Piano – Bobby Timmons
Tenor Saxophone – Phil Urso
Timpani [Chromatic Tympani] – Bill Loughborough (tracks: 1-3, 1-11, 2-6, 2-10)
Trumpet – Chet Baker

Recorded Forum Theatre, Los Angeles, July 24, 25 & 31, 1956.

This is not just another Chet Baker album. These two CDs contain, for the first time in one set, all the recordings he made with his quintetthe crewunder Dick Bocks direction at the Los Angeles Forum Theatre in July 1956. On these sessions Chet plays throughout with even greater warmth, virility and maturity of conception than on previous recordings, but with the lyricism that was his forte intact. Ursos earthy, strongly swinging tenor, out of the brothers school, also raises the ante. In the rhythm section Bobby Timmons, who adds a powerful solo voice on piano, is buoyantly funky, while Jimmy Bond and Peter Littman complete a grooving, effectively driving unit behind the soloists.

I own over 100 Chet Baker CD's, and this CD never gets old, and it is great fun to listen to. Some of the songs on this CD are some of my favorite Chet Baker songs. I would rate "Extra Mild" and "Night on Bop Mountain" as two of my all time favorite top 5-10 Chet Baker tunes. If you are a Chet Baker fan and haven't heard these two, you have no idea of what you are missing. "Night on Bop Mountain" is a take-off on Mussorgsky's "Night on Bald Mountain," a tune where Bill Loughbrough, who happened to leave a review above, takes center stage. The composer is not listed, although Bill Loughbrough is known to have written or co-written many of the original tunes on the album. I have listened to "Extra Mild" 10 times in a row, and never tire of that really cool and catchy tune, nor have I ever tired of this CD, and is one of my most played Chet Baker CD's.

Chet Baker - 2006 - The Lost Holland Concert - September 18, 1955

Chet Baker Quartet Featuring Dick Twardzik 
The Lost Holland Concert - September 18, 1955

Kurhaus, Scheveningen, Holland, September 18, 1955
01. Introduction By Chet Baker Into Tommyhawk 6:35
02. Indian Summer 8:22
03. Someone To Watch Over Me 5:41
04. Imagination 3:14
05. C.T.A. Into Exitus 5:30
Mainz, Germany, September 21, 1955
06. Walkin' 7:43
07. Indian Summer 8:03
08. All The Things You Are 9:07
Zurich, Switzerland, September 24, 1955
09. Happy Little Sunbeam 6:05
10. Moonlight In Vermont 4:36

Bass – Jimmy Bond
Drums – Peter Littman
Piano – Dick Twardzik
Trumpet – Chet Baker, Rolfe Schnoebiegel (tracks: 8)
Vocals – Chet Baker (tracks: 3)

In September, 1955, Chet Baker took his new quartet to Europe for a tour. His pianist Richard "Dick" Twardzik was a promising 24-year-old but a heroin addict and he died from an overdose on October 21 of that year. The number of his recordings are few, so any "new" concert performances are very valuable. The music on Lost Holland Concert September 18 1955 was all previously unissued and features the Chet Baker Quartet during concerts performed September 18, 21, and 24. While bassist Jimmy Bond and drummer Peter Littman are fine in support, the main focus is on Baker and Twardzik. Baker verbally introduces the songs and expresses his admiration for Miles Davis but at this point in time he had not come under Davis' influence yet and still sounds both youthful and original, playing in his early prime. Twardzik, while influenced by Bud Powell and a bit reminiscent in spots of his predecessor Russ Freeman, shows loads of potential that would never be realized. On "All the Things You Are," the quartet is joined by guest trumpeter Rolfe Schnoebiegel who fits in well and adds a bit of excitement. Dick Twardzik's death kept the quartet's tour from being an expected triumph, though Baker would continue in Europe for a few more months. While the recording quality of this CD is far from impeccable (and the closing "Moonlight in Vermont" is incomplete), it is quite listenable, with the historic value of the music making this a recommended set to collectors of Chet Baker and the short-lived Dick Twardzik.