Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Stu Goldberg - 1979 - Fancy Glance

Stu Goldberg 
Fancy Glance

01. What It Is 4:37
02. Pokhara 5:35
03. Tears 3:16
04. Night Of The Kings 6:18
05. That's The Joint 4:32
06. Sangre Caliente 5:10
07. Organism 4:41
08. The Mypsy 4:06

Recorded: April 1979 at Union Studios München.

Drums – Gerry Brown
Electric Bass, Bass [8-String] – John Lee
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer – Stu Goldberg

Pianist/composer Stu Goldberg performed alongside some of the most daring artists of the mid-'70s fusion era as part of John McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra and later embarked on a successful solo career that included film and TV scores as well as albums. Born in Malden, MA, and raised in Seattle, WA, the pianist began his career at a young age, notably performing as a keyboard soloist at the Monterey Jazz Festival at age 17. He then went on to graduate magna cum laude from the University of Utah in composition and piano. Following graduation he joined the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the mid-'70s and remained a member for five years, during which time he performed alongside such legendary fusionists as Al DiMeola, Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Billy Cobham, Jack Bruce, Larry Coryell, Alphonse Mouzon, and more. After leaving the group, Goldberg toured Europe as a soloist and began prolifically recording for such labels as MPS and Pausa.

Following his time in Europe, where he recorded numerous solo albums, Goldberg moved to Los Angeles and worked as a session musician. He became particularly involved with Hollywood while living in L.A., working with such prominent composers as John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith, David Newman, and Lalo Schifrin. After gaining substantial experience from these composers, he began composing his own film and television scores. Goldberg furthered his recording career in the early 2000s with Going Home (2001), a highly regarded album for Rhombus featuring Kenny Golberg (sax/flute), Jeff Falkner (bass), and Dave Renick (drums). A year later Goldberg returned with another album, Dedication, featuring the same backing musicians.

John Lee & Gerry Brown - 1976 - Still Can't Say Enough

John Lee & Gerry Brown 
Still Can't Say Enough

01. Freeze It Up
02. Love The Way You Make Me Feel
03. Rise On
04. Funky Row
05. Talkin' Bout The Right One
06. Strut 'N' Get Up
07. Breakin'
08. Down The Way
09. Out The Box

Alto Saxophone – David Sanborn, Gary Bartz
Baritone Saxophone – Ron Cuber
Bass – John Lee
Congas, Percussion, Vocals – Mtume
Drums, Percussion, Timpani – Gerry Brown
Electric Piano, Grand Piano, Clavinet, Organ – Hubert Eaves
Guitar – Ray Gomez, Reggie Lucas
Organ, Grand Piano – Harold Ivory Williams IV
Synthesizer – Ian Underwood
Synthesizer, Organ – Rob Franken
Tenor Saxophone – Ernie Watts, Michael Brecker
Trombone – Barry Rodgers
Trumpet – Jon Faddis
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Randy Brecker
Vocals – C. P. Alexander, Donald Smith, Tawatha Agee

Bassist John Lee (b. 1952, Boston) and drummer Gerry Brown (b. 1951, Philadelphia) were a formidable duo in the 1970s, recording frequently and playing with some of the biggest names in jazz.

John Lee gigged around New York in the early 1970s with Joe Henderson, Pharoah Sanders and the Max Roach Quartet before relocating to Europe in 1972, where he met fellow expatriate, Gerry Brown. The two began working together in Dutch flautist Chris Hinze's fusion-oriented group, The Chris Hinze Combination. 

By 1973, Lee and Brown had officially joined forces and recorded their debut album, Infinite Jones (Keytone, 1974, later reissued on CD as Bamboo Madness). The pair returned to America in 1975 and were invited to record for the prestigious Blue Note label, which by this point had unfortunately lost a lot of its luster and direction. Indeed, the John Lee & Gerry Brown duo was one of the last new acts the old Blue Note label signed. 

Their return to America found the pair working together quite often. It also allowed both to do other high profile work. In 1975, John Lee joined Larry Coryell's Eleventh House, staying until 1977, and was heard on Earl & Carl Grubbs' Motherland (Muse, 1975), Joachim Kuhn's Hip Elegy (MPS, 1976), Hubert Eaves' Esoteric Funk (Atlantic, 1976), Carlos Garnett's New Love (Muse, 1977), Jasper Van't Hof's However (MPS, 1977), Alphonse Mouzon's Poussez! Leave That Boy Alone (Vangaurd, 1980) and Dizzy Gillespie's Symphony Sessions (ProJazz, 1980). Gerry Brown was captured on several tracks of Stanley Clarke's breakout School Days (Nemperor, 1976), Patrice Rushen's Posh (Elektra, 1980) and briefly joined Return to Forever for the group's final albums, Musicmagic (Columbia, 1977) and Live (Columbia, 1978).

Still Can't Say Enough is the third of four albums that were issued under John Lee & Gerry Brown's name and the second of their two Blue Note LPs (1975's Mango Sunrise was the first - the duo also appeared together on one cut, "Blue Note '76," with other Blue Note personnel that appears on the 1976 album Blue Note Live At The Roxy).

Produced by Skip Drinkwater (Norman Connors, Eddie Henderson, Lee Ritenour) and probably recorded in both Los Angeles and New York, this 1976 album is squarely in that lush terra firma where jazz, rock and funk co-exist in equal and expert measure. It's a perfect fusion - and a particularly strong reminder of just how good jazz fusion could get (I would rank Tom Scott and the L.A. Express and Jeff Beck's Wired up here too). 

As players, Lee and Brown make for a mighty rhythm machine. They don't flinch in laying down an enveloping groove. Lee sometimes suggests a cross between Stanley Clarke and Anthony Jackson with a dash of Gordon Edwards and Gary King added for just the right touch. Paired with Brown, who is a world of influences from Tony Williams and Billy Cobham to Steve Gadd and Harvey Mason, it makes for one of the period's best and strongest jazz engines.

Joining Lee and Brown here are Reggie Lucas and Ray Gomez on guitars, Hubert Eaves, Harold Ivory Williams IV and Rob Franken on keyboards, Ian Underwood on synthesizers and Mtume on congas and percussion. A horn section is peopled with such jazz royalty as Randy Brecker and Jon Faddis on trumpets, Michael Brecker and Ernie Watts ("Funky Row") on tenor sax, David Sanborn and Gary Bartz on alto sax, Barry Rodgers on trombone and Ron(nie) Cuber on baritone sax.

A vocal section including Lonnie Liston Smith's brother Donald, Tawatha Agee and C.P. Alexander are featured unobtrusively on "Love the Way You Make Me Feel" and "Talkin' 'Bout The Right One," which also features Gary Bartz.

The program is dominated by John Lee's strong compositions, with the hard-driving "Rise On" (with features for Randy and Michael Brecker) listed here as by Gerry Brown - although the pair recorded the song on Infinite Jones, where it was credited to John Lee.

Here, keyboards - probably Rob Franken's synthesizers - often state the melody or the countermelody and rip-roaring guitars counteract with some startlingly fierce solos. As a writer, Lee is engagingly melodic with enough backbone to remind you that rhythm is his business, particularly on "Freeze It Up," "Funky Row," "Strut 'N' Get Up" (a feature for David Sanborn and Michael Brecker, who solos), the Stuff-like funk of "Down The Way" (featuring David Sanborn and Michael Brecker solos) and the seemingly edited "Out the Box" (featuring Ernie Watts), which is little more than just a funky vamp, but like what precedes it, is truly funky nonetheless. 

In an effort to court the profitable disco market, "Strut 'N' Get Up" was also issued as a 12-inch dance single to DJs (backed by "Freeze It Up"), but not extended or remixed in any way to make it worth tracking down in addition to the LP, which you have probably guessed by now, has never seen the light of day on CD.

A lot of this cast reassembled for Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert's eponymous 1977 record on Capitol but John Lee and Gerry Brown can also be heard together on Luther Allison's Night Life (Gordy, 1975), Larry Coryell's Aspects (Arista, 1976 - probably recorded at the same time as Still Can't Say Enough, since the Brecker Brothers and David Sanborn are present here too), Art Webb's Love Eyes (Atlantic, 1977), Mike Mandel's Sky Music (Vanguard, 1978), Havana Jam (Columbia, 1979), Danny Toan's Big Foot (Sandra, 1979) and Eddie Henderson's Runnin' To Your Love (Capitol, 1979 - also produced by Skip Drinkwater).

The pair also appeared together on quite a number of European dates from The Chris Hinze Combination's Virgin Sacrifice (CBS, 1972), Mission Suite (CBS, 1973), Sister Slick (CBS, 1974), Bamboo Magic (Atlantic, 1978) and Philip Catherine's September Man (Atlantic, 1974) and Guitars (Atlantic, 1975) to Wim Stolwijk's Clair-Obscure (CBS, 1972), Joachim Kuhn's Cinemascope (MPS, 1974), Toots Theilmans and Friends (Keytone, 1974), Charlie Mariano's Cascade (Keytone, 1974), Toto Blanke's Spider's Dance (Vertigo, 1974), Jasper Van't Hof's Eye Ball (Keytone, 1974), Stu Goldberg's Fancy Dance (Sandra, 1979), Bob Malach's Some People (MPS, 1980) and, finally, John Lee/Gerry Brown/Eef Albers/Darryl Thompson's Brothers (Mood, 1980).

After recording the above average Chaser (Columbia, 1979), a rock solid fusion that inevitably enters a bit of disco into the mix, John Lee and Jerry Brown finally broke up in 1981 to pursue other musical interests. Lee joined McCoy Tyner's quartet in 1982 and then, in 1984, joined Dizzy Gillespie and recorded and toured with the jazz icon until he was taken ill in 1992. Today, he is the program director for "Dizzy: The Man and the Music," the official concert and clinic program celebrating Gillespie's life and work.

Brown gravitated toward the pop music end of the spectrum, touring and recording with Jeffrey Osborne, Chaka Kahn, Philip Bailey, Lionel Richie, Lenny Kravitz and, most notably, held the drummer's chair in Stevie Wonder's band for 14 years. Brown has done a lot of film and TV work too, especially with Stanley Clarke, and has lately been heard with Bobby Womack, Diana Ross, Byron Miller and Stanley Clarke. 

John Lee & Gerry Brown - 1975 - Mango Sunrise

John Lee & Gerry Brown 
Mango Sunrise

01. Mango Sunrise
02. Breakfast Of Champions
03. Keep It Real
04. Ethereal Cereal
05. The Stop And Go
06. Her Celestial Body
07. Pickin' The Bone
08. Magnum Opus
09. Haida

Recorded June & July 1975 at Dureco Sound Studio (Weesp, Holland), Morgan Sound Studio (Brussels, Belgium), Electric Lady Studios (New York, New York). Remixed at Wally Heider Recording Studios (San Francisco, California). Mastered at Columbia Studios (San Francisco, California).

Bass – John Lee
Clavinet – Jasper Van't Hof (tracks: B4), John Lee (tracks: A3)
Clavinet, Synthesizer – Eric Tagg (tracks: B1)
Drums, Percussion – Gerry Brown
Guitar – Eef Albers (tracks: A1 to A3, B3, B4), Wah Wah Watson (tracks: B4), Philip Catherine (tracks: A3, A4, B4)
Synthesizer – John Lee (tracks: A1), Mike Mandel (tracks: B1), Rob Franken (tracks: A3, A4, B2 to B5)

The formidable duo of bassist John Lee and drummer Gerry Brown recorded and played with fusion-oriented group, The Chris Hinze Combination, Joachim Kuhn and other jazz artists while living in Europe. After recording their debut album, Infinite Jones (Keytone, 1974, later reissued on CD as Bamboo Madness) they returned to America in 1975 and signed with the Blue Note label. Mango Sunrise was their first album for Blue Note. Produced by Skip Drinkwater it features Philip Catherine, Eef Alberts and Wah Wah Watson on guitars, Rob Franken, Eric Tagg, Mike Mandel and Jasper Van’t Hof on Keyboards and synthesizers. 

John Lee and Gerry Brown's Blue Note debut pairs the duo with producer Skip Drinkwater, who strips their fusion approach to its bare essentials to create a moody, deeply funky sound that smolders with intensity. Bolstered by session aces spanning from Motown studio great Wah Wah Watson to lowlands guitarists Eef Albers and Philip Catherine, Mango Sunrise burns as slow and steady as a stick of dynamite 

John Lee & Gerry Brown - 1974 - Infinite Jones

John Lee & Gerry Brown 
Infinite Jones
Featuring: Chris Hinze & Gary Bartz

01. Infinite Jones 6:42
02. Deliverance 13:43
03. Jua 7:04
04. Absitively Posolutely 2:57
05. Rise On 3:17
06. Who Can See The Shadow Of The Moon 5:17
07. Bamboo Madness 2:30

Recorded at the Dureco Studio, 16 track, Dolby system, Weesp, Holland.
Recording dates: June 23 and 24, 1973.

Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Slide Whistle, Percussion – Gary Bartz
Bass, Bass [Fender Bass], Percussion – John Lee
Drums, Percussion – Gerry Brown
Flute, Alto Flute, Bass Flute, Piccolo Flute, Flute – Chris Hinze

Henny Vonk - Vocals, Percussion
Hubert Eaves - Piano
Jasper Van't Hof - Electric Piano (1 & 2)
Wim Stolwijk - Piano, Vocal (6)

Bassist John Lee and drummer Gerry Brown released this LP in 1974 on Keytone Records label. These two outstanding musicians teamed up as the basic rhythm sections for many outstanding performers and their recordings, such as Chris Hinze, Joachim Kuhn, Stanley Clarke, Joe Henderson, Max Roach, Jasper Van’t Hoff and Toots Thielemans just to name a few. In this funky, Jazzy first outing they are joined by Gary Bartz on alto & soprano saxophones, Chris Hinze on flute, alto & bass flute, piccolo, bamboo flute, Henny Vonk on vocals & percussion, Howard Kinng on percussion, Rob van de Broek, Hubert Eaves & Jasper Van 't Hof on piano and Wim Stolwijk on piano and voice.
Flawless, energetic but spaced jazz-funk/fusion led by bassist John Lee and drummer Gerry Brown. Infinite Jones was the first of a series of excellent collaborations between Lee and Brown. I straight-up cannot fathom being even half as cool as these dudes.

Joachim Kuhn Band (featuring Jan Akkerman & Ray Gomez) - 1978 - Sunshower

Joachim Kuhn Band (featuring Jan Akkerman & Ray Gomez) 

01. Orange Drive 3:33
02. O.D. 4:58
03. Shoreline 3:58
04. You're Still on My Mind 4:18
05. Midnight Dancer 4:30
06. Short Film for Nicki 4:15
07. Sunshower 4:17
08. Preview 6:29

Recorded February / March 1978 at Kendun Recorders, Burbank, Col.

Joachim Kühn — Fender Rhodes, Keyboards
Jan Akkerman — Guitar
Ray Gomez — Guitar, Synthesizer
Tony Newton — Bass
Glenn Symmonds — Drums
Willie Dee — Vocals

Virtuoso German keyboardist Joachim Kühn is one of the greatest representatives of European Jazz and his illustrious career and numerous recordings are a source of inspiration for any true music lover. Strongly influenced by his older brother Rolf Kühn, an exquisite clarinetist, Joachim started to play Jazz professionally in the 1960s and was one of the founding fathers of the great modern German Jazz scene. In his early days Kühn played mostly modern Free Jazz. But by the 1970s he flirted extensively with Jazz-Rock Fusion recording a series of wonderful albums in that genre first for the legendary MPS label and later for Atlantic. This album finds Kühn in a quintet setting with two guitarists: the brilliant Dutch Jan Akkerman and American Ray Gomez, bassist Tony Newton and drummer Glenn Symmonds. All the music was written by Kühn and it is absolutely stunning, this time more Rock influenced that his previous releases, but as always, performed with passion and exquisite taste by all the musicians. Kühn's extended acoustic piano solos are breathtaking, as are the solos by the guitar players and the entire album is an absolute must to any serious Jazz-Rock Fusion fan, especially those open to the European branch of the genre. Essential stuff!

Joachim Kühn - 1976 - Springfever

Joachim Kühn 

01. Lady Amber 10:15
02. Sunshine 3:45
03. Two Whips 4:40
04. Spring Fever 3:39
05. Morning 7:00
06. Mushroom 2:35
07. Equal Evil 5:15
08. California Woman 7:00

Recorded at Union Studios, Munich in April 1976.

Bass – John Lee
Drums – Gerry Brown
Guitar – Philip Catherine
Keyboards – Joachim Kühn

Zbigniew Seifert - violin
Curt Cress - drums (on "Lady Amber")

I'm sad to say it, but Joachim Kühn essentially seems to be a forgotten name, maybe even in the realms of fusion and jazz where he has primarily made his mark over the last 30-odd years. Nonetheless Kühn's musical journey has been a fascinating one. Born in Leipzig, Germany in 1944, Kühn took piano lessons beginning at age 5, and formed his first trio in 1962. The simply titled Joachim Kühn Trio was released in 1965, and his career has continued on over the decades. Sometimes called an avant-gardist, Kühn has more accurately specialized in a fusion of classical and jazz, with a uniquely European flavor. More recently he found acclaim in 1997, working with Ornette Coleman to make Colors: Live From Leipzig.

A period of success in the 1970's found Kühn making several albums of his own, as well as working with the likes of Jean-Luc Ponty and Jan Akkerman. Like Akkerman, Kühn had the opportunity to make some albums on the widely popular and well-distributed Atlantic label. 1976's Springfever is an album of mostly accessible, rocking, sometimes funk-tinged fusion, punctuated by Kühn's dizzying piano runs and blissful organ tones. Philip Catherine joined on guitar; John Lee on bass and Gerald Brown on drums provided the rhythm section, courtesy of Blue Note Records.

Springfever's opener "Lady Amber" is also the album's longest cut, clocking in at 10:15. A languid mix of piano and various electronic keyboard sounds serves as the intro to a moderately paced instrumental rock workout, with just a hint of funk and plenty of interplay between the musicians. Curt Cress guests on drums and Zbigniew Seifert on violin on this cut only, and Lee's swarthy, sometimes rubbery bass establishes itself, turning out to be one of the most pleasant surprises of this album; his playing is not overtly flashy, but he has the perfect deep tone and chops to impress. "Sunshine" is paced a shade more slowly, and provides a relaxing, but not by any means boring, opportunity for Kühn to flex his muscles at the piano, with keyboard cascades that flow like a waterfall over a graceful chordal foundation.

Lee rears his formidable low-end presence again on the next cut, "Two Whips," and it also becomes obvious that he and Brown work well together; the two are locked in radar-like and razor-sharp on this cut, which of course provides another opportunity for Kühn and Catherine to shine. Side one ends with the album's title cut, a speedy solo piece by Kühn which hints at some of his later work that can be heard on albums such as Situations and Wandlungen-Transformation.

The deliciously moody "Morning" kicks off the second side, and like many people, this 7:00 cut seems to take a while to get moving after waking up. Following a slow, almost creepy/funky intro wherein the musicians slowly seem to be coagulating, another wistful chord sequence forms in the center, before the band launches into a dreamlike end section that features a darkly cutting synth melody from Kühn. Catherine and Lee remind the listener of their presence as well, with both popping in with some perfectly timed licks of their own.

"Mushroom" is the album's shortest piece, and the most conventional (but still not too much so) in chord structure, with a "chorus" section highlighted by yet another variation on the common chord progression made famous by Led Zeppelin during the climactic ending section of "Stairway To Heaven." Kühn plays a relevant, catchy melody and wraps the piece before it has a chance to become repetitive. Next up is "Equal Evil," with Catherine's biting guitar tone introducing the primary melody before Kuhn solos over an especially heavy rhythmic bed made to please by Lee and Brown; Catherine closes with a tasteful yet incendiary solo.

Of course the album has to end with another workout by Kühn, and "California Woman" delivers the goods in spades. Catherine also takes an especially tight solo, flashing his chops but also showing perfect note choice and restraint, and the omnipresent Lee and Brown provide the muscle. This end piece summarizes everything that is great about Springfever. It is an album tailor-made for 70's prog-fusion nuts (guilty, I plead), chock-full of warm, analog keyboard timbres; it has just enough succinct melody to be accessible to a casual listener, while maintaining a level of musicianship that is far more than sufficient for chops-hounds; it is a keyboard-lovers feast that puts Kühn's ample talents up front for all to hear; Philip Catherine also plays some killer fusion licks; and did I mention that this is one bad-ass bass performance by John Lee?

Maybe it's time for Joachim Kühn to get his props. Certainly he is a world-class musician with an awesome resume, and by all indications he is also, thankfully, totally uncompromising with his art. Springfever is only one of many noteworthy albums by Kühn but perhaps it could serve as a suitable gateway for those interested in exploring his music.

Joachim Kühn - 1971 - Piano

Joachim Kühn 

01. Mixing One 5:18
02. Dandy Ponty 5:03
03. She's A Beauty 5:12
04. Part 1:43
05. Fast 2:19
06. Paris 71 7:12
07. Wiegenlied 1:48
08. Special 2:55
09. Chords 3:40
10. Mixing Two 4:38

Recorded Dec. 1971 at MPS-Studio, Villingen

Piano – Joachim Kühn

Although not a free jazz musician, per se, Kuhn has been an avant-gardist; he began attempting a fusion of contemporary classical elements with jazz very early in his career. Kuhn's intense virtuosity is a reflection of his training. He studied classical composition and piano for 12 years, beginning when he was a small child. He performed as a classical pianist up until 1961, at which point he began playing in a Prague-based jazz quintet. He led a trio from 1962-1966, and in 1964 began playing with his much-older brother Rolf Kuhn, an accomplished clarinetist. In the '70s, Joachim Kuhn led his own groups, and played with the violinist Jean-Luc Ponty. Kuhn had a measure of commercial success in the '70s. His star faded a bit in the '80s, but Kuhn kept active, playing challenging forms of jazz and recording occasionally. A 1997 release, Colors: Live From Leipzig, a duo with Ornette Coleman, helped fuel new interest in Kuhn; both men were in top form and the album received excellent reviews.

His playing defies all categorization, and has earned him a place as a world class musician. He has already left his mark on contemporary jazz and given it new direction. The musical cosmopolitan Joachim Kühn sees himself as part of the jazz tradition, connected to European concert music and yet directly indebted to a contemporary musical language.

He displays vehemence and sensibility, a virtuoso technique and imagination and an unfailing sense of dynamics. Be it in his interaction with long-time musical partners, in ever new and challenging musical constellations, or alone in his solo performances, Kühn always manages to make his concerts into a unique experience.

The Joachim Kühn Group - 1969 - Bold Music

The Joachim Kühn Group 
Bold Music

01. My Friend The Yogi 3:43
02. Nobody Knows You Tomorrow 4:51
03. Bold Music 4:27
04. Vampire Castle 4:30
05. Depression And Illusion 3:25
06. The Third World War 9:10
07. Message From Upstairs 3:45
08. The Child Out There - Somewhere 3:26

Recorded June 2nd and 3rd, 1969 at MPS-Tonstudio, Villingen, Black Forest.

Bass, Cello – J. F. Jenny-Clark
Drums, Bells, Voice – Stu Martin
Drums, Steel Drums, Tambourine, Voice – Jacques Thollot
Piano, Alto Saxophone, Horn, Shanai, Bells, Gong, Steel Drums, Voice – Joachim Kühn

The title Bold Music says everything and nothing, this is a challenging and ambitious avant-jazz date that features Joachim Kühn tackling everything from piano to alto sax to antelope horn. It's nevertheless most audacious for tempering its outré leanings with soulful, melodic grooves and insistent rhythms that make the music more accessible and more idiosyncratic. Working in collaboration with bassist/cellist Jean-François Jenny-Clark, drummer Stu Martin and percussionist Jacques Thollot, Kühn fuses improvisational skronk and sound-library smoothness to make a record that occupies both extremes of the MPS label sound at the same time. Somehow, Bold Music is both free and easy, and that's a rare feat indeed.