Saturday, 26 June 2010

Yellowjackets - Yellowjackets 1981

The Yellowjackets are what I call one of the jazz super-groups of my generation. Their success has been both critical and commercial (they've won multiple Grammy awards), and their longevity (over 20 releases in over 20 years) is nearly unparalleled. There has basically been three versions of the Yellowjackets' "band" over the years, all anchored by Russell Ferrante on keyboards and Jimmy Haslip on bass. This debut release includes Ricky Lawson on drums and Robben Ford on guitars (an original member of Tom Scott's LA Express), and was essentially an outgrowth of Ford's band in the late 1970's...

Friday, 25 June 2010

VA - A Special Tribute To Pink Floyd 2005 [SIS 4158-2]

Genre: Progressive Rock
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 2005
Label: Silver Star

Having listened to their albums and live recordings a zillion times, I'm always looking for fresh interpretations of Pink Floyd. Most tributes phonographically copy the original band or fall embarrassingly short in the attempt. Both types are dull. "A Special Tribute to Pink Floyd" falls into the first category. That written, there is nothing wrong with this recording. The musicians perform well and the production is excellent. Unlike the Easy Star All-Stars that did a reggae tribute, this is just straight rock. The esteemed Australian Pink Floyd Show also plays literal versions, but it's a live experience. The Aussies appreciate the futility of making such an audio recording. The listener is better off passing this one by and enjoying the originals.

Monday, 21 June 2010

Gabor Szabo - Femme Fatale 1982

Genre: Jazz
Format: flac + cue + log
Original Recording: 1978
LP released:
CD released:
Label: Hungaroton

Released in 1982 on Pepita Records (a "popular" division of the state-owned label, Hungaroton),FEMME FATALE was originally recorded in 1979 for Atlantic Records, which rejected it. The melodic date has its share of interesting moments - even though more material from these sessions probably exists. "Out of the Night" intriguingly pairs Szabo with pianist Chick Corea for a sparkling duet performance and the Flamenco fusion of Szabo's excellent Return To Forever-like "A Thousand Times" stands up well enough to have become a staple of the guitarist's live performances.
Szabo's melodicism is especially apparent on Jobim's "Zingaro" and the pretty "Serena" as well.
Recorded more than three years before his death, FEMME FATALE is Szabo's last known recording,though he was said to have recorded during his 1981 stay in Hungary. But it is an especially pleasing,if too brief, effort gleaming with the guitarist's appealing melodic skill.
One can only hope the 1999 CD release of FEMME FATALE -- nicely remastered and packaged with original cover art, new notes, a Fillmore poster reproduction and other neat tidbits gathered from the stuff you're reading now
-- will allow more to hear this often entrancing music.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Vince Mendoza, London Symphony Orchestra - Epiphany 1999

Genre: Jazz
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 1999
Zebra Records (Wea)

This writer first became aware of composer/arranger Vince Mendoza back in the 1980’s. His Blue Note releases, “Start Here” and “Instructions Inside” both featured an assemblage of cutting edge modern day jazz musicians such as, Peter Erskine and John Scofield. Mendoza’s writing and arranging skills were much ballyhooed; hence, critical acclaim was at his doorstep. Since then, Mendoza has been a busy lad working with the Yellowjackets, Al Jarreau, Al Dimeola, Joe Zawinul, Kyle Eastwood and the GRP All Star Band as the list is quite extensive. On the ambitious “Epiphany” Mendoza recruits some old cronies who are among the best and brightest of modern jazz along with the London Symphony Orchestra...

Friday, 11 June 2010

Forcefield - Forcefield II The Talisman 1988

Genre: Hard Rock
Format: ape + cue + log
Released: 1992
Label: President Records Ltd.

An Anglo-Dutch project featuring ex-FOCUS man Jan Akkerman, the band would attract an enviable array of experienced Rock talent over a series of albums. FORCEFIELD also comprised ex-FANCY vocalist / guitarist Ray Fenwick. Ray had also been a member of the IAN GILLAN band in 1976 and also cut the bizarrely titled 'Keep America Beautiful Get A Haircut' solo album in 1971 (Decca SKL 5090). The FORCEFIELD debut comprised a clutch of re-worked well known Rock standards such as DEEP PURPLE's 'Smoke On The Water', LED ZEPPELIN's 'Whole Lotta Love', THE KINKS 'Set Me Free' and 'You Really Got Me' and CREAM's 'White Room' and 'Sunshine Of Your Love'. The featured musicians included the WHITESNAKE rhythm section of drummer COZY POWELL and bassist Neil Murray, SERGEANT vocalist PETE PRESCOTT and bass player Mo Foster....

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Power Job - Power Job 2001

Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 2001

Japan continues to produce and deliver "cutting-edge fusion group and the Power Job is no exception. A strong duo Toshimi Nagai, on fretless bass, and Kazu Michishita guitar with guest drummer Noriaki Kumagai (Casiopea, TRIX). Well-written original material with elements reminiscent of the style Prism and Fragile only more aggressive.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Scott Henderson Steve Smith Victor Wooten - Vital Tech Tones 1998

Genre: JAzz-Rock,Fusion
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1998
Tone Center

Members of the jazz fusion groups Vital Information, Tribal Tech, and the Flecktones team up to form the Vital Tech Tones on this uninhibited fusion extravaganza that might be easier to describe by what it is not rather than by what it is. Vital Tech Tones integrates so many different musical elements from so many different musical styles that it would be very difficult to articulate them all and how they are integrated together. Be prepared to bring your full attention span when listening to this album, because you will need it all to follow everything that the trio is going to throw your way. It took me a number of listenings to get my mind around the whole album and to get it into some frame of reference to understand it by. The musical frame does not sit still for the duration of the album and the constantly changing soundscape deploys complex ideas from many different genres and styles of music, as you may have expected from Scott Henderson's fusionistic style. If you are looking for something that is nice, soothing, and reassuringly repetitive and relaxing to lull you into a trance, you had better look someplace else because this is not it....

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Bobby McFerrin & Chick Corea - The Mozart Sessions (1996)

Genre: Classical, Jazz
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1996
Label: Sony

Review by William Ruhlmann (

The informal title says a great deal about the contents of The Mozart Sessions, which could have been called Concerti for Piano and Orchestra, Nos. 23 and 20, since that is, for the most part, what it is. But of course the conductors, vocalist Bobby McFerrin and jazz keyboard player Chick Corea, are not your average classical musicians. Nor is there any doubt about the non-traditional nature of the recording, when it starts with McFerrin's patented improvisational vocals followed
by Corea's piano inventions under the title "Prelude." So, for a start, purists should be warned away.....

Fandango - Cadillac (1980)

Genre: AOR/Melodic Rock
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 1980
Label: Wounded Bird Records

Although Joe Lynn Turner had sung in local bands for many years, Fandango was his first professional group, formed around 1975/6. He was lead singer with them (and co-wrote most of their material with keyboardist LaRue), on all four of their studio albums until he was headhunted by Blackmore to join Rainbow. The albums were only issued in America and are quite hard to find. They were all reissued in their original format (with no bonus tracks) in 2006 but only in America, although Best Of CDs in Japan and Europe may be about.

1. Blame It On The Night
2. Rock 'N roll You
3. Hypnotized
4. Don't Waste My Time
5. Stranger
6. Cadillac
7. Fortune Teller
8. Getaway
9. Headliner

Joe Lynn Turner - vocals,
Rick Blakemore - guitar,
Bob Danyls - bass,
Denny LaRue - vocals / keyboards,
Abe Speller - drums,
Larry Dawson - keyboards,
Santos and Joe De Lia - percussion

If Fandango were guilty of anything during their early years, it was an apparent willingness to embrace all the new contemporary sounds of commercial AOR radio in an attempt to win over a mass audience. The resultant shifts in tone and style led to some mild unpredictability, and with each new album came the same question: just how much of the album will consist of the straight-ahead arena rock found on their first records and how much will emulate the trends of the day? With Cadillac, the group stays in this pattern of unpredictability. For evidence, one need look no further than the album's first four songs. "Blame It on the Night" leans toward the last exhausted gasps of the disco culture, and by the next track the group has embraced the emerging L.A. glam-metal sound with "Rock 'n Roll You." "Hypnotized" borrows a jangled guitar line from Blue Цyster Cult and a vocal delivery from Boston, while "Don't Waste My Time" is straight-ahead power pop. The willingness to experiment is Fandango's greatest attribute, but also the group's most fatal flaw. Creative evolution is a wonderful thing to be admired, but Fandango's lack of solid roots in any one sound or trademark element makes them easy to dismiss and forgettable to casual listeners. ~ Rob Theakston


Saturday, 5 June 2010

Miles Davis - Blue Miles (2000)

Genre: Jazz
Format: flac + cue + log
Released: 2000
Legacy Recordings

With an artist as prolific and constantly evolving as Miles Davis, it would be futile to attempt a single CD compilation of his work without first selecting a theme to narrow things down. For BLUE MILES Columbia/Legacy has chosen a smart if unsurprising category: Miles playing tunes which, while not necessarily following the blues form per se, all evoke a kind of restless, after-hours, melancholy mood. In drawing material from the years 1956-1967, this collection also provides a de facto cross section of Miles' ensembles from perhaps the most fertile decade of his incredibly productive career. "Round Midnight" features the '50s quintet that included Coltrane, Red Garland, Paul Chambers and Philly Joe Jones. "Blues for Pablo" and "The Pan Piper" are collaborations with Gil Evans, and "Blue in Green" comes from the groundbreaking KIND OF BLUE album. "Drad Dog," with Hank Mobley on tenor and Wynton Kelly on piano, and "Basin St. Blues," with George Coleman on tenor, are from the early '60s, while "Circle" and "Sweet Pea" bring things up to the second classic quintet era.

Thursday, 3 June 2010

Jam Camp - Black Hills Jam 2004

Genre: Jazz/Rock/Fusion
Format: flac + cue
Released: 2004
Label: Flying Spot

About Jam Camp

The spirit of the jam...
Live recording...
Musical communion.

A passion for making music and sharing the experience with good friends was the impetus that began the regular studio-based jam-sessions that evolved into Jam Camp. From a fluid line-up of awesome NW musicians, a stable and startlingly original ensemble emerged and was officially dubbed Jam Camp in 1989. This is a band that creates musician's music: fusionesque rock improv in the vein of The Allman Brothers, Zappa, Crimson, Soft Machine, Brand X and Traffic. Jam Camp grooves, embracing a "live" feel-based approach to music appealling to fans of Prog, Rock, Jazz and Jam alike. The real thing - "Super Session" magic like you used to hear when rock experimentation was mainstream fare.