Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Steve Gorn Tony Levin Jerry Marotta - From the Caves of the Iron Mountains 1997

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, World Fusion
Original Release Date: 1997
Label: Papa Bear Records

Once in a while, an idea grabs hold of an artist, or group of musicians, and compels them to create a work that takes in more than their music. FROM THE CAVES OF THE IRON MOUNTAIN is such a special project, in that it encompasses an atmosphere, a place so special that its presence is felt in every note....

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Al Jarreau - Glow (1976)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, Funk, Soul
Original Release Date: 1976
Label: Reprise Records

by Dave Van Der Spank
"Why should I work at 100% when I sell only 10% of the records with it" Jarreau once asked himself. Still, we are lucky he once did, proven by records like "Glow". The nicest track is the title song, which shows his most velvet style of jazz singing. "Aqua De Beber" adds some latin, "Hold on me" is a superb a-capella bit, while "Rainbow In Your Eyes", "Have You Seen The Child" and "Milwaukee" give the Funk it's full space. Unlike most of his later records this one is consistent, warm, even with the song Milwaukee, and made just for the sake of good music. His later records still feature highlights, though they are accompanied by loads of fillers. "Tenderness" is almost on par with this one though...

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Niyaz - Nine Heavens (2008)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Electronic, Folk, World, & Country
Original Release Date: 2008
Label: Six Degrees

By any measure, Niyaz has come very far, very fast. The trio's 2005 debut featured a convincing blend of Sufi mysticism and trance electronica, and quickly established them as a standout ensemble in a very crowded world music field. A worldwide tour followed. Now, Niyaz returns with Nine Heavens, which doesn't just cross cultural and stylistic boundaries, but the centuries as well. Drawing on medieval Persian poetry and 300-year old Persian folk songs, Niyaz has created a 21st century global trance tradition. This may seem like a tall order for a band that's barely three years old - until you realize who these musicians are. Vocalist Azam Ali co-founded the best-selling world music duo Vas in 1996; her unmistakable voice has graced numerous recordings and major film scores. Loga Ramin Torkian is a multi-instrumentalist whose group Axiom of Choice brought the ancient sounds of Persian classical music to Western listeners in the 1990s. And producer Carmen Rizzo, a multiple Grammy nominee, has worked with Coldplay, Seal, Ryuichi Sakamoto, and many others. Small wonder then that the trio hit the ground running with its self-titled debut. Now, with Nine Heavens, Niyaz breaks new ground in a two-disc format: the first is an adventurous, spiritual exploration of the ties that bind Persian, Indian, Turkish, and Western dance music. The second is the same set of songs, in a purely acoustic setting. Nine Heavens begins with the irresistible ТBeni Beni," which marries an 18th century Turkish Sufi poem to a traditional Turkish folk song and some beautifully integrated electronics and programming. ТIt's a modern kind of Sufi music," Azam explains. ТBoth Loga and I are influenced by Turkish music, and there are many connections between Turkey and Iran." The steady, trance rhythms support layers of Turkish and Persian lutes, all topped by a new instrument known as the kamman, a larger, lower-pitched version of the traditional Persian fiddle. .......

Sunday, 26 May 2013

Hossam Ramzy Jose Luis Monton - Flamenco Arabe 2 (2006)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Flamenco, Ethno
Original Release Date: 2006
Label: Arc Music

Replacing Rafa el Tachuela with guitarist José Luis Montón, Hossam Ramzy is back for another round of fusion between Middle Eastern sounds and flamenco. Montón has some very nice runs on the guitar, but the Spanish influence here is more in the style of the arrangements than in flamenco guitar. Qanun, oud, and nay feature prominently, with the guitar abruptly entering from time to time for a solo. Where in the first Flamenco Arabe there was an exploration of the fusion of styles coming from two more or less independent aesthetics clashing together into one somewhere around Andalusia, here the aesthetic is more of a Middle Eastern one with a bit of a Spanish beat. The performers are all fine, but the mix isn't careful enough to produce the interesting features that one might hope for. This fusion concept is on fertile ground, but the execution has to be just right to make it work.by Adam Greenberg

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Alphonse Mouzon - Early Spring (1988)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, jazz - funk
Original Release Date: 1988
Label: Optimism

Drummer Alphonse Mouzon covers a lot of ground on this set, ranging from poppish R&B to straight jazz. Two selections have soulful vocals; Mouzon takes a pair of occasionally self-indulgent selections as features for his many overdubbed instruments; and the four instrumental quartet numbers feature either Gary Meek or Ronnie Laws on soprano or (in two cases) the heated tenor of Ernie Watts (who is best on "Seven Steps to Heaven").

Friday, 19 April 2013

Bill Douglas - Ty Durhoe - Kai Eckhardt - Steve Smith - Sky 2005

Sky is an inspired and daring blend of world fusion with elements of jazz, classical and funk. In this unique recording, the soulful sounds of Indian tabla blend seamlessly with the uplifting melodies of the piano and the deep groove of bass and drum. From lyrical ballads to world groove to J.S. Bach, this unique collaboration traverses a diverse soundscape which touches the spirit of creativity.
Sky features the music of composer/pianist Bill Douglas, together with the rich and heart felt tabla playing of Ty Burhoe. They are joined by the brilliant bass playing of Kai Eckhardt and the genius of Steve Smith on drum set.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: New Age
Original Release Date: 2005
Label: Tala Records

Bill Douglas With a rich academic and performing background in jazz and classical music, composer/multi-instrumentalist Bill Douglas brings an experienced, creative approach to his playing and compositions. Douglas began his musical journey as a teenage rock and jazz performer in Canada, performing Elvis covers in his very first band. He went on to receive formal musical degrees from the University of Toronto and Yale University, where he studied with avant-garde composer Mel Powell....

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Alex Bershadsky - Anonymous - 2011

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: World
Original Release Date: 2011
Label: Network

Alex Bershadsky stands out among accomplished musicians. He rises far beyond the “bass-ics.” Alex Bershadsky was born in Latvia and raised in Israel. He is an experienced musician, seasoned composer as well as an educator. He has spent years as an understudy to Israel’s finest musicians. This exposure had a tremendous influence on his development as both a performer and a composer. Bershadsky merges his scholarly musical skills within a style of innovative diversity. This eclectic mix of muse ranges from jazz all the way through to electronic. In 2011, Alex released his second CD, Anonymous. This eight track CD was the follow-up to his successful debut release of Junk in 2007. Within Anonymous, Alex feels he was able to get closer to the innovative styles and artistic goals he had for his music. Bershadsky teamed up with other musical gurus, as well as top-notch studios and producers to embark on this latest project. He has spent his life developing his musical roots.
However, now his craft has flourished into a bountiful harvest. His current album is making him anything but “Anonymous.” Anonymous was produced, engineered, mixed and mastered by Ian Freitor - who also produced his debut CD Junk. The sessions were recorded at both Ian Freitor’s The Playground Studios in New York and at the esteemed Bennet Studios in Englewood, New Jersey. Anonymous also includes Ian Freitor on keyboards, Eugene Maslov on piano, and Shlomi Cohen on Saxophone. Drummer and Percussionist Eran Asias performs on most of the album, however, is also joined by Gal Gershovsky on drums on two tracks. Additionally, Justin Mullens joins the album with the golden sound of brass - on trumpet.

Friday, 5 April 2013

A Helmet of Gnats - High Street 2010

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Original Release Date: 2010
Label: Ambient Records

Chris Fox - guitars
Matthew Bocchino - keyboards
Wayne Zito - bass
Mark Conese - drums, percussion

Those who say jazz is dead must only look harder. I suppose it isn’t as popular to the greater whole of humanity as it used to be, but neither is prog rock, and I honestly feel that both benefited from such a change. A Helmet of Gnats is part of that subgenre of jazz known as fusion that some prog fans consider inside the sphere of Prog (see what I did there?) I can’t say I agree with that when discussing the subgenre’s early history, but at the moment a lot of such bands are creating a true fusion of prog rock and jazz.

One of those is, obviously, a Helmet of Gnats, or else I would have wasted that entire paragraph talking about something completely unrelated. A Hog (as I shall refer to the band as, because I find it to be a hilarious acronym) is a band that consists of Berkley College of music grads (and dropouts, a la Dream Theater) from Connecticut, USA. They play an eclectic range of jazz styles, going from Return to Foreveresque light synth solos to heavy guitar jams something like Mahavishnu Orchestra, and I even hear bits that sound similar to The Tangent and Van Der Graaf Generator. Usually though it doesn’t sound like anything I’ve ever heard before, and I imagine it only sounds similar to Corea because they use similar sounding instrument settings. The musicianship is very tight and virtuosic (they are Berkley grads, after all), and I can find nothing to complain about, no matter how hard I try (and I try pretty damn hard). Any true fan of jazz or jazz fusion should definitely get this album immediately; I can promise you will be delighted. If not, well, what are you gonna do, punch me?


Tsunami – 11:00 – The first track of four begins with a delightfully melodic guitar intro, which is completely misleading given the name, but it moves after a minute into a moderately energetic guitar/organ duet. This track is mostly guitar driven after the end of that, with an almost funky blueslike melody throughout. A few minutes toward the end there’s an excellent synth solo, before the guitar comes back to dominate. By the end the track begins to live up to its name and builds in intensity faster and faster. I must say I generally prefer my jazz albums to begin with something that has a little more “oomph”, but this does quite nicely regardless.

Tin Whiskers – 10:26 – If Tsunami was guitar-dominated, Tin Whiskers is certainly keyboard-dominated. Lots of excellent stuff here, Corea-style electric piano, hammonds, mellotrons, you name it. The bass-work is also quite funky, and definitely adds to the piece. There’s a sort of groove I can get into when I listen to REALLY good jazz piano, and I feel it with this track. Excellently done. Later on, however, there’s an excellent guitar solo that gives me the same groovy sensation. I feel like I’m betraying jazz piano in saying so, though. I hope it will forgive me.

Dozer – 12: 43 – Like Tsunami, the track name is not fitting at all. It certainly wouldn’t put me to sleep, it’s too enjoyable for that. Dozer is very melodic in the beginning, probably to trick the listener into thinking it IS supposed to be a “dozer”, but the drumming heats up a bit a little before the quarter mark, just as some more of that wonderful piano-work comes in. A little after that, it gets a bit heavy, and we get a very intense guitar/keyboard duet. The rest of the track is rather fast, but not necessarily heavy, except in sections.

High Street – 30:11 – Oh dear, they’re really marching into the realm of prog with this one. A half-hour-long epic, replete with dynamic sections and completely different themes competing with each other. In the band’s entire discography, this is the track that seems to have the most influence from Return to Forever. I just hear it a lot, what can I say. I would say that is the reason it’s my favorite, though not to say the band is simply imitating, they create a cosmic elegance of their own, even if they might borrow some of Chick Corea’s. I say so I don’t have to say it’s my favorite track just because it’s a half hour long, ha! There’s too much to discuss about this track, and I don’t want to bore anyone with the details. Buy the album and listen to it for yourself!Posted in Reviews

Saturday, 30 March 2013

The Marbles - The Marbles 1970

by Richie Unterberger
The Marbles are well known to serious Bee Gees fans for covering a number of Bee Gees compositions, as well as being produced by Barry Gibb. Those expecting a sort of Bee Gees Jr., however, will be sorely disappointed by The Marbles' sole, eponymous album, even if five of the 12 tracks were penned by the Brothers Gibb. It's a far more blustery, orchestral brand of pop/rock than the relatively tender one mastered by the Bee Gees in the late '60s, even when they're doing some songs the Bee Gees themselves recorded back then (like "I Can't See Nobody" and "To Love Somebody"). Most blustery of all is Graham Bonnet's overbearing voice, which sounds a bit like a cross between Tom Jones and the Righteous Brothers, painting mental pictures of some tuxedoed guy sweating it out on the northern England cabaret circuit, his bulging neck muscles turning red with the effort. The pop and soul covers -- including "A House Is Not a Home," "Storybook Children," and "Breaking Up Is Hard to Do" -- are rendered schmaltzy by both the vocals and arrangements. The Marbles' few attempts at their own songwriting (numbering only three) are better though not great, convincingly emulating the bittersweet aspects of the early Bee Gees, though sometimes with even more ornate orchestration than the Bee Gees employed. It's of most interest to Bee Gees fans, though, for the inclusion of three Brothers Gibb compositions the Bee Gees didn't record at the time on their own records: "Only One Woman" (a number five British hit), "The Walls Fell Down," and "By the Light of a Burning Candle." They're characteristic of the Bee Gees' late-'60s style, but given such a bombastic treatment that you can't help wishing that the Bee Gees had done them instead. The 2003 CD reissue on Repertoire adds six bonus tracks, including mono single versions of four tracks from the LP and two 1969 B-sides.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Pop/Rock
Original Release Date: 1970
Label: Repertoire

Monday, 4 March 2013

Brand X - Livestock (1977)

Brand X is a classic jazz fusion band, noted for including Phil Collins in its ranks. Its original incarnation was active between 1974–1980. Other important members were John Goodsall (guitar) Percy Jones (bass), Robin Lumley (keyboards) and Morris Pert (percussion).

Recorded live at Ronnie Scott's Club, London, Sept. 1976, Hammersmith Odeon, London and The Marquee Club, London, August 1977, this release was the required evidence that the first two albums weren't just a lot of studio trickery. It seems these hefty slices of performance were selected to make the next logical step in the creative progression after Unorthodox Behaviour and Moroccan Roll. Overall, probably the mellowest and spaciest Brand X album, though it still kicks pretty hard in a couple of spots.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz-Rock
Original Release Date: 1977
Label: Toshiba EMI Ltd

John Goodsall- guitar
Percy Jones- bass
Robin Lumley- keyboards
Morris Pert- Percussion
Phil Collins- drums (tracks 2, 3 & 5)
Kenwood Dennard- drums (tracks 1 & 4)

The live adventures of the mathematically minded and mellow-eastern Brand X. Livestock is one of the most subdued-sounding live albums I own; percussion percolates, basses bubble, keyboards creep and guitars growl in this arid, exotic landscape. Concert albums that feature new material (as this does) are interesting animals, and a very different animal than The Bruford Tapes. Bruford’s live album was raw, raucous and familiar. Livestock is a calculated exploration of old terrain and new lands. It’s a little like getting half a new album with some live versions tacked on, as close to an EP as sits on the Brand X shelf. Thus it’s the least essential of the first four albums. The timing of its release is also questionable. Was the clamor for another Brand X album so great after six months, or did Charisma see Livestock as a last opportunity for the band to cash in on Collins’ cachet? Collins himself is replaced by Kenwood Dennard on two tracks, perhaps because of conflict with the Wind & Wuthering tour, and this does effectively answer the question many people were asking of where Collins’ loyalties would lie when push came to shove. Genesis came first, Brand X second, and the third album all but stated that. So Livestock is at the same time a short celebration and a slight hissing of air from the Brand X balloon. After you’ve purchased everything up to Product, looking in Livestock for something to snack on is the logical next step. Personally, I prefer my fusion more explosive. The music of Livestock, like Soft Machine, consists more of gentle eruptions and complex patterns, typical of music constructed by keyboardists and drummers. The subsequent Masques has more soul and spirit, so feel free to skip ahead and save Livestock for another day. All Music Guide

Saturday, 2 March 2013

Vital Information - Global Beat (1986)

Truly one of the greatest 'modern' jazz albums. The album is filled with with wonderfully energetic music. 'Johnny Cat', the song that has gotten air time in local San Francisco Bay Area radio stations was the most popular song, but moody songs like 'In a Low Voice' really show the talents of these well known artists in this genre. I just hit the repeat button for hours to listen to my favorite song on this CD: 'Novato'. Steve Smith is amazingly talented and the talent that he assembles for this album is most impressive. ~ Reviewer: william moore (Jersey City, NJ)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz-Fusion
Original Release Date: 1986
Label: Columbia

Steve Smith / drums, cowbell, synths
Dean Brown / guitar
Tim Landers / bass
Dave Wilczewski / alto, soprano & tenor saxes
Tom Coster / keyboards, DX7, harmonica

Guest Musicians :
Ray Gomez / pickin`guitar, guitar
Mike Fisher / percussion
Andy Narell / steel drums
Prince Joni Haastrup / voice, talking drum, shaker
Kwaku Daddy / congas, talking drum, percussion
Barry Finnerty / guitar
Armando Peraza / Bongoes, percussion
Jeff Richman / guitar
Brad Dutz / tablas, percussion

In addition to serving as the drummer of one of the all-time definitive arena rock acts, Journey (during their most successful period from the late '70s through the early '80s), Steve Smith has also played with a wide range of other artists. Born on August 21, 1954 in Brockton, MA, Smith began drumming at the age of nine, when he took lessons from respected big-band drummer and instructor Bill Flanagan. Subsequently, Smith played a variety of musical styles (swing, R&B, hard rock, fusion, big band, etc.), and enrolled at the Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. In October of 1976, Smith signed on with jazz violinist Jean-Luc Ponty, touring as a member of his band, and appearing on the album Enigmatic Ocean (1977). After briefly serving as the drummer for Ronnie Montrose's band in 1978, Smith was invited to join Journey, who were in the midst of a musical switch -- from fusion to arena rock. The group couldn't have picked a better-suited (and versatile) drummer than Smith, as he manned the kit on such mega-hit albums as Evolution (1979), Departure (1980), Escape (1981), and Frontiers (1983), during which time Journey became one of the U.S.' most successful rock bands.

But at the peak of Journey's success, Smith was fired by singer Steve Perry (who supposedly wanted to go in a more "soulful" direction). Undeterred, Smith shifted his attention to the more musically challenging and varied outfit Vital Information, which he had founded in 1983 while still a member of Journey. Vital Information issued albums on a regular basis throughout the '80s (including such standout titles as Global Beat and Live Around the World: Where We Come from Tour 1998-1999, among others). He also joined the all-star jazz/rock outfit Steps Ahead in 1986 and stayed with them until 1993. Smith joined a reunited Journey (who had been on hiatus since 1987) during the late '90s, resulting in a brand new studio album, Trial by Fire (1996), and a proposed world tour. But on the eve of the tour, Perry discovered that he had a degenerative hip condition, and the tour was ultimately scrapped entirely. In addition to his recording with Journey and Vital Information, Smith has either recorded or toured with Steps Ahead, Randy Brecker, Allan Holdsworth, Frank Gambale, Stanley Clarke, Mariah Carey, Ahmad Jamal, Stuart Hamm, Tony MacAlpine, Dweezil Zappa, Y&T, and many others. Smith also enjoys helping other drummers, as he has given clinics all over the world throughout the years (even issuing an instructional video in 1987), and was voted "Number One All-Around Dummer" in Modern Drummer Magazine's reader's poll from 1987 though 1991. In 2001, Modern Drummer again voted for Smith, but this time he was among one of the Top 25 Drummers of All Time; the next year the magazine voted Smith into their Hall of Fame.

Among Vital Information's most notable albums of the '90s and 2000s are Vitalive! (1991), Easier Done Than Said (1992), Ray of Hope (1996), Show 'Em Where You Live (2002), and Come on In (2004).

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Rabih Abou-Khalil - Nafas 1988

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Ethnic, Ethnic/Jazz
Original Release Date: 1988
Label: ECM Records

Nafas is Lebanese oud master and composer Rabih Abou-Khalil’s only ECM album, and it is a thing of beauty. Blending Arabic elements with flowing execution, its musicians are not so much in dialogue as they are in communion, sharing the same path to light and immediacy.

Nafas reads like life itself, beginning and ending with Glen Velez on frame drums. Between “Awakening” and “Nadi,” he carves an arousing circle of worldly desires rendered transparent through reflection. It is he who draws us upright into the morning sun, in which Selim Kusur’s gentle nay shines upon our faces through “Window.” Outside, we see that the two have joined forces, a pair of journeyers walking together, planting a tree with every step, such that when the oud blossoms into the present, it cannot help but paint leaves on every curling branch of the past.

This music never flaunts the virtuosity required to produce it, but rather sheds it like a skin to reveal a deeper understanding of its own craft. Take, for instance, “Gaval Dance,” which moves like a cycle within a cycle—from birth into death and back into birth. The nay revives itself in “The Return I.” Wavering, windblown, and forever flying, it is like the first fray of an unraveling, pulling us into the secondary orbit of “The Return II,” where the sounds of nature are the truest pedagogy. Setrak Sarkissian enchants here on the darabukka (clay drum). After Kusur’s sepia-tinted vocals bring the title of “Incantation” into fruition, we get some of the liveliest sounds on the record, which is all the more transportive for its swirling energies. In “Waiting,” we find ourselves drenched in yearning. The oud traces fears and confidences, working like an awl to let in the golden love of “Amal Hayati.” This hope brings us higher on the wings of the title composition, a brief passage into a cloudy embrace.

Albums like this should not be seen as mere token nods in the ECM canon, but rather as selfless parts of a larger flowing whole. Nafas is simply gorgeous music-making that is as intimate as it is all-encompassing, opening like a sky into the heart of something divine.
between sound and space

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Alex Acuna - Thinking Of You (1991)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Country, Music, Jazz, Fusion, Latin Jazz, Alternative, New Wave
Original Release Date: 1991
Label: JVC

An expanded CD version of the Unknowns' sole record, now billed to "Bruce Joyner & the Unknowns." This replaces the original Invasion LP as the definitive document, including not only all of that record's tracks, but doubling the length and then some with the addition of 13 previously unreleased demos. Several of these are rawer versions of songs that ended up on the 1982 album, but half a dozen are tunes that didn't make the cut. To be honest, these demos aren't nearly as good as what ended up on the LP. The early takes of songs that were re-recorded for the album were rearranged to considerably greater effect in their official versions, and the numbers that were left off the record weren't as good as the ones that were selected. Still, it's real interesting for fans to hear, and the CD's 24 tracks encompass the Unknowns' entire legacy, with the exception of their Sire Dream Sequence EP.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Airto Moreira - Seeds On The Ground (1971)

This is the second of two releases by Airto in the early 70s on Buddah Records in the US. I don't know how this compares to the US One Way CD but both are out of print. This sure beats my late 70s Buddah 2fer reissue on very poor quality vinyl This is more rustic and folk based than Airto's later fusion work.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Crossover Jazz, World Fusion
Original Release Date: 1971
Label: One Way Records

Accordion - Sivuca
Bass - Hermeto Pascoal , Ron Carter
Berimbau - Airto Moreira
Cello - Ron Carter
Drums - Airto Moreira
Flute - Hermeto Pascoal
Keyboards - Hermeto Pascoal
Organ - Severino De Oliveira*
Percussion - Airto Moreira , Dom Um Romao
Performer [Japanese Sapho] - Hermeto Pascoal
Piano - Hermeto Pascoal
Viola - Severino De Oliveira*
Vocals - Airto Moreira , Flora Purim

The most high-profile percussionist of the 1970s and still among the most famous, Airto Moreira (often simply known by his first name) helped make percussion an essential part of many modern jazz groups; his tambourine solos can border on the amazing. Airto originally studied guitar and piano before becoming a percussionist. He played locally in Brazil, collected and studied over 120 different percussion instruments, and in 1968 moved to the U.S. with his wife, singer Flora Purim. Airto played with Miles Davis during part of 1969-1970, appearing on several records (most notably Live Evil). He worked with Lee Morgan for a bit in 1971, was an original member of Weather Report, and in 1972 was part of Chick Corea's initial version of Return to Forever with Flora Purim; he and Corea also recorded the classic Captain Marvel with Stan Getz. By 1973, Airto was famous enough to have his own group, which was signed to CTI and appeared on Purim's sessions. Since then, he has stayed busy, mostly co-leading bands with his wife and recording as a leader for many labels, including Buddah, CTI, Arista, Warner Bros., Caroline, Rykodisc, In & Out, and B&W. Not all of his music as a leader would be called jazz, but Airto remains a very impressive player.

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Ginger Baker's Airforce - Airforce (1970)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion, Hard Rock, Jazz-Rock, Prog Rock, Art Rock
Original Release Date: 1970
Label: Polydor

For a change, the late 1960s yielded up a supergroup that lived up to its hype and then some. Ginger Baker's Air Force was recorded live at Royal Albert Hall in January of 1970 -- in fact, this may be the best-sounding live album ever to come out of that notoriously difficult venue -- at a show that must have been a wonder to watch, as the ten-piece band blazed away in sheets of sound, projected delicate flute parts behind multi-layered African percussion, or built their songs up Bolero-like, out of rhythms from a single instrument into huge jazz-cum-R&B crescendos. Considering that this was only their second gig, the group sounds astonishingly tight, which greatly reduces the level of self-indulgence that one would expect to find on an album where five of the eight tracks run in excess of ten minutes. There aren't too many wasted notes or phrases in the 78 minutes of music included here, and Steve Winwood's organ, Baker, Phil Seamen, and Remi Kabaka's drums, and the sax playing by Chris Wood, Graham Bond (on alto), and Harold McNair, all stand out, especially the sax trio's interwoven playing on "Don't Care." Additionally, Denny Laine plays louder, flashier, more virtuoso-level guitar than he ever got to turn in with the Moody Blues, bending notes in exquisite fashion in the opening of Air Force's rendition of the Cream standard "Toad," crunching away on rhythm elsewhere, and indulging in some more introspective blues for "Man of Constant Sorrow." The original CD reissue, which sounded pretty good, was deleted in the early '90s, but this album has been remastered again and repackaged as part of the Ginger Baker retrospective Do What You Like on Polygram's Chronicles series. It's a must-own for jazz-rock, Afro-fusion, blues-rock, or percussion fans....

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Aghora- Formless (2006)

After a 7 year period between albums, Aghora come back with a worthy second album. With a new lineup and a new batch of songs, they are truly a treat to hear.

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Progressive Metal, Jazz-Metal
Original Release Date: 2006
Label: Dobles Music

Santiago Dobles - Guitar
Alan Goldstein - Bass
Diana Serra - Vocals
Giann Rubio - Drums
Sean Reinert - Studio Drums

The first time that "Formless" collided with my ear drums I can't say I was impressed. As I listened the first time through the album I even reached the state of occasional disappointment and thought to myself: "There it is, the first negative review I'll have to write for avantgarde-metal.com." But by the time I listened to all the songs I began wondering: Did the band have a creative drain by replacing the rhythmic section? Did Santiago Dobles invest so much creativity in "Aghora" that he had no more to offer? How come that seven long years aren't enough to replenish your ressources? And how does that work with all the mind and body balancing activities he goes after with great dedication? Aren't those supposed to bring out more and more creativity? I concluded for myself that the answers lie in front of me and that I have to listen to this quite a few times before making my final personal judgement about it.......

Saturday, 16 February 2013

Hughes de Courson - Mozart In Egypt 2 2005

Mozart in Egypt is a 1997 album by various artists, and arranged by French musician Hughes de Courson. It represents a fusion of Mozart's work with the sounds, rhythms and instruments typical of contemporary Egyptian music.The album saw considerable success in continental Europe, especially France, but had only limited success elsewhere. In August 2005 a second volume was released in Europe only, entitled Mozart in Egypt 2.

Format: flac + cue + log + DR
Genre: Classical, Oriental
Original Release Date: 2005
Label: Virging Classics

When the Eastern music joined the most beautiful topics of Mozart... Taking again the same principle that Vol.1, one finds the tubes of Mozart interpreted by more than 200 musicians mixing symphony orchestra and traditional instruments. This album was released in August 2005, in Europe only.

"Mozart in Egypt" is a 1997 album by various artists. It represents a fusion of Mozart's work with the sounds, rhythms and instruments typical of contemporary Egyptian music. The album saw considerable success in continental Europe, especially France, but had only limited success elsewhere. In August 2005 a second volume was released in Europe only, imaginatively entitled "Mozart in Egypt 2"."

"Hughes' albums are all large-scale works. He is an arranger rather than a soloist. On many he combines electronic effects with medieval or baroque instruments. Mozart in Egypt takes works by Mozart and emphasises the oriental elements in them. The 25th symphony is played with a much-enlarged orchestra. Unfortunately his recordings are rarely available in the English-speaking world......

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Dhafer Youssef - Malak (1999)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: world fusion
Original Release Date: 1999
Label: enja Records

By Josef Woodard

The jazz-Arabic axis, one well trod by Rabih Abou-Khalil and others, can be a compelling soil for cultural reinvention in the right hands. It’s at the core of oud player and vocalist Dhafer Youssef’s Malak, on which the leader is joined by bassist Renaud Garcia-Fons, electric guitarist Nguyên Lê and trumpeter Markus Stockhausen, among others. Whereas Khalil’s music tends toward intricate, fusionlike constructs, Youssef’s work leans toward a more reflective nature and improvisational openness that recalls ECM recordings. A probing introspection flows, in spite of his often-virtuosic musical gifts. On "A Kind of Love," his high, lithe voice interacts with Stockhausen’s plaintive trumpet, and Lê’s sustaining, violinlike electric guitar tones squirm beneath Khalil’s sad melodic grace on "Derballah." On "Jito and Tato," though, the palette opens up to include Indian elements of Deepak Ram’s bansuri and Jatinder Thakur’s tabla playing. This is music in no hurry to impress in explicit, pyrotechnical ways, but does so in spite of itself.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Benise - Spanish Nights (2001)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Flamenco, World Music, Guitar virtuoso
Original Release Date: 2001
Label: Rosanegra Music


Roni Benise (best known as Benise), is an American self-taught and self-described “Nouveau Spanish Flamenco Guitarist”. Benise left his family to move 1500 miles away to Los Angeles with a dream of pursuing a rock-type stardom. Then one day, when he was at a crossroads of his life, he had an epiphany after hearing flamenco on the radio. He tossed aside his electric guitar in favor of a classical nylon stringer....

Sunday, 13 January 2013

Dominic Miller - Third World 2004

Better known as Sting's guitarist, Dominic Miller has put out a few solo efforts over the years, with this, his fourth, following suit. This one shows a sensitive side, with tender compositions for solo guitar throughout (with the exception of a vocal number midway through), sometimes backed up by various musician friends on drums or bass for a song or two. The sound is primarily soft rock and the like, but Miller effectively handles a dose of jazz in "Partido Alto" as well. Miller's playing is perhaps too light and cautious to really manage a solo effort. He plays as though he's still in the rhythm section rather than letting his abilities come through fully. At the same time, he has a very tender touch, welcome in its own right. This album probably won't be making massive waves in the music community, but it's a nice addition for those in relevant circles.by Adam Greenberg

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Crossover Jazz
Original Release Date: 2004
Label: Q-Rious Music

Being an intimate kind of album I wanted to include a 'friend' and William Topley is one of my best friends. The lyrics for Denver Sun are his and the music mine. It deals with the life of a musician on the road meeting a particular girl whenever he is in that town. I find it very romantic. Sounds like a cliché idea but it's both sad and beautiful. The title 'Devil's Punch Bowl' signifies a particular area on the A3 road about 40 miles south of London. There is some mystique surrounding this region. Kipper lives near there and I recorded this tune at his place. On my way home I was trying to think of a title whereupon this one came to me. 'Always' is about relentless love for someone. There is one note that keeps repeating which is this feeling. The chords around it are like different ways of saying 'I love you'.

'Altea' is written after the Spanish town. I wrote it while I was there a few years ago. I love the place (or the region) because it's kind of mysterious or witchy in a positive sort of way. I love the language they speak there and it comes as no surprise to hear that many artists and poets go there for inspiration. The gap after it was intentional. I wanted the listener to get a surprise track fifteen minutes later. The reason for this is because I didn't think that tune (titles 'Apres le Beep') should be on the album because it wasn't musically related to the other tunes but at the same time I wanted to 'show' it. The woman speaking is my wife (who is French) and she is basically giving me shit on the answer phone (hence the title) because I was I didn't live up to her expectations on a certain incident. I found this amusing but still quite therapeutic putting it on my album plus the concept of having the last laugh. She thinks it's funny too now.

'Letter Unsent' was originally imagined as a song because I was originally singing the melody. Most of my tunes start out this way. But in the end I made it an instrumental. 'Forgotten Dream' is exactly what it says on the label. I woke up one morning with a unique feeling that I had had some amazing beautiful, but sad dream but couldn't for the life of me remember what it was or who was in it. So I documented this feeling or emotion in the only language I really knew how. Music.

Fragile - Handle with Care 1997

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Original Release Date: 1997
Label: Compozila

Fragile is one of those bands that go unnoticed, is more to find information on the band, this was referring to the guitarist Koichi Yabori which apparently is a reference in the Japanese stage and that no doubt because in this second album released in 1997 shows a versatility that many would like for your discs alternating electric and acoustic guitars sound compositions and very clean in execution. But not alone, Mizuno and Sagasuma fall short, soft passages recreating together, violent, kind and playful. Handle with care (how ironic) is an album of easy listening and is willing, in short, a more than recommended ... required.

Kozo Suganuma - Kozo 2001

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion
Original Release Date: 2001
Label: Jewel Sound

In the early '90s, drummer Kozo Suganuma formed half of the rhythm section of the legendary Japanese fusion trio Fragile. His eponymous solo CD on the Jewel Sound label features eight tracks of modern and traditional fusion, including one Coltrane standard and four tracks written by Fragile guitarist Koichi Yabori.

Kozo opens with the snappy fusion jam "Double Black Feather." The pace slows with the drum solo track "Brush Fire," although this exposition is kept tastefully short at under two minutes. The record picks back up with "Tales of the Temple" and the half-time groove of "Mistic Island." After the ballad "Cloudiness" and the Coltrane standard "Moment's Notice," the record closes with the snappy, Caribbean-influenced "Beat Kids."

Fragile was often compared to '90s fusion giants Tribal Tech, and that similarity is also prominent in the sound and the songwriting on Kozo. Part of the sonic likeness may be due to Scott Kinsey, Tribal Tech's keyboardist, handling keyboard duties on the record. In addition, several of the songs composed by Fragile guitarist Yabori clone the Tribal Tech style of light guitar-based fusion almost exactly. "Tales of the Temple" has the grooving bass guitar melody that characterizes classic Gary Willis tunes. "Coriander" sounds like it's right out of the Tribal Tech live set, and it even includes Yabori playing several Scott Henderson guitar licks note for note.

One major sonic element sets Kozo aside from the Tribal Tech guitar-based fusion style—the saxophone work of Bob Malach and Hiroyuki Yagi. The timbre of the sax adds a mellowness and a traditional jazz flavor that gives the music depth, particularly on the ballad "Cloudiness" and the Caribbean jam "Beat Kids." Suganuma was wise to include a saxophonist on the majority of the tracks on his record.

The playing by all musicians is excellent. Yabori knows when to lead the band with his skilled guitar work and when to sit back. Bassist Lincoln Goines holds down the bottom, providing snappy lead work on "Tales of the Temple" and "Moment's Notice." Kinsey lays down solid background chording and only steps into the forefront when warranted, as he does with Tribal Tech. Suganuma's drumming occasionally sounds excessively bombastic or heavy-handed, but the one place a little over-reaching play by a drummer can be excused is on his own solo record.

Fans of electric fusion and fans of Fragile should check out Kozo. This solo record offers plenty of solid fusion composing and snappy playing, with a standard and a ballad thrown in for variety.


A native of Osaka, Japan, Kozo Suganuma, began playing drums at the age of eight and remarkably, became a professional session player at the age of 15. He is now a major feature of the Japanese pop scene performing with such groups as Chage and Aska, as well as also working with famous Japanese Jazz icons Hidehiko Matumoto, Makoto Ozone, and Kazumi Watanabe. Kozo has also worked with American artists such as Larry Graham and Louis Johnson. Kozo is an extremely active player and can be found performing in small jazz venues one day and 20,000 seat auditoriums the next. He is also an in-demand session player as well, having released 6 albums with his band "Fragile." Because of his amazing technique, Kozo has been given the name "The King of Many Strokes." This title has been incorporated in several teaching videos: TE KAZ OH ("The King of Many Strokes"); ASHI KAZ OH ("The King of Many Footworks"); Kaettekita TE KAZ OH ("Return of the King of Many Strokes"); and TE KAZ OH Live Jissenhen ("Live Applications of Many Strokes"), released by Rittor Music. A very much in demand clinician, he has been featured in many National and International percussion events.


Kozo Suganuma -- drums;
Koichi Yabori -- guitar;
Lincoln Goines -- bass (credited as "Licoln Goines");
Scott Kinsey -- keyboards;
Bob Malach -- sax;
Hiroyuki Yagi -- sax.