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......