sexta-feira, 23 de outubro de 2015

Jimi Hendrix - In the West 1972

There were a lot of terrible album debacles in the wake of Jimi Hendrix's death in 1970, but there were a handful of keepers. The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge were both excellent, but now the material from both albums has been officially released as part of First Rays of the New Rising Sun or on another compilation. Even the best material from the really bad albums like Midnight Lightning andWar Heroes, has now been officially released without the egregious posthumous overdubs. But somehow, In the West, one of those keepers, remained basically out of print until 2011. Yes, it's a hodge-podge, made of live tracks largely from 1969 and 1970. But it's a bunch of great live tracks, including some real rarities. The opening sequence of "God Save the Queen" and "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" is rare and excellent in itself, and Hendrix's intro is hilarious (he was a truly funny guy). "Little Wing" and "I Don't Live Today" (not on the original LP) were also live rarities for Hendrix, but not as rare as him covering "Blue Suede Shoes" or "Johnny B. Goode" (an absolutely blistering version that might top Chuck Berry's). "Lover Man" was a live staple, but in this version, Hendrix slips in a quote from "Flight of the Bumble Bee," and listen for a quote from "Tomorrow Never Knows" in "I Don't Live Today." Fans familiar with the original vinyl should note some differences. The versions of "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "Little Wing" (recorded at Royal Albert Hall) have recently been released elsewhere, so they've been replaced with versions from San Diego 1969 and Winterland 1968 (oddly enough, this very same version of "Little Wing" was also released on theWinterland box set the same day). In addition, to "I Don't Live Today," "Fire," and "Spanish Castle Magic" are added as bonus tracks, also from the San Diego show. Old vinyl fetishists may quibble that the tracks have been resequenced, but most listeners will have no idea. In the West is a great sampling of Hendrix's late-period live material (and his sense of humor) making its long awaited appearance in the digital world. AMG.

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Joe Zawinul - Money In The Pocket 1965

Joe Zawinul belonged in a category unto himself -- a European from the heartland of the classical music tradition (Vienna) who learned to swing as freely as any American jazzer, and whose appetite for growth and change remained insatiable. Zawinul's curiosity and openness to all kinds of sounds made him one of the driving forces behind the electronic jazz-rock revolution of the late '60s and '70s -- and later, he would be almost alone in exploring fusions between jazz-rock and ethnic music from all over the globe. He was one of a bare handful of synthesizer players who actually learned how to play the instrument, to make it an expressive, swinging part of his arsenal. Prior to the invention of the portable synthesizer, Zawinul's example helped bring the Wurlitzer and Fender Rhodes electric pianos into the jazz mainstream. Zawinul also became a significant composer, ranging (like his idol Duke Ellington) from soulful hit tunes to large-scale symphonic jazz canvases. Yet despite his classical background, he preferred to improvise compositions spontaneously onto tape rather than write them out on paper.
At age six, Josef Erich Zawinul started to play the accordion in his native Austria, and studies in classical piano and composition at the Vienna Conservatory soon followed. His interest in jazz piano, initially influenced by George Shearingand Erroll Garner, led to jobs with Austrian saxophonistHans Koller in 1952 and gigs with his own trio in France and Germany. He immigrated to the United States in late 1958 after winning a scholarship to Berklee, yet after just one week in class, he left to join Maynard Ferguson's band for eight months, where Miles Davis first took notice of him. Following a brief stay with Slide HamptonZawinul became Dinah Washington's pianist from 1959 to 1961, and then spent a month with Harry "Sweets" Edison beforeCannonball Adderley picked him to fill the piano chair in his quintet. There Zawinul stayed and blossomed for nine years, contributing several compositions to the Adderley band book -- among them the major pop hit "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy," "Walk Tall," and "Country Preacher" -- and ultimately helping to steer the Adderley group into the electronic era. While with AdderleyZawinul evolved from a hard bop pianist to a soul-jazz performer heavily steeped in the blues, and ultimately a jazz-rock explorer on the electric piano. Toward the end of his Adderley gig (1969-1970), he was right in the thick of the new jazz-rock scene, recording several pioneering records with Miles Davis, contributing the title tune ofDavisIn a Silent Way album.
After recording a self-titled solo album, Zawinul left Adderley to form Weather Report with Wayne Shorter and Czech bassist Miroslav Vitous in November 1970. Weather Report gave the increasingly self-confident Zawinul a platform to evolve even further as his interest in propulsive grooves and music from Africa and the Middle East ignited and developed. He gradually dropped the electric piano in favor of a series of ever more sophisticated synthesizers, which he mastered to levels never thought possible by those who derided the instruments as sterile, unfeeling machines. Weather Report eventually became a popular group that appealed to audiences beyond jazz and progressive rock, thanks in no small part to Zawinul's hit song "Birdland."
When Zawinul and Shorter finally came to a parting of ways in 1985, Zawinul started to tour all by himself, surrounded by keyboards and rhythm machines, but resurfaced the following year with a short-lived extension of Weather Report calledWeather Update (which did not leave any recordings).Weather Update quickly evolved into another group, the Zawinul Syndicate, which over the span of a decade tilted increasingly toward groove-oriented world music influences.Zawinul showed renewed interest in his European roots, collaborating with fellow Viennese classical pianist Friedrich Gulda from 1987 to 1994, producing a full-blown classically based symphony, Stories of the Danube, in 1993, and following the near-disastrous Malibu fires of 1994, moving from California to New York City in order to be closer to Europe. In 2002 he releasedFaces & Places, his first studio album in several years and one that boasted an international roster of supporting musicians. He went on to release a handful of albums including Midnight Jam (2005) andBrown Street (2007), the latter of which was issued the year his life was taken by cancer.
Though he explored new musical paths at a time of life when most jazzers are long set in their ways,Zawinul's influence upon jazz waned due to the jazz mainstream's retreat from electronics back to acoustic post-bop. But with global music continuing to infiltrate the jazz world of the 21st century,Zawinul's uplifting, still invigorating later music may very well renew the departed keyboardist's reputation as a prophet in the years ahead. AMG.

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Kevin Coyne - Case History 1971

Coyne's first solo recording is a triumphant, if occasionally bleak, look at life's outsiders. Using his time as social worker in a government-run mental hospital as a basis for his narratives, Coyne deals with issues of intense alienation, indifference, substance abuse (to which he was no stranger), and mental instability in a world that would rather forget these people existed, and a labyrinthine governmental bureaucracy that often denied their humanity. This is not a happy record, and is only infrequently hopeful, but it's never cynical, and neither does Coyne indulge in glib condescension. He acts as a subjective documentarian, an advocate for a group of people who desperately need one. Reissued on CD with extra tracks by the import label Dandelion/See For Miles in 1994. AMG.

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Madder Lake - Stillpoint 1973

Madder Lake was one of the most original and distinctive of the "new wave" of Australian groups that emerged around 1970. They were also an important and popular part of the of the Melbourne music scene. It's unfortunate that they're only known for their extant recordings -- their two excellent 1970s Albums and one "Best Of.." compilation -- because they are prolific writers, and according to Mick they have are "literally hundreds of songs" stockpiled,waiting to see the light of day.

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Little Big Horn - Little Big Horn 1970-71

British quintet, released their sole album in 1971 only in Germany through Bellaphon label.
Their music is a mixture of Hard Rock with Glam and Prog traces. 

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Kashmere Stage Band - Texas Thunder Soul (1968-1974)

Texas Thunder Soul 1968–1974 is a two-disc compilation album of recordings by the Kashmere Stage Band, released on Now-Again Records in 2006.[1] The first disc contains studio recordings by the group, including energetic cover versions of "Theme from Shaft", "Super Bad", "Scorpio" and "Burning Spear". The second disc features unreleased live recordings and alternate takes, and includes a 12-minute video documentary about the group, Texas Jewels. The album includes a 40-page booklet filled with photos, interviews and ephemera. AMG.

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Lee Morgan - Search For The New Land 1964

This set (the CD reissue is a duplicate of the original LP) is one of the finest Lee Morgan records. The great trumpeter contributes five challenging compositions ("Search for the New Land," "The Joker," "Mr. Kenyatta," "Melancholee," and "Morgan the Pirate") that deserve to be revived. Morgan, tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter, guitarist Grant Green, pianist Herbie Hancock, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Billy Higgins are all in particularly creative form on the fresh material, and they stretch the boundaries of hard bop (the modern mainstream jazz of the period). The result is a consistently stimulating set that rewards repeated listenings. AMG.

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sexta-feira, 16 de outubro de 2015

Santana - Welcome 1973

The mark that the recording of  Caravanserai and Love Devotion Surrender had left on Carlos Santana was monumental. The issue of  Welcome, the band's fifth album and its first with the new lineup, was a very ambitious affair and was regarded by traditional fans of Santana with even more strangeness than its two predecessors. However, issued as it was at the end of 1973, after Miles had won a Grammy for Bitches Brew and after Weather ReportReturn to Forever, and Seventh Househad begun to win audiences from the restless pool of rock fans, Santana began to attract the attention of critics as well as jazz fans seeking something outside of the soul-jazz and free jazz realms for sustenance. The vibe that carried over from the previously mentioned two albums plus the addition of vocalist Leon Thomas to the fold added a bluesy, tougher edge to the sound showcased on Caravanserai. The band's hard root was comprised of Carlos, drummer Michael Shrieve, bassist Doug Rauch, and keyboard king Tom Coster. Add to this the percussion section of Armando Peraza and Chepito Areas as well as a second keyboard by Richard Kermode, and space was the place. The John Coltrane influence that inspired the Santana/John McLaughlin pairing on Love Devotion Surrender echoes here on "Going Home," the album's opening track, arranged by Coltrane's widow, pianist and harpist Alice. The deeper jazz fusion/Latin funk edge is articulated on the track "Samba de Sausalito," and to a much more accessible degree on "Love, Devotion & Surrender," which features Thomas growling through the choruses and also features Wendy Haas, a keyboardist on Love Devotion Surrender who is enlisted here as a second vocalist. In fact, her pairing with Thomas on Shrieve's "When I Look Into Your Eyes" is nothing less than beatific. McLaughlin makes a return appearance here on the stunningly beautiful guitar spiritual "Flame Sky." Brazilian song diva Flora Purim is featured on "Yours Is the Light," a gorgeous Afro-Brazilian workout that embraces Cuba son, samba, and soul-jazz. Welcome also marked the first appearance of French soprano saxophonist Jules Broussard on a Santana date. He would later collaborate with Carlos and Alice Coltrane on Illuminations. Ultimately, Welcome is a jazz record with rock elements, not a rock record that flirted with jazz and Latin musical forms. It is understandable why Santana punters would continue to be disenchanted, however. Welcome was merely ahead of its time as a musical journey and is one of the more enduring recordings the band ever made. This is a record that pushes the envelope even today and is one of the most inspired recordings in the voluminous Santana oeuvre. AMG.

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Baker Gurvitz Army - The Baker Gurvitz Army 1974

Ginger Baker's mid-'70s profile took another unexpected turn following Cream's blues-rock blood and thunder and his Afro-beat matchups with Fela Kuti. He formed this straight-ahead power trio with the guitar- and bass-playing brother team of Adrian and Paul Gurvitz, who'd briefly lit up the '60s U.K. charts as Gun (of "Race With the Devil" fame). Such a step might have seemed subversively normal forBaker, but he and the brothers had an undeniable chemistry; not surprisingly, their debut album is a self-assured, aggressive affair. "Help Me" and "I Wanna Live Again" are punchy and succinct; so are the hard-driving instrumentals "Love Is" and its funkier cousin, "Phil 4." The band leavens their hard-hitting delivery with subtle orchestration and piano; the latter instrument works to haunting effect on the introspective "Memory Lane." There's some engaging humor, too; "Mad Jack"'s lyrics about a reckless outback race are silly, but kitschy fun. The only real clinker is "Since Beginning," which is bogged down from self-consciously "meaningful" lyrics and meandering delivery; its eight minutes could have benefited from judicious pruning. Naturally, no Ginger Baker album could pass without some drum solos, but they're tastefully done. He's very much a team player here, in contrast to infamous stick-bashing marathons like "Toad." That said, this album's a strong, decisive statement, and if hard rock's what you crave, you won't be disappointed. AMG.

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Sam Rivers - Fuchsia Swing Song 1966

Recorded in 1964 immediately after leaving the Miles Davis QuintetSam Rivers' Fuchsia Swing Song is one of the more auspicious debuts the label released in the mid-'60s. Rivers was a seasoned session player (his excellent work on Larry Young's Into Somethin' is a case in point), and a former member of Herb Pomeroy's Big Band before he went out with Davis. By the time of his debut, Rivershad been deep under the influence of Coltrane and Coleman, but wasn't willing to give up the blues. Hence the sound on Fuchsia Swing Song is that of an artist at once self-assured and in transition. Using a rhythm section that included Tony Williams (whose Life Time he had guested on), pianist Jaki Byard, and bassist Ron CarterRivers took the hard bop and blues of his roots and poured them through the avant-garde collander. The title, opening track is a case in point. Rivers opens with an angular figure that is quickly translated by the band into sweeping, bopping blues. Rivers legato is lightning quick and his phrasing touches upon Coleman HawkinsSonny RollinsColeman, andColtrane, but his embouchure is his own. He strikes the balance and then takes off on both sides of the aisle. Byard's builds in minor key, rhythmic figures just behind the tenor. "Downstairs Blues Upstairs" sounds, initially anyway, like it might have come out of the Davis book so deep is its blue root. But courtesy of Byard and WilliamsRivers goes to the left after only four choruses, moving onto the ledge a bit at a time, running knotty arpeggios through the center of the melody and increasingly bending his notes into succeeding intervals while shifting keys and times signatures, but he never goes completely over the ledge. The most difficult cut on the date is "Luminous Monolith," showcases a swing-like figure introducing the melody. Eight bars in, the syncopation of the rhythm sections begins to stutter step around the time, as Byard makes harmonic adjustments with dense chords for Rivers to play off. This is a highly recommended date. Other than on 1965's Contours, Rivers never played quite like this again. AMG.

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terça-feira, 13 de outubro de 2015

Saturnalia - Magical Love 1973

Saturnalia's sole and rare (less so after its 2003 CD reissue) album was on the ostentatious side of early progressive rock, perhaps slightly anticipating some of the earnest classical-rock-fusion-with-female-vocals explored by Renaissance in the 1970s. The songs tend toward the winding and ponderous side, and the vocals -- especially those by female singer Aletta -- can cross into the histrionic in the more strident passages. Perhaps a little more influenced by the male-female vocal tradeoffs typical of some late-'60s American psychedelic bands than most such British efforts, it also boasts plenty of hard rock guitar and a good helping of lyrics reflective of a fantasy world, à la "Princess and the Peasant Boy" and the title track. As the song that brings in the strongest British acoustic folk feel, "Dream" is one of the more palatable tracks, but groups such as Renaissance were able to craft more accessible and memorable material using some of the same elements. AMG.

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