Thursday, 10 April 2014

Clareon from California,1980... Yet Another Progressive Fusion masterpiece...

A little puzzled about the spelling here, a Clarion is of course an instrument, but why the replacement 'e'?  No sign of an answer when reading the back cover.  The composer here is Ron Madden, middle row right, with a contribution from another only on one track, "Baby Song."  In the incomplete release information on discogs, he doesn't appear, and a database search doesn't offer much.  Turning our attention to rateyourmusic instead, even less, other than to note Moroni the famous collector already owns a copy, not unexpectedly... At 156 years old, he has definitely accumulated a lot of experience in music...

All of which serves to introduce the statement that this is really a stunning oeuvre, from beginning to end.  It covers all the expected bases of fusion, funky dynamics, chamber music (including a clarinet duo with piano, I refer to "La Belle Jardiniere"), and intricate explorations to a space of musical composition where no man has ever gone before.  This might be compared to the German band Exil's Fusionen but sans the folky pirouettes and ethnic fiddle-faddle, purely a kind of experimental fusion album based on the smooth American style of Landress-Hart for ex., clearly created by a man who studied composition probably at Berklee in Boston as they all seem to have done... (On a recent road trip there when purely by happenstance I drove by the building on Newbury St. I was tempted to run in to absorb some of that gorgeously advanced music the folks in there were probably playing in (pianokey) ivory tower bliss, of course it could not have been, because my insane young kids were with me, and because a security guard would surely have thrown me in jail-- this was not long after the Boston Marathon bombing.)

Let's consider just the first track, which is quite progressively entitled "Neo-Cisum" (presumably a nonce word):

It starts with a languid sax figure but quickly jumps into the progressive aspects, modulating from E minor into G minor and then jumping from one key to the next-- notice how the sax now states a whole-tone scale based on C7.  Each passage is different as the song moves forward-- one of the hallmarks of progressive songwriting.  Beautifully though it kind of wraps itself up by restating the introduction like a Kekule benzene ring.

The third track called "Divisadero" has hints of french progressive fusion (think Transit Express) despite the funky beginning which only lasts a minute or so, and is almost like a symphony in its many changes, moods, and tempos-- trust me when I say don't give up on this track, listen to it all the way through; while the last track "Visitation" I have to wonder whether it is a homage to the great Pekka Pohjola.

At any rate the whole album is full of interesting surprises and invention, it's sure to sustain the attention of the most jaded progressive fan for quite a while... A remarkable discovery.  For which I can't take credit: this find was made as usual by my friend the Grand Nebula... all my thanks again...
And please try to secure a copy of the record while it's still cheap, as I did, unlike the over-hyped Landress-Hart's Dancing Moments.

Wonderfully, there is a small humorous poem inside the record written by Craig Lawrence (the saxophonist) and Ron Madden (how odd the two collaborated on a poem), the drawing is from Craig:

Two packs
of barking pigeons
fought the desperate Dean Turkey
They then began to move
in the groove
of the phoney dog bone
"In the latter days
the sons of disobedience
will melt waxed army man warship"
cried the pigeons as they flew over flaming gasoline clarinets.

a gigantic embryo of belt loop
scratched upon a dry bug of hitchhiking debris.

Blue watermelon light
shown brightly in the night
as the pigeons were in flight
raspberry jam!!
Summer time wintertime anytime delight!

A green plastic barbarian cactus
loomed over the sweat of Dean Turkey's vacation,
casting shadows of rubber roadrunners
on pine tree ventilation.

Shipping over
embroidered oceanic principles
the gray barking watermelon pigeons
discovered a resume of handlotion thermostat,

Diving deep
into fathomless entryways
they came upon gelatin clothes hampers
empty with dry icebergs.

Swallowing their cement block journey
they then proceeded to resolve their tupperware disputes.

Fantastic, I love it!


  1. I am fortunate enough to have Ron Madden teaching my son's middle school band. He's really inspired by Ron. And he takes sax lessons from Craig Lawrence. Both of these guys have had serious influence on my son's burgeoning love for jazz!

    1. Really, you got to be kidding me!
      Would you please direct his attention to my adoring post if you haven't already and apologize to him for posting the record, at the same time, give my regards for such a gorgeous work of art.

  2. Hi Julian Any chance of a re-up...?? The track here sounds great... Cheers.

  3. new upload:

  4. Masterful..... thanks for that.