Wednesday, 26 April 2017

American Cathexis came back in 1985 with a Tonal Vision

One vocal track, a commercial compromise "radio friendly unit shifter", the rest instrumental mildly smooth fusion, plus a couple of total throwaways (calypso, or just garbage-o) make this a tad disappointing in comparison to its predecessor from the early eighties.  I think everyone has heard their 1982 masterpiece of sung fusion, information here.  In fact it came as quite a surprise to find out the band released a follow up, presumably their only other output.  It's clear it's the same band from the occasional chord changes here that sound quite reminiscent of the ST album.

First track (Pyrogliphics, by Jim Kuster):

It's not quite as pyro-dazzling as one would have hoped, after the extreme explorations of Herbie Hancock and others in the fusion wilderness, right?

The last track I found to be quite endearing as pianist Jim Kuster, here performing alone, really mashes together his classical education, with strong hints of Ravel and even Liszt, with a yearning to leave this earth on the fusion mothership:

Entitled Requiem - For Richard J. Kuster.  What do you think?  I go back to their first album and think how glorious the fusionary future seemed back then-- until that bloody British new wave and I want my MTV completely threw complex music under the (double decker) bus....  but it wasn't their fault.  Of course after achieving the summit of complexity, art has to fall back down to simplicity, we are only ordinary humans.

Monday, 24 April 2017

Cassidy's Music from our Hearts to Your Ears (1977)

A random shot in the dark LP purchase of approximately 10 USD off ebay from the late 70s, admittedly with a gorgeous of-the-times cover painting, turns out to be a magnificent paean of classic 70s soft rock with both female and male vocals-- it can't get any better than that, folks.  It just can't.

The two-gendered singing is along the lines of the magnificent triad of Waterfall albums I posted earlier, perhaps less folky, more electric, but with the same gentle and spiritual beauty of songwriting.  First example, consider track A3, Fellina:

Note the (tasteful) addition of flute and strings to the instrumental in the middle section of the song.  Clearly the production is also exemplary.  Not too much schmaltz, but enough variety with the addition of trumpet, sax, etc., to make everything just a bit more than homemade Michaels crafts.
The naivete of the lyrics as always just breaks my heart especially when I have to go to work to endure the daily assault of the current radio stations' incessant "I'm in love with your body" uh, 'song,' if such it can be called.  After which we once again are tortured, Gitmo-style, with "you got to move it move it-- you got to move it move it--" Appropriately to the foregoing, track A4 is called Got to be Strong:

This is not a perfect masterpiece, being marred by some quite ordinary by the numbers commercial songwriting, and bluegrass throwaways.  But it's really on a par with for example famed classic Blackberry Winter.

An absolutely delightful slice of lost 70s Americana, like a well-built car, I cannot take credit for this but instead must give effusive, profuse, and incessant thanks to my friend who is able to smell out gemlike rare albums like an Italian truffle hound-- pardon the comparison....

Oh yes, Make America Great again...

Very little info to be found online, here is some.

And don't forget--
you saw it here first.

Friday, 21 April 2017

Graziani 's a Dumane... a demain...

Highly in-demand French folk presumably dating from the early 70s, check the price of this baby here, it turns out this is an odd mix that intersperses a great deal of talk with the music.

The 'psych' folk of A Dumane:

From the blurb on the back:

A Dumane. C'est le croisement du texte et des synthetiseurs... C'est le carrefour d'un nationaliste corse et deux musiciens français... 

This one looks interesting too, anyone know it?

Many thanks again to the help of my friends, without whom this blog would be virtually and in reality impossible, for bringing these fascinating rarities to our attention...

Wednesday, 19 April 2017

David Friesen and John Stowell: Star Dance; Waterfall Rainbow; and Through The Listening Glass

Bassist David Friesen made quite a few albums back in the day with a very Oregonian feel, thanks to the frequent use of not just modern classical influences but also added string quartet, oboe and soprano sax textures.  There is a quite a bit of 'filler' (for me) bass solo material to wade through in these but here and there some true delights shine through, and these are far far less known than Ralph Towner and Collin Walcott's group.  (Incidentally I just recently heard their bassist Glen Moore's 1979 album Introducing which is also incredibly well composed.)

The towering Ralph Townering of Star Dance from Friesen and Stowell's first, 1976 album of the same name:

Note the scoring of oboe and clarinet with string quartet.

More of the same plus more chamber instruments on the Wedding Dance from the second album featured here:

From the final collaboration album, Opening Out:

Obviously, christian themes permeate.

Monday, 17 April 2017

David Rosenstein's Hot Spots, from 1988

Sadly, it seems the last installment's brilliant Icarus flew too close to the sun with his wax wings, despite his father's warnings, and crashed on this album, which is merely or exactly as described, smooth jazz, of the kind I've reviled on this blog before.

Here compositional credits are attributed to David Bernbach, John Grunt, and William Bodil, with the orchestra conducted and arrangements by Rosenstein.  Note that the great Rainer Bruninghaus is on keyboards somewhere in here-- hard to tell.

Very little information on David here.

First Track:

Friday, 14 April 2017

David Rosenstein's Icarus from 1986

Another marvellous unknown library record full of interesting fusion, it really reminds me of the earlier Phil Moon one -- but sadly it's not as good.  Can we expect more at this late stage?

The track called Desolation I (which amazingly was written by our old friend Manfred Schoof):

For Schoof fans like me, you will happily note he was responsible for some of the best compositions on this record.

And everyone, have a very good Good Friday!

Wednesday, 12 April 2017

Coste Apetrea's Airborne, from 1989

It's always surprising to dig so deep into the muck of the eighties and come out holding a lost prize.  Well, you might have to polish it quite a bit to give it valuable status.  But for tired ears there are some real reasons to operate normally.

There is no reason to introduce Coste, recall he worked with infamous (and brilliant) Swedish RIO band Samla Mammas and in the later 70s to 80s with guitarist Jukka Tolonen.


I don't think you could come up with a better and more poetic track title than Unidentified Flying Sadness:

I actually found most of his earlier solo material quite disappointing, lacking in punch and inventiveness, though I know I'm in the minority with that opinion.

Monday, 10 April 2017

(Belgian) Lilith from 1986


In the mass of bands with the same name, here is the information for this one-off.  Laid-back fusion with the inimitable European intelligence, sophistication, and style, again.

Side one is a bit simplistic, but the second features some really nice moments, note the gorgeous flute of Et Si (and if):

Of course the flautist / saxophonist is Steve Houben, who has played on some notable albums, perhaps the best known for the prog/fusion fan is 1974's Open Sky Unit.  I'm not familiar though with his solo albums, anyone with information please post.

The composition of Un Peu Triste appears to combine Ravel's whole tone impressionism with the soprano sax explorations of the highest caliber Euro-fusion:

According to the above page link, the compositions are by pianist Claudine Simon, who has no other LP to her credit.  Also, note that mixing and 'direction' credit is given to an old old friend, Michel Herr (his masterpiece recall was Good Buddies).  I posted his albums in response to a request some years back, somewhere in the comments section and I don't remember where, and am eternally grateful for the commentator who brought that artist and album to my attention!

Friday, 7 April 2017

Noco Music with Engel, 1982

I went through the discography in detail in the past, here and here.  There is a bit of information there on the artists, more here I suppose.  Data on this release is here.

The preternaturally gorgeous track called Musik, similar to others on their masterpiece Evasion:

Obviously, I can upload the remainder of their oeuvre if desired.  I have them all (as LPs) now, perhaps some I've sold, no matter, the Rip Remains the Same.

For me the best album was the ST one from 1987 which has very little trace of the eighties in it, for as we know, in France the decade took a long time to arrive (perhaps because it landed at the notorious Charles de Gaulle airport).  I've listened to some tracks on that one hundreds of times, like La Descente du Rhin, or their dedication to Friedemann.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Frank Ricotti in 1981's Vibes (Library)

Starting with what is surely one of my all-time favourite library records, in this next series I'll bring up some of my old favourites (i.e. not new rips), but hopefully there will be material new to you.  If not, please go ahead and throw in some requests in the comments section.

This artist's name is more famous I suppose for his involvement with Albuquerque which I talked about way back when (1971's First Wind).  At that time I bought the vinyl, which wasn't cheap, to rerip because an incomplete and scratchy mp3 was circulating, which drove me crazy.  At that time many years ago I don't think I mentioned what a great songwriter the latter was in his (unfortunately only 2) solo albums.  Anyone who hasn't heard those has no idea what fantastically warm and beautiful seventies songwriting he's missing (by using the male pronoun I know I'm not so much sexist as realistic about those who love fusion and prog, apologies to those who don't know their gender/don't have one, and have been legislated out of their bathrooms).  And in fact I can upload those if anyone asks, as well as the earlier collaboration.

But back to the matter at hand.  This library record called Vibes I have always thought has some beyond outstanding progressive moments, as you can ascertain from the polytonal dissonance of Claustrophobia:

If memory serves me well (actually it's the other way around now the majority of the time), there is a lot of filler on this album to get through. But also some real pearls.

Turning our attention now to Frank's discography, note that he performed in Hymas' Aspects of Paragonne (remember that one?), and that he had two albums called Jingles (a word I usually steer well clear from), around the same time as this one, followed by a slew of others in the 80s.  Anyone out there know if they are any good?  (Perhaps a comment from library master Mr.  (?) could be the order of the day here.)

Saturday, 1 April 2017

A lost 1984 former USSR soft rock gem: Teatroni from 1984 in a fresh rip [plus lossless]

Another gorgeous cover painting again, right?  Brings me back to those old eighties record stores downtown where my friends and I loved to browse, gaze at the amazing covers and wonder at all the beautiful music inside we'd never hear for lack of cash.  Today we have no such scruples of course, though the feeling of tenderly touching those 12-inch cardboard paintings is missing, in compensation the ease with which we can explore the novelty of music from all over the world never ceases to amaze me.

It's always difficult in the database to find these records due to their tendency to be hidden by the cyrillic alphabetization.  But finally here it is.  Note the abstruse reference to the title and band name:

Вокально-инструментальный Ансамбль Телевидения И Радио Грузии* ‎– გაუფრთხილდით სიყვარულს = Берегите Любовь

Usually it's called in English Teatroni whence the artist name becomes obvious.  This discography is not complete, and I thought they made other records back in the day, as far as I remember not as good as this one. but the expert obscure beasties would know better here.  Note that one member performed in the ne plus ultra progressive fusion band Arsenal (a band which never ceased, and will never cease, to amaze me, perhaps we could call it The Leningrad Hermitage of fusion bands).

The lushly gorgeous laid back like a chaiselongue opener:

Notice the 'tropical classical' influence in B2:

And the nice chord change on B3:

I'll include a lossless since this record turned out to be so less scratchy than the previous rip, presumably from obscure beasties (just like with Anor).

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Jazzový Orchestr Československého Rozhlasu Řídí Kamil Hála ‎in 1981's Jubileum [with lossless]

Information here. 

More from the former-Czech JOCR posted before.  Of course, this is not Russian, but we are getting closer aren't we, President, or Prime Minister, whichever one it is this year, Putin? Or maybe both now, for the next century, along with Russian vice-president in 2020, Trumpoff?

Best track, B2's Rosy (unlike Russia's future) Kapka:

Composed by Kamil Hála.

Monday, 27 March 2017

Red Devils from 1974, Austria

An odd mix of early 60s proto-rock with harmony vocals, like bad Beatles imitations everywhere, with later rock pop songs that presents us with the usual conundrum of an expensive and sought-after rarity that turns out to be dross.  The first track, which sadly is also the best one:

The remainder of the album would best be reserved for those who are nostalgic for late 50s pop rock... and not even of a high quality...

Saturday, 25 March 2017

United Jazz + Rock Ensemble - Na Endlich! Live in Concert (VAR - 1992)

A glance at the line-up for the United Jazz + Rock Ensemble is bound to set expectations high. Group members include jazz luminaries such as Albert Mangelsdorff, Charlie Mariano, Ian Carr, Jon Hiseman, Kenny Wheeler, Volker Kriegel and Wolfgang Dauner.  One knock on this overall very good recording is that, with so many leading jazz players, there is no clear group leader for the ensemble. Those who favor rock over jazz may also find this group leaning too heavily in the other direction; the jazz fans among you won't mind. 

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

The Japanese School Band's two albums from 1976 and 1978 [review only]

Sometimes I can't post albums because they have been officially released to CD (I get a warning if the artist complains) and sometimes because the vinyl is rare and the ripper doesn't want me to share.  Sadly for this band, both forces are at work to divert the full enjoyment away from your ears.  But there are so many good tracks on both their albums I had to make a post for them.

For the prog fan, the first album, 1976's Our Best Songs Now, is definitely the best one with fusion in the mix, not just pop-rock songs.  The latter though are highly well written and without the sickliness cum overproduction of bad 70s pop.  This is the one that is rare and LP only, and can be found here, surprisingly.  The first track, Gypsy Mutant Dance, shows the fusionary vision:

On the other hand, the best track for sure you will agree is B2's On a Day, which is just glorious absolutely beautiful seventies funky rock mixed with the high emotions and splendid beauty that was such a hallmark of that innocent era.   The funky beginning augments the generic lyrics but the music just carries you on and on in varied sounds and rhythms making it almost dizzying until you get to the chorus:

our lives are a dream that may vanish in the night
open your eyes you will say, 
hey I can see those faces crying, 
I have lost my fear of leaving

Have a listen:

Now, after listening to this song probably hundreds of times, I know enough about songwriting and lyrics to be able to say I suspect the original chorus was: "I have lost my fear of dying" but that it was changed as being too pessimistic/too uncommercial.  What is equally of note here is that half way through, the band decides (in an even more uncommercial decision), to tack on a progressive instrumental as a bridge, before returning to the song!

In their subsequent album1978's Semi Final (not in the discogs database, although it came out on CD, check here), the band went far and deep into the 70s pop department where they presumably got lost between the girdle belts and the teddies lingerie.  My favourite track, perhaps the best one, is the dancey third song, with the premonitory USB stick reference:

The tenth track (translated as Homeless Traveler) present us with a bit of fusion as an afterthought:

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Vindication - Vindication (USA - 1973)

It's Sunday and perhaps the prog heathens among us could use a little religion. This bit of Xian symphonic rock might fit the bill.  No sermons.  No kneeing.  Praying is optional.

And, since Sunday is a day of rest, I will send you elsewhere for a review.  Praise the Lord, this is good stuff!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Fusion Transfusion from Switzerland, 1984 [review only]

Shockingly good fusion in the truest sense of the word blending together all the streams of human musical invention, the warmth and rhythms of jazz with the intelligence of classical composition and the excitement of modern popular music, it's incredible that something so good can be so affordably excellent as you can see from the discogs page.

Valley of the Giants uses flute and strings to create an atmosphere of anxious tension before the classic Mahavishnu electric guitar arpeggios in diminished chords patterns the dialectic between powerful forces, like evil versus good, like Trump versus 7 billion other humans, dissonance at war with beautiful music:

It just amazes me how these composers add the string touches with such ingeniousness to add color to the whole.  To me, the basic fusion composition would be so similar to an Asia Minor or perhaps Alain Markusfeld by the numbers guitar track without that extra ornamentation that just knocks it out of the ballpark right against the lobe of my external ear.  Ouch.

Notice that the composers are flautist Philippe Racine and guitarist Wolfgang Paul (who wrote the above).  Strangely enough neither produced much more music than this stunning masterwork.  What a shame!

For a taste of Racine's work, consider the track a bit embarrassingly titled (nonetheless brilliantly composed) but highly atmospheric, Moondance:

Notice that it was recorded live in 1981 but not released for three years (thank god it was!!) and that the orchestra here is from Basel.

Many many thanks to the friends and contributors who are still willing to help me in this rarefied quest to find beautiful music completely forgotten by our fellow men/women... and look out for this one...

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Brilliant fusion from the former CCCP: Sunkar

An absolutely stunning fusion masterpiece, clearly completely unknown until now, which I'm happy to present to everyone.

Here in the eighties we must get accustomed to the electric piano's much thinner clavinova sound to replace the edgy classic rhodes of the seventies, a sound I've said before to me is the most beautiful tone sound I can imagine, especially with tons of vibrato, like Chick used to demonstrate to such good effect.

In some places, with the thick and heavy digital keyboards, it even reminds me of the ne plus ultra of Russian progressive, Horizont and their Summer in Town and Picture of a Boy.

Track B3 with its arpeggiated major sevenths that progress to another fusionized folk melody just blows me away:

From discogs some information. Very little on RYM too.

A perfect combo of fusion and progression, unlike the preceding Anor.  All hail the great Putin, and gravy fries with cheesecurds.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Anor's long sought-after Taste of Pomegranate from 1987

Surprisingly there is a review online from 2001 for this rarity:


Grigory "Grig" Pushen - bass 

Simon Mordukhayev - saxophones 

Natalie Nurmukhamedova - vocalizes 

Yury Benjaminov - guitars, sitar & Uzbek national string instruments 

Andrey Pertsev - drums 

B.Tashkhodjayev - Uzbek national bass instruments

A.Yakubov - keyboards

ANOR was formed by the talented composers Grig Pushen and Simon Mordukhayev in Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, in the beginning of the 1980s. In the first half of the 1980s the band played only in Tashkent's various clubs. In 1985 Anor was invited to perform at the annual (and very popular in these years) festival of Jazz and Jazz-related music, called "Fergana Jazz". It's called so because it was held in the town of Fergana, which is one of the regional civic centres of Uzbekistan. Anor's performance at the "Fergana Jazz 1985" festival was very successful and the band become a winner of it, while a few of the band members were awarded as the best guitarist, bassist, etc. That happened mainly thanks to the enthusiasm and efforts of the Anor bandleader Grig Pushen who was one of the leading composers of Uzbekistan in the 1980s. Anor disbanded in the beginning of the 1990s, and then Grig has founded his own recording studio, which at the time was the most modern and respectable studio in the republic. Back to Anor, after the band's major success on "Fergana Jazz 1985" the famous Uzbekistani female singer Natalie Nurmukhamedova, whose popularity wasn't limited by the borders of the USSR (let alone the borders of her own republic), joined them. Another musician, who was famous all over the USSR, saxophonist Simon Mordukhayev become the 'staff' Anor member a few years ago. A very talented drummer Andrey Pertsev, one of the Anor's former members, also became a well known musician. It happened in the beginning of the 1990s, when he joined the legendary heavy metal band from Moscow called Black Coffee. During the first half of the 1990s Andrey was also a drummer for a couple of Russia's famous Thrash and Heavy-Metal bands. Thanks to his incredible musicianship, the further musical career of Andrey has been continued in Canada, where he and his family live since 1997. Yuri Bendjaminov is also one of the most well known Uzbekistani musicians. The only Anor LP was pressed by both the biggest (Moscow and Tashkent) factories-divisions of the "Melody" concern. "A Taste of Pomegranate" represents an extremely original and complex, intricate Jazz-Fusion (Progressive Jazz-Rock, to be precise), filled with unique, colourful Uzbek and other Eastern ornaments'and all of the essential progressive ingredients as well. In their messages to me, a lot of my friends in CIS and abroad, who are into a real Prog Fusion and have Anor's "A Taste of Pomegranate" LP, expressed their delight with the music of the band and the musicianship of all of the band members. Frankly, the majority of them said Anor is on a par with most of the famous Titans of the genre.

Unfortunately I cannot share their enthusiasm and for me it was a huge disappointment especially in comparison to the next instalment which will be Sunkar.

From rateyourmusic you can see the demand for this.  The review is ineptly overestimating:

80s smooth jazz crossed with Silk Road romanticism.  At the point where the "ethnic" and the bland intersect, the "avant garde" can briefly be seen.  Seasoned pros of the Soviet scene will find much to enjoy, but newcomers might deem Sato, who follow the same formula and are from the same Republic, more palatable.

As usual discogs has the Russian completely hidden from us (a search for Anor doesn't work), it can be found here in the database.  If you look at the sale price on the right hand side you will easily understand why it was such a disappointment to purchase, but here's track b1, which is 13 minutes long, and in my opinion the highest level of composition achieved:

And I'll throw in track b2 right after, which I found to be totally average (thereby giving the lie to the Rym reviewer):

Friday, 10 March 2017

Boomerang [Бумеранг] from Kazakhstan: Boomerang Jazz Ensemble, Ornament, and Mirage,1983 to 1986

I wanted to make my best friend Putin happy by posting a few things from the former Soviet Union aka his future empire so the next series of posts will present some material that may be totally new to you or alternatively familiar but in new rips of high quality vinyl because as I've said before, the records from that part of the world are always scratchy, as the great leader himself once said: "There is no scratch in long-play record Mother Russia, OK? You go stupid journalist buy some Ivanka Nordstrom jewelry. Now I ban you from press gallery, go, let loose siberian tiger on journalist there!"

From wikipedia a charmingly translated choppy bio:

Jazz band "Boomerang"  - Alma-Ata jazz ensemble. Created in 1973, drummer Tahir Ibragimov. The first part: the trumpeter Valery Bannov, saxophonist Viktor Nikolaev, pianist Vladimir Nazarov, bass player Farhad Ibrahimov (brother of Tahir) and percussionist Michael Juraev.  Entitled "Arai" ensemble accompaniment pop vocalist Rose Rymbaeva in the period from 1979 to 1982, in parallel acting under the name of "Boomerang" with jazz programs. The main stage was the Hall of the Conservatory. In 1982, the ensemble of "Aray" began to act separately in the new structure.Boomerang - The "Boomerang" Jazz Band - or: "Jazz Ensemble Boomerang" as it says in Cyrillic on their covers. This Boomerang were led by one Tahir Ibragimov and came from Kazakhstan (then within the USSR). They played a highly creative jazz fusion, with a mix of Caucasian, Asian and Oriental folk/cultural roots, adding up to a unique style of their own.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of filler, improvisation, and repetitiveness to go through to get to the gemational passages hidden here and there in the bedrock.  In general, listening to the first minute of each track, of which we only have 14 in total, distributed among three LPs, works, kinda.  Some or all of them were posted long ago in mp3 on obscure beasties, a lovely website which mixes 1960 to 1990 classical, fusion, folk and jazz in roughly equally enjoyable proportions and which has allowed me to discover innumerable gems which I'm sure would have remained totally unknown otherwise.