Saturday, 31 October 2015

3 Albums from Frank Van Der Kloot and Fontessa + multiple reups from the past....

Some years back I heard their wonderful first album with its guitar-based progressive rock sound and the darkly charged atmosphere full of invention and mausoleum abstractions (nekronomicon):

Only last year, this was released to CD by label Tone Arm, and thus can't appear here.  But I didn't realize till I randomly searched the name 'they' (Frank van der Kloot + friends) produced two more records, as below:

And in this second 1976 outing, the progressiveness is quite to the fore, mostly instrumentals which remind us of Finch and Focus, sometimes the one, sometimes the other, in almost alternating tracks recalling one or other of the F'ey influences here, occasionally smooth, by turns harder edged, all of it on a slick and gorgeous guitar (a Les Paul?) evocatively flying the melodies, almost anthropomorphic in the bent notes and tender slides and bluesy flats that sing so closely to us, so directly into our hearts.  Perhaps many will agree with me, the greatest invention in patented musical apparati in the history of man / woman (do they agree though?) is the electric guitar, with coming a close second or tie the electric piano, in particular, the Rhodes sound.  

A very enjoyable album you will see, not too complex at all to tax the frontal lobes, but of course our tired lives cannot withstand too much of the atonal difficulties, we yearn for something more approachable after a day's listening to Zig Zag or somesuch similar and dealing with idiots in accounts receivable or collections agencies...

I particularly adore the 'long track' chopped in subsections called "Heaven is across the street."  Surely this deserves to be transformed fully into a work of poetry, as it aspires to be.

But is it, indeed? Victor Janos some 4 years before filmed the murders of four in the Last House on Dead End Street...  a movie as rare today as it is unappreciated, much like the music we listen to here in this blog.

What about their last work from 1978?  Sadly, we have here lost almost totally the progressive in favour of direct funky rawk, similar to Daddy Warbucks, but obviously not as good.

Hear it and auditorily appreciate what I mean-- though stop to smell the roses of the (Focus-like) progressive track arriving last on your doorstep, "One of these days:"

Sadly, it doesn't quite compare to the great Focus tracks of yore, such as Love Remembered, The Gossip, Sylvia, Moving Waves... those progressive masterpieces of yore that set me on this irrevocable path towards complexity in music and that odd addiction to its energizing and pleasurable contents, which indeed, make life so much more a tiny resemblance of heaven on my block...

From this great review of rare Dutch prog:

Frank van der Kloot started his musical career in a band called Bobby's Children. He played with them from 1971 until 1972. He then formed the band Drama with whom he recorded an album.  In 1973 he formed his own band Fontessa, together with the Drama drummer Shel Schellekens. In 1974 they recorded an album and a year later a single was released, A look in your eyes/Where have you been.  After the decline of Fontessa, Van de Kloot recorded a solo album, in 1976, also titled Fontessa.  

Then, in 1978, a second solo album is released.  

He is currently the owner of a guitar shop in the Hague.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Ryan Cayabyab's magnificent Prog-Fusion Roots to Routes, Pinoy Jazz Volume II, from 1977

From quimsy again we have this marvellous, utterly enchanting and out of left field entry. We all know there was Indonesian prog as well as fusion in the seventies, particularly thanks to the magnificent Giant Step, who released seven unforgettable albums in the period, but prog from the Philippines too?

Born Raymundo Cipriano Pujante Cayabyab, from the discogs profile:

Ryan Cayabyab (May 4, 1954) [note he was all of 23 years old on this release!] is a Filipino musician and was the Executive and Artistic Director of the defunct San Miguel Foundation for the Performing Arts. He was also a resident judge for the only season of Philippine Idol in 2006. His works range from commissioned full-length ballets, theater musicals, choral pieces, a Mass set to unaccompanied chorus, and orchestral pieces, to commercial recordings of popular music, film scores and television specials.  Cayayab's current project includes the Ryan Cayabyab Singers (RCS), a group of seven young adult singers comparable to his prior group Smokey Mountain in the early '90s. After FreemantleMedia decided not to renew the Philippine Idol franchise, Cayabyab transferred to rival show Pinoy Dream Academy (season 2), replacing Jim Paredes as the show's headmaster. PDA 2 started on June 14, 2008. 

He is now the executive director of the Philpop MusicFest Foundation Inc., the organization behind the Philippine Popular Music Festival, a songwriting competition for amateurs and professionals that seeks to uplift the Philippine Music industry by putting the spotlight on songwriters, and encouraging Filipinos to preserve our musical identity. 

According to the database this is his only work from this period, sadly.  Perhaps at a later date we can try to seek out some of his composed work, hard as that may be.

For those who love prog, be prepared to fall off your chair when you hear the dissonance and angular chord changes as sudden as a space capsule on reentry hitting the Pacific ocean on Pen Pen di Sarapen:

A weaker track called "Telebong" (great name, huh? should be the title of a Hollywood comedy) sounds like the old Weather Report jazz standard, Birdland:

But boy, are those ultra-high-pitched female vocals wonderful to hear!  Note the spoken voice at the end: "it's too noisy in here! I can't hear anything! Does anyone have a  -- " [unable to distinguish the word.]

The gorgeous soothing sax sounds of Manilac Lay Labi:

The inimitable and oh-so-European Lulay track sounds like anything randomly drawn from the glorious progressive fusion LPs of Italian Goblin, French Gong, Transit Express, or the great national Finnish treasure Finnforest:

In particular the sustained and plaintive bowed cello playing here interrupted by improvised noodling by finger-played bass behind the grand piano accompaniment are absolute musical bliss for me.  There is no terror or calamity in life that can happen that could take me away from the beauty and happiness this music injects in my soul.  We must thank the composer from the bottom of our hearts for his power to blow away the dark clouds that have that potential to destroy our days and that appear like bad weather with such frequency today.

Note that all the tracks I am quoting here are based on folk songs.

Full credits here in an insert:

Ryan Cayabyab - vocals, all keyboards : fender rhodes, String ensemble, acoustic piano, synthesizer, Vibraphone, Xylophone, Glockenspiel, Clavinet 
Roger Herrera - Electric and acoustic bass 
Eddie Munji III - elec and acous guitars, vox 
Jun Regalado - drums, tympani, percussion (afuce, bamboo)
Boy Alcaide - Percussion (congas, bongos, bamboo) 
Rudy Barria - Soprano and tenor sax, flute 
Ernie Mendoza - Tenor sax, piccolo 
Rudy Sucgang - Alto & tenor sax, flute 
Eddie Sangcap - Alto Sax 
Hermina Ilano - Cello 
Perfirio del Rosario - oboe 
Fred Concepcion - Trumpet 
Passionata - vocals 

"Somebody along the way used a jew's harp - thanks" 

Produced by Jim Paredes and Cecilio B. Cas 
Technical engineer and mixer : Jess Payumo
Recorded at Sampaguita Studio under an Aquarian Sun and a Scorpion Fever. 

Highly, highly recommended album here, it's available for cheap download on amazon as you can see here-- along with a criminally inappropriate & inadequate review.  I am to presume the artist will benefit from each download, so please, go there to hear this and note that despite the availability of the actual mp3 content, the original vinyl sells for hundreds of dollars.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

the cdrwl has signed off... keep on truckin' Tom...

With great sadness I am told the cdrwl is no more, as of this week.

I remember like it was yesterday when the news broke of an unknown masterpiece called Ginga Rale Band, some three and a half years back.  For my contacts I am grateful I didn't have to wait long to get my ears onto that piece which, inevitably, turned out to be as fantastic as promised.   Around that same time a superb slice of progressive history and absolute masterpiece-level creation was made available in an LP reissue that I treasure to this day, Rob Thomsett's work Yarandaroo, and it goes without saying that without Tom's illumination I would never have known about that one either.  Today you can judge for yourselves the aptitude of his remarks at the time with regards to both Ginga and Rob.  As well you can easily ascertain how indebted I am to Tom's work if you do a quick search of tags relating to the cdrwl, keeping in mind that several if not dozens of albums that are in our compilation here appeared there but I have forgotten their entries in my rush to post.

Definitely Tom's knowledge of progressive music and gifts at unearthing gems (along with, obviously, his able contacts), and, presumably, a healthy dose of craft beers, was or is unparalleled, especially when it is understood he was there in the seventies & eighties at the time these works were being created, or shortly thereafter (which I cannot claim for myself, having come quite late to this game).

I for one certainly hope this is a momentary lapse, perhaps a temporary epiphany in the Colorado mountains may give way once again to the profound and ineradicable yearning that I can definitely endorse of sharing these discoveries with the wider world out there...  born out of the deepest love for this maligned music: progressive rock.

Keep on truckin' and keep on shinin' your light...

A beautiful little lost 1972 Canadian pop-soul album full of delightful songs, BST-style soulful and bluesy...

Wednesday, 28 October 2015

The Beafheartian Swedes Boojwah Kids in the early eighties

These guys are not for everyone, being the Swedish Capt Beefheart-- really, they are for those who loved the old Mutant Sounds blog.  But they certainly are progressive in the purest most possible or actual sense and their uncompromising dedication to unlistenable insanity is to be duly prized.  The discography on discogs is not complete, but can be seen on rym.  How amazing they lasted for 9 years as a band!

I love the song Fake Golden Palmtree as it's almost as if Radiohead were harking back to this in their huge alternative hit from 20 years ago, 'Fake Plastic Trees.'  [Not so unlikely, since only a decade separated the two.]

Monday, 26 October 2015

Jean-Luc Chevalier back with Saharienne (1987) and Zantic (1988), TIbet to come

I love the cartoonish drawing of Zantic, but what is the fish or animal he is carrying?

Whilst the cover for Saharienne appears more like one of those wonderful Folio French books one finds in Paris' Quartier Latin:

As mentioned before, it's this last record wherein, reunited with Jean Chevalier (from Zig Zag), he repeats, rather faithfully in some places, the old compositions from that era with as little change as we can hope for given the lateness of the decade.  So in a sense we have come full circle with his discography here.  The old exemplar Ballade, reinterpreted in 1987:

Don't tell the artist but I find it slightly amusing that these themes lend themselves to both a Saharan and Tibetan world music style, when initially they started out as zig-zaggy chamber music compositions.

Note that he subsequently, in the CD era, made two more albums, 5 km a Bangui, and Hommage a Jaco.  Both those I can recommend you safely avoid unless you are, like us, an obsessive-compulsive completist.

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Sonny Zandueta in Stainless Steel (1974) [download] and The Passing Show (1976) [no download]

Someone wrote a brilliant little bio on rateyourmusic which I will proceed to copy here:

Sonny Zandueta was born in Baguio [The Philippines]. At 9 years old, he was in a band called Octaves (1962). He played drums and vocals.  In 1973 he went to Louvain, Belgium where he met Gavin Gervis, a song writer from Los Angeles, California (and brother of Burt Ward, who played Robin in the television series "Batman and Robin"). Gavin brought together Leks Grobben, Griet Vercruysse, Viona Westra, Jan Vercruysse and Sonny Zandueta and formed Stainless Steel.  The band played bluegrass around 1973 then recorded and released their folk album Stainless Steel in 1974. All songs were composed by Gavin Gervis with one song “Together” composed by Sonny Zandueta.   Gavin returned to Los Angeles in 1974 and Sonny Zandueta while the band members remained intact. Zandueta began writing all the songs highlighting the band’s talents. 

Viona Westra was a celebrity having won a national star search singing competition in Belgium. She has a smooth silky voice with a jazz background, known in Belgium through the band, Mad Curry. 
Griet Vercruysse has a classical music background in Violin and so was her brother Jan Vercruysse on Flute. Leks Grobben kept the bluegrass roots with his banjo and bouzouki. 
Sonny Zandueta added Joris Verdin on piano, Raf De Vlieghere on drums, Roland Kotsch on electric bass and Chris Schraepen on acoustic guitar. The music turned into light rock / acoustic rock. 

The band was initially called Windows but dropped the name and simply called themselves Sonny Zandueta and went to work to record an album The Passing Show released in Belgium in 1976; produced by Sonny Zandueta and Liliane Joris.  Karel Bogard played a major role as production coordinator, getting the involvement of Dwarf Records, International Bestseller Company and Bart Ven De Laar Music. The band played a warm up act to Kate and Anna McGarrigle (Canadian duo and songwriters for Linda Ronstadt) concert in Brussels. 

Belgian Pop Sampler was released by International Bestseller Company in 1976 featuring Sonny Zandueta with "Everything’s Just Wonderful Here". 

Sonny Zandueta left Belgium to live in the Philippines in 1978. He recorded “Can’t Make It Alone” and “Keep On Dancing” arranged by Randy Ray, produced by Winston Quintos under Zap Records and distributed by A&W. Backup vocals was Tillie Moreno of Circus Band. The studio musicians were members of Boy Katindig Band. Ananda Marga lead him to record a series of songs sang by Jaqui Magno also of Circus Band. 

He wrote “Get It Together” in 1984 and brought it to San Francisco, California. This song was picked up and released in the U.S. as a country song in one of the cuts from "Hollywood Sessions" 1986 by Sunset Records, Hollywood.

[And where is he now??]

Let's start with the later work, The Passing Show.  Again, this is a fantastic little folk-based progressive album full of interest for us, completely unknown, but not deserving of it, and with a gorgeous cover painting to boot.  Here's the title track as a sample:

Pay attention in particular to the amazing guitar arpeggios or broken chords on the left that Sonny plays behind, on the right, a high soprano grand piano tinkles with its own gorgeous and heartbreaking skills in emotional resonance, and think how sheerly beautiful the whole comes across as, partly when he gets to the Eflat chorus in which his voice is full of reverb or echo.  Why does no one today make music that is as purely beautiful and beautifully pure?  This song, which recalls the piano style of Elton John, so much supersedes him it's as if "Your Song" was a dollar store plastic ring compared to a diamond from Tiffanys.  There is just so much more for the intellectually open mind to hold onto here and mull upon.  As well the lyrics are just short of comprehensible, providing another modality to encourage repeat listening.

An immediately preceding track called "Do You Know" features the female vocals that add so much  brightness and colour behind his rather charming Filipino accent, which to me recalls the wonderful Giant Step's Benny Soebardja-- please seek out all his solo records, which are quite similar to this.  Listen to the CSNY-style strumming action this time on the twin guitars:

Note also that Etienne Reyser, on his blog, wrote a little bio and gave links to four other songs that you can listen to.  In this manner you can hear 3/5ths of the record online...

But for those who want a taste of the great Sonny, I am allowed to share his other record in the preceding band called Stainless Steel.  It's quite similar, though inevitably, not quite as good.

Listen to the shockingly Comus-like third track, sung by him, called Children:

While the next all-too-fiddly track brings us back to reality quickly with a splash of cold H20:

Similarly the remainder suffers from an excess of folksy, even countryish or bluegrass twanging.  Clearly, the masterpiece is "The Passing Show..."

Thursday, 22 October 2015

Ted Moses And The Mother Necessity Big Band in More Than Ever, from Canada, 1978

Just a gorgeous set of big band playing progressive fusion from a Canadian composer / pianist called Ted Moses, who shockingly, also plays the saxophone!  A very multitalented man, he made two records earlier which are strongly recommended as seen in the database.  They are not expensive but they are utterly unknown, undeservedly so, & I urge you to seek them out.  In this LP accompanied by his quintet he is joined by the unwieldly-named Mother Necessity Big Band in a Canadian CBC (like BBC, state broadcaster) production.

Listen to one of his trademark styles, the bass arpeggios topped by completely inappropriate chords (perhaps, CMajor7, Bflat9, Am6, Fm), here played on electric guitar on the left and electric piano on the right, on the track To the Child in You:

Subsequently that muted trumpet (Michael Malone channeling Miles Davis) plays the smooth and even-tempered melody so warmly and generously, building up to a full-orchestral climax but then, 3/5ths of the way through, we go up a second and modulate to a double tempo coda to take it out.  This is far superior as a 'crossover' between progressive music and big band jazz than other albums I've posted in the past such as the Northern Illinois University group, mostly thanks to the strength and originality of the compositions.  God bless my friend for digging up this time-maligned artist!

Notice as well Ted played keyboards on the famous Canadian progressive work, Ken Ramm's Dragon, which hopefully everyone reading this is familiar with already.

Some rather interesting information regarding this artist can be found here.  He was actually born in Tulsa, and returned to that city in 1997, to play jazz there. In his own words:

"I lived in Toronto a number of years," Moses said before the band's debut gig last Sunday [in Tulsa]. "I had a quintet, a 12-piece and a 19-piece big-band there. I had two clubs in Toronto, both called the Mother Necessity Jazz Workshop. The first one lasted a year, and then the people who owned the building sold it out from under us. A month after we closed, we got a $10,000 grant from the Canadian government, but since it was earmarked to pay musicians only, we couldn't use it to save the club."  Later, he tried again, opening a place that featured live jazz seven nights a week. An artistic success but a financial liability, it closed after six months. At the same time Moses was struggling to keep a club going, he was being recognized as a major jazz-scene influence in the Canadian city, forming jazz organizations, giving local musicians venues to play, and composing, arranging, performing, and teaching workshops and clinics...

So I dedicate this record to all of you out there, or at least, to the child in all of you out there...

Tuesday, 20 October 2015

Levallet, Marais, Pifarely - Instants Chavirés from 1981-- by request

Gerard Marais was the guitarist (and a composer) in Dharma Quintet, whose Mr. Robinson I featured in this space before (recently I reuploaded it too, which see).  The two others are Dominique Pifarely on violin and Didier Levallet on bass.  This trio made two records, the first being herein.

It turns out these guys are very similar to other cerebral French jazz I posted before involving violinists, such as LBC Trio, the Prao album, and Confluence, or their separated musicians such as the wonderful Capon/Escoude work Gousti, although I could not declare with a straight face that it is quite as good to my ears.

Consider the opening track:

Note that some were recorded live.

Sunday, 18 October 2015

Ramon Tavernier [and Cătălin Tîrcolea] in the Panpipe In Jazz, 1979: quimsy gift...

Straightaway we will thank the munificent quimsy, familiar to us from long ago as a blogger, ripper, and cleaner of vinyls, blogs, and rips of the past.  An album that forever would have been unknown to me had it not been for him.

This completely threw me off my chair, partly as I was not expecting much from the Zamfirish title referring to the notoriously (absence) seizure-inducing pipes of pan, but what we actually have here on this 1979 outing on electrecord the (only) Romanian record label, is a beautifully composed slice of progressive jazz and fusion composed, arranged by Catalin, and of course soloed by Ramon.  A real beauty and surely you will be as surprised as I was.  Have a listen to one of the progressive tracks called Doină Și Joc:

Note that Catalin's subsequent 1981 album also featured the pipes of pan, that oddly haemorrhoid-causing instrument, in North America at least so notoriously inadequate, busker-fit, and joke-enticing.  But herein a lustrous delight.  It's a miracle this post happened at all this particular Sunday morning as my increasingly decrepit windows computer has been like a floridly psychotic schizophrenic with only brief lucid moments lasting seconds to a minute each day before it crashes again in which I frantically try to accomplish some or other ripping, blogging, or uploading activity, meanwhile attempting to back up the last remaining work before it gets thrown out into the void of utter insanity that is my computer's usual state of mind... ah, microsoft windows...

Friday, 16 October 2015

East River Consort's gorgeous Laurasia world, from New York City 1978

This record is very much analogous to the Quartet Music or Nels Cline I posted in the past.  Laurasia of course was the northern part of Pangaea, the wonderfully inspiring supercontinent of 200 million years ago, whose Southern part was called Gondwana.  (The original N. America was called Laurentia, referring partly to those mountains, the remainder of the porte-manteau word of course being Eurasia.)  So in this band title we presume both Asians (Persian I think) and Americans are represented, as you can see from the database information.  First have a listen to the title track, by Houshmand:

Peering more closely into said info, compositions are by John Houshmand, the brooding bearded artist on top right of course (also responsible for the cover), and Patrick Noonan, bottom left (who also produced).

Notice that years earlier, three artists from this group made another record called "East River" (the river next to Manhattan), which is described as very folksy and down-home countryish by none other than ashratom.   Luckily, despite that review, I asked my friend to procure a copy and found he was a little off-base, permit me to say, with the majority of tracks in the same world-acoustic folk vein, as you can discern for yourselves from my favourite track, the eponymous one:

Then, in the late eighties, they created another album, this time called Undiscovered Country which bears a lot of resemblance to the earlier work-- but is, inevitably, not quite as tight in composition or progressive in bearing.  The blurb follows:

The reunion of the founding trio of Laurasia, these guitar, violin and synthesizer instrumentals blend the meditative and upbeat, the lush and sparse - a reflection of exposure to the "downtown scene" of New York City during the mid-80's. Undisco mixes acoustic and electric sounds in a showcase of John Houshmand's offbeat compositions and the band's quirky arrangements and solos. Witty, jazzy, seductive, Eastern and experimental, the re-release of this rare recording has been remixed, remastered and expanded with live cuts and studio sketches.

Band Members: John Houshmand, guitars
Patrick Noonan, guitars & synths
Jonathan Levi, violin
Scott Lee, bass
Billy Drewes, percussion

At the same time they changed their name to Laurasia, though I really love the name East River Consort.  (Since the first album was called East River, from which they took their name, to complete the circle they now must change their band name to "Undiscovered Country" for a future release called "Houshmand Noonan etc.," of course... ) This 1988 album is not quite as good as their seventies work-- though it comes close-- but I would say that, being immersed so totally in that decade like a little fish accustomed to his own tiny pond and repulsed by the water in another environment.

But back to the 1978 album, wherein a great deal of medieval sounds appear, to add some variety to the acoustics.  Listen to the track called Sarah Vail (vocalist, Galen Brandt):

Thanks to my friend for this discovery, and please enjoy this lost work of art from these consummate musicians.

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Chevalier with Renaudin and Eliard ‎in 1985's Un Pied Dans Le Vide [with lossless]

Very much the early 80s progressive fusion trio style that we have heard so many times before, this record is of great interest as it's the only one from him that doesn't seem to recycle the Zig Zag tracks he wrote in the seventies.  All new material, though leaving a little to be desired in terms of the interest factor at least for me, included is a small photocopied booklet with information on the artists and their performances, well worth dipping into as you listen to these angular sounds...  I found the track promisingly (prelistening) called "Concerto Grosso" perhaps the best entry here:

Notice poor Eliard's misspelling inside the hastily made booklet which, nonetheless, is an interesting memo from the times:

Perhaps inevitable, as the poor bassist.

Monday, 12 October 2015

Jean-Luc Chevalier's much smoother 1985 version of Zig Zag... and two years of this blog...

Compare the Ballade on this record with the previous one:

This is all the difference between those glorious progressive heady times of the classical-influenced seventies versus the smoothly slick and monotonous eighties, a descent into record company muzak-speak for the masses, like Orwell's news cliche vocabulary as applied to music...  though the light of brilliance shines through in the compositions themselves, the style in which they are played does not quite do them justice...

Here is one artist who really believed in recycling, all the original compositions from Zig Zag were used in later albums.  In particular the 1987 album Saharienne is almost identical in lineup of tracks as you can compare here with here.  Clearly the songs were thrown into a bag and reassorted randomly, but oddly enough my favourite track, the Hommage a JH II from the last post, was replaced with an inferior and odd Kâkâh Boudha.  Oh well-- these artists... what do they know?

I'll feature a few more of his records-- the less available / nonreissued ones of course-- in the near future, so if you like these, stay tuned.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Vapeur Mauve's ZIG ZAG: Pièces Manquantes [ no download! ]

A superb, almost magical chamber music progressive set most similar to the masterpieces of Jacques Thollot, Cinq Hops, or French Mosaic.  This is, obviously, a reissue from 2014 of unreleased material, entirely composed by Jean-Luc Chevalier, as you can easily see if you compare with the tracklist of his first, ST record (which oddly enough came out almost a decade later due to his involvement with Magma).  That later record and others by him recycled many of these very worthy compositions but I think with a considerable diminution in progressiveness as might be expected from the late year.

The discogs info is sparse, so I found better on the web here.

Pièces Manquantes 1976 is a hitherto unreleased studio album recorded by the ill-fated French group Zig Zag.  The music is composed by guitarist Jean-Luc Chevalier, who soon afterwards became a member of Magma (his Zeuhl name being, of course, Gorgo).  This is not yet another copycat, although the Magma influence (and also perhaps McLaughlin) is apparent. But this band did speak with its own voice. 

Jean-Luc Chevalier : Guitar, compositions.
Claude Le Péron : Bass
Nicolas Carver : Saxophones, clarinet.
Nobby Clarke : Saxophones, flute.
Jean "Popoff" Chevalier : Saxophone, clarinet, percussions.
Philippe Grandvoinet : Piano.
Michelle Sarna : Vocals.
Alain "Antoine" Chagnon : Drums, percussions.

The record co. website is in French and describes at length the illustrious career each player subsequently held, as can be expected.  Out of respect for them, obviously there is no download, but please listen to these astonishing tracks, let your jaw drop, and try to secure a copy of this remarkable piece of progressive brilliance.

First the remarkable Ballade with its whole tone augmented chords and their eerie/dreamy sound made particularly hypnotic by the wordless alto female vocalizing:

Hommage to J. H. II is simply pure French progressive jazz-rock bliss, reminding me especially of the great Transit Express (and door prize to the one who first tells me who is that likely J.H.):

Oh dear-- that miraculously beautiful sound!!

For those who know Chevalier, the track Tibet is actually quite familiar, being the title of a later record:

Incidentally the Jean-Luc Chevalier discography is well worth hearing in its entirety.  But what most amazes me is that this collection of early work, never released, is his BEST effort.  For comparison purposes I'll put up his 85 work soon.

And we must thank from the bottom of our hearts the effort Vapeur Mauve made to resuscitate this beautiful masterwork from oblivion for us, for the patrimony (/ matrimony ?) of humanity.

Saturday, 10 October 2015

Herby Widmaier and Gerald Merceron: On Music [no download]

Once again science gives us a non-explanation for the joy of music in the new scientist: the fact it's able to trigger the release of opioids in the brain, much as we have heard regarding exercise, sex, drugs, etc.  Is this a satisfying explanation to anyone?  Why is it that certain acoustic waves, in horrifically complex patterns as you can see from the wave breakdowns in Fourier analysis, can cause such delight in a receptive human mind?  We can accept the mathematical explanation, provided by the ancient Greeks-- in fact we are forced to, thus the octave is a 2:1 ratio, the fifth is a 3:2 ratio, etc., the inference being that in some way the brain finds the simplicity of it appealing, perhaps because it is easier for it to deconstruct or analyze, but moving beyond this to the allure of melodies becomes too complex for such a breakdown very quickly, in the same way that a Feynman analysis of the presumed quantum particle of graviton quickly leads to nonsensical infinities...  Evolutionary explanations abound: Darwin's explanation was that it was analogous to bird song and thus a mating performance which could have been sexually selected for, with the best song being selected by choosy mates, leading to a competition between individual efforts, etc.  It's like the evolution of language in a sense, it's a bit mysterious how it might have been initiated and in fact may forever remain inexplicable.  If those are its origins, how could that apply to humans when there is no sex difference for reception or creation?  The reasoning goes that it started in that unassuming way and then became embedded into culture as a social bonding tool.  (However, each time I see images of groupies consisting mainly of pubertal girls adulating someone like Justin Bieber, this sexual selection model pops up in my head.)  And indeed I've mentioned frequently how music is definitely a very social art, it cannot exist without a listener, it serves in all human tribes to bond people together (despite the prevalence of solo listening models today like ipods and those huge hipster headphones), it is without a doubt a form of beautified communications between human beings like novels and poetry.  The aspect that seems most mysterious to me always is the intense connection with emotions that music has.  It's hard to deny there are some 'hardwired' ways in which we see such a connection, for example, minor intervals or chords appearing sad or at least, tiring to all humans, major intervals appearing optimistic or energizing.  The echoes of natural sounds are everywhere too in music, and clearly the recognition of such, like hearing tinkling notes on a piano evoking water, create a great deal of enjoyment for obvious reasons, due to the seeming purification of the white noise into distinct waveforms which we can process with resemblances from memory.  But where does the initial pleasure come from, neurologically?  To say that an octave or 2:1 ratio releases endorphins or excites opioid receptors in the brain is purely a tautology.  Why does the octave have that quality?  I think the answer must be a combination of all the above factors, the purification of white noise into individual personalized notes must have been an invention which self-perpetuated among the oldest human tribes and became selected for, whatever the reason might have been, and widespread due to its social adhesiveness.  From the primitive origins as evidenced by a typical pop song on the radio heard today with its insistent and retarded repetitiveness and anaesthetic 4/4 beat, it amazes me how far the complexity was taken when one listens to the most progressive compositions as evidenced here:

A very very hard to find album which I am now searching for, after hearing the title track with its astonishing chamber arrangement.  Stunning stuff, again, from Haiti.  If anyone knows of the existence of a copy of the full LP somewhere, please post a message.  (Btw apparently the expression, literally head without body, is an idiom for someone who eats a lot. )

Thursday, 8 October 2015

Return to Haiti: 1978's L'Énergie Mystérieuse! - Une Révolution Dans La Musique Haïtienne Et Un Inoubliable Concert De Jazz

How many Widmaiers were there?  Mushi was the genius behind our magnificent Kote Ou? wherein he was accompanied by brother Joel on percussion and vocals, but here we have a Herbie (or Herby as it's spelled on other records) singing.  Well, it turns out this was the ultra-talented father, the original Brueghel as it were, and he was the preeminent Haitian musician of the day.  Remember that throughout these years the country endured a "reign of terror" under "Papa Doc" Duvalier controlled by the bizarrely named Tonton Macoutes who terrorized the population (executing about 50,000 people).  "Haitians named this force after the Haitian Creole mythological 'Uncle Gunnysack' bogeyman, who kidnaps and punishes unruly children by snaring them in a gunnysack (macoute) and carrying them off to be consumed at breakfast..."

But let's get to the good news of the music first, and the bad news later.  Note the stunningly original electric piano chords on track A4 by a certain Gerald Merceron.  His diatonic chord descending intro, with the polytonal figures, is bound to be sampled by some deejay somewhere, somehow, sometime very soon, I guarantee it...  Listen to it, it's pure hoppin' genius:

Obviously, the bizarre subsequent melody sung by Herbie is equally worthy of mention and memorable in the extreme.  It will take me days to digest what exactly he achieved in this utterly unique composition.

Track A6 (Benjamin - La Triste Découverte) brief as it is, features just a gorgeous minimalist sound; here we have the following team: on bass, Yves Lafontant, flute, Edgard Depestre, with son Mushi on electric piano, and on the violin, Fritz Benjamin.  The latter weaves complex and intricate arabesques throughout the rich fabric of chords created by the deep and soulful piano on high reverb.  What a sound!  This rivals anything we have heard from any German or UK prog record.

On track A8, Pou Lanmò Pa Guin Priz Sou Lavi (L'énergie Mystérieuse) we even have RIO in the style of Julverne, with modern, quasi-atonal composition behind a soprano 'melody' sung by one Nicole Saint Victor.  Wow!

Then the phenomenal and neverendingly blessed and blissful side A closes out with a relatively standard modal jazz tune with the angular saxes, diatonic major seventh chords, such as Chas. Mingus threw off by the dozens (not that there were many like him) in the seventies.  Note the Brazilian influence, previously occult, here outwardly evident.

Sadly, the second side with Lee Konitz features somewhat conventional, routine and pedantic jazz and is completely uninteresting to me.  Doesn't matter.  Side A was worth buying a thousand times over and again.  This the habitat for humanity that I would like to live in forever.

The back notes were written by Gerald Merceron, evidently also a luminary in the Haitian jazz scene, who mentions how he wished to preserve the work of Herbie Widmaier.  It seems truly tragic that as G. says, he was unconcerned with fame or prestige and left very little for posterity.  Btw Gerald's other record with Lee Konitz (from an unknown year) looks highly interesting, being called Modern Jazz Compositions from Haiti.

What about the bizarre black and white cover photo, presumably from the movie "Echec au silence" (i.e. defeat of silence)?  Here is the only information I could find.  In a small note at the start of this moving picture database that reveals that in the 28 years of the dictators "Papa Doc" and "Baby Doc" Duvaliers' years, only three films (!!) were produced in Haiti, mention is made of the first full length feature film shot: this work, from 1978, by Bob Lemoine, but it was never released...  Such is the human tragedy of tyranny.  Based on this cover I will hazard a guess that it was a surrealistic work along the lines of Luis Bunuel's wonderful art movies.  But how great would it be for someone to dig it out of the vaults and finally let it be seen by the rest of the world???

And as I said in the entry on Kote Ou, the suffering for those poor Haitians is never ending.  To this day, they live in utter poverty, and half of the aid promised by the rich countries after the devastating 2010 earthquake is still missing in action....  Of course, there are always more disasters that require more aid, cf. Syria currently, and the generosity of the West clearly has its limits...  Those who have read the magnificent work by Jared Diamond on Collapse will remember how 98 percent of the forest that used to cover the island has been removed (due to poverty: for firewood in general) and has led essentially to ecological collapse, with desertification, erosion and flooding proceeding relentlessly, and the point is obvious: humanity as a whole is performing the same rape and pillage on the entire earth.

So how can we not wonder at the joy and happiness Herbie Widmaier poured into his songs here despite the hunger, agony, and suffering that must have surrounded him??  Mysterious energy indeed...!

Monday, 5 October 2015

Here Comes The Beautifully Sleazy Benny Gebauer Orchestra

Basically, easy listening style library music.  Here's the first track for an example:

Coming up next I have some really special music that everyone ought to hear, made more interesting still by the fact it is completely unknown and out of left field as it were.

Saturday, 3 October 2015

Joi's First Impressions, from 1978

Highly in demand jazz / fusion album from this one-off late-era American combo.  Really, a mixed bag.  It's surprising to me this inauspicious name was used by so many artists.

From St-James Club:

Joi – First Impressions
LP Lyreaux Records , 1978
Piano, Vocals, Composer - Bob Thompson
Drums - Gordon Cupit
Vocals, Percussion, Composer - Louise Pearson
Bass, Vocals, Composer - Kai Haynes
Guitar, Vocals, Composer - Jim Pearson
String Arranger, Producer - Al Schackman
Front Cover - Robert Starr
Illustration - Taylor Jones