Wednesday 20 January 2016

Joanne Grauer's Mystical Lady, year unknown [1978?]

Now that we are older and more open minded we can accept these utterly uncompromising artists who felt they had to demonstrate their range in a record like this: one song is straight jazz, one is fusion, one is experimental piano progressive, with modern composition, some songs are Xian, extreme Jesus-loving psalms.  Obviously, the critical apparatus of the time would have, and probably did, savage such daring-- with their monochromatic vision of what rock or pop artists 'should do,' that is, choose a style and stick to it.  Even Led Zep were attacked for mixing folk with their hard rock, which is really hard to believe nowadays when you appreciate the beauty of their acoustic numbers...

Joanne was a jazz pianist from California who had a long career as such before making a couple of records in the seventies that really branched out her style.  The one featured today was first released in the US presumably with a different cover, year unknown, and then resuscitated in Japan some years back-- thank god for humanity's 'cultural patrimony.'

There is a presumably autobiographical song called "Mystical Lady" that I've listened to hundreds of times since I received this from a friend and it never ceases to amaze me, because she put her whole soul into the song, and it fills me with a kind of ethereal, almost spiritual fascination, due partly to its great beauty, partly to what she is evoking in the lyrics:

Reading the liner notes, we find this was a poem by guitarist James Dutch about Joanne herself, which she set to music.  Some of these notes were written by her friend Judee Sill.   (Given Judee passed away in 1979 of an OD, we can safely say this record was released in the period from 1976 - 1978, closer to the end probably.)

For funky fusion we have "Inside Outside."  Notice the astonishing chromatic riff going up and down that shows up on the recap of the theme at the end of the track played by an unusual electric instrument.

Again conferring with the liner notes, it turns out it was a Fender Rhodes piano with a 'ring modulator.'  The more progressive oriented composition are much longer and I won't upload those, you can discover them for yourselves.

An amazing mystical lady.  She put her heart into this album and it really deserves to be better known.



  2. I have many great videos that I am sharing of joanne as I commemorate the life of my father David Troncoso. He was joanne's bassist for over 20 years from the 70s to the 90s. check out the youtube channel troncoso jazz, and you will get to see several of her great songs along with my dads performed live. here is her song frog child live featuring david troncoso on bass and bert karl on drums. RIP Joanne Grauer and David Troncoso.

    1. I am so grateful you've posted these! Joanne was my jazz piano teacher for several years, and recording with her was truly an honor. I think of her often and am always searching for new materials on line. I have a ton of things she recorded for me as part of our lessons. I treasure it all.

    2. Repeating if you wish to contact me for a DVD of Joann you can call me