Monday 30 May 2016

Ernie Krivda's 1978 The Alchemist, plus Bonus Satanic

Once again a one-off fusion experiment from that golden year of 1978 by an American saxophonist called Ernie Krivda, born 6 February 1945 in Cleveland, Ohio, USA.  A clear progressive influence emerges in the title track which appears as intro to the work, with a mysterious sounding soprano sax playing fourth intervals over a whole tone enamoured piano (Gil Goldstein) with an oddly played tuba (?) performing bass duties:

Subsequently the tracks become more straightforwardly modal or post-bop, a Brazilian-like number appears at A2, while some Eastern European folk elements show up in Tzigine (recalling our great Bulgarian find Vesselin Nikolov) and the subsequent brilliant Danse Macabre.

Not bad though.

Note that his previous effort with the wonderful name of Satanic is not quite as successful, being dominantly modal jazz.  But check his classical composition skills on the music box track:

Also to be found down below.

Saturday 28 May 2016

Towson State U. Again: Jazz 78

Back for another of the yearly outings from this college outfit...  I hope I'm not the only one to dig this groove, and dig it deep.  Great compositions again by Hank and performances all top-notch, as top caliber as Putin's custom-made bespoke assault rifles.  (Did we ever think we'd see the day where Russia and the US would have leaders who were best friends forever?)  

In particular you'll note the influence of fusion well to the fore here.  As well, notice the lone black man again on the rear.  Check out the extra-galactic adventures of the mothership traveling at Warp Factor V:

If you thought that was good, wait till you hear the next track, the 3 Phases of V, which is really quite progressive.

Wednesday 25 May 2016

Thijs Van Leer's Pedal Point in the stunning Dona Nobis Pacem (1981) [no download]

What a shock that there are still such progressive masterpieces sitting around utterly unknown.  At least to me.

My attention was drawn to this by one of those wonderful aforementioned friends who are always finding things I would never have known about, or to put it in his words, "the hungry dog always finds a bone..."  And we sure have been ravenous lately with the endless series of library records and fusion opuses, so many dipping their cold toes in the inclement waters of the eighties...  Which ironically is exactly what composer Thijs van Leer is doing here, in this work which could easily have been made or written just after his 1975 magnum opus O My Love.  (One of my all-time favourites.)  Note that he does steal from himself on the one track, the resurrection, using the title track from the prior.  I guess we can forgive him that.

Check out the highly progressive material we have on the third track, which starts with the classical flutes weaving a beautiful tapestry, whereupon suddenly the electric guitars intrude in the style of ol' Mike Oldfield:

Wow.  One might also mention how similar to Pohjola's composed works this sounds.  I mentioned earlier how much I love Thijs for his work arranging Bulgarian-Dutch angel Bojoura in Beauty of Bojoura (wasn't he married to her once too?)-- now some six years ago.  (What a lot of previously unknown progressive and beautiful music we've heard in those 6 years.)  It's interesting to me as well how successfully the music has been married to the oratorio style.  Often there is some spark lacking as I found with another roughly contemporaneous such attempt involving Garfunkel (of all people!) and the great songwriter Jimmy Webb (how could he ever go wrong?) about the Christmas of Animals.  An egregious work which shocked me insofar as there is not a hint of the master who wrote MacArthur Park, By the Time I get to Phoenix, Up Up and Away, I'm still Alive, etc., etc.  Not to pummel him, esp. since some of the tracks he wrote for Art were some of his most beautiful songs, like on Watermark which was their best collaboration (most people will mention Scissors Cut however), but my point is that these religious works meant presumably for concerts are often lacking spontaneity.

Not this one though.  (Nor the Kantata of Siebert.)  This is absolutely amazingly magical from beginning to end, a double-LP moreover, and it's shocking to me that I never knew about it despite loving Focus-related artists deeply.  Note that it was released to CD in 1990 and thus out of respect for the powers to be the link if there is one permitted will be down very quickly.  I'm guessing from the price of the CDs on discogs though these are relatively rare too and must be out of print.

Really stunning music.

Monday 23 May 2016

Jean-Pierre Debarbat & Dolphin Orchestra's Prologue (FRA 1977)

A remarkable piece of French fusion along the lines of my old favourite Transit Express-- clearly not as good, but nonetheless interesting to hear.  Notice compositions are by many, but mostly Debarbat and guitarist Frédéric Sylvestre who accompanied him on the next release, in 1980, with the wonderful title of Debarbat Rencontre Raterron Et La Planète Carrée (N.B.- not as good).

For those like me who didn't know him before he is described on discogs as saxophonist/clarinetist, composer, video and graphic artist (born 4 May 1952 in Montluçon, France).  Notice he is still performing here.

The great classic track is the first one called Oreve which is actually a composition by colleague Sylvestre:

As usual for the classic fusional style note the minor second arpeggiated patterns a la Asia Minor, the building intensity, the surprising and unexpected descending chord changes that dramatically excite the sound, the scoring of multiple instruments to provide layers of sound, etc.  The only thing missing here, though it's hardly a true drawback, is a moog synthesizer and a thicker, fuzzier, punchier or more masculine electric guitar sound.

On our next sample saddled with the uncomfortable name of Paraphernalia - Phase (again by Sylvestre!) the buildup on acoustic piano sounds a great deal like the gorgeous French epic fusion album by Francis Moze which I mentioned before I love so much (still thankfully available here, I think):

But if you stay tuned to the end of that track, there is a sudden smashing gorgeous uplifting progressive link that made me drop everything to listen to again and again.  Check it out.  Too bad there isn't more material like that to flesh out this album.

Saturday 21 May 2016

More Tom Letizia: Digital Dance, from 1983 [+ lossless]

I guess I was wrong that they didn't have more recordings, this came out a couple of years later.  The same style of advanced eighties slight fuzak material but totally lacking in cliches and conventional chord changes; entirely instrumental and guitar-based.  It does remind me a lot of the old American fusion guitar master Tony Palkovic who also made two, very recommended albums.  Also similar of course are Tony Dupuis, Mike Warren and Survival Kit, Mike Santiago, etc.

Here's the first and title track:

Luckily, no standards here, all compositions by Tom Letizia.  Notice the blurb on the back written by him:

Music is a mirror of the soul, your music is you.
It can be a sublime prayer honoring  your life, your origin, your goals, and God, or...
It can be a worthless ridicule of everything you are.
Years ago, wild animals, savages and disease destroyed men.
Today in our plentiful society men are destroyed from within.
Even if no one has taught you, learn to value the things that make a good human being.
Integrity, love, faith, effort, discipline, humor, creativity, and intelligence make your music sublime.

This album includes several styles of jazz, rhythm and blues, and rock.
Each original composition was designed to be listened to and enjoyed by both musician and non-musician, while not being simplistic and commercial or illogically avant-garde or atonal.  Translation: if you like music-- buy this album.

I love it.  Perhaps someone can twitter that blurb to president-to-be Donald and get a good quote?

Thursday 19 May 2016

Towson State University and Hank Levy in Jazz '77

I decided to get another by these guys on the strength of the last post, while the first record was interesting due to the unusual rhythms in the compositions by mostly Hank Levy.  Such prime number rhythms have carried on throughout the series.  What I liked about this release is that there seemed to be few standards or cover versions, which I usually detest.  To me those standards are, along with overlong improvisations, plagues of the jazz style, though I'm told improvisation is the essence of jazz, it's not an essence I would encourage.  I remember seeing a jazz record long ago in university in which an entire side was devoted to one song, Body and Soul, and it was longer than 25 minutes--  I thought, are you serious???  Somebody would buy this?  Why not lie in bed and shove your face into your pillow instead?  As for standards, songs like Take the A Train, and 'Round About Midnight, though maybe pleasant once-- can anybody really stand to hear them millions of times in their lifetime?  Personally, when I see that last one on a record I know to put it down or instantly hit delete, as I know I can expect rote performance with little creativity.  Jazz improv is a hard style to master, as I tried to do in my youth, but it almost seems like an automatic or mechanical thing when you listen to it-- perhaps here is an opportunity (again) for those brilliant robotics and AI software engineers to remove another human career as they have threatened to do already with nurses, teachers, doctors, grandmaster chess and GO players, servers, cooks and chefs, beauty contest judges, matchmakers, and AI software engineers?

Anyways, back to the music.  It turned out I wasn't looking carefully or rather the compositional credits were not available on the database because, obviously, Time for Love, which is a beautiful composition by Johnny Mandel and Webster (I wouldn't include it in the stupid standards collection with I Got Rhythm), and the godawful (literally) Exodus soundtrack theme appear here on side b.  Some of us who are older in their genealogy might recall that movie and the earlier novel (by Leon Uris) which was de rigueur for any serious reader, especially the more pretentious, of the age.  Some 60 years later, the problem of peace in Palestine has become so intractable it's almost laughable.  And we really have too many of those intractables to deal with now, like growing income inequality, water scarcity and climate change, the terrorist problem, the unfathomable popularity of Donald Trump, etc.

We can look back today at the seventies as a golden age when there was still true wilderness out there teeming with wild animals, fish and butterflies, but most importantly, there was hope for the future, optimism for a beautiful world, and music as inventive and brilliant as what I've tried to post here.  Maybe it was just a kind of ignorance, but it sure was a beautiful kind.

I like the track misspelled (purposefully?) Quintescence:

Tuesday 17 May 2016

Michael Gordon's Philharmonic RIO album from USA, 1987, in a new and splendid rip

This is composed RIO of the most insane kind-- full of angular and jarring string section dissonances like shards of glass poking out of a candy apple sure to tempt the unwary with a mouthful of blood, or perhaps earful here...  As you can ascertain it is not suitable for consumption by children, nor, indeed, should any youngster with fewer than 18 years in their tree-ring count ever be placed near an amplified performance of this all-too modern tsunami of brain-curdling, ventricle-swelling sound waves.  But it sure is interesting to hear.  We should not be surprised if it's used in torture situations with the CIA when our new president Donald starts his great work next year making America win again, win "bigly".

Coming in three tracks only (all performer info can be seen here) I'm not able to provide a sample but let's just say that for those who heard the earlier Fleshquartet Meat Beat this would be like the most harmony-averse tracks treated to that special Russian science of athletic drug-doping used in winning Olympics involving, really, who knows what combination of uppers, steroids, Sharapova candies, and other positively inotropic treatments for an extended time.

In particular notice in the first track that interruptions in the train of music actually sound like mistakes-- as if you were recording on a cassette but hit that switch on the ghetto blaster from auxiliary input to FM radio suddenly but then switched back when you realized your mistake-- but they are not that at all, they are purposeful, entirely purposeful, or perhaps, perverse would be the appropriate description.  I can't say I have ever heard this device used to such an extent, it was commonly used at the end of 70s rock songs typically by switching to some radio station for a few seconds before returning to the original music-- but the repetition here is what is really odd.

But we love odd music, don't we?
As long as it's not the same old chords, same old melodies, same old beats, I don't mind odd...

Sunday 15 May 2016

Achim Kück And Friends's Scurrility from 1982

A wild-ass swingiform fusionish neo-big-band-bop über-Deutsch (take that, trendy colloquialism!) outpouring of viscous magma-- though with sometimes inchoate ideas not quite fully fleshed out to clarity on this utterly-unknown release.  Beautiful cover art, as almost-usual, for this blog.  Here's the title track for a sample of the music:

Note that the discography of Achim Kück, keyboardist, bandleader and composer, is quite surprisingly short here.  Of course, this group of friends also only made one LP.  Not all the credits were posted but you can have a look at the back scan I did-- note the improvement over the digital camera from before with the dreadful glare of my mirrored face-- to see anything you'd like, even microscopic details thanks to the huge machine my wife bought that now occupies two-thirds of my study room's space.  Can't wait for those 3-D printers with their spewing plastics and volatile chemicals to poison it too.

Friday 13 May 2016

C. B. Busser's Warship-Suite Concept Album [1980] at last...

I mentioned this before in connection with his album Movies, and presented a mono recording at that time, two years ago.  Finally now we have here a suitable rip to enjoy.  As you can see above I again made the verso large so you can read a bit of the story line.  Naturally it's quite amusing.  The beginning:

"The story took place in the year 3000.  Humanity colonized the earth for the second time.  Different surroundings -- different faces -- different problems.  But one aspect stays the same: War!
--Stormy sea / amongst others we see King Solgan, master of North-Sambronia (formerly Spain) / Our ship is heading for our home par [sic], lade with loot and riches... "

But the music is well-composed progressive of the highest calibre, with parts recalling Fripp's King Crimson atonal crescendo material, the use of mellotron achieving a very majestic overall sound, the purely instrumental pieces building beautifully in waves of emotional sound.  This is the intro, with its symphonic statement of themes that would later be explored further:

Scant information here.

Wednesday 11 May 2016

Maru & Mikael ‎– Destination Nowhere from 1975 [lossless]

Pop about as beautiful as it gets here.
A brand new rip from my dear friend to share here.
I could get lost in the beautiful artwork on front and back for days, like the Stendhal effect.

Maru is Marianne Nyman (born 1954, thus a very youthful 21 on this LP); notice she is credited with backup vocals on the 1977 Kalevala album I posted long ago.  Her subsequent output looks like it's all over the map with disco, schlager, and country-rock.  Mikael is Mikael Wiik and he shows up next in Heikki Sarmanto's wonderful Open Ear album I posted once too.  Despite the post-history of these two, nothing can prepare you for the magic of this album if you haven't heard it before.  A kind of electric folk, like classic Jefferson Airplane, plays under some utterly gorgeous three-part harmonies on the part of Maru.  Consider the track about a hooker/stripper called Too Fast to Last with its really ingenious chord changes, and three-quarters rhythm evoking a too-rapid dance:

Should've been a hit, again!

Sunday 8 May 2016

Jukka Syrenius Band in Memories of Tomorrow, 1983

I love those humorous cover photos!

One of the best and most enjoyable prog-rock bands from Finland was Elonkorjuu who I think everyone knows already.  Briefly:

Elonkorjuu was a prog rock band from Pori, Finland. The band was founded in the late 1960s. The first lineup was Jukka Syrenius (guitar), Timo Hannukainen, Veli-Pekka Pessi (bass) and Rainer Koski (drums). In the early 1970s singer Heikki Lajunen joined the group and Eero Rantasila replaced Rainer Koski in drums. This lineup recorded the band's only album "Harvest Time" in 1972. 
After the album Pessi and Rantasila left the band and two new members joined: Hannu Nieminen (bass) and Reijo Hannuksela (drums). In the mid 1970s Elonkorjuu moved towards funk/soul-based rock. The lineup changed again: new members were Veli-Pekka Pessi (bass), Veikko Nuotio (drums), Kari Tamminen (vocals, replaced Heikki Lajunen), Jukka Unkila (tenor saxophone), Petri Heimonen (alto saxophone) and Pekka Tyni (piano). Also guitarist Seppo Tyni played in the band for a short time.  In the late 1970s Elonkorjuu changed their name to Harvest and recorded one album of instrumental funkjazz called "Flyin' High, Runnin' Fast". Harvest split up in the end of the 1970s.

This release occurred in those early 80s years that are so touch and go for us musicophiles.  As one might expect from his past history some hot smokin' guitar licks are the highlight of this.  And we still have one foot planted in the 70s with some fabulous fusion and funk.

Subsequently he produced some very uneven music: the next album Denari is described as Gospel (yikes), and I have heard the 1986 Cat in the Hat which was, in comparison to this, disappointing.

I wonder if the perhaps too jazzy track Little Joseph is for that little babe on the cover:

On the other hand the Midsummer Dream is a little bit more inventive in composition:

Notice the prevalent latin influences here.

A really enjoyable album altogether for the fusiophiles out there.

Saturday 7 May 2016

The Tom Letizia Album: Jazz/Rock Guitar, from the United States 1981

Another remarkable unknown find from my friend that recalls other American guitarist luminaries like Danny Toan (in these pages).  It appears to be the the first of two releases, and privately pressed.  Fully instrumental btw.

Here's the first track, with the awesome name of "The Sympathetic Vibrator:"

Thursday 5 May 2016

The Fleshquartet [Fläskkvartetten] and Meat Beat [Kött Bit] from 1987 Sweden, powerful RIO 45rpm

This is a 12 inch 45 rpm mini-album but it lasts a bit under half an hour of driving intensity, first vinyl out in 1987 from this group that went on to make many more albums in the soon-to-be CD era.  To me it's like a combination of Samla's Forge with other RIO incorporations like the Univers Zero string quartet sound and what they call an industrial beat.  And indeed this could be the megafactory sounds of an AI-powered robot workforce banging out percussive instruments for a purely digital Martian colony with the energy boost from taking out their frustrations at not getting that precious record contract from those fat cat executives...  The robots, that is.  These musicians did actually get a bona fide record contract, from Swedish Mistlur (made albums by huge progsters Trettioåriga Kriget, Psynkopat, Thomas Almqvist, etc.) and then bought out by MNW (sub-Universal) later.   I'm amazed at the daring audacity of that particular label or perhaps the tolerance of Swedes for music designed for insane asylums.

At times they play a genericized blues basis with some sort of subatomic or quantum overlayer, the polytonality sounding like the weirdness of particle-wave duality with the violinist twirling odd figures about the rhythm section like a crazy-grinned inmate on a maximum security ward poking you with philosophical nonsequiturs...  At times a cello (electrified?) performs the role of programmed synthesizer for the obbligato tenor repetitive pattern in a kind of electro-acoustic mashup that is quite odd.  Don't think I've heard that before.  As usual with Swedish music some folk importations appear here and there like virtual particles bubbling out of the quantum foam.  Art Zoyd chamber attempts profitably recall that French master group of modern music, an old favourite of mine, as in En Blick:

I took a quick listen to the other later albums to find out what we're dealing with.  The 1986 Moondog album is modern classical chamber music, evidently.  Reminds me of Jean-Philippe Goude's later music.  Minus the ether.

The next Fleshquartet album What's Your Pleasure went too far in the direction of proto-alternative sung tracks but there remain flashes of brilliance, consider the beautiful composition Kunstens Have, with its dramatic crescendo:

In the 1998 album Jag Ger Vad Som Helst  alt rock takes over completely.  Yet the Introduction to Nada Yoga track has a Samla vibe to it:

Note that this album which is meant to be played at 45 rpm can also be enjoyably listened to at the lower one-third rotation.  Both copies are available here for your perusal.

Here are those crazies in group photo, god bless 'em:

Tuesday 3 May 2016

VA: Weighty & Solid And Heavy & Light Harmonic ‎– CBO 665 from 1973

Despite the interest-arousing title, a mix of composers including Wilhelm plus others plays some very generic early sixties library styles (despite the lateness of the year).  A comment was helpfully added at the bottom of the above database page.

Typical track, Hartmeyer's Marching Robots:

Sunday 1 May 2016

Back with the Towson State College Jazz Ensemble with Hank Levy in Jazz '80 [lossless]

I couldn't quite resist purchasing another from these guys (see their 1975 set) from the beautiful melting pot of Baltimore, MD, when I saw the hilarious but highly attractive DIY cover of this 1980 instalment in the yearly franchise they apparently got going throughout this period (it actually lasted all the way to the late eighties-- well past the due date of this highly structured and unique style of big band jazz).  It cost nothing to take the photo of the knocked over schoolchild's desk with the unrealistically non-swear-worded graffiti that got you to the principal's office but boy those hard wooden pieces of furniture bring back memories, especially for your ass, don't they?  And imagine all the stuck-on wads of dried gum on the other surface!

With a great deal of joy one can now see from the back photograph that there is a black face in the band (and this was in Baltimore, a city that is about three-quarters to four-fifths African-American!) though of course only one, among the fresh white college kids playing the jazz music that, let us recall, was invented and in fact perfected by African-Americans more than a half-century prior:

It really is amazing that so many years after the origin of jazz, after the end of segregation in the 60s, a black man was permitted to play with the all-white big band here in the year 1980, as I said before, progress was sometimes so blazingly fast in the United States.  And we wonder how much talent he had to display to get the right to join these guys, probably twenty-five times more at a minimum.  Or was it perhaps the influence of Mrs. H. Levy that got him hand-picked?  I sure hope he didn't have to demonstrate the size of his schlong to the bearded artsy bespectacled type in the front row-- the trauma would probably have led him to choke on his Orange Tang and subsequently suffer a diagnosis of chronic medically intractable impotence.  I remember in this regard the time my college friend's brother had the name of his girlfriend, before they broke up, stupidly and drunkenly tattooed on his unit: her name was Wendy-- though at rest or after swimming only visible were the letters W, e, and y.  After the breakup when he went with a group of friends to Jamaica he observed the same inked letters on a black man at the urinals by the pool and intemperately yelled out, "Your girl was called Wendy too!" in his inebriated condition.  The man laughed loud and hard, for many minutes in fact, and when finally caught his breath to finish, said: "No mon, it say, 'Welcome to Jamaica Mon--- and have a great day!"  Imagine the mortification of the poor kid upon hearing this piece of, quite unwelcome I'd say, news, compounded by the embarrassment of this permanent record of a dead and gone relationship on his midline external genitalia.  It's certain, this particular vignette, exactly as told here, should be taught in schools-- university perhaps most appropriately-- as a cautionary lesson to avoid such a costly error.

Anyways, back to this record.  This bunch was to me the best-sounding of the college bands I posted earlier, and they were prolific too.  As time went on it seems the quality of Hank Levy's music improved so I'm happy to say there are some quite progressive compositions to be found here.  A track called Interchange clearly demonstrates the composing skills of Mr. Levy and reminds me a lot of Eyermann's best work:

If there are more tracks like that one in this oeuvre I will have to collect more!