Tuesday 28 June 2016

Grupo Ramo, Brazil 2009

This album is by far the best chamber progressive fusion CD I have heard from the current era, hence no download today.  I am completely shocked and dismayed that it has passed 'under the radar' with apparently no one knowing about it, and moreover, the CD itself is now incredibly hard to purchase!  There is no justice in this particular subsection of the art world...  The beauty of these compositions, the care and tenderness the artists put into their work, the perfection of the whole, are truly insurmountable at their peak in Parnassos.  In some ways it recalls to me the lineage of Gotic and Kotebel (particularly their Structures --highly recommended too), but with more classical education, almost an infinity of it in fact.

I'll present four samples, in my opinion the best compositions, to get an idea.  I 'm not sure where the official CD purchase page is which I would direct you to, maybe someone could help me there.  Note the sparsity even of the RYM page here.  So far as I know, they are not even entered on discogs.


Daniel Pantoja (flutes)
Felipe José (cello, flute, guitar)
Rafael Martini (piano, guitar)
Frederico Heliodoro (bass)
Antonio Loureiro (drums)

Samples (check upper right).

Here are my observations...

Mosquito (obviously not dedicated to the Zika virus??)

Just a beautiful chamber jazz composition, perhaps recalling Argentinian Alas as well in their best and most creative moments.  (Didn't they also do a mosquito song?)

Cão Andaluz starts with a gorgeous solo flute intro that comes down onto a melody taken over by the cello like a relay which then hands over to a flute-piano combination.  The descending pattern is then played by various instruments alternatively.

At the start of Benesse you'll notice the guitarist plucking the strings in some odd places to create that middle eastern atmosphere to perfection.  Often these types of Asian songs then move into tabla-plus-one-chord monotony that breaks my heart and patience each time, here, we are treated to an incredibly tender song played by acoustic guitar and cello that continues to evolve even as it moves along into new keys and chords throughout, without ever really repeating itself.  Quite stunning in terms of how nonstandard this is as evocation:

Finally, the closer José No Jabour again uses a cliche of latin music, the wordless singing such as M. Nascimento once perfected, but the movement out of the intro then like the preceding example continues to shock and amaze us with its changes and originality:

Overall, a stunning find...

Saturday 25 June 2016

Spanish Franklin's unreleased magnum opus Life Circle from 1974 [no download]

Back on holidays now and therefore no downloads for the next two...

Quite recently someone made mention of how surprising it is that there is still classic progressive rock available to us we don't yet know.  Here's the perfect example of that--  at least for me.  But I doubt anyone knew of this one before it was rereleased in Spain in 2007.


Spanish prog-rock band founded in 1971 by Pablo Weeber and Antonio García de Diego (with Mariano Díaz on keyboards, M. A., Rojas on bass & Juan Cánovas on drums), backed by producers Maryní Callejo and Teddy Bautista. They released one single and after a year another one with different musicians (Pino Scaglianini on keys, Terry Barrios & Chema Espinosa on drums, Juan Toro on bass), and an LP that wouldn't be released until 2007. They split-up in 1976.

Consider the track called Renaissance, with its gorgeous tritones, of which I'm sure we could never get enough (btw the tritone is the odd-sounding sustained note at the end of the melody that gets repeated in different keys).  Not only is this melody developed by modulating it into different keys, going up fourths or thirds, and at one point even piling on the second interval melody up creating an additional unholy dissonance thereby, but in the middle passage notice how exuberant the soloing gets with the electric guitar on one and keys/synths on the other channel.  Really recalls the masters of electric Italian prog like Campo di marte or the great Alphataurus, doesn't it?

But stay till the end, where the mellotron strings take us right off the planet and into outer space...  where we belong, after this track.

Shocking this wasn't released at the time, in the early seventies!!

Consider next the utterly inappropriate dissonances of Caos - decomposing that build and build until you're gasping for relief like a beached whale:

And I think after hearing those two sample you will surely get this immediately if you don't already have it.

Note that the CD compilation includes what are surely inferior singles/cover versions before the magnum opus that constitutes the all-instrumental album called Life Circle, obviously a concept album about the universe or creation.

Wednesday 22 June 2016

Klaus Lenz (Big) Band's Aufbruch (1976) and Wiegenlied (1977)

Back to the baby we saw earlier this month, now digging some red-hot fusion on big-ass headphones.  This GDR band appeared before of course with Uschi way back when.

The Igor song is gorgeously and progressively out of this world, with its chromatic hammond opener that could have come from any of the classic French fusion masterpieces, like Vortex:

The following album did not quite hit the same heights of compositional progressiveness however, the title track being a good example of what is missing and what is still to be found here in this music:

Monday 20 June 2016

L'Orchestre Sympathique ‎– Live In Detroit 1981, Canada

These guys made three records back in the day, thirty-five years ago now, and they all sound similar, (indeed certain songs are recycled throughout the trilogy) but are admirably composed chamber-fusion works by a very very talented group of musicians.  I believe the best is actually the last released 1982 effort from the Montreal Jazz Festival, with the stunning Nuit Inuit composition.  Surprisingly only the first record was rereleased on CD.  I trust the others will soon be too, and this will be a temporary link.

Here's Queeche Valley:

Sunday 19 June 2016

Happy Fathers Day!

As I've said before, Fathers Day is, in some sense, the diametric or perhaps bipolar opposite of Mothers Day: where the latter is full of guilt and angst, womblike dark reflections on existence, the unforgiving brutality of having been brought into this world in a puddle of blood via the appropriate obtuse angle of two legs, the obligation of the siblings and their cuckoo nest-mates to the master feeder who kept them alive when none else could, though not from love: purely from an instinctive drive powerful enough to self-sacrifice as we see in certain spider species whose mothers let their children feed on their own body after birth-- can we then argue those mothers love their spiderlings more than a human mother? are their Mothers Days not far superior to those of humans, who are not permitted to feast for taboo reasons on the maternal body before her death?-- on the other hand Fathers Day can correctly be regarded in its proximity to the summer solstice as full of light, indeed a maximal amount of illumination, representing as it does the opening door of summer, the memory of sunburns and fishing, meat in fires and the celebration of the great unparalleled and ancient human invention of the controlled fermentation of sugars.  Rather it is the anti-guilt, the duty of forgiveness, a kind of confession of mortality which is to be inherited by the younger ones, as can be seen in the fact that where the day for Mothers must perforce be planned ad nauseam without involvement from the celebratee (else she instantly develops a bad mood that persists through the day or even the next few, often exploding into anger over trivial nuisances), the day for Fathers to the contrary must be completely organized by the king oops I mean the man himself without any obstruction from the all-too-human forces of shame, guilt, or even moderation, nor should there be any deviation from its proper course of complete life-enjoyment by the influence of any mothers in the extended family who understandably will through the effect of a bit of jealousy, or, sometimes, protection of the little ones, attempt to redirect the festivities in a more austere, controlled direction.  And if the Father doesn't receive either a gift or a card in the morning, because he probably doesn't even deserve either, who cares? it will hardly be remembered by the next day after the party...  For the spirit of Fathers Day is the spirit of receiving from oneself, giving to oneself, celebrating sperm and life, and if after all the bbq ribs and lobster and the debts his family has incurred on his credit cards cause him to have a heart attack by night's end, what does it matter?  At least his family will wake up tomorrow the beneficiary of his insurance policy...  So let us celebrate Fathers Day!

Saturday 18 June 2016

Bach Revolution's Sand Boat from 1978

From discogs:

Japanese experimental electronics outfit. Particularly unusual on their debut, which just had 3 long tracks all at the very experimental end of label-mate Tomita's territory, and often comparable to early Cluster and/or Vangelis at his most out there.

I can't say I really enjoy their other records, which are quite a bit in the experimental direction.  (There are a few that are not included in the database, see here for example.)  However, this particular album, having been made as soundtrack, proved to be quite a bit more accessible musically with a clear Mike Oldfield influence in some areas.  Again from discogs the plot:

A story about a boy and a girl - A girl who has a mole (looks like the Chinese character 'grudge') on her hip who is named Chiharu, and a dumb boy who is named Katsumi. One day, they find a boat which is buried on the beach. They start on a voyage. The boat takes them into the cave, and they travel back thousand of years ago. There, Chiharu becomes Princess Aya, and Katsumi becomes Kiyowaka. Houin Kurikara, a magician of the cult religion Shingon Tachikawa sect, abducts Princess Aya and Kiyowaka. Kurikara wishes to spread their sperm on the skull of a dead samurai Minamotono Yoshitsune, because of the rite to summon his spirit. Princess Aya and Kiyowaka offer a stout resistance, but Kurikara lets his men shave off their hairs and strip them completely. They are thrown out of Kurikara's refuge. They are wandering around and find their way to a ruined temple. But robbers cut off Kiyowaka's tongue and rape Princess Aya. Just then, Chiharu and Katsumi come to themselves, they wonder if it was all a dream. But they find Yoshitsune's skull at the point of the anchor. They bury it cordially. Then, Chiharu's mole disappears and Latsumi can speak again.

Really, for me, one of the most beautiful albums I have heard in recent memory, and a discovery of our wonderful generous friend, of course...

The theme:

The intro, with ascending electric piano leading to the fuguelikemelody and sustained strings and choral-like chords is already to die for; but then, after a break of silence, very symphonically, you get the lilting undulating main theme evoking boat on sea.  Note the great chord progression too.  It's the arrangement which shows a great deal of educated skill that takes it far beyond what Oldfield was able to accomplish in my opinion.

Track 4 (Gathering Firewood - Digging Out A Small Wooden Boat - Launch)  is more typical of late seventies electronic OST music:

I would add that if this is a typical seventies art movie, I would love to see it at some point.  Anyone with info let me know.

And enjoy this lost musical boat from the sands of time...

Wednesday 15 June 2016

Don Mock flying at Mock One in 1978

Another Tom Letizia-like guitarist who made one and sadly only one record in those golden years, which I felt everyone should really hear.  The following from the artist, well worth reading in its entirety, appeared on a blog post that I believe once long ago held a download too-- today I am no longer able to find this album available anywhere legally:

As a performer growing up in the Seattle, Washington, Don played in several of the areas
top rock and later, jazz bands. Later in his performing career while in Los Angeles, Don had
an exciting fusion band and performed at most of the top jazz venues. The band developed a
large following of students and fans alike. Don became well known for his intense style, and
his amazing guitar synthesizer playing. He also showcased his acoustic side as a member of
an acoustic guitar trio with blues veteran Robben Ford and fingerstyle wizard, Jamie Findlay.
As a recording artist, Don Mock has appeared as a sideman on several albums and has two
solo efforts: "Mock One" and "Speed of Light".
Don's improvising concepts have been made available for the education of guitarists through
a number of instructional books including, "Hot Licks", "Fusion - Hot Lines", "Artful
Arpeggios", "Ten", and his recent Warner Bros. "Guitar Scale Secrets" series. Don also has
three instructional videos "The Blues from Rock to Jazz", "Jazz Guitar Tips" and "Jazz
Rhythm Chops". Don began his teaching career in 1972 at the Cornish School of the Allied
Arts and Olympic Jr. College, both in Washington State.
Don continued his interest in furthering the education of musicians when, in 1974, he met
guitar legend Howard Roberts and agreed to manage guitar teaching seminars in the
Northwest for Howard. In 1977, Don moved to Los Angeles to help start the Guitar Institute
of Technology (GIT). Don became a primary instructor and curriculum author for the school.
That same year Don teamed up with publisher Roger E. Hutchinson (REH) to write and
produce guitar method books. Don taught full time at GIT until 1983, then began a part-time
arrangement while commuting back and forth from L.A. to Seattle. He also traveled around
the U.S. and to Europe giving seminars to promote GIT with Howard Roberts, Robben Ford,
Keith Wyatt and Tommy Tedesco.
In 1983, GIT (now with its parent name MI) added video to its curriculum, and Don was
brought in to direct most of the 300 (30 to 60 minute) videos. In 1988, when REH began its
very successful instructional video line, Don was hired as the primary director and producer.
Don has worked on video projects with a virtual "who's who" of modern guitar. Don's talent
and expertise as a player and teacher, as well as video producer, have benefited many
artists who have been featured in REH's videos including: Joe Pass, Alan Holdsworth, Robben
Ford, Scott Henderson, Herb Ellis, Steve Morse, Paul Gilbert, Pat Martino, Albert Collins,
Shawn Lane, Chuck Rainey, Blues Saraseno, Frank Gambale, Carl Verheyen, Kee Marcello, Al
DiMeola, Roscoe Beck, Keith Wyatt, John Petrucci, Bret Garsed, Gary Willis, Steve Bailey,
Victor Wooten, Joe Diorio, Steve Travato, Clint Strong, Mark Hansen and many more.
Don is also a life-long fan of unlimited hydroplane racing and has produced and written
music scores for several boat racing video productions. He currently heads up the
Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum's video productions adding his unique compositions and
guitar talents to those programs.

1978 Wolf Records – 2007 Mock One Productions
Mock One was recorded in early 1977 right during the time I had moved to Los Angeles to
help start The Guitar Institute of Technology with Howard Roberts. I flew back to Seattle a
few times to complete the recording. The band was made up of great Seattle players and
was called “Marbles.” We performed regularly in the area either as a quartet or with the
added horn players and percussionist. The music was deep rooted in Jazz and Fusion popular
at the time. I wrote most of the compositions and the arrangement of the Joni Mitchell tune
“Song to a Seagull.” Ken Cole, our fine key board player, contributed his suite
“Entrance/Transition of Heather.”
On a few cuts, I played one of the very first guitar synthesizer’s; 360 Systems had
developed a pitch to voltage converter which I ran through an Oberheim synthesizer module.
The tracking was pretty rough with lots of glitches but the system was the forerunner of
current systems such as the Roland GR series. I played my trusty 1971 Les Paul and my
‘60’s L-5 for the rest of album except for a borrowed Martin acoustic for the Joni Mitchell
During the 1970’s, mainly thanks to John McLaughlin, writing compositions in odd-time
signatures was all the rage. Drummer Dave Coleman and bassist Paul Farnen, who I had
been playing with since high school, spent hours working on every weird odd-time feel we
could. The result was three pieces for this album. The opening cut, “You Choose One” is in
6/8. “Stellar Stomp” is a funky groove in 7/4 that transitions into the 14/8 “Dance of the
Stratus Dancers.”
There is some great playing at times by all the talented the musicians that still holds up
Denny Goodhew’s sax solo on “Song to a Seagull” is a high point as is Ron Soderstrum’s
“out” fluegal horn solo on “Theme to Dream.” The core quartet also turned in fine
performances. Although I’d love a chance to go back in time and have another shot at some
of the guitar solos. But, there’s a few moments of decent ’70’s fusion guitar playing. Ken
Cole, the burning keyboard player, and I used to have lots of fun with the ripping solo
trading sections. And I still love the energy and colors our two percussionist Luis Peralta and
Tim Celeski brought to the music.
Dave Coleman, who I still perform and record with, showed why he is one of Seattle’s top
drummers. In fact, Dave and bassist Paul Farnen joined me in LA later on in 1977. We
rented a house together in North Hollywood and continued the band performing at most of
the top Jazz clubs in the area.
The “Mock One” album brings back lots of great memories of my early career and I hope you
discover tunes or performances that you enjoy. So, thanks for re-visiting the amazing late
‘70’s with me. It was quite an exciting and musical time!
--Don Mock

On this album the energy never lets up from the get-go:

All instrumental from beginning to end, with an outrageously gorgeous acoustic number called Stephanie's Peace:

End of the second side's Heather Suite brings it all home to us, baby:

Echoes of Return to Forever but of course, this is in a league of its own...  Better in many respects to anything RTF ever did in terms of originality...  I like also that there is not one throwaway, or even, half-decent track on here, each composition or adaptation is excellent in its own unique way.  Lowest rating for a track would be 3/5 for me but most are way above that, unmistakably genius.  Also shocking to me is that it was never featured in Tom's CD reissuewishlist, where it would have seemed to be a perfect fit!

Highly recommended, and all my thanks to the amazing fusionary genius Don Mock.  He proceeded to have a glorious and successful career both teaching guitar and writing books about it.

His second album, called Speed of light (1993) is here on amazon.   (Mach One of course refers to the speed of sound.)  A wonderful sample from the later album:

Of course bear in mind most of it is fusion, though of a later variety than the late seventies style.  Nonetheless, some very well-composed thoughts in there worth hearing.

I'll take this link down very soon out of respect for the artist.

Monday 13 June 2016

Ashby-Ostermann Alliance from the US 1981


A beautiful cover drawing indeed!  Information here.  But first let's see what Tom had to say, way back when:

Another fine entry from MM, Chicago based Ashby Ostermann Alliance is a good example of early 80s fusion mixed with a strong rock aesthetic. This latter element is often missing in the progressive rock & jazz rock genres. In fact the AOA album doesn't give that indication early. It seems to be pointed in the direction of Latin Jazz, but about midway through Side 1, the guitarist begins to take over. Then the compositions take on more complex forms, and before you know it, you have a mighty fine progressive fusion album on your hands. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that these guys knew or played with fellow Chicagoan group Proteus.  Dusty Groove, the superb record shop from Chicago whose primary focus is in the soul-jazz-funk-fusion fields of music, has recently had a used copy of AOA album in stock. Their quick review says "Obscure fusion from the Chicago scene – played by a group with heavy guitars from Vince Ashby and wailing keyboards from Dennis Ostermann! The sound is jamming, but with some nice tight moments that almost get funky." That's pretty much spot on.  Hard to grab a story line here, but I think this one would go down a storm with the obscure fusion LP buying community. Neat cover art too.

Priority: 3

For myself only side 2 holds any interest at all, the first side being only fuzakoid with a bit of the latin irritation.  Consider the grand opening though of b1, with the equally grand title of Theme from universal melody:

Subsequently, b2's Tidebreaker, really takes it away:

Not too bad on the strength of those two tracks though.

Saturday 11 June 2016

Jazzwheel's Spanische Fliege (Spanish Fly) from 1981 Germany

It doesn't quite appear to me they knew what the Spanish Fly in question was with their buzzing jazz-scat:

And in the days of viagra, which obviously revolutionized both men's health and downtime proclivities presumably, who can remember the hilariousness of spanish fly, which I will remind the older ones and inform the younger, was a natural preparation (cantharidin, still used for wart treatments) made from a species of beetle which was supposed to be an aphrodisiac in small amounts but poison in larger.  How appropriate indeed.

You'll notice this is not a cheap record, despite that it's not that strong; being too jazzy in my opinion. Some might enjoy.

Is it the same baby:

Thursday 9 June 2016

Hi-Tek [not the hip-hop star] from the UK 1981

Light fusion here from this one-off band headed by Richard Niles, a producer.  Similar to the Iguazu album but more advanced into the eighties sound.  It has an indebtedness to the big band world which detracts somewhat from the overall enjoyment at least for me.  For example, a track called The Rack takes a fuzakoid approach to what would otherwise have been an excellent riff for a fuzzy electric guitar:

Had it been scored for synths and guitars, it would have been bang-on.  Each song has an (inadequately) explanatory subtitle which in this case is "will the big bands ever go away?"  

The last side 1 track called Empathy has the grammatically oddly incorrect addition: "it's not home, but I call it much:"

But you will agree it is quite pleasant and has a lot of potential.  Overall this record is mostly instr. except a totally forgettable jazz track called For You on side 1 and the bebop one on side 2 which is again marred by excessive bigbandedness (I don't mind the big band sound, as long as it's not eighties styled as in this opus).

At the bottom a blurb from Niles that is so similar to many we have seen in these pages:

Music is not a matter of what you can hear,
but what you can make other people hear.
(Niles after Degas)

Tuesday 7 June 2016

François Mechali, Gérard Marais, Bertrand Gauthier ‎– Cut Up (FRA 1978) by request, plus lossless

Here, guitarist Gérard Marais was in Dharma Quintet whose Mr. Robinson I once posted (I am still missing their Archipel album, like the commenter said in that inconstant sol post!!), bassist François Mechali I don't know at all, though he was quite phonographically prolific in the years after this and worked once with the great Yochk'o Seffer which is always a good sign, and percussionist Bertrand Gauthier doesn't appear elsewhere.  And so putting it all together, like a Venn diagram, this release's info is here.

Music is basically free jazz.  The first track:

Sunday 5 June 2016

Starr's Memories Never Die from USA, 1981

Look at the male cleavage on that guy!  Information here in the database.   The Race starts with the unholy tritone again:

And continues with some beautifully original patterns on the electric guitar.  
You can see their Dawn - Bolero 212 cooks it up nicely:

An instrumental that to me drives home the point there's really nothing in this world as beautiful as the sound of an amplified electric guitar that gives you that fuzzy feeling all over, cf., my old favourite Karlos Steinblast.  Better than a testosterone injection for feeling the energy.

Believe me this record is full of wonderful delights, and it resembles the aforementioned artist though without the wackiness.  Consider the utterly bizarre melody in octaves, then minor seconds, of the Schooner:

Wednesday 1 June 2016

Tom Letizia's Chuckhole Blues from 1987

Possibly the last from them-- ?
Quite similar in style, perhaps slightly less inspired, the first and title track is an oddity in that it has vocals: