Wednesday 30 August 2017

Andrei Eshpai - Instrumental Pieces from 1987 and Не Вспоминай from 1986

From 1986, the outstanding and brilliant American big band vocal jazz stylings of Do not Remember:

It always shocked me how well the Russians copied US jazz and fusion.  This is a great example of how they could craft a song that could've become a hit in the United States-- back in the fifties of course.  By 1986, no one really cared much for this style, I believe.  I love the dialogue between the woman, who presumably is asking the man not to remember what happened, and the chorus. (If anyone could translate the lyrics I'd appreciate it greatly.)

Note that Gurbeloshvili's Prelude reappears here in the b1 position in both albums. I guess it was too great a composition not to recycle, repeatedly.  In fact, it's rewritten for acoustic guitar solo rather than sax for the ending of the 1987 album:

The first side of 1987 is mostly classical music and is of less interest here.

Sunday 27 August 2017

The MPS Variation series: 1977, 1979 and 1981

In 1977, the first side is entirely classical music, and boring material at that, while the second is jazz and at times makes you miss side one, which is quite an achievement.

However, A2's amazing Mangelsdorff with Kuhn is a great matchup:

There is an always unfortunate tendency for Joachim to unleash his inner Niagara Falls on those poor ivories, which is a bit dried up here.  At least he is willing to dialogue with Albert, and, very much unlike my wife, not drown him out with protestations, generalizations, and a significantly louder voice in pure decibel measurement.  Anyways here's the full information for this record.

My favourite piece from the 1981 edition is a really advanced but delightful easy listening orchestral composition that I could listen to all day in the elevator:

Which is the sole reason I wanted to look further into this series or rather franchise.  And such it will remain, for now.

Friday 25 August 2017

Zbigniew Seifert's Passion, 1972 to 1979

From wiki:

Zbigniew Seifert (7 June 1946 – 15 February 1979) was a Polish jazz violinist.

Seifert was born in Kraków, Poland in 1946. He played alto saxophone early in his career and was strongly influenced by John Coltrane. He devoted himself to jazz violin when he started performing with the Tomasz Stańko Quintet in 1970 and became one of the leading modern jazz violinists before he died of cancer at the age of 32.

Have a look at the discography, note his involvement on some of the most seminal and ingenious progressive fusion albums including Dauner's Kunstkopfindianer, Kriegel's Lift, Kuhn's Cinemascope (and Springfever), Mariano's Helen 12 Trees, all of which everyone reading this should be familiar with.

When I reviewed his sadly shortened output I realized I didn't have some of the albums after I got turned off by the overlengthy Kilimanjaro from 1979 and the blandness of Man of the Light (1977) which is for some reason the most well-known of his works.  In particular this one, called Passion, also released the year of his passing, which perhaps should be regarded as a requiem for him, threw me off the chair, as I love to say.  Once again teaching us that we must attempt to complete these discographies.

His Singing Dunes, a modern composition that equals anything I've ever heard in the European classical canon of concert halls, should be his eulogy:

Which is followed but not eclipsed by the equally brilliant compositions Quo Vadis and Escape from the sun...
It should be mentioned that all the arrangement and composition is handled by Zbiggy.
Btw Chris Hinze has a production credit.

The track Laverne from the bottom LP approaches the masterpiece level of Passion:

Unfortunately I didn't find too much else of note in that record, nor in the others posted, setting aside of course his involvement as guest artist on Oregon's amazing 1978 Violin.  There are probably a couple I missed here too, like this one which scared me off.

A man who was at the top of his game, suddenly cut off from his genius by an unfortunate diagnosis-- truly tragic.
I'll remember Zbiggy, indeed...

Wednesday 23 August 2017

More from Sergey Gurbeloshvili in 1991: Sorrow of Summer

Information is here.  As expected we are dealing with American style (acoustic) jazz.  Of course I was hoping for another track like "Prelude" that would hit it out of the ballpark, but unfortunately it's night, long past the eighties even, and the park is padlocked forever... and the sorrow of summer is upon us now.

Track B2:

Monday 21 August 2017

Beyond Brilliant Brazilian Composer Marco Antonio Araujo, RIP

After hearing the Nuevos Aires, including the stunning first album (remember, it's available on itunes) I was reminded of this artist who is musically very similar-- provided the accordion is excised.

These 4 albums, all he produced solo, I've cherished and listened to hundreds of times. They appeal to me in the most profound way with their perfect mix of classical, jazz, and advanced compositions, all soaked throughout with alternating melancholy and passion.  As I've said so many times before, the three great musical inventions of humanity (rock or pop, jazz, classical) are welded together into a whole that goes far beyond what any individual musical style could achieve on its own.  If only the rest of our species could understand what I mean...

From discogs a brief but revealing bio that ends quite tragically:

Marco Antonio Araujo was born August 28, 1949 in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil. On 1968 he played in a band called Vox Populi (15), that later would become Som Imaginario. In 1970 and now living in England, he used to be a fan of bands such as: Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and Genesis, who would have great influence on his musical production. Within the next few years, Marco Antonio Araujo studied guitar and cello in Rio de Janeiro. In 1977, once again in Belo Horizonte, he joined the symphonic orchestra and soon (1980) his first album, «Influencias» was released. With only six instrumental tracks, he had already achieved an amazing sense of balance and created a personal style. Marco Antonio Araujo is a classic when it comes to Brazilian prog and also a highly recommended artist for anyone who likes both symphonic rock and prog folk. Marco has passed away on January 6, 1986, in Belo Horizonte, Minas Gerais, Brazil, at the age of 36 due to a brain aneurysm.

Most of the songs are quite long and I am assuming that his first, Influencias, is well known to everyone, so I won't post a sample.  As well I'll have to take down the links in a bit as they are apparently all CD.

Enjoy this outrageous wealth of music...  For me this was like discovering a treasure chest full of the most beautiful and unique jewels.

Friday 18 August 2017

More from William S. Fischer in The Black Composer in America (late 60s)

When I saw this of course I had to get it, especially with the honest naivete of the title.  Whether or not you enjoy this depends entirely on your taste in modern classical music complete with belted out soprano and domineering string section much like a loud abrasive and nag-prone wife, because that's what we have here.

William S. Fischer was mentioned earlier in connection with the amazing Akelarre album. In the liner notes we see he was born in 1935 in the Mississippi delta, and by this time, was already the musical director for Atlantic records.  The composition by him is almost atonal, if not wholly so, a 10-minute long prickly beast that will probably manhandle your patience into submission with its monster frightfulness.

Information is here, but reading the liner notes is more fruitful.  The shortest track is a song at the end of side a, by William Dawson:

While the lullaby for a jazz baby is sweet:

Music is played by the Oakland Youth Orchestra.

Wednesday 16 August 2017

The amazing Igor Bril (or Brill) and his Ensemble, 1978 to 1984

Hot on the heels of the Allegro, here is my favourite Russian composer after Nazaruk,  Igor Bril or Brill, who made three orchestral fusion albums which are absolute masterpieces of the genre.

Each of the albums appears with at least one more cover, some quite beautiful as you can see from the series below for the third album, Twilight from 1985.  The middle one is called An Orchestra Came and is the most well-known but all are worthy, with the first in my opinion being the best.

Here is the group discography, you can see Igor on his own did a few other records, which I don't know anything about, any info is welcome, and the fact it's written in cyrillic is highly annoying since it makes it impossible to search across the database or sometimes on google (e.g. to check ebay availability).

Unlike the case with the Allegro Ensemble, Igor packs a ton of ideas in each LP as if he had too much to say and too little time, there is a minimum of wanky improv, most of which is of high interest since it's usually some spacey synthesizer that rather than sounding extemporized actually sounds preprerared.  You can compare the first Brill album with any college LP and try to pull up your pants because the magnitude of the composition is seemingly out of this world, yes, as if it was written by brilliant aliens from a much more advanced (musically) planet, with its classical influence, as always, Strav and others, and its total mastery of music, every minute with a surprising 'twist' on some chord change or even just a well-thought out piano chord.

On the first album the long track is the title track ("Morning of the Earth," it seems to be called) and it bears very close resemblance to the aforementioned Forest Awakens of Igor Nazaruk which I'll reupload downstairs here.  When you listen you'll see there are turns and switches so that essentially a normal musician's entire 2-LP set has been zip-packed into a fifteen minute composition.  It just makes my jaw drop, particularly when Igor solos an improvisation that is almost otherworldly on the grand piano.

From the first album, And One Day:

Notice how original the unusual synthesizer or keyboard sounds are here, so much more interesting than our old college band LPs, not fair maybe to compare with those.

From the second, Today and Tomorrow:

From 1984's Twilight or Before Sunset. this is Silver Cloud:

Disappointingly perhaps, the long track on this last album (the title track) is somewhat short on ideas.  So soon, some six years following the first in 1978?  However Igor retained the (brilliant) use of unusual keyboard sounds, including in some places the signature Mike Ratledge fuzzboxed hammond.

Note always the heavy classical influence with Strav, Prokofieff, and even the Ravel 'impressionist' piano works popping up.

Monday 14 August 2017

Saxophonist Sergey Gurbeloshvili in Simple and Complex

Recently my ipod classic crashed-- I still use that antique electronic device due to its huge storage capacity, resulting in flacs being my bane-- from one day to the next the hard drive failed, and apparently after going to several repairmen,  I found out the data is unrecoverable though I was willing to spend a lot on the process. So after replacing the HD I had the task of reconstituting years of music and playlists, many albums whittled down to one favourite song, out of all the terabyte backups I had assembled over several different HDs.  Luckily the blog stuff was kept separate so those albums were easy to access (kept for the tedious task of reupping dead links).  Well it astounded me going back to 2013, 2014, what an immense quantity of great music was posted on these pages, literally hundreds of fantastic albums which often were completely unknown to humanity before (The Exceptions, for ex.).  And I'm not being boastful here because I say it only to give credit to the many people who have contributed (willing or not) to this costly labour of love.  It's true that sometimes when I've run out of material to post I go back to the oldest HDs to see what treasures I discovered elsewhere from others that I've enjoyed immensely, and this album is an example of exactly that.

To give full credit first of all to the helpers there's the uber Tom Hayes (Genre Commercial Success, Ginga Rale Band), and the amazing and mighty osurec (so many, Bob Bath Band, Sailor Band, Natural Life, etc.), but then there are all the over the world-dispersed friends who are willing to collect so many records to find the one pearl out of hundreds of ugly oysters, and I never can believe they are willing to do it-- I have a budget of 2-300 dollars a month at most beyond which I don't let myself go, for the sake of my family and children, and that's sometimes only one or two LPs when it comes to Italian library.  Then there are the requests from commentators which turned out shockingly good (Michel Herr, Simon and Bard), and the discographies that had to be completed to discover beautiful gems (Orexis, Capon and Escoude come to mind), then there are random discoveries that shocked me (Xavier Genet, Gerard Pisani).  In fact, checking back to 2013 to titles I completely forgot about, I knew that if my heart jumped to see a name or album cover, there was music that I treasured like a jewel back then (Bertha and Friends) and then promptly forgot about with the niagara waterfall of new stuff to listen to every day to the present time.

All I can do is to thank those people who helped me, many of whom fell aside on the way for understandable reasons, usually because (real) life got in the way, because the financial penalty was too great, the exhaustion built up too much to ignore, or simply they resented the fact that I've dedicated so much to being publicly accessible, since very few want their records to be shared with anybody anywhere (many of whom then turn around and claim the rip as their own on their own blogs for example, without credit). There is so much time to be taken up with researching records which might be good, buying them, ripping then, scanning the art, compared to a few seconds of downloading a file...  But it's worth the trouble, at least for me.  Recently I got a post on the Gold Night Ride album from the wife of the composer, Bob Wamnes, thanking me for comments about his genius.  That's why I call it a labour of love.  And as George Benson said, as long as there's a song to be sung, my heart will be younger than spring...

Information on this record can be found here.  The magnificent complex composition closing it out called Prelude:

I'm reminded of two of my favourite old American 'Jazz with Strings albums,' Freddie Hubbard's The Love Connection (1979), and Wynton Marsalis's Hot House Flowers (1984).  Of course, I've said before the Americans were never able to organically conjoin the classical tradition with jazz as well as the Europeans did, to my utter shock when the era of internet music sharing began after napster in the 2000s, because until then I grew up with Miles Davis and Sketches of Spain as the template for the best true 'fusion' music.  When my Swedish friend sent me the Finnforest CD  (through the original napster program, way back when) I fell out of my chair when I realized how much superior this was.  God bless Shawn Fanning.)

On the former album, the track called "This Dream" by Claus Ogerman featuring his typical intelligence mixed with delicatesse, is one of my all-time favourites.
His album with Akkerman which comprises reinterpretations of classics is also highly recommended.

More to come from Gurbeloshvili, and the former soviets...

Saturday 12 August 2017

The compleat Allegro Jazz Ensemble, 1980 to 1986: Contrasts, In This World, Golden Mean, and Sphinx

Very similar to the Boomerang albums from before, this large fusion ensemble produced 4 records featuring long tracks with overlong improvisation and less chamber music than one would expect considering the country of origin.  Of course there is always the classical influence here and there, but not to the same degree as for example Jazz Celula or any other Eastern EU fusion outfit.

Most of the tracks are too big to load up for free listening, but here's a lovely little composition full of interesting fusion textures from the second album, specifically it's In This World's Movement III:

From the first, the Concertino II:

More Russian music to come, for our friends in the white house.