Friday 29 September 2017

Tranzam Pt 2, August 9th: 1975

Sadly this album, although shortly temporally after, doesn't quite hit the heights of the previous installment, the ST album, but perhaps this track (Rose-Coloured Days) comes close:

Or perhaps not.  You can decide now.

Quick addendum from my friend:

 Tranzam started in 1974 with the ex-members of Flower Travelin Band  & The Happenings Four.
 This 1st album is very rare (never released as CD).   They formed this band to create original Japanese rock in Japanese language . But after releasing this 1st album, they faced a huge wall and some original members left this band (only Chito Kawachi remained as original member).
 But the band continued until 1981 and released a lot of hit pop singles.

Didn't know that connection, there's one for Tom Hayes... he should be pretty sad right about now he stopped collectin' them rarities... well I guess lucky for us there's one fewer person in the competition.

Wednesday 27 September 2017

Transfusion Cat Call from Germany 1984

I was reminded of this one after listening to all that violin fusion.  The band, highly proficient, unfortunately never made another album.  The primary composer was Matz Claus, who also doesn't appear much further.  Matthias Buck is the brilliant violinist, again with relatively little to his credit.
Highly recommended though, and with not so much 80s influence as one would expect in the George Orwell year.

Monday 25 September 2017

Gerardo Bátiz ‎En Concierto 1985, finally

I posted most of his material in the past, from Cristal, Isla, Arlequin, to Azul con Leche, and this one was missing.  Technically it's the album that came after what is certainly his masterpiece, Arlequin, which really should also stand as, in general, a masterpiece of the whole genre of chamber (classical) progressive fusion no matter where you are who you are or what species you may happen to belong to.  Needless to state we have a slight diminution in creative conflagration by this time, perhaps the track called Oasis most recalls the earlier brilliance of his undeniable genius:

But again the commercial devil in the left ear whispering money, success, power, seems to have overpowered the angel of uncompromising beauty in the right ear, with an onslaught of latin by-the-numbers tracks including steel drums on the Trinidadian entry...  a bit too bad.

Saturday 23 September 2017

Don Sebesky does classical music in 1979

I knew him from the 2-LP fusion masterpiece Giant Box and was surprised I never listened to this one before since it's right up my alley, more than that, it's the very alley I made my home in, for many years, under a cardboard shack.

On Giant Box, the song about flying with vocals by Don pretending he's Chet Baker, and doing a convincing job of it at that, is simply stunning:

In fact, the whole record for me is an exemplar of great progressive fusion.  Those were certainly the days...
Then, after a disappointing "Rape of El Morro," in 1979 Sebesky made this beautiful classical-jazz 'third stream' type record.

The Rite of Spring, a piece of music I could never get tired of hearing:

How wonderful to hear what the warmth of jazz piano can bring to the cold chemical sterility of classical composition!

The full information for these arrangement / compositions can be found here.  Notice they are amalgams of Bartok, Stravinsky (obviously) and Bach, written by Sebesky.  The long symphonic work based on Bartok has the impressive full title of "Bird And Belá In B Flat - A Musical Account Of An Imaginary Meeting Between Charlie "Bird" Parker And Belá Bartók In The Form Of A Concerto For Jazz Quintet And Orchestra In B Flat."  Wow.  Yes indeed those were the days.
For those who are interested, few as they are, the orchestra is the (London) Royal Philharmonic directed by one Harry Rabinowitz.

The album closes out with one of those incredibly beautiful 70s melodies, the kind of melody one can only hear from this period in fact, pensively melancholy and classically gentle, like Colombier's Emmanuel:

You can see that it's credited to co-composers Sebesky and Bach.  I don't remember which composition it is by Johann Sebastian but I remember playing it once long ago on the piano.

Wednesday 20 September 2017

Stunning Japanese band Tranzam, Pt 1

You can see that these guys, currently unknown, were highly prolific in the 70s, starting from funky rock reinterpretations of classical music favourites a la Sound Creation (but superior in my opinion) in their debut called Funky Steps and a brilliant pop-rock-progressive self-titled record for number two, which are the 2 presented today.  Gotta dig the cover photo with the dark cloudy backdrop on the bottom album.

So, from the first record, a stunningly performed excerpt from tired old classic Peer Gynt:

Mellotron fans will jump out of their seats or perhaps wheelchairs when they listen to this one: these boys actually use the heaven-sent mello for their string section on top of the funkiest possible rendition of this classical trash.  It doesn't get any better than this folks.  Except when they returned the next year for a ST record.

So on this second album there is tons of good material that overall reminds me a lot of the School Band.  Obviously the Japanese were not just excellent at progressive fusion but could do original progressive pop seventies songwriting absolutely perfectly.  The fact that this enjoyable material was totally shut out of FM radio in that time period is tragic to say the least, the fact it's completely unknown today on for example satellite radio, is criminal.

Listen to Mr. Minomushi:

Let's see, what is it that makes this track an absolute top-40 stunner? There's the lovely guitar solo intro, the funkiness of the choppy electric piano sound, combined with slapped electric guitar, the refrain that goes 'oh-oh' (perhaps too similar to the Rolling Stones' Can't You Hear me Knocking?) the sheer grooviness of it all, the progression from seemingly talking to high-pitched chorus on the fourth chord above (i.e. key of A), the two breaks in the song-- to me, these are all ingredients of a successful pop song.  What can I say, other than that it breaks the heart to think the human population has missed this kind of genius for so many years.  And obviously will continue to do so.

I think personally this is the best track, but there's at least a handful more that are quite delectable.  Let's keep those Japanese lost rarities coming because boy do they ever beat the old tired garbage they play every day on the radio at my workplace... 'cuz she's buying a stairway to heaven...
And many thanks to my friends for helping to discover this one!!  I bow before you....

Interested note from my friend:

 Tranzam started in 1974 with the ex-members of Flower Travelin Band  & The Happenings Four.
 This 1st album is very rare (never released as CD)
 They formed this band to create original Japanese rock in Japanese language .
 But after releasing this 1st album, they faced the huge wall and some original members left this band,(only Chito Kawachi remained as the original member)
 But the band continued until 1981 and released a lot of hit pop singles.

Monday 18 September 2017

More MPS variation in 1978

More from this variety act, with some more disappointing jazz numbers this time on side 2, the usual organ music on side one and a nice piece by Rachmaninoff, a sonata for piano and cello, which for me was the highlight.

The full-on contents

A1 Kurt Rapf: Großer Gott, Wir Loben Dich, Nr. 10 Aus "Kleine Choralvorspiele Nach Den Gebräuchlichsten Choralen, Op. 135a
Composed By – Max Reger
Organ – Kurt Rapf

A2 Kurt Rapf: Introduktion Und Fuge, 3. Satz Aus "2. Sonate D-moll, Op. 60"
Composed By – Max Reger
Organ – Kurt Rapf

A3 Ludwig Hoelscher, Kurt Rapf: Andante, 3. Satz Aus "Sonate Pour Piano Et Violoncelle, Op. 19"
Cello – Ludwig Hoelscher
Composed By – Sergej Rachmaninoff

Suite Für Flöte Und Orchester:

A4.1 –Symphonie-Orchester Kurt Graunke*, Franz Grothe 1. Satz
Composed By, Conductor – Franz Grothe
Orchestra – Symphonie-Orchester Kurt Graunke*
A4.2 –Symphonie-Orchester Kurt Graunke*, Franz Grothe 2. Satz
Composed By, Conductor – Franz Grothe
Orchestra – Symphonie-Orchester Kurt Graunke*
A4.3 –Das Große Orchester Willi Stech*, Willi Stech 3. Satz
Composed By – Franz Grothe
Conductor – Willi Stech
Orchestra – Das Große Orchester Willi Stech*

B1 Supersax: Oop Bop Sh'Bam
Written-By – Parker*, Gillespie*

B2 Milt Buckner: Locked Hands For Hans
Bass – J.A. Rettenbacher
Written-By, Drums – Kenny Clare
Written-By, Piano – Milt Buckner

B3 Alphonse Mouzon: Master Funk
Electric Bass – Welton Gite
Keyboards – Stu Goldberg
Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Gary Bartz
Written-By, Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Keyboards – Alphonse Mouzon

B4 The Singers Unlimited And The Roger Kellaway Cello Quartet: Honeysuckle Rose
Written-By – Razaf*, Waller*

B5 Art Van Damme Quintet: Misty
Written-By – Garner

B6 George Shearing: The Party Is Over
Bass – Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen
Guitar – Louis Stewart
Piano – George Shearing
Written-By – Green/Comden*, Styne

Too bad about Roger Kellaway's contribution here, he was a masterful genius, serene and deeply philosophical, on the two albums Cello Quartet (1971) and Come to the Meadow (1974).  Then when I bought and ripped the 1972 album Center of the Circle I was shocked at how irredeemably bad it was and gave up on him.  Of course, as we know, it's the pressure of commercial success that causes these artistic lapses, it's not in any way his fault, nor is he to blame at all previously for writing music especially in the first mentioned album of a delicacy and beauty that is impossible to appreciate for most of humanity...
This MPS comp did remind me though of (drummer) Alphonse Mouzon, of course another fusion star of the seventies worth exploring fully.

Friday 15 September 2017

Review of another violinist: the great Didier Lockwood, with his relatively unknown album from 1978: Thank You Friends

We covered David Rose long ago, Zbiggy Seifert more recently, Zippy Reinhardt less recently, and here we are now with Lockwood.  There is also the slightly  lesser known French violinist Michel Ripoche who was covered extensively in the prognotfrog days of the paleozoic.

When I was desperate to hear Lockwood's New World again recently (to restore the masterpieces to my fixed ipod) I saw to my dismay there was an item in his oeuvre outstanding from 1978, namely this one he made in collaboration with the great Francois Cahen (who I just read passed away in 2011).  Everyone knows with whom he played, right?

Consider the dreamy atmospherics of Reves de Musique:

And then consider the fact that it's representative of the entirety of this wonderful LP filled with long and well-thought-out tracks and advanced composition.

For ages my favourite piece from Lockwood has been La manufacture du sucre englouti:

It's so beautiful it's like magic.  With (co-composer) Gordon Beck on piano, starting off by channeling Bill Evans obviously but moving on to create an amazing amalgam of classical Ravel and the tenderest jazz piano.  Those were the days, right?  (I'm not sure wherefrom the curious title derives, it means The manufacture of submerged sugar).

I didn't include the 1981 Fusion which is good but well-distributed online, but I did the next year's Fasten Seatbelts, which despite a couple of tracks is mostly disappointing.  Having said that, listen to his ingenious musical exploration of the largest blood vessel, the Aorta:

Btw reviewing Lockwood reminded me of the Catherine - Escoude - Lockwood trio album from here.  For those with better memories than myself, Didier also appeared (with Escoude) on the amazing String Summit record that featured Wolfgang Dauner.  And I should mention his brother the keyboardist Francis who also made some great fusion records back in the day, including Debbi.

So who's the best of the fusion violinists?  The overpopular Jean-Luc Ponty, David Rose, Reinhardt, Zbiggy Seifert, Michel Ripoche, or our current feature?  In all honesty the best single album is Seifert's Passion, but as a whole, Lockwood had the most amazing work, especially when you listen to Surya and the way it flows together so beautifully from start to finish.

Wednesday 13 September 2017

More Gurbeloshvili in 1989's Бриз????

It seems the Russians weren't immune to the blandness of fuzak in the 80s, and sadly neither am I since it knocks me down like a fatigue-inducing fever.  Information is here.  Despite the brilliance of the Prelude composition, there's not much else to find in his discography so I'll close it now.  The title track is this one:

Monday 11 September 2017

Max Groove in City People (1981) and Dream Street (1983)

Max Groove is aka Brian Hohmann. This first album from him/them is perfectly done instrumental fusion, such as we have heard so many times already on these pages, but such as we never grow tired of, somehow.  The lush and gorgeous Water Colours, so perfectly evocative of its title:

Which is reminiscent of Wally Shorts for sure.

In the 2nd album here, from 1983, we have a much lighter fusion on tap, as can only be expected from such blandly innocuous song titles like 'Sunchaser' and 'Espresso' (I always dread seeing a track called that on a fuzak record knowing it will be so uncaffeinated and weak as to make me want to throw it back in the barista's face.)

There is still some magic left in these guys though-- check out the keyboard synths that the Psychic knew before he even met us that we love so dearly, amazing how he does it:

Saturday 9 September 2017

More from Venezuelan Virgilio Araque Reyes with his Guitar Concerto from 1982

Everyone remember him?  No?  Actually neither did I.  But check here where I posted his fusion masterpiece.  Later I mentioned him, perhaps inappropriately, in connection with our new discovery Nuevos Aires.  In fact this album came only two years after the Jamin in Venez but is quite different.  Sadly, like Brazilian Marco Araujo, he was fated to die soon after, in 1984, at the ridiculously young age of 31.

I love the photos on the back with their totally lo-fi view of two dudes in the basement, so far from that classical music stage they deserve.  And think of those poor Venezuelans... bound to suffer again as in (colonial) times past, with a brief respite in the holiday 4-star resort of democracy.  I've said it before: our 'liberal' democracies of the last 2-3 centuries in the West are likely going to prove short-lived, for many reasons, not just the presence of an infamous president.  Those who are familiar with the probability or statistical edifice based on Bayes theorem can appreciate why: the democracies of the past, few as they were, didn't last long and eventually all reverted back to autocracy, fragmentation or civil war, etc.  If you apply Bayes to our politics, the good times are not going to last much longer for any of us.  And if you employ Bayes at a species wide level, with the fact that 99 percent of species who have ever lived have gone extinct, those alive now being the remainder, things don't look any better.  And I covered Brandon Carter's anthropic argument that our presence on the earth today can be inferred to mean that the human population will crash in the next 100 years and trail off afterwards (completing the bell curve).

I love the childish arguments of on the one hand the AI promoters, who feel computers will take over from the human mind, and on the other, Hawking's recent suggestion we have 100 years to leave the planet.  Really? Who will leave, you and me, and that bunch of poor people who live downtown too?  The rocket will be like a soup kitchen and feed them for a few decades?  And will download their minds onto computers one day?  All of us? Even the billion people who will be populating India at that time? They're ALL getting tickets onboard the spacecraft?  They're going to be building shanty towns and slums onboard, complete with cardboard roofs?  Even the lower caste people who can then clean our toilets? The inhabitants of favelas get to take over computers too? and kill innocent virtual mothers instead of real ones?  That's why I refer to these ideas as childish.  Set in the social landscape of this real planet earth, they're laughable, like the kinds of things my 10-year old boy will say.  No, forget AI, computers, and spaceships, we will have to fix this only planet we have and it will be hard work, like cleaning up after a cat 5 hurricane, except the hurricane is everywhere.

And for entirely similar reasons it will be painfully hard to keep democracy alive in our countries that have enjoyed it so long.  Just look at Venezuela-- how quickly and easily it was taken away.  One person with more power than millions.

This is sadly solo guitar for the most part, quite different from the earlier magnificent record.  But the bowed bass works well in the last tracks La Llegada:

And let's hope hurricane Donald, hot on the heels of hurricanes Irma, Harvey, and soon Jose,  along with a huge earthquake in Mexico needing more dreamer deportations to rubble zones doesn't make this month 'Mega-Disasters Special!' month on the Discovery Channel...   Apparently, and thankfully, Trump decided to go with the speechwriters for his next rally: they convinced him to change his chosen title: "Sorry Marty King-- I don't have a dream... "

Actually it's time to wake up now...

Wednesday 6 September 2017

Back again to Rhea's Sad Sorceress

Once again it gives me great pleasure to interrupt the regularly scheduled programming of posts, of which you knew nothing of course, with a surprise....

As an illustration of the general principle that everything no matter how expensive or rare becomes available eventually, back we come to this one and this time with a full download for everyone to enjoy, thanks to an unknown and faceless but hugely generous ripper.

It was about two years ago that I reviewed this insanely pricey little quasi-Pulsarish symphonic rarity and mentioned how it was slightly disappointing for us digital collectors, and I imagine, bone-crushingly disappointing for anyone who might have experienced the epileptic fit of purchasing on a site such as discogs.  Now no need for anything of the kind for all of us ordinary humans, since the cost of upgrading to a 'true lossless' not a proven fake lossless is hardly worth another mortgage on the house, and will, no doubt, result in some matrimonial acrimony-- should your wife ever find out.  Just be thankful that in divorce court you'll get to keep your record collection (including your precious Rhea Sad Sorceress) as you watch the judge give the home and SUV to your wife. Of course, enjoy it as much as possible, because before long you'll be broke and be forced to sell it all to pay the danged lawyer and child support.  And don't offer him your precious records, he'll laugh at you outright, he doesn't want your stupid Rhea, maybe pity you a bit as he hears you talk of sad sorceresses you once loved and how much of a sad loser you are like in that Paula Moore song with a sixpack at your side, singing along to records in the basement that are 40 years old already...

You can read my past comments which in my opinion are totally accurate, certainly much more so than any other reviewer, or Tom's review which was more harsh.  Most of the tracks are well worth more than one listen, perhaps one and half for 4 out of 7, with a couple warranting repeat study.  It all depends on to what extent you have patience for bland symphonic progressive rock (e.g. Novalis, Grobschnitt, etc.) with by the numbers chord changes and monotonous vocals.

The best song is the instrumental asylum one as mentioned earlier, with its nice tritonal and other dissonances, and you can hear the sample I uploaded before:

Monday 4 September 2017

Andrew Cyrille, Dom Um Romao, Pandit Prakash Maharaj, Connie Bauer, Lennart Åberg, Bernd Konrad, Luis Di Matteo, Vikash Maharaj, Tom van der Gel, Rudy Smith, David Friesen ‎in To Hear The World In A Grain Of Sand (World Music - Live At The Donaueschingen Festival)

Several familiar names in here obviously, this consists of 4 long tracks, all by different composers, that are not overly boring.  In general I stay away from any description using the words world music but at this earlier stage (1986) the simplistic ethnic component is thankfully minimal, and in fact, the level of composition seems quite advanced.   Title track is by Bernd Konrad, German sax player.

And Happy Laborious Day to everyone out there...

Friday 1 September 2017

Thom Mason in Be Do Have, 1980 USA

Another nice jazzy fusion album from the US, rare as heck, with surprisingly nice moments.  Information here.