Wednesday 28 February 2018

Kathryn Moses, Part One from 1976 [limited time only]

An unbelievably beautiful woman in the top photograph with her absolutely perfect anglo-saxon profile, comma-shaped eyebrows, queenlike nose, plus the delicate opening of her fingers pointing upwards as if in a Botticelli painting, I could stare at that image all day long...  as I said before in conjunction with Don Juan, even for us music lovers there is nothing that can compare to the beauty of a woman.

This very accomplished musician (a Canadian who went to university in Oklahoma), is credited with composition (note the back blurb that lists some of her material up to that point), some surprisingly professional vocalizing in both classical and jazz formats, plus virtuoso performance of flute and saxes in not only jazz line-ups but also symphony orchestras.  She toured apparently with Chuck Mangione and I see that she appeared on his 1976 record Bellavia.

Also surprising was a youtube search on her that featured this concert with Chuck in which she, now adorned with a superbly fashionable afro, sings his hokey song "Land of Make Believe" (though I shouldn't say that, having always been a huge fan of the early Mangione.) Notice also this performance from 1980 with the Ted Moses group, where you can get a better idea of what she looked like.)  So was she married to Ted? She appeared only on this (brilliant) album of his.  Were they divorced afterwards maybe?  Anyone know? or care?  What I found interesting though is that on both this album and her next, to come soon, there are hints of his compositional style, which at the time I talked about at length-- even though she is credited as composer on those tracks (that sound so similar to his).  In terms of that style, I talked about the odd chord changes with the very angular but drawn-out melodies.

On this debut record we have quite a mixture, I suppose entirely to be expected from a young artist presenting her first accomplishment.  There are clear commercial throwaways, the ancient proterozoic jazz standards that I so dread to see (luckily only two), some uptempo doodling around, and then some more positive, for us here, material sometimes involving her gorgeously sweet, part girlish, part womanly voice.  All or most of her songwriting is dominated by themes of romance or love or desire, which reminds me a lot of my old favourite Radka Toneff.

One of her quirky habits (which we will encounter in the next record as well) is an intro written in advanced classical-modern chamber instrument style that after 1-2 minutes segues into the aforementioned doodling.  The perfect example of this is a track called Touch Me with its melancholy string quartet intro that, perhaps bizarrely, leads into a latin-themed instrumental:

Monday 26 February 2018

NTSU Lab Band & The Bowie (Maryland) Senior High School "Starliners" ‎– 12 By 3 from 1971

A 2 LP set this time.

An astounding track credited to Pete Myers, trumpeter and composer in the Oliver Nelson Band, is called As in Wheaties?

Bear in mind this is the strongest track and nothing quite comes close.

Friday 23 February 2018

NTSU Lab Band, Leon Breeden, Director: Lab '76

A track called The Myth of Sisyphos (composed by Paul Loomis) couldn't possibly disappoint us, could it:

What do you think? Disappointed?  If not, certainly the remainder of this record won't disappoint you.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

Back to NTSU with Leon Breeden ‎and Lab '74!

The well written fusion proceeds apace here, with a record almost bereft of silly old jazz standards (just a Gershwin composition) and instead stuffed full with wonderfully confident composing and arranging, as evidenced by Warp Factor:

One of three written by a young Lyle Mays.

Monday 19 February 2018

NTSU Lab Band in 1971, plus 67, 82, thanks to Simon666

The last cover, its artwork so French, I love it.

Thanks to blogger Simon666 from the rhodes blog of course, we have more from this hugely talented band led by Leon Breeden to add to earlier installments from 1980 and 1975 + 1978.  (And, btw, in the future I'll be posting a lot of new rips from other years of the decade).  So by that time we'll have covered more than 15 years of the discography and then reassess.  One thing I can assure you, if you didn't already realize it: each of the LPs is worth hearing and is guaranteed to contain at least one superb gemological fusion treat.  We saw that especially with the Zebra Soars.

So for example from 1967, usually not a very promising year for fusion except if your name is Miles Davis, there's the track called Anadge:

That stunningly advanced chart written by Robert Morgan, described as a high school jazz band director.  Most of that summer of love year, predictably for the jazz phylum of the kingdom of music/life, is merely cover songs of such ancient, prezoic standards as Nature Boy (George Benson did the best version of that song ever in my opinion).

So moving on to the year 1971 we have a more promising entry, just casually looking at the kooky song titles.  First of all, the artwork is just wonderful, recalling as it does the communist geometric art of those ancient Melodiya Russian jazz LPs we know so well.  God bless the great old union of soviet republics (cccp), soon to be new union of putin republics (ccpp?).  And it would be perfectly true to say this record, from beginning to end, is well worth listening to in the most intent manner you can muster, these days, with wife and screaming kids, sorry, I meant screaming wife and kids in the near distance here at all times.  From beginning track to the extended composition called Liferaft Earth that closes it out.  The A2 track Badi' is my favourite:

It's warm and smooth, but really rewards close listening with its odd chord transformations, as well as the sudden alterations in rhythm and abrupt modulation and it's written by one Jim Milne (if this database if correct).

As might be expected, by 1982 we can no longer bank on the same kind of magical composition.  Why?  I'm not so sure myself, but the 'I want my MTV push' sure wanted simplified music too, and they sure got it.  I have trouble finding a really well written piece on this one, but maybe the Northern Lights comes close:

 At the same time, it doesn't quite compare to the sample immediately above it.

So instead let's look forward to the coming installments, as I said...

Saturday 17 February 2018

Patrick Marcel's Ostinato from 1985, by request-- highly recommended

Out of the blue, a commentator asked me for this record and it piqued my interest thanks to the youtube samples.  (Amazing what rarities show up there!  It just threw me off my chair when I saw that the ultra-unknown German Fried Chicken Band was already youtubed. Incidentally, if anyone remembers the Trump 'Make America Great' Haunted song on that post, someone finally solved that mystery by saying a bandmember wrote the song!)

This hugely talented artist unfortunately only made one record, you will notice he plays both guitars and keys and uses the latter for percussion, making this a one-man band project.  Here is his website, with his guitar school in Lyons. Did he play with any of those great French luminaries of the zeuhl or fusion styles?  It would be surprising if he didn't since there is some influence from the genre apparent here.

A track called Contrastes is just magically reminiscent of those old glorious zeuhl days although it recalls more the zeuhl-light of late Widemann  than Jacques Thollot:

Artwork By [Sculpture] – Maurice Jean
Artwork By [Sleeve Conception, Recto] – Eric Pastor
Artwork By [Sleeve Conception, Verso] – Roger Groslon
Composed By, Arranged By, Sequenced By, Guitar, Synthesizer – Patrick Marcel
Recorded By, Mixed By – Patrice Tavernier
Synthesizer, Percussion – Roger Lassalle

Enregistré et mixé en septembre et octobre 1985 au studio Tavernier - Montmiral (drôme)
Sections Rythmiques, Cuivres, Bois et Cordes:
Synthétiseur multitimbres + expandeur controlé par séquenceur digital et séquenceur de rythmes
Synthé. sur A2, A4 et B2, percussions sur A3 et B2
Premier solo sur A4, dernier solo sur B2

Enjoy it, and thanks for the request-- keep those requests coming guys... I mean, as long as they're as good as this one!

Wednesday 14 February 2018

NTSU's The Zebras in The Spirit Soars from 1980

Here's some fantastic fusion that I can guarantee you've never heard before, at least not here before, again from the North Texas State University-- what a hotbed of jazzical musicality!  Checking in the database here you can see this dynamic group comprised a number of keyboard players, with the producer being Dan Haerle (who wrote some of the tracks).  The reason for all this is clear from the back blurb:

"In Feb. 1980, Dan Haerle, associate professor of music and a member of the jazz studies faculty at the NTSU school of music formed an electronic keyboard ensemble, appropriately called The Zebras.  The ensemble consists of 5 keyboard players, a bass player, drummer and percussionist, all students at NTSU.  Each of the k. players plays two or more instruments such as electric piano, organ, clavinet, string or bass ensemble and monophonic or polyphonic synthesizers.  This versatility results in up to 15 different keyboards being played at the same time in concerts.  The musical effect is that of a well-produced record album that requires extensive overdubbing of parts in a recording studio, but can be created in a live performance by The Z.  The original purpose of The Z., was to provide advanced k. players in the jazz studies program at NTSU with an intensive reading situation typical of contemporary studio work.  Also, the music performed by The Z. is usually new and related to current music idioms that involve electronics, such as funk and fusion styles.  The scope of The Z. repertoire, as evidenced on their first album, is quite varied, and ranges from Bach to bebop and 'space music'.  The Z. have performed at the Wichita (Kansas) Jazz Festival and at the National Association of Jazz Educators' Convention in Chicago in January 1982 where producer Vince Morette heard them for the first time.  It was as a result of this first hearing that Mark Records was fortunate enough to bring to you: The Zebras."

And fortunate we are to hear them too, with this their sole release.  Consistently excellent from beginning to end in my opinion, the high energy and the differences in sound, as mentioned due to the use of various keyboards, make this a fantastic slice of the college band days -- R.I.P...

An amazing composition from one of the keyboardists, Bill Howard, called M-87, reminds me a lot of pro New Zealand fusioneers Dr. Tree, with its madly mobile dissonances riffing over the thumpingly off-binary bass rhythms:

Yeah, the Spirit surely soared, back then-- fer shure...

Monday 12 February 2018

Humez Bros. Life of Bongo Bill (USA 1976), by request

A DIY type opera concept album presumably from a handful of University students from Cambridge, Mass.,  mixing sun worshiping Egyptian memes, the Epic of Gilgamesh, operatic singing, and some bluegrass or barbershop quartet tunes-- mostly accompanied by the piano, not the usual orchestral or chamber instruments: like, what?

Check out how the baroque recitativo played on harpsichord (as in Mozart's Don Giovanni) sounds here laid down by these kids:

Even more out there is the description of the story, to be found on the blurb on the back of the sleeve:

  Bongo Bill is born of the union of the sun with Peter Leitmoor Tief.  He subsequently courts and wins Anna McCassor, a ray of sunlight.  But (boy loses girl) how are they to live happily ever after if, owing to her singular physiology, Anna is obliged to absent herself from Bill daily from dusk to dawn?  The solution is plain enough: Bill will simply circle the globe daily with Anna.  As the story is about to end happily, the question of Peter's spiritual well-being is anastrophically raised and rapidly resolved, he will have nightly congress with Nut.  The sun is praised and they live happily ever after.

  Happily ever after you say?  A life of perpetual sunlight would make any man dream of flight to the realm of night.  Bongo Bill is no different from you or me: tired and disgruntled, he ponders Zeno's paradoxes and falls asleep.  If the moon falls into the marketplace in ancient Anatolia, Bongo Bill follows.  In a local tavern a weathered ferryman recalls the legendary Gilgamesh and his quests.  Bill awakens from the cyclic dream of escape to the fact that Anna has borne him a son.

Unfortunately the linkage between side a's Egyptian and Sun themes, and side b's Epic of Gilgamesh with the death of Enkidu, is highly awkward in my opinion.

The finale:

Let's recall my wife's infamous comments which are so a propos here, 'they were all stoned back then...'

Better is the poem at the top of the verso:

I wait for the night
When my Nut will arrive
With the heliacal rising
Of Sothis

On the tips of her breasts
And her milky way mons
Will my members illumined
Tonight delightfully
Touch and alight

For a light second miming
The heliacal rising
Of Sothis

Saturday 10 February 2018

Back to Jeannie Lewis: Live in 1974 on Bastille Day

As usual, we have to make sure there's nothing too interesting hiding in the incomplete discographies, and this one from 1974 seemed pretty obvious sitting there between the other two albums posted earlier... but you never know, right?  Well, never knowing is sometimes better for certain things, like this album.  It's a mixed bag, unfortunately that left out the inventive prog of the 1976 double LP.  Compositions are from a mixture of sources, including Graham Lowndes as mentioned earlier.

Notice the first side is almost 28 minutes long!

"A retrospective, introspective, prospective programme of songs and such 
"LOOKING BACKWARDS TO TOMORROW" a final farewell fantasy 
JEANNIE LEWIS AT THE STATE THEATRE (Sydney) on Bastille Day, 1974"

Wednesday 7 February 2018

North Texas State University Lab Band (NTSU) in '75 and '78

The series was recommended by a commentator and when I saw the 1975 installment with the involvement of Chick Corea and Lyle Mays, I knew it had to be worth hearing.  The B1 track is in fact the sole composition from the former luminary, and it's called What Was, available for your listening pleasure here on youtube.

Just to backtrack a little, the discography makes it clear this was a very enduring franchise in the pantheon of university jazz big bands, which we've already covered pretty extensively.  Note the famed Peabody College one, for example.  On Wikipedia you can find an extensive history, perhaps too extensive, where the band is called the "One O'clock Lab Band," but:

Leon Breeden (1921–2010) presided when "The One O'Clock" was added as part of the official name in the early 1960s. North Texas has several lab bands, each bearing the name of their respective rehearsal times.  When Leon Breeden took over the Lab Band Program in 1959, there were four lab bands, then referred to as "Units:" One O'Clock, Two O'Clock, Three O'Clock, and Five O'Clock. At that time, the Two O'Clock was the premier band known as Laboratory Dance Band A.

Note that from wikipedia's Lyle Mays page, you can see that at the tender age of 22:

He graduated from the University of North Texas after attending the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He composed and arranged for the One O'Clock Lab Band and was the composer and arranger of Grammy nominated album Lab 75.

I'm going to be brutally honest here and state that his contributions were a bit disappointing to me, especially given the creative oddness of the titles of his pieces which raises high expectations, having little resemblance to the masterpieces with Metheny and on his solo album.

The 1978 installment is a really tastefully smooth and enjoyable slice of big band fusion from the late 70s, very typical of the times and their far remove from the unfortunate early days of the big band genre. The first track from 1978 called Elf:

Monday 5 February 2018

Takeshi Inomata & The Third's Morning Glory (1972 version) by request

This particular version, quadrophonic for what it's worth, of the album is the one ripped.  Notice the presence of Kimio Mizutani on guitars, famous for his 1971 prog opus Path Through the Haze.  The composer throughout is Norio Maeda whose work I'm really not all that familiar with though it seems most of his albums are stuffed with those standards I've complained about before.

All in all, this record features some very nice big band / fusion, smoothly rolling chords and the customary electric keyboards and drums pumping the music along.  The track called Alone has such a nice I Remember Clifford groove to it:

Saturday 3 February 2018

Herbert Joos Quartet ‎– Ballad 1 (1979, Germany) by request

Back to the German jazz which has served us well here in these pages, to fulfill a request.  We've had some Herbert Joos (trumpet, flugelhorn) before-- most recently here, but also on the Daybreak album and in the band Part of Art.

This record is from 1978 and he's rounded out by Jürgen Wuchner on bass, Thomas Cremer on drums, & Paul Schwarz on piano. Notice he played in the Frederick Rabold group, and teamed up with Roidinger and Joos in 1975 for that great New Jazz Ensemble record.

Anyways, with this record, you get what you were expecting, no less, and no more presumably.

"All composed by H. Joos except Green Meadow by Schwarz, and Variation, by the bassist."

The lovely composition called Variation: