Sunday 30 June 2019

Roy Burns with the Dick Grove Big Band-- Big, Bad and Beautiful (USA 1973)

American jazz drummer, percussionist and educator. 
Roy played (among others) with Woody Herman and Benny Goodman. His name sometimes appeares (incorrectly) as Roy Burnes, Ray Burnes and Roy Burness on recordings. 

b. Nov. 30, 1935 in Emporia, KS. 
d. May 2, 2018, Fullerton, CA

This 1973 matchup is a wonderful big band album, for those who have a taste for that much neglected and maligned genre, and some very nice compositions.  It's a bit less progressive than the customary content on this blog, even less than some of the most posted college band stuff like the Towson State series or NTSU.  I'm not sure why the Dick Grove big band appears only on this record, with no other listings, if it was just a nonce project for Roy Burns, or how it relates.  Note that Roy Burns made another college band album prior to this one with song titles appearing to my eyes somewhat more humdrum.

Anyways, by far the best composition is My Lady, which you can hear here:

Friday 28 June 2019

Abbhama's Alam Raya from Indonesia

It's true that Indonesia did make some phenomenal progressive rock, mostly emanating from Giant Step and Benny Soebardja.  (Someday I should post all the Giant Step albums, which are all distinctly inferior to Giant on the Move! but do contain some nice progressive tracks here and there.)  And on this blog we've called attention to British-Indonesian library composer Toni Campo (misspelled as the more proper Tony earlier).  He made a great album called Garuda, which should still be kicking around here.  So it shouldn't be too much of a surprise to discover this one, which is in the symphonic prog vein, complete with flute, synth-strings, etc., mostly recalling the classical-influenced early Italians like PFM, Banco, Celeste.

It looks like they made only one album, back in 1978, only released to cassette.  Surprisingly the discogs bio is longer than usual, or than expected:

It's hard for a band outside Europe or USA to reach the rest of the world and sadly some good material is lost due to the limitations of Asian or African countries, this is the case of ABBHAMA, an Indonesian band who released a cassette in 1978 called "Alam Raya".  The information about them is pretty hard to find being that they were not popular even in Indonesia because as in many countries of Asia, the charts are dominated by native Folk bands and Pop groups mainly from United States and there's a very small fan base for Progressive Rock bands. ABBHAMA was born in 1977 and was the brainchild of the talented keyboardist Iwan Madjid, who was clearly influenced by Yes, Genesis, ELP and all the Symphonic icons but with also a strong French and Italian influence, the special touch are the lyrics sung in their native language and the clear ethnic influences.  The addition of Oboe by Hendro (That's how the musician is credited) gave them a very special and unique taste. Due to the strong and characteristic Indonesian sound, ABBHAMA could have a place in Folk Prog, but the essence of their music is clearly Symphonic. 
Sadly their story ends with the release of Alam Raya, proving once more that you don't only need to be skilled but also require to have the luck of being born in a country with a strong musical industry. 
After ABBHAMA disbanded Iwan Madjid and the bassist Darwin formed a more mainstream oriented band named WOW that apparently had more luck in the Indonesian charts releasing three albums. 
Iván Melgar Morey - Perú

For example the track called Keriadaan Yang Ada checks off some of the biggest elements of  the symphonic prog style, incl. the tempestuous hammond organ riff intro, the quoting of another well-known tune (God Save the Queen), chamber instrumentation (aforementioned oboe), digital synths, an odd chord change or two, sudden rhythm changes, a middle section that knocks off some tritonal or diminished chord riffs:

Not all the music holds up to scrutiny, but there's a handful of tracks that one needs to listen to repeatedly to appreciate, which is a good thing.

Wednesday 26 June 2019

Kornet's Digital Master Direct Cut (1979)

This is a well known Swedish band that made three albums of tight furious fusion in the late seventies, with that typical intellectual, thoughtful, European style.   Much like Scope, Finnforest, etc., etc.  Less well known is their EP from 1979 with three interesting, perhaps not exceptional tracks.  The 727 one:

And it's a good thing this wasn't called 737 or it would've surely crashed and burned.

You can see they really cared about their album art too, with a great deal of variety from beginning painting to the gorgeous sunset end photo.

Monday 24 June 2019

Concerto for Padre with Cozzetti - Gemmill plus Fred Taylor

You all remember Fred Taylor (I hope), I mentioned him recently in connection with Baird Hersey.  Apparently the year before his magnum opus he teamed up with these two jazz artists (specifically, trumpeter and pianist Bob Cozzetti and saxophonist Tim Gemmill), performing percussion, but without contributing any of his gloriously inventive compositions.  The other member of the quartet is bassist Steve Bartlett.

The final track, called Capt. Pike (remember him from Star Trek?):

It's very piano-based, contemporary, modal jazz, lacking the fusion fire.  And the chamber music experimentation aspects.
So, a bit of a disappointment from the heights of Court of Circe.

Friday 21 June 2019

Sunrise, USA 1977

A really lovely happy cover like that, has to be promising... & indeed we have that wonderful warm 'n' funky AOR pop-rock sound, heated up by the addition of a bit of slapped bass rhythm, the electric keyboards, the three-part harmony vocals usually in triads, plus some exciting fusion.  Will the US wonders never cease?  Very similar to so many others I've 'discovered' (thanks to my lookout friends) and posted such as our favourite Baby Grand, the amazing tax scam band Sunshine, What's it To Ya, etc., etc.

Fusion fans will really dig the instrumental excitement on the wonderful astronomy of Saturn Rain:

The fast guitar riffs augmented by classical fugue-like patterns or chords plus that mix of sounds with adept use of synths, keys (the harpsichord sound), etc.  is so classically 70s, isn't it?

From recorddigger via rym:

Sprightly Late 70's Pop Rock Obscurity
Obscure late 70’s pop rock outfit led by keyboardist Domenic Cicchetti.  This was Cicchetti’s first project – he would eventually keep working in the field branching out into other areas such as being a “musical instrument product specialist”.  Sunrise is a melodic set of warm 70’s pop rock full of energetic twists and turns. The uplifting catchy chorus “Can You Find Some Time For Me” is the foundation of the standout power pop rocker ‘Find Some Time’. The foursome rocks out on ‘Found My Love’ and adds some progressive spice.

Some more info here.  And Domenic Cicchetti here.

A not mentioned but better example of all of the above verbiage can be found on their Sunrise Scherzo:

Thanks to all those who help me to discover and bring to light these lost works from deep in the ground...

Wednesday 19 June 2019

Yugo Radio Jazz Orchestra RTB 1978 and 1980

A recommendation from a new and wonderful, very knowledgeable source, I was impressed by the level of composition here.  As usual we have some creative ideas thrown in to the standard late seventies big band lineup of instruments and enough fusion to elevate it from the humdrum.  Similar to the big bands from our college days, if you remember those many posts, but more professional and more progressive.

The RTB is radio-television Belgrade (now capital of Serbia, in those days we called it Yugoslavia obviously).  The discogs database couldn't possible be complete here given how lengthy the intermission was between 1963 and the first presented today, the ST from 1978-- much too long for the necessary piss in the bathroom, even if it's just a unisex outhouse.  And you fainted from the fumes and knocked your head on the seat, rendering yourself unconscious for a decade.
Over on rym as one might expect, there is even fewer.

As I said the compositions are very strong.  From 1978, the brilliant Atlantis track:

Note also that it's a 2-LP set.  Wonderful stuff to explore, some quite ingenious musical ideas throughout.  I really liked this one.

On the 1980 album Po Sumama i Gorama (i.e.: For the math fans and the gore fans), behold the smooth, lovely libraryish but classical-permeated sound of Mi Zaplakalo selo Vatasa (i.e., I plopped myself down atop the fat opera singer):

Monday 17 June 2019

Mars Everywhere rarities

Obviously, this band is famous among the prog cognoscenti (currently numbering 11, with the loss of one fan to the Bieber Believers) for the wonderful mix of electronic and more advanced rock compositions on the 1980 album Industrial Sabotage.  What I'm betting others out there don't realize is that there is more material, of lesser quality admittedly, to listen to, and live performances from the seventies.  Specifically, compared to I.S., there is more of the meandering electronica to wade through or to contend with.

First of all, as usual, from cd reissue:

Random Radar is the ancestor to the popular Cuneiform Records label. They had some interesting acts, but none were more intriguing than Mars Everywhere. The music here is a cross between, Canterbury (due to The Muffins influence), space rock, avant prog and free rock. Gets a little loose and annoying in places, but when they catch a groove, the fireworks are undeniable. Some brilliant guitar work, and it's just this space rock element that becomes the album's ace in the hole. Worth tracking down. (Priority 3)

I don't think there's any need for a sample track here from the original album (artist databased here).  If anyone hasn't heard it yet, I beg you to grab it and listen to it-- fast.  I've known this release for many years and have loved it for as many so it came as quite a shock to find out there were other recordings released and available: not one, but two separate performances.  First of all, there is the 1989 cassette of live from 1979 to 1980.  Some sparse information can be found here.  A helpful annotation below:

1. The Applied Journey 6'34"
2. Zöln 10'31"
3. Enchanted Domain [Excerpt] 1'55"
4. V*Jer / Enchanted Domain 11'32"
5. Zöln 10'25"
1. Zone Of Twilight 6'22"
2. Tonal Photons 6'47"
3. Xmas Interludes 2'01"
4. Mare Chromium 9'03"
5. Mare Chromium 7'50"
6. Encore 6'38"

A1-3: Recorded at DC Space (28/2/80)
A4+5: Recorded at the Washington Ethical Society (21/12/78)
B1-4: Recorded at Trinity Theatre (15/12/78)
B5+6: Recorded at Mars Studio (14/1/79)

You can see that most of the tracks from the original album appear here.

From the 1979 Trinity Theatre set, the Twilight Zone homage gives you an idea of the 'meandering' space rock sound of the band which appealed so much to Tom Hayes (and also the poor quality of the recording, which I despise):

Then in 1989 the band came back to the studio because they obviously couldn't take no for an answer, with another cassette comprising three very long tracks of electro-space rock.  I can't sample it due to the lengths (first track, Calling Bats, is 47 minutes long).  Suffice it to say that it's very similar to the live cassette, dissimilar to the original 1980 Industrial Sabotage release, in lacking tight ideas, and because I don't have a taste for 'space rock' (guitar meandering in one key, usually E or A), and experimental electronic doodling, I didn't much like it.
Them bats with the ultrasonic hearing probably loved it though.

Friday 14 June 2019

Azerbaijan composer Rafiq Babayev

Sometimes a brilliant artist or composer is utterly forgotten due to the misfortune of being restricted to one small country, and if that place is as secluded and isolated from the Western world as Azerbaijian, it's obvious the reverse would have been far more surprising.  Add to that his music is very much indebted to the European jazz world of the sixties and the soundtrack world of the 70s, despite being made almost a decade later, and you will have even less expectation for ultimate survival.  Nonetheless his music, which is mostly made for (home country) films, I think, is some of the rarest quality music yet to be unearthed in vinyl format.  You can see for example on discogs the sheer paucity of listings, when you compare with what has been accumulated on the wikipedia (English) page to tease us.

The intro to his bio:

Rafig Farzi oglu Babayev (Azerbaijani: Rafiq Farzi oğlu Babayev, 31 March 1937 – 19 March 1994) was an Azerbaijani jazz musician, composer, conductor, arranger, author of scores for films, and People's Artist of Azerbaijan (1993).

I am particularly interested in the one soundtrack for a movie translated as "I Want to Understand" (psych. thriller, according to a brief description, not databased in imdb) from 1980, with the following gorgeous, Rocchi-like electric piano sound:

If that's not enough to convince you, consider this track called Anlamaq isteyirem:

You might be even more shocked to find out he was adept at some very interesting folk-tinged fusion (akin to Anor's Pomegranate):

This, a track called Daglarga bayram, for what it's worth.  It reminded me too of Russian E. Artemiev's 'orchestral' (not solo synth) works, like Warmth of the Earth.

In terms of his jazz-pianistic skill, consider the portrait:

Sorry for the American patriots out there, this is as good-- if not better-- than anything from the US jazz musicians' canon.  For those like me bored of those old standards and overplayed American artists like Bill Evans, this is so gratifying...

Any information regarding where to find more of his music, especially the LPs, is welcome, though I'm guessing, based on the 'lost music' or even lost art principle, that the earliest unearthed or discovered is usually the best work, that there won't be too much else worth hearing not included in the packages below.  (People are more likely to save or remember things they love dearly.)