Friday 29 November 2019

Back to Rene Helsdingen with more (Motivation, Lord Shepherd, Helsdingen Jazz)

Here he appears as a simple (acoustic) quartet.  In an early example of crowdfunding, the following blurb on the back:

"Money makes this world go round and so this album would not be in your hands today if it were not for the 400 sponsors visualized on its cover.  They all believed this album deserved to be realized and they put their minds where their hearts are."

Instead of this, he should have patented the concept, created gofundme, and become a silicon valley billionaire.  Or he could have come up with the idea of hiring a bunch of idiots to drive their own cars and pretend like they're taxis, then make billions not calling them taxis.  Or, even easier, borrow billions of dollars from the bank to make a rocket to fly to Mars next year.  Or maybe lease office space and then sublease it to other people and pretend it's all his, instead of just all borrowed from banks, or rather, one bank.  And make billions of dollars.  Or even easier, invent a new way for people to message each other on their phones and make billions of dollars.  Another really successful and original idea would have been to make a site where people can upload stupid videos of themselves acting like idiots.  That's a guaranteed winner, every second of the day.  Every single day, today.  But no, being a musician, he would never do any of that.  He just wanted to make virtuoso music, and that didn't bring in much money at all.

Going back to that subject, the one we love so much, which has also brought us no billions of dollars at all and instead has cost us quite a bit in invested LPs and time, what we have here is basically free jazz, un-fusion, perhaps not essential in the way the preceding album was.  As an example track B2, Time:

I'm not sure those crowdfunders got their money's worth, considering the album is just over thirty minutes, and simple contemporary jazz with the mandatory automatic instrumental soloing 'by the numbers'-- a job that soon will be accomplished entirely by jazz-musician-robots (or a programmed AI) anyhow.  What a wonderful future we have to look forward to.  And for those many who are so optimistic about that subject, which I've made of fun of so often before, I wonder what they think of the following headline I read today taken from JAMA (US life expectancy drops for the third year in a row).  Not a surprise for all of us in the US and other countries which will soon suffer the same sad fate with increasing income disparity, lowered standards of living, increasing opioid addictions, starting to suffer the many inevitable stressors of climate change.
Sadly, I threw in two other albums from him that are not worth mentioning too much about.

Wednesday 27 November 2019

Netherlandish pianist Rene Van Helsdingen's After The Third Window,1980

OK, let's go back to covering stuff in the unexpected masterpieces domain, and abandon the old former soviet union to its dictatorial regimes.  I'm talkin' about the 'outta left field,' 'outta the ballpark' type of vinyl; the kind that will make you fall off your chair, even if it's a wheelchair and you're quadriplegic or comatose, type of vinyl.  Notice that if you found the listing in the discography as it appears here you'd probably not make any special sort of effort to secure a copy of this.  Nor would I, but luckily I have so many friends who are willing to take the plunge and buy stuff sight unseen ear unheard and bring us such surprises, so thanks to them... 

And so it's without a doubt in the hidden gem dept.  Notice that Rene's bio appears on his website, self-written presumably, and starts as follows:

Born, 25th of February 1957, Jakarta, Indonesia. Dutch Nationality.
1962-72 Classical studies with Ms. Komter Loeber, The Netherlands.
1979 Jazz studies with Terry Trotter and Lazlo Cser, Los Angeles.
His earliest influences: Oscar Peterson, McCoy Tyner and Bill Evans

With regards to today's record, the website provides the following invaluable information:

 During his 2-year stay in Hollywood, California, René shared a house with several Musicians including Steve Jacobs, Essiet Okon Essiet, Brian Batie, John Rigby, John Butler and others. All house members were involved in a recording at the Media Art Studio's in Hermosa beach. (LP: "After the third Window" Munich Records BM250241) featuring: John Bolivar, Obie Jessie, Felix Ramos, Steve Jacobs, Rick Hannah, Essiet Okon Essiet, Clifford Howard, Rodney Mecks, Brian Batie, Edmond Allmond, Wouter Büchner, Mark Wigman, Nicola Paron, Tequila Mockingbird, David Best, Dale Allmond.

He was therefore only 23 years old when this album was released.

So surely you'll fall off your chair and knock that chair right outta the ballpark when you hear this piece, as I did, hitting an old grandma in a wheelchair in the process, who therefore, technically, also fell off her chair because of this music, too bad it was the last thing she heard, and it's called Almost in a Hurry:

Of course one is most reminded of Zappa with the crazy vocals, sung in such a semi-dreadful fashion too, but it's also reminiscent of so much lovely Euro-fusion from the early 80s with the angular dissonances (e.g. Das Pferd, etc., so much else I've posted here in the past).  The whole of the 39 minute duration continues in this miraculously bizarre and progressively jazzy vein full of accidental crazy ideas and the zaniest melodies.

So on the strength of this record, I sought out more from him, expecting more of this delightful proggy fusion, and ... to be continued.

Monday 25 November 2019

Estonian VA's Noorte Laulud (1978) and Esti Pop III, IV (1984)

The first of three Estonian VA albums is from 1978 and the highlight is Ruja's track:

Admittedly, the singing can be a little annoying.  A group that should be well-known to all of you reading this from long ago.  Hopefully.  Their brief  bio:

Ruja was one of the foremost Estonian rock bands of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Band's name comes from a neologism "ruja", for fantasy, though there are people who believe that "ruja" is actually made up of the first letters of the band's important members (R - Rein Rannap, U - Urmas Alender, J - Jaanus Nõgisto and A - Andrus Vaht) The band released their first and self-titled album in 1979. Many of the original melodies of Ruja were composed by Rein Rannap.

Ultimately the remainder of this record is not very impressive.

Moving on the third Eesti pop from 1984 (?) the lineup is shockingly good, with progressive masters In Spe and Kaseke (again, everyone reading this should know those 2), and lesser light-fusion band Radar.  Unfortunately, the tracks from the masters all appear on their full releases and are not new to this compilation, and the filler material from the unknown bands is disappointing.  And the same goes for the fourth Eesti pop, so perhaps we should stay away, or rather, have stayed away...
Though, looking at the series on the database, it seems the second one is missing, possibly the first.

Saturday 23 November 2019

Vladimir Misik and Etc. band, 3 albums

The masterpiece from him/them is the very Freudian-titled "They cut off the little boy's hair," melding some lovely fusion passages with proggy songs and a great deal of quite ordinary material.  In this respect it reminds me not a little of Dezy Ursiny, who made such phenomenal art-rock albums, not detracting from an overall excellent and original songwriting.  Especially I'm thinking of Modry Vrch, which to me is his best work.  Alas, Czech vocalist, bandleader, guitarist Vlad Misik not the impaler, the paler perhaps, was not quite as inspired as Ursiny, at least to our more progressive ears.  The following family-cute bio appears:

Born March 8, 1947 in Prague (former Czechoslovakia) as a son of a Slovak mother and a U.S. American father. Husband of Eva Rudyšarová-Mišíková, ex-husband of Katarína Mišíková, father of Martin Mišík (*1975) and Adam Mišík (*1997).  Founding member of The Matadors (2), Blue Effect, Etc…, and Energit (documented on a live 1974 track released in 2008 as a CD bonus). Temporarily also a politician, member of Česká národní rada (former Czech Parliament) in 1990–1992.

Remember Energit, the fabulous fusion band that was I think was exhaustively discussed earlier here in relation to the wonderful Mini Jazz Club EP series?

The song about Icarus, called Son of Daedalus, is filled with such passion and intensity it draws us up into the skies just as the myth said:

Wednesday 20 November 2019

Jazz Comfort, 1978 LP and 1979 EP

The band appears here in that annoying cyrillic alphabet I've so much complained about.  Usual comments about how Eastern Europe refuses to integrate itself into the world discographic databases which are usually written in English, just as they refused to integrate into the Western democratic systems of government which so obviously are superior to one man owning everything and controlling everything.  Oops, that sounds a bit like Mark Z., Jeff Bezos, and Google here in the West.  OK never mind.

On the other hand, the fusion and jazz are such perfect renditions of the original US versions it's always quite surprising to me.  Which it shouldn't be.  Note how on this sample a kind of (Casablanca song) As Time Goes By melody transforms into such a lovely song:

It also has the lovely title of Banana btw.

Monday 18 November 2019

Zigismunds Lorencs, Juris Karlsons, Pēteris Plakidis, Pēteris Vasks,1980 - Лоренцс, Карлсонс, Плакидис, Васкс

First track is the stunning masterpiece that inevitably and irrevocably brings us to post this one:

You can just copy and paste my usual comments here which I'll outline in microsoft powerpoint form:

-perfect meld of the three streams or rather Nile rivers of classical, jazz, rock
-as good a piece of music as anything you hear in a symphony hall in N. America or Europe or the moon
-utterly unfair that the composer is completely unknown (--even to progressive music fans!)
-said progressive music fans, the enlightened ones, number in the low hundreds, in an overall world population approaching 7 and a half billion
-popular music fans are all morons
-the Kardashian phenomenon is possibly worse than the bubonic plagues of old, and quite similar
-why is music the stupidest art in its popular form, as I realize whenever someone turns on the radio at work and I'm forced to hear 'Everybody dance now!!' at 9 o'clock in the morning
-Hollywood films, as well, have become more and more stupid over time, for us old people the idea of having comic books as movie releases is inane/insane
-surely these are signals, along with the entirety of twitter, indicating the decline of our civilization
-how are the optimists among us able to maintain that, worldwide, things are bound to improve (without simultaneously being climate change denialists, I might add) without an element of psychosis

No idea what the title means (Лоренцс, Карлсонс, Плакидис, Васкс) or the name of this song (Концертино для симф. орк. и рок-группы) or the provenance of this, or even what this is, or even who the brilliant composer is.  Danged Russians and their secret writing...
Hopefully a commenter will enlighten us again!

Discogs page here.  Composer of the first track is Zigismunds Lorencs, with his discography here and the title of his incomparable work is appropriately enough Concertino for symphony orchestra and rock band.  The musicians were from Latvia, though the release is Russian of course.

Friday 15 November 2019

Andrei Kondakov Ensemble from 1987

Light fusion in the typical Russian style-- like the series I posted earlier with Dustar, Jazz Quintet of the Soloists, etc., this features some really interesting compositions.  Definitely not your usual jazzy 1987 commercialese with 99 percent super-boring solos album.  E.g., track 3 (called Question):

some information retrieved by a commenter, and thank you very much for this:

Some information this vinyl LP
Jazz Ensemble P/U A. Kondakov - In the Night City
Label: || Мелодия ‎Cat.№.: С60 25159 004 || 1987
▶ Андрей Кондаков / Andrey Kondakov Leader / Piano
▶ Петр Шафоростов / Petr Shaforostov Bass
▶ Василий Катанов / Vasily Katanov Drums
▶ Эдуард Кот / Edward Cot Flugelhorn / Trumpet
on tracks: A1 / A2 / B2
▶ Виктор Филиппов / Victor Filippov Soprano Saxophone
on tracks: A1 / B1
Tenor Saxophone
on tracks: A2 / A3 / B2 / B3
▶ Алексей Чекалев / Alexey Chekalev Tenor Saxophone
on tracks: A1 / B1 to B3
A1 Праздничный День / Holiday 6:27
A2 Песня Без Слов / Song Without Words 8:40
A3 Вопрос / Question 3:52
B1 Полдень В Париж / Noon In Paris 5:13
B2 В Ночном Городе / In the Night City 6:45
B3 Нерв / Nerve 6:00

Big thanks Julianryan for this vinyl
Greetings from ANKARAN_ANCARANO.......Gugli

Wednesday 13 November 2019

More from Rudolf Tomsits Jazz Group with the Light Symphony (Hungary, 1980)

A couple of weeks of Eastern European albums for now, do I dare call it a Fortnight.  Though it does seem the ridiculous craze is dying down now.

Recall Tomsits from a long time back in the thoroughly progressive "Dream and Reality" fusion album.  This, on the other foot, is more in the line of easy listening, a Hungarian radio album with various composers and artists but the jazz partitions at least played entirely by the Tomsits Group, so it resembles the Murad Kazhlaev album from before (which I deeply love to this day).  At least seeing three compositions by Tomsits on side b got my hopes up, as well as an appearance by the amazing Peter Wolf on the last track, fittingly enough a Bach homage.   The hopes were quickly dashed though when I heard the first composition which is a tribute to Spain featuring the usual execrable chord progression seemingly the only progression possible with this country, the Eminor - F - G (played in exactly that key too, the easiest on the guitar--shame on the composer).  It seems outrageous that an entire nation should be reduced to three chords in the realm of music, and it is indeed ridiculous, insipid, and demented, reminiscent of the worst rude treatment the spaniards of capable of--and any tourist to that country will be familiar with this.  France does not have one progression it relies on to be identified, though it does have the accordeon instead, neither does Britain, or the US, or Germany, etc.  I suppose China suffers the same fate to a certain extent with the stupid pentatonic scale played on a childish harp, you can hear for ex. in Turandot (the opera).

But having been to the nation in question, I'm not all that shocked.  I recall traveling all over the Spanish landmass to find a good paella and being reduced to tears at encountering nothing but frozen mussels, soggy rice, watered down sauce, and poor seasoning in an expensive bowl served by rude waiters desperate for a couple of euros of tip, ready to run after you to belt you with a patata brava if you dare to short change them their precious few extra euros, as if they were all homeless people.  And of course as I said before I had the best paella of my life at a Spanish-themed restaurant in Las Vegas, of all places. But that's nothing.  Recall that famous church we traveled hours to get to and reached finally at 4 PM only to read the sign: Closed for siesta, 12 to 5; Open 10-12, 5-7.  Or that time we asked for directions from a tourist office in Granada and were thrown a map without any humanlike speech.  Or driving in the days before GPS and stopping to ask police how to get to the North Rail Station in Madrid and him waving at us, "it's over there!" before running away.  Or what about the time I parked in the spot next to a local, in Toledo this time, whereupon he started screaming at me in quick Spanish for a totally unknown reason.  The only possible response to that was saying "F**k off, you asshole!" which, based on the startled look on his face, translates well into Spanish.

The long-haired Blonde track by Tomsits is the best of the lot, though the blonde is a bit more Pamela Anderson than Gwyneth Paltrow, I mean musically speaking:

and of course, like the music, the colouring is not genetically natural but rather entirely chemical.
So the search continues...

Monday 11 November 2019

This Oneness - Surprize, 1975

Another one-off progressive masterpiece, this time quite good, to finish this over-lengthy series of American prog and fusion rarities, reminding me of our old post Machines Have Landed.   There are, like with Chalis, many reviews online already.  I'll go with the customarily (but not here, in my opinion) apt apps:

This was definitely among the most uneven prog-inclined albums of the 70's, the band played basically a warm and interesting Jazz Fusion with progressive components, quite rich and at moments pretty furious, but stylistically they were pretty confused during the singing parts, when they deeped into more poppy and psychedelic territories, feauring dated choral lines and slow-tempo organ waves.The music is still good for what it is, but doesn't sit very comfortably next to the jazzier pieces, even if some good flute and sax themes are to be found.The instrumental parts are definitely more convincing, focused and inspired.They recall the Heavy Fusion parts of MAHAVISHNU ORCHESTRA, played with instrumental integrity and some serious depth to go along with a lighter and more ethereal approach akin to RETURN TO FOREVER minus the Latin-spiced tendencies.This material is definitely great with impressive guitar work, unexpected breaks, sax/guitar interplays and complex themes, sometimes the music even passes into the Canterbury-edged Fusion values.Especially the long farewell tracks are extremely dense and instrumentally bombastic with lots of keyboards, sax, flute and guitar, specializing in fiery solos and intercations.I wish they could stuck with this style, because they seem to have been a very accomplished group regarding the genre.

And I'm shocked to read the Olivia Newton-John reference.  Specifically,

This Oneness group also backed Olivia-Newton-John on her road tours in America from May 1974 through 1975, also appearing on the NBC Mar. 7th 1975 "Midnite Special" broadcast. The May 1974 midwestern colleges tour managed by Variety Theater International were Olivia's first American stage appearances. These very enthusiastic audience turnouts convinced everyone to go forward with her future musical endeavors in America. These early tours included one show at the 1975 Minnesota State Fair Grandstand racetrack stage to a record audience. The group played Harrah's South Shore Room at Lake Tahoe Nov. 6, 1975. While in town, William B. Harrah had the group out for a day trip on the lake in his 33 foot Chris Craft run-about outfitted with two 12 cylinder aircraft engines capable of a peak speed of 55 mph. In 1976 This Oneness desired to return their focus to writing and producing their "Surprize" album and work on promotion of the group once again. Leaving Olivia was not an easy emotional decision for the band to make. The band wrote "Song For Olivia" in parting.

I beg to differ though, there is not that much that is reminiscent of either RTF or Mahavishnu, except maybe the Lunar Sunrise:

I think in terms of American albums, the group Cathexis (their first album) is most similar, with the mix of funky fusion, instrumentals, and ordinary songs.  I posted their second two years back.
But overall I think this one is really good.  And now let's let the aliens take this one out as they Go In Peace:

With this we finally come to the end of the long stream of American albums all from the same period, roughly 1974 to 1984, in the progressive rock or fusion genres.

Oof, and it's a relief to get to other countries as I feel the US vein is getting exhausted.  And, believe it or not, there is tons of impressive music I have to share from those other countries.  Just stay tuned, and prepared to be blown away here and there.... and keep those requests comin'

Friday 8 November 2019

Back to Pete Robinson (Contraband) with Dialogues for Piano and Reeds, 1972, plus Session II

You might recall I mentioned there were two composers for the Contraband fusionary masterpiece, Pritchard and this gentleman, Pete Robinson.  This record, which came shortly afterwards, it was released in 1972, displays mostly chamber jazz and free jazz.  The compositions are pretty advanced, so much so that they are a bit out of earshot at times and it's difficult to see where the composer was heading to.  It reminds me therefore of the music for dance by Steve Kimmel.

Then I found a later one he performed on for a group called Session II, which is totally the opposite, specifically, fuzak of the worst sort.  So it's interesting to see how experimenting in the earlier days led to the stupidest sort of brain-dead music in the eighties.

From the blurb on the back:

Pete Robinson (3/3/50, Chicago) 
By the age of 16 Pete had studied with Lev Shorr and Michael Tillson Thomas and had attended the Berklee School of Music on a Downbeat scholarship.  In 1966 he joined the Don Ellis Orch. as pianist, remained with the trumpeter for 2 years, then joined the Shelly Manne Quintet for a year.  He has worked or recorded with Ellis, Manne, Howard Roberts, Willie Bobo, Gil Melle, John Klemmer, Oliver Nelson, Thelma Houston, Quincy Jones, Ernie Watts, Tim Weisberg, and many others.  He has done extensive film work with Gil Melle, and in 1971 he composed and performed an electronic music score for the Shakespeare Society's Presentation of The Tempest.
--Wow, that would be worth seeking out, if it exists on LP! -Editor
With D. Pritchard and Brian Moffatt, he formed Contraband in 1970 and has been active with this group ever since, in 1971 recording an album for Epic Records.

In addition, Pete adds quite a bit of interesting information on the music and its composition on the verso.  For the most part though this music is very advanced 'modern classical' and presumably at times wholly improvised with an almost atonal sounding effect.

The track called Serpentine Lament sounds very much Gil Melle:

From the album Session II, the track called Fly by Night is not the best track, but rather, the least awful:

Wednesday 6 November 2019

Aurora's Pathways to the Sun, 1984

Despite the promise of the cover, this is not a fusionary space exploration but simply female-vocaled acoustic or pop rock.  We have come full circle assuming we started from Stargazer by Games.  It reminds me a lot of the Waterfall album I posted earlier, with acoustic Renaissance-like ditties but quite a bit of inventive songwriting.  It's another one-off and entirely incorrectly, it's described as space-rock on discogs, unless there's something I'm missing, like a whole LP.  Sections are reminiscent of Comus (gasp) at least with the double-barreled male and female singing choruses or unisons and the musical theatre-like compositions sometimes remind me of Melisma, one of my biggest old faves from this blog.  But just brief moments-- don't get excited, please.  I don't have a fire extinguisher nearby.


Monday 4 November 2019

Faces of Jazz, Meditation, 1979

Modal jazz, rather than fusion.  Information here.  All instrumental, a simple combo of quartet (one of whom failed to show for the verso group photo) with music written and arranged by a certain Steve Carney.   The fantasy lover:

Friday 1 November 2019

Cloud - Common Man, 1985

Here's an artist that for once made more than just one album.  This is their second one, looking for the first.  Much softer and in the new agey direction, perhaps along the lines of the recent Air Craft (but inevitably, not as good).

The Individual: