Tuesday 31 March 2020

Back to the old University Jazz with the missing HUJE 1981 (Howard University Jazz Ensemble)

Here's an old wishlist album that suddenly popped up to my complete surprise.  It's from so long ago that I couldn't for the life of me remember why I wanted to buy it, but I'm assuming my reasoning was sound.  Lately this assumption has been frequently tested, though it obtains for the most part when I'm in a relaxed state.  Which is a rarity, nowadays.  You can use the search function at the top left hand to find two other posts from these guys, HUJE '83 and '84.

It's the standard big band college music we have heard so often here before.  Information is here, as usual.

The amazing first track, called Caronstan:

I'm going to do something I've never done before and provide lossless rips for these records for everyone in the next little while so we can enjoy a bit of quarantine time.

Sunday 29 March 2020

By request, Osiris Featuring Toto Blanke & Charlie Mariano‎, recorded 1978

Somebody pointed this out to me long ago, and it took this long for it to surface for sale.  Long before any pandemic was on the horizon.  Everyone now can have a listen.  I don't think I need to mention the two famous artists involved here, but note that the remainder of the musicians are not so well known.  It seems to be a one-off band in a live performance, with information included here.

Note that the sound of the recording is not ideal, and I'm being a little uncharacteristically complimentary, being on a par with some really rough and ready primitive mikes, maybe hidden in someone's briefs for the chief purpose of impressing a lady companion.  The first track in particular might drive you a little crazy in some parts as it did me with its static non-white noise.  Luckily that's a short drive for me.

There is a bit of eastern stuff, a bit of fusion, some nice electric and some nice acoustic guitar stuff.  All over the place, but more jazzy in general than I would've expected given those two huge talents dominating the set.  The duet of them 2 is nice and has the advantage of being familiar:

Recorded November 16th 1978, Festsaal Schweriner Schloß, Schwerin.
More requests upcoming.

Stay safe and be careful out there and let's hope the music sees us through to the day when it will be all carefree again like it was before...

Friday 27 March 2020

Ron Johnston / Ian McDougall / Oliver Gannon - Rio (1988)

Here's a surprisingly late album coming in as follow-up to the Three from 48 hours ago, which has some more of that very mellow, very smooth jazz written in a highly competent manner.  The artists waste no time on the opener called Search with trombonist Ian McDougall setting up a nice unison melody with guitarist Gannon above the juicy electric keys:

I love when pianist Ron Johnston solo plays his electric keyboard magic, on Free Recall:

It's just jazz, but it's really well written jazz.

By request, Ron Johnston, Ian McDougall, Oliver Gannon ‎– Three from Canada, 1976

Here we are with the 1st of 2 from this 3-some.  Basically we have Johnston on piano and electric keys, Gannon on guitars, and McDougall on trombone.  From the blurb on the back:

Ian Ollie and Ron enjoy making music together.  In fact, Ron and Ollie traveled the 3000 miles from Vancouver to Toronto in order to make this album with Ian.  It is a Canadian album from the inside out with all the tunes written by the performers.  There's a bit of jazz, a bit of rock (-where? Editor), some bossa, some ballads, and a lot more you can't label.  Mostly it feels good and sounds good.

To give you an idea, the track called Patricia opens with an electric key intro that blows me away:

For a much more atmospheric sound recalling actually some of the killer intellectual prog out of France, consider Last Summer:

Obviously, that silky smooth and pure tone of the trombone which sounds like a wise old monk talking peace into you, adds so so much.

Wednesday 25 March 2020

Back to Koen de Bruyne in Kluis (OST, 1978) [Enclosure]

I thought that the title of this was appropriate for these locked down times.

Do I have the heart to copy and paste his brief discogs bio:

Jazz and ambient/electronic musician from Belgium.
He was a prominent studio musician working for several pop artists in his home country like his brother Kris De Bruyne for example, as well as artists from abroad like funk band BLACK BLOOD and with Janko Nilovic (known for jazz library music) in a group called Mad Unity.
To his name he only has two records; Koen De Bruyne - Here Comes The Crazy Man! from 1974 is a keyboard heavy funky fusion record with exceptional sound because of the use of brass instruments and vocals by Patricia Maessen; could be compared in some degree to the also Belgian group Placebo. His other album is Koen De Bruyne - In Kluis an experimental electronic soundtrack album for the movie 'In Kluis' by Jan Gruyaert.
Koen De BRUYNE died in 1977 while he was producing Kris De Bruyne - Ballerina's. The first song 'Oh Producer' on this record is dedicated to him.


Let's set aside the masterpiece from 1974 mentioned before on this blog here.  I almost fell out of my chair when I learned he made a follow up album in 1978, which is the soundtrack to a movie, of course let's not expect the same kind of one of a kind insanity as happened 4 years before, but it turned out to be a really solidly well-composed, well-crafted, well-thought-out slab of black vinyl with interesting ideas and atmospherically beautiful keyboard sounds-- just what you'd expect from a very creative young guy 'ordered' or rather commissioned to write soundtrack music for background music, not in-your-face. For sure the closest point of comparison would be keyboardist of Secret Oyster Kenneth Knudsen's best works, like Pictures and Anima which I think I posted here before, boy is it hard to remember these things now.  Btw if there's anybody out there who still hasn't heard Pictures, I'll post that one too, it's incredible.

Very sadly unknown even among those who should be seeking after these styles, which is, namely, me plus one or 2 other people in the world I guess equally crazy men and as particular in their musical tastes.  As you all know I love to research these 'art films' on imdb, always encountering a near-total paucity of information, but in this case, a nice cover with a naked girl, as can be seen here, translated as "The Enclosure".  Even the great youtube has nothing on this one, unless you're looking for tips on how to reno your old garden shed or how to make a lot of money staying home in front of your laptop making really dumb videos for idiots.  Doesn't matter, though it's surprising that he chose his own artwork for the album cover rather than the movie poster or somesuch analogous advertisement.

Each track I think is priceless in its own little way.  All instrumental keyboard music here.  So as I often do I'll just post the first track, called Landscape:

For anybody who plays keyboards those opening chords are quite interesting, but just wait till the synthesizer comes flying in from outer space right after.  Oh man...

I'll include the earlier Here Comes the Crazy Man (the OG LP version, not the CD which I recommend you purchase for the extremely interesting bonus tracks, and which I don't want to share here!!) and the Mad Unity - Funky Tramway one-off album from 1975 (but written by the great and beloved library composer Janko Milovic, I take it).  From that one, the gorgeously written Flemish Suite:

And to all those European countries out there that I maligned so much as a tourist in this blog hit so hard with this vicious, horrific pathogen called SARS-nCoV-2, please accept my heartfelt apologies for what you are going through, because as the WHO director said we must now face together the common enemy of humankind.  It's just like those scifi movies where everyone must join forces to fight one invader and we have to stay together or we will not succeed.  Watching the numbers rise daily though I can say with some confidence that Europe is approaching the peak and plateau in the next 1-2 weeks or, as Chairman Mao once said, It's never darkest till it's completely black...

Sunday 22 March 2020

By request, Kolbe / Illenberger, 4 albums

Note the involvement of Dauner in the last one.

When you take a look at the database you'll see this guitar duo playing mostly acoustic high-velocity resonant pieces, a bit more exciting than the usual soporific new agey stuff, made quite a few albums starting with the 1978 Waves, and I add in here the 1979 Colouring the Leaves, 1982 Flieger, 1985 Kid - Second Step with Dauner.  I missed Live Kid from 1980 (I hate live albums generally), the Duo Flamenco one (I hate flamenco), and Tronic from 1983, and surprisingly and innumerably, the eighth album called 7.  At that point the duo's discographies diverge presumably after their bitter divorce and as a result they moved more into new age.

There have been a lot of guitar duo instrumental albums on this blog before, notably Kroton's Blue Sun one.

The title track of Colouring the Leaves is one of a baby handful with vocals:

The addition of brilliant genius Wolfgang Dauner, who has appeared repeatedly in these pages before (most recently here), can't possibly harm the outfit and it clearly doesn't.  Conside the Echnaton's Lullaby:

I bought some more to share later out of curiosity.

Friday 20 March 2020

Friedemann's wonderful and rare 1983 Voyager (not to be confused with the CD compilation)

This wonderful guitarist by the full name of Friedemann Witecka made a series of acoustic guitar new agey albums in the seventies and eighties full of delightful compositions, usually quite unique and unlike most other new agey genre stuff you might have heard and been annoyed by.  In fact as late as 1990's Aquamarin there are still delights to be found, consider Wednesday's Intermezzo, here on youtube, and that's really a rarity to see--in such a late (recent) year.  I just love that meld of classical chamber music with acoustic guitar.

Notice that his career started in 1977 with Songs for a Beginning, which had just a tiny bit of progressive in it, but overall, was not as good as I would have hoped.  I'm sorry, I can't recommend you try to track that one down, you will be disappointed too.  Nonetheless, by the next album (The Beginning of Hope, 1979) you have some really delightful and completely unknown compositions, like Ich Kann Nicht Bleiben (I Can't Stay), youtubed here.  Many of the songs remind me of my old favourite German album, Blonker from way back when, if anyone out there still remembers that one.

Turning our attention to the 1983 LP, so far not on CD-- although a similarly titled, identically covered album called Voyager in Expanse which is actually a compilation appeared in the late 80s to confuse us all, this for me is his best work.  First of all, consider this track called Damon Allein which gives you an idea of his unique 'take' on new age music:

The following track called Atlantis is really magical:

I guess there are hints of that reverbed plus or minus sustained electric guitar Richard Pinhas sound in there.

For me the highlight is the closer which is called Venusberg.  Here the notable feature is the dropped-C tuning which, as usual, gives a resonant fullness to the guitar chords thanks to the overtones on the octaves multiplying those gorgeous harmonies into an eternity of sound waves of infinite beauty.  The electric bridge adds to it instead of detracting, note the female chorus that comes in at the end.  It's just such a gentle, soft song, presumably love song, I could listen to it forever:

I suppose for these unprecedented and difficult times where all over the world a giant tsunami is approaching us and is about to wipe out a random number of lives we can be reminded of those painfully beautiful and innocent days to take us away from our hard reality and existence.

I recommend you seek out more from this much, much too unknown artist.

Wednesday 18 March 2020

Raul Porchetto, from 1972 to 1980 (Metegol), 6 albums

Once in a while you come across an artist that absolutely knocks you off your feet (Stevie Wonder) and this time it's this Argentinian who made a long series of albums going far into the 90s but back in the midst of the glorious seventies, produced one after another progressive-stuffed opuses of incredible songwriting, super-emotional as is always the case with latin music.  Very similar in fact to the much better known Luis Spinetta.  There's tons and tons of progressive music here, trust me.  Have a look at the discography first, and read the brief bio.  (Incidentally, the LDPD holds, the albums after and including Television (1981) are really commercial pap.)

Note the interesting bio on wiki:

Raul Porchetto (born November 15, 1949) is an Argentine musician and songwriter.  Porchetto emerged into the Acoustic movement of Argentine rock during the early 1970s releasing his debut record in 1972 following the subgenre's popular rise in the wake of the Acusticazo.  By the mid 70s he would become a member of the first and extremely ephemeral supergroup of Argentine rock, PorSuiGieco, with León Gieco, Charly García, and Nito Mestre.

For the remainder of the 1970s Porchetto released an average of one LP a year. In 1980 his sixth album Metegol featured a very innovative type of uptown-suave sounding rock, yet remaining accessible and unpretentious when listened to. Metegol sent Porchetto's career to the top of Argentine rock. The album even beat out Serú Girán's third release Bicicleta, in a yearly rock survey by newspaper Clarín and when that group was the most popular act in Argentine rock. In a similar style Porchetto released Televisión in 1981.

Mirroring the early 80s trend towards the much more light and direct rock music of the New Democracy Sound, Raul Porchetto came out with his next two album releases. 1983's Reina Madre became one of the best selling rock albums until that time. He became the best attended solo act in concerts during the first half of the 80s. His most recognized hit is 1986's "Bailando en las veredas".

But Porchetto grew tired of the Rock Star rat race. That along with his eagerness to pursue more experimental and ambitious music led his later releases following Reina Madre to be departures from his earlier sound, and more inaccessible to casual fans (one of his late 80s albums even include actual choruses singing evangelical themes). Thus they did not sell nearly as well, and by the late 1980s Porchetto had cut ties with major record labels and went indie. He has continued to come out with albums until the present day; his latest release is Dragones y Planetas (2010). During his career Raúl Porchetto earned 10 gold, two platinum and one double platinum records, becoming one of the best selling artists of all time in Argentina.

I'll just pull a couple of the most progressive songs from the 6-album set I've included so you get an idea of what I'm talking about.

The oddly-named song and oddly-chorded song called Bao Babs is from his 1976 ST album:

The atmospheric closer to (perhaps the masterpiece) Chico Cosmico, 1977, is I.C. Ciento Triente y Tres.  Be sure to listen all the way through to the end, because the last minute or so is sure to shock you completely:

Rastros de Polvo Azul, from 1978's Volando de Vida:

This is the song that literally made me fall off my chair.  A relatively ordinary electric piano opening with that odd violin or whatever buzzing in the background leads into a nice electric guitar riff followed by a chorus singing the same riff.  After about a minute and a half though, Raul starts singing a verse which is totally at odds with the preceding, not to mention, the melody, if such it may be called, is totally unlike anything ever heard in rock music before, sounding more like electric guitar solos set to music.  At the 2-minute mark, the song once again totally changes in direction with synth-strings and a slower beat leading into a kind of symphonic bridge section.  Really, a miracle in progressive songwriting, and as I said unlike anything else I've ever heard in a lifetime spent listening to this kind of stuff.  It's hard to believe.

I also am reluctant to rate these works individually, except to say that the first from 1972 definitely is a bit immature and less interesting, and the 1980 Metegol is also as one might expect much more commercial and less proggy.  But the four in the middle are simply astonishing.  Endlessly, endlessly interesting, enjoyable, full of sudden, inventive, unique ideas.

And a very good-looking guy too, as you can see from a more recent photo:

Monday 16 March 2020

VA - Pop Jazz International from 1978, GDR

A real long lost treasure here, especially for the second side's track which fills up the whole side by a no-name, no-LP, group called Fusion with their performance of Metamorphoses.  That band was fronted by a keyboardist by the name of Wolfgang Fiedler who made a marvellous more contemporary jazz album later in the 80s called Unit, info here.  The set is rounded out with a big band number to start which is totally generic throwaway, a Jazz Q composition by Kratochvil which appeared on one of their albums in the seventies, the familiar Eberhard Weber Yellow Fields, and the side-long.  I can only sample the second track, the Jazz Q:

Enjoy side b....

Saturday 14 March 2020

Back to Eberhard Schoener with the long-lost Complicated Ladies (1982)

From the all girls orchestra we move on, or grow up, to complicated ladies.

It's quite astonishing that something so good should be so lost, and I've said that so many times before already.

First of all, we all know the artist and I was stunned earlier by the quality of Time Square and it's concept-like apparent dedication to some unknown woman.  I could say the same about this album, which is sung by Israeli artist Esther Ofarim. On the discogs page for this record, which is here, some wonderful random German reviewer made a kind of metaphorical homage to the whole without ever making specific comments about the genre or the substance of the music, quite unscientifically poetically:

[to manus-von-alles], I agree with your comment or review from 2010/12/12. I'll try it my words. The LP "Complicated Ladies" is a "strange brew". A blue cover, blue lyrics, melancholic songs wonderfully interpreted by Esther Ofarim, and electronically accompanied (or dominated ?) by Eberhard Schoener. But, it is not a blues record [obviously!! -editor], because Esther is not like Etta James or Beth Hart and Schoener is more an academic electronic painter ("Klangmaler" or "Klangtupfer") than a deep-rooted blues musician. The spotting of sounds in the song "Ballerina" is an example for this. What's my impression after comparing three songs (Call the circus, Du, Radio On) of the LP with their counterparts published in YouTube ? The LP-versions are in the direction of electronic sound-studio experiments whereas the YouTube versions are more smooth, intimate and easier to digest. Reading Schoener's german notes on the inner sleeve you get to know that the production of the LP took 18 months. That's a long time "bang". Furthermore, in his notes Schoener gives some hints about the production process. In the beginning he had the famous voice and some mysterious nontraditional lyrics. Esther should be the interpreter. But melodies were missing. Schoener could fill this gap with experimental electronic "paintings". The result is a very idealistic interpretation of modern song material embedded in electronic patterns of sounds.

The actual information content is probably nil, but as an impressionistic review for, let's say, the old Rolling Stone Magazine, the really old Rolling Stone Magazine, I guess it works, because it sounds like so many useless reviews I read in my childhood that wound up disappointing me bitterly when I later found the music had nothing to do with what was so energetically said, as if the reviewer was more enamoured with their own words than the actual reviewed music (cf. the old mutantsounds blog).  I think I can sum it up better by saying it's art rock, like let's say Roxy Music or Kate Bush is generally considered art rock, but with European chamber music or classical music and electronic influences, plus here and there touches of jazz, but not much.  There are also, on the other hand, very radio-friendly commercial songs which as usual I call throwaway even though the record companies considered those the complete opposite, the radio gems (e.g., Radio On).  We can't really call this progressive because the odd chord changes, the dissonances, the interesting arrangements, the weird sounds and bizarre melodies, all those usual appurtenances are missing.

Consider first of all the ST song, which is so beautifully written and features some really marvellous lyrics, presumably originally a poem set to music (credited to this writer):

The gorgeous acoustic piano accompaniment is by Schoener, obviously, and note those ingenious chords he uses to transition after the verse and chorus.

A track called Einmal Nur features that same lovely piano with some very atmospheric synthesizer and electric guitar decorations in keeping with the art rock genre:

Again, there is no complicated songwriting here, but the result is quite interesting and goes far beyond the usual radio staple.

Thursday 12 March 2020

Marc Huard and the All Girl Orchestra in Themes and Melodies, "say it with your heart"

I would have liked to see an image of this so-called all girl orchestra, preferably somewhat lacking in clothing, to verify if the advertisement is true or just a dumb gimmick, but nothing shows up on the back leading me to the latter disappointing conclusion.

Easy listening played by orchestra (like, duh) by this artist who has appeared before in connection with the Noel Chotem arrangements LPs.  There is a wide variety of themes and melodies but they boil down to the generic chord changes and sounds that are a feature of this particular genre, which never really attempted to break into progressive territory except when fusion or jazz artists approached it from their own side of the dancehall, I think for example of Joachim Kuhn on Cinemascope's great closer Black Tears.  The ending to that song with its astonishing pianistic cataracts leads into a totally easy listening passage with the high-pitched string section and almost standard chord changes but thanks to the immense creativity of Joachim, soars far beyond anything from the traditional elevator muzak playlist, youtube link here.  Anyways, that piece has nothing to do with today's entry.  On this album, there is the very delicate and lovely song called Mystic Land:

Which reminds me a bit of the great Alan Hawkshaw's most brilliant phase in the mid-seventies, when he made his Road Forward album with Strangelands, Mystic Voyage, etc.  I can't believe I never made a post dedicated purely to Alan Hawkshaw so far.  I guess in a way he's just too brilliant to touch.  When I mentioned to my wife how Hawkshaw is without much controversy the greatest library composer, and that there are still Hawkshaws missing, her answer was, "are they all Elvis impersonators?"  Oh the joy of marriage.

Tuesday 10 March 2020

A rare VA Italian library from 1974, Astrofisica (Il Cielo)

In the midst of containment, lockdowns, quarantines, isolations, cancellations and coronascares, let's try to remember the glory of Italian library albums and their blissful beneficence like the touch of a great and tender sainted pope from albums along the lines of Gianni Marchetti, Oscar Rocchi, Marco Persichetti, A.R. Luciani, and of course OST composer Ennio Morricone, the inimitable one.  And let's feel happy for those Italians who were so unhappy with us tourists in the past and now are lucky enough to have all their beautiful cities to themselves: Venice or Milan or anywhere else they despise the millions of tourists who prop up their economies.  Of course we will all be in the same position as them, and the poor people of Wuhan, China, very soon...  Unfortunately the music here is quite abstract and concrete, along the lines of that library that everyone constantly asks me to reupload from years ago, I don't even remember its name.  Note the composers involved in the database, here.
Telescopi, a composition by Bozzalla:

An expensive rarity that really, to my ears, doesn't deserve to be.

And finally everybody remember the following:

Please don't panic.
More importantly, please don't be calm.
At this time the risk for the domestic dog species is considered to be low.
Continue with daily life as before.
Pretend nothing has changed.
We will continue to closely monitor the situation and update things because they are changing dramatically every day.
We have vomited up everything, out of an abundance of caution.
Do not buy, use, sell, or put on any kind of mask whether surgical, N95, or cat-whiskered, unless you are about to die in the next few seconds.
Please, do not hoard toilet paper.  You can use your hands. And it will be of no use to you anyways when you are on a respirator in ICU drowning in infectious fluids filling your gasping, dying lungs, suffocating on a dumb bat virus.

Viral videos, you youtubers?
Viral lives...

Sunday 8 March 2020

Library composer Brian Bennett, 11 albums

I can't believe how lazy those KPM covers were.  They didn't even change the colors the way international postage stamps did in my stamp collection I treasured so much as a child, which my mom kept and threw away a few years ago to my utter and total chagrin.  Or maybe it's still sitting in our basement somewhere next to all our kids' rock collections, which I expect to toss out too.  Who cares, anyways.  We don't use stamps anymore, right, now that we have amazon, youtube, tiktok, snapchat, whatsapp and instagram????  Hey--what's a stamp?  You actually had to lick those things?  Yeah, you millenials know all about licking.  OK boomer.  Yes, let's not go there, take it to twitter, if you want WWII-like raging arguments.

Some of these have the great Alan Hawkshaw, my favourite library composer, included.  On the other hand, I had never heard of Brian Bennett until looking through the Hawkshaw discography for stuff I missed I came across his name.  And unbelievably, there are still libraries by Hawkshaw that haven't been 'digitized' yet for us all.

From discogs:

Born 1940 in London. Percussionist since the 1950s. Joined Cliff Richard & The Shadows in 1961.
Since the mid 1970s arranger, conductor and record producer, composer for film and TV.

In this instance, definitely the LPDP applies, after 1978-1979 in which he made quite a great deal of nice funky energetic music alternating with lovely gentle symphonic music along the lines of the great John Fiddy, the slow decline begins.

Nonetheless I think we can all agree that in the immortal 1974 track called Nuplex there is just about everything we can and do love about the great library music of the 1970s, the funky beat, the synths, the horn section, the lovely rhodes piano curlicues, the very tasteful string section touches:

I love how all the instruments meld together so absolutely perfectly.
On the wonderful 1978 Bruton album Drama Montage the track Fast and Furious is just that:

And that album has numerous delights in it.
In the same year, Tone Poems has a delicatesse that recalls all the best of A.R. Luciani's work (did I ever post a lot of his stuff in the past).  Unfortunately the guy who ripped it, and I won't swear here, did it in mono.  I might just buy the vinyl and redo the rip, bring you back a lossless, because I think it deserves better.  Consider the Migration track, demonstrating his quasi-miraculous ease with classical composition:

That track alone later appears on a different library album.
Special mention for this album, called Voyage into Discoid Funk (1978). which was his attempt at crafting a fusion concept album along the lines of Lenny White's Venusian Summer which in fact is quite similar.  A number of high energy standard fusion tracks in there, overall really a solid album that came as quite a surprise to me (because I never heard it before, despite it being right up my alley).

In this package there are a couple of albums he made in conjunction with the great Alan Hawkshaw.
I didn't check too closely who wrote which songs, but there's one thing I can say for certain: the closer for 1974's KPM Synthesis, which is called Mermaid, is 100 percent from Hawkshaw, and you will agree too when you hear that unmistakable synthesizer: