Saturday 31 December 2022

Nathen Page's Page 1, 1977, by request


Basic jazz guitar from this artist who made 3 LPs back in the day.

Nathen Page (1937-2003) was an American jazz guitarist.

Originally from West Virginia, Page moved to Washington, D.C. where he played in rock bands before joining Jimmy Smith's band from 1965 to 1970. He then worked with artists such as Herbie Mann, Roberta Flack and Jackie McLean in the early ’70s, and played frequently with Sonny Rollins in the second half of the decade. In 1980 Page settled in Orlando, Fla., where he founded a label, Hugo's Music, led a local jazz quartet and hosted a radio program.

Thursday 29 December 2022

Stardust International & Tayfun Karatekin in 1973


Tayfun Karatekin and Stardust Int'l made only one album in 1973 but it's quite enjoyable soul/pop/rock. Stardust appeared on another LP which is described as Schlager (German easy listening orchestral pop) here on discogs.

The folky, repetitive, ethnic or arabic sounding chord changes is entrancing on this track called Iki Cift Laf II:

Monday 26 December 2022

Don Grolnick feat. Michael Brecker - 1989 - Hearts And Numbers


Acoustic type contemporary jazz with some nice sounds and compositions here and there. The title track:

Friday 23 December 2022

Tempest with Allan Holdsworth, from 1973

I was going through the Allan Holdsworth discography when I came upon this one, I had never heard before. Again some really enjoyable protoprog material with vocals, no fusion really.  Consider the lovely grinding hard rock electric guitar tritones of the song called Brothers and the subsequent upgoing chord progression that gives it such excitement.

I'm not so enamoured of the later fusionary Holdsworth like the formidably reviewed IOU but I did find a lovely acoustic collaboration from 1980 called Things You See which I highly recommend. It has that characteristic classical delicacy of fusion guitar you never find anyone playing with anymore.

Tuesday 20 December 2022

Larry Coryell's Just Like Being Born composition

Back to Larry as I tried to listen to all his pre-nineties music.

So far as I know Just Like Being Born, the composition first appeared on the 1978 live release with the Brecker Brothers, but then reappeared in an album that is acoustic, with Brian Keane from the Orwellian year of 1984, and in its best version in the collab with Urbaniak called Facts of Life from 1983 the year prior:

So I collected together the 3 albums with this lovely composition.

Friday 16 December 2022

Johnny Hammond's Gears from 1975

An extensive bio this time exists on discogs:

John Robert Smith
American organist, composer, artist.

Born: 16 December 1933 in Louisville, Kentucky, USA.
Died: 4 June 1997 in Victorville, California, USA (aged 63).

Smith became known as Johnny 'Hammond' Smith in the mid-1950s as he emerged as an organ player, to avoid confusion with the guitarist John Smith, and the more famous organist Jimmy Smith. He dropped the Smith part of his name when he signed for the Kudu label in 1971.

Smith played with Paul Williams and Chris Columbo before forming his own group. His bands featured singers Etta Jones, Byrdie Green, saxophonists Houston Person, Earl Edwards, guitarists Eddie McFadden, Floyd Smith, James Clark, vibist Freddie McCoy. His career took off as he was serving as accompanist to singer Nancy Wilson. One of his last accomplishments also included Nancy Wilson. He wrote the song "Quiet Fire" for her "Nancy Now" release in 1989.

After a 10-year spell on Prestige Records throughout the 60s resulting in a series of albums, he signed for soul/R&B influenced Kudu imprint of the well-regarded CTI Records label in 1971. His first album for CTI, "Breakout" was chosen that year to launch Kudu. The album featured Grover Washington Jr. as a sideman prior to the launch of his career as a solo recording artist. Three further albums followed on Kudu, as he decided to refer to himself as "Johnny Hammond", after deciding to drop "Smith" from his name.

His style had become increasingly funky as he adapted to the style changes in music, culminating in two popular albums with the Mizell Brothers, "Gambler's Life" (1974) for the CTI offshoot, Salvation Records (US) and then in 1975, "Gears" after switching to another jazz label, Milestone Records. He began using electric and acoustic pianos, starting with "Gambler's Life", in addition to his signature instrument. Hammond's song "Shifting Gears" was featured on the breakbeat compilation Ultimate Breaks and Beats, and was also featured in the soundtrack of the 2006 video game Driver: Parallel Lines as well.

Smith also taught at the Cal Poly Pomona music department for several years, beginning in January 1987.

Sorry for posting the whole thing but I expect everyone to skip through.  And indeed his discography starting in the fifties, is enormous.
In the mid 70s (when else?) he went into the funky fusion direction and the albums from that period are really remarkable, mostly instrumental, occas. vocals.

Can't we smile:

I put Gambler's Life (1974), Gears (1975), Forever Taurus (1976) and Storm Warning (1977) together.

Tuesday 13 December 2022

The Band Dreams from 1970-1971

A lovely reference to Magritte adapted with the band members' images on top, in contrast on the bottom painting, I suppose inspired by The Beatles' Yellow Submarine (and so many other cartoons of the era), they are pied-piper-like entering what seems like a landscape of mountainous vulvas (?) equipped with eyes.  The back cover which usually explains the imagery doesn't quite elucidate the meaning of it here.  Nonetheless, the 2nd album drawing is very interesting to study and would have been even more so as a 33 cm piece of cardboard held in 2 hands.

From discogs:

Jazz-rock group formed by Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn, whose line-up included John Abercrombie, The Brecker Brothers and Billy Cobham. The group made two albums, Dreams (1970) and Imagine My Surprise (1971).

I have to confess to being quite ignorant because I'd never heard them before despite that astonishing lineup of superstars. We've covered Brecker Bros in the past and genius guitarist John Abercrombie, and Billy Cobham was mentioned in regards to Glass Menagerie here, and earlier, in a German collaboration here. Who knows in how many other places these guys have popped up already.  Particularly surprising to me is the presence of Breckers since there is very little jazz rock in here in comparison with say BST, mostly just pop rock and songwriting, though overall the quality is not bad.  From the first album, The Maryanne:

On the second album there is a song that absolutely entranced me with its clever patterns and intricate melody, reminding me a lot of the some of the best Brian Wilson tunes like Surfs Up.  It's called Just Be Ourselves, and it goes like this:

I still can't get over how interesting the melody is as well as the way the song develops throughout its length. Note that it was written by this guy (Don Grolnick) who subsequently was in the Steps group with Breckers.

The two founding members, who are Jeff Kent and Doug Lubahn, so far as I know didn't make more interesting albums. Wouldn't be surprised if someone proved me wrong, of course.

Sunday 11 December 2022

New Moon in Zytron with James Zitro and David Liebman, 1978

Only album by this particular pairing, as seen here. Laidback acoustic music with some slight ethnic and new agey feel, e.g. Haiku:

Friday 9 December 2022

One-off Pangee's Hymnemonde from 1995


I love Pangaea, I mean, the concept.  Not just the fact that 300 million years ago, really an unimaginably long time ago, all the land on earth was combined into one big Aunt Jemima pancake mass and all the oceans were one (Panthalassa) but the fact that, it's thought, in some hundreds of millions years from now it will happen again, and it's probably happened a few times in the past and will continue into the future until the sun goes red giant and either releases the earth, or burns up the earth, or perhaps both, 4 billion years from now.
This album I had completely forgotten about until I was reviewing old files and thought about whether the amazing guys who composed the music had made anything else, and looking into it on discogs it seems they didn't, not to mention, their masterwork was composed back in 1995, already now 27 years ago!  Generation Z and their stupid tiktok, had not even happened yet! Can you believe that, all you millennials slaving away at minimum wage office jobs?
The music is all instrumental and is cut into 3 parts with one side long suite that is absolutely out of this world. Of course I love the fact they perfectly imitated the old prog sound, but unlike so many others in the 90s and since, they brought in original sounds, melodies, chord changes, instead of slavishly copying the usual 'standard prog' playbook of diminished chords, symphonic sounds with lush arrangements, etc.
Like the best prog of all, the music keeps changing every minute or two, sometimes radically differently. It seems like someone put years of work into these compositions to be honest (tbh as the kids say), and IRS (it really shows).

The second track, called Cataracte (ie waterfall) does start with a familiar minor or diminished guitar arpeggio, which recalls French 70s band Asia Minor or Mahavishnu, and then the thick guitars remind me also of the great great Arachnoid LP, but the music moves into truly totally original material very quickly thereafter:

Really a masterpiece for all time, without a doubt.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

Jason's Fleece, 1970


An early, proto-prog band that featured Georg Wadenius whose solo album I so loved, plus the famed Bjorn J:Son Lindh with the crazy colon'ed name. Most of it is really regular pop songs and such but occasionally there are quite interesting imaginative material, as in the track called Winter comes on slowly which I must say, is difficult to empathize with for those of us situated in the Northern Hemisphere:

Sunday 4 December 2022

Billy Cobham's Glass Menagerie's 1982 Observations and, with FLAC limited time only


Another incredible cover photo, you can see perhaps a bit better here on this page.

The title track:

His material is definitely hit and miss with the best album, imho, being 1974's Total Eclipse, but I thought this one too was really hard-hitting and electrified fusion. Note that this band made three albums in the early 80s.

Wednesday 30 November 2022

Georg Wadenius in his solo outing from 1978

I really love these beautiful positive bios of people who accomplish so much in their lives:

Swedish musician, born May 4th, 1945, in Stockholm. He has been a professional guitarist, composer, arranger and producer since 1968. He first became known in his native country, Sweden, through his work with the group Made In Sweden and for his children's songs. He was also early on one of the most sought after studio players in Stockholm.

In 1972 he was hired by Blood, Sweat And Tears and moved to the USA and played with them for 3,5 years (1972-5). Later on he became a member of the The Saturday Night Live Band (1979-85) and in the 1980's he was a much used session guitarist in New York, playing on records by Luther Vandross, Roberta Flack, Diana Ross, Dionne Warwick, Aretha Franklin, Donald Fagen, Michael Franks, Joe, Backstreet Boys and others.

In the mid 90s George Wadenius returned to Scandinavia, where he lives in Oslo, Norway. Co-founder and former co-owner of Stable Studios, Oslo. He is still active, recording and touring with his jazz trio or quartet.

The reason I got to this particular, very little known album, was because I was rooting through the Blood Sweat and Tears discography in the always ongoing and neverending effort to find new progressive sounds to listen to, and in their mid-70 albums such as New Blood, and especially Mirror Image they really took in the creative spirit and came up with some far beyond pop sounds that I've really enjoyed.  At that time they moved away from the pop-soul-rock simplicity of Hi-Di-Ho.  Then of course to my surprise I saw that Swede Georg was in the band, for a few years, and went on to play in the Saturday Night Live Band, of all places, which led me to his discography. In addition Georg was in famed proto-prog band Made In Sweden, which occas. made some nice music (here of course I'm limiting the word music to progressive music, of course most of their stuff was just pop rock) like on their LP Where do we Being with its wonderful fusion composition 43 sec. arc per century, a reference to the famous astronomical phenomenon of the precession of Mercury which was unexpl. by Newtonian gravity but finally explained by Einstein in his General Relativity--  I love that this got turned into a song title. He was also in Jason's Fleece in 1970 and De Gladas Kapell, which despite its popularity I've always found atrocious and mediocre. (I blame this on Coste Apetrea.)

Anyways, his solo outing from 1978 is just wonderful stuff and recalls to me the posts of Finnish Frank Robson covered extensively in the past here, with the mixture of rock, pop, fusion, and composed or orchestral progressive moments. Another beautiful thing about it is the presence of Hakon Graf, who I should've posted here in this blog, and Stefan Nilsson, who I'm pretty sure I did mention here and maybe a couple of times even. (Norwegian keyboardist Hakon Graf made Moose Loose, and Hawk on Flight for fusion masterpieces. Everyone should know these albums, hallmarks of the Northern European style.)

Considering first as we always do his more inventive, progressive songs, have a listen to the Listener and the Talker:

What an incredible song, a real joy to hear. To thank the composer from the bottom of my heart would be too little. I hear shades of Stephen Sondheim and (Broadway) musical hints here, the incomparable masterpiece Blixtlas from long long ago and I'm assuming this was all written by Wadenius since he is clearly singing the song. (Arrangement by a different guy though.)

He does sing his old band's song Where do we Begin on this record, note that the inauspicious beginning with C major alt. with F major leads into some amazing chord changes throughout the piece, making it a really impressive composition as well. Happy to hear that one again, brings back old memories.

For fusion, in a more commercial style, consider the track Hookey:

For more direct pop rock, his Living in a Fantasy:

Be sure to listen to the whole song, there is a masterful, melodic, and brilliant guitar solo in the middle showing why he was so in demand as a studio musician. I love those solos that instead of playing rote blues scales are able to come up with whole new melodies for the given chord progression above which they are playing.

Pretty good looking guy too, from his album painting.

I forgot to mention he was also in the wonderful fusion/funk/soul-rock band Solar Plexus which made a bunch of really good progressive albums in the early 70s. What a legend.

Many thanks for this overlooked album!

Sunday 27 November 2022

Back to Dexter Wansel with some more from 1977, 1978

I spoke too soon in giving up on his discography, as it seems the next year after Life on Mars he made What the World is Coming To (with its somewhat unpromising cover), which featured at least a few quite impressive compositions, in particular consider the vocals track called Dreams of Tomorrow: 

which is followed by the very George Duke-like Prelude #1 closing out the album:

He wrote the majority of stuff on here, and in particular he wrote those last 2, pretty impressive.

In the 1978 follow up Voyager there are a couple of nice songs, but nothing quite as striking as on the prior two.

Friday 25 November 2022

George Garvarentz's OST Killer Force, from 1976


From discogs:

Armenian-French composer and arranger.
Best know for his works with Charles Aznavour,
whose sister Aïda Aznavour he married in 1965.
Born: April 1, 1932 in Athens, Greece
Died: March 9, 1993 in Paris, France

This record from 1976 is typical, wonderful OST stuff.

The Chase:

I will love you till I die almost approaches the Teo Macero level of complex orchestral composition:

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Fabiano Orchestra's Butterfly Island, from 1978


Some lovely instrumental funky fusion from this outfit led by percussionist Jean-Francois Fabiano who only together only produced this one late-70s album.  Perhaps similar to the gorgeous contemporaneous Chute Libre, but without the delicatesse of the latter.

Title track:

Sunday 20 November 2022

Dexter Wansel - Life On Mars from 1976

His first album, from 1976, was such a wonderful funky fusion thing, with some great songwriting and some wonderful ideas.  It reminds me a little of the Space Traveller James Vincent, but without as much crazy creativity.

One million miles from the ground with its lovely vocals:

As usual, I love the space themes.  I don't think the remainder of his discography is worth hearing since he veered off into disco subsequently. At any rate I threw in a couple more albums for you to listen to.

Thursday 17 November 2022

Noel Mc Ghie & Space Spies, ST 1975

A few pretty unknown fusion albums, all from the mid-70s for the next little while.

First up, these folks made one beautiful fusion album in 1975, databased here. Noel's page is here.


Tuesday 15 November 2022

Ramsey Lewis' Legacy from 1977, with flac


He made some very ordinary seventies easy listening plus soul jazz records throughout the seventies but then made this astonishing composed side-long piece in 1977 called Legacy, standing head and shoulders above the remainder of his music--at least from the far-off-the-horizon perspective of the progressive music seeker. (If you're interested in soothing and generic music with standard chords and rehashed old melodies then you're gonna love his whole discography, of course.)

From discogs:

Ramsey Emmanuel Lewis Jr.

Profile: American jazz pianist and keyboardist, born May 27, 1935 in Chicago, Illinois, USA, died September 12, 2022 in Chicago, Illinois, USA.

The composition starts like this, impressively and grandiosely enough:

The piece reminds me a lot of Duke Ellington's New World a Rising, but it's not quite as tight and constrained, more improvisational and fluid.

I found another great progressive track called Gemini Rising, on the Sun Goddess album from 1974, reminding me a lot of the old classic George Duke in his best moments:

This sidelong composition Legacy will be something I'll listen to over and over again for the next little while, there's so much to discover in there.