Wednesday 29 June 2022

Joel Fairstein's one-off Umbra from 1978


There are some really wonderful compositions on this one-off jazzy fusion record which came out in 1978 and is totally unknown today, from composer and keyboardist Joel Fairstein, a pity there weren't more LPs from him.  As usual, the presence of both electric guitar and keyboards makes this just beautifully energetic and intense (in some parts).  There are some commercial, totally standard jazz (That and the Other), solo acoustic jazz piano (Jefferson Street, Mexican Railway), and blues tracks (Let's Go to Frisco), but we can conveniently discard or politely turn away from those.

Obviously, the descending chord pattern in whole tones evokes the waves of a sea on the Boat Song:

Monday 27 June 2022

Fantasy's Smoke 'em if you got 'em (USA 1979)

Some more AOR from a band that does light smooth soulful songs, info here, their only release.  Probably a bit better than the last similar post of Paradise.  Example, Spotlight Babies:

Saturday 25 June 2022

The fusion artist Dave Matthews and his 1977 Dune

An interesting story relating to his Dune work, from discogs:

Douglas Payne , who runs an extensive website about all the CTI and KUDU releases, and wrote cover notes for many of the anniversary release/re-masters explains exactly why the album "Dune" was actually deleted from the CTI catalogue in 1977. Payne's website includes an article, by Arnaldo DeSouteiro, Brazil’s leading jazz producer and CTI historian, in where he says:

"David Matthews did a second and last album as a leader for CTI, Dune, an artistically successful project who turned out to be a commercial fiasco thanks to the imprudence of CTI’s legal management. Since CTI had not secured writer Frank Herbert’s authorization to use his novel Dune as the thematic center piece for the album, Herbert filed a law suit against CTI and won, forcing the label to delete it from catalog. For this reason, that magnificent album was never reissued in the USA, although a CD reissue came out in Japan by King Records in 1994."

More details can be found here and here.

On this blog Dune appeared earlier here in relation to the group which named itself after the scifi book.

The first part, called Arakis:

You can see from that opener that the orchestral fusion here, although quite well composed and with all the right moves and energy, is not quite as compelling as some earlier stuff we've heard, esp. my usual point of reference, Arif Mardin's Journey, or the other brilliant work, Teo Macero's OST Virus.  (Of course as usual I expect some readers / listeners to vehemently disagree, which is OK.)

Song of the Bene Gesserit:

My son did a project on Dune recently and for the first time in my life I took a look at those books. I have to say the imagination is great but the basic plot bedrock of rebel hero who has to take over an empire from an evil ruler is trite like hell. I can't believe such a basic plot would have been so popular. Later books got really weird which I found a little bit more enticing.

In this package I included not just Dune itself but some later albums which were def more fuzacky, can't possibly recommend those (Digital Love, Cosmic City. Super Funky Fax, Grand Cross).

Wednesday 22 June 2022

Cousin of Daniela Casa, Paolo Casa in 5 libraries (America Giovane, Nature, Origini, Movimenti, Soul Tracks)



Another one of those artists whose libraries sell in the hundreds, even thousands, he is the cousin of Daniela who was extensively reviewed back here (2 years ago) and here.  I would reiterate that some of her music is just outstanding, especially on the modern art record where she demonstrates an ability to compose modern classical music with absolutely the best of 'em imho as the kids say (and by kids I mean anyone under the age of 50 now).

Paolo's music is not as intellectual as some of his cousin's, it's agreeable and pleasant but not terribly original, complex, or densely creative.  From Nature which is by far the best release, Ices Slipping Away:

Monday 20 June 2022

Steve Kahn and Mitch Farber in the one-off Farberius' Starclimber from 1983

Information can be found here.  Note that in addition to producer/composer Mitch Farber, guitaris Steve Kahn, Randy Brecker appears here on horns.  The whole thing was composed by Mitch except the sample track called, Lonely Promises, which is by the fusion Dave Matthews:

Saturday 18 June 2022

Steve Kahn in Elements (ST 1983, Forward Motion 1984, Illuminations 1998, Blown Away OST 1986, Liberal Arts 1989)


From discogs:

New jazz-fusion quartet from the 1980s. They recorded five critically-acclaimed albums, performed and toured.  Members: Bill Evans (not the famous pianist one), Clifford Carter, Danny Gottlieb, Gil Goldstein, Mark Egan, Steve Khan

Some really nice smooth fusion which entirely follows from his earlier work. It's interesting for me to see that these LPs were extensively rereleased showing they must have been quite popular back in the day, of course we can see the appeal since it's so generically unstressful to listen to, unlike the dissonances of the earlier progressive fusion period of the 70s (eg James Vincent).  The first and ST album which came out in 1982 is surely the best and in this instance we get the law of declining progressiveness over the course of the 80s to the point where the last 80s album (they put out more in the 1990s) was almost unlistenable to my ears, at least partly due to the irritating digital percussion and jumpy style that they took in from the musical zeitgeist, necessarily so I would say.

From the first album the track called Color Wheel sounds like any great fusion composition from any era with its wonderful ostinato patterns:

While from the second album the track called Baby Bossa I would normally just fast forward anything with such an inauspicious word in it but it turned out nice:

Thursday 16 June 2022

Guitarist Steve Kahn


From discogs:

(Steve Cahn)


Steve Khan (born April 28, 1947) is an American jazz guitarist and author born in Los Angeles, California. The son of lyricist Sammy Cahn, Steve Khan is best-known for his fusion records. He originally played piano and drums. In 1969, Khan moved to New York and worked steadily on jazz, pop, and R&B recordings.

Note the bands he was in:

Atmospheres (they put out two fantastic mid70s fusion albums, led by Clive Stevens, everyone should have), Blood, Sweat And Tears, Elements (to come here), Farberius (one-off album with Mitch Farber, light fusion), Flying Monkey Orchestra, Man Doki Soulmates, People (9), Steps Ahead (posted here), The Mendoza/Mardin Project, The New York All Stars, The Players Association, Weather Update.

First off we have to mention the gorgeous artwork by Belgian artist Jean Michel Folon, and among other albums I've posted here he created the covers for Olivier Bloch-Laine and James Vincent's Culmination.

The Blue Man, which I dedicate to all those including myself who this pandemic has crushed in spirit and are having trouble lifting the weight off, 

This track is representative of the remainder, long guitar patterns over instrumental fusion explorations, a bit less uniquely creative compared to James Vincent but still enjoyable, still sticking to the fusion side of the jazz world.

Tuesday 14 June 2022

Vermont fusion band Kilimanjaro in 2 (1979, 1982) by request

The band page is here in the database.  They made two LPs, so far as I know, in comments below, all instrumental material sounding like a more commercial version of Bellvista the Painter or good old Landress-Hart.

For an example of the softer acoustic side of the band and sounding almost European, Frederiksted Portrait:

While for the more uptempo, their Big Foot:

Both from the first release, the second is more simple and digitalized and less interesting for me.

Sunday 12 June 2022

Hiroki Tamaki and S.M.T. - Time Paradox, 1975; Helpful Soul First Album and Thousand and one Nights, 1969, by request


The only release from this group.

Note that the leader made a lot of OST library stuff, anybody know if it's worth acquiring?

The lovely violin composition 

The title track is, of course, a wonderful exercise in classical prog:

Helpful Soul on the other is standard proto-blues rock stuff, not proggy.

Friday 10 June 2022

Teruo Nakamura, multiple albums (Unicorn, Rising Sun, Superfriends, Wind Smile and Manhattan, Carnegie Hall, Big Apple, Route 80)

Japanese jazz bassist and record producer, born March 3, 1942 in Tokyo.

Move to New York in 1964 and studied double bass with Reggie Workman, formed the Rising Sun Band, worked mainly as record producer in the 1980s.

Another guy who was perhaps way too prolific for his own good, he made a few albums under his own moniker and a few with the Teruo Nakamura Rising Sun Band.

I love the Sequoia Forest composition:

I know that all in all, others will enjoy this more than me.

Wednesday 8 June 2022

Romantic Warrior's Planet by request


After the first ST album named of course after Return to Forever's opus, and posted here, they seem to have lost their way in my opinion with digital keys and drums, electronic, ethnic and new age importations in the second and third albums. Others will surely disagree though.  I guess it's important for everyone to feel they've completed the discography, which can be found here.

An example of the older guitar-based style (as on the ST) is Savannah Talk:

While the electronic digitalese is featured on tracks like this one, Reflexion au jour (note the digital harp):