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.

Sunday 13 November 2022

One-off Airto Fogo, Canada (?) 1973

This all instrumental outfit made some nice funky, horn-driven fusion in the more simple style, perhaps like the great Campo's Garuda Suite, or like Coley's Goodbye Brains and the equally verisimilar Back Door, but with less progressive invention, consider as eg the track High Stakers:

Database info can be read here, little as it is, where you can see the band was led by drummer Sylvain Krief.
Then I noticed there was a little more information that could be found online here on this blog.
A nice album to hear, definitely.

Wednesday 9 November 2022

Larry and Julie Coryell in The Lion and the Ram, 1976

I was well acquainted with him, obviously, but never bothered to 'complete the discography' because I had run into too much long improvisation, noodling jamming, and acoustic tediousness in earlier albums, with the exception of the fusion band Eleventh House which produced a wonderful exciting and electric discography in the seventies.  I would also have to mention his superb collaborations with the brilliant Alphonse Mouzon, whose discography is also worth completing.

Then I went back to listen to all his material from the period and was surprised to hear this album, which is quite uncharacteristic since it mixes vocal tracks, definitely a rarity on his releases, which I think are sung by him, with the lyrics written by his wife Julie above acoustic guitar strumming in the folk rock style.  And those songs are quite good, reminding me a lot of way back when Ralph Towner sang so achingly emotionally on the Paul Winter albums, if you remember this post and song from 5 years ago.  I don't think Larry's composition is quite at the same level (as Towner), I'm sorry to his fans who will be upset by this assessment, but they are really excellent here and there, and far past the average songwriting.

On this particular song called Short Time Around the descending chord pattern is quite trite (identical to New York State of Mind by Billy Joel) but the charm of his very plain singing (clearly he is not vocally trained), as well as the guitar textures after the bridge, make this really interesting:

If you continue on to the 3 minute mark very surprising dissonances show up too, which really threw me off the chair when I first heard this track.  I don't think anybody on commercial radio would have approved of the way the song takes us out!

In terms of his classical-style composition, check out the track called Domesticity:

This is at the same level as the 2 'ne plus ultras' I always compare every guitarist to here on this blog, specifically James Vincent and Don Mock.

What a joy to discover something so precious and 'rare,' (not released yet to CD??) that I never heard before.


After writing this post, this album really grew on me. I take back any neg. comments about it, it's really wonderful and a masterpiece from beginning to end. What a shame it's not better known or appreciated out there, in the real world!

Sunday 6 November 2022

Uwe Kropinski Solo


The music on this completely unknown East German album is astonishingly complex, almost like the great Christy Doran in his most reflective moods, it's all acoustic but the monotony of the instrumentation is not as distracting as I usually find in these records because of the hypnotic focus on the ideas he puts into his music. As I've mentioned so many times before it's hard to play dissonant, complex music on the guitar especially in comparison to the piano due to the stretching of the fingers involved in playing odd chords but also because the 'finger memory' of the standard chords from experience and training almost forces you to play the usual automatic, rote patterns. Of course this applies less to those trained in the classical educational sphere which this amazing artist clearly was.

A short track called April gives you an idea of how complex his playing can be:

I found some later albums from him, which, almost and sadly predictably, were not quite as inventive and interesting.

Thursday 3 November 2022

Back to Kubist Tier with the cassette only release, Demonstration


For sure this is the sound of heaven for these jaded ears, accustomed to endless playings of Genesis, King Crimson, etc., because here we have the real stuff for us progressive rock fans, which is complicated, dissonant, well-written instrumental, guitar-based compositions of unusual creativity and deep in ideas to transform the auditory lobes of the double-hemisphered organ / loculated mass entoured by the saclike meninges we call for lack of a more appropriate word the brain.

Recall I posted their other album in the past, here, long ago (April 2018). Surprisingly the music here might be a little more accessible than the predecessor, though of course to the average human being the word 'accessible' needs to be replaced by 'incomprehensible'.  The first track, called My Three Chins:

All the other tracks follow along the same lines--thankfully!