Friday 17 May 2024

Various, First Jazz Festival in Sofia from 1977


Here' s just a wonderful surprise and the kind of thing that I just live for and you too most likely.


First Jazz Festival In Sofia '77 - 1978

Vinyl rip Balkanton BTA 10288


01. Hello, Dolly (G. Herman) - Orch. “Dixiland”

02. Blues Ib B-Flat (J. Adderley) - Jazz Quintet

03. Golden Gate (V. Nikolov) - Orch. “White, Green, Red”

04. Samba (S. Shterev) - Jazz Quartet

05. The First By Beethoven (O. Coleman) - Orch. “Rousse”

06. A Sunday Afternoon Walk (L. Denev) - Jazz Quartet From Bulgarian State Conservatoire

07. A. Ballad (M. Stanchev) - Jazz Duo

08. Dangerous Curves (A. Bruzitsov) - Orch. “Experiment”

Information is here. You'll notice familiar names like Nikolov and White Green Red, Orch. Rousse or Septet Rousse, and Shterev. Hopefully you remember.  On the other hand there are bands we should know but don't particularly the Orch Experiment with its wonderful title:

 and the Jazz Quartet with the Sunday Afternoon Walk:

Really enjoyable stuff, totally a surprise find. Thanks a million to those who are able to dig these treasures out of the dark, hard ground...

Wednesday 15 May 2024

Incredible recent work from Dave Greenslade, Time to Make Hay (2015) [limited time only]


Here' s a guy so well known, even my wife knows his name and some of his stuff.  And let's just say she's not exactly a prog rock fan (to my eternal chagrin).  Not at all...

I thought we were done with Greenslade back in the glorious 70s but this came up from a friend and just absolutely blew me away. OK it's not as good as the classic stuff, but boy does it come close in terms of totally original, creative compositions. There's very limited information on the discogs page, so much so that it described the music as avant garde, when in reality it's quite squarely classic progressive rock but without too much electricity / fusion / jazz, which is OK.

Title track as a first impression:

The bizarrely titled Koblenz has quite the unusual riff, chords, and even overall sound, following the drum machine introduction:

I love the way he develops the oddness of it with the fake orchestra playing almost symphonic patterns and sax melody as it moves on. 

Suffice it to say that in addition to those 2 remarkable ones, there are other tracks I'm sure you will be surprised and delighted by. Very little that is not worth hearing in fact.

Subsequently I went through all the post-70s material to see if this was a unique finding, and to some extent it is indeed, with not much to hang on to, in the later years.  Greenslade's discography is here. All the other albums: From the Discworld (1994), Going South (1999), Routes / Roots (2009) have only a couple of songs worth hearing, oddly enough, and the last album, G & T (2021), is just purely simple blues. Note however the incredible composition Sideways, from 2009, similar to old Dave Stewart (eg Egg) or Radio Piece:

But boy is this one worth savoring, and keeping forever.

Monday 13 May 2024

Back to Neil Ardley again with Time Flowers


I thought I had thoroughly listened to all his discography some time back with the post here, but I was quite wrong about that. Although this music from 1971 is mostly quite ordinary and even too much in the big band direction there is one standout composition which absolutely blew me away and hopefully others too, called The Time Flowers. As the narrator explains, it's a symphonic poem based on a science fiction or fantasy short story. It covers just about everything interesting and creative in modern music and fusion, perhaps you could compare it to the long suite like the Peabody Wind Ensemble track Fourth Stream, but more refined and delicate in ideas and occasionally even more atonal and dissonant. For me, the perfect mixture of complex classical music and fusion that I absolutely crave at all times. It also seems shockingly strange to me that such a great piece of music is so completely forgotten, even for those, like me, who are very well acquainted with Neil Ardley. Note that it's co-composed with Keith Winter, keyboardist on the Isotope albums.

There's a whole bunch of other luminaries on this collection btw, including Heckstall-Smith, Dave Greenslade (who is going to come up here shortly too), my beloved Mike Gibbs, and our old library favourite from long ago, Frank Ricotti on vibes, amazingly, on the Time Flowers composition.

I suppose I might have encountered this back then when I quickly went through all his works, but somehow I missed this one. Good to look back once in a while.

Saturday 11 May 2024

Guitarist Gary Boyle

Of course he was the guitarist for Isotope, but then he subsequently made three wonderful fusion albums in the late seventies, with the first (obviously?) being the best. I was curious to know if he subsequently produced more great music, like Akkerman did for example, but the only gem turned out to be his Triple Echo album released in 1994 or thirty years ago now. That one has some truly lovely compositional and reflective moments in addition to the nice fusion.

From discogs:

British guitarist and vocalist, born 24 November 1941, Patna, Bihar, India.

He came to England when he was 8. In the 70s Boyle was member of cult jazz-rock band Isotope (three albums for Gull).

Specifically from Triple Echo, the beautiful Peacegreen:

From Games which is more recent, hailing from 2003, the track called LP:

Hopefully everyone is already quite familiar with the first 3 but if you're lucky enough to have never heard them, you're in for a nice treat.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Des Laszlo's Fal Mogott: A lost masterpiece from 1984


From discogs, the possibly gratuitous or perhaps tongue in cheek (Eastern European humour?) descriptor:

Profile: Hungarian composer and saxophone player. Successful jazz musician.

Born January 9, 1954 in Budapest.

He was involved in multiple other projects which are spread out among different entries (eg Dimenzio, posted earlier here). Mention should also be made of 1978's Tomsits Jazz Group with its Escher cover, which is pure genius.

The title track beings relatively inauspiciously with A minor going down to F repeatedly but I love how the guitarist (who is this guy) develops the melody and the song changes throughout. 

Closing track Aura demonstrates quite convincingly his composer's talent or perhaps genius:

Really a wonderful, lovely lost album. Worth hearing a hundred times over.

Tuesday 7 May 2024

Lesek Semelka, SLS in 1985's Coloured Dreams


This gentleman was in Bohemia (just posted recently with bonus).  

His 1985 release though is quite different, with a commercial slant and very little creative direction or progressiveness, despite the discogs descriptor.  Which you can't blame him for, given the year of 1985. I supposed SLS is the artist's group named for himself.  From my amphibian proggy point of view the best track is the title track which is the last track:

Nonetheless, here and there some tracks well worth hearing.

Friday 3 May 2024

Bonus tracks from Bohemia, limited time only


Their stuff was posted on this blog long ago back here, and I thought I collected everything from them but I was sadly wrong. Or until this day, happily wrong.

From the text document: Bohemia – Singly A Rozhlasové Nahrávky 1976-1978

Label: Tomáš Padevět – 8594189130174

Format: 2 x CD, Compilation

Country: Czech Republic

Released: 2023

Genre: Rock, Blues

Style: Blues Rock

There's such a nice mix of early protoprog, horn rock, and some fusion in here, all of it well worth the hearing for sure, roughly half vocal and half instrumental I think. Among the vocal tracks, Kam Jdou:

While a track called Mlhave rano with its flute plus electric guitar intro so typical of that prog period moves into the wonderful dissonant arpeggios that bring it into the fusion sound, very much electric guitar based (like the German band Alcatraz in their 3-4 period), which is so nice to hear:

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Unknown Portuguese band Arte e Oficio: Faces, Danza


Here's a wonderful surprise that really blew me away, after everything we've already heard up to now.

Information is sparse here on discogs. They are from Portugal.

Reminds me a lot of my old favourite Julien B's First Snow. Because it's a gorgeous mix of uptempo rockers, funky stuff, and progressively-minded songwriting. It also recalls Italian prog-songsters Libra, who made 3 wonderful albums mixing creative songs with fusion and progressive Italians, or more distantly, the old favourite Memo's Captain Thunder.  The singer in particular recalls the singer from Libra.  Anyways you get the idea.

The wonderfully titled prog song Lobster Society:

Album closes out with just a brilliant vocal composition that never ceases to entrance and amaze me because of the originality of both melody and chord changes, called Finally:

Notice the gorgeous sax pattern when he mentions hearing the sax, and how well the singer utilizes his vibrato at the right high notes.

Note that in the follow up album from 1981 called Danza they moved straightforwardly into the simple rock direction, basically like a toned down Rolling Stones you could say, lacking the creative progressive dimension and with a lot of imitation rockabilly and blues rockers. Can't really blame them for that though. At least--praise be to God--the 80s new wave digital jumpy synths do not make an unwelcome appearance.  Note that there is an alternative version of this album with bonus tracks presumably lifted from their singles, which is of interest, although what I have is low bitrate. As well note that in 2014 they recorded a live album of their old tracks. That one I'd like to purchase if it doesn't show up anywhere, for sure worth a listen on strength of the Faces compositions.

So most of that album is quite ordinary and tossable, but the title track is nice and approaches the prior debut album's level of interest:

Note from the bonus tracks, the one called O Carcajero de Galinha which appeared on this 45:

A basic electric guitar riff transcends into some lovely synth-draped fusion chords that keep modulating unexpectedly-- a wonderful surprise given that the title would lead one to expect totally generic Brazilianly ordinary latin garbage samba which I despise-- though not quite as much as billionaire, soon to be richest person in the world, Taylor Swift.

This music is hugely underrated, like Julien B's First Snow or my old classic rock favourite Ambush, and I find it quite tragic. Perhaps in their native Portugal it's different?

Monday 29 April 2024

Hawk on Flight (first few LPs) limited time only flacs for 1st 2


I didn't realize they made so many albums, I must've given up on them in the mid80s. I don't even have the courage now to go through the post 1985 ones to see if there's anything in there worth hearing, maybe someone else could take up the sacrifice for our people, for humanity. Then I wish them best of luck! Assuming I ever see them again.

Note the Jag Tanker composition reappears here, recall this showed up in Soffgruppen.
The Hawk on Flight track from 1979 is just gorgeous, of course:

From the eponymous 1980, I've always been entranced by Graf's Voicings beginning on the full organ then moving to a fugue like section and accelerating to the fusion of the end:

Btw, the guitarist on these albums is Ulf Wakenius.

Predictably, after these 2 and the departure of Hakon Graf, very quickly the band now led by bassist Matz Nilsson gets smoother and smoother, the tracks get lighter and lighter, the sound becomes commercialer and commercialer, and inevitably the crappy tinny drum machine takes over from the real percussion, the David Sanborn-style squeaky squealing scratchy sax starts howling at the moon, the Brazilian bossa nova importations come in, the chords are minimized to 4 per composition, etc., etc.

Friday 26 April 2024

Hakon Graf 1982 Hideaway, 1987 Grafitti


Well what could I say that's not obvious? After Moose Loose and Hawk on Flight,  Hakon Graf's1982's Hideaway is more of the same but much smoother, while Grafitti of course is basically complete commercialese / easy listening.

Nonetheless, consider the lovely, tender keys of Tender Stranger:

Btw Hakon released a couple of CDs in recent years (Sunrain, Licence to Chill) with some marvelous fusion on them, which are well worth checking out too.

Wednesday 24 April 2024

Kiyoshi Hasegawa in Barbara (1983)

Info here. A very prolific SSW you can see albeit seemingly totally unknown past the shores of his island home to the point where it's hard to even find his music anywhere at all.  Only a couple of albums so far as I know are available digitized, the remainder presumably existing only as analog or digital discs.

The elaborate string arrangement intro of this third track (kage ni naku) betrays the generic ordinariness of what follows:

Monday 22 April 2024

Back to Frode Thingnaes with Queen Python, 1981

Information on this one discogged here. Most tracks were written by guitarist / engineer, Jan Erik Kongshaug.

Same light fusion as the preceding installments marred slightly (for myself, apologies to others) by the fact it's a live recording and therefore not perfect in terms of sound, and intensity. At any rate, I had to purchase and rip it as it was missing from his online digital discography (so far as I know, as usual, which is not too far).

It's also a very long album at about 50 minutes but that's nothing to celebrate since it entails constant repetitive solos by every musician.

Afterglow by Bob James really can take you back to those days in 1981, he was the guy who although quite prolific (and mid, as the kids would say) in the light funk / fusion sphere throughout the 70s, struck it HUGE with the TV theme for Taxi, starring lovely Merilu Henner-- does anybody else here remember that classic show?  And this track also resembles that theme, with its nicely detailed and long melody:


Bass – Jan Erik Kongshaug

Design [Cover] – Bruno Oldani

Drums – Thor Andreassen

Engineer [Mixing] – Jan Erik Kongshaug

Engineer [Recording] – Arne Akselberg

Guitar – Pete Knutsen

Keyboards – Henryk Lysiak

Lacquer Cut By – F*

Trombone, Euphonium – Frode Thingnæs

Recorded live at «Døla-jazz», Lillehammer and «Gjøvik-festivalen», Gjøvik in May 1981.

Friday 19 April 2024

Four for Jazz in 3 LPs 1970 - 1972 (Land of Dolls, Power of Nature, Sunday Child)

Basic, what they call contemporary jazz, with some fusion traces and elements that make it worth hearing--although perhaps only for the one run through.  They do improve (get more fusionary) over the course of these three short years, information here.

Title track from Power of Nature:

Wednesday 17 April 2024

Danish Ariel with Solens Barn, 1980


Info discogged here

In distinction to the other ST this one is laden with female vocals and is much much smoother and commercial in keeping with the year of release, 1980.  Shockingly the vocal duties are performed by a Hawaiian girl, called Lei (Aloha Moe).

Cf. the title track:

Monday 15 April 2024

Danish Ariel from 1980


As usual, beautiful covers, there are two alternate ones.
Info on these guys here. Not to be confused with the super brilliant US one-off band that made Perspectives in 1978!
This is their first, the ST one. They play a fusion that is instrumental but leaning towards the jazzy side rather than electric. Nonetheless, quite original compositions and minimal wankery.

747 to Rio (sad indeed that jet airliner we grew up with was retired in favour of the silly and quite problematic 737, so sad):

Friday 12 April 2024

Gabriel Jonas in 1978's Impresie


Discogged as:

Slovak pianist, bass guitarist, composer. Born November 23, 1948 in Kukučínovo (Želiezovice district, former Czechoslovakia, presently Slovakia).

Light jazz here, but quite interesting compositionally (all by him), thankfully no standards, original music only. A lot reminds me of the old Teo Macero I mentioned often here before too as one of my intrinsic points of reference.

First off note he played in the Keyboard Conclave, no. 10 specifically, which I once posted here. We are constantly orbiting in large circles here on this blog.  He also was in one of the Mini Jazz Klubs, back here, playing electric piano though that time.

Zivy Sen, or Living Dream:

I enjoy the gentle sound of Akela with its really odd dropping chord progression, and the really beautiful touch on the sax is by the hands and lungs of this guy (Peter Kral):

Wednesday 10 April 2024

One more Jon Eberson: Between Two Worlds, 2021, FLAC limited time only


So that's a pretty crazy cover, and I think it's so awkward in comparison to Blow Out for, example, in particular the font on the side doesn't quite seem right to me. Love to hear other opinions though.

Moving on to the music, though, it's quite impressive for a later album. Clearly he is channeling the old progressive fusion zeitgeist here for the fans who will appreciate it, of which I can count myself and probably you too.  A nice surprise and always somewhat unusual to see such clearly derivative yet nonetheless creative and original work in a later release.

I suggest you pay attention to his Dream Worlds:

Monday 8 April 2024

Back to Jon Eberson in Jive Talking 1981, Polarities 1982

Obviously everyone remembers he was the guitarist in superbrilliant Moose Loose and the equally brilliant one-off LP Blow Out.  Information on the group he thereafter formed, here. They were active from 1981 to 1987 and in that short period put out at least one album per year, with only the first two, or even first one, worth hearing in my opinion. Great example of how progressive fusion became commercialized by smooth sounds and simplicity right after the 1980 turn of the decade discontinuity.

Nonetheless, a lovely track called It Was (singer's voice is Sidsel Endreson):

From the second album, Untitled:

I couldn't bear to listen to the ones that came after, I'm sorry to any fans..