Wednesday 28 February 2024

Pal Thowson in Carnival, 1981, and Sympathy, 1983

Carnival continues the same wonderful light and smooth fusion style of its predecessor Surprise but on Sympathy he went all out with the commercial songs and therefore holds very little of interest for us here.

I posted both anyways.

The music is not quite as brilliant on Sympathy, I guess predictably (since crazy complex and creative originality peaked for fusion in the mid seventies time frame), the full credits can be found on this page.

Shockingly the album starts off with Gino Vanelli's Brother to Brother composition, recall I raved about his music way back here, long long ago in 2021, and to be honest I still really love his stuff, he was as underrated as they get. He has lost Eberson (sadly) and bassist Arild Andersen, Hakon Graf only contributed one track, but the final one is by our beloved Palle Mikkelborg, it's called It was Just a Dream and it's almost as nice as the closer for the preceding one:

The replacement composer for Eberson is trumpeter Fred Noddelund, who in contrast to the fusion plays a chamber style of music. You get a sense of that here on the Sundown track he wrote:

Hakon's track called Highway I'm pretty sure appeared on one of his solo LPs:

Anyways, you get the idea. It's a mixed bag. Not so the next album from 1983, Sympathy, that one is much more monolithic, cohesive, being just a bag of rocks for me.  Despite it again featured Eberson and Hakon Graf.

Monday 26 February 2024

Pal Thowsen beginning with 1979's Surprise


A Norwegian jazz drummer, discogged here. He played with Jon Eberson and Hakon Graf in the wonderful fusion band Moose Loose, who I'll feature a bit later.  (Hakon the keyboardist also played in the great Hawk on Flight and Blow out the one-off fusion masterpiece. I'm surprised I never posted all those albums before.)

For his own works, Thowsen played a really nice, smooth but emotional and at times intense fusion.
If you take a look at the full credits, available on this particular page, you'll see he is accompanied by bandmates on guitar Eberson and Hakon too, and Arild Andersen on bass (oddly, also the producer on this). He himself didn't compose any of the music, credit seems to be spread out among all those other artists. Quite the surprise then that this music didn't come out as another Moose Loose LP or even Jon Eberson Group.

Rainbow Dance is an Eberson composition:

Note the really soft and lovely atmospheric closer called To You, which was also penned by Eberson:

With Hakon of course playing those lovely spacey synth chords.

Friday 23 February 2024

Frode Thingnaes Quintet's Direct to Disc from 1980


Information for this one here. As before in the preceding post the fusion here is so smooth and professionally played it sounds like you're on a late night TV talk show from back in the day and being moved from one stylish velvet elevator to another, quite imperceptibly.  With one elevator after another featuring the same sounds, rhythms, melodies, it's difficult to even tell the tracks they're on apart.
Consider the opener called Bumpin':

Wednesday 21 February 2024

Frode Thingnaes Quintet's Night Sounds, 1979


Of course everyone recalls I posted his 1974 album, back here. That post was, to me, astoundingly popular (the one with the armadillo or pangolin on the cover).  

Discogged here for informational purposes, with the quintet's discography here.

Some very very light, very slight fusion here but played with perfect timing and brightness and multiple instruments, not quite orchestralized arrangements. The title track:

Sunday 18 February 2024

Happy the Man's Muse Awakens, 2004


Big surprise here, which I wasn't aware of.  
Obviously we all grew up with (ha ha) this classic Canterbury-style US band from the 70s, discogged as per:

American progressive rock band from Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA, that was formed in 1973, disbanded in 1979 and reformed in 2000. The band released three albums between 1977 and 1983 (the third was recorded in 1979, but first released in 1983). After a long hiatus, Happy The Man released a new album in 2004 with a new drummer and new additional keyboardist.

It's a bit surprising because I always assumed Kit Watkins was the main compositional force behind those wonderful early albums, but of course he's absent on this one, replaced by a certain David Rosenthal. Despite the switcheroo the music is consistently strong, and perfectly representative progressive rock, quite 70s based, still keyboards dominant, but with the dissonances, the synths, the emotional elements that make it fully compelling, with a great deal of variety, odd changes and interesting arrangements, just as you'd expect. Well, sometimes our expectations are low for these later releases, but in this case they exceed them magnificently.

It starts off with Contemporary Insanity:

I love anything and everything relating to Hawai'i and can't resist posting any track homaging those beautiful Garden of Eden isles of the mid-Pacific, and Maui Sunset really brings it home (those poor folks are still recovering from the horrific fire in Lahaina last year, let's remember that dreadful consequence of climate change's cruelty):

Altogether a wonderful album and a delight to listen to, I will for sure be paying close attention to these tracks in the days to come, or as they say in other places: 'monitoring the situation very closely.'

Friday 16 February 2024

Freedon from 1990 Switzerland


Paltry info from discogs:

Swiss jazz-rock group from Berne, led by Don Pfäffli (a.k.a. Don Li), active in early 1990s.

LP info here.

For sure this is advanced, somewhat dissonant fusion, electric guitar based, all instrumental. There is thankfully a lot of variety with some ballads, slower stuff, more advanced, more simple. Most of the tracks were written by bandleader Don. Not sure why this came up in search history but it's for sure undeservedly unknown, with not much of those annoying musical 80s-90s tendencies / cliches which we all know so well.

First track (Fat Brother) is a great example of the uptempo material:

While Hurt of Love showcases the more balladic elements:

Wednesday 14 February 2024

Double Image by Hitoshi Okano from 1982


I encountered this one in connection with Hard Boiled, from the amazing Arakawa.

Here are the credits for the LP. 
Hitoshi Okano:
Japanese jazz trumpet player. Born November 9, 1948 in Tokyo, Japan.

The music is squarely in the instrumental acoustic contemporary jazz tradition but luckily no standards were delved in.

However there is a track that does some really nice Miles Davis style fusion called Infinite Pale:

Monday 12 February 2024

Monica Tornell in 1974's Don't Give a Damn


Information on this one here. Might be a good idea not to look too closely at the cover photo which shows to some grooming extent that she really doesn't give a damn.

I was surprised the beautiful track An Angel Died was written by country singer Bobbie Gentry (of Ode for Billie Joe fame and I'm pretty sure I don't want to hear her version):

And this album is a mixed bag, with John Lennon's (highly overplayed) Jealous Guy making an appearance, she does try to hard rock it out on certain tracks with mixed success especially vocally, though the "Weekend" composition is pretty listenable, this album, on the whole, does feature one of the single worst songs I've ever heard in recent years, the title track which is atrociously repetitive to the point where by the end she even starts laughing as she keeps repeating don't give a damn, I mean you have to hear it to believe it folks.

Friday 9 February 2024

Monica Tornell in a few albums from the seventies

She was a folky singer songwriter from Sweden, see discogs:

Swedish singer and songwriter, born June 3, 1954 in Trönö parish in Hälsingland (Gävleborgs län).

After being discovered by Cornelis Vreeswijk in 1971, she was for two decades a prominent singer in several genres, mainly show and rock. Together with Lasse Holm, she sang Sweden's contribution to the Eurovision Song Contest in Bergen, Norway in 1986. In 2017, she released Understanding Eye, which is her first own album in 25 years.

I'm always on the lookout for something on the level of the great and beloved (and still underrated) Carita Holmstrom, but of course that doesn't happen every day, not even more than once a lifetime actually.  Of course sometimes we don't have more than one lifetime.  ( Here I'm thinking of the great Elon. ) I mean, setting aside (billionaire) Taylor Swift of course who is without a doubt the greatest musician / composer of all time, I think we can all 100 percent agree on that, right? I guess if she married Drake or whoever and combined creative forces, then all the other artists can just give up right now, correct???

Anyways, here and there Monica has some interesting pieces, interspersed with the presumably political lyrics.

From the first album the gently hyperemotional Var Nara Mig sounds a lot like Turid, who is another artist everyone should be familiar with (if you're not a "Swiftie"):

The title track from the 1978 Jar Ar Som Jag Ar sounds a little like Carita even, but the part where she reverts to talking instead of singing is a little annoying to me:

As kind of might be expected in the 80s she threw all her chips into the pot with the digital drums, synths, bouncy rhythms, echoey overproduced sound, but the track called Någon I Ditt Liv is actually quite good with its unusual, unexpected modulations mid-choruses:

Surprisingly some of her albums have never been digitized. I'll be back with more ripped vinyl therefore.

Wednesday 7 February 2024

Back to Yoshiaki Miyanoue in Mellow Around, from 1980 [by request]


Lovely cover photograph of a clipper ship on the waters...

I posted some of his later stuff here.

On this LP he is accompanied by an orchestral string section conducted by Chikara Ueda.  Remember him? I put some of his stuff back here and it was quite lush and warm just as it is in this instance.

We also encountered the lovely track No Cry, No End, earlier with Chikara:

This gives you a great idea of what the whole album is like, strings-augmented light fusion instrum. compositions throughout.  

Good tracks here and there, worth hearing, worth the purchase of the LP.  Should try to get the next missing album.


Monday 5 February 2024

Lubat Louiss Engel Group Live In Montreux 1972 [+ FLAC]



Composed By – Bernard Lubat (tracks: A2, B2), Claude Engel (tracks: A1, B1)
Drums, Percussion [Percussions], Piano, Electric Piano, Voice – Bernard Lubat
Electric Bass – Marc Bertaux
Electric Guitar – Claude Engel
Engineer [Ingénieur Du Son] – Stephen Sulke*
Organ, Electric Piano [Piano Électrique (Fender)] – Eddy Louiss
Producer [Direction Artistique], Mixed By [Mixage] – Emmanuel "Pinpin" Sciot*
Recorded June 19 1972.

Made in France.

Despite the discogs description, this is fusion and not contemporary jazz, but does feature a lot of improvisation.

I was always amazed by the vibrato electric piano of Mickey Schroeder's Dream which was composed by Bernard of course:

Friday 2 February 2024

Yoshiaki Miyanoue: Song for Wes, Edge, Riviera


Here's a bit of radical change in direction from the preceding magnificent post. It's more in the way of regular jazz with standards, but I have more from him coming soon that will be a little bit more fresh.
Maki's Dream from Song for Wes (ie Montgomery):

Discogged here.

You can see he's not a fusion guitarist.  Note that he played with Isao Suzuki, hope you remember him from not so long ago.