неделя, 5 април 2015 г.

Miroslav Vitous - Universal Syncopations (2003)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz
Original Release Date: 2003
Label: ECM 1863

On his first jazz date as a leader since 1992, Czechoslovakian bassist and composer Miroslav Vitous comes out of the gate with a host of heavyweights on one of the more lyrically swinging dates in modern jazz. Vitous' engaged, pulsing, and deeply woody tone is featured in the company of John McLaughlin, Jan Garbarek, Chick Corea, and Jack DeJohnette. While the crystalline sound of Manfred Eicher's ECM is everywhere here, as is the open-ended speculative jazz that the label is renowned -- and ridiculed for -- Vitous offers some startlingly beautiful twists and turns with his ensemble. Vitous, who has been through every music, from jazz-rock fusion as a founding member of Weather Report to being a classical composer, decided to revisit the skeletal remains of his very first session for the label in 1969. Produced by Herbie Mann the disc was, from a musical standpoint, a contentious, utterly brilliant marriage of ideas both old and new. Bandmembers DeJohnette and McLaughlin were present on those sides as well. Universal Syncopations is by turns a return to not the old forms, but rather to the manner of illustrating harmonic concepts in a quintet setting that allows for a maximum space between ensemble players while turning notions of swing, counterpoint, and rhythmic invention on their heads. From the wooly, expressionistic "Tramp Blues," with Vitous vamping around the changes, to the wide-open legato guitar phrasing of McLauglin against the double time in Vitous' bass on "Univoyage," to the simmering undulations of Garbarek's saxophones on top of Corea's intricate melodies and right-hand runs on "Brazilan Waves," all of it propelled, not anchored, by the leader's rich tone and accented and punctuated by Garbarek's tight, loping saxophone lines. This is one of those recordings that feels familiar in tone, but is timeless in concept and execution. Universal Syncopations is one of the most gorgeous sounding and toughly played dates of the calendar year.Review by Thom Jurek (allmusic.com)

събота, 19 април 2014 г.

Ahmed Abdul-Malik - East Meets West (1959)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, World Fusion, 
Original Release Date: 1959
Label: RCA

Review by Ken Dryden

The late Ahmed Abdul-Malik was best known to jazz listeners as a bassist with Thelonious Monk, Randy Weston, Coleman Hawkins, and many others. He made a few records as a leader, with this one being his most exotic and also the hardest to find. The Brooklyn native was of Sudanese descent; in addition to playing bass on this interesting blend of Middle Eastern instruments with those from the world of jazz, he also plays oud, the forerunner to the lute. The musicians on Malik's eight originals vary from track to track. On the mournful "La Ibky (Don't Cry)," Malik's oud shares the spotlight with a tenor sax (either Benny Golson or Johnny Griffin) plus trumpeter Lee Morgan. "Rooh (The Soul)" features the 72-string kanoon (which is sort of a brittle sounding and much smaller harp) played by Ahmed Yetman, along with Malik's arco bass and the droning violin of Naim Karacand. The Middle Eastern instruments are absent during "Searchin'," which is sort of a hard bop vehicle featuring trombonist Curtis Fuller and Jerome Richardson on flute, along with the tenor sax. "Takseem (Solo)" omits the jazz instruments; the slowness of the variations of the music and rather piercing vocal make it harder for Western ears to comprehend. Not a release of interest to everyone but, for the most part, this fusion of vastly different styles of music is quite enjoyable; it's obvious from the start that the musicians were enjoying themselves as it was recorded. This long out print LP will be difficult to locate.

Biography by Chris Kelsey

Ahmed Abdul-Malik was one of the first musicians to integrate non-Western musical elements into jazz. In addition to being a hard bop bassist of some distinction, he also played the oud, a double-stringed, unfretted Middle Eastern lute, played with a plectrum. Abdul-Malik recorded on the instrument in the '50s with Johnny Griffin and in 1961 with John Coltrane, contributing to one of the several albums that resulted from the latter's Live at the Village Vanguard sessions.

Abdul-Malik was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. In his twenties and thirties, he worked as a bassist with Art Blakey, Randy Weston, and Thelonious Monk, among others. He played the oud on a tour of South America under the aegis of the U.S. State Department, and performed at one of the first major African jazz festivals in Morocco in 1972. Beginning in 1970, he taught at New York University and later, Brooklyn College. In 1984, he received BMI's Pioneer in Jazz Award in recognition of his work in melding Middle Eastern musics and jazz.

събота, 22 март 2014 г.

MCM - Ritual Factory 2004

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Fusion, Progressive Metal
Original Release Date: 2004
Label: Lion Music

This is a hard one to review. Rarely do I like to criticise such creativity within the Metal genre but on some occasions an album comes along that beggars belief as to what the musicians are hoping to achieve. One such album is MCM’s debut ‘’Ritual Factory’’ An album that ‘’spans from Progressive Rock to Experimental Jazz, from Funk Fusion to Indian Rhythms and phrasing’’ Yeah, you’ll be as bewildered as me when you hear it.

MCM is the brain child of the talented guitarist Alex Masi and he has joined forces with Randy Coven (Steve Vai/Malmsteen) on bass and John Macaluso (TNT/Malmsteen/RIOT) on drums. (I’ll let you work out where MCM comes from) and the music is extremely challenging, with emphasis on challenging. By the way it’s almost entirely instrumental with the odd spoken verse chucked in for good measure. Obvious influences are DREAM THEATER (them again!) and a big, big RUSH influence also. Each song is a master class is superb technical ability but at the same time it’s totally lacking in emotion as the playing standard is above what us mere mortals could ever hope to understand. Wave after wave of Jazz Fusion guitars, drum and bass come rolling from the speakers all mixing into a complex dispersal of sounds and shapes. After awhile it all sounds so bloody samey! And once you’ve heard one Randy Coven bass solo (utterly impressive though it is) then you’re not going to hang around for anymore. I guess you could place Masi’s guitar solos in that pigeon hole as well.

All three musicians are pushing themselves to the limit here both musically and commercially. You’ll be hard pressed to hear anything quite so diverse in the Metal world and for that MCM should be congratulated but for a spectacle of music it’s tough going. (Online August 24, 2004)

понеделник, 10 март 2014 г.

Anouar Brahem - Conte de L'incroyable amour (1992)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, Folk, World, & Country
Original Release Date: 1992
Label: ECM Records

After a memorable ECM debut with Barzakh, Anouar Brahem recorded this even more memorable sophomore effort one year later. Carrying over percussionist Lassad Hosni, Brahem welcomes Turkish musicians Kudsi Erguner on ney and Barbaros Erköse on clarinet. Erköse, a gypsy music specialist, adds rich colors to an already dense palette, weaving tethers that pull us into tender worlds. His duets with Erguner (“Etincelles” and “Peshrev Hidjaz Homayoun”) stand out as some of the album’s most flowing. The title track brings the patter of clay drums, weaving a gorgeous ney into our vision. (The melodies and rhythms here put this listener immediately in mind of the song “I Love You” from Omar Faruk Tekbilek’s album One Truth.) Captivating. Erguner shines again in “Diversion.” Slaloming through every drummed pillar with the conviction of a bird in search of prey and yet with the delicacy of an angel avoiding such violence, he brings a sense of history to every lilting gesture. “Nayzak” revives the clarinet amid oud and drums for a stunning taste of mountains and the plains. The album’s meat, though, comes in Brahem’s unaccompanied storytelling. From the dawn chorus of “L’oiseau de bois” and invigorating virtuosity of “Battements,” through the tender air “Le chien sur les genoux de la devineresse,” and on to “Epilogue,” there is unimaginable depth of yearning in every twang and strum.

This album is all about the composition, stripped to the barest essentials of melodic craft and burrowing straight into the marrow of our past lives. One of Brahem’s best to date.

неделя, 12 януари 2014 г.

Steve Smith & Vital Information - Live One Great Night 2012 {with DVD5 NTSC}

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz
Original Release Date: 2012
Label: BFM Jazz

Live! One Great Night (BFM Jazz) captures Vital Information in its natural habitat: On stage in front of an enthusiastic audience of music lovers with the band in high gear, pulling out all the stops for the entire set.

This recording is a superb example of the creative development in Vital Information’s music. Most of the compositions on Live! One Great Night were originally recorded on the studio albums Come On In and Vitalization. If you compare the performances on this release to the original recordings, you will hear significant musical growth both individually and collectively.

Our music allows for individual expression and re-invention. Every night on the bandstand we want to surprise each other with new ideas and in the process keep our audience “in the moment” with us.

On November 7, 2007 Vital Information was nearing the end of a year of extensive world touring. The band played a date at a small venue in Oregon, and we agreed to a webcast, which at the time was a novel idea. Five years later, as Vital Information approaches its 30th Anniversary, I was looking for some documentation of our various periods and I remembered that night in Oregon. After numerous emails and phone calls I was able to track down the recording of the concert. As a bonus we also found video footage of our webcast.

After listening to the performances I was thrilled to hear that the group played an exciting set, not studio “perfect,” but alive and spontaneous, with creative grooves, inspired interaction and expansive improvisation. I felt that including a DVD of the concert added an extra dimension to this package and while editing the video, we decided to add one more song to the DVD program.

I feel that Live! One Great Night is an insightful documentation of the group’s development. Our keyboardist, Tom Coster, has been in VI since 1986 and Baron Browne has been our bass player since 1998. Guitarist Vinny Valentino joined us in 2006 and had been playing with the group just over one year at the time of this recording.

The results of this collaboration are raw and exhilarating. This line-up of Vital Information has continued to play together and evolve over the last fi ve years. But, by going back and hearing this performance in the formative year of the quartet, it feels as though we’ve uncovered an unexpected gem.

Enjoy - Steve Smith

понеделник, 30 декември 2013 г.

Steve Gorn Tony Levin Jerry Marotta - From the Caves of the Iron Mountains 1997

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, World Fusion
Original Release Date: 1997
Label: Papa Bear Records

Once in a while, an idea grabs hold of an artist, or group of musicians, and compels them to create a work that takes in more than their music. FROM THE CAVES OF THE IRON MOUNTAIN is such a special project, in that it encompasses an atmosphere, a place so special that its presence is felt in every note.

Bassist Tony Levin, with longtime cohort Jerry Marotta on drums, and with Steve Gorn, one of the world's premier artists on East Indian flutes, heard about the historic site of the Widow Jane Mine, near their Woodstock NY home town, and arranged to play there. In two days of recording by the underground lake, a harmony between musicians and the almost pre-historic setting took place. In that unspoiled atmosphere, with the sound of Steve's Bansuri Flute, Tony's Chapman Stick, and Jerry's Taos Drums blending with the rock, dirt and water, a timeless resonance was achieved in the music that reflects more than the individual talents of the musicians. Who better to bring in to do the recording in such an unusual setting than renowned engineer/producer Tchad Blake, who has worked extensively on world music around the globe, and with Tony and Jerry on many records. Tchad used his unique binaural technique with microphones in his ears(!) so that the listener with headphones experiences the sound as if there in person. Because we wanted the production to be of the highest quality, it was taken for mastering to Bob Ludwig at Gateway Mastering.

петък, 20 декември 2013 г.

Al Jarreau - Glow (1976)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Jazz, Funk, Soul
Original Release Date: 1976
Label: Reprise Records

by Dave Van Der Spank
"Why should I work at 100% when I sell only 10% of the records with it" Jarreau once asked himself. Still, we are lucky he once did, proven by records like "Glow". The nicest track is the title song, which shows his most velvet style of jazz singing. "Aqua De Beber" adds some latin, "Hold on me" is a superb a-capella bit, while "Rainbow In Your Eyes", "Have You Seen The Child" and "Milwaukee" give the Funk it's full space. Unlike most of his later records this one is consistent, warm, even with the song Milwaukee, and made just for the sake of good music. His later records still feature highlights, though they are accompanied by loads of fillers. "Tenderness" is almost on par with this one though...

A Music Fan
A friend of mine turned me on to this LP Back in high school we'd trade discoveries and when he hit me with this, I was blown away. I rushed out and got "We Got By" and liked it just as much. Both of these albums are five stars as far as I'm concerned and completely blow away the later stuff that he did which turned in the direction of sappy, Pop oriented, "radio-friendly" pap. This album cooks, sways and grooves, and is a must for fans. Go for that deal where you get both of the above mentioned for under $20, and you won't be disappointed...

събота, 7 декември 2013 г.

Alphonse Mouzon - Early Spring (1988)

Format: flac + cue + log
Genre: Contemporary Jazz, jazz - funk
Original Release Date: 1988
Label: Optimism

Drummer Alphonse Mouzon covers a lot of ground on this set, ranging from poppish R&B to straight jazz. Two selections have soulful vocals; Mouzon takes a pair of occasionally self-indulgent selections as features for his many overdubbed instruments; and the four instrumental quartet numbers feature either Gary Meek or Ronnie Laws on soprano or (in two cases) the heated tenor of Ernie Watts (who is best on "Seven Steps to Heaven").