terça-feira, 11 de julho de 2017

Annette Peacock and Paul Bley - Dual Unity 1971

The madly in love combination of Paul Bley and Annette Peacock, toting all kinds of unstable synthesizer equipment around Europe, and backed by the madcap Han Bennink on drums, adds up to the stuff of musical legend. Sadly enough, this is one of the better musical documents from these encounters, ungenerous as it is in its playing time. Several of the tracks feature a different group, without Bennink. The side-long "M.J." is vaguely ludicrous, although certainly listenable. The amazingly dated nature of electronic sound may turn out to be the overall theme, since sounds that made artists of the early '70s feel practically like they were sitting in the cockpit of a rocket to Mars come across as more than just tame a few decades later. The melody and harmonic structure of this tune, occurring and occurring and occurring as it does, begins to sound like the pop group the Classics IV. Meanwhile, Bennink carries on like he is playing with John Coltrane; good thing, that. Peacock's electric bass is a very nice touch throughout a track that can't be said to sound like that much else on record, by Bley or anyone else.
Of course, subsequent generations of listeners returned to electronic antiques such as this, savoring the tones of the instruments as if chewing on nectar-laden cherries. "Gargantuan Encounter" lacks the longer track's melodic sentimentality, beginning somewhere mid-performance and going straight for the jugular vein with a series of wacky electronic sounds from both Peacock and Bley, all of which the wonderful Bennink tramples as if flattening a small ant hill with an oil drum. With Bennink exiting stage left, the supposition might be a return to a more normal musical environment, but the tracks with bassist Mario Pavone and drummer Laurence Cook are even more chaotic. This rhythm section and the music in general goes wild in a Cecil Taylor manner, Peacock energetically attacking an acoustic piano as part of a mix that is continually saturated by synthesizer sounds. These electronic comments seem more and more like radio frequency jamming as things proceed. Details like a frantic arco bass solo are undermiked, adding to the overall insanity. "Richter Scale" contrasted with one of Bley's piano ballad performances -- on other records, to be sure, as there is nothing remotely lke that here -- show the wondrous contrast certain artists achieve in their careers. The final track is a short showcase for Peacock's vocals. AMG.

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Calvin Key - Shawn-Neeq 1971

Jazz guitarist Calvin Keys is a legend among soul-jazz fans for his appearances as a session musician and his small catalog of releases under his own name. Known for his lean, muscular single-string solo style, Keys was born in 1943 in Omaha, Nebraska. His first musical influence was his father Otis, a well-known drummer on the city's music scene. He passed the music bug on to Calvin, who picked up the guitar early. Keys eventually landed his first notable gig as a member of Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson's band when he was 17. He first hit the road with sax player Little Walkin' Willie during his that same year, before moving on to Kansas City. There his first gigs were with Preston Love (of the Count Basie Orchestra) and later the Frank Edwards Organ Trio. After woodshedding with Edwards, he landed a spot in organist Jimmy Smith's road trio. After leaving SmithKeys worked the rest of the 1960s with Jimmy McGriffJack McDuff, and Richard "Groove" Holmes.
By 1975, Keys had relocated to the San Francisco Bay Area, where he became -- and remains -- an avid participant in its jazz community. He worked in live settings and recording sessions with John Handy, Bobby Hutcherson, Eddie Marshall, Leon Williams, Bob Braye, Ed Kelly, Eddie Duran, Bruce Forman, Junius Simmons, and Eddie Moore. In 1976, he played on Doug and Jean Carn's Ovation album Higher Ground. The 1980s proved similarly fruitful; Keys was an in-demand studio and live sideman, with credits including appearances with Tony Bennett, Pharoah Sanders, and Sonny Stitt. Keys began recording another solo album in 1984. In 1985, Olive Branch Records released tracks from these sessions as the album entitled Full Court Press; it was followed a year later by Maria's First.Keys moved to Los Angeles in 1970. In 1971, he signed to Gene Page's fledgling Black Jazz label and cut his debut album, the now legendary Shawn-Neeq. He gigged on his own before auditioning for the Ray Charles OrchestraKeys' unique phrasing and his ability to balance sophisticated jazz harmonics with tough R&B and soul grooves were showcased nightly in the Charles band. In 1973, Black Jazz released Keys' second offering, Proceed with Caution. He toured briefly before being snapped up by Ahmad JamalKeysspent the next seven years with the pianist, recording six albums and touring the globe.
His second Wide Hive release, Vertical Clearance, was issued in 2006. It reunited Keys with Doug Carn, and included Phil RanelinSonny FortuneRoger Glenn, and Babatunde in its lineup. In 2007 Keys released Hand-Made Portrait on Silverado, and received a tribute from fellow Midwesterner -- and fan -- Pat Metheny, who composed and included the tune "Calvin’s Keys" on his album Day TripKeysappeared on Ranelin's Living a New Day for Wide Hive and on organist Gloria Coleman's Sweet Missy for Doodlin in 2009. In 2012 Tompkins Square Records re-released Shaw-Neeq exclusively on 180-gram vinyl. Keys supported it by touring with a band, performing the album in its entiretyHe was sidelined in 1997 by heart surgery, undergoing a quadruple bypass. Undaunted, he released the widely acclaimed Detours into Unconscious Rhythms on Wide Hive Records. The large cast included organist Chester Thompson (Ray CharlesSantana) and upright bassist Kenneth Nash (from Jamal's band). After the album's release, Keys toured regionally in the U.S. and in Europe before returning to the Bay Area, where he performed with organists Big John Patton and Dr. Lonnie Smith, and Taj Mahal. In 2005 Keys recorded Calvinesque for Silverado. The album hit number 30 on the jazz charts.Keys continued playing sessions and performing with touring acts in the Bay Area and the occasional Los Angeles gig. In 1991 he was part of the band that recorded film composer James Newton Howard's original score for the film Dying Young. Working with his own trio, Keys released Standard Keys on Lifeforce Records in 1992; his session and live work continued at a relentless pace, which eventually took its toll. Some of his work included reuniting with Jamal for the pianist's 1994 album Night Song for Motown's MoJazz imprint, and a tour of Europe that resulted in Jamal's Live in Paris 1996An Evening with Calvin Keys, taken from a radio broadcast, was released that same year. AMG.
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Barbara Dane & Lightnin' Hopkins - Sometimes I Believe She Loves Me 1966

The first half of Sometimes I Believe She Loves Me captures a nine-song 1964 improvisational jam between Barbara Dane and Lightnin' Hopkins which remains a charming, if not revelatory, meeting of the minds. The remainder of the record consists of Dane's solo performances of such standards as "Careless Love" and "Betty & Dupree." AMG.

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Donald Byrd - Street Lady 1973

Not so much a fusion album as an attempt at mainstream soul and R&B, Street Lady plays like the soundtrack to a forgotten blaxploitation film. Producer/arranger/composer Larry Mizell conceived Street Lady as a concept album to a spirited, independent prostitute, and while the hooker with a heart of gold concept is a little trite, the music uncannily evokes an urban landscape circa the early '70s. Borrowing heavily from Curtis MayfieldIsaac Hayes, and Sly StoneDonald Byrd and Mizell have created an album that is overflowing with wah-wah guitars, stuttering electric pianos, percolating percussion, soaring flutes, and charmingly anemic, tuneless vocals. It's certainly not jazz, or even fusion, but it isn't really funk or R&B, either -- the rhythms aren't elastic enough, and all of the six songs are simply jazzy vamps without clear hooks. But the appeal of Street Lady is how its polished neo-funk and pseudo-fusion sound uncannily like a jive movie or television soundtrack from the early '70s -- you can picture the Street Lady, decked out in polyester, cruising the streets surrounded by pimps with wide-brimmed hats and platform shoes. And while that may not be ideal for jazz purists, it's perfect for kitsch and funk fanatics. AMG.

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Akira Ishikawa & Count Buffalo - Electrum 1970

Japan's jazz drummer Akira Ishikawa formed Count Buffalo and released Electrum (1970) and Uganda (1972), the latter composed by jazz saxophonist Muroaka Takeru and featuring jazz musicians (piano, sax, bass and drums), African percussion and acid-rock guitar (Kimio Mizutani). 

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African Brothers Band ( International ) - Yaa Amponsa Special 1974

Ghana's African Brothers Band has thrived and survived through three decades of social and political transition and turmoil throughout their homeland. They have reigned supreme atop the highlife hierarchy almost since their inception. They're currently led by Nana Kwame Ampadu the Third, and record at Ambassador studios in Kumasi. A couple of years ago, they did their first shows in England since 1984. The African Brothers emerged as superstars in 1967, with their first hit "Ebi Tie Ye." They were part of the new highlife sound that fused rock and reggae bits into a tight, multiple guitar front line, accenting lyricist and leader Nana Ampadu's exhaustive, metaphor-driven sermons drawn from stories of the animal kingdom. They have several releases available on the international market, plus many other cassette-only items not sold outside Ghana. AMG.

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Abraham's Children - Time 1973 @ 256

Guitarist Ron Bartley, bassist Jim Bertucci, percussionist Brian Cotterill and keyboardist Bob McPherson formed Just Us in the late '60s, later changing the name to Captain Midnight's Dirty Feet. When the owners of the comic strip (on which the name was based) objected, however, the quartet became Abraham's Children. "Hot Love," their first single, was released in 1968; it later appeared as the B-side to "Goodbye Farewell." The band finally achieved success when "Gypsy" became a hit in 1973. Guitarist Shawn O'Shea joined around the same time. When "Goddess of Nature" also became popular, the group changed its name to the Children. When the band's commercial popularity disappeared, O'Shea formed Bang (in 1976) with Bartley, Dave Babyn and Joe Dinardo. Time (1973) was the only full-length album for Abraham's Children. AMG.

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sábado, 24 de junho de 2017

Robert Palmer - Pressure Drop 1975

Before he moved to Nassau and became a carefree, laid-back expat who craved sunshine, Robert Palmer lived in New York City, hired Little Feat for a backup band, and released the all over the place yet still solid Pressure Drop. Named after the massive reggae hit from Toots & the Maytals and the excellent cover version Palmer performs here, Pressure Drop is sometimes wrongly sold as the singer's first island-styled album. Past the title cut, Feat and the New Orleans funk of the Meters are much bigger influences, along with smooth, dated disco ballads smothered in strings. The latter numbers are what make the album too blue-eyed and polished for fans of Palmer's more gutsy moments, but the soft songs are well written and convincing, especially the opening "Give Me an Inch." Better still is the loose and feel-good funk that has long made this effort a fan favorite, with Palmer delivering full-bodied vocals over bright horns and popping basslines. Since compilations and Palmer's own live set lists increasingly ignored the album over time, Pressure Drop has grown into the great overlooked album in the man's discography, and it's much more rewarding than the unfamiliar track list displays. AMG.

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Bob Brown - The Wall I Built Myself 1970

The first legit reissues of these rare, stellar LP's by DC-based singer/songwriter Bob Brown. Richie Havens took Bob under his wing, produced both albums, and released them on his Stormy Forest label distributed by MGM. Although they failed to make a commercial impact at the time, cosmic-folk enthusiasts and vinyl-heads have long placed these albums in high esteem alongside the works of exploratory greats like Tim Hardin and Tim Buckley.

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The Flying Circus - Prepared In Peace 1970

Formed in Australia by guitarist Doug Rowe, percussionist Colin Walker, vocalist Greg Grace, bassist Terry Wilkins and guitarist James WayneFlying Circus recorded two successful singles ("Hay Ride" and "La La") in their home country. Their country-rock style of live performance, however, was completely different from the bubblegum pop present on those singles. Flying Circus eventually immigrated to Canada and signed with Capitol. The band's albums include Flying Circus (1969), Prepared in Peace (1970), Bonza Beaut and Boom Boom (1972), Gypsy Road (1972), Last Laugh (1974) and the compilation Steam Trains and Country Days (1978). AMG.

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Claudine Longet - Colours 1968

A funny thing happened to easy listening pop around 1968: many of the studio musicians in Los Angeles and New York got turned on to the same hip new sounds as everyone else, and for a brief period, the middle of the road got gently psychedelicized. This led to oddball goodies like the fragmentary, dreamlike The Secret Life of Harpers Bizarre, those weird records where Sebastian Cabot and William Shatner were intoning Bob Dylan like he was Shakespeare, and Claudine Longet's Colours. Previously preferring Europop schmaltz like Paul Mauriat's "Love Is Blue," Longet stretches out to include two of Donovan's early folky tunes, "Catch the Wind" and the title track, a delicate acoustic reading of Gordon Lightfoot's "Pussywillows, Cat-Tails" that's really quite lovely, and perhaps most surprisingly, a tender recasting of the Everly Brothers' "Let It Be Me" with a coda featuring new French lyrics penned by Longet herself. Not everything works: the opening version of "Scarborough Fair/Canticle" doesn't hint at the complexity of the harmonies of the Simon & Garfunkel original, and Joni Mitchell's "Both Sides Now" skates so dangerously close to tweeness by itself that the addition of Longet's wispy little-girl vocals and prominent lisp sends it over the edge. Longet redeems herself at the album's end, however, with a delicately mournful take on Randy Newman's oft-recorded "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" that features only the composer's piano and Longet's uncharacteristically self-assured vocals. Colours is certainly enjoyable on the shallow, kitschy "ha ha, look at this" level that most modern-day hipsters condescend to, but for true connoisseurs of the style, it's probably Claudine Longet's best album. AMG.

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Dave Mason - Headkeeper 1972

Dave Mason's solo career, which had started so promisingly with Alone Together in 1970 and taken an odd, but pleasant detour with Dave Mason & Cass Elliot in 1971, hit a speed bump in 1972, when he entered into a dispute with his record label, Blue Thumb during preparations for a new album. As a result, Blue Thumb put together the half-a-studio-album Mason had completed with half of a live album and issued the consumer-confusing Headkeeper, which Mason denounced publicly and asked fans not to buy! Heard today, it's still a confusing album, though the first five tracks are enjoyable music in the manner of Alone Together and the last five are well-performed concert versions of such favorites as "Feelin' Alright?" and "Pearly Queen." (Originally released on Blue Thumb Records as Blue Thumb 34, Headkeeper was reissued by MCA Records as MCA 712, then reissued on CD in 1988 as MCA 31326.) AMG.

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