ERLEND APNESETH-FRAGMENTARIUM.

Erlend Apneseth-Fragmentarium.

Label: Hubro Music.

When the Erlend Apneseth Trio recorded their third album Salika, Molika they were joined by top Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli as they fused folk and experimental improv and electronic music. The result was an ambitious and  groundbreaking album that was hailed as a  gamechanger when it was released to critical acclaim in April 2019.  Critics called Salika, Molika one of the Erlend Apneseth Trio’s finest albums and  wondered what was next from this talented triumvirate?

Less than a year later, and twenty-nine year Hardanger fiddler Erlend Apneset made a welcome return but without his trio. Instead, he’s joined by a Nordic supergroup that features Stein Urheim, Anja Lauvdal, Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson, Hans Hulbækmo and Ida Løvli Hidle. They showcase their considerable skills on Fragmentarium, which is another album of original compositions by Erlend Apneset that was recently released by Hubro Music. This is the latest chapter in the Erlend Apneset story which began thirty years ago

Erlend Apneseth was born on the ’11th’ of August 1990, in Jølster, in Sogn og Fjordan, a county in Western Norway. It’s a small town with a population of just over 3,000 that is a popular destination for skiers. It was also where Erlend Apneseth first picked up the Hardanger fiddle and began a journey that would see him become an award-winning musician. That was still to come.

Before that, Erlend Apneseth enrolled at the prestigious Ole Bull Akademiet in Voss, Norway, where he studied traditional Norwegian folk music. Erlend Apneseth’s turbo at the Ole Bull Akademiet was none other than Håkon Høgemo, another Hardanger fiddler who had already released a quartet of solo albums and featured on many other albums. He mentored Erlend Apneseth during his time at the Ole Bull Akademiet. By the time Erlend Apneseth graduated, he was ready to embark upon a musical career.

The first many people heard of Erlend Apneseth was when he won Grappa’s New Artist Award in 2012. Buoyed by winning such a prestigious award, Erlend Apneseth began work on his debut album Blikkspor. 

Prior to the release of Erlend Apneseth’s debut album Blikkspor, he was one of five folk musicians under the age of twenty-five nominated for the Fureprisen award. This was one of the most prestigious prizes in Norwegian music, and one that came with a first prize of 50,000 Norwegian Kroner.  

At the award ceremony in June 2013, the five young, up-and-coming musicians waited to hear who had won the Fureprisen award. When the announcement came, Erlend Apneseth won the Fureprisen award and the first prize of 50,000 Norwegian Kroner. This augured well for the release of his debut album Blikkspor in October 2013.

Blikkspor.

Blikkspor had been recorded at and mixed at Rainbow Studio during April and August 2013. The album was recorded with the help of a few of his musical friends, including trumpeter Arve Henriksen who also produced Blikkspor. When it came to record Sommarflukt, which closed Blikkspor, Erlend Apneseth brought onboard drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde and guitarist Stephan Meidell. They worked well together, but little did the  three musicians realise that they would become part of one of the most exciting and innovative trios in the Norwegian music scene.

Before that, Blikkspor was released by Hubro Music, in October 2013. Critical acclaimed accompanied the release of Blikkspor, which was described as an ambitious album of groundbreaking and genre-melting music that announced the arrival of an innovative musician.  It was also a tantalising taste of what Erlend Apneseth was capable of. Critics awaited his sophomore album with interest.

Critics and record buyers had to be patient, as Erlend Apneseth was busy over the next couple of years. He found himself collaborating with musicians from a variety of different backgrounds, including folk, improv, jazz and rock. Groups big and small were joined by the Jølster born fiddler. So were  folk singer Torgeir Vassvik and poet Erlend O. Nødtvedt. For Erlend Apneseth it was a case of have fiddle will travel, as he worked with a variety of different artists and bands.  Erlend Apneseth even enjoyed a spell as a soloist with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra.

Meanwhile, Erlend Apneseth was winning further awards that boosted his burgeoning CV. This included the Øivind Bergh Memorial Award  and the Music Scholarship from Sparebanken Vest in 2014. The third award that Erlend Apneseth won in 2014 was the Ingerid, Synnøve and Elias Fegerstens Foundation For The Norwegian composers and Performing Musicians. Winning these three awards boosted Erlend Apneseth’s as his thoughts turned to recording a new album.   

Det Andre Rommet.

While Blikkspor was credited to Erlend Apneseth, his next album was credited to the Erlend Apneseth Trio. Its origins can be traced to the recording of Blikkspor, and when Erlend Apneseth brought drummer Øyvind Hegg-Lunde and guitarist Stephan Meidell onboard to feature on the album closer Sommarflukt. Erlend Apneseth hit it off with the two musicians, and asked them if they wanted to join him in a trio? They agreed, and that day, the Erlend Apneseth Trio was born. 

Since then, the Erlend Apneseth Trio had been playing live, and the supergroup was honing their sound. Having played together for the best part of two years, the Erlend Apneseth Trio recorded their debut album between the ‘9th’ and ‘12th’ if March 2015. A total of ten tracks were recorded and would become Det Andre Rommet.

When Det Andre Rommet was released by Hubro Music in July  2016, it was to widespread critical acclaim. The three musical mavericks had created an a groundbreaking and innovative album where they fused elements of avant-garde, improv, jazz, Musique Concrète and even rock. This resulted in an album that has the capacity to captivate as the Erlend Apneseth Trio spring surprises, as they take the listener in new and unexpected directions on Det Andre Rommet. It was hailed one of the finest Norwegian albums at the end of 2016. By then, Erlend Apneseth’s thoughts had turned to his sophomore solo album.

Nattsongar.

As 2017 dawned, Erlend Apneseth entered the Engfelt Forsgren Studio on the ‘5th’ of January 2017 to record his sophomore album Nattsongar. Just like his debut album Blikkspor, Erlend Apneseth brought onboard some of his musical friends. This included Stein Urheim, Ole Morten Vågan and Hans Hulbækmo. They were part of the band that spent the next three days recording eight of the nine tracks on Nattsongar, which was completed on the ‘7th’ of January 2017. 

Three months later, Erlend Apneseth’s sophomore album Nattsongar was released to the same critical acclaim as his debut album Blikkspor. Just like Blikkspor, Nattsongar was hailed as an ambitious and innovative album from Erlend Apneseth when it was released on the Heilo label, an imprint of Grappa Musikkforlag AS which also owns Hubro Music. It would release the Erlend Apneseth Trio’s sophomore album Åra later in 2017.

Åra.

Just over a year after the Erlend Apneseth Trio released their critically acclaimed debut album Det Andre Rommet, this supremely talented and versatile supergroup  returned with their sophomore album Åra. It was an ambitious, innovative and genre-melting opus that had managed to surpass the quality of Det Andre Rommet.  To dp that, the Erlend Apneseth Trio features continued to combine disparate musical genres.

This includes elements of ambient, avant-garde, drone, experimental, free jazz, improv, jazz, Musique Concrète, Nordic Wave and rock. The Erlend Apneseth Trio paint pictures with their carefully crafted soundscapes and push musical boundaries to their limits and beyond on what was hailed as a career-defining album.

Salika, Molika.

By September 2018, the Erlend Apneseth Trio were already working on their third album, which became Salika, Molika. They were joined by top Norwegian accordionist Frode Haltli as they began fusing folk, experimental improv and electronic music on what was another ambitious album

When Salika, Molika was released in April 2019, it was to plaudits and praise and critics. It was captivating combination of sound and spoken word where less is more. The Trio added trip hop beats,  grooves influenced by middle Eastern music as well as pizzicato strings, moody, shimmering drones and understated but irresistible melodies. Adding the final touch to this engrossing sonic adventure was Frode Haltli’s accordion. Salika, Molika was a musical tour de force from the Trio. The big question was, what was next for Erlend Apneseth?

Fragmentarium.

Instead of beginning work on the Trio’s fourth album, Erlend Apneseth  began work on his third solo album, which became Fragmentarium.

“This project was originally commissioned for the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2019. As I was free to choose what I wanted to do, I knew I wanted to work with a new ensemble, as an experiment to make my music go in new directions. Some of the musicians I had worked with in other bands or on other occasions, some of them I met musically for the first time. Most importantly, they all have in common a very open-minded approach to music, and have inspired me with their work on previous occasions, so this was really a dream-team gathering for me.” 

Erlend Apneseth was joined in the studio by what was a Nordic supergroup that features guitarist Stein Urheim and pianist Anja Lauvdal who plays synths and is responsible for the electronics on the album. They’re joined by double bassist Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson, drummer Hans Hulbækmo and accordionist Ida Løvli Hidle. They helped him to make a very specific album which he wanted: “to feel like the past, the present and the future, all at the same time.”

To do this Erlend Apneseth came to his all-star band: “with a set of tunes and ideas, but we all arranged it together in a very free and playful approach. The music is a mixture of themes and improvisations and I didn’t really have any particular aims for the music other than trying to integrate the different musical personalities as much as possible, basically by not trying to control it too much. As the original setting for the piece was Kongsberg, a place with a lot of folk music history, I once again spent some time in the archives trying to find recordings from this area that could set a kind of historical context for it all. With this approach, I am trying to add some further layers to the instrumental music. Ideally, I want it to feel old, present and future at the same time”.

Just like on the Trio’s previous album Salika, Molika, Erlend Apneseth makes good use of spoken word samples taken from the archival recordings at the Folkemusikksenteret i Buskerud, in Prestfoss, Norway. Here, it’s a case of less is more with the samples used sparingly. This proves effective and each sample alters the mood of the genre-melting soundscapes.

The best way to describe the music on Fragmentarium is eclectic. Everything from  traditional folk to electronica, experimental and improv right through to jazz, pentatonic jam-band blues, Nordic Wave, avant-garde as well as hints of Celtic, Eastern and library music shine through as this all-star band paint pictures with their music on what’s an incredibly powerful and filmic album. 

To do this, they use a mixture of acoustic and electronic instruments as they flit between and fuse disparate genres, often in the same track. Always the band plays with freedom throughout the seven soundscapes on Fragmentarium as they improvise. Curveballs are thrown as tracks  heads in what are often unexpected directions. Playing a part in the sound and success of the soundscapes are the samples. They play their part in tracks that veer between  atmospheric to broody and moody and sometimes become chilling, dark and eerie. Sometimes, the music is beautiful and emotive and other times poignant, while other times it’s thoughtful and ruminative and invites reflection. For much of Fragmentarium there’s a cinematic quality to the music, which has been the case with previous albums by  Erlend Apneseth. Always the music is powerful and leaves a lasting impression on the listener.

That comes as no surprise as Hardanger fiddler virtuoso Erlend Apneseth is joined by a Norwegian supergroup on Fragmentarium, which was recently released by Hubro Music. It’s without doubt Erlend Apneseth’s finest solo album and finds the award winning master musician reaching new heights. Incredibly, Erlend Apneseth isn’t even thirty, and won’t be until August of 2020. There’s a lot more music to come from this pioneering bandleader, composer and musician who always releases ambitious and innovative albums.  Fragmentarium is proof of this, and is the latest chapter in the story of  Erlend Apneseth, who is well on his way to becoming one of the leading lights of the Norwegian music scene.

Erlend Apneseth-Fragmentarium.

ALEX ATTIAS PRESENTS LILLYGOOD PARTY! VOLUME 2.

Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2.

Label: BBE Music.

Release Date ‘20th’ March 2020.

Thirty-two years ago in 1988,  Alex Attias decided to embark upon a career as a DJ in his home city of Lausanne, Switzerland, and began playing an eclectic selection of dancefloor friendly music.  This didn’t come as a surprise to Alex Attias friends as he had always been interested in music, and spent much of his time crate digging and searching for oft-overlooked hidden gems to add to his  impressive and enviable collection of vinyl. These hidden gems became part of Alex Attias’ DJ sets, which featured everything from funk, house and jazz which proved popular with dancers. However, this was the first chapter in the Alex Attias’ story.

Having spent several years establishing himself as one of Europe’s leading DJs, the next logical step for Alex Attias was to start producing his own music. In 1996, Alex Attias and Seb Kohler released Magik which was the first of several singles the pair released as the Bel-Air Project. 

After this, Alex Attias collaborated with Paul Martin, and their new musical vehicle Beatless released its debut single To Expand in 1997. This was the start of a successful collaboration between the pair that lasted several years.

By 1997, Alex Attias had left his home in Lausanne, and was now living in London, where he had just founded a new record label, Visions. Little did he know that he and the nascent label would be at the heart of the emerging West London Broken Beat scene which emerged around his studio at Goya.

In 1999, Alex Attias had dawned the moniker Catalyst and released the single Silly Games [Part 1]. It became a dancefloor favourite, and Alex Attias was now a successful DJ, producer and record label owner. However, he was keen to add another string to his bow.

This came about when Alex Attias was asked to compile a compilation of jazz by the Italian record label Irma. Alex Attias put his crate-digging skills to good use and the result was Presents Quiet Moments which was released in 2000. This was the first of several compilations Alex Attias would go on to compile.

After the dawn of the millennia, Alex Attias’ career as a DJ and producer continued to blossom, and he continued to release edits and remixes of everyone from Art Blakey, Sun Ra and Ennio Morricone to Incognito, 4Hero and Roni Size. Still, Alex Attias continued to release new music and sometimes, dawned the monikers Freedom Soundz, Xela Saitta and Mustang to do so. Alex Attias continued to collaborate with other artists, and has released collaborations as River Plate, Plutonia, Idema + Co, The Age Of Selfishness and Attias. Soon, Alex Attias would embark upon new projects where it all began for him… Lausanne.

This new chapter of Alex Attias’ career began when he started the ‘LillyGood Party!’ in his native Lausanne.  Alex Attias had no idea just how successful the ‘LillyGood Party!’ would eventually become. Since then, it’s evolved into a radio show and record label, and in 2018, BBE Music released the compilation Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! It was a tantalising taste of the music Alex Attias plays at a LillyGood Party. 

So is the followup Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2. It features eleven tracks that include contributions from 12 Senses, Our Own Organisation,  Stacy Kidd featuring Peven Everett,  Mausiki Scales, Dwayne Morgan and MJ Lallo. These artists are just a few of the names on Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2, which is a lovingly curated and eclectic compilation that will be released by BBE Music on the ‘20th’ of March 2020.

Opening Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2 is Touch by Copenhagen based octet 12 Senses which is led by percussionist Peter Stenbæk. Joining this talented and versatile band is  British  broken beat keyboardist Kaidi Tatham. Together, they showcase their considerable skills on Touch, a track from the Movement EP which was released by Creak Inc. Records in 2018. It finds 12 Senses combining broken beat,  jazz-funk and fusion are combined with a squelchy synth, shimmering Fender Rhodes and percussion  during this irresistible dancefloor friendly workout. It sets the bar high for the rest of the compilation.

There’s no let up in quality on Playground by Martin Iveson featuring Sarai Jazz. It was released on the Atjazz Record Company in 2019. The arrangement is essentially classic house combined with elements of hip hop and electronica. However, Martin Iveson’s secret weapon is Sarai Jazz’s emotive and uber soulful vocal which plays a leading role in this genre-melting track.

It’s hard to believe that it was twenty-two years ago in 1998,  that Universal Tongues featuring Elle released Open up Your Mind (Honeycomb Vocal Mix). It’s a timeless sounding slow burner from the Boston-based collective that gradually reveals its secrets and is guaranteed to fill any dancefloor. 

By 2004, American jazz saxophonist David Murray was forty-nine and had already released over seventy-five albums. This included a number of collaborations. One of these was with The Gko-Ka Masters in 2002. They were reunited two year later in 2004, joined forces with one of the pioneers of jazz Pharoah Sanders. They recorded Gwotet, a groundbreaking album of genre-melting music that was released on the Justin Time label. The highlight of the album was the title-track Gwotet where Pharoah Sanders and David Murray’s blistering saxophones combine with The Gko-Ka Masters trademark  percussion and swaying harmonies as disparate genres are combined. Everything from jazz and funk to Gwo Ka and Latin jazz melt into one and drive this joyous and uplifting track along.

Our Own Organisation is a transatlantic collaboration between Chicago’s Andres Ordonez and Madrid-based Jose Rico. Their most recent release was 2 Finger Hash Band EP, which was released on the Neroli label in 2018. One of the tracks on the EP was  Days Of Old, an understated slice of techno that’s one of Our Own Organisation’s finest moments. 

Another track from the Windy City of Chicago is the house classic How Bad I Want Ya. It was produced by Chicago-based house producer Stacy Kidd and features vocalist Peven Everett. Later, the track was reinvented by fellow Chicago house producer Glenn Underground, who was a founding member of the Strictly Jaz Unit. He added his trademark bass, Fender Rhodes as well as guitar,  hi-hats and percussion. The result was the GU Peak Time Mix How Bad I Want Ya, which is a tantalising take on a classic track where disco. funk, R&B and soul melts into one on this dancefloor filler.

Keyboardist Mausiki Scales has been part of the Atlanta music scene for nearly two decades, and is also the founder and musical director of the Common Ground Collective.  He also wrote Freedom Flight, a oft-overlooked rarity, which sounds as if it’s been influenced by late-seventies and early eighties soul-jazz. It was edited by Alex Attias, and his Party Edit totally transforms the track. The result is beatific and joyous slice of dancefloor friendly musical sunshine .

When Cuban vocalist, composer, arranger and band leader Daymé Arocena recorded his 2016 album One Take,  it was produced by London-based production duo  Yam Who. The album was released on Gilles Peterson’s Brownswood Recordings, and featured Stuck, a truly memorable and modern example of soul-jazz that went on to become a favourite of dancers and DJs.

Children Of The World is a twelve minute epic that was released in 2012 by Louis Vega’s Elements Of Life and features vocalist Josh Milan. He plays a starring role in this soulful house classic which is a favorite of Alex Attias at his LillyGood Party.

 Closing Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2 is MJ Lallo’s beautiful, boogie ballad Star Child Going Home. It’s a case of keeping the best until last as Alex Attias closes the compilation on a high with this hidden gem. 

Two years after the release of the first instalment in the series, BBE Music will released the much-anticipated followup Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2. It’s another eclectic compilation which is a tantalising taste of the music Alex Attias plays at his LillyGood Party in Lausanne, Switzerland or will hear on his radio show of the same name. Just like his DJ sets and radio shows, Alex Attias has taken a great deal of time compiling this new compilation.

Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2 is another lovingly curated compilation from the Swiss DJ, remixer and producer that features singles, B-Sides, album cuts, remixes, rarities, edits and hidden gems. It’s quality all the way on Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2 which is is sure to get any party started. Especially one Alex Attias legendary LillyGood Party’s.

Alex Attias Presents LillyGood Party! Volume 2.

CULT CLASSIC: PAUL MARCANO AND LIGHTDREAMS-10,001 DREAMS.

Cult Classic: Paul Marcano and LightDreams-10,001 Dreams.

In 1981, British Columbian band LightDreams released debut album Islands In Space. It was a captivating psychedelic sci-fi odyssey where LightDreams explored cosmic ideology. Normally, an album like Islands In Space would’ve found favour with fans of psychedelia and progressive rockers who embraced cerebral, innovative and epic albums. Alas, that wasn’t the case with Islands In Space, which was released by LightDreams. Sadly, history repeated itself a year later.

LightDreams who were now billed as Paul Marcano and LightDreams, had returned to the studio to record their sophomore album 10,001 Dreams. The album picked up where Islands In Space left off, and went as far as exploring what was described as “utopian outer space colonisation.” This was something that fascinated and enthralled Paul Marcano since he first encountered the work and theories of author, physicist and space activist, Gerard K. O’Neill. His work and theories influenced Paul Marcano  and the genre-melting music on 10,001 Dreams. It was recorded during 1982 and released that year.

This time around, Paul Marcano and LightDreams decided not to release the album on vinyl. Instead, it was released by the band on cassette. Just like Islands In Space, 10,001 Dreams found an audience within British Columbia, where the band were based. However, beyond British Columbia failed to find the audience it so richly deserved. 

It was only much later, that word began to spread about Islands In Space and 10,001 Dreams. Occasionally, a few lucky record and tape collectors chanced upon a copy of Islands In Space or 10,001 Dreams. They paid their money and discovered two groundbreaking hidden gems. Before long, collectors and aficionados of psychedelia were looking for copies of Islands In Space and 10,001 Dreams. The roots of these two cult classics can be traced to British Columbia in 1981.

Back in 1981. like most towns and cities, British Columbia had a vibrant and thriving music scene. Paul Marcano was part of this scene. He was looking for like minded musicians to collaborate with. Eventually, Paul found his circle of friends and like minded musicians.  Among the members of the newly formed band which became LightDreams, were Cory Rhyon and Andre Martin. They would record their debut album Islands In Space, later in 1981.

Islands In Space.

Paul Marcano dawned the role of the newly formed LightDreams. He was brimming with ideas, enthusiasm and energy. Not only had Paul been writing songs for a number or years, but he was also a talented multi-instrumentalist. With Paul at the helm, LightDreams’ thoughts began to turn to their debut album. 

There was a minor problem though. Recording studios were expensive and beyond the budget of LightDreams. An alternative was, recording the album using the pro-sumer technology that was becoming popular in the early eighties. That still required funds, funds which for most new bands, were limited. However, one of LightDreams’ friends had another idea, and decided to approach executives at the TEAC Corporation, in the hope that they would let the band use some of their technology. This was a long shot, but one that paid off.

The TEAC Corporation, who were a market leader in early eighties recording equipment, allowed LightDreams to use a 144 track cassette recorder. This was beyond their widest dreams, and more than enough to the record the psychedelic opus that LightDreams were planning.

LightDreams planned to record seven songs penned by Paul Marcano. These songs had been slightly influenced by the work and theories of author, physicist and space activist, Gerard K. O’Neill. This was someone who Paul Marcano had been enthralled by for several years. 

One of his theories was, that eventually, mankind would inhabit outer space. This Gerard K. O’Neill believed, would result in a much better world for those left behind inhabiting earth. No longer would there be problems with overpopulation and a reliance on natural resources.  However. Paul took this proposition further, exploring whether mankind’s grasp of space-age technology could lead to a peace and cosmic presence on earth? He was following in the footsteps of the progressive rockers, in making cerebral and ambitious music. 

To makes this music, which became Islands In Space, Paul Marcano who was producing the album would make good use of the 144 track cassette recorder. This was more than enough to record even the most ambitious Magnus Opus. Islands In Space had its very own Magnus Opus, Atmospheric Dreams; My Spirit Soars; Atmospheric Dreams a near eleven minute epic. It was just one of the seven tracks that were recorded and became Islands In Space.

Now that Islands In Space was completed, LightDreams decided to release the album themselves. This wasn’t unusual back in 1981, when there were many private pressings released. LightDreams had a 1,000 vinyl copies of Islands In Space pressed. These albums they hoped, they would be able to sell to their fellow British Columbians.

Alas, it wasn’t to be. Islands In Space, a captivating psychedelic and progressive sci-fi odyssey where LightDreams explored cosmic ideology passed record buyers by. They missed out on an album that wasn’t just ambitious, but innovative and featured cerebral and thought-provoking lyrics.  However, Paul Marcano and the other members of LightDreams, weren’t beaten. They decided to record a followup to Islands In Space. This would eventually become 10,001 Dreams.

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10,001 Dreams.

After the disappointing response to LightDreams’ debut album Islands In Space, they dusted themselves down and returned to the studio in 1982. By then, LightDreams were now being billed as Paul Marcano and LightDreams. For many groups, one member receiving equal billing as the group could’ve torn the group apart. However, Paul was playing a huge role in LightDreams. Not only was he the group’s principal songwriter, vocalist and  producer, he was also a multi-instrumentalist. He would would play an important part on what became 10,001 Dreams.

For the best part of a decade, Paul Marcano had been writing songs. Some of these songs he believed, were perfect for 10,001 Dreams. So Paul dusted down songs he had previously penned. The earliest of these songs was Follow The Stream, which Paul had written  and recorded in 1973. It was part of an album Paul recorded, but never released. This wasn’t the only album Paul hadn’t released.

Five years later, and Paul had penned Everyone Grows and Grows and Who Is The One in 1978. Again, it was part of an album that Paul recorded, but decided not to release. Since then, he had kept the song awaiting the right project. 10,001 Dreams was it. However, more songs were required for the album.

The rest of 10,001 Dreams consisted of new songs, including Andre Martin’s Being Here and Paul’s composition 10,001 Dreams. They were augmented by a trio of instrumentals including Stream III, the twenty-three minute epic In Memory Of Being Here and Building Islands In Space (Reprise). These tracks became 10,001 Dreams, the followup to Islands In Space.

Again, Paul Marcano and LightDreams recorded 10,001 Dreams with the 144 track cassette recorder. With so many tracks available, Paul who was producing the album, was able to let his imagination run riot.  Paul Marcano and LightDreams deployed a myriad of New Age synths and augmented this with the rhythm section and fuzzy, lysergic, languid and dreamy guitars. The result was a truly eclectic album, where a myriad of disparate influences seem to have influenced Paul Marcano and LightDreams.

The guitars that feature on 10,001 Dreams bring to mind Michael Rother’s first three albums, Flammende Herzen, Sterntaler and Katzenmusik. There’s also similarities to Manuel Göttsching’s Inventions For Electric Guitar. Similarly, the synths on 10,001 Dreams were reminiscent of those that played an important part of so many Berlin School and Krautrock albums. Other notable influences included sixties British psychedelia, seventies progressive rock, folk pop at its most melodic and ambient and avant-garde music. 10,001 Dreams was another ambitious and innovative album, which features aul Marcano and LightDreams at their most inventive and progressive. All that was left was to release the album.

With 10,001 Dreams completed, releasing the album on vinyl would’ve proved problematic. The album was the best part of ninety minutes long. It was far too long to fit on a one album. Instead, 10,001 Dreams would need to be a double album. This would’ve required significant investment from Paul Marcano and LightDreams. For the band, it was a big decision.There was always the possibility that the album might no sell, and they would fail to recoup their initial investment. A much simpler solution, was to release 10,001 Dreams on cassette. 

This made sense, as this meant that Paul would be able to make the cassette himself. So 10,001 Dreams was released on cassette later in 1982. Now it was a waiting game how would the music fans react?

Sadly, just like Islands In Space, 10,001 Dreams never found the audience it so richly deserved. That only happened much later.

Somewhat belatedly, word began to spread about 10,001 Dreams. Occasionally, a few lucky tape collectors chanced upon a copy of 10,001 Dreams. They paid their money a groundbreaking hidden gem. Before long, collectors and aficionados of psychedelia were looking for copies of 10,001 Dreams. This was a long shot, and most collectors came up short. Now though, Got Kinda Lost Records’ remastered reissue of 10,001 Dreams allows the album to be heard by a much wider and appreciative audience. 

Opening 10,001 Dreams,  is the title-track, a fourteen minutes epic. Thematically, it picks up where Islands In Space left off. A guitar takes centre-stage, chirping and chiming urgently. It’s panned quickly, adding a lysergic hue. So does the vocal that’s buried in the midst of the arrangement. By then, the guitar is reminiscent of Manuel Göttsching’s on Inventions For Electric Guitar. Later, the guitar is multi-tracked and assails the listener, as genres melt into one. Elements of psychedelia, Krautrock, avant-garde and progressive rock combine. Guitars then envelop the vocal which sits back in the mix. When it drops out, guitars  take charge before Paul returns and sings of his futuristic, utopian dream against a dreamy, psychedelic backdrop. His vocal is hopeful and delivered in a folk pop style, as the multilayered arrangement briefly becomes rocky and urgent. Much later, the guitar adds occasional Eastern sounds. It’s just one of the many secrets, subtitles and nuances, within this melodic, genre-melting epic.

Stream III is the first of a trio of instrumentals. Washes of crystalline guitars, break like waves on a beach. They chirp, cheep and wah-wah, and are at the forefront of this multilayered arrangement. Soon, they’re panned quickly adding a trippy effect.  Remembering the maxim less is more, effects are used sparingly. Then a rhythm guitar is played with an element of urgency, and plays an important part, carving out rhythms aplenty. Later, when effects are used on a guitar, it becomes like the musical equivalent of the big dipper as the dry signal is bent out of shape. Mostly, though, the effects are used sparingly and effectively. They play their part on what’s a captivating and carefully sculpted soundscape. It paints pictures in the mind’s eye, with its innovative and timeless sound.

Guitar shimmer and glimmer on Everyone Grows and Grows unfold. The guitars are almost choppy, as Paul’s lysergic vocal enters. It sits atop meandering, fluffy synths that float dreamily along. Paul’s vocal evokes memories of sixties British psychedelia, including The Beatles at their most psychedelic. There’s even a stylistic nod to Pink Floyd’s Speak To Me around 1.20, as Paul becomes a carnival barker as he enthuses: “find yourself a dream.” Later, the guitars range veer between garage rock and take on an almost Eastern sound. However, Everyone Grows and Grows is psychedelic at purest. Especially the Paul’s vocal and harmonies than can only be described as lysergic and beatific as he enthuses about: “when I make the Great transformation…what a day it will be.” Similarly, what a song this is, psychedelia at its best.

Straight away, guitars glisten and shimmer on Visual Breakfast, while a bass probes before a blistering, searing rocky guitar cuts through the arrangement. It’s played with speed and accuracy, as the washes of guitar join the pulsating arrangement. It has a mesmeric quality, that’s reminiscent of many a Krautrock album. Soon, the rocky guitar assails the listener. When it drops out, cinematic guitars plays as synths augment the dreamy arrangement.  Before long, it takes on a  rocky sound, as which again, references The Beatles. Especially their psychedelic era. Synths are added and augment an arrangement that’s variously rocky, psychedelic, shrill and melodic as Paul delivers the cerebral lyrics. Always, though, he and the rest of LightDreams have the capacity to throw curveballs and continually captivating. At 7.42 they seem to pay homage to Pink Floyd as a quite beautiful psychedelic ballad unfolds. It gives way to a slice of Beatles-esque psychedelic rock, during what’s been a Magical Mystery Tour.

Guitars are to the fore on Who Is The One. Washes of lysergic guitar join the bass as another guitar is strummed with a degree of urgency. Then a searing rocky guitar is added. It’s panned before Paul’s lysergic vocal enters. Later, shimmering and celestial guitars are added to the multilayered arrangement. This includes dreamy synths, acoustic guitars,  bass and Paul’s vocal, which is a mixture of folk pop and thanks to the effects, psychedelic. These effects have been used on a  guitar, which  panned and swirls, adding a psychedelic hue. It adds yet another layer, as the scorching, blistering guitar climbs and climbs, before soaring like an eagle above the genre-melting arrangement.

At first glance, In Memory Of Being Here might look like a twenty-three minute epic.  It’s not. Instead, it’s a six part musical suite, which opens with Being Here. Guitars are the forefront of the arrangement, while Paul’s vocal has  been treated with effects. Harmonies and chirping, chiming and bristling guitars on this slice of psychedelic rock. It gives way to Subtle Arrival, where washes of celestial synths ebb and flow, adding a futuristic, Berlin School inspired sound. Later, it rumbles ominously before echoing, and referencing Pink Floyd. From there, Something Out Of Nothing opens which scrabbled guitars cooing, before trippy synths beep and squeak as if covering in some obscure interplanetary language. Washes of guitar shimmer and glisten, before ethereal, elegiac and futuristic synths reverberate. Meanwhile, on  Shuttle Departure the sound of an  engine can be heard above the arrangement? It drones and glides, making its presence felt. In doing so, the script to this cinematic track takes shape. What follows is akin to the soundtrack to a sci-fi film. That’s until the penultimate part of this six part suite.

Maybe having reached the destination, Paul Marcano and LightDreams replicate the welcome they receive on Windsong For The Rain. Acoustic guitars are played quickly and join mesmeric persuasion that seems determined to replicate the sound of raindrops. Meanwhile, the guitars are played with speed and urgency, creating a joyous backdrop. Soon, though the arrangement almost grinds to a halt. A thunderstorm stops play as the arraignment meanders along. What sounds like traffic, a thunderstorm and  wistful Eastern sound combine. This comes courtesy of synths and wind instruments. Later, as the storm passes just an understated but cinematic backdrop remains. It gives way to Erona Interlude, as world music is combined with sound of the shuttle returning. As the arrangement drones and buzzes, this epic musical journey is over and has showcased Paul Marcano and LightDreams at their creative zenith. In Memory Of Being Here deserves to be called a Magnus Opus.

Maj Moorhsum is another example of inventiveness. Layers of guitars, bass and synths combine. This includes a searing guitar that adds a melodic backdrop and a buzzing bass. Filters and effects are used, as a couple layers seem to be played backwards. This proves effective. Especially as panning has been used, adding to the psychedelic rock sound. It’s not just lysergic and strangely melodic, but vaguely hypnotic, experimental  and ultimately, musically satisfying for anyone whose a sonic explorer.

Closing 10,001 Dreams is Building Islands In Space (Reprise).. Again, filters and effects are used throughout. Guitars chirp, chime and bristle, while synths augment the arrangement. The vocal is akin to a mesmeric, dreamy, chant that’s reminiscent of sixties gurus, offering spiritual and sometimes, psychedelic guidance. Essentially, there’s a cinematic sound to Building Islands In Space (Reprise), which like so many tracks on 10,001 Dreams is an invitation to let your imagination run riot. Those that do, will be richly rewarded.

 Although 10,001 Dreams, was self released in 1982, Paul Marcano and LightDreams’ sophomore album passed most people by. It was only discovered by a  small group of discerning music fans living in British Columbia. Most collectors and aficionados of psychedelia got to the party late, as far as 10,001 Dreams was concerned. That’s apart from a few lucky music fans who found a copy of the tape in second hand stores or bargain bins. They paid their money, and discovered a groundbreaking, genre-melting hidden gem. Before long, word was out, and collectors and aficionados of psychedelia were looking for copies of 10,001 Dreams. It takes as its starting point psychedelia.

10,001 Dreams is much more than psychedelic album. Elements of ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, folk pop, Krautrock, progressive rock and rock can be heard throughout Paul Marcano and LightDreams captivating cult classic.  It’s a musical potpourri, where instruments and influences melt into one as Paul Marcano and LightDreams sculpt a captivating psychedelic sci-fi odyssey. Just like Islands In Space, 10,001 Dreams finds  Paul Marcano and LightDreams continuing to explore cosmic ideology. This may seem like an unlikely theme for an album. However, back in the the seventies, when Paul Marcano wrote three of the songs on 10,000 Dreams, that was the age of progressive rock epics. They were almost de rigeur. It was almost a rite of passage for any self-respecting progressive rock band. Paul Marcano and LightDreams weren’t progressive rockers. They were however, musical pioneers.

Proof of that, is Paul Marcano and LightDreams’ sophomore album 10,001 Dreams, which was an ambitious, innovative and cerebral Magnus Opus, that thirty-four years later, is truly timeless, and deserves to find its way into any self-respecting sonic explorer’s record collection.

Cult Classic: Paul Marcano and LightDreams-10,001 Dreams.

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CULT CLASSIC: EL TURRONERO-NEW HONDO.

Cult Classic: El Turronero-New Hondo.

All to often, music that was way ahead of its time failed to find the audience it deserves. It’s only much later when the music is reevaluated by a new generation of record buyers who realise and recognise the importance of the music. That has been the case time after time, during the last twenty years with obscure and overlooked albums being rediscovered. 

Belatedly, these albums are reissued and embraced by a much more knowledgeable and appreciative audience. They’ve a much more educated musical palette, and a  more eclectic taste in music than the record buyers who overlooked these lost genre classics and hidden gems first time around. As a result, many albums that failed to find the audience they deserved first time around, are being rediscovered by a new generation of record buyers. That is the case with El Turronero’s cult classic New Hondo which  belatedly is starting to find an audience.

When El Turronero released New Hondo on Belter Records in 1980, Manuel Mancheño Peña it was the seventh album of the thirty-three year old flamenco singer’s career. It began two decades earlier, when Manuel Mancheño Peña was just seventeen.

Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ was born in Vejer de la Frontera, Cádiz, on August the ‘15th’ 1947. However, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ was brought up in Ultrera. He was brought up in the ways of flamenco, and eventually, eventually would become a cantaor, a flamenco singer. 

That was no surprise as Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ was singing from an early age. His parents sold nougats at fairs, and when Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ accompanied them, his mother would ask her son to sing? This he would do, and this was good practise for when Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ embarked upon a career as a flamenco singer.

Growing up, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ immersed himself in flamenco music, and began listening to three of the most popular singers of that time, El Perrate Fernanda, Bernarda and Manuel de Angustias. Soon, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ decided to emulate the three cantaor singers. 

That was when Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ first met the guitarist Diego del Gastor. He would accompany the aspiring cantaor, and when he moved to Madrid in 1963. The two months  Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ spent in Madrid were tough. 

The first person the young cantaor auditioned for told him he was “useless,” which would’ve knocked many young singer’s confidence.  However, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ was made of stronger stuff, and this made him even more determined to make it as a cantaor. Fortunately, Gitanillo de Triana saw Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’s potential, and hired the young cantaor for two months. He sang each day until the club closed down. This was good experience for Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero.’ 

After this, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ returned to Seville, where he spent a month at Las Cavas de Nemesio. This was good experience for Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero.’ However, it wasn’t particularly profitable and he was almost penniless. It was around that time that Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ met flamenco dancer Antonia Gades, and the pair would later travel the world. Before that, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ was called up for military service.

Having completed his military service, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ and Antonia Gades spent four-and-half years travelling the world. By the time, he returned to Madrid Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ had established himself as a flamenco singer. In Madrid he befriends Camaron de la Isla and also, flamenco dancer Carmen Montiel, and soon, the pair become a couple.

By the seventies, Manuel Mancheño Peña ‘Turronero’ had met guitarist and composer Paco Cepero and embarked upon a recording career as El Turronero.  His debut album Y Primero El Compás-Canta El Turrón was released in 1970, with Cantes Viejos Temas Nuevos following in 1973 and Huele A Romero in 1975. 

El Turronero was already a hugely popular singer and a familiar face at festivals across Spain. Audiences watched as the versatile El Turronero switched between flamenco palos, Bulerias, Debla, Fandangos, Romera,  Seguiriyas, Sevillanos, Soleares, Tarantos and Tentos. El Turronero with the help of Paco Cepero, started to update theme of cantes bringing the lyrics up-to-date and adding a progressive sound. Sometimes, the lyrics were full of social comment, and spoke for those that had no voice. This was dangerous in a dictatorship.

Spain started to change after the death of dictator Francisco Franco on the ’20th’ of November 1975, and gradually, the country became a parliamentary monarchy. As Spain started to change, its music industry moved from Barcelona to Madrid, which was also home to El Turronero.

In 1976, El Turronero released his fourth album Vente Conmigo, Niña which was an eclectic album that featured a mixture of Bulerías, Fandangos, Romera, Siguiriyas, Tangos and Tarantos. This was what El Turronero’s fans expected from him. He was a versatile and talented singer, whose progressive lyrics provided a voice for the Spanish people. To many the twenty-nine year old El Turronero was a hero who spoke for and to them.

By 1978, El Turronero was signed to Belter Records, which was Spain’s biggest record company. Belter Records and its imprint Olivo would be home to El Turronero for the next three years. In 1978, El Turronero released two albums, including Asi Lo Siento which was released on the Olivo label, which specialised in flamenco music. The other album El Turronero released was El Cante Del Turronero which was released on Belter Records. Just like previous albums, both albums were eclectic and showcased the versatile cantaor who it seemed, could do no wrong.

The following year, 1979, was a landmark year for Spanish music, which was evolving. Camaron had just released La Leyenda Del Tiempo, which nowadays, is regarded as the album that started the New Flamenco movement. Ironically, La Leyenda Del Tiempo was pilloried by critics who failed to see the importance of what was an important and innovative album where Camaron fused jazz, rock and flamenco. This was a game-changer for Spanish music. 

Meanwhile, El Turronero released his sixth album Mi Sangre on the Olivo label in 1979. Just like previous albums, Mi Sangre saw El Turronero flit between Bulerías, Fandangos, Romera, Siguiriyas, Tangos and Tarantos. This was the type of music that El Turronero had been making with Paco Cepero’s help since 1970. However, when El Turronero returned in 1980 with New Hondo, it marked the start of a new era for one of Spain’s leading cantaor singers.

As the eighties dawned, El Turronero was also ready to change direction musically. These albums features songs penned by flamenco guitarist Paco Cepero who played on the album. He played his part in the albums that El Turronero released between 1970 and 1979. Although each album was eclectic, and showcased a variety of different styles, by 1980 El Turronero had come to the conclusion that his music couldn’t stand still, and it had to evolve. 

Camaron had realised that a year earlier when he released La Leyenda Del Tiempo on 1979. Now El Turronero was about to follow in Camaron’s footsteps. However, this wasn’t a decision that El Turronero took lightly. He remembered what had happened to his friend when he released La Leyenda Del Tiempo. His innovative fusion of jazz, rock and flamenco incurred the wrath of critics who failed to understand the album.Neither did record buyers, and La Leyenda Del Tiempo failed commercially. Despite this, El Turronero made the decision to change direction musically on New Hondo.

This wasn’t the only change that El Turronero would make on New Hondo. On previous album, his friend guitarist and composer Paco Cepero had contributed a number of songs. However, on New Hondo Paco Cepero’s only contribution was Sufrimiento which he cowrote with José Carrasco Domínguez. The rest of the songs on New Hondo were written by two songwriters.  Juan Barcons Moreno penned Las Penas, Si Yo Volviera A Nace, Tiene Bigotes, Yo Soy Nube Pasajera, Navegan Mis Pensamientos and A Nadie Se Le Ha “Ocurrio.” They were joined by Eres Lava De Un Volcan, Y La Razón and Mis Venas which were written by José Carrasco Domínguez. These song became New Hondo, which was recorded in Madrid.

Recording of New Hondo took place at Estudios Belter, which was founded in 1965, and was one of Spain’s top studios. Taking charge of production was Juan Barcons who also played keyboards and added backing vocalists. The rest of El Turronero’s band featured some of city’s top musicians, including a rhythm section of drummer G. Martínez, Fernando Cubedo on contrabass and Max Sunyer on electric guitar. They were joined by percussionist Coco and acoustic guitarist Josep Maria Bardagí. One man was missing when New Hondo was released … Paco Cepero. He didn’t feature on his friend El Turronero’s most ambitious album.

Prior to the release of New Hondo later in 1980, critics had their say on the album that marked the reinvention of El Turronero. Just like Camaron’s 1979 album La Leyenda Del Tiempo, critics didn’t understand New Hondo. It saw producer Juan Barcons  and El Turronero set out to modernise traditional flamenco music. This was a controversial decision, and one that didn’t find favour with critics who failed to understand New Hondo nor its importance.

When Juan Barcons and El Turronero set out to record New Hondo, their plan was to record album that modernised traditional flamenco music. It had changed very little until relatively recently. This included Camaron’s album La Leyenda Del Tiempo in 1979. However, New Hondo wasn’t going to be fusion of flamenco, jazz and rock. Instead, it was an ambitious genre-melting album that drew inspiration from a variety of musical genres. 

For El Turronero his starting point on New Hondo was flamenco. Just like on his previous albums,  he switched between different types of flamenco, some of which came from different parts of Spain. Among them, were Bamberas, Bulerías, Jaberas, La Caña, Malagueña, Seguiríyas and Tangos. These types of flamenco were combined with a variety of musical genres from the sixties, seventies and early eighties. This included funk, psychedelia, rock and Philly Soul, which had provided the soundtrack to much of the seventies. So had disco, especially between 1976 and 1979. A feature of both genres were swathes of lush strings. They can be heard on several tracks on New Hondo. Disco also inspired some of the drums tones that featured on New Hondo. The other influence is boogie, which following disco’s demise in the summer of 1979, became a favourite of dancers and DJs. All these genres can be heard on El Turronero’s pioneering album New Hondo, which features lyrics full of social comment.

El Turronero sets the bar high with the album opener Las Penas, which would later become a cosmic disco classic. It’s one of several tracks that feature  lush sweeping, swirling strings. They’re combined with La Caña style of flamenco, funk and soulful harmonies as El Turronero delivers a soul-baring vocal. This is followed by the psychedelic funk of Si Volviera A Nacer which is another of New Hondo’s highlights. It features an electric sitar and an impassioned vocal from El Turronero as he transforms flamenco and takes it in a totally new direction. 

The tempo drops on Tiene Bigotes which features sweeping disco strings. What doesn’t change is the emotion and passion in El Turronero’s vocal on this Tanguillos. 

Dancing disco strings return on Yo Soy Nube Pasajera, where a funky bass helps propel the arrangement along and harmonies accompany El Turronero as he seamlessly switches to the Bamberas style of flamenco. Still he breathes life, meaning and emotion into this hook-laden dance-floor filler.

There’s another change of style on Navegan Mis Pensamientos, where soulful harmonies set the scene on this example of the Alegrías style of flamenco. El Turronero copes admirably with one of the most complex arrangements on New Hondo. It features a slapped bass and rock inspired guitar as El Turronero complies power and passion. In doing so, he demonstrates his versatility and talent. The tempo drops on A Nadie Se Le Ha “Ocurrio,” as El Turronero tackles a Bulerías on this hip shaking fusion of funk and boogie. El Turronero then delivers one of his most heartfelt, emotive and soulful vocal on Eres Lava De Un Volcan which is an example of the Jaberas style of flamenco. Then on Sufrimientos, which features a laid-back and lushly orchestrated arrangement, El Turronero accompanied by harmonies adds the finishing touch to a beautiful ballad.

It’s all change on Y La Razón a Seguiríyas, where the bass adds a tough, funky sound as El Turronero combines power and emotion. Meanwhile, disco strings sweep and swirl as El Turronero continues in his mission to reinvent flamenco. Closing New Hondo was the ballad Mis Venas Malagueña which is a Malagueña, a type of flamenco from the Andalusia region. Just like on so many other tracks on new Hondo, it features a vocal masterclass from El Turronero, who showcases his versatility and as he copes with another change of style and closes this genre classic on a high.

Sadly, when New Hondo was released in 1980 by Belter Records, the album wasn’t well received by critics. To make matters worse, the album failed to find an audience and sold badly. It a similar case when the future cosmic disco classic Las Penas was released as a single in 1980. The single failed commercially and soon, found its way into bargain bins. 

Now  forty years later, and New Hondo has been rediscovered by a new generation of record buyer and is regarded as a cult classic. Similarly, Las Penas is a cosmic disco classic and favourite of DJs and dancers. Original copies of New Hondo and Las Penas are rarities and change hands for large sums of money. That’s no surprie as it’s the most ambitious album of El Turronero’s career.

By then, El Turronero was an experienced cantaor singer with a legion of fans across Spain. They travelled to see him in concert and at festivals, and bought his albums. That was until his ambitious,  groundbreaking and genre-melting album New Hondo, where El Turronero set about reinventing flamenco. As a starting point, he took a number of different styles of flamenco and combined this with boogie, disco, funk Philly Soul, psychedelia, rock and social comment. Then when El Turronero fused several genres, the result was the cosmic disco classic of Las Penas and the psychedelic funk of Si Volviera A Nacer. They’re among the highlights of New Hondo, which marked the reinvention of El Turronero and flamenco.

Not everyone welcome the reinvention of El Turronero, who was one of the most popular cantaor singers of his generation. His fans didn’t want him to change direction, and liked his music the way it was. El Turronero could’ve continued to churn out similar albums year after year. This would’ve been a popular and decision amongst El Turronero’s legion of fans, but would’ve been soul-destroying for a singer of his calibre. Just like Camaron who had he released La Leyenda Del Tiempo a year earlier in 1979,El Turronero style was ready to reinvent his music and indeed flamenco.

At the back of El Turronero’s mind was that changing direction risked alienating his fans. Sadly, that was the case, and New Hondo was his least successful album El Turronero had released. However, El Turronero was willing to take that risk, as he determined to change direction musically and hopefully reinvent flamenco. Sadly, it was a decision that didn’t payoff in the short-term.

Eleven years after the death of El Turronero in 2006, his groundbreaking and genre-melting album New Hondo is receiving the critical recognition it so richly deserves. New Hondo was a landmark album from El Turronero and  had the potential to transform the future of flamenco music. New Hondo followed in the footsteps of Camaron’s 1979 album La Leyenda Del Tiempo and  both albums are regarded as game-changing albums. Especially  El Turronero’s New Hondo, which is regarded as important, innovative and timeless genre-melting album from a true musical pioneer who was willing to risk his popularity to transform flamenco music.

Cult Classic: El Turronero-New Hondo.

 

 

PHILOPSIS. 

Philopsis.

Label: Digger’s Digest.

Over the last few years, there’s been a resurgence of interest in library music, with British and European independent record labels releasing lovingly curated compilations that are welcomed by a coterie of musical connoisseurs who have a passion for library music. This includes DJs, producers and record collectors who are willing to pay large sums of money to add rare releases to their collections of library music.

Many British collectors of library music started off collecting releases by labels like KPM, De Woife, Amphonic, Conroy and Sonoton from the sixties, seventies early eighties, which is regarded by many collectors as a golden age for library music. This is ironic as albums of library music were never meant to fall into the hands of collectors.

Originally, library music was meant to be used by film studios or television and radio stations, and was never meant to be commercially available. The music was recorded on spec by music libraries who  often hired  young unknown composers, musicians and producers. This ranged from musicians who were known within publishing circles, to up-and-coming musicians who later, went onto greater things, and look back fondly at their time writing, recording and producing library music. This they now regard as part of their musical apprenticeship.

For the musicians hired to record library music, their remit was to music libraries with a steady stream of new music, which was originality referred to as production music. During some sessions, the musicians’ remit was write and record music to match themes or moods. This wasn’t easy, but after a while they were  able to this seamlessly. Soon, the musicians were able to enter the audio and write and record a piece of music that matched a theme or mood for a film or television show.

Once the library music was recorded, record libraries sent out demonstration copies of their music to advertising agencies, film studios, production companies, radio stations and television channels. If they liked what they heard, they would license a track or several tracks from the music libraries. That was how it was meant to work.

Sometimes, copies of these albums fell into the hands of record collectors, who realising the quality of music recorded by these unknown musicians, started collecting library music. However, it always wasn’t easy to find copies of the latest albums of library music. That was until the arrival of the CD.

Suddenly, record collectors and companies across Britain were disposing of LPs, and replacing them with CDs. It didn’t matter that the prices of LPs were at all-time low, some record collectors just wanted rid of their collection they were replacing with CDs. With people literally dumping LPs, all sorts of musical treasure was available to record collectors who didn’t believe the hype about CD. This included everything from rare psych and progressive rock right through to albums of library music. These albums were often found in car boot sales, second hand shops and charity for less than a skinny latte macchiato.

This was the case throughout the period that vinyl fell from grace, and suddenly, it was possible for collectors of British library music to add to their burgeoning collections. Gradually, longtime collectors of library music had huge and enviable collections and were almost running out of new music to collect. Some of them decided that the time had come to see what European library music had to offer.

Now these collectors had a whole continent’s worth of library music to discover. Some collectors were like magpies buying albums from all over Europe, while others decided to concentrate on just one country or company. Although it was more expensive to collect European library music, gradually, enviable new collections started to take shape.

This includes French, German and Italian library music which was recorded during the sixties and seventies. One of the rarest French library records of the seventies was Philopsis which was released in 1978 on Freesound,  an imprint of  the British publisher Ambient Music which was dedicated only to French composers. At the heart of the Philopsis project was Jacky Giordano who was a somewhat mysterious musician.

Over the last few years, the an air of mystique hangs over  Jacky Giordano’s recordings, as well as the albums he recorded using various aliases. This includes Discordance, G. Serili, Jacky Nodaro, Joachim Sherylee and José Pharos. The enigmatic French organist music has gained a cult status, especially amongst a coterie of connoisseurs of library music. 

In 1973, Jacky Giordano  and Francis Personne recorded  Rythmes Et Mélodies an album of library music for Sonimage. His next album was released on Freesound, where he released what’s recorded as the best library  music of his career.

 Collectors and connoisseurs of library music believe that Jacky Giordano’s Freesound years were the highpoint of his career. His This includes  1974s Challenger and Schifters  which he recorded with Yan Tregger. However, four years would pass before Jacky Giordano released another album on Freesound.

Two years later, in 1976, he released Pop In… Devil’s Train on André Farry’s Editions Montparnasse 2000 label. It’s regarded as another of Jacky Giordano’s finest albums.

During this period, he could do no wrong and released Jacky Giordano Organ in 1977 on L’Illustration Musicale. So was the followup Jacky Giordano Organ Plus in 1978. These two albums of library music are highly collectable and it was no surprise in 2019 when they were reissued again. However, the other album Jacky Giordano recorded in 1978 was his library music masterpiece Philopsis for Freesound

Philopsis  is instantly recognisable because of the  portrait on the album cover. Just like Jacky Giordano, there’s an air of mystery to this enigmatic figure.  With a  cover that captured the imagination, the music on Philopsis was very different to what many people expected. 

Many misguided critics of library music often put forward the same tired and inaccurate argument that the music was bland, lacking in inspiration and imagination and was mostly jingles that were used by the advertising industry. How wrong they were and proof of that was Philopsis.

On Philopsis, Jacky Giordano was accompanied by Yan dY’s. This it’s thought included his old friend and colleague Yan Tregger  which was an alias for Edouard Scotto Di Suoccio. Nowadays, Yan Tregger is regarded as one of the forgotten heroes of European library music. Another musician who worked on Philopsis was Francis Personne, who later worked as a sound engineer and on numerous eighties zouk productions. Jacky Giordano and his group experimented as they recorded   Philopsis. 

Side One.

The resulting album  of jazz-funk that Jacky Giordano and friends recorded  features is best described as veering between light, airy and spacious to futuristic with sci-fi synths a feature of album opener Jumbo Flash. Quite different is the tough and funky sound of Magolia. Callisto is a jazzy jam where this talented band play within themselves. They manage to resist the urge to kick loose. Athanor has a seventies experimental sound that again, is futuristic. Supplice Form sounds as if it’s been written with a military drama in mind, while Agharta sounds like the soundtrack to space-age cop show.

 Side Two.

Just like Supplice Form, there’s a military influence to the drums on Usine Inhumaine while the rest of the arrangement has a sci-fi sound.  Steel Mongoes has a tough funky sound and wouldn’t sound out of place as part of the soundtrack to a seventies cop show. By contrast Screw On has a ruminative sound, while Fluid Man bounds along as this glorious tough, funky sci-fi  sousing track unfolds. Acid Feerique is a multilayered track where genres and influences are combined by Jacky Giordano and his band. They close side two and Philopsis with the title-track, which sounds not dissimilar to the music that featured on children’s cartoons from the late-seventies. Just like so many tracks on Philopsis, it has a cinematic quality and paints pictures in the mind’s eye.

Philopsis is a incredibly coherent album where Jacky Giordano and his tight, talented and versatile band fuse elements of funk, fusion, jazz, jazz-funk, library music as well as electronica, the soundtracks to early seventies Blaxploitation movies and Herbie Hancock’s classic album Headhunters. They’ve also been influenced by Brian Eno’s early solo albums and the music of  Ennio Morricone, Jean-Jacques Perrey, Lalo Schiffrin and  Nino-Nardini. When all these genres and influences are combined by Jacky Giordano, the result is Philopsis, which was his finest moment for Freesound.

Nowadays,  Philopsis is one of the rarest library records of the seventies. Digger’s Digest reissue on heavyweight is to be welcomed. However, it’s a limited edition of 500 and these will soon be hoovered up by connoisseurs of library music who have either been unable to find or afford an original copy of Philopsis. This reissue  is the next best thing, and is the perfect introduction to the library music recorded by the enigmatic Jacky Giordano during the seventies, when this musical maverick could do no wrong.Philopsis is Jacky Giordano’s library music masterpiece  and a genre classic. 

Philopsis.

 

TABANSI STUDIO BAND-WAKAR ALHAZI KANO AND MUS’EN SOFOA.

Tabansi Studio Band–Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa.

Label: BBE Africa.

Philadelphia International Records’ house band was MFSB, while Motown the Funk Brothers and Fame Records had the Muscle Shoals Rhythm Section between 1961 and 1969. These three house bands played an important part in each label’s sound and success. That was also the case with  the Tabansi Studio Band.

They helped shape the sound  of Tabansi Records.and played their part in the the success of  the most important, influential and innovative Nigerian record label of the past six decades. However, just like MFSB, the Tabansi Studio Band weren’t just content to be a studio band and released several albums. This included Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa, which have just been released on one CD by BBE Africa.

Tabansi Records was founded in Nigeria in 1952, and filled a void when major labels like Decca and later, Philips closed the doors on their Nigerian operations. 

Chief Tabansi, who lent his name to what would become Nigeria’s most important label, recorded artists and then pressed the records at The United African Company’s pressing plant. After that, record vans promoted the latest releases in Nigerian villages. This was just the start for Tabansi Records.

In the sixties, The United African Company decided to concentrate on importing American and European music. With very little competition, Tabansi Records was able to concentrate on local  music, which The United African Company had turned its back on. This was a big mistake.

During the seventies, Tabansi Records was the most successful Nigerian label, and its founder Chief Tabansi was one of the leading light’s of country’s thriving and vibrant music scene. He had invested in the company he had founded in, in Onitsha, Lagos, all these years ago, which by the seventies, had its own studios and pressing plant. Tabansi Records was going from strength-to-strength.

Playing their part in the success of the label by the late seventies was the Tabansi Studio Band. They featured on the majority of the albums released by Tabansi Records. That was only part of the story,

Unlike studio bands like the Wrecking Crew and the Funk Brothers, the Tabansi Studio Band wanted to follow in the footsteps of the MFSB and embark upon a recording career. In 1979, they recorded their first two albums  Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa, which nowadays, are real rarities that are prized by collectors.  

When BBE Africa were about to embark upon the Tabansi Gold reissue series they had chosen around sixty albums to release over a two year period. They hadn’t planned on releasing Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa until Joe Tabansi, the son of the label’s founder discovered two white labels marked TRL 115 and TRL 116. For everyone involved the Tabansi Gold reissue series this was a hugely important find as they hadn’t been able to find a copies of the albums that were playable. 

One listen to Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa was all it took to realise that these were two extremely important albums in the history of Tabansi Records. Each album features just two tracks of glorious improvised  where the Tabansi Studio Band lock into a groove as they combine disparate genres on these two long lost hidden gems.   

Wakar Alhazai Kano is an album of Hausan Afrobeat, which is a rarely heard style of music. Playing their part in the sound and success of Alhazai Kano are the seven Martins brothers. They  were all talented multi-instrumentalists who were part of the Tabansi Studio Band and accompanied the multilingual vocalist Professor Goddy-Ezike. 

He’s regarded as one of the greatest African vocalists of his generation and deserves to be spoken about in the same breath as Salif Keita and Youssou N’Dour.  Professor Godwin-Ezike is always impassioned and veers between  mordant and trenchant as he delivers the vocals. His style is very different to the likes of Fela Kuti’s Yoruba-Pidgen Afrobeat. The combination of Professor Goddy-Ezike and the Martins brothers is a potent one.

The genre-melting Wakar Alhazai Kano opens that album and just like Lokoci Azumi Ta Wuca has been influenced by Northern Hausa music. Throughout the album, which is in 6/8 time, the Martins brothers fuse  elements of Islamic music,  Hausa pop, Libyan Tuareg music, traditional folk, court and Andean music as well as Bollywood and reggae. Against this genre-melting backdrop that comes courtesy of the Martins brothers Professor Goddy-Ezike delivers what can only be described as an impassioned and emotive vocal masterclass on this much prized Afrobeat rarity.

On Mus’en Sofoa, the tracks  Kama Sofos and Aka Ji Ego Ga Anu Nwam are both sung in Igbo. This doesn’t present a problem to the multilingual vocalist Professor Goddy-Ezike. He combines with the Martins brothers to create two tracks in 4/4 time which feature elements of jazz, funk and soul. They play a myriad of traditional percussion which allows them Martins brothers the opportunity to improvise and take the tracks in what may seem unexpected directions as they showcase their considerable skills.

For anyone with even a passing interest in Afrobeat, the Tabansi Studio Band’s first two albums,  Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa are essential listening. These two albums feature two very different and rarely heard styles of Afrobeat. 

Hausa Afrobeat features on Wakar Alhazai Kano and Igbo Afrobeat on Mus’en Sofoa. These two albums are not just two of the rarest albums released byTabansi Records,  but two of the rarest Afrobeat albums ever released. They’re so rare that many Afrobeat collectors doubted the very existence of Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa which have been just been reissued by BBE Africa on one CD. This is a welcome reissue and a welcome reminder of the Tabansi Studio Band at the peak of their powers as they showcase their talent, versatility and ability to innovative on two long lost hidden Afrobeat gems Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa.

Tabansi Studio Band–Wakar Alhazai Kano and Mus’en Sofoa.

CULT CLASSIC: TEMPLE-TEMPLE.

Cult ClassicL Temple-Temple.

Ever since the birth of rock ’n’ roll, there’s been many short-lived record labels, including small, obscure local labels founded to release privately pressed albums, to regional labels that released just a handful of singles before closing their doors for the last time. Other labels lasted slightly longer, but were hardly prolific, including Robin Page’s controversial Cologne-based label Pyramid Records which recorded just eleven albums between 1972 and 1976. 

This included Temple’s eponymous debut album Temple which like any Pyramid Records’ release it’s sure to provoke debate and speculation, with the doubters wondering whether the album really recorded in the seventies, or at a later date?

Building The Pyramid.

The Pyramid Records’ story began in Cologne in 1972, when the label was founded by forty-year old British expat Robin Page, who was one of the leading lights in the burgeoning Fluxus arts movement. He had moved from London, England to Cologne, in West Germany in 1969, which had been his home ever since. However, it turned out that Robin Page wasn’t the only expat who was living in Cologne during that period.

Cologne was also home to Tony Robinson, a South African, who had travelled from his home in Cape Town, to West Germany to work with the legendary Karlheinz Stockhausen, the Godfather of modern German electronic music at the WDR Studio. This was where akin to a musical apprenticeship for Tony Robinson, and served him well in the future. After he left Karlheinz Stockhausen’s employ, Tony Robinson started working at Dierks Studio, near Cologne, and it was around this time that he met Robin Page.

By then, Robin Page was a successful and established artist whose work within the Fluxus movement was regarded as ambitious, daring and groundbreaking. One of the trademarks of Robin Page’s work was humour, which he used to challenge what was regarded as good taste within the art establishment. Before long, Robin Page’s paintings started to find an audience, and became particularly sought after, which was what Robin Page had dreamt of, and worked towards ever since ‘he had left’ art college in Vancouver. His new-found success and financial security allowed Robin Page to work towards fulfilling another of his dreams, making music.

Robin Page was so serious about making music, that he decided to invest some of his newfound fortune in building a recording studio. This wasn’t a luxurious state-of-the-art recording studio that was situated within a fashionable area of Cologne. Instead, the studio was situated in the basement of what looked like a derelict building. It was an unlikely place for Cologne’s newest recording  studio, and where the nascent Pyramid Records first album was recorded.

It was then pressed by a Turkish entrepreneur, who just happened to keep his cutting lathe within the same building as the studio was situated. The lathe which it’s been alleged was used to produced bootleg albums, was used to cut what became PYR 001, Pyramid Records’ first ever release. Robin Page then commissioned a local student to design the album cover to PYR 001, which was released later in 1972. Robin Page had just made with the release of Pyramid Records’ first album.

Just like many private presses released in 1972, Robin Page had only a small number of copies of PYR 001 pressed. He decided to press between 50 and 100 albums, which became the norm for future Pyramid Records’ releases. It’s claimed that some of the albums were sold in Cologne’s art galleries and clubs, while Robin Page gave some of his closest friends copies of PYR 001. This included one of his one newest friends, Toby Robinson.

Robin Page had first encountered Tony Robinson in Cologne, in 1972. It turned out that the engineer shared the same circle of friends as Robin Page, which included a number of local artists and musicians. Some of these musicians would join Tony Robinson at Dierks Studio for after hours’ jam sessions, which would allow the engineer to experiment with effects as he sculpted sonic soundscapes. It’s claimed that some of these musicians would later  feature on Pyramid Records’ recordings. That was all in the future.

Not long after Robin Page met Toby Robinson, the artists managed to persuade his new friend to provide the material for Pyramid Records’ second release. Toby Robinson’s recordings featured sounds that were bounced from one reel-to-reel tape recorder to another. After he had an album’s worth of material, a master was cut, and between 50-100 copies of PYR 002 were either given away to Robin Page’s friends, or sold in Cologne’s art galleries and clubs. However, there was a problem with the label’s first two releases.

Over the next few years, the master tapes and the last remaining copies of PYR 001 and PYR 002 were mislaid, and  it was as if the two albums had never existed. This was something that those who were keen to disprove the existence of Pyramid Records seized upon at a later date. So would what happened next.

During 1973, Robin Page’s Pyramid Records released two further albums, PYR 003 and PYR 004, with between 50 and 100 copies of each album being pressed. Again, some albums were sold in Cologne’s art galleries and clubs, while Robin Page gave copies to some of his closest friends. However, over the next couple of years, incredibly the master tapes and remaining copies of PYR 003 and PYR 004, were mislaid. 

History had repeated itself, again, it was as if PYR 003 and PYR 004 had never existed. The master tapes seemed to have vanished into thin air, and forty-five years later, it’s as if Pyramid Records first four releases never existed. This would later provide more ammunition to those trying to disprove the very existence of Pyramid Records.

The first Pyramid Records release to survive is believed to be PYR 005, which is the Cozmic Corridors’ eponymous debut album. It’s one of just eleven recordings that remain in the Pyramid Records’ vaults. These recordings were made between 1974 and 1976 and include Temple’s eponymous debut album Temple.

Temple. 

Just like Pyramid’s eponymous debut album, there’s a degree of confusion surrounding the recording of Temple. The exact date of the recording sessions are unknown, and the best guess is that Temple was recorded during 1975 or 1976 at Dierks Studio. 

It’s thought that Temple was the result of a number of late night, after hours recording sessions where musicians joined Tony Robinson in the studio. Some of these musicians are thought to have been recording at Dierks Studio before joining the Temple Sessions. A couple of the musicians, including lyricist and vocalist Pauline Fund is thought to have featured on Cozmic Corridors, another Pyramid Records’ release. Other musicians that featured on Temple are though to be well known names, and include Zeus B. Held who was a member of Birth Control between 1973 and 1978. However, speculation sounds the identity of those who played on Temple as pseudonyms were used and there’s discrepancies between the original album cover and the 1997 reissue.

The lineup of Temple feature a rhythm section of drummer Otto Bretnacher, bassist Joachim Weiss and guitarists Heinz Kramer and Rolf Foeller. They were joined by Zeus B. Held on Hammond organ, Mini Moog and Mellotron, while vocalist included Poseidon and Pauline Fund plays Tambourine. Interestingly, Tony Robinson’s name is written large all over Temple, and he wrote parts of Temple with Rolf Foeller and Pauline Fund. However, Tony Robinson is also credited as “performer/multi-instrumentalist” under his Mad Twiddler moniker and the recordist F.B. Nosnibor looks like another of his many pseudonyms. He’s part of the group that is thought to have recorded Temple during 1975 and 1976.

Temple must have been one of the last albums that Pyramid Records released, as Robin Page’s label closed its door for the final time in 1976, when he decided to emigrate to Canada. He took with him the master tapes to the Pyramid Records’ releases and the albums that he hadn’t sold or given away to friends. This is why after Robin Page emigrated to Canada, it looked like Pyramid Records had never existed. 

Twenty years later, and Tony Robinson approached Virgin Records with some of Pyramid Records’ master tapes. This resulted in the release of Unknown Deutschland-The Krautrock Archive Volume 1 in 1996. Later that year, two further volumes followed, and Temple’s eponymous debut album was reissued for the first time in 1997. Given its rarity, collectors of Krautrock were keen to add a copy Temple album to their collection, and the album soon sold out. Listeners were in for a surprise.

Having listened to Temple, many listeners realised that it sounded as if two different bands had played on the album. This added to the rumour and speculation that was already rife about the mysterious Pyramid Records, and has continued to build up ever since. 

Twenty-three years later, and further speculation surrounds Temple. While it sounds as if two bands played on Temple, that comes as no surprise as the lineup of Temple was fluid, with different musicians playing on the sessions. This included multi-instrumentalist Tony Robinson. However, one thing that caused much of the speculation was the use of two different vocalists on Temple.

Three of the tracks sounded as if they had been recorded by a hard rocking, heavy  psychedelic rock band that was led by a vocalist that sounded as if he had been inspired by The Damned’s Dave Vanian. This includes the album opener Heathen, Ship On Fire and Crazy Hat/Kingdom Of Gabriel which closes Temple. However, the identity of the vocalist that features on these three tracks, and dawned the moniker of Poseidon as he sung the lyrics in English is unknown? Could this have been Tony Robinson who played such an important part in the record of album? His influence can be heard on these three tracks as he unleashes a myriad of effects throughput this genre-melting album where Temple unleashed a fusion of hard rocking, heavy  psychedelic rock with Krautrock, and space rock. Then it’s all change.

The remainder of the songs on Temple,  including Leaves Are Falling/Black Light, Age Of Ages, sounded as if they had been recorded by an otherworldly gothic folk band fronted by French female vocalist Pauline Fund. Her vocal veers between dramatic, dubby, eerie, ethereal and mysterious as the music becomes dreamy, lysergic and theatrical. Especially as Pauline Fund delivers a soliloquy on Age Of Age. These two tracks show a very different side to Tempe and features elements of art rock, avant-garde, dub, folk-rock and a proto-gothic sound. That is as long as Temple was recorded before the gothic style of music became popular.

Ever since Tony Robinson approached Virgin Records with some of Pyramid Records’ master tapes, which resulted in the release of Unknown Deutschland-The Krautrock Archive Volume 1 in 1996, rumour and speculation has surrounded Robin Page’s short-lived label. The doubters have tried to disprove the very existence of Pyramid Records, and some believe that it’s nothing more than a musical hoax, akin a to modern-day great rock ’n’ roll swindle. To prove their case, the doubters have left no stone unturned.

One of the main thrusts of the doubters arguments is if Robin Page took the master tapes and remaining copies of the Pyramid Records’ albums to Canada, where did the master tapes Tony Robinson took to Virgin Records’ come from? It may be that these tapes were duplicates that were only discovered at a later date?

Some of the doubters believe that at least some of the albums, especially the unreleased ones may have been recorded at a later date, either in the eighties or nineties. Despite examining everything from the recording techniques and instruments used, they’ve been unable to prove beyond all reasonable doubt these albums were recorded post 1976. This hasn’t stopped the doubters saying that some of the albums sound as if they were recorded at a later date.

Sadly, all the debate and speculation surrounding Pyramid Records gets in the way of what are important and exciting reissues of albums by groundbreaking groups like Temple. This short-lived studio band that features mostly anonymous musicians sounds as if it was inspired by Amon Düül II, Ash Ra Tempel, Birth Control, Hawkwind and Popol Vuh as they recorded what was their one and only album Temple. Just like so many of Pyramid Records’ releases, Temple features music that is ambitious, innovative and way ahead of its time, and would never have been recorded and released if it wasn’t for Robin Page and his short-lived label which championed esoteric music including Temple’s controversial cult classic.

Cult ClassicL Temple-Temple.

CHRISTIAN WALLUMROD ENSEMBLE-MANY.

Christian Wallumrød Ensemble-Many.

Label: Hubro Music.

Although Christian Wallumrød has been a familiar face on the Norwegian music scene  since the early nineties, it wasn’t until 1996 that the Christian Wallumrød Trio released their debut album Birch on ECM. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, Birch launched the career of Christian Wallumrød. 

Over the next few years, Christian Wallumrød worked with a variety of different artists. Then  in 2001, the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble released their debut album Sofienberg Variations on the ECM. It was released to plaudits and praise and hailed as an album of ambitious and innovative music. 

This was the case with the followup A Year From Easter which was released in 2004,  and 2007s The Zoo Is Far. By then,  the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble was regularly touring and playing at festivals in Norway and in others parts of Scandinavia and Europe.

Meanwhile, Christian Wallumrød continued to collaborate with a number of artist and groups. This included recording albums with Close Erase, Generator X and Karl Seglem. However, it wasn’t long before he returned with the fourth album from the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble.

This was Fabula Suite Lugano which was released to critical acclaim on ECM in 2009. Just like previous albums, the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble continued to release genre-melting music that was ambitious, inventive and innovative.

That was the case on Fabula Suite Lugano which was released to widespread critical acclaim in 2013. What proved to be the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble’s swansong for ECM, won them a Spellemannspris, which is a Norwegian Grammy.

Two years after the release of Fabula Suite Lugano,  Christian Wallumrød returned with his debut solo album Pianokammer, which was released  on Hubro Music in 2015. It  was a captivating album album of adventurous and ambitious genre-melting music that combined elements of ambient, avant-garde, blues, experimental, free jazz and jazz. 

A year later, the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble returned with Kurzsam and Fulger, which was released in 2016 on Hubro Music. Hailed as one of the finest and most innovative offerings from the Ensemble, whose lineup continued to evolve and so did the music they made. However, following the release of Kurzsam and Fulger they began work on a new album that would be four years in the making.

This is Many, which has just been released by Hubro Music and is the much-anticipated followup to Kurzsam and Fulger. Many is a fusion of old-school musique concrete interludes and elements of electronic music and is a stylistic departure from Norwegian sonic explorer Christian Wallumrød and his crew. They’re a mixture of familiar faces and some new names.

Joining pianist Christian Wallumrød who also plays harmonium and like the rest of the quintet adds electronics. He’s joined by drummer and vibraphonist Per Oddvar Johansen, who has been a member of the Ensemble since the beginning.  They’re joined by trumpeter Eivind Lønning, cellist Tove Törngren Brun and saxophonist Espen Reinertsen who also plays recorder. This was the lineup of the Ensemble that spent the next four years recording Many at Isitart Studio.

Christian Wallumrød explains what he was trying to achieve: ”The material for this album has been developed over a 4 year period. I wanted to somehow expand the sonic palette of the Ensemble and to look for different ways to make music for and with them. For me, the process with the electronic instruments on board has led to some unpredictable combinations of sounds, and to new approaches to improvisation.”

Just like on previous albums, Christian Wallumrød allowed the members of the Ensemble the freedom to  improvise and take the music in a new and different direction. To do that, they combine  acoustic instruments like the cello, harmonium, piano percussion, saxophone and trumpet with electronics which  members of the Ensemble credit as  instruments. This is a first and shows that this a group who are willing to try new things and whose music is constantly evolving. In doing so, they create ambitious and innovative genre-melting soundscapes. 

Elements of jazz, musique concrete, electronic music, ambient and Nordic folk music is combined with avant-garde jazz. The influence of the church and even early court music can be heard on Play, where  the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble draw inspiration from disparate musical genres as they weave what’s akin to a musical tapestry. Its patterns have been influenced by 

by a variety of artists and source. One of the most obvious is  John Cage and Morton Feldman’s thoughtful, ruminative and tranquil soundscapes. Then there’s British and European library music, the BBC Radiophonic Workshop as well as the pioneers of experimental electronic modernism. This includes Arne Nordheim, Pierre Henry and Karlheinz Stockhausen, who taught and influenced several generations of musicians including Can and Jodi. Closer to home, Christian Wallumrød has been influenced by two groups he’s a member of. This includes the international quartet Dans Les Arbres and Brutter, the anti-techno duo he formed with his brother Fredrik. All these influences influence the sound and success of Many.

They’re part of Christian Wallumrød Ensemble’s captivating and enchanting musical adventure. A crucial part to the sound  and success of Many is when the five sonic explorers improvise and the albums take twists and turns aplenty. 

They paint pictures throughout Many, and on the album opener Oh Gorge the music veers between  cinematic, lysergic and otherworldly. The piano led 50-50 is ruminative, hesitant and spacious as the harmonium wheezes creating an almost eerie filmic sound.  Danszaal is the musical equivalent of time travel as the Ensemble transport the listener to a distant  kingdom and paint pictures with music. Dark, dramatic and ominous describes Abysm a slow brooding soundscape that’s one of Many’s highlights. It gives way to  the juddering Staccato where pizzicato strings and robotic electronics combine effectively. 

Very different is the jaunty piano led El Johnton, which begins as a truly irresistible jazzy track that swings as it sweeps joyously and melodically along before becoming understated. Suddenly a myriad of sounds emerge from the arrangement like an alternative orchestra communicating via some secret code. Later, it’s all change and the Ensemble unite and return to the  swinging, jazzy track on this captivating and epic musical adventure.

Dialect which closes Many, sends out a warning signal before the choppy arrangement unfolds. Later, it almost grinds to a halt, as a dramatic pause is left before a strident, choppy piano takes the lead as the tempo varies and the Ensemble experiment and create music where they push musical boundaries to their limits.

Many which was four years in the making, is a spellbinding album, of innovative, groundbreaking and genre defying music. On Many, the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble combines ambient, avant-garde jazz, electronica, court and experimental music as well jazz, Nordic folk and even the music of the church . The result is a musical adventure from Christian Wallumrød and his fellow sonic explorers in the Ensemble. 

They’ve combine musical genres and influences to create an ambitious album where teh seven soundscapes are variously bold, dark, dramatic, dreamy. ethereal, haunting, hopeful, intriguing, irresistible, joyous, ominous, otherworldly  and uplifting. The soundscapes are also cinematic as the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble paint pictures throughout Many, and take the listener on a  captivating  journey where the listener’s  imagination is sure to run riot on this musicalMagnus Opus. 

Christian Wallumrød Ensemble-Many.

BRIGITTE BARDOT-LA BELLE ET LE BLUES.

Brigitte Bardot-La Belle Et Le Blues.

Label: Ace Records.

In 1957, Vadim’s Et Dieu… Créa La Femme (And God Created Women) was released internationally and thrust Brigitte Bardot into the public spotlight.  For the twenty-three year old Paris born actress, this was the break she had been waiting for. Her acting career began in 1952, but And God Created Women was a game-changer for Brigitte Bardot whose career lasted twenty-one years.  

During the sixties, Brigitte Bardot was an iconic figure and one of the most influential women of her generation. She had a huge influence on fashion, the wider pop culture and  was also one of the pioneers of female empowerment. Brigitte Bardot was without doubt, one of the most iconic figures of the sixties and B.B. as she became known as is instantly recognisable.

Back then, Brigitte Bardot was a fashion icon and a star of the silver screen who was known for playing sexually emancipated characters who enjoyed and embraced  hedonistic lifestyles. However, B.B. was also a singer who recorded everything from yé-yé and late-night  smokey jazz to sixties, groovy pop-psych and her inimitable introspective  Tropezian sound.  Between 1962 and 1973, Brigitte Bardot was a versatile vocalist and proof of this can be found on Ace Records’ new compilation La Belle Et Le Blues. It features twenty-five tracks from Brigitte Bardot recorded and released between 1963-1970 and is the first ever  legitimate retrospective of her recording career compiled especially for the English-speaking market.

By 1962, when Brigitte Bardot’s recording career began, she was twenty-eight and had been an actress for a decade. This was a new chapter in the career for B.B. She was self-assured, cerebral as well as  beautiful. There was also a mystique that surrounded Brigitte Bardot who captured the hearts of young men around the world. This included two future giants of music, John Lennon and Bob Dylan who it’s believed wrote his first song about B.B. While he would enjoy a long and illustrious career, Brigitte Bardot only recorded some sixty songs and three albums.

La Belle Et Le Blues opens with Harley Davison, one of five  tracks penned by Serge Gainsbourg. Catchy with a commercial sound, the single was released in 1967. The same year, B.B. recorded the mesmeric sounding Contact.

A year later, in 1968, B.B. and Serge Gainsbourg duetted on his classic composition include Bonnie and Clyde. However, five years earlier in 1963, Brigitte Bardot released the effervescent sounding twist L’appareil À Sous. This was a game-changer and marked her coming of age as a singer.  The most recognisable Serge Gainsbourg song B.B. recorded was Je T’aime Moi Non Plus which was released in 1986. A sensual sounding song that literally smoulders as Brigitte Bardot and Serge Gainsbourg duet.

During her eleven year recording career, B.B. wasn’t willing to record just one genre of music. That was the case from her debut album Brigitte Bardot, which was released in 1963. It was a truly eclectic album that included everything from Bossa Nova to mambo as well as L’appareil À Sous and  La Madrague. It’s a song about the house in St. Tropez which B.B. regarded as a place to escape from the life she was leading.

A year later, in 1964, Brigitte Bardot returned with her sophomore album B.B. It featured two of her finest ye-ye cuts Bob Barratt’s Ça Pourrait Changer and Moi Je Joue which features a coquettish vocal. Other tracks included the late-night jazz of Un Jour Comme Un Autre and  Je Danse Donc Je Suis which has an unmistakable early sixties sound. Two other highlights of B.B. were the cinematic Ne Me Laisse Pas L’Aime and the tender ballad Une Histoire De Plage.  B.B. was another eclectic offering from Brigitte Bardot.

Another four years passed before B.B. returned with her third and final album, Show. However, she continued to release singles and EPs. This included the baroque folk pop influenced sound of Gang Gang and the rueful Je Reviendrai Toujours Vers Toi in 1966. Both tracks featured on Show. So did Contact, Bonnie and Clyde, Ce N’est Pas Vrai and a breathy sensuous cover of Mr. Sun which closes La Belle Et Le Blues.

Apart from the tracks on the three albums B.B. released between 1963 and 1968,  other tracks worth mentioning include the dramatic pop ballad Tu Es Venu Mon Amour. It was released in 1970. However, one of the  the highlights of the compilation is the late night smokey jazz of La Belle Et Le Blues which wasn’t rebased until 1993. By then B.B.’s recording career was over.

Brigitte Bardot’s recording career began in 1963 and was over by 1972. She only released a triumvirate of eclectic albums and no more than sixty songs. Twenty-five of these songs feature on feature on La Belle Et Le Blues, which was recently released by Ace Records. It’s a lovingly curated compilation that is the first retrospective of B.B.’s recording career compiled especially for the English-speaking market.

There’s everything from baroque folk pop to yé-yé, and late-night smokey jazz through to sixties, groovy pop-psych and B.B.’s inimitable introspective  Tropezian sound. They’re a reminder of Brigitte Bardot, a truly talented and versatile vocalist who was also a fashion icon, star of the silver screen, pioneers of female empowerment and animal rights activist. Brigitte Bardot is an iconic figure and one of the most influential women of her generation.

Brigitte Bardot-La Belle Et Le Blues.

 

CULT CLASSIC: FREDDIE HUBBARD-GLEAM.

Freddie Hubbard-Gleam.

By the time thirty-six year old Freddie Hubbard arrived in Japan, in March 1975, he was already regarded as one of the most influential trumpeters of his generation. That had been the case since the early sixties when, Freddie Hubbard’s career began, and he brought what was a new perspective to bebop and later, modern jazz. That had been the case when he was signed to Blue Note, Impulse, Atlantic, CTi and then Columbia.

Freddie Hubbard had signed to Columbia in 1974, after leaving Creed Taylor’s CTi label, which had been his home since 1971, and where he had released five albums. Soon, five would become six when CTi released Polar AC on April the ’18th’ 1975. It featured five tracks recorded during different sessions, which were packaged to make Polar AC. While the release of a new album usually excited Freddie Hubbard, he had moved on from CTi.

He was now signed to Columbia, and had released High Energy in the summer of 1974. However, the critics didn’t like High Energy, which didn’t compare well to some of the albums Freddie Hubbard had released at CTi. Especially, his CTi debut, Red Clay an album of hard bop which was released in May 1970 and Straight Life which was released later that year, and was soulful and funky. However, the followup First Light which was released on October the ’12th’ 1971 was Freddie Hubbard’s finest hour at CTi, and even better than Sky Dive that was released in early 1973. High Energy was compared to these albums, but there Freddie Hubbard’s Columbia debut wasn’t in the same ballpark.

Freddie Hubbard wasn’t used to failure, and took the critical response and commercial failure of High Energy to heart. He was keen to returned to the studio and record his second album for Columbia. That was the plan, a Japanese tour was scheduled and Freddie Hubbard was booked to play in venues across the land of the rising sun.

Joining bandleader and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard who also played the flugelhorn was the rest of his sextet. This including a rhythm section of drummer Carl Burnett, bassist Henry Franklin and George Cables on electric piano. They were joined by tenor saxophonist and flautist Carl Randall and percussionist and conga player Buck Clarke. They boarded the plane in America, and travelled halfway around the world, where they planned to record an album.

Columbia knew that Freddie Hubbard needed to record an album, and needed to record an album now. High Energy wasn’t a good start to his career at Columbia, who wanted their latest signing to make amends to his fans by recording a live album. Columbia began negotiating with their Japanese counterparts, to record a live album during the tour. Eventually, a deal was struck that a live album would be recorded at the Yubin Chokin Hall, on March the ’17th 1975, but released in Japan only. This was similar to a deal that Herbie Hancock had negotiated, and seemed to work well for him. 

The idea of Freddie Hubbard releasing a live album in Japan was appealing, as the country had many jazz fans. However, Freddie Hubbard had also a large fan-base back home in America, and they wouldn’t be able to buy the album unless it was imported into the country. This  Freddie Hubbard realised would be expensive for his loyal fans, who had followed his career for the best part of two decades. Many wouldn’t be able to afford or find his new album Gleam, which is  a reminder of his 1975 Japanese tour.

When Freddie Hubbard and his band arrived in Japan, they knew had a few shows to tighten their sound, and hopefully, would bring their A-game to the Yubin Chokin Hall, on March the ’17th 1975. 

This they spent the first few shows doing and working on the setlist for the recording of Gleam. Eventually, Freddie Hubbard arrived at a set that featured a mixture of the old and the new. 

The old included George Cables’ Ebony Moonbeams and Steve Wonder’s Too High from High Energy. They were joined by Freddie Hubbard’s Spirit Of Trane from Keep Your Soul Together plus Thom Bell and Linda Creed’s Betcha By Golly Wow from Polar AC. New songs included  David Nichtern’s Midnight At The Oasis, Carl Randall and Freddie Hubbard’s  Put It In The Pocket and Kuntu which would feature Freddie Hubbard’s next studio album Liquid Love. Recording of Liquid Love was scheduled to start the day after Freddie Hubbard’s Japanese tour concluded. Before that, Freddie Hubbard had a live album to records. 

When Freddie Hubbard took to the stage with his sextet, he planned to work his way through seven tracks, and once the respectful applause died down, he and his band launched into the grooving jazz funk of Put It In The Pocket. It gives way to Ebony Moonbeams where Freddie Hubbard unleashes one of his best performances. His playing is inventive, flamboyant and melodic as the arrangement meanders along ebbing and flowing allowing Freddie Hubbard before the tempo briefly rises as his crack band launch into a Latin groove. In doing so,they showcase their skills as jazz, funk, fusion and Latin melt into one. 

Freddie Hubbard switches to flugelhorn on Betcha By Golly Wow, which gets a jazz-tinged makeover. However, it loses none of its beauty nor soulfulness during this dreamy and impassioned remake. Spirits Of Trane explodes out of the starting blocks, and this hard bop homage is the equivalent of a musical express train.

Kuntu is a near twenty-three minute epicwhich took up the entire third side of the original double album. This African inspired modal jazz track is one of the highlights of the album.

On the laid-back remake of Midnight At The Oasis Henry Franklin’s bass sets the scene for Freddie Hubbard’s tenor saxophone. Soon, the tempo is rising and this beautiful track is revealing its secrets. It’s one of the highlights of Gleam as funk and jazz combine. Closing Gleam is a cover of Too High from Stevie Wonder’s Innervisons album. Initially, it stays true to the original, but Freddie Hubbard forever the innovator heads in the direction of modal jazz. Later, when the solos come round, Freddie Hubbard and his band raise their game and close the concert and album on a resounding high.

Freddie Hubbard and his band brought their A-game to the Yubin Chokin Hall, on March the ’17th 1975, when he recorded what was his third live solo album. It found Freddie Hubbard and his talented band at the peak of their powers as they worked their way through familiar and new songs. They won over the audience as Freddie Hubbard switched between and combined disparate musical genres on Gleam which was produced by Keiichi Nakamura.

While jazz was the starting point, Freddie Hubbard incorporated elements of African and Latin music with funk, fusion, jazz, jazz-funk and modal jazz during what was an accomplished, innovative and inspired performance.  It was as if Freddie Hubbard was keen to atone for the critical and commercial failure of High Energy. This he did on Gleam, where he rolled back the years and showed the audience what he was capable of.

Just a few months later, and Freddie Hubbard had completed Liquid Love, and was just about to release Gleam in Japan. It was released to widespread crucial acclaim was popular amongst Japanese jazz fans. Sadly, Freddie Hubbard ’s fans in America and elsewhere were unable to discover the delights of Gleam unless they could find or afford an imported copy. For many of Freddie Hubbard’s fans, Gleam was the album that got away and since then, it’s a cult classic that is appreciated by connoisseurs of jazz. 

Freddie Hubbard’s third live album Gleam is akin to the musical equivalent of time travel. It’s like being in the Yubin Chokin Hall, on March the ’17th 1975, when Freddie Hubbard recorded Gleam, which was the finest live album of his long illustrious career that spanned six decades and fifty years.

Freddie Hubbard-Gleam.

CULT CLASSIC: CUASARES-AFRO-PROGRESIVO. 

Cult Classic: Cuasares-Afro-Progresivo.

In 1972, a new Argentinian band Cuasares, entered the recording studio and began work on what became their debut album Afro-Progresivo. This was the latest project that was masterminded by arranger, composer and pianist Waldo Belloso who previously, had been a member of Los Abrodo Brothers and recorded a sexploitation soundtrack in 1969. However, Afro-Progresivo was totally different from anything that  Waldo Belloso had previously worked on and was a truly ambitious project.

That was why Waldo Belloso took great care selecting the musicians that would become members of Cuasares. They had to be able to carry out Waldo Belloso’s instructions to the letter, as he guided them through the recording of Afro-Progresivo, teasing nine performances out of the nascent lineup of Cuasares. This took time, it wasn’t until 1973 that Waldo Belloso had managed to coax an album’s worth of music out of Cuasares.

With Cuasares’ debut album complete, Waldo Belloso called this groundbreaking and genre-melting release Afro-Progresivo, which was released on the short-lived Pais label later in 1973. Sadly, when Cuasares released Afro-Progresivo the album failed to find the audience it deserved. It didn’t help that Pais was a small label, and didn’t have the marketing expertise or financial muscle to promote Afro-Progresivo. However, the main problem was that Argentinian record buyers neither understood nor appreciate such an innovative  album. 

Following the commercial failure of Afro-Progresivo in 1973, copies of Cuasares’ debut album became almost IMpossible to find in record shops. Very occasionally a lucky record collector would stumble across a copy of Afro-Progresivo in the racks of a second-hand record shop. However, as the years passed, Afro-Progresivo became one of the rarest Argentinian rock albums which copies changing hands for excess of £600. This rarity  showcases the considerable talents of Waldo Belloso.

The man who masterminded Cuasares was Waldo Belloso, who was born in the Argentinian capital Buenos Aires, on April the ‘4th’ 1933. By the age of six started studying the piano, which was the instrument that Waldo Belloso would later make his name playing. 

Soon, Waldo Belloso was studying the roots of Argentinian folklore music, which before long became his passion. Over the next few years he spent much of his studying the studying and practising Argentinian folklore music, and by the time he was a teenager, was regarded as an expert in the subject. Later, Waldo Belloso would become a professor at Alberto Williams Conservatory, and later, became the chair at the National Dance School. By then, Waldo Belloso’s musical career was starting to take shape.

Waldo Belloso became a member Los Abrodo Brothers, and before long, became an important figure within the band. This was all part of his musical apprenticeship.

By then, Waldo Belloso wasn’t content to work as a musician, and was also an aspiring composer, who would spend years honing his craft. This would eventually payoff in the future, as would Waldo Belloso’s academic studies.

Although Waldo Belloso’s life seemed to revolve around music, he qualified as an ophthalmologist during the second half of the sixties. After that, Waldo Belloso’s twin careers in medicine and music continued apace.

In 1969, Waldo Belloso completed the soundtrack to one of the most controversial projects he worked on, the sexploitation movie Juegos De Verano. When it was rated by Argentinian film board, it received a triple-X rating and it four years passed before the premiere of Juegos De Verano took place in 1973. By then, Waldo Belloso had just completed his latest project.

This was Cuasares’ debut album Afro-Progresivo which Waldo Belloso began working on in 1972. By then, the thirty-nine year old arranger, composer and pianist had already written the album Waldo Belloso had written eight of the ten tracks himself, including Transmigración, Colisión, Mutación, Ancestral, Evanescente, Amalgama, Pentatonik and Simbiosis. The other two tracks Cuasares and Vertical were penned by Waldo Belloso and Hector Quattromana a talented and versatile multi-instrumentalist who dawned the moniker Mingo. These ten tracks were recorded by a carefully selected group of musicians, and later, became Cuasares’ debut album Afro-Progresivo. 

After carefully choosing the musicians that would become Cuasares, just drummer and percussionist Enrique “Zurdo” Roizner and sixteen year old guitarist Tomás Gubitsch joined Waldo Belloso in the studio. They began recording Afro-Progresivo in 1972, and eventually, the album was completed in 1973. By then, Waldo Belloso had coaxed and encouraged performances out of his small band and now, Afro-Progresivo was ready for release.

Having spent so long recording Afro-Progresivo, Waldo Belloso made a decision he would surely live to regret when he decided to release Cuasares’ debut album on the Pais label. It was a new label and unlike the major labels, didn’t have the marketing expertise or financial muscle to promote Afro-Progresivo, and it was no surprise when upon the release of Afro-Progresivo later in 1973, the album sunk without trace. Part of the problem was that Argentinian record buyers neither understood nor appreciated such an innovative album. For Waldo Belloso this was a huge disappointment. 

Just when it looked like things couldn’t get any worse for Waldo Belloso it did, when the Pais label closed its doors after releasing just two albums in less than three months. This included Cuasares’ debut album Afro-Progresivo.

Now forty-five years after Cuasares released Afro-Progresivo, the reissue by Pharaway Sounds allows record buyers to discover what was a groundbreaking and genre-melting album that was masterminded by Waldo Belloso who combined elements of Afro-Latin, jazz, psychedelic funk and European library music. Especially, French and Italian library music, and sometimes, fusion, which was growing in popularity in America, Britain and Europe. As Cuasares flitted between and fused disparate musical genres, they deployed an eclectic musical arsenal.

This included a lysergic fuzzy guitar, futuristic sci-fi synths, an effects laden Hammond organ, flute, vibraphone and a myriad of disparate effects that added a psychedelic vibe to an album that drew inspiration from Africa, America, Europe and Latin America as musical alchemist Waldo Belloso and his band of brothers recorded an album that was way of its time.

That was the case from Cuasares which opens Afro-Progresivo and elements of psychedelic funk, fusion and instrumentation usually found on a progressive rock album are combined to create an ambitious and otherworldly track. The tempo drops on Transmigración which initially, seems an understated track, but that soon changes as lo-fi synths, a marimba and urgent Carlos Santana inspired guitar solo are unleashed. Effects are added to the guitar which joins forces with the marimba on this urgent, hypnotic and funky track. After percussion opens Cuasares head in the direction of fusion during this mesmeric, percussive rocky and urgent genre-melting track that incorporates elements of Latin and psychedelia. Cuasares slow things down on Mutación, which sounds as if it’s been inspired by Santana, as the guitar organ and percussion play starring roles in this beautiful, melodic and memorable offering. Ancestral is a genre-straggling workout with Cuasares play with speed and fluidity and seamlessly combine elements of Latin, psychedelia, fusion and rock on what’s one of their finest moments.

Vertical features Cuasares at their most innovative as they fuse elements of Latin, progressive rock, psychedelia, fusion and library music. Effects are sometimes deployed adding to the lysergic sound while the track veers between dramatic, hypnotic and repetitive. Vibes set scene for another Santana-inspired guitar solo on Evanescente, while the dusty organ solo hints at late-sixties R&B. Later, the searing guitar solo take on a more contemporary sound as Cuasares play with a fluidity, with guitarist Tomás Gubitsch stealing the show. Amalgama finds Cuasares combining an Afro-Latin groove with rocky guitar licks during this breathtaking jam. It’s a similar case on Pentatonik as Cuasares combine vibes, organ, percussion, a rocky guitar, and sometimes deploy effects on a track that sounds as if it was recorded far from Argentina. Simbiosis which closes Afro-Progresivo is an ambitious, genre-melting track where everything Afro-Latin, fusion, jazz and psychedelic rock on one of the highlights of the album.

Forty-seven years after Cuasares released their debut album Afro-Progresivo in 1973, this oft-overlooked hidden gem is a prized possession amongst a small coterie of record collectors who appreciate this groundbreaking and genre-melting album.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case when Afro-Progresivo was released in 1973, and failed to find an audience, as record buyers didn’t understand an album that was way ahead of its time. Waldo Belloso who founded Cuasares, had his handpicked band combine elements of Afro-Latin, European library music, fusion, jazz, psychedelic funk and rock on this innovative album. Afro-Progresivo found Cuasares pushing musical boundaries to their limits as they fused music genres and influences and sometimes beyond on this cult classic that gradually, and somewhat belatedly,  is starting to find the wider audience it deserves.

Cult Classic: Cuasares-Afro-Progresivo.

SUN RA AND HIS MYTH SCIENCE ARKESTRA-WHEN ANGELS SPEAK OF LOVE.

Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra-When Angels Speak Of Love.

Label:  Cosmic Myth Records.

One of the most prolific artist of the twentieth century was the inimitable Sun Ra, who released around 125 albums during a career that spanned six decades. Over the last few years, dozens  of these albums have been reissued by various reissue labels in Britain, Europe and America. For fans of Sun Ra this is the perfect opportunity to discover albums that have never been reissued before. 

Many of these albums were originally released in the fifties, sixties or seventies, and nowadays, original copies are either impossible to find, or beyond the budget of most Sun Ra fans. The reissue of these albums is a welcome opportunity to add these albums to their collection. However, many newcomers to Sun Ra are confused by the dozens of albums that have been released over the last few years.

While many of the albums are reissues of some 125 albums that  Sun Ra released, some record companies seem to be repacking existing or unreleased music to make new albums. This isn’t just confusing newcomers to Sun Ra, but many longterm fans and even some people within the music industry. It takes some research to separate reissues of original Sun Ra albums from those that contain repackaged material. While some are of interest to fans of Sun Ra, others are of dubious quality. There lies the problem.

If a newcomer to Sun Ra chooses the wrong album, it could put them off his music for life. That would be a great shame as Sun Ra was one of jazz’s pioneer and innovators who released many albums of groundbreaking music during his long and illustrious career. This includes When Angels Speak Of Love which has been remastered and released by Cosmic Myth Records. This new reissue is described as the “Definitive Remastered Version” of what’s one of Sun Ra’s rarest albums. It was recorded in 1963, and only a small quantity were released in mono in 1966. By then, Sun Ra had achieved much.

Before dawning the moniker Sun Ra, Herman Poole Blount was born on the ‘22nd’ of May 1914, in Birmingham, Alabama. Very little is known about Herman Poole Blount’s early life. So much so, that for many years, nobody knew what age he was. What we do know, is that growing up, Herman Poole Blount immersed himself in music. 

He learnt to play the piano at an early age and soon, was a talented pianist. By the age of eleven, Herman Poole Blount was to able read and write music. However, it wasn’t just playing music that Herman Poole Blount enjoyed. When musicians swung through Birmingham, Herman Poole Blount was there to see everyone from Duke Ellington to Fats Waller play. Seeing the great and good of music play live inspired Herman Poole Blount to become a professional musician.

By his mid teens, Herman Poole Blount was a high school student, but even by then, music was his first love. His music teacher John T. “Fess” Whatley realised this, and helped Herman Poole Blount’s nascent musical career. 

John T. “Fess” Whatley was a strict disciplinarian, and this rubbed off on Herman Poole Blount. Later, he would acquire a reputation as a relentless taskmaster when he formed his Arkestra. He was determined that the musicians in his Arkestra to reach his high and exacting standards and fulfil the potential that he saw in them. At rehearsals, musicians were pushed to their limits, but this paid off when they took to the stage. Led by Sun Ra, the Arkestra in full flow were peerless. However, that was way in the future. Before that, Herman Poole Blount’s career began to take shape.

In his spare time, Herman Poole Blount was playing semi-professionally in various jazz and R&B groups, and other times, he worked as a solo artist. Before long, Herman was a popular draw. This was helped by his ability to memorize popular songs and play them on demand. Strangely, away from music, the young Herman Poole Blount was very different.

He’s remembered as studious, kindly and something of a loner. Herman Poole Blount was also a deeply religious young man despite not being a member of a particular church. One organisation that Herman Poole Blount joined was the Black Masonic Lodge. This allowed him access to one of the largest collection of books in Birmingham. For a studious young man like Herman Poole Blount, this allowed him to broaden his knowledge of various subjects. Whether this included the poetry and Egyptology that would later influence his musical career.

In 1934, twenty-year-old Herman Poole Blount was asked to join a band that was led by Ethel Harper. She was no stranger to Herman Poole Blount, and just a few years earlier, had been his high school biology teacher. Just a few years later, and he was accepting Ethel Harper’s invitation to join her band.

Before he could head out on tour with Ethel Harper’s band, Herman Poole Blount joined the local Musicians’s Union. After that, he embarked on a tour of the Southeast and Midwest. This was the start of Herman Poole Blount’s life as a professional musician. However, when Ethel Harper left her band to join The Ginger Snaps, Herman Poole Blount took over the band.

With Ethel Harper gone, the band was renamed The Sonny Blount Orchestra, and it headed out on the road and toured for several months. Sadly, The Sonny Blount Orchestra wasn’t making money, and eventually, the band split up. However, other musicians and music lovers were impressed by The Sonny Blount Orchestra.

This resulted in Herman Poole Blount being always in demand as a session musician. He was highly regarded within the Birmingham musical community, so much so, that he was awarded a music scholarship to Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1937. Sadly, he dropped out after a year when his life changed forever.

In 1937,  Herman Poole Blount experienced what was a life-changing experience. It’s a story he told many times throughout his life. He describes a bright light appearing around him and his body changing. “I could see through myself. And I went up … I wasn’t in human form … I landed on a planet that I identified as Saturn. They teleported me. I was down on a stage with them. They wanted to talk with me. They had one little antenna on each ear. A little antenna over each eye. They talked to me. They told me to stop attending college because there was going to be great trouble in schools … the world was going into complete chaos … I would speak through music, and the world would listen. That’s what they told me.” For a deeply religious young man, this was disturbing and exciting. It certainly inspired the young Herman Poole Blount.

After his: “trip to Saturn,” Herman Poole Blount decided to devote himself to music. So much so, that he hardly found time to sleep. Day in, day out, Herman Poole Blount spent his time practising and composing new songs in his first floor home which he had transformed into a musical workshop. That was where also where he rehearsed with the musicians in his band. Away from music, Herman Poole Blount took to discussing religious matters. Mostly, though, music dominated his life. 

It was no surprise to when Herman Poole Blount announced that he had decided to form a new band. However, his new band was essentially a new lineup of The Sonny Blount Orchestra. It showcased the new Herman Poole Blount, who was a dedicated bandleader, and like his mentor John T. “Fess” Whatley, a strict disciplinarian. Herman Poole Blount was determined his band would be the best in Birmingham. This proved to be the case as seamlessly, The Sonny Blount Orchestra were able to change direction, as they played an eclectic selection of music. Before long, The Sonny Blount Orchestra were one of most in-demand bands in Birmingham, and things were looking good for Herman. Then in 1942, The Sonny Blount Orchestra were no more when Herman was drafted.

On receiving his draft papers, Herman Poole Blount declared himself a conscientious objector. He cited not just religious objections to war and killing, but that he had to financially support his great-aunt Ida. Then there was the chronic hernia that blighted Herman Poole Blount’s life. Despite his objections the draft board rejected his appeal, and things got worse for Herman Poole Blount.

Herman Poole Blount’s family was embarrassed by his refusal to fight, and some turned their back on him. Eventually, though, Herman Poole Blount was offered the opportunity to do Civilian Public Service. However, he failed to appear at the camp in Pennsylvania on the December ‘8th’ 1942.

This resulted in Herman Poole Blount being arrested, and when he was brought before the court, Herman Poole Blount debated points of law and the meaning of excerpts from the Bible. When this didn’t convince the judge Herman Poole Blount said he would use a military weapon to kill the first high-ranking military officer possible. This resulted in Herman Poole Blount being jailed. For Herman, this led to one of the most disturbing periods in his life.

Herman Poole Blount’s experience in military prison were so terrifying and disturbing that he felt he no option but to write to the US Marshals Service in January 1943. By then, Herman felt he was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. He was suffering from stress and feeling suicidal. There was also the constant fear that he would be attacked by others within the military prison. Fortunately, the US Marshals Service looked favourably on his letter. 

By February 1943, Herman Poole Blount was allowed out during the day to work in the forests around Pennsylvania. At nights, he was able to play the piano. A month later, Herman Poole Blount was reclassified and released from military prison. This brought to an end what had been a harrowing period of his life.

Having left prison, Herman formed a new band. They played around the Birmingham area for the next two years. Then in 1945, when his Aunt Ida died, Herman Poole Blount left Birmingham, and headed to the Windy City of Chicago.

Phase One-Chicago.

Now based in Chicago, Herman quickly found work within the city’s vibrant music scene. This included working with Wynonie Harris and playing on his two 1946 singles, Dig This Boogie and My Baby’s Barrelhouse. After that, Herman Poole Blount worked with Lil Green in some of Chicago’s strip clubs. Then in August 1946, Herman Poole Blount started working with Fletcher Henderson but by then, the bandleader’s fortunes were fading.

By then, Fletcher Henderson’s band was full of mediocre musicians, and to make matters worse, the bandleader was often missed gigs. This couldn’t be helped as Fletcher Henderson, was still recovering after a car accident. What Fletcher Henderson needed was someone to transform his band’s failing fortunes and this was where Herman came in. His role was arranger and pianist, but realising the band needed to change direction, he decided to infuse Fletcher Henderson’s trademark sound with bebop. However, the band were resistant to change and in 1948, Herman left Fletcher Henderson’s employ.

Following his departure from Fletcher Henderson’s band, Herman formed a trio with saxophonist Coleman Hawkins and violinist Stuff Smith. Alas, the trio was somewhat short-lived and didn’t release any recordings. 

Not long after this, Herman made his final appearance as a sideman on violinist’s Billy Bang’s Tribute to Stuff Smith. After this, Herman Poole Blount became Sun Ra.

By then, Chicago was changing, and was home to a number of African-American political activists. Soon, a number of fringe movements sprung up who were seeking political and religious change. When Herman became involved  he was already immersing himself in history, especially, Egyptology. He was also fascinated with Chicago’s many ancient Egyptian-styled buildings and monuments. This resulted in Herman Poole Blount discovering George GM James’ book The Stolen Legacy which turned out to be a life-changing experience.

In The Stolen Legacy, George GM James argues that classical Greek philosophy actually has its roots in Ancient Egypt. This resulted in Herman concluding that the history and accomplishments of Africans had been deliberately denied and suppressed by various European cultures. It was as if Herman’s eyes had been opened and was just the start of a number of changes in his life.

As 1952 dawned, Herman had formed a new band, The Space Trio. It featured saxophonist Pat Patrick and Tommy Hunter. At the time, they were two of the most talented musicians Herman knew. This allowed him to write even more complicated and complex compositions. However, in October 1952 the author of these tracks was no longer  Herman Poole Blount was Sun Ra had just been born.

Just like Malcolm X and Muhammad Ali, adopting the name Sun Ra was perceived by some as Herman choosing to dispense with his slave name. This was a kind of spiritual rebirth for Sun Ra, and was certainly was a musical rebirth.

After Pat Patrick got married, and moved to Florida, this left The Space Trio with a vacancy for a saxophonist. Tenor saxophonist, John Gilmore was hired and filled the void. He would become an important part of Sun Ra’s band in the future. 

So would the next new recruit alto saxophonist Marshall Allen. They were then joined by saxophonist James Spaulding, trombonist Julian Priester and briefly, tenor saxophonist Von Freeman. Another newcomer was Alton Abraham, who would become Sun Ra’s manager. He made up for Sun Ra’s shortcomings when it came to business matters.

While he was a hugely talented bandleader, who demanded the highest standards, Sun Ra, like many other musicians, was no businessman. With Alton Abraham onboard, Sun Ra could concentrate on music while his new manager took care of business. This included setting up El Saturn Records, an independent record label, which would release many of Sun Ra’s records. However, El Saturn Records didn’t released Sun Ra and His Arkestra’s debut album, Jazz By Sun Ra.

Instead, Jazz By Sun Ra was released in 1956, on the short-lived Transition Records. However, Sun Ra and His Arkestra’s sophomore album Super Sonic Jazz was released in March 1956, on El Saturn Records. Sound Of Joy was released on Delmark in November 1956. However, it was El Saturn Records that would release the majority of Sun Ra and His Arkestra’s albums.

In 1961, Sun Ra deeded to leave Chicago and move to New York where he would begin a new chapter in his career. Much had happened to Sun Ra since he first arrived in Chicago 1945 as the World War II drew to a close. Back then, he was still called Herman Poole Blount and was trying to forge a career as a musician. By the time he left Chicago he was a pioneer of free jazz

Phase Two-New York.

Sun Ra and His Arkestra journeyed to New York in the autumn of 1961, where they lived communally. This allowed Sun Ra to call rehearsals at short notice, and during the rehearsals, he was a relentless taskmaster who was seeking perfection. However, this paid off and Sun Ra and His Arkestra recorded a string of groundbreaking albums. This included Secrets of the Sun in 1962 which was the most accessible recording from their solar period. However, Sun Ra and his music continued to evolve in the Big Apple

The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Volume 1 was released by Sun Ra and his Solar Arkestra in 1965. Sun Ra had dispensed was the idea of harmony and melody, and also decided there should be no continuous beat. Instead, the music revolved around improvisation and incorporated programmatic effects. This was the case The Heliocentric Worlds of Sun Ra Volume 2 which was released later in 1965.

As Sun Ra and His Arkestra came to the end of their time in New York, their music was often described as “avant-garde jazz” or “free jazz.” However, Sun Ra  started to reject the free jazz label that was attached to his music. He pointed out that his music had been influenced by different types of ethnic music and he often used percussion, synths and in one case strings. Regardless of the the name given to Sun Ra’s music, it was album innovative. This was the case with Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra’s 1966 album When Angels Speak Of Love.

A year after releasing Secrets Of The Sun, Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra released When Angels Speak Of Love in 1966. It was also reissued by Grey Scale and showed a very different side of Sun Ra.

When Angels Speak Of Love was released on Sun Ra’s El Saturn label, and was only available by mail order or at concerts. Those that bought When Angels Speak Of Love discovered what some critics at the time called “a bizarre record” However, these critics failed to discover what was a truly groundbreaking album where Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra continued to move free jazz in a new direction. 

To do this, they used increasingly shrill notes, layered rhythms and effects including echo reverb. During Next Stop Mars, which is the centrepiece and highlight of the album, a space chant sets the scene for Marshall Allen and John Gilmore braying, growling and shrill horns as they push them to the limits. Meanwhile, Sun Ra’s keyboards underpin the arrangement, during Next Stop Mars, which was part of genre-melting album of groundbreaking album. 

It finds Sun Ra And His Myth Science Arkestra fusing avant-garde and free jazz with their unique brand of space age jazz on When Angels Speak Of Love. For fans of Sun Ra’s music this was album where not for the first time, he was way ahead of the curve musically.

Sadly, Sun Ra died on May the ’30th’ 1993, aged just seventy-nine. That day, music lost an innovative musician who had played his part in rewriting the history of jazz. Sun Ra is remembered as one of the pioneers of free jazz, and helped shape the genre on over 125 albums.

For nearly forty years, Sun Ra pushed musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. He was a pioneer and innovator, and also a perfectionist and relentless taskmaster. With some of most talented, inventive and adventurous musicians of their generation, Sun Ra set about honing his Arkestra’s sound. He was demanding and exacting standards. Second best was no use to Sun Ra. What he was after was an Arkestra who were innovators and musical adventurers.

Sun Ra was never content to stand still musically, and was always looking to reinvent familiar tracks. The original version of a song was merely the starting point. What it became, was anyone’s guess? Sun Ra was forever determined to innovate, and when he reinvented a track, he took the music in the most unexpected direction. He combined Egyptian history and space-age cosmic philosophy with free jazz, avant-garde, improv. Another component of Sun Ra’s music was his unique and inimitable brand of futuristic, space-age jazz which was part of an innovative fusion that totally transformed the career of the man born Herman Poole Blount.

Very little is know about the early years of Herman Poole Blount. However, over a long and illustrious career that spanned six decades, Sun Ra fulfilled his potential and became a giant and legend of jazz. This took time, patience and dedication and by his death in 1993, Sun Ra had come a long way since his early days as musician in Birmingham, Alabama.

The early days of Sun Ra’s career  as a musician in Birmingham, Alabama, helped shape him, and make him the man and musician that he later became. So did his mentor John T. “Fess” Whatley, his religion and the time Herman Poole Blount spent studying at the Black Masonic Lodge, in Birmingham. That was where his love of poetry and interest in Egyptology blossomed. This helped shape the future Sun Ra’s philosophy and music. However, it was his ‘trip’ to Saturn that changed his life forevermore and influenced the music he made as Sun Ra. 

By his death in 1993, Sun Ra had released over 125 albums with a variety of different bands. This includes Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra who released When Angels Speak Of Love in 1966. It’s a reminder of the Sun Ra, the man simply known as Mr. Mystery, who was musical pioneer who spent six decades creating groundbreaking, innovative and inventive music which nowadays, is more popular than ever.

Sun Ra and His Myth Science Arkestra-When Angels Speak Of Love.

 

 

ANDY BEY-BALLADS, BLUE AND BEY-VINYL.

Andy Bey-Ballads, Blue and Bey-Vinyl.

Label: Ko Ko Music.

By the time Andy Bey released Ballads, Blue and Bey in 1996, his career had already spanned four decades. His career began in 1959 when he worked on the Startime television show with Connie Francis. This continued until 1960, and by then, he had also sang for legendary musician, songwriter and bandleader Louis Jordan. However,  when he was seventeen, Andy Bey decided to form a new group with his sisters.

The new group became Andy and The Bey Sisters. They recorded a trio of albums 1961s Andy and The Bey Sisters, 1964s Now! Hear and 1965s Round Midnight. Andy and The Bey Sisters also toured extensively,  and spent sixteen months touring Europe. However, two years after releasing Round Midnight, the group split-up in 1967 and Andy Bey embarked upon a  new chapter in his career working with various jazz musicians.

He had already worked with the Howard McGhee Orchestra on their 1966 album Cookin’ Time. Two years later in 1968, he worked on Max Roach’s Members, Don’t Git Weary. The following year, 1969,  Andy Bey worked with Duke Pearson on How Insensitive. However, as the sixties gave way to the seventies, Andy Bey entered one of the busiest and most fruitful periods of his career.

As the new decade dawned, in  1970, Andy Bey was one of a trio of featured vocalists on Horace Silver’s album That Healin’ Feelin’. This was the first of four Horace Silver albums that Andy Bey would feature on over the next three decades.

In 1970, Andy Bey  collaborated for the first time with jazz saxophonist Gary Bartz on his latest project NTU Troop. They combined jazz, funk, and soul with social comment and powerful messages. Andy Bey, who was then thirty-one, featured on  Gary Bartz NTU Troop’s sophomore album Harlem Bush Music Taifa. He returned for the followup Harlem Bush Music Uhuru which was released in 1971. That wasn’t the only album Andy Bey worked on during 1971.

He was invited to join the Mtume Umoja Ensemble when they recorded what became their debut album  Alkebu-Lan: Land Of The Blacks (Live At The East). It was released by the Chicago-based label Strata East in 1972. The same year, Andy worked on two albums. 

This included Children Of Forever the debut album by jazz fusion bassist Stanley Clarke. Andy Bey and Dee Dee Bridgewater were the two featured vocalists on the album which was released to critical acclaim and launched Stanley Clarke’s solo career.

The other album released during 1972 that featured Andy Bey was Gary Bartz NTU Troop’s Juju Street Songs. It was hailed as one of the group’s finest releases. However, like so many groundbreaking groups Gary Bartz NTU Troop’s only really started to find a wider appreciative audience at a later date.

In 1973, Gary Bartz NTU Troop released Follow, The Medicine Man. This was the fourth and final album that Andy Bey recorded with Gary Bartz NTU Troop. The thirty-four year old vocalist was about to embark upon a solo career.

A year later, in 1974, Andy Bey released Experience and Judgment on Atlantic Records. It had been recorded during two sessions at New York’s Regent Sound Studios on July ‘26th’ and September the ’19th’ 1973. Jazz, funk, soul and Indian music were combined by Andy Bey and his band on what’s regarded as the finest album of his long and illustrious career. Sadly, it failed to find the audience it deserved upon its release and it was seventeen years before Andy Bey returned with the followup. 

Two years later, in 1976, Andy Bey took to the stage in a theatre production of Adrienne Kennedy’s A Rat’s Mass, directed by Cecil Taylor at La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club in the East Village of Manhattan. However, the following year Andy Bey returned to music.

Andy Bey featured on Grachan Moncur III’s  1977 album Shadows. This was the last album released during the seventies to feature Andy Bey.

After six years away, he made a guest appearance on Heart Is A Melody Of Time (Hiroko’s Song), a track from  Pharoah Sanders’ 1983 album Heart Is A Melody.  Alas, it was another five years before Andy Bey returned.

He was reunited with Horace Silver on Music To Ease Your Disease, which was released in 1988. This was the second album Andy Bey had recorded with Horace Silver and they could continue to collaborate until 1996.

Andy Bey’s long-awaited sophomore album As Time Goes By  was rcorded live in B.P. Club, on the ‘4th’ of May 1991 and released that year. It found Andy Bey delivering a set of that included a jazz classics like It Ain’t Necessarily So and As Time Goes By. However, it would another five years before he released anther album and much had happened in his professional and private life.

In 1993, Andy Bey featured on Horace Silver’s  It’s Got to Be Funky. It featured an an-star band was released to plaudits and praise. Things seemed to be going well for Andy Bey. Then in 1994, he received devastating news.

Andy Bey had never hid his sexuality, and was openly gay. However, in 1994 he was diagnosed as HIV-positive. Despite the diagnosis, Andy Bey decided to continue his musical career.

In 1995,  Andy Bey featured on tenor saxophonist Bob Malach’s album The Searcher. Then in 1996 he joined forces with his old friend Horace Silver.

Total Response  which was released in 1996 was the fourth and  Horace Silver to feature Andy Bey. They had first collaborated in 1970, and three decades later in were still making music. 

1996 was also the year that Andy Bey returned with his much-anticipated third album Ballads, Blue and Bey. This was only the second studio album that Andy Bey had released since his 1974 debut album Experience and Judgment. However, Ballads, Blue and Bey which has just been released as 2 LP set by Ko Ko Music is very different to Andy Bey’s debut.

Instead of a band, Ballads, Blue and Bey features just Andy Bey who accompanies himself on piano on the ten jazz standards. These he extends and delivers with in his own  inimitable style with his four octave baritone vocal.  

Side A.

Opening Ballads, Blue and Bey is a beautiful heartfelt version of Ira and George Gershwin’s Someone To Watch Over Me. It gives way to a cover of Cole Porter’s You’d Be So Nice To Come Home To where Andy Bey’s piano provides the perfect accompaniment as his vocal veer. 

Side B.

Two songs cowritten by Duke Ellington feature on the second side. The first is a soul-baring take of I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart. It’s followed by a beautiful, emotive rendition of In A Sentimental Mood . This seven minute epic features one of Andy Bey’s best vocals and showcases his skills as a pianist.

Side C.

A wistful sounding cover Willow Weep For Me where Andy Bey lays bare his soul is followed by a thoughtful reading of Jerome Kern and Otto Harbach Yesterdays. Closing the third side is If You Could See  Me Now where Andy Bey breathes meaning and emotion into the lyrics.

Side D.

Duke Ellington and Mack David’s I’m Just A Lucky So and So opens the fourth and final side of Ballads, Blue and Bey. It features a vocal that’s joyous as he reflects on his good fortune at having found the one he loves. Day Dream is another song that Duke Ellington cowrote. This time, he joined forces with Billy Strayhorn and John Latouche. Here, Andy Bey takes the track in a new direction. Partly, this is because of the understated arrangement where the piano sets the scene for Andy Bey’s vocal masterclass. He paints pictures against an arrangement where less is more and is another of the album’s highlights. Embraceable You which was written bye George and Ira Gershwin, closes Ballads, Blue and Bey on a high thanks to his spellbinding vocal.

For anyone yet to discover Andy Bey’s music, Ballads, Blue and Bey is one of his finest albums. His finest hour was his 1974 album Experience and Judgment which is a cult classic that’s highly regarded by connoisseurs of funk and soul. However, Ballads, Blue and Bey which was Andy Bey’s third album was very different from his debut.

By then, twenty-two years had passed and Andy Bey’s music had evolved and Ballads, Blue and Bey is album of jazz. This wasn’t the only change. 

Andy Bey isn’t accompanied by a band on Ballads, Blue and Bey and instead, accompanies himself on piano. These understated arrangements are hugely effective and provide the perfect backdrop to the vocals on the ten standards. He makes good use of his four octave baritone vocal throughout the album as he breathes life, meaning and emotion into these familiar and oft-covered songs. Sometimes, Andy Bey’s vocals are heartfelt, other times hurt-filled, reflective,  rueful, thoughtful, wistful and worldweary.  Like an actor in a play, Andy Bey lives the lyrics on the standards on Ballads, Blue and Bey, which is a truly timeless jazz album that is the perfect introduction to one of music’s best kept secrets.

Andy Bey-Ballads, Blue and Bey-Vinyl.

CULT CLASSIC: DON ELLIS-AUTUMN.

Cult Classic: Don Ellis-Autumn.

Bandleader, composer and trumpeter Don Ellis’ life was changed forevermore in 1974, when he was diagnosed with an abnormal heart condition. Just a year later, in 1975, he suffered his first heart attack which very nearly cost him his life. Fortunately, Don Ellis recovered and by 1977 signed to Atlantic Records.

Later in 1977, Don Ellis released his Atlantic Records’ debut Music From Other Galaxies and Planets, which was his first album in three years. Don Ellis was back, and his comeback was complete after playing at the Montreux Jazz Festival, in Switzerland on July the ‘8th’ 1977. That concert was recorded and was released in 1978 as Don Ellis Live At Montreux and was a poignant release.

By 1978, all the years of touring were taking a toll on Don Ellis. After what was his final concert on April the ’21st’ 1978, Don Ellis’ doctor advised him to stop touring and playing the trumpet, as the strain on his heart was proving too great. 

Sadly, just under eight month later, on December the ’17th’ 1978, Don Ellis returned from a Jon Hendricks concert and suffered what proved to be a fatal heart attack at his North Hollywood home. Don Ellis was just forty-four and that day, jazz lost one of its great trumpeters.

Nearly forty years after his death, Don Ellis’ music is often overlooked by the majority of jazz fans, and sadly only a small but appreciative audience remember a man who was one of the great jazz trumpeters. A reminder of this talented and innovative bandleader, composer and trumpeter is Don Ellis and His Orchestra’s album Autumn, which was released in 1969. That was all in the future.

As 1968 dawned, Don Ellis was already regarded as an innovative bandleader, composer and trumpeter within jazz circles due to his use of willingness to experiment, and particularly due to his use of different time signatures. That had been the case since he released his debut album How Time Passes in 1960. Eight years later, and Don Ellis was preparing to record Shock Treatment which was his ninth album and second for Columbia Records.

Shock Treatment.

Don Ellis had signed to Columbia after leaving Pacific Jazz, and in 1967, released the critically acclaimed album Electric Bath, which was nominated for a Grammy Award and won the Down Beat Reader’s Poll. Electric Bath was produced by John Hammond and saw Don Ellis’ band incorporate the use of electronics and was influenced by rock music. This was a first for Don Ellis, and the perfect way to start his career at Columbia.

Just like many artists before him, the problem that Don Ellis was faced with after releasing such a groundbreaking album as Electric Bath, was following it up. While Don Ellis knew that wasn’t going to be easy, he was keen to build on the success of Electric Bath, and began work on his ninth album Shock Treatment. 

Don Ellis wrote five new tracks Homecoming, Star Children, Beat Me Daddy, Seven To The Bar, Milo’s Theme and The Tihai. He also joined forces with Kelly MacFadden to write Night City.  John Magruder a member of Don Ellis’ band wrote Zim, which was joined by four cover versions. This included Hank Levy’s A New Kind Of Country and Mercy Maybe Mercy and Howlett Smith’s Opus 5 and Seven Up. These eleven tracks would eventually become Shock Treatment, which was produced by John Hammond.

It took just two days to record Shock Treatment, with Don Ellis and his twenty-four piece orchestra recording the eleven tracks on the album on February the ’14th’ and ’15th’ 1968. It was an impressive sight and sound with the rhythm and horn sections combining with keyboards, percussion and Eastern instruments as bandleader Don Ellis played a starring role and  unleashed a series of trumpet solos. Once again, John Hammond took charge of production on Shock Treatment, which was the much-anticipated followup to Electric Bath.

Shock Treatment opens with A New Kind Of Country, which becomes funky, energetic and vibrant in the hands of Don Ellis and his orchestra who play part of a composition in 7/4 time. Briefly, the tempo drops on Night City, but soon builds and reveals its secrets as lysergic soulful harmonies combine with Don Ellis and his orchestra, and play their part in the sound and success of this genre-melting track. Straight away, the soulful blues Homecoming takes on a late-night sound, and is played in 3/4 time, before  bandleader Don Ellis seamlessly changes to 7/4 time on Mercy Maybe Mercy, where drummer Steve Bohannon provides the heartbeat as horns and Hammond organ play leading roles. Very different is Zim, which is a more ruminative piece, while Opus 5 finds Don Ellis and his orchestra showcase their versatility and talent by switching to 5/4 time during this nine minute modal jazz epic.

Star Children could only have been recorded during the late-sixties, with its captivating mixture of cosmic sounds, Eastern influences, drama and the Don Ellis’ Hispanic-tinged trumpet interjections. Don Ellis then switches to 7/4 time on Beat Me Daddy, Seven To The Bar and takes centre-stage for the first thirty-seconds, before he and his orchestra combine jazz and Latin influences during this six-minute propulsive opus which eventually reaches an explosive crescendo. Milo’s Theme offers the opportunity for experimentation as Don Ellis plays electric trumpet and effects are deployed during this ambitious and innovative piece. Seven Up finds Don Ellis returning to 7/4 time during this dazzling, jaunty and lively composition. Closing Shock Treatment is The Tihai which is played in 9/4 time and initially is mellow before becoming exuberant and ultimately a complex rhythmic piece that allows Don Ellis and orchestra to showcase their considerable skills while combining elements of jazz and Latin.

When critics heard Shock Treatment, they realised that it was an ambitious and innovative album, where Don Ellis incorporated elements of blues, experimental, funk, Indian Latin, psychedelia  and rock into his ninth album of jazz. Shock Treatment which was Don Ellis’ much-anticipated followup to Electric Bath, was the album that he hoped would transform his fortunes.

While Don Ellis was a popular live draw by the time Shock Treatment, was released in 1968, his albums never sold in huge quantities. Sadly, that was the case with Shock Treatment which failed to trouble the US Billboard 200. That was despite Shock Treatment being another ambitious and innovative album. After nine albums, Don Ellis had still to make a commercial breakthrough. Maybe Don Ellis’ next album would result in a change in fortune for the thirty-four year old?

Autumn.

In August 1968, Don Ellis and His Orchestra were preparing to enter the studio to record their next album Autumn. This time, there was no sign of producer John Hammond, who had been replaced by Al Kooper, of Blood, Sweat and Tears and it was hoped that he would transform the fortune of Don Ellis and His Orchestra.

Autumn featured five pieces penned by bandleader Don Ellis, including Variations For Trumpet, Scratt and Fluggs, Pussy Wiggle Stomp, Child Of Ecstasy and Indian Lady which like the cover of Charlie Parker’s K.C. Blues, had been recorded live at Stanford University. The rest of Autumn was recorded by Don Ellis and His Orchestra in the studio with producer Al Kooper.

The mind-blowing Magnus Opus Variations For Trumpet opens Autumn, and is a six-piece movement that is essentially a showcase for Don Ellis’ trumpet. He delivers a musical masterclass as his playing veers between to dark and wistful to explosive, powerful, urgent and always inventive as he plays with a freedom. Meanwhile, his orchestra switch seamlessly between 9/4 to 7/4 and incorporate elements of fusion, avant-garde and Latin music as bandleader Don Ellis continually throws curveballs during what’s now regarded as one of his finest hours. Very different is Scratt and Fluggs which bursts into life with Don Ellis and His Orchestra playing with urgency and in 5/4 time while an enthusiastic studio audience whoop and holler and encourage them to create what sounds like a coke-fuelled soundtrack to an old-time barn dance. The swinging and joyous Pussy Wiggle Stomp is played in 7/4 time and incorporates elements of gospel and jazz, and when the solos arrive, Don Ellis allows his members of his band to take centre-stage and showcase their considerable skills. 

It’s a similar case on the live version of Charlie Parker’s KC Blues, which was recorded by a big band and reaches a dramatic ending. Trumpeter Glenn Stuart plays a starring role on Child Of Ecstasy, and unleashes a breathtaking performance and latterly, plays with power and control. This is a performance that bandleader Don Ellis would be proud of. Closing Autumn is the second live track Indian Lady, which originally featured on the 1967 album Electric Lady. Here it’s extended to eighteen minutes during what’s an urgent, frenetic and innovative reworking that closes a future genre classic.

What at the time must have seemed like a gamble replacing John Hammond with Al Kooper as producer turned out to be a masterstroke, when critics haled Autumn as a genre classic. However, the big question was would Don Ellis and His Orchestra’s genre classic Autumn be a commercial success and transform their fortunes?

When Autumn was released in 1969, Don Ellis and His Orchestra’s latest album wasn’t the commercial success that they had hoped. Just like many jazz artists before him, Don Ellis had released a classic that slipped under the musical radar and never came close to troubling the charts.

Just nine years after the release of his genre classic Autumn, Don Ellis passed away on December the ’17th’ 1978 aged just forty-four. That day, jazz lost one of its great bandleader, composer and trumpeter.

Sadly, nearly forty years after Don Ellis’ tragic death, his music is almost forgotten amongst jazz fans. His recording career began in 1960 and continued right up until his death in December 1978. During that period, Don Ellis released eighteen albums and composed nine soundtracks, including his Grammy Award-winning soundtrack to The French Connection in 1971. It’s a reminder of a truly talented bandleader, composer and musician.

So is the cult classic Don Ellis and His Orchestra’s 1969 genre classic Autumn which features the bandleader, composer and trumpete at the peak of his powers. Sadly, this oft-overlooked jazz musician whose music sadly never reached the wider audience that it so richly deserved, and is still one of jazz music’s best kept secrets.

That is a great shame as Don Ellis was a talented, imaginative, inventive and innovative compeer and musician, but never enjoyed the success his talent deserved. Incredibly, even winning a Grammy Award didn’t transform Don Ellis’ fortunes, and although he was a popular live draw, his albums weren’t huge sellers and sadly slipped under the radar. This includes Autumn, which nowadays is regarded as a cult classic, and is the perfect introduction to Don Ellis, who had the potential to become one of the giants of jazz.

Cult Classic: Don Ellis-Autumn.

CULT CLASSIC: RANDY MEISNER- RANDY MEISNER.

Cult Classic: Randy Meisner Randy Meisner.

Musical history was made in September 1971, when Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Bernie Leadon and twenty-five year old Randy Meisner formed The Eagles and signed with David Geffen’s new label Asylum Records. Little did David Geffen realise that he had signed one of the biggest bands of the seventies, and The Eagles would transform the fortunes of new label.

Over the next six years, Randy Meisner was the bassist and adding backing vocals on The Eagles’ first five albums which sold twenty-five million copies in America alone. The most successful album The Eagles released was Hotel California in December 1976 which sold sixteen million copies, was certified diamond and won two Grammy Awards. The success of the album was beyond The Eagles’ wildest dreams, but despite that, all wasn’t well behind the scenes.

In September 1977, Randy Meisner announced he was leaving The Eagles, citing exhaustion, which was no surprise given the band’s gruelling recording and touring schedule over the past six years. However, part of the reason behind Randy Meisner’s departure was the constant arguments among the group. While the departure of Randy Meisner marked the end of an era for The Eagles, but the start of a new chapter for thirty-one year old singer, songwriter and bassist.

Randy Meisner.

Randy Meisner had decided to embark upon a career as a solo artist, and signed to Asylum Records in 1978. Later that year, the thirty-two year old released his debut album Randy Meisner in June 1978. While this album of country rock, AOR and rock was well received by the majority of critics, it wasn’t the success that Randy Meisner had hoped and the album failed to trouble the charts. For Randy Meisner who wasn’t used to failure, this was a huge disappointment, and to make maters worse, he was dropped by the label. This made him doubly determined that his sophomore album would be a success. 

Two years later, and Randy Meisner returned in 1982 with One More Song which was released on Epic and was the start of a new chapter for the singer-songwriter. 

One More Song.

Following the commercial failure of Randy Meisner, the former Eagle eventually began work on his sophomore album which later, became One More Song. It was a quite different album from Randy Meisner, which was essentially an album of cover versions. The only Randy Meisner composition on the album had been a reworking of Take It To The Limit which he cowrote with Don Henley and Glen Frey. This was proof, if any was needed, that Randy Meisner was a talented songwriter. All he needed was the right songwriting partner.

Fortunately, Randy Meisner discovered singer-songwriter Eric Kaz, and the pair cowrote Hearts On Fire and Deep Inside My Heart. They the joined forces with Wendy Waldman and penned Gotta Get Away, Come on Back to Me, I Need You Bad and Trouble Ahead. Jack Tempchin who wrote The Eagles classic Peaceful Easy Feeling contributed One More Song and White Shoes. To close One More Song, Randy Meisner decided to cover Richie Furay’s Anyway Bye Bye.

The recording of One More Song began on May the ’26th’ 1980 and continued to August the ’20th’ 1980. Joining Randy Meisner who took charge of lead vocals and played guitar was a rhythm section of drummer Craig Krampf, bassist Bryan Garofalo and guitarist Craig Hull who also played steel guitar and pedal steel. The other members of the band included keyboardist Sterling Smith and percussionist and backing vocalist Don Francisco. Other musicians were brought onboard to record one or two songs.

This included Kim Carnes who added background vocals on Deep Inside My Heart. When it came time to record One More Song, Eagles Glen Frey added backing vocals and Bill Cuomo played synths and returned when it came to record I Need You Bad, which featured saxophonist Michael Jacobs. Wendy Waldman joined the band during the recording of Come On Back To Me, and  played acoustic guitar, backing vocals and guitar. Meanwhile, Val Garay took charge of production on One More Song which was hoped would kickstart Randy Meisner’s solo career.

With One More Song completed in late August 1980, the album was scheduled for release by Epic in October 1980. This was a quick turnaround and only left two months to promote what was now the most important album of Randy Meisner’s solo career.

When critics heard One More Song, they were won over by a carefully crafted album of country rock, AOR and rock that was a much better album than his 1978 eponymous debut album. Partly, that was because of the songs that featured One More Song, and especially the songs he wrote with his new songwriting partners.  

There was also an honesty and innocence to a number of the songs while others had a rootsy sound that were perfectly suited to Randy Meisner. However, among the highlights of the album was the heartfelt paean I Need You, and beautiful ballads about love and love lost like Gotta Get Away, One More Song and Trouble Ahead. They’re a showcased Randy Meisner’s skills as a singer and songwriter. Meanwhile, the songs that had been earmarked as singles Hearts On Fire and Deep Inside My Heart were languid AOR tracks were radio friendly. Very different was the lively and exuberant Anyway Bye Bye, which closed the album on a memorable high.

When Deep Inside My Heart was released the lead single from One More Song, it reached twenty-two in the US Billboard 100. This augured well for the release of One More Song in October 1980, which released fifty in the US Billboard 200 and forty-four in Canada. Hearts On Fire was released as a single in 1981, and reached nineteen in the US Billboard 100 and fourteen in the Mainstream Rock charts. One More Song which had charted and featured two hit singles and had transformed Randy Meisner’s fortunes and he was keen to build on this success.

Randy Meisner.

Buoyed by the success of One More Song, Randy Meisner began work on his third album later in 1981. He had received plaudits and praise for the songs he cowrote for One More Song, including the love songs. Many critics thought that Randy Meisner would renew his songwriting partnership with Eric Kaz and Wendy Waldman. However, that wasn’t the case.

Instead, Randy Meisner only wrote four new songs for his third album, with new songwriting partners. Randy Meisner wrote Layin’ In The Deep End and Nothing Is Said (‘Til the Artist Is Dead with Dixon House, then joined forces with Howard Leese to write Still Runnin’. Then Randy Meisner, Dixon House and Howard Leese wrote Jealousy together. These four songs were augmented by five cover versions.

This included Craig Bickhardt’s Never Been In Love, David Palmer’s Darkness Of The Heart, Bryan Adams and Jim Vallance’s Tonight. They were joined by Elton John and Gary Osborne’s Strangers and John Corey’s Doin’ It For Delila which would close Randy Meisner.

Recording of Randy Meisner began on December the ’18th’ 1981 and continued right though to February the ’22nd’ 1982. This time around, Mike Flicker and Randy Meisner who played bass, guitar and added vocals, co-produced the album. They were joined by an expanded band that featured a rhythm section of drummer Denny Carmassi, bassist and guitarists Brian Smith and

John Corey who played piano and added backing vocals. They were augmented by backing vocalists Ann Wilson, Nancy Wilson and Marcy Levy, saxophonist Phil Kenzie, synth player Mitchell Froom,  Tower Of Power who added horns and Sterling Smith who played organ, synths and piano. This all-star band was joined by Randy Meisner’s two songwriting partners, with Dixon House playing organ, piano, background vocals and Howard Leese played acoustic and electric guitar, synths and added backing vocals. After three months, Randy Meisner was completed and ready for release.

This time around, Epic decided to release Randy Meisner in August 1982, which allowed more time to promote the album. They were hoping to build on the success of One More Song, which featured two hit singles.

Critics on hearing Randy Meisner, realised that it was a beautiful, melodic album of country rock, AOR and rock that sometimes packed a punch. During this latest carefully crafted album, Randy Meisner incorporated hooks aplenty, soaring melodies, Tower Of Power’s horns, backing vocals from Nancy Wilson, clever lyrics and sometimes, raw power. Randy Meisner was another carefully crafted album from a talented singer, songwriter, musician and now producer. 

It opened with the hook-laden rocker Never Been In Love, and continued to rock on Darkness Of The Heart that sounds not unlike Meat Loaf. Jealousy was a melodic and memorable track that featured raw power, while Tonight features soaring harmony and Playin’ In The Deep End was an anthem-in-waiting. Strangers was a beautiful, elegiac duet with Heart’s Ann Wilson duets while Still Runnin’ was a hook-laden, anthem that featured one of Randy Meisner’s best vocals. Nothing Is Said (‘Til the Artist Is Dead) was a slice of good time country rock before Randy Meisner closed the album on a high with the radio friendly Doin’ It for Delilah.

Buoyed by reviews which hailed Randy Meisner as a fitting followup to One More Song, executives at Epic and Randy Meisner must have been feeling positive about the album’s release in August 1982. Sadly, Randy Meisner stalled at a lowly ninety-four in the US Billboard 200. The only small crumb of comfort was that Never Been In Love reached twenty-eight in the US Billboard 100 and thirty in Canada. However, Randy Meisner was an album that deserved to fare much better than it did.

After the release of Randy Meisner, its author left Epic and never again released a solo album that featured new original songs. That was a great shame as Randy Meisner was a talented songwriter who could breathe life, meaning and emotion into the songs that he wrote. 

Sadly, Randy Meisner never reached the heights that he should’ve during his solo career, and nowadays is remembered as a member of Poco, but mostly as The Eagles bassist and backing vocalist. That was where he enjoyed the most successful period of his career. However, like many musicians who become part of a hugely successful band, Randy Meisner struggled with his newfound fame.

Throughout his career, Randy Meisner has bravely battled his demons and has struggled with alcohol dependency. That was the case during the six years he was a member of The Eagles, and during his solo career. Maybe his battle with alcohol dependency stopped Randy Meisner fulfilling his potential as a solo artist? 

Despite a turbulent life marred by addiction, health problems and tragedy, Randy Meisner has been a member of two successful bands Poco and The Eagles who sold twenty-five million albums while he was a member of the band. After that, Randy Meisner embarked upon a solo career, and in 1982 released one of finest solo albums, the cult classic Randy Meisner.

Cult Classic: Randy Meisner Randy Meisner.

 

TERRY CALLIER-TURN YOU TO LOVE-VINYL.

Terry Callier-Turn You To Love-Vinyl.

Label: Speaker’s Corner.

Talent alone sadly, is no guarantee of success. If it was, the late, great, Terry Callier would’ve enjoyed  a long and successful career. Sadly, for much of his career, he was one of music’s best kept secrets whose music was appreciated more in Britain than it was in own country. 

Even by the time his music started to find an audience in Britain, Terry Callier had already released six albums. This included two for Elektra. The second of these albums was  g Turn You To Love which was recently reissued by the Speaker’s Corner label on vinyl. It was the latest chapter in the Terry Callier story.

He was born in Cabrini–Green, on the North Side of Chicago, and grew up alongside Curtis Mayfield, Jerry Butler and Major Lance. As a child, Terry Callier learnt to play the piano and later the guitar.This would stand him in good stead for the future.

By the time he was a teenager, Terry Callier was singing in doo wop groups. Little did he realise that this was the start of a long musical career that’s spanned five decades.

In 1962, Terry Callier auditioned at Chicago’s famous Chess Records and this resulted in him recording his debut single. This was Look At Me Now, a minor classic and future favourite on the UK’s Northern Soul scene.

Although he had released his debut single, Terry Callier was attending college in Chicago. It was also around that time that he started playing in folk clubs and coffee houses around the city. By then, he had discovered John Coltrane’s music who would be an important influence on his music.

Two years after releasing Look At Me Now, Terry Callier met Samuel Charters of Prestige Records in 1964. The following year, 1965,  The New Folk Sound of Terry Callier was recorded. However, for some reason best known to himself, Samuel Charters took the master tapes with him to the Mexican desert. It was three years later before Terry Callier’s debut album was released in 1968.

That year,  psychedelic rockers H. P. Lovecraft covered Spin, Spin, Spin and It’s About Time on their eponymous album. This introduced Terry Callier’s music to a wider audience.

In 1969, H. P. Lovecraft’s George Edwards coproduced several tracks for Terry Callier. By then, he had been part of the Chicago music scene for the best part of a decade. However, he still had only released one album.

As the seventies dawned,  Jerry Butler founded the Chicago Songwriters Workshop in 1970. By then, he and his songwriting partner Larry Wade were writing songs for Chess Records and its Cadet imprint which would sign Terry Callier.

Having signed to Cadet, Terry Callier began work on his sophomore album. This became Occasional Rain, which was released in 1972 and was the first of a triumvirate of criticality acclaimed albums Terry Callier released for Cadet. Sadly, Occasional Rain wasn’t a commercial success and it wasn’t until much later, that the album started to find a wider audience.

It was a similar case with What Color Is Love which followed in 1973. What Color Is Love, showcased a truly talented singer-songwriter who was maturing with every album. What Color Is Love was released to widespread critical acclaim, but just like Occasional Rain, failed to find a wider audience.  For Terry Callier this was a disaster and must have been disheartening.

Terry Callier returned in 1974 with his third album for Cadet, I Just Can’t Help Myself. It was the fourth album of his career and released to plaudits and praise. However, sadly, the album failed commercially and was not long after this, Terry Callier dropped by Cadet. 

Later in his career, the trio of albums Terry Callier released for Cadet were recognised as the finest of his career. However, a lot would happen before that.

Six years after Jerry Butler founded the Chicago Songwriters Workshop in 1970, it closed its doors for the last time in 1976. For Terry Callier who had been a regular at the Chicago Songwriters Workshop since 1970, this was another disappointment. However, his luck changed in 1977.

Three years after the release of his Cadet swansong I Just Can’t Help Myself, Terry Callier was signed by Elektra in 1977 and began work on the fifth album of his career Fire On Ice.

For Fire On Ice, Terry Callier wrote four of the nine songs and cowrote four more with his songwriting partner Larry Wade. He then entered the studio with producer Richard Evans and an all-star band.  They played their part in an album that combined elements of soul, jazz and funk on Fire On Ice which won over critics. It was released to critical acclaim, but just likeTerry Callier’s trio of albums for Cadet, failed to find an audience. The followup to Fire On Ice was the already looking like a hugely important album forTerry Callier.

Not long after the release of Fire On Ice, work began on the followup Turn You To Love. Eventually, the Terry Callier and Larry Wade songwriting partnership contributed four of the nine tracks tracks Sign Of The Times, Turn You To Love, A Mother’s Love and You and Me (Will Always Be In Love) with Reginald “Sonny” Burke. Larry Wade wrote Pyramids Of Love and Terry Callier covered two songs from his Cadet years, Ordinary Joe and Occasional Rain. The other two tracks were covers of Steely Dan’s Do It Again and Still Water (Love) co-written by Smokey Robinson and Frank Wilson. Turn You To Love was a  mixture of something new, something borrowed and something blue.

Producing Turn You To Love was Reginald “Sonny” Burke, and just like its predecessor, the album saw an all-star band join Terry Callier. This included drummer James Gadson, Keni Burke who played bass and synths, guitarists David T. Walker, Wah-Wah Watson and Larry Wade, saxophonist Ernie Watts and trombonist Fred Wesley. They  accompanied Terry Callier on the nine tracks that became Turn You To Love which was released in 1979.

Sadly, when Turn You To Love was released in 1979, it was a familiar story for Terry, Callier the critics loved the album, but it wasn’t a commercial success. At the time, disco was king and albums by singers like Terry Callier were almost unfashionable. Singers like Bobby Womack, O.V. Wright, Syl Johnson and Ann Peebles suffered the same fate and failed to find an audience. 

There was one crumb of comfort for Terry with Turn You To Love, when Sign of the Times provided Terry with the biggest hit single of his career. It was released as a single after DJ Frankie Crocker used it as the theme for his radio show. On its release, it reached number seventy-eight in the US R&B Charts. This sadly, was the only success from Turn You To Love.

Not long after this, Terry Callier was dropped by Elektra, and for the second time in three years, he was without a record label. His second and final album for Elektra Turn You To Love, was a hidden gem in his back-catalogue that later, would find a wider audience.

Of the two albums Terry recorded for Elektra, Turn You To Love was quite different from its predecessor Fire On Ice. Terry Callier and his tight and talented all-star band continue to combine soul, jazz, funk and R&B and even elements of rock on the cover of  Steely Dan’s Do It Again. 

It’s part of a carefully crafted album that is variously  beautiful, joyous, thoughtful, moving, understated,  spacious and full of emotion.  The music veers  between jazzy, soulful, funky and rocky  as Terry Callier showcases breathes life and meaning into a selection of songs that are best described as something old, new borrowed and blue.

As well as revisiting two of his classics Occasional Rain and Ordinary Joe, Terry Callier delivers a beautiful cover the Smokey Robinson and Frank Wilson track Still Water (Love). Terry Callier  breathe new life and meaning into these tracks and they’re welcome additions to Turn You To Love.

The other cover was Steely Dan’s Do It Again, which critics weren’t sure about. Some felt it was the wrong song for Terry Callier. However, he and his multitalented band take the track in a new direction and reinvent it. Do It Again was an unlikely song for Terry Callier to cover but he and his all-star band transform this classic tracks and make it work.

Of the songs that Terry Callier and Larry Wade cowrote, Sign Of The Times and Turn You To Love are the best, and among the album’s highlights. Sadly, very few record buyers heard these tracks as Turn You To Love which was the wrong album at the wrong time.

When Turn You To Love was released in 1979, disco was at the peak of its popularity and Terry Callier’s second album for Elektra failed commercially. Not long after this, he was dropped by Elektra and just like Bobby Womack he was left without a record label. Little did he realise it would be nearly twenty years before he released another album.

Terry Callier continued to tour until 1983, but never made another studio album during this period. By 1983, changes were afoot in his life. 

He won custody of his daughter, and started taking evening classes in computer programming. This lead to him taking what would be a prolonged sabbatical from music that lasted fifteen years. During this period, Terry gained a degree in sociology, raised his daughter, and worked at the University of Chicago. Sadly, during this period Terry never recorded any music, and the only album that was released was a live album of a 1982 show in Washington, TC In DC. 

This sabbatical from music meant that one of the most talented singer, songwriter and musician of his generation was lost to music for far too long. 

In 1991, Terry Callier made his first visit to Britain playing gigs during his  vacation from his job at the University of Chicago. It wasn’t until 1998 that he recorded a new album Timepeace which marked a return to form from Terry Callier whose music had been discovered by a new generation of DJs, musicians and record buyers. 

The following year, 1999, Terry Callier retrained with his seventh studio album Lifetime. It was released to plaudits and praise and Terry Callier’s comeback continued apace. Of all the albums Terry Callier would release between 1998 and his tragic death on October the ’27th’  2012,  Timepeace and Lifetime are by far the highlight of his comeback years and essential listening.

Of all the albums Terry Callier released during a career that spanned five decades, he never surpassed the trio of albums he released for Cadet.  For newcomers to Terry Callier’s music, Occasional Rain, What Color Is Love and I Just Can’t Help Myself are the best place to start. After that,  the two albums Terry Callier released for Elektra, Fire On Ice and Turn You To Love are a reminder of one of music’s best kept secrets, and a truly talented singer, songwriter who was at the peak of his creative powers during the seventies.

Terry Callier-Turn You To Love-Vinyl.

CULT CLASSIC: CATFISH-LIVE CATFISH.

Cult Classic: Catfish-Live Catfish.

The story of Detroit-based blues rockers Catfish is a case of what might have been. This talented five piece band was formed in the late-sixties, and over the next few years opened for Black Sabbath, Bob Seger, Black Sabbath and Ted Nugent, and played at the prestigious Fillmore East. It was no surprise when Epic signed Catfish, who were regarded as a band with the potential and talent to become one of the top blues rock bands of the early seventies.

This was evident when Catfish released their debut studio album Get Down on Epic in 1970. Despite receiving plaudits and praise, commercial success eluded Get Down. Despite that, Live Catfish was released later in 1970 and featured a tantalising taste of Catfish’s live sound. Sadly, history repeated itself and Live Catfish failed to find an audience. That was the last album that Catfish released, during a recoding career that lasted less than one year. Their story began just a few years earlier.

That was when singer, songwriter and guitarist Catfish Hodge founded Catfish in his hometown of Detroit. This was something that Catfish Hodge had dreamt about since he was a boy.

Bobby Allen Hodge was born in Detroit in 1944, and growing up, his parents who were originally from Kentucky, introduced their son to blues, country and gospel. This was his introduction to music, which soon became his passion. 

Each day, Bob Hodge listened to the various local radio stations. Then at night, when Bob Hodge was meant to be sleeping, he listened to radio stations from as far failed as Chicago and Memphis. That was how the young Bob Hodge first heard Rufus Thomas and bluesmen John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters and BB King. Bob Hodge absorbed all this new music and then on a Friday, he was able to choose one record which his mother would buy at a local record shop. For the young Bob Hodge this was the highlight of his week and was what he listened to during the weekend.

By the time he was in high school, Bob Hodge’s life was already revolving around music. Much of his spare time was spent listening to the music. However, when he wasn’t listening to music, Bob Hodge was making music. 

This came after Terry Kelly one of Bob Hodge’s friends from high him how to play the guitar. This was eureka moment for Bob Hodge, who suddenly, realised that he could follow in the footsteps of John Lee Hooker, Muddy Waters, BB King and Lonnie Mack.

Terry Kelly also introduced Bob Hodge to a variety of new artists, including Lonnie Mack. His music made a big impression on Bob Hodge, and when he founded his first band in high school, a number of Lonnie Mack’s songs found their way onto the band’s setlist. However, Terry Mack wasn’t Bob Hodge’s only musical influence

By the late-sixties, Bob Hodge was absorbing the sounds of Detroit, and was a regular visitor to the Motown soul factory. Along with his friends, Bob Hodge sat in his car listening to the music emanating from the studios. Sometimes, Bob Hodge and his friends managed to sneak past the security guards and were able to watch the recording sessions. Some nights, they saw artists like 

Smokey Robinson recording their latest singles or album. Before long, Bob Hodge and his friends were usually discovered by an embarrassed guard and thrown out,…until the next time. This was a regular cat and mouse game for Bob Hodge and his friends. However, having watched the recording seasons at Motown, Bob Hodge became more determined to become a professional musician.

Despite that, when Bob Hodge left high school he started work at a finance company. One of the job’s he was given was collecting money from customers who had missed a payment. This included a forgetful member of the Four Tops. Whenever he was on tour, he forgot to pay his bills and Bob Hodge had to collect the payments. 

This would result in Bob Hodge having to take the forgetful Four Top or his wife to Motown, where they picked up some money to pay the bill. Naturally, seeing what was another world close up, made Bob Hodge’s mind up, now was the time to make music his career.

Bob Hodge’s first job in the music industry was as a songwriter and producer. He penned and produced Capreez’s Over You, which was released on the Detroit label Sound. That was Bob’s introduction to the music industry.

Soon, Bob Hodge was working with three up-and-coming local Detroit bands. Having hired an office, Bob Hodge started looking trying to get his clients a recording contract. One label that showed an interest in his client was Vanguard, so Bob Hodge caught the redeye to the Big Apple, and headed to see Maynard Solomon at Vanguard. Bob Hodge played him the tapes and although Maynard Solomon like what he heard, he reckoned that Vanguard weren’t quite ready for rock ’n’ roll. While this a disappointment, Bob Hodge decided to head into Greenwich Village after his meeting.

That night, Bob Hodge saw a still unsigned Jimi Hendrix playing in a Greenwich Village coffee bar. After that, Bob Hodge headed to Bleecker, and as he passed by a club that was closed, he heard music. Curiosity got the better of Bob Hodge who looked into the club, where he saw Van Morrison rehearsing. For Bob Hodge this was a eureka moment, and at last, he knew what he wanted to do with the rest of his life.

Back home in Detroit, Bob Hodge formed a new band Wicked Religion, which eventually evolved into the blues rock band Catfish. It was founded and led by Bob Hodge who was now known as Catfish Hodge who sang and played guitar. He was joined in Catfish by drummer Jimmy Optner, bassist Ron Cooke, guitarist Mark Manko and organist Harry Phillips. With the lineup of band complete, the rise and rise of Catfish began.

Before long, Catfish had established a reputation as one of Detroit’s top live groups and were soon rubbing shoulders with the MC5 and The Stooges. Catfish’s raw blues rock sound was winning friends not just in Detroit, but much further afield. This included in the offices of Epic.

Kenny Hodges who was an executive at Epic, had heard good things about Catfish on the musical grapevine. The word in Detroit was that Catfish were one of the top bands in the city’s live music  scene. Their brand of raw, but soulful blues rock was proving popular and music industry insiders in Detroit believed that Catfish had the potential and talent to become one of top blues rock bands of the early seventies. With this in mind, Epic swooped and signed Catfish. They weren’t going to risk anyone beating them to Catfish’s signature. The only problem would be, replicating Catfish’s famous live sound? 

Get Down.

By the time Catfish signed to Epic, they were regarded as one of the top live bands in Detroit. They had already started to spread their wings and were famous for their impressive live sound. The problem was going to be harnessing and replicating Catfish’s live sound in the studio. That was why Epic brought onboard Kenny Cooper to produce Catfish’s debut album which became Get Down.

For Get Down, Catfish Hodge had dawned the role of Catfish’s songwriter-in-chief, and penned The Hawk, 300 Pound Fat Mama, Love Lights and Coffee Song. Catfish Hodge and Mark Manko teamed up to write No Place To Hide, Tradition, and Get High, Get Naked, Get Down. The pair also added lyrics to T. Carson’s Catfish which bookended this eclectic album.

When Catfish arrived at the studio, little did anyone know that this was the only time the band would record together. That day, Catfish Hodge took charge of the vocals and played guitar. He was joined by a rhythm section of drummer Jimmy Optner, bassist Ron Cooke and guitarist Mark Manko, who were augmented by organist Harry Phillips. Producing this tight and talented band was Kenny Cooper, who had been brought onboard to help Catfish replicate their live sound. However, Catfish had their own ideas about how Get Down should sound.

The members of Catfish were responsible for the arrangements on the nine tracks on Get Down. It was hard to believe that Catfish had never set foot in a studio, and as Kenny Cooper pressed record, they seamlessly flitted between and sometimes combine elements of blues, country, folk, gospel, hard rock and good time rock ’n’ roll. In doing so, Catfish showed their talent and versatility on their debut album Get Down.

That was no surprise as each member of Catfish was a talented musician who had enjoyed the opportunity to showcase their considerable talents on Get Down. Catfish boogied their way through Get Down with a smile on their face. Unlike many similar bands, Catfish didn’t take themselves to seriously on their genre-melting debut album Get Down.

Critics on hearing Get Down, were won over by the album and believed that Catfish had a big future ahead of them. However, when Get Down was released it failed to trouble the charts. This was a huge disappointment for Catfish and Epic who had backed the band. 

Despite the disappointing sales of Get Down in America, Epic decided to release the album in Europe. While it wasn’t a hugely successful album, Get Down found an audience in parts of Europe. Meanwhile, Catfish’s popularity was growing in popularity in Detroit. That was where Epic decided that Catfish should record their sophomore album Live Catfish.

Live Catfish.

Hot on the heels of the release of Get Down, Catfish returned to Detroit, where they recorded what became Live Catfish at the Eastown Theatre. The decisions to record a live album made perfect sense. 

The problem that executives at Epic had been faced when they signed Catfish was getting the band to replicate their live sound in the studio. Catfish and producer Kenny Cooper had done their best to replicate Catfish’s live sound on Get Down. Catfish did their best to replicate the rawness, energy and spontaneity of one of one of their live performances and came very close. However, after the release of Get Down, a decision was made that the best way to replicate the rawness, energy and spontaneity of Catfish in concert was on a live album. 

It was also a much cheaper than recording a studio album, and if the album flopped, the losses would be significantly less. However, executives at Epic were hoping that Live Catfish would prove a successful album. After all, Catfish’s popularity was on the rise.

By the time Catfish arrived at the Eastown Theatre in Detroit, they had already opened for Black Sabbath, Bob Seger, Edgar Winter’s Band, Mountain and Ted Nugent. This showed just how far Catfish had come in a relatively short space of time. One of their biggest gigs was when they opened for Santana at the Fillmore East, and some say that they upstaged the headliners that night. 

That is no surprise, as Catfish were winning over audiences across America with their live show. Especially when they returned home to Detroit.

When Catfish took to the stage Eastown Theatre in Detroit, the lineup of the band was very different to the one that featured on Get Down. A new rhythm section that featured drummer Jimmy Demers, bassist Dennis Cranner and guitarist Dallas Hodge, who were augmented by the original organist Harry Phillips, who was the only original member of the band apart from Catfish Hodge.

An adoring hometown crowd welcome Catfish who launched into an explosive set. It began with Catfish reinventing Holland, Dozier and Holland’s Nowhere To Run, which sets the bar high for the rest of this six song set. Catfish then unleash a raw, but sometimes soulful and high-octane cover of Money (That’s What I Want). This gives way to the blues rock of 300 Pound Fat Mama which was penned by Catfish Hodge. The tempo rises on Mississippi River, which is a blistering slice of blues rock which features Catfish at their best. There’s no stopping Catfish now, as they unleash Letter To Nixon.It’s a mixture of social comment and blues rock that features a vampish vocal from showman and bandleader Catfish Hodge. He then encourages his band to greater heights on a barnstorming cover of Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On before exiting the stage left.

After recording Live Catfish, executives at Epic realised that they had captured Catfish at their very best. Live Catfish featured a  rawness, energy, spontaneity and soulfulness that were the all trademarks of Catfish’s explosive and high-octane performance. This was the album that Epic had been hoping for, and that they hoped would transform the band’s career.

When critics heard Live Catfish they too, were won over by Catfish in full flight during what was a captivating performance. It epitomised everything that was good about Catfish live. Surely, this Live Catfish was the album that transformed Catfish’s career.

Sadly, when Live Catfish was released later in 1970, the album failed commercially. History had repeated itself, when Live Catfish failed to even trouble the lower reaches of the American charts. The only small crumb of comfort was that when Live Catfish was released in Europe, it was embraced by a small but enthusiastic audience who took Catfish to their hearts. That was as good as it for Catfish.

After the release of Live Catfish, several members of Catfish joined forces with Mitch Ryder when he was forming his new band Detroit. They featured on Detroit With Mitch Ryder which was released in 1971.

By then, Catfish Hodge had embarked upon a solo career, and two years later in 1973 he moved to Washington DC. However, Catfish Hodge never forgot the years he spent leading Catfish as they became a successful live band. Sadly, the two albums Catfish released for Epic during 1970, Get Down and Live Catfish failed to find the audience they deserved. 

Nowadays, the explosive and high-octane Live Catfish is a cult classic that, and a reminder Catfish at the peak of their powers. Sadly, Catfish who are one of the great lost blues rock bands of the early seventies, never enjoyed the success they deserved and their story is a case of what might have been?

Cult Classic: Catfish-Live Catfish.

 

CULT CLASSIC: TYLL-SEXPHONIE.

Cult Classic: Tyll-Sexphonie.

During 1975, a number of Krautrock’s most innovative bands released new albums. The year began when Neu! released their third album Neu! 75 in January 1975. This got the ball rolling.

Over the next eleven months, many of the leading lights of the Krautrock scene released new albums. Harmonia released their sophomore album Deluxe, while Cluster released Zuckerzeit and Can Landed. Amon Düül II  returned with Made In Germany and Kraftwerk with Radio-Activity. Manuel Göttsching released his landmark album Inventions For Electric Guitar; while Popol Vuh released Das Hohelied Salomos. Many of these albums would eventually be regarded as Krautrock classics. However, another album released during 1975 was a much more low profile release.

This was Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie, which back in 1975, was shrouded in mystery and controversy. Indeed at one point, it looked like Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie would never be released. It was, and proved to the opening and closing chapter in  the Tyll story.

The story behind Tyll began back in early 1975. That was when Fred Kersten, the owner of Kerston Records, approached Teflon Fonfara  to ask if he would be interested in recording a Krautrock album. For Teflon Fonfara this was interesting proposition. 

Especially since his previous group Eulenspygel had been put on hold. They hadn’t released an album since Ausschuß in 1973. Two years later, and there was no sign of the group returning to the studio or heading out on tour. It was beginning to look as if there was little chance of Eulenspygel reuniting. So Teflon Fonfara decided to take  Fred Kersten up on his offer of a week’s studio time. After all, man cannot live on bread alone.

As a familiar face on the local music scene, it didn’t take long for Teflon Fonfara to put together a new studio band. One of the earliest recruits was Eulenspygel’s drummer Günter Klinger. Teflon Fonfara thought nothing of this. After all, Eulenspygel had been put on hold; and it wasn’t even clear if the band would reunite. However, the decision to bring onboard Günter Klinger would prove to be a controversial. That was in the future. 

With drummer Günter Klinger onboard, Teflon Fonfara concentrated on recruiting the rest of the band. They were all friends of Eulenspygel. This included bassist Achim Bosch and vocalists Michael Scherf, Susanne Schempp and Ulrike Schempp. They were joined by Teflon Fonfara who appeared  as Del Fontana. With the lineup finalised, work began on Tyll’s debut album.

For what became Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie, Teflon Fonfara wrote seven of the songs, and penned Siamesische Überraschung  and Grammophon with Achim Bosch. His other contribution was Rita. Ulrike Schempp wrote Für Michael Pfadpfinder; while Michael Scherf contributed the album closer Morgenlicht. These twelve songs would recorded at TFE Studios.

On 1st April 1975, Tyll arrived at TFE Studios, Neustadt, Weinstraße. The six members of Tyll were ready to record the twelve new songs. Producing Sexphonie was Fred Kersten, who owned his own record company, Kerston Records. It would release Sexphonie once it was completed. So the members of Tyll got to work. 

At TFE Studios, Tyll’s equipment was unpacked and setup. Then Tyll began recording their debut album. Things were happening fast. It was only a couple of months since Teflon Fonfara put together Tyll. Now the rhythm section which featured drummer Günter Klinger and bassist Achim Bosch began laying down the rhythm tracks. Then it was Teflon Fonfara’s turn to lay down the guitar parts. Once this was complete, it left just the vocals to be added. Tyll’s trio of vocalists, Michael Scherf; Susanne Schempp and Ulrike Schempp began laying down the vocals. Once the vocals had been recorded, Tyll had completed their debut album. The six members of Tyll hd spent just twelve days recording their debut album Sexphonie. It was completed on 12th April 1975.

With Sexphonie recorded, now Tyll and producer Fred Kersten were able to reflect on how quickly and smoothly things had gone. It wasn’t long since Fred Kersten first approached Teflon Fonfara about putting together a studio band. Now Tyll had recorded their debut album Sexphonie, and it would soon be released. Or so they thought.

What neither Fred Kersten nor Teflon Fonfara foresaw, was the threat of legal action that loomed over the release of Sexphonie. Eulenspygel weren’t happy that Tyll had poached or stolen their drummer, Günter Klinger. They threatened Tyll with legal action. This could’ve been disastrous, and resulted in a long and expensive legal battle. Luckily, common sense prevailed, and Tyll were allowed to release Sexphonie.

Even the threat of legal action hadn’t unduly delayed the release of Sexphonie. Still, only a matter of months had passed since Fred Kersten approached Teflon Fonfara with the idea of releasing a Krautrock album. Now, the newly formed studio band Tyll were about to release their debut album Sexphonie.

When Sexphonie was released later in 1975 by Kersten Records, the album wasn’t a commercial success. Certainly nobody was going to get rich after the release of Sexphonie. However, those who bought a copy of Sexphonie discovered an album were Tyll fused acid-rock with hard-psych, polit-rock, progressive rock. There were even the occasional excursion into avant-garde, folk, funk and polit-rock. Sometimes,  Eastern influences shawn through on Sexphonie a hidden Kraurtrock gem. 

Following the release of Sexphonie, Tyll never released a followup album. Sexphonie proved to a one-off musical experiment from Teflon Fonfara’s studio band Tyll. However, nearly a generation later, and Tyll’s debut album Sexphonie began to attract a cult following. By then, copies of this original album were real rarities. Nowadays, very few copies of Sexphonie ever change hands. When they do, the price is beyond most record buyers. This meant that original copies of this cult classic are out of reach of most record buyers. Sexphonie is a captivating album.

Tim opens Sexphonie. Just a Spanish guitar plays firmly and briskly. Flamboyant flourishes punctuate the arrangement, before a searing guitar cuts through the arrangement. It’s joined by the rhythm section. Before long, there’s a mesmeric nature to the drums. Then midway through the arrangement, Tyll throw a curveball. The track meanders, as grating, jarring, dramatic sounds add an experimental sound. That’s until Tyll kick loose, and a blistering rocky track unfolds. Teflon Fonfara’s guitar plays a starring role, as he unleashes a series of searing licks. Matching him every step of the way are the rhythm section. That’s until a myriad of beeps and squeaks signal that this captivating rocky track is almost over. However, it whets the listeners appetite for this hidden gem of an album.

Sexphonie is one of the shorter tracks on the album. However, it doesn’t lack in quality. Quite the opposite. Straight away, the rhythm section and quivering, bristling guitar unite, before an impassioned, powerful male vocal is added. It’s augmented by sweet, punchy pop harmonies. Meanwhile, blistering guitars are unleashed. They add a lysergic sound. Meanwhile a nimble fingered bass line sits atop the drums, as genres melt into one. Acid rock, pop and psychedelic rock combine to create a catchy and memorable track.

A lone guitar plays slowly and thoughtfully on Asiatische Liebeserklärung. Its crystalline sound is joined by Eastern sounds. They create an understated arrangement. That’s until 1.47, when the rhythm section and the guitars join. This fills out the arrangement, and transforms it. Soon, the Eastern influence dissipates, and the track heads in the direction of progressive folk. This allows Tyll to showcase their talent and versatility.

Just a crystalline guitar is strummed and sets the scene for the vocals on Paranoia Eines Verliebten. They’re shared by a male and female vocalist, and range from heartfelt to emotive, to powerful and dramatic. At the moment the vocal changes, so does the arrangement. The rhythm section frame the vocal and add an element of drama. Briefly, Teflon Fonfara adds a funky, chiming guitar. Later, a manic laugh punctuates the arrangement. So do effects that come courtesy of Teflon Fonfara’s tapes. By then, the story is unfolding, and the drama building on this genre-melting track. Elements of psychedelia rock, folk, funk and avant-garde combine to create a song that sounds as if it belongs on an early seventies Krautrock concept album. However, Sexphonie was no concept album. 

There was neither a concept nor message on Sexphonie. Instead, Sexphonie was almost a reaction against the concept albums of the first half of the seventies. Teflon Fonfara was no fan of them, and seemed regarded concept albums as overblown. He was unwilling to further romanticise concept albums, never mind record one of his own. Instead, this musical maverick recorded what was an innovative musical adventure.

From the distance, Eastern percussion adds an eerie cinematic sound to Nervenzusammenbruch Einer Gitarre. Soon, a probing bass adds to what’s an unsettling sounding track. It sounds as if it would be perfect for a horror movie. That’s until a blistering guitar cuts through the arrangement. Before long, the unnerving sound is almost gone, and is replaced by a futuristic sound. At the heart of the arrangement is the rhythm section and guitar. The rhythm section drive the arrangement along, while the guitar rings out, and plays a starring role. Effects are added, as the guitar is the last man standing. From there, the arrangement meanders melodically along, before its melancholy sound is just a pleasant memory of what’s been a memorable musical adventure.

Teflon Fonfara delves into his tapes, and adds the sound of animal as Siammesische Überraschung unfolds. Meanwhile, he adds effects and they add an otherworldly sound to the avant-garde soundscape. Midway through the track, a bass joins a jazz-tinged guitar. They’re like yin and yang, and prove a perfect foil for each other. That’s until a curveball is thrown. The guitar and bass are replaced by the sound of a music box, which adds a wistful reminder of another era. It’s another innovative, musical potpourri from Tyll, as they continue to push musical boundaries.

There’s a melancholy, cinematic sound to Kristinas Traum as a crystalline guitar chimes and is joined by a bass. In the background, the wind roars and gusts, while a clock chimes. Together, they create a melancholy, cinematic soundscape.

Delirium Song-Grammophon is a seven minute epic. A rumbling bass leads the way, before scorching guitars, pounding drums and vocals enter. Male and female vocalist share vocal duties. Meanwhile, the arrangement is driven along, with the bass and bristling guitar playing starring roles. The vocals are impassioned and delivered quickly. Adding to the drama, is the rhythm section. They provide the perfect backdrop to vocals that veer between urgent to tender. Later, Teflon Fonfara unleashes another of his blistering guitar solos, before what sounds like the helicopter soars across the arrangement. Not to be outdone, a fleet fingered bass line helps propel the arrangement along. Everyone plays their part in the sound and success of what’s a dramatic, urgent and later futuristic and melodic epic. It shows yet another side to musical chameleons Tyll.

Rita has a much more understated and sedate sound. Just guitars and the bass combine as the arrangement meanders melodically along. There’s a wistfulness to the arrangement, as strummed and crystalline guitars combine with the bass. Later, Teflon Fonfara adds the sound of a thunderstorm to the arrangement. This works and adds the finishing touch to a melancholy, cinematic track.

The tempo increases on Suzie Steno, as a bristling, scorching guitar cuts joins the rhythm section. They’re soon joined by the a male lead vocal, which tells the story of Suzie Steno. Augmenting the vocal are harmonies, which sometimes, soar above the arrangement. Framing the vocal are the crystalline guitar and the rhythm section, which provides the heartbeat. Later, when the vocal drops out, another blistering guitar solo takes centre-stage. Its briefly joined by one of Teflon Fonfara found sounds. From there, the rest of this slick slice of hook-laden pop-rock shows its secrets.

Für Michael Pfadfinder is another ballad from Tyll. Just a guitar is strummed as the rhythm section play slowly. They set the scene for the two female vocalists. One sings lead, while the other augments her vocal. There’s a sense of sadness in their heartfelt, emotive vocals. Then when the vocal drops out, Teflon Fonfara steps up, and delivers a bristling, shimmering guitar solo. He then takes his leave, and the vocalists return as this beautiful, melodic and wistful ballad draws to a close.

Morgenlicht closes Sexphonie. A guitar is strummed slowly and deliberately, before Michael Scherf delivers his vocal. It’s accompanied by harmonies, and is delivered slowly and with a sense of sadness and regret. Teflon Fonfara adds a mini collage of sound, before this rueful sounding track is but a distant memory. However, Sexphonie is not an album to forget in a hurry.

Far from it. Sexphonie is a truly memorable debut from Tyll. It was an innovative album of genre-melting music. Lead by Teflon Fonfara, Tyll set out to create the Krautrock album Fred Kersten wanted. To do that, Tyll combined acid-rock with hard-psych, polit-rock and progressive rock on Sexphonie. There were even occasional excursion into avant-garde, folk, funk jazz, polit-rock and pop. This musical melting pot of genres and influences resulted in Fred Kersten getting the Kraurock album he wanted. 

Sexphonie was a captivating album of groundbreaking music, where no two tracks were the same. Tyll were musical chameleons, who could create music that was variously beautiful, cinematic, dramatic, lysergic and melancholy. Other times, the music on Sexphonie was progressive, rocky, melodic and mesmeric. Alas, the album wasn’t a commercial success.

When Sexphonie was released in 1975, that album passed record buyers by. This was a familiar story. Even albums by some of the biggest names in Krautrock failed to find an audience first time round. Neither Harmonia nor Neu! were getting wealthy making music. Sadly, neither were Tyll.  

After the commercial failure of Sexphonie, Fred Kersten of Kersten records decided not to release a followup album. It was a case of once bitten, twice shy. That was a great shame. Maybe, Tell would’ve made a breakthrough next time around? However, we’ll never know.

Sexphonie was the only album featuring Tyll, a truly talented and versatile band. They weren’t together long, but left a lasting impression. Tyll were founded in 1975, and by the time the year was over. the band was history. Despite being together less than a year, Tyll left behind a  memorable musical legacy. That’s their groundbreaking debut album Sexphonie. If finds Tyll switching seamlessly between musical genres, as they create what’s nowadays regarded as a hidden gem and a lost Krautrock cult classic, Sexphonie.

Cult Classic: Tyll-Sexphonie.

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BOB STANLEY AND PETE WIGGS PRESENT THE TEARS OF TECHNOLOGY.

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.

Ace Records.

Released Date: ’28th’ February 2020.

For many people, whether critics, cultural commentators or record buyers, the sixties and seventies were golden eras for music that have never been surpassed. Since then, the argument goes, it’s all been downhill for music and especially during the eighties. 

So much so, that some critics have called the eighties the decade that taste forgot. They’re not and have never been fans of boogie,  hip hop, house or synth pop. It was a far cry from the golden eras when and pop, progressive rock, psychedelia and rock ruled the roost between 1962 and 1979. These were heady days, and the sun set on what was a golden era as the clock struck midnight on the ‘31st’ of December 1979. It was the end of an era.

For some of the critics, this golden era had ended a couple of years earlier with the onslaught of punk. They weren’t conned by what they regarded as groups of yobbish, musical illiterates who weren’t fit to lace the shoes of the titans of rock. Surely, things could only get better?

In the post punk era, many groups started experimenting with synths. Before that, synths had been prohibitively expensive and were only found in top  recording studios and were only owned  by successful musicians. They had experimented with them and incorporated in their music during the early to mid-seventies.  

This included groups like Kraftwerk who pioneered the of synths in their music. They were guests on the British television show Tomorrow’s World in 1975, and their appearance helped change people’s perception of synths and influenced a future generation of musicians.

During the sixties and into the seventies, some musicians and critics saw synths as a novelty and didn’t take the instrument seriously. This changed after Tomorrow’s World issued an ominous warning in the seventies that the soulless synths could make an entire orchestra redundant. It was a worrying thought for musicians up and down Britain who saw synths as a threat to their livelihood.

By the early eighties, synths were much more affordable, and across Britain a new breed of musicians were experimenting with the latest offerings from  Korg, Moog and Roland. They were following in the footsteps of the post punk musicians in experimenting with the latest in musical technology.

Suddenly, groups from over Britain, including Glasgow, Sheffield, Liverpool and Manchester were using synths to create emotive and often wistful and melancholy sounding music.This included familiar faces like Simple Minds, China Crisis, The Teardrop Explodes, Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark  and The Human League who feature on Ace Records’ forthcoming compilation Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.  It was compiled by Saint Etienne’s Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs, and will be released on the ’28th’ February 2020 and will also feature Turquoise Days, Electronic Circus and Illustration as well as John Foxx and Thomas Leer. 

Opening Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology is Jean Walks In Fresh Fields by China Crisis. It was released by Virgin in 1982, and straight away, there’s a melancholy and thoughtful sound to this slow slice of eighties electronica.

Way before Simple Minds found fame as stadium rockers, the Glasgow-based band released their sophomore album Real To Real  Cacophony on Zoom Records in 1979. It’s a very different album from their debut Life In A Day. Real To Real  which opens the album has a  much more experimental and darker sound and finds Simple Minds innovating. Part of the experimental sound is the use of synths on a track that is very different to their eighties anthems like Glittering Prize,  Don’t You Forget About Me, Up On The Catwalk and Alive and Kicking.

A welcome addition to the compilation is An Evening In The Ray by Care. Vocalist Paul Simpson and guitarist Ian Broudie formed the group in 1983 and released My Boyish Days as a single. Tucked away on the B-Side was An Evening In The Ray, which features a crooning vocal by Paul Simpson  that full sadness and despair.

In 1981, Soft Cell a duo from Blackpool, Lancashire,  who met at art college in Leeds, Yorkshire, released the album Non Stop Erotic Cabaret. One of the oft-overlooked tracks is the ballad Youth, where Marc Almond delivers a vocal that’s a mixture of emotion and melancholy against a spartan, moderne arrangement that features synths and a drum machine.

Lights Of April was released as a single by Eyeless In Gaza in 1982, and later that year, featured on their third album Drumming The Beating Heart. It’s regarded as the finest offering from the duo from Nuneaton, and is a captivating fusion of electronica, folk and post punk.

Another of the best known groups on The Tears Of Technology are Orchestral Manoeuvres In The Dark. Their contribution is Sealand, a track from their 1981 album Architecture and Morality. It’s best described a synth pop classic and Sealand one of its highlights. 

Electronic Circus were  a duo featuring Gary Numan’s keyboard player Chris Payne and vocalist Penny Heathcote. Their only single was Direct Lines, which was released on Scratch Records in 1981. There’s a Germanic sound to the synths which also bubble and shimmer and combine with a vocal full of longing. When this is combined the result is a hidden gem and nowadays changes hands for upwards of £70.

Before changing their name to Shack, The Pale Fountains released Unless just before their debut album Pacific Street in 1984. It’s a quite beautiful,  haunting and experimental sounding track by The Pale Fountains that’s a welcome inclusion on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.

The Human League released their sophomore album Travelogue on Virgin, in 1980. It featured WXJL Tonight where The Human League look to the future and sympathise with DJs who are about to lose their job when radio stations became automated.

Tiny Children was featured on The Teardrop Explodes’ 1981 album Wilder. It wasn’t well received upon its released, and the following year, 1982, Tiny Children was released as a single. It’s one of the highlights of Wilder thanks to what’s a simple arrangement. Just Korg pads accompany Julian Cope’s vocal on this underrated track.

Closing The Tears Of Technology is Feather Bed by Trevor Bastow. He played Moog on Chicory Tip’s Son Of My Father and enjoyed a successful career making library music. The atmospheric and cinematic Feather Bed is one of the highlights of the compilation and a reminder of a truly talented musician who sadly, passed away in 2000.

These tracks are just a tantalising taste of Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology, which will be released by Ace Records on the ’28th’ February 2020. It features twenty tracks released between 1979 and 1984, and is a reminder of how music was changing during this period. One of the reasons was that  synths and drum machines which were much more affordable and at last, within the budget of many young, up-and-coming bands. 

This included a number of bands that went on to release critically acclaimed album and went on to enjoy successful careers. Some of these albums are now regarded as genre classics, including some of the bands on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology. 

Some of the tracks on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology feature bands in their formative years or as they experiment before going on to greater things. Other bands disappeared without trace after releasing just one or two singles. However, all of the bands and artists on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology released innovative music. This they did with the help of technology and the result was music that was variously beautiful,  emotive, melancholy, thoughtful and wistful. That’s the case throughout Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology, which features future track from future household names, hidden gems, album tracks and B-Sides on this lovingly curated compilation.

It’s a reminder of decade of music that divided opinion. Sadly, not everyone was won over by the music made with the new technology, and it was one of the reasons why some critics, cultural commentators or record buyers called the eighties the decade that taste forgot. Ironically, some critics have changed their minds about the music that they were once so vocal about. Others however, are more entrenched in their views. Hopefully, after hearing the innovative music on Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology this will go at least some way to proving that wasn’t the case and mutually, the eighties has a lot to offer.

Bob Stanley and Pete Wiggs Present The Tears Of Technology.

CULT CLASSIC: ERIC GALE-ISLAND BREEZE.

Cult Classic: Eric Gale-Island Breeze.

Eric Gale was born in Brooklyn, New York on September 20th 1938. By the time he was eleven, Eric had discovered music. Fittingly, it was guitarist Les Paul that piqued Eric’s interest in music. He heard Les Paul and his wife Mary Ford on the radio. They were on their way to becoming one of the biggest stars of early fifties. Hearing Les Paul inspired Eric Gale to pickup a guitar for the first time.

At first, Eric Gale had a few guitar lessons. This was just enough to learn the basics. Mostly, though, Eric was self-taught. However, by the time Eric was twelve he briefly turned his back on the guitar.

This came after Eric’s father introduced him to Charlie Parker and Dizzie Gillespie. Bebop captivated the twelve year old. Especially how quickly Bird and Dizzy Gillespie could play. Suddenly, Eric wanted to try the saxophone.

So his father arranged for Eric to take saxophone lessons. However, after a month, Eric decided that the saxophone wasn’t for him. He returned to the guitar, and spent the next few years honing his sound. This would pay off in the long run.  

By 1983 Eric Gale was dividing his time between session work and his career as a solo artist. He released Island Breeze in 1983 which is a welcome reminder of a supremely talented guitarist. However, in the early fifties, it seemed Eric Gale was about to embark on a career as a scientist.

Having graduated high school, Eric headed to Niagara University, where he studied chemistry. It was there that Eric realised he didn’t want to pursue a career in science. So Eric left academia behind, and decided to pursue a career as session musician.

By then, Eric was in his early twenties, and was a novice in terms of session work. Despite this, he caught a break. Bobby Lewis was looking for a guitarist for the session when Tossin’ and Turnin’ was recorded. Eric got the job, and played alongside saxophonist King Curtis. He asked Eric to play on his Old Gold album. However, by then, Tossin’ and Turnin’ had reached number one on the US R&B charts in 1961. Eric Gale’s career was underway.

After playing on a number one single and King Curtis’ Old Gold album, Eric Gale became a familiar face in New York Studios. He played on sessions by The Drifters, Maxime Brown, Aretha Franklin, Red Holloway, Clark Terry, Jimmy McGriff and Oliver Nelson. By 1967, Eric was accompanying a young Van Morrison, drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie, Bobby Timmons and Herbie Mann. Unlike many session musicians, Eric didn’t specialise in one type of musician. Instead, he would on everything from jazz and soul to rock. That would be the case throughout his career as a session musician.

As the seventies dawned, there was no sating Eric Gale’s insatiable appetite for session work. He would have happily spend day and night in the studio. That had been the case in the sixties, and wasn’t going to change in the early seventies. Eric played on a number of sessions for Creed Taylor’s CTi and Kudu label. This included on albums by Quincy Jones, Johnny Hammond, Stanley Turrnetine, Hank Crawford and Esther Phillips. This gave Creed Taylor the opportunity to see and hear Eric Gale at close quarters. He liked what he heard, and in 1973, Creed Taylor signed Eric Gale to his Kudu imprint. 

No longer was Eric Gale “just” a session musician, now he could add solo artist to his already impressive C.V. His debut solo album was Forecast, which was released later in 1973. 

Forecast.

Forecast saw Eric joined by some of the Big Apple’s top session players. They step up to the plate on an album where cover versions sit side-by-side with Eric Gale compositions. With his all-star band for company, Eric showcased his versatility, veering between jazz, funk, blues and soul-jazz. Prior to its release, reviews of Forecast were positive. Alas, Forecast only reached twenty-two in the US Jazz charts, and proved to the only album Eric released on Kudu.

Negril.

It was another two years before Eric Gale released his sophomore album, Negril. By then, Eric was living in Jamaica, where he was enjoying a sabbatical. Despite being on sabbatical, Eric decided to record an album. He wrote, arranged and produced Negril at Harry J’s Studio in Kingston, in Jamaica. The album was a homage to the beautiful village of Negril and its unspoilt beaches. Once the album was complete, it was released in 1975.

When Negril was released in 1975, listeners discovered an album of laid-back, instrumental reggae. It was a very different album from Forecast, and one that showcased Eric’s versatility.  This would be put to good use over the next couple of years.

After a three year sabbatical, Eric Gale returned to New York. When he arrived home, the money had run dry and he was without a job. Fortunately, a jazz supergroup were looking for a guitarist. Eric fitted the bill, and he joined Stuff. 

With a lineup that featured bassist drummers Chris Parker  Steve Gadd; bassist Gordon Edwards, guitarist  Cornell Dupree and pianist Richard Tee, Stuff was worthy of being called a supergroup. Eric played on Stuff’s 1976 eponymous album, and the 1977 followup More Stuff. Still thought, Eric was working as a session musician, so would divide his time between Stuff and session work.

Still, Eric Gale was happy to work around the clock. Recording studios were like a second home. During 1976, Eric played on albums by Ashford and Simpson, Stanley Turrentine, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Bob James, Grover Washington, Paul Butterfield, Joe Coker, Patti Austin and Randy Crawford. 1977 was just as busy, with Eric accompanying Ashford and Simpson, Tom Scott, Bob James, Esther Phillips, Jun Fukamachi, Idris Muhammad, Yuseef Lateef and Kenny Loggins. However, 1977 was also the year Eric Gale was offered a solo deal by Columbia.

Ginseng Woman.

For Eric Gale, signing to Columbia meant he could rekindle his solo career. When Ginseng Woman which was released in 1977, Eric’s album of smooth jazz was reasonably well received by critics. Eric was already one of the finest practitioners of the genre. So it was no surprise when Ginseng Woman reached 148 in the US Billboard 200, fifty-six in the US R&B charts and number seven in the US Jazz charts. This was a good start to Eric Gale’s career at Columbia. Especially considering disco was at the peak of its popularity.

Multiplication.

Buoyed by the success of Ginseng Woman, Eric returned in 1978 with Multiplication. It wasn’t as well received as Ginseng Woman. As usual, record buyers had the final say, and Multiplication reached just number six in the US Jazz charts. Multiplication failed to trouble the US Billboard 200 and US R&B charts. For Eric Gale, this was disappointing.

Following the release of Multiplication, Eric continued to juggle his various roles. In 1978, he worked with everyone from Carly Simon, to Billy Joel and Thijs van Leer. Eric also worked on albums by  Loleatta Holloway,  Ashford and Simpson and his old friend Bob James. Still, Eric found time to play and record with Stuff. Then there was the small matter of his third solo album for Columbia.

Part Of You.

Despite the disappointing performance of Multiplication, Eric Gale returned in 1979 with a new album Part Of You. Before it was released, the album of smooth jazz garnered positive reviews from critics. Part Of You was a return to form from Eric Gale. Record buyers agreed, and Part Of You reached 154 in the US Billboard 200 and eleven in the US Jazz charts. Things were looking up for Eric Gale.

Touch Of Silk.

As a new decade dawned, Eric retuned in 1980 with his fourth album for Columbia Touch Of Silk. Despite the commercial success Part Of You enjoyed, Eric decided to change a winning formula on Touch Of Silk. He moved away from the smooth jazz of Part Of You, and Touch Of Silk showcases a sound that veered between funky to dark and bluesy. While Touch Of Silk was well received by critics, record buyers turned their back on the album. The only success Touch Of Silk enjoyed was in the US Jazz charts, where it reached number twelve. For Eric Gale, this was the end of the road at Columbia.

Blue Horizon.

With Eric Gale’s time at Columbia at an end, he signed to Elektra/Musician. For Eric this was a new start. Things were going to be different. He was going to dispense with the big name session players, and bring in an entirely new band. The other change Eric wanted to make, was to produce his albums at Elektra/Musician. First he had to get Bruce Lundvall to agree.

The question arose when Bruce Lundvall,who oversaw Elektra/Musician, asked who Eric wanted to produce Blue Horizon. Immediately, and hopefully, Eric through his name into the hat. To Eric’s delight, Bruce Lundvall agreed. Now Eric could and would explore various different musical genres. 

For what became Blue Horizon, Eric Gale wrote Blue Horizon, Mako D’Amour and 97th and Columbus. Wait Until The City Sleeps was penned by Gene Ritchings and Mark Mazur; while When Tokyo? was a Clive Phillips and Nasser Nasser composition. Peter Schott of Kid Creole and The Coconuts wrote Clock-A-Pa and cowrote Call Me At The Same Number with Winston Grennan. These seven songs were recorded by Eric’s new, hand picked band.

Recording of Blue Horizon took place at House Of Music, New Jersey. The new band’s rhythm section featured drummers Freddie Waits and Winston Grennan; bassist Neddy Smith; and rhythm guitarist Mark Mazur. Other members of the band included keyboardist Peter Schott; percussionist Nasser Nasser and Hugh Masakela on flugelhorn. Eric Gale took charge of lead guitar and produced Blue Horizon. Once the recording was complete, Blue Horizon was released in 1982.

Before that, critics had their say on Blue Horizon. They were surprised, but welcomed such an eclectic album. It was as if Eric had been reenergised by the move to Elektra/Musician. Despite this, Blue Horizon only reached twenty-nine on the US Jazz charts. This was a disappointment for Eric and everyone involved.

Record buyers had missed out on an album that featured Eric Gale with a new found musical freedom. He was allowed to explore new musical genres on Blue Horizon, a truly electric album. 

That’s apparent from the opening track, where smooth jazz and subtle Caribbean rhythms unite to create a beautiful, melodic and laid-back track. At the heart of the track’s success was Eric’s crystalline guitar. Then stylistically, it’s all change on Wait Until The City Sleeps, a ballad featuring a a vocal by from Mark Mazur. Meanwhile, a piano adds an element of drama, as the rhythm section play a leading role. That’s until Eric’s blues-tinged guitar solo steals the show on this cinematic track. When Tokyo? also has a cinematic sound, and features a masterclass on the piano from Peter Schott. His playing is central to the track’s sound and success. Even when it becomes a tango. Only later, when Eric unleashes a bluesy guitar run, is Peter Schott’s supremacy challenged. A track of this quality was a fitting way to close side one of the original LP.

Mako D’Amour was written by Eric, and allows his crystalline guitar to take centre-stage. It’s a case of less is more, with Eric choosing each note with the utmost care. While his guitar steals the show, the rhythm section create a shuffling, reggae groove. That’s not the end of the reggae influence. There’s a Caribbean influence to the ballad Clock-A-Pa. It features a heartfelt vocal, while the arrangement, while there’s occasional excursions into dub, as Eric’s guitar takes on a bluesy hue

Then on Call Me At The Same Number  the reggae influence continues. The rhythm section with its dual drummers play in a 7/4 time signature. Together they create the a pulsating backdrop for the  vocal, and Eric’s brisk, searing, bluesy solo. It’s one of Eric’s finest, and shows that seamlessly, he can switch between musical genres. That’s apparent on Blue Horizon’s closing track, 97th and Columbus a pulsating fusion of disco and funk. This reinforces that Blue Horizon was the most eclectic album of Eric Gale’s recording career.

No wonder. Elements of blues, Caribbean, disco, dub, funk, jazz, pop and reggae featured on Blue Horizon. Elektra/Musician had afforded Eric Gale the freedom he longed for. With his new band, Eric Gale explored a verity of disparate new musical genres on Blue Horizon. He sounds as if he’s been reinvigorated, and as a result, delivers a series of almost flawless performances. Sadly, very few people heard Blue Horizon, and it became one of the hidden gems of Eric Gale’s back-catalogue. However, later in 1982, Eric released another solo album.

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In The Shade Of A Tree

After releasing Blue Horizon, Eric Gale released In The Shade Of A Tree in Japan later in 1982. Stylistically, he album was similar to Blue Horizon, and was well received in Japan. In The Shade Of A Tree sold well in Japan, where Eric was a popular artist. It was ironic that Eric’s music was more popular halfway around the world than in his home country. Maybe his next album for Elektra/Musician would see Eric Gale’s fortunes improve in America?

Island Breeze.

Having released In The Shade Of A Tree, Eric Gale was constantly busy with various projects. He was a member of the NY-LA Dream Band, and had toured Japan with them. Then on his return, he had only a few days before he headed out to Montruex to record a live album. On his return, Eric Gale’s thoughts turned to his next album for Elektra/Musician.

For what became Island Breeze, Eric chose four cover versions. This included Bob James’ Boardwalk and Dark Romance. The other covers were Joe Sample’s My Momma Told Me So and Jeff Medina’s Island Breeze. Eric’s new musical director Jimmy Kachulis penned We’ll Make It, Sooner Or Later and I Know That’s Right. These songs were recorded by a new lien up of Eric’s band.

Since the recording of Blue Horizon, the lineup of Eric’s band had changed quite dramatically. The rhythm section now featured drummers Webb Thomas and Joey DeFrancesco; bassist bassist Neddy Smith; and rhythm guitarists Mark Mazur and Jimmy Kachulis. Keyboardists included Ted Lo and Andy Schwartz. This new lineup recorded at Rosebud Recording Studio, New York. Just like on Blue Horizon, Eric Gale took charge of production and played lead guitar. Once Island Breeze was complete, the album was released in 1983.

Before the release of Island Breeze, critics had their say on the followup to Blue Horizon. The reviews were positive, and this bode well for the rerelease of Island Breeze. However, Island Breeze reached just thirty-five on the US Jazz charts. It was a huge blow for Eric Gale. Especially considering the quality of music on Island Breeze, which brought Eric Gale’s career at Elektra/Musician to an end.

This was the case from the nine minute cover of Bob James’ Boardwalk, that opens Island Breeze. It’s a slice of smooth fusion that’s the perfect showcase for Eric’s considerable skills. He chooses each note with the utmost care, and enjoys the opportunity too stretch his legs on this epic cover. After that, it’s all change. We’ll Make It (Sooner Or Later) is a beautiful ballad. It features a tender, heartfelt  and soulful vocal from one of music’s best kept secrets Sandy Barber. Her vocal is at the heart of the song’s success. Similarly, so is Eric’s blues-tinged guitar solo on My Momma Told Me So. It was written by Joe Sample, and featured on The Crusaders’ album Those Southern Knights. Uptempo, funky, with hint of fusion and Eric’s bluesy guitar, it’s another track that showcases Eric’s versatility. That was the case on side two of Island Breeze.

On Island Breeze, Eric, whose parents were from Barbados, revisits his Caribbean roots. As the arrangement breezes along, percussion and a sultry saxophone play supporting roles; as Eric adds a guitar solo whose roots can be traced back to reggae music. Dark Romance is another nine minute cinematic epic. It would be perfect for a soundtrack, as the track veers between wistful to moody,  mesmeric, melodic and hopeful. Sometimes, there a degree of tension and mystery. Always, thought, beauty is omnipresent. Closing Island Breeze, is the uber funky and dance-floor friendly I Know That’s Right. It marks the return of Sandy Barber, who delivers a sassy vocal. Meanwhile, Eric’s guitar sounds not unlike Chic’s Niles Rodgers, as he shows another side to his playing. Just like on Blue Horizon, versatility is Eric Gale’s middle name.

As a session musician, Eric Gale played on over 500 albums, accompanying the great and good of music and is regarded as one of the greatest jazz guitarists of his generation.

He also released around a dozen albums. Sadly, as is often the case, Eric Gale’s albums never enjoyed the success they deserved. That’s the case with  Island Breeze, which is a hidden gem in Eric Gale’s impressive back-catalogue. They’re both hugely underrated albums, and a reminder of a truly talented and versatile guitarist who died far too young. Eric Gale died in 1994, aged just just fifty-five. Jazz had been robbed of one of its most talented sons. However, Eric Gale left behind a rich musical legacy, including his oft-overlooked cult classic Island Breeze.

Cult Classic: Eric Gale-Island Breeze.

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