Saturday, May 10, 2008

JOX-JOXIFICATIONS (1982, LP, FRANCE)

Beautiful french progressive folk, in Gentle Giant vein.
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LE GRAND NEBULEUX ET LES LAVEURS DE CONSCIENCES-LES PIRATES DU CORTEX (1978, LP, FRANCE)

Interesting and complex jazz rock album with some freer structures. It tends to get a bit shreiky in the sax department and the compositions stray towards the unhinged. But that’s not to say their aren’t some stellar moments as well. Rhythm section is super tight, and the guitar playing sometimes has an acidic tone, which is more than welcome. Best track, and at complete odds with the rest of the material, is a mellow hand-percussion / flute piece with quirky French voices. Had the album been more composed and less improvised, it would’ve been a monster. As it stands, it’s still quite good. (OMD)
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RATIONAL DIET-S/T (2007, CD, BIELORUSSIA)

The following is taken from the press release about the band from their label AltrOck:"Belarus group Rational Diet proposes an unusual mix of styles and sounds: Chamber music, rock, theatre and improvisation, supported by the amazingly instrumental abilities of their components. It’s difficult to define the mood of such music, which goes from dark atmosphere to grotesque, powerful or oniric, sometimes even humoristic. Violin, cello, bassoon, saxes and accordion - besides the traditional rock instruments - chase each other along the dizzy instrumental plots, or sustain the dazed texts by the Russian avant-garde poets Daniil Charms and Alexei Kruchenykh. Influences: Shostakovich, Stravinsky, Webern, Ives, King Crimson, Henry Cow, Art Bears, Univers Zero, Present, Debile Menthol"(Progarchives)
Fantastic R.I.O.!!!
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JACQUES THOLLOT-CINQ HOPS (1978, CD, FRANCE)

Man, I must be getting old. All these things from 25-30-35 years ago that I remember and own or owned are now being touted as lost classics. "Lost?, I've owned that for...uh...years...uh...never mind..." Anyway, this is a very good French jazz/rock/zeuhl album from 1978 that came out on the short-lived Free Bird label. Thollot is a drummer who played with some noted free and avant jazz players in the 60s and 70s, such as Sonny Sharrock, Sam Rivers, Don Cherry, Eric Dolphy, Jac Berrocal and many others. This title however is completely different. The record label hype, all in French that I can read badly suggests that it's meeting of a trilogy of styles: the jazz/rock universe, such as Weather Report, French classical music as typified by Poulenc and Debussy and lastly rock in opposition sounds of Art Bears and John Greaves. I really don't hear rock in opposition at all, but eliminate them and throw in Zeuhl via Zao, Yochk'o Seffer, Alain Eckert Quartet (will THAT album ever be reissued on CD?) and I'd agree pretty strongly with their take on this. The lineup is Elise Ross-vocals, Francois Jeanneau-soprano sax & flute, Michel Grailler-piano, Yamaha electronic piano, Francois Couturier-keyboards, Jean Paul Celea-double bass and Jacques Thollot on drums, percussion and keyboards. Elise sings in a rather classical style and these are obviously jazz and jazz/rock players but it's pretty strongly zeuhl, baby. Very nice and great to see this available again! (Wayside)
Great crazy prog!!!! here

LOUIS SCLAVIS QUINTET-ROUGE (1992, CD, FRANCE)

Louis Sclavis (b. Lyon, France, February 2, 1953) is a French jazz musician. He performs on clarinet, bass clarinet, and soprano saxophone in a variety of contexts, including jazz and free jazz. His music shows great creativity and a lively sense of humor.
Sclavis began his musical education at the conservatoire de Lyon at age 9, where he studied clarinet. He began performing with the Lyon Workshop, where he met Michel Portal and Bernard Lubat. He then joined the Brotherhood of Breath of Chris McGregor, and later the Henri Texier quartet.
He began his work as a leader in 1987, with his first album Chine. The track Duguesclin has actually been a hit in France, due to its lively, middle-age inspiration. In 1995, he created, along with Henri Texier and Aldo Romano, a trio named the African trio which achieved considerable success, even outside of the French jazz community.
He frequently performs with the cellist Ernst Reijseger and was one of the first to combine jazz with French folk music, working most prominently with the hurdy-gurdy player Valentin Clastrier. (Wikipedia)
Great music!! Here

Saturday, May 3, 2008

HENRY COW-LIVE IN SWEDEN (1977, UNRELEASED)

This is a fantastic performance from Henry Cow. This concert was recording from a Swedish radio in 1977 and broadcast by "Radio Popolare di Milano" (when "Radio Popolare" broadcast still good music .....).
A great concert for a fantastic group!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

CALOMITO-INAUDITO (2005, CD, ITALY)


Calomito are a six-piece Italian band who use: violin/viola, guitars, alto/soprano saxes/percussion/weird vocal efx, Fender Rhodes/synth/organ, electric bass/double bass and drums, the sound is a mix of progressive, r.i.o., Canterbury and jazz touch with a mediterranean influence that sometimes reminds of the fantastic Area, Gong, or Zappa … complex compositions, skilled musicians, a really good debut album!
Support this artists!! Buy this great cd!!!!
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LOW FLYING AIRCRAFT-S/T (1987, CD, ENGLAND)

Fantastic project with David Cross (violin),Keith Tippett (piano),Dan Maurer (drums, EMU II, whirled tube) and Jim Juhn (guitar, bass, EMU II, percussion, whirled tuba).
Tracklist: 1. Sybilization (3:17) 2. Fourth dimension (3:14) 3. Baptism by fire (2:46) 4. Poolside (5:34) 5. Abstract Blue (5:32) 6. Moronathon (3:13) 7. Amnesia (2:59) 8. Reflection (8:45) 9. What did you do (2:06) 10. Radically conservative (3:04)
Guest musicians: Ron Linton (Tenox sax), Eric Drew Feldman (DX7), Paul Burwell (percussion, sqweek drum, bowed metal, whirled tube)
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SHADOWFAX-WATERCOURSE WAY (1976, CD, USA)

"Watercourse way" is the first Shadowfax album; this is a fantastic mixture of progressive and jazz-rock harmonies, very different from the following works, close to new age sounds. Recommended!!!
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LIBRA-MUSICA & PAROLE (1975, CD, ITALY)

A unique case of an italian band signed with Motown, Libra were formed in Rome in 1974, and in the same year they recorded their first album for Ricordi, after a successful tour with Banco del Mutuo Soccorso; some of the group members came from significant past experiences, like keyboardist Centofanti from Buon Vecchio Charlie and singer/guitarist D'Andrea from Myosotis and Logan Dwight.
Mainly a rock album with large use of acoustic parts and some jazz-rock and funky influences, Musica e parole has some PFM similarities and a few interesting prog moments, like in the 13 min. long closing track Inquinamento (originally sung in roman dialect and renamed Pollution in the US version), and gave the band the chance to be signed in the States with Motown, that issued it in a revised english-sung version (simply called Libra) in USA. One of the album tracks, the funky Beyond the fence, was sung in english even in the original LP version, and was recorded live or with fake audience overdubs.
A year later, with D'Andrea leaving and ex-Goblin drummer Walter Martino joining the band, Libra released an US-only second album, Winter days nightmare, much more commercial than the previous one and with strong (obvious considering the label) funky influences. This was not successful and the band returned to Italy.
A final Libra line-up, including keyboardist Maurizio Guarini from Goblin and guitarist Carlo Pennisi from Flea, released a third album in 1977 as a soundtrack to the film Shock (but the LP was misspelt as Schock), by director Mario Bava, much in Goblin style, before disbanding. Federico D'Andrea died in 1978, run over by a car. (italianprog.com)
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HERMETO PASCOAL E GRUPO-MUNDO VERDE ESPERANCA (2002, CD, BRAZIL)

Hermeto Pascoal (b. June 22, 1936) is a Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist born in Arapiraca, area of Alagoas, Brazil.

Known as o bruxo (the sorcerer), Hermeto often makes music with unconventional objects such as teapots, children's toys, and animals, as well as keyboards, button accordion, melodica, saxophone, guitar, flute, voice, various brass and folkloric instruments. Perhaps due to his growing up in the countryside, he uses nature as a basis for his compositions, as in his Música da Lagoa, where the musicians burble water and play flutes while immersed in a lagoon: a Brazilian television broadcast from 1999 showed him soloing at one point by singing into a cup with his mouth partially submerged in water. The folk musics of rural Brazil are another important influence on his work. Pascoal comes from a remote corner of northeast Brazil, an area that when he was born had no electricity. He learnt the accordion from his father and practised for hours in the shade as, being an albino, he was incapable of working in the fields with the rest of his family.
Hermeto's career began in 1964 with appearances on several Brazilian recordings with relatively small groups. These now-classic albums and the musicians involved (Edu Lobo, Airto Moreira, Elis Regina, Cesar Camargo Mariano and others) established widely influential new directions in post-bossa Brazilian Jazz. After joining Moreira in his Sambrasa Trio in 1966, the two went on to form Quarteto Novo and release an album which would do much to launch the careers of Pascoal and Moreira. Pascoal would then go on to join the multi-faceted Brazilian Octopus, to play on Airto's recordings and then to recording in his own right.
He initially came to the international public's attention through an appearance on Miles Davis' 1971 album Live/Evil, which featured Pascoal on several pieces (which he also composed). Davis has said that Pascoal was "the most impressive musician in the world". Later collaborations involved fellow Brazilian musicians Airto Moreira and Flora Purim. From the late 1970s on he has mostly led his own groups, playing at many prestigious venues, such as the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1979. Other members of the group have included bassist Itibere Zwarg, pianist Jovino Santos-Neto and percussionists Nene (his colleague from Quarteto Novo in the 1960s), Pernambuco and Zabele.
Hermeto is a prolific composer, famous for his project Calendário do Som, in which he composed a song every day for a year so that everyone would have a song for his or her birthday (Wikipedia).

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TIM BERNE-SANCTIFIED DREAMS (1987, CD, USA)


Tim Berne (born 1954) is an American jazz saxophone player and composer.
Though Berne was a music fan, he had no interest in playing a musical instrument until he was in college, when he purchased an alto saxophone. He was more interested in rhythm and blues music--Stax records releases and Aretha Franklin, especially--until he heard Julius Hemphill's 1972 recording Dogon A.D..
Hemphill was known for his integration of soul music and funk with free jazz. Berne moved to New York City in 1974. There Berne took lessons from Hemphill, and later recorded with him.
In 1979, Berne founded Empire Records to release his own recordings. He recorded Fulton Street Maul and Sanctified Dreams for Columbia Records, which generated some discussion and controversy, due in part to the fact that Berne's music had little in common with the neo-tradionalist hard bop performers prominent in the mid-1980s. Some regarded Berne's music as uncommercial. In the late 1990s Berne founded Screwgun Records, which has released his own recordings, as well as others' music.
Beyond his recordings as a bandleader, Berne has recorded and/or performed with guitarist Bill Frisell, avant-garde composer/sax player John Zorn, violinist Mat Maneri, guitarist David Torn, trumpet player Herb Robertson and as a member of the cooperative trio Miniature (group).
Recent years have found Berne performing in several different groups with drummer Tom Rainey, keyboardist Craig Taborn, bassists Michael Formanek and Drew Gress, guitarists Marc Ducret and David Torn, and reeds player Chris Speed.
Berne's complex, multi-section compositions are often quite lengthy; twenty to thirty minute pieces are not unusual. One critic has written that Berne's long songs "don't grow tiresome. The musicians are brilliantly creative and experienced enough not to get lost in all the room provided by these large time frames." (Wikipedia)
Tracklist: 1-Velcho Man (For Stefan Zeniuk) (9:00) 2-Hip Doctor (For Al) (3:25) 3-Elastic Lad (11:49) 4-Sanctified Dreams (7:39) 5-Blue Alpha (For Alpha) (8:00) 6-Mag's Groove (12:43)
7-Terre Haute (7:40)
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JULVERNE-COULONNEUX (1979, LP, BELGIUM)

Ensembles performing a chamber music variation of progressive rock often get compared to Univers Zero and Art Zoyd, but if the list is stretched, Belgians Julverne are likely to find themselves in the number three slot. Taking their name from one of the earliest speculative fiction writers, Julverne peform a classically inspired music, whose (very) occasional tangents into darker territory within this chamber sort of format undoubtedly draw comparisons to their more well known Belgian contemporaries. They included a revolving line up led by flute and sax player Pierre Coulon and violin and trombone player Jeannot Gillis.
In fact, Julverne has shared musicians with Univers Zero, including Dirk Descheemaker and Michel Berckmans. So there is really no surprise that there are similarities in style to both bands. However, Julverne is more like Univers Zero's happier, more cosmopolitan younger brother. The ensemble's first album was released in 1979, and unlike their more aggressive musical brethren, Julverne don't have any drums. In fact, they only seem to be a rock band by comparison, as this truly seems to be a chamber group performing original music with influences of Satie, Bartok, Debussy, and the less dissonant measures of Stravinksy. The instrumentation is typical of chamber music with piano, strings, horns and winds, and these are arranged in many lovely ways over Coulonneux's ten-track duration. In fact, the similarities to Univers Zero and Art Zoyd are largely the musical format, as this is never angry or strident in the least. However, Julverne was certainly considered an experimental band by the musical collective that made it up, and the compositions reflect an exploratory ethic in their use of keys, modes and arrangements. Without getting into music theory, it can still be said that most of the compositions often start out in a fresh and accessible mode before veering off into a tangent belying the 20th Century influences of the band. It's a gorgeous album and rather idiosyncratic, even in comparison to the ensemble's RIO-drafted contemporaries.
A Neuf was an even more mature effort, starting with an ambitious three-piece suite. While Julverne's chamber music approach implies a sort of serious study, musically there were bits of humor sneaking into the compositions nonetheless, such as the second part of the suite, "Un Peu Pretentieux" (A Bit Pretentious). Musically this is also true, with the ensemble's occasional tangents into sly, goofy, or zany territory. One may be listening to some beautiful arranged chamber piece before the whole group speeds off in another direction, as if Bugs Bunny was yet again leading Elmer Fudd off on another wild goose chase. In fact, if anything sets apart Julverne from cousins Univers Zero, it's this omnipresent playfulness. Only a group of skilled musicians and composers could pull off such a thing in such complex and involved compositions. Not a piece of music is anything but entertaining here, rich in ideas, spontaneity, dynamic diversity and mood. Perhaps it's more a tribute to such classy music that Julverne finds itself in such company with bands like Univers Zero in Belgium's most interesting lineage of experimental chamber music ensembles.
While the first two albums by Julverne might be considered the formative work of the ensemble, the band would release two more albums, 1983's Emballade and 1986's Ne Parlons Pas de Mahleur, before dissolving. In 1992, the Igloo label would release a retrospective of these albums (Le Retour du Captain Nemo) including a great deal of music from the early albums. Julverne also reformed recently to release 2000's Le Pavillion des Passions Humanies. (gnosis2000.net)

If one was to draw a map of the Belgium prog scene (outside of the symphonic current) , all period considered and all currents considered (Zeuhl, Canterbury , RIO , Avant-prog , jazz-rock all fitting into what is called CHAMBER ROCK – but I choose to call it Chamber prog , because some of those bands are not really rock anymore) , then JULVERNE would likely be right in the centre of the story. All musicians have a link with all major bands from that small surrealist country where culture is the main gathering force but also the main dividing rift between the two major communities of the land. Members of JULVERNE have played or will play in UNIVERS ZERO , PRESENT , AKSAK MABOUL , X-LEGGED SALLY , COS , CRO-MAGNON , etc.. The group started as a bunch of music classical students wanting to reinvent the classical chamber orchestra by adding a bit of a rock twist although this will remain very discreet. But on the mood spectrum I would place them on the opposite scale of Univers Zero, the first being the extra joyful joie de vivre as opposed to the dark and lugubrious underworld of UZ. The first album actually was the oeuvre of Pierre Coulon , but the next two albums were also quite interesting as En Ballade stands a bit apart from the rest of their discography often digressing into jazzier terrain and some vocals. They recorded a last album in 86, and nothing (apart from a compilation album in 92) was heard of them until the turn of the century when they reconvened for another album celebrating the renovation of a spectacular building in Brussels that has remained open to public for exactly four hours before being closed for obscene bas-relief. Did you say Belgian surrealism? (Progarchives.com)
Tracklist: 1. Le fils du Roy est névrosé 2. Joyeux Noël, cap’tain Nemo! 3. Franklin prend son thé chaud 4. Savez-vous planter du chanvre? 5. Valse cirque I 6. Prout de mammouth 7. Communiqué gouvernemental 8. Valse cirque II 9. ’t kofschip 10. Trois trois deux
Line-up/Musicians: Jean Coulon (trombone), Pierre Coulon (flute), Michel Dayez (guitar), Anne Denis (violin), Jeannot Gillis (violin), Jean Paul Laurent (piano), Richard Rousselet (trumpet), Denis VanHecke (cello).