Monday, 6 April 2020

The Group ‎– The Feed-back (1970)

Style: Abstract, Avantgarde, Prog Rock
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Schema Easy Series

Tracklist:
1.   The Feed-back
2.   Quasars
3.   Kumâlo

Credits:
Composed By – The Group
Trumpet  – Ennio Morricone
Contrabass – Walter Branchi
Drums – Renzo Restuccia
Guitar – Bruno Battisti D'Amario
Percussion – Egisto Macchi
Percussion, Piano, Timpani, Vocals – Mario Bertoncini
Piano, Trombone, Violone – John Heineman

The Feed-Back, by Italy's Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza (aka the Group), is a wild ride along the seams of free jazz, 20th century avant-garde classical music, psychedelic rock, and emerging funk. While no members of the unit are credited we know that on this recording, the revolving ensemble of composers/studio musicians include Ennio Morricone (trumpet), bassist Walter Branchi, drummer Enzo Restuccia, guitarist Bruno Battisti D'Amario, percussionist Egisto Macchi, percussionist/pianist Mario Bertoncini, and trombonist and violinist John Heineman. (On different recordings, Franco Evangelisti -- who penned the liner notes here -- and Frederic Rzewski were also in the band). These three extended pieces get pretty outside, but are always circular due to grooving drums and basslines. On the opening title cut, dissonant harmonies on trumpet, violin, reverbed electric guitar, and trombone are brought together by breaking snares and a funky bassline, even as other instruments, such as an angular piano played in the middle-lower register, channel-to-channel psych guitar, and near droning horns dialogue together. This is where Stockhausen and Don Cherry meet Idris Muhammad and Melvin Sparks. "Quasars" is more on the psych rock tip. A tribal, chant-like pulse swirls in the foreground as the violin takes the front line. But the near-Motorik drums and one-note bassline hold the individual elements in tension -- think the Velvets in their freer moments. The set's longest cut, the side-long "Kumâlo," is the spaciest thing here, developing with incremental piano played on the keys and its strings, and disjointed sounds from myriad instruments and sound effects are layered in, appearing and disappearing. They are moved forward initially by a hypnotic breakbeat. Morricone's trumpet is played in the high register with a mute before unwinding itself in full tone atop restrained feedback, taut violin, dissonant guitar, and rumbling piano. The drums pick up the tempo in dialogue with the guitar -- using a sitar-like effect -- and the interplay of the other instruments becomes more frequent and dizzying, all before it turns around on itself and Eastern modalism and Krautrock psych take the center. The disaster quotient for this date was high; there are times when it feels as if the entire proceeding will just collapse in on itself. Instead it spirals out, rippling across genre lines, textures, and dynamics like water. The Feed-Back is a timeless classic, as relevant in the 21st century -- it shows younger players how improvisation is done -- as it was in 1970 when, if anything, it was ahead of its time.
 Thom Jurek / AllMusic

Gabor Szabo ‎– Dreams (1968)

Style: Avant-garde Jazz
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Skye Records, Fontana, Buddah Records

Tracklist:
A1.   Galatea's Guitar
A2.   Half The Day Is Night
A3.   Song Of The Injured Love
A4.   The Fortune Teller
B1.   Fire Dance
B2.   The Lady In The Moon (From Kodaly)
B3.   Ferris Wheel

Credits:
Violin – Julius Schacter
Bass – Louis Kabok
Cello – George Ricci
Drums – Jim Keltner
French Horn – Brooks Tillotson, Ray Alonge, Tony Miranda
Guitar – Gabor Szabo, Jim Stewart
Percussion, Congas – Hal Gordon
Producer, Piano, Arranged By – Gary McFarland

Gabor Szabo may not have been as much of a household name as his jazz guitar counterparts (Grant Green & Wes Montgomery), but the Hungarian guitarist was a incredibly skilled player that posessed unmatched versatility. After starting his career as a member of the ever evolving Chico Hamilton Quintet in the early 60s, Szabo turned to Indian, Latin and psychedelic rock fusion to craft his jazz recordings as band leader on the adventurous Impulse label.

However, Szabo craved more artistic freedom and along with latin vibraphonist Cal Tjader and labelmate Gary MacFarland, he co-founded Skye Records in 1969. Propelled by MacFarland’s vibrant arrangements, Gabor was able to release the album he always envisionned the aptly titled Dreams.

This is the Szabo album that resonates the most with me because of the mellow and moody ambiance maintained throughout, as well as the choice to tackle a classical repertoire. Spanish composer Manuel DeFalla‘s work features twice and the playing of cellist George Ricci adds depth to the songs and smoothes out the records experimentation. Much like Szabo, Ricci was used to being in the background since his brother Ruggiero (who recorded a lot of Falla’s oeuvre) was a world-class virtuoso and child prodigy. However, a quick look at George’s body of work shows he has rubbed elbows with the top jazz players of his era.

Both Ricci and Szabo push boundaries on my favorite cut Lady in the Moon. I have spent many hazy nights gazing at the stars to the mournful sounds of this etheral Szabo composition. The classical training for both musicians is evident in the long introduction, but then the jazz swing takes over and while the song remains soft and lingering, the fiery drumming and Ricci’s jazz picking keep the flame burning. Szabo’s brings his razor sharp improvisation and lays down a great solo. The freedom Szabo felt is evident in his playing, but every note is at its place and this song captures the eery magic contained in this solid record; whose artwork alone is worth the price of admission. Although Skye Records closed shop only three years after its creation, it allowed resident artists to truly express their personal vision and produced musical gems that may have otherwise remained scattered across loose composition sheets.
DJ Asma / Music Is My Sanctuary

Ocaso Épico ‎– Muito Obrigado (1988)

Style: Synth-pop, Experimental
Format: Vinyl
Label Dansa Do Som

Tracklist:
A1.   Tinto If
A2.   O Camelo
A3.   Cafécucerto
A4.   Da Beira Baixa À Extrema-Dura
B1.   Adamastor
B2.   Desoriental
B3.   Cortar Ou Cortar-se

Credits:
Bateria - Alberto Garcia
Piano - Ricardo Camacho
Produção, Baixo - Zé Nabo
Programações - Pedro Barrento
Guitarra - Rui Fingers
Voz, Guitarra, Flauta, Teclas - Farinha Master (Carlos Cordeiro)

Ocaso Épico ‎– Desperdícios (1989)

Style: Abstract, Experimental, Ambient
Format: Cassette
Label: Tragic Figures

Tracklist:
A1.   Domingo
A2.   Ubralasaia
A3.   Ambiente Chinês
A4.   Da Ausência De Sonhos A Incompatibilidade Total
A5.   Atrazo Épico
A6.   Luz
A7.   Ambiente Chinês
A8.   Ambiente Chinês
A9.   Folclore Hertziano
B1.   Cus-Cus
B2.   Tao-Ki
B3.   Deserto Atalaia
B4.   Alvalóide
B5.   Descarregar Proteína Animal
B6.   Sombras De Alfama

Credits:
Composed By – Farinha

John Lurie ‎– Down By Law / MTM VOL. 14 (1987)

Style: Contemporary Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Soundtrack
Format: CD, Vinyl
Label: Made To Measure, Crammed Discs

Tracklist:
        Music From "Down By Law"
01.   What Do You Know About Music, You're Not A Lawyer
02.   Stranger In The Day
03.   Promedade Du Maquereau
04.   The Invasion Of Poland
05.   Please Come To My House
06.   Are You Warm Enough?
07.   Swamp
08.   Swamp (Part Two)
09.   Are You Warm Enough Again?
10.   The King Of Thailand, The Queen Of Stairs
11.   A Hundred Miles From Harry
12.   Nicoletta Can't Cook
13.   Fork In Road
        Music From "Variety"
14.   Variety Theme
15.   Porno Booth
16.   Porno Booth II
17.   Car
18.   Million Dollar Walk
19.   Anders Leap In
20.   Garter Belt
21.   End Titles

Credits:
Bass – Tony Garnier
Drums – Douglas B. Bowne
Guitar – Arto "Guitar" Lindsay
Guitar, Trumpet, Banjo – Marc Ribot
Harmonica – John Lurie (tracks: B1 to B8)
Percussion – E.J. Rodriguez, Naná Vasconcelos
Piano – Evan Lurie
Alto Saxophone – Paul McGovern
Tenor Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Anders Gaardmand
Timpani – Douglas B. Bowne
Trombone – Curtis Fowlkes
Trombone, Trumpet – Peter Zummo
Alto Saxophone, Producer – John Lurie