P.P. Arnold – Kafunta (1969)

FrontCover1Though it cannot hold a candle to its predecessor, P.P. Arnold’s second and final Immediate album is nevertheless a dramatic offering, its greatest flaws lying more in the conflict between singer and label than in either performance or production. Recorded with Immediate head Andrew Loog Oldham at the controls, Kafunta is riven by his dream of establishing Arnold in the same mass entertainment world as Cilla Black and Lulu, at the same time as Arnold fights to retain her own R&B sensibilities. Occasionally the conflict works well — the MOR heartbreaker “Angel of the Morning” is performed with such a depth PPArnoldof yearning purpose that no other version on earth will ever sound so majestic. “As Tears Go By,” too, is powerful, Oldham’s third attempt at the song (after Marianne Faithfull and the Rolling Stones) drawing fresh conclusions from that loveliest of melodies, while Spartan accompaniment plays with the ghost of “Lady Jane” behind it. “God Only Knows,” driven by a near-martial accompaniment of trumpets and drums, is even more dramatic — Oldham himself has never made any secret of his love for the song, and the attention lavished on this version sends it soaring up any poll of his greatest productions. Similarly, his reinventions of the songs that every singer of the age apparently tackled — “Yesterday,” “Eleanor Rigby,” and the Bee Gees’ “To Love Somebody” — are wrapped in breathtaking sheen, with “Yesterday” even rivaling Alma Cogan’s definitive rearrangement in terms of freshness and emotional punch. That Arnold herself is often overwhelmed by the strength of the arrangements (carried out by longtime Oldham conspirator John Paul Jones) is neither here nor there; played loud and booming, Kafunta has an impressiveness that doesn’t simply defy criticism, it dismisses it out of hand. (by Dave Thompson)

P.P. Arnold (vocals)
+ a bunch of unknown studio musicians

01. Letter To Bill + Kafunta One (Mark) + God Only Knows (Wilson/Asher) 7.46
02. Eleanor Rigby (Lennon/McCartney) 3.05
03. Yesterday (Lennon/McCartney) 4.01
04. Angel Of The Morning (Taylor) 3.16
05. It’ll Never Happen Again (Hardin) 3.28
06. Kafunta Two (Arnold) 0.24
07. As Tears Go By (Jagger/Richards) 2.54
08. Kafunta Three (Arnold) 0.21
09. To Love Somebody (R.Gibb/M.Gibb/B.Gibb) 2.41
10. Dreamin’ (Arnold) 2.20
11. Kafunta Four (Arnold) 0.29
12. Welcome Home (Taylor) 3.05


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Rod Mason´s Hot Five – Live At The BP Studienhaus (1998)

FrontCover1An excellent trad jazz trumpeter influenced by Louis Armstrong but having a sound of his own, Rod Mason has recorded quite a few worthwhile albums although little of his work is readily available in the United States. Mason, who has played dixieland-oriented music throughout his career, is the son of Frank “Pop” Mason who played drums with the Savannah Orchestra in England during 1928-31. Mason has performed with the who’s who of British trad including Cy Laurie (1959), Monty Sunshine (1962-66), Acker Bilk (1970-71), the Dutch Swing College Band (mid-1980’s) and Chris Barber (who appeared as a guest on one of Mason’s records) but he is most notable as a bandleader. Phil Mason, who has headed a sextet called his Hot Five along with a new Savannah Orchestra, has worked extensively in Holland and Germany in addition to England and recorded as a leader (starting in 1974) for WAM, Black Lion, Jeton and Timeless. (by Scott Yanow)

RodMasonsHotFiveRod Mason and his Hot Five were launched in 1985 when Rod moved to Germany. His six-piece drummerless band has been hailed as one of the very best in the Louis Armstrong tradition and they have toured throughout Europe and as far afield as South Africa and the USA. The band’s line-up lends itself to the jazz style of the 1920’s, though the repertoire ranges from early ragtime to vintage jazz, blues and boogie woogie, through to memorable contemporary
Rod Mason and his Hot Five have made countless television and radio appearances and a string of albums and CDs. Their live performances are an unforgettable blend of first class jazz, musicianship, entertainment, professional presentation and exciting solos…all mixed with sheer good humour in the finest British tradition.

And this is a wonderful example of this rich sound, listen to songs like “Si Tu Vois Ma Mere”, “Mackie Messer” (sung in German and English), “Angry” or “Devil’s Gonna Get You” and “Lili Marleen” and you´ll know what I mean.

Okay, this music is maybe old fashioned, but it´s music from the heart and it´s handmade music … we all should enjoy the sound of Rod Mason´s Hot Five !

Recorded live at the BP Studienhaus, Hamburg, October 2/4, 1998

Ralf Feyer (piano)
Udo Jägers (banjo)
Andy Leggett (clarinet, saxophone)
Rod Mason (cornet, vocals)
John Mortimer (trombone)
Pauline Pearce (vocals on 05., 10., 15. + 16.)

01. The Blues Was Born In New Orleans (Dixon/Mason) 3.15
02. Creole Belles (Lampe/Sidney) 3.07
03. Corinna, Corinna (Traditional) 5.22
04. New Orleans Stomp (Oliver/Picoul) 3.10
05. Amazing Grace (Traditional) 4.19
06. Mona Lisa (Livingston/Evans) 4.09
07. Jazzin’ Babies Blues (Jones) 3.48
08. Mackie Messer (Weill/Brecht) 4.07
09. Si Tu Vois Ma Mere (Bechet) 4.48
10. He Looked Beyond My Faults (Weatherly) 5.01
11. BP March (Traditional) 2.35
12. Angry (Brunies) 3.57
13. Aunt Hagar’s Blues (Handy) 5.25
14. Flat Foot (Hardin) 3.34
15. Devil’s Gonna Get You (Grainer) 3.14
16. Mean To Me (Ahlert/Turk) 3.00
17. Willie The Wheeper (Bloom/Melrose) 3.28
18. Blueberry Hill (Rose/Lewis) 2.28
19. Don’t Forget To Mess Around (Armstrong/Barbarin) 4.01
20. Lilli Marleen (Connor/Schultze) 3.57


Jimmy Bryant – Country Cabin Jazz (1960)

FrontCover1 Along with his frequent partner, pedal steel guitarist Speedy West, Jimmy Bryant was one the most in-demand session players in country music. Recording mostly behind Capitol’s considerable lineup of artists during the ’50s and ’60s, Bryant augmented his frequent work for the likes of Tennessee Ernie Ford, Kay Starr, and Buck Owens with a fair share of solo dates, often featuring West. This classic Capitol release from 1960 finds the two jazz-influenced players wending stealthily through 12 incredible instrumentals, most of which were penned by JimmyBryant2Bryant. Bryant and West turn in a bevy of complex, yet swinging solos over a mix of blues (“Whistle Stop”), country ballads (“Deep Water”), polkas (“Hometown Polka”), and bebop-country swingers (“Stratosphere Boogie”).

Along with several exciting exchanges between Bryant and West, the whole band turns in a fine round of call and response solos on “Jammin’ With Jimmy”; figuring prominently in the mix are guitarist Billie Strange, pianist Billy Liebert, bassist Cliffie Stone, and an unlisted violinist.

While many of these tracks can be found on Razor & Tie’s two fine Bryant and West collections, Country Cabin Jazz still qualifies as a very good first-disc choice for newcomers. (by Stephen Cook)


Speedy West – Steel Guitar
Billy Liebert – Piano
Billy Strange – Rhythm guitar
Cliffie Stone – Bass
Roy Harte – Drums

01. Frettin’ Fingers 2.02
02. The Night Rider 2.24
03. Deep Water 3:00
04. Jammin’ With Jimmy 2.29
05. Whistle Stop 2.16
06. Stratosphere Boogie 2.12
07. Pickin’ Peppers 2.11
08. Pushin’ the Blues 3.11
09. The Rollin’ Sky 2.26
10. Yodeling Guitar 2.08
11. Bryant’s Bounce 2.21
12. Hometown Polka 2.20


Jack Bruce – Anton Fier & Kenji Suzuki – Inazuma Super Session – Absolute Live ! (1987)

FrontCover1The Inazuma Super Session took place at the Inkstick Shibaura Factory in Tokyo and featured Jack Bruce on bass and vocals with drummer Anton Fier and Japanese guitarist, Kenji Suzuki. The band performs mostly Cream material and present it with a slightly more modern and edgy feel. Kenji’s guitar playing is probably closer to Van Halen here than Clapton but overall comes across well with some amazing playing. Jack sounds on top of his game and his bass has a dominant presence in the recordings and vocally sounds just as strong as he did in the late sixties. Both live recordings are excellent soundboard while having somewhat of a dry, small venue sound to them.

The live tracks from the first half of the disc were recorded on May 10th and aired on FM radio on May 12th for Suntory Sound Market.

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“White Room” is very tight. Anton Fier gives these songs a rock solid feel sometimes lacking a bit of the looseness that we are used to hearing associated with these tracks. “First Time I Met The Blues” is incorrectly listed as “First Time I Met The Bruce” and is a very Cream style slow blues number that will loosen things up. A personal highlight from the disc for me would be “A.P.K.”. This is a really cool hard rock funk instrumental track that showcases the power of the trio. Jack blows on his harmonica to start “Sitting On Top Of The World” but quickly switches back to bass as the band comes in. Everyone lets loose in “Politician” which ends up segueing into “Sunshine Of Your Love” where Bruce covers both vocal parts in the absence of a second lead vocalist.

The latter portion of the disc was recorded the following day on May 11th and is taken from the CD Absolute Live! It features less tracks than the broadcast, featuring only four Cream tracks, and includes the audience singing “Happy Birthday” to Jack. It also has the benefit of a ten minute version of “Spoonful”, not included in the broadcast of the previous day. The CD closes out with some hip-hop style music playing over the PA, indexed separately as “Beat Of Rock”.

Inazuma Super Session is a very interesting release and definitely recommended for fans of both Jack Bruce and Cream.

Jack Bruce (bass, vocals, harmonica)
Anton Fier (drums)
Kenji Sizuki (guitar)


01. Generation Breakdown (Suzuki) 4.35
02. White Room (Bruce/Brown) 6.24
03. Out Into The Fields (Lai/Bruce/West/Brown) 7.17
04. Working Harder (Fier/Harris/Blegvad) 5-42
05. A.P.K. (Jack, Anton & Kenji) (Suzuki) 4.07
06. Sittin’ On Top Of The World (Burnett) 4.45
07. Sunshine Of Your Love (Clapton/Bruce/Brown) 9.22
08. Crossroads (Johnson) 2.57
09. Spoonful (Dixon) 11.34


Chris McGregor’s Brotherhood Of Breath – Travelling Somewhere (Live 1973) (2001)

FrontCover1Ex-pat South African pianist McGregor made an immeasurable contribution to British and European jazz in the 1960’s and 70’s with his Blue Notes, a group of black South African jazz musicians whom the white bandleader hand-picked after hearing them perform at the 1962 Johannesburg Jazz Festival.

Opportunities for a mixed race group in South African being limited, to say the least, McGregor and his crew left their troubled homeland in 1964, and did most of their performing and recording in voluntary exile during the next twenty-five years. Several years after arriving in London with the Blue Notes, McGregor also assembled the Brotherhood of Breath, an ambitious avant garde big band which incorporated various members of the Blue Notes, along with the best of Great Britain’s young jazzbos. McGregor struggled to keep the Brotherhood of Breath alive, and it performed sporadically over the years, with a revolving cast of musicians.

This CD documents an exceptional early live performance of the band, when they were at their creative peak. Perhaps because the United States has always been considered the ultimate repository of jazz talent, drummer Louis Moholo, alto saxophonist Dudu Pukwana and trumpeter Mongezi Feza have never really received critical attention commensurate with their abilities, but they were arguably as good as many of their more famous American counterparts. Put them together in a band with the young Evan Parker, Gary Windo, Mike Osborne, Harry Beckett and Malcolm Griffiths (among others) and give them the energetic direction and compositional abilities of McGregor, and you have something very special.

Later editions of the Brotherhood might have been more sleek and refined, particularly in their studio incarnations, but there’s an exuberant energy and density to these 1973 performances, recorded for Radio Bremen in front of a live audience, which at times reaches an almost ecstatic intensity. It’s almost as if the Sun Ra Arkestra had been reconstituted in a parallel African reality.

McGregor1977Several pieces, particularly Pukwana’s “MRA” and McGregor’s “Do It,” have the infectious and distinctive township highlife sound, the product of the cross-pollination of jazz and African dance rhythms. A seemingly simple, riff-based piece like “MRA’ allows group members considerable latitude, as they improvise against the dominant riffs and develop counter-rhythms and melodies seemingly at will. The ragged collective improvisation periodically dissolves into chaos, only to reinvent itself and rise triumphantly from its own wreckage. (by Bill Tilland)

McGregor’s “Restless” opens with the leader stating the quirky, Monkish theme on piano, and then showcasing Harry Beckett’s eloquent trumpet and later, Pukwana’s fiery alto sax. McGregor’s “Ismite is Might” has the whole band wailing a slow, sonorous gospel dirge, which soon segues into “Kongi’s Theme,” a march-like piece with a stomping, second-line New Orleans beat. McGregor’s “Wood Fire” starts with another Monkish figure, but soon extends into a freeform harmolodic mingling of multiple melody lines and patterns, making it clear that McGregor had absorbed some important ideas from Ornette Coleman. The title piece, another of McGregor’s compositions, is primarily Pukwana’s vehicle, as the band establishes a traditional swing groove with Pukwana’s alto skittering and screeching over the top. Imagine Jimmy Lyons holding down the first alto chair in the Count Basie band, and you’ll have some idea of this track’s peculiar charms.

Cuneiform is to be commended for rescuing these tapes from the Radio Bremen archives, as the band’s performance here is not just an important historical document, but even thirty-some years after the fact, a representation of some of the most vital and life-affirming big band jazz ever played by anyone, anywhere.

Recorded January 19th, 1973 at Lila Eule, Bremem, Germany.

Harry Beckett (trumpet)
Mark Charig (trumpet)
Nick Evans (trombone)
Mongezi Feza (trumpet)
Chris McGregor (piano)
Malcolm Griffiths (trombone)
Harry Miller (bass)
Louis Moholo (drums)
Mike Osborne (saxophone)
Evan Parker (saxophone)
Dudu Pukwana saxophone)
Gary Windo (saxophone)

01. MRA (Pukwana) 12.15
02. Restless (McGregor) 9.48
03. Ismite Is Might (McGregor) 3.59
04. Kongi’s Theme (Soyinka) 6.44
05. Wood Fire (McGregor) 13.42
06. The Bride (Pukwana) 6.26
07. Travelling Somewhere (McGregor) 7.21
08. Think Of Something (Osborne) 9.55
09. Do It (McGregor) 9.20




Starz – Live In Canada (1985)

FrontCover1This album captures Starz live in their prime. Four albums into their career, Starz were a big concert draw. They had the logo, the look and their music bridged a gave between the 70’s heavy metal of Aerosmith and Ted Nugent and the lighter rock fare of Foreigner and Cheap Trick. They had Aerosmith producer Jack Douglas behind the knobs and opened for everyone from Ted Nugent to Judas Priest to Peter Frampton. They even had a few minor radio hits (“Fallen Angel” & “Detroit Girls”). Yet despite all this going for them they never quite broke out to the mainstream like many of their contemporaries. Despite this, they left us a legacy of four great rock albums. This live album takes some of those songs and gives them a boost by capturing their live energy. Because they were one of those bands that toured endlessly, they were especially tight on the stage, which this album is a testament to.

Peter Scance & Richie Ranno

“Live In Canada” contains a Live recording of a STARZ concert the band gave in Toronto, Canada back in 1978. Only released as ‘Live in Canada’ on LP by Heavy Metal Records in 1985, never on CD. The band has released many Live discs, but I think this one is their best, also the sound is pretty good and this must have been a great concert including the best songs of the band. Great to hear the best STARZ song ever, “Last night I wrote a letter”, in a live version. This is really fantastic 70s Melodic Rock. Also great to hear are those classic 70s rockers such as “Outfit”, “Subway terror” and “Waitin’ on you”. The whole LP is full of that typical 70s Rock’n’Roll. So, if you want to hear that good-old-time rock’n’roll from the 70s, I can really recommend this great live LP of one of the best rockbands from the 70s. (by yperano.com)

Joe Dubé (drums)
Brenden Harkin (guitar)
Richie Ranno (guitar)
Michael Lee Smith (vocals)
Peter Scance (bass)


01. Rock Six Times (Smith/Ranno/Harkin/Sweval/Dubé) 4.12
02. Subway Terror (Smith/Ranno/Harkin/Sweval/Dubé) 3.58
03. Where Will It End (Ranno/Smith(Dubé) 4.31
04. Night Crawler (Ranno/Smith) 4.36
05. Outfit (Smith/Ranno/Davis) 5.03
06. Last Night I Wrote A Letter (Ranno/Smith) 5.20
07. No Regrets (Ranno/Smith/Messano/Davis/Dubé) 4.47
08. It’s A Riot (Ranno/Smith) 3.49
09. Waitin’ On You (Smith/Ranno/Harkin/Sweval/Dubé) + Coliseum Rock (Ranno) 8.17
10. Take Me (Ranno/Smith) 4.37


The Souvenir – Russian Folk Group (1994)

FrontCover1This ia a rare and very interesting low budget production.

Russian folk group The Souvenir is a prize-winner of many folk compettions and festivals.

The group repertoire includes Russian folk songs and tunes performed with a help of rare folk musical instruments.

The Souvenir group concertized with great acclaim in Holland, France, German, Spain, Canada and U.S.A.” (taken from the original liner-notes)

And I guess this little group is still alive and well in 2014 … as a trio:

“”The Souvenir” is a folk instrument trio. The three skillful musicians brilliantly perform folk compositions. Besides the accordion and balalaika, which are traditional for Russia, some rare and even exotic musical instruments are used by this group. You will be astonished to hear traditional Russian folk melodies, performed with objects not normally used for music-making. These amazing performances are full of humor and show high professional of musicians, their ability to transform simple things into real wonder.” (by balletandopera.com)

Eleanor Martynova (percussion)
Irene Matvienko (wooden wind, percussion, balalaika, vocals)
Gregory Matvienko (accordion, balalaika, saw, vocals)
Sergei Ulanksy (accordion, balalaika, vocals)

01.Kamarinskaya 1.53
02.Valenki (Feltboots) 1.55
03.Song Of Stenka Razin 4.00
04.Only Steppe Around Me 2.58
05.Melody On Birch-Tree Logs 2.16
06.Russian Terskiye Chastushki 1.48
07.Evening Chimes 3.44
08.The Moon Is Shining 1.09
09.Utushka 2.17
10.Korobushka 2.39
11.Katyusha 2.15
12.Melody For Russian Flute 1.46
13.Down the Murom Road 3.41
14.Russian Chastushki 2.15
15.Oh, My Birch-Tree 2.25
16.The Steppe Is Wast 3.39
17.Accordion’s Melody 4.04
18.My Sweetheart 1.55
19.Korobeiniki (Street-Vendors) 2.17
20.Her Eyes Are Dark 2.05
21.Unharness 3.10
22.Kalinka (Guelder-Rose) 2.32

All songs: Traditionals