Andreas Oberg – My Favorite Guitars (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgAndreas Oberg honors several of the most recognized guitarists in jazz through this contemporary outing, where his guitar speaks for generations and his smooth approach appeals to a broad audience. A full studio orchestra complements much of the program as Oberg’s guitar floats effortlessly over the gathering.

An appealing Brazilian atmosphere pervades on “Aqui, Oh,” where the leader’s wordless vocals ride waves of warmth that wash over his acoustic guitar with pleasurable results. Oberg enjoys a fluid technique where notes run clear and distinct. When keyboard player Kuno Schmid steps forward, the contrast between his muddy cascades and the guitarist’s clearly-defined runs is magnified.

With Oberg’s ballad “Endless Love,” acoustic guitar takes over with a folksong approach while the studio orchestra colors from a distance. With “Funky Tango” and “Waiting for Angela,” it’s the background instrumentation from the keyboards and the orchestra that occupy much of the focus. Oberg enjoys a better stride when paring it down and allowing his guitar to shine.

Elsewhere, as on “Uptown Downtown,” “Villa Hermosa” and “Here to Stay,” the guitarist finds his niche as he fits comfortably into Pat Martino’s bag with all points covered. He’s at his best when improvising alongside the small group and excluding the lush orchestra Oberg01and surround-sound keyboard swirls. (Jim Santella)

Swedish jazz guitarist Andreas Öberg has been quoted as saying that one of his desires is to “make music that can appeal to people who don’t like jazz.” Many hardcore jazz musicians become nervous and apprehensive when they hear other improvisers talking about commercializing jazz in some fashion or making jazz more accessible to rock, pop or R&B fans; they think of all the robotic elevator music that smooth jazz/NAC radio stations have played in the ’80s, ’90s and 21st century. But My Favorite Guitars is an album that, despite its commercial appeal, isn’t going to win over the Kenny G./Najee/Richard Elliott crowd. Öberg isn’t trying to be the Dave Koz of the guitar — far from it. Actually, the best stylistic comparison on this 64-minute CD — which finds Öberg paying tribute to other guitarists — would be the pre-Breezin’ CTI albums that Creed Taylor produced for George Benson (one of Öberg’s main influences) in the late ’60s and early ’70s. At times, Taylor was guilty of overproducing, but when he achieved the right balance of jazz and commercial considerations, he soared as a producer — and My Favorite Guitars achieves that type of balance. This 2008 release isn’t in a class with Benson’s best CTI releases, but it’s definitely respectable. Although Öberg brings a strong sense of groove to the table, he has plenty of room to stretch out and improvise whether he is paying tribute to Benson on “The Changing World,” Django Reinhardt on “Troublant Bolero,” Pat Metheny on “Here to Stay,” or Wes Montgomery (another major influence) on “The Trick Bag.” My Favorite Guitars won’t appeal to jazz purists or bop snobs, but it has integrity and demonstrates that an improviser can reach out to pop and R&B fans and still maintain an improvisatory, jazz-oriented focus. (Alex Henderson)

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Personnel:
Kevin Axt (bass)
Tamir Hendelman (keyboards)
Andreas Öberg (guitar)
Marian Petrescu (keyboards)
Harish Raghavan (bass)
Kuno Schmid (keyboards, bass)
Vic Stevens (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Funky Tango (Salinas) 5.32
02. Troublant Bolero (Reinhardt) 6.13
03. Waiting For Angela (Horta) 5.43
04. Aqui, Oh (Horta) 5.15
05. Uptown Down (Martino) 4.00
06. AM Call (Öberg) 6.24
07. The Changing World (Benson) 4.38
08. The Trick Bag (Montgomery) 5.11
09. Here To Stay (Metheny) 5.13
10. Endless Love (Öberg) 5.13
11. Villa Hermosa (Pat Martino) 6:34
12. Valdez In The Country (Hathaway) 4.44

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Billy Cobham & George Duke Band – Live On Tour In Europe (1976)

FrontCover1.jpgThis isn’t a masterpiece of jazz rock fusion by any means, but it is tasty. Billy Cobham and George Duke, along with guitarist John Scofield and bassist Alfonso Johnson server up a generous slice of seventies fusion, without too much of that disco flavor that was beginning to permeate the genre at the time.

Duke, fresh out of Frank Zappa’s band, gets to show off his twisted sense of humor on Space Lady, which harkens back to some of the improv work he did with Frank, but remains a throwaway piece. Johnson’s Almustafa The Beloved, a vocal piece, reminds me a bit of Stanley Clarke’s early compositions, albeit without the impossibly fast bass licks.

Disco does rear it’s ugly head on Duke’s Do What Cha Wanna. But it is tolerable disco, until that nasty string synth comes in during the break.

Okay, he’s got that out of his system. Now back to fusion. Frankenstein Goes To The Disco is a drum solo piece, featuring Cobham with some nice drum synth triggers (far more advanced than Carl Palmer’s just a few short years earlier).

Johnson plays a nice, but not mind blowing solo on the Chick Corea-like Sweet Wine. And the album closes appropriately with Juicy, where each band member in turn gets to shine.

Not an essential fusion album, but not a bad addition. (by Evolver)

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Following two studio recordings, this impressive band hit the road and cut this session with keyboardist George Duke. Their encounter provided for an uneven, but infectious, recording. “Hip Pockets,” composed by Cobham, and “Ivory Tattoo,” composed by Scofield, begin the session with some intense playing. Things get a bit goofy with “Space Lady” (a song which probably worked better live), and a bit melodramatic with “Almustafa the Beloved.” “Do What Cha Wanna” features Duke on vocals and, ironically, made it onto Cobham’s Best of Billy Cobham. The closer, “Frankenstein Goes to the Disco,” is primarily a vehicle for Cobham, while “Sweet Wine” and “Juicy” are good jam sessions. Despite some corny moments, this is a fun session that continues to be one of Cobham’s most sought after recordings. (by Robert Taylor)

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Personnel:
Billy Cobham (drums, drum synthesizer, background vocals)
George Duke (keyboards, vocals)
Alphonso Johnson (bass, chapman stick, vocals)
John Scofield (guitar)
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Jon Lucien (narrator on 04.)

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Tracklist:
01. Hip Pockets (Cobham) 7.10
02. Ivory Tattoo (Scofield) 4.36
03. Space Lady (Duke) 4.37
04. Almustafa The Beloved (Johnson) 6.52
05. Do What Cha Wanna (Duke) 4.35
06. Frankenstein Goes To The Disco (Cobham) 7.10
07. Sweet Wine (Cobham) 4.00
08. Juicy (Duke) 7.20

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A chapman stick

Jeff Lorber – Philly Style (2003)

FrontCover1.jpgJeffrey H. Lorber (born November 4, 1952) is an American keyboardist, composer, and record producer. After six previous nominations, Lorber won his first Grammy Award on Jan. 28, 2018 for Best Contemporary Instrumental Album for Prototype by his band The Jeff Lorber Fusion.

Many of his songs have appeared on The Weather Channel’s Local on the 8s segments and on the channel’s compilation albums, The Weather Channel Presents: The Best of Smooth Jazz and The Weather Channel Presents: Smooth Jazz II. He was nominated for a Grammy Award for his album He Had a Hat (Blue Note, 2007) (by wikipedia)

The pretzel on the cover of Jeff Lorber’s Philly Style (Narada) isn’t the only tasty thing about the album. Renowned keyboardist-producer and Philly native Lorber teamed with producer Steven Dubin, also a Philly native, and together they paid tribute to their shared hometown’s distinguished musical tradition by serving up a hefty helping of funky, groove-driven, smooth-jazz tunes.

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Philly Style opens with the rollicking “Under Wraps,” then moves on to “Gigabyte,” which grooves along merrily with bassist Alex Al and drummer John Roberts setting the groove, Lorber’s keyboards gamboling on top, and a horn section shading it all. “Uncle Darrow’s” achieves a retro feel, courtesy of a horn section comprising saxophonist Gary Meek and trumpeter Ron King, while husky-voiced vocalist Naila croons on the chorus of Lorber’s fusion-esque take on Goodie Mob’s hip-hop hit “Soul Food,” and Meeks’ sax flutters gracefully around Lorber’s elegant piano on the atmospheric ballad “When She Smiles.” This is a fun, well-performed collection that will give Lorber fans plenty to munch on. (by Lucy Tauss)

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The soul-jazz minded keyboardist has been a legendary pop-fusion and smooth-jazz artist for several decades, and producer Steven Dubin had been a huge smooth-jazz force for several years (working with Peter White, Richard Elliot and Najee). The two Philadelphia natives never crossed paths (despite having gone to the same high school and played the same clubs), however, until Lorber hired him to work on his album Kickin’ It. This disc continues the fun, feisty and funky retro-soul vibe of that disc in an even fuller celebration of their Phillyness. Lorber is so well known for his old school Rhodes textures (which were “new school” when he first did them in the 70s) that it’s nice to hear so much classy acoustic piano here, as on the seductive, horn drenched opening track “Under Wraps.” Lorber uses the Rhodes as an underpinning harmony, but his ivory soloing is what makes the tune shimmer.

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The hooky title track collaboration with Elliot offers the same type of vibe, with brass and piano soloing galore before a break in the action, where Lorber turns fully to his Rhodes mastery, punching along with the horns. He keeps the Rhodes-sax duetting with rising horns process going on the well titled “Soul Food,” which features vocalist Naila. “Laissez Faire” is all laid back cool, as is the mystical acoustic piano ballad “When She Smiles,” while the centerpiece jam “Uncle Darrow’s” captures the classic Rhodes centered Crusaders flavor with a crisp horn-harmony-duality provided by Gary Meek (sax) and Ron King (trumpet). It’s kind of hard to imagine that any Jeff Lorber disc isn’t truly Philly-styled, but it’s nice to see he’s finally acknowledging that influence more directly. (by Jonathan Widran)

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Personnel:
Alex Al (bass)
Lenny Castro (percussion)
Steve Dubin (keyboards, drum programming)
Richard Elliot (saxophone)
Jerry Hey (flugelhorn)
Dan Higgins (saxophone)
Nelson Jackson (keyboards)
Ron King (flugelhorn, trumpet)
Jeff Lorber (keyboards. synthesizer, wurlitzer)
Tony Maiden (guitar)
Gary Meek (saxophone)
Naila (vocals)
Robbie Nevil (keyboards)
William Frank “Bill” Reichenbach Jr. (trombone)

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Tracklist:
01. Under Wraps (Dubin/Lorber) 4.57
02. Gigabyte (Dubin/Lorber) 3.56
03. Regardless Of (Dubin/Jackson/Lorber/Porter) 4.28
04. Philly Style (Dubin/Elliot/Lorber) 4.08
05. Soul Food (Bennett/Brown/Burton/Gipp/Knighton/Murray) 4.12
06. Laissez Faire (Dubin/Lorber) 3.55
07. Step On It (Dubin/Nevil) 4.08
08. Uncle Darrow’s (Lorber) 3.55
09. When She Smiles (Dubin/Lorber) 4.49
10. Serpentine Lane (Dubin/Lorber) 4.47

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Stanley Clarke – School Days (1976)

FrontCover1.jpgSchool Days is the fourth solo album by jazz fusion bassist Stanley Clarke. The album reached number 34 in the Billboard 200 chart and number 2 in the Jazz Albums chart. (by wikipedia)

Every pro electric-bass player and their mothers wore out the grooves of this record when it first came out, trying to cop Clarke’s speedy, thundering, slapped-thumb bass licks. Yet ultimately, it was Clarke’s rapidly developing compositional skills that made this album so listenable and so much fun for the rest of us, then and now. The title track not only contributed a killer riff to the bass vocabulary; it is a cunningly organized piece of music with a well-defined structure. Moreover, Clarke follows his calling card with two tunes that are even more memorable — the sauntering ballad “Quiet Afternoon” and an ebullient, Brazilian percussion-laced number with a good string arrangement and a terrific groove, “The Dancer.”

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Clarke also brings out the standup bass for a soulful acoustic dialogue with John McLaughlin on “Desert Song.” Evidently enthused by their leader’s material, David Sancious (keyboards) and Raymond Gomez (guitars) deliver some of their best solos on records — and with George Duke on hand on one cut, you hear some preliminary flickerings of Clarke’s ventures into the commercial sphere. But at this point in time, Clarke was triumphantly proving that it was possible to be both good and commercial at the same time. (by Richard S. Ginell)

StanleyClarke1.jpgSchool Days is the third and final album in Stanley Clarke’s great trio of progressive rock influenced fusion albums (Stanley Clarke, Journey to Love, School Days) that he released in the mid-70s. Although maybe not always quite as ambitious as the first two albums, School Days is probably the most mature and developed, making it the best of the three. Curiously enough all three of these albums seem to follow a pattern: one lengthy orchestrated jazz fusion ‘suite’, a modal acoustic number featuring McLaughlin, Corea or both and a few high octane virtuoso rock/funk numbers with guitar shredding by Ray Gomez or Jeff Beck.

There’s a difference with this third album, the melodies and songwriting are just better. The first two songs feature catchy tunes that tempt you to hum along, how many fusion records out there really have a melody that doesn’t sound like someone taking random shots at a fretboard or keyboard. The third song, The Dancer, is about one of the finest I have ever heard. Stanley sets up this ultra-tasty groovelicious world beat/funk circular thump-pop pattern over which Ray Gomez and David Sancious harmonize a Zappaesque Lydian melody. Optimistic, bright and slightly Caribbean, I never get tired of hearing this one.

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Desert Song opens side two with McLaughlin and Clarke playing rapid fire acoustic solos. Their skills are admirable, but that 70s style of overly flashy fretwork gets old to me. This song does have one section where it sounds like McLaughlin is channeling Pete Townsends chord work on Underture. Next up, Hot Fun gets things back on track with a catchy melodic funk bass line and great horn and string arrangements. Once again it’s the superior melodies that make the difference.

The album closes with one of Stanley’s big orchestrated jazz suites with a bit of his usual for that time shot at EW&F vocals. This is the only song on the album that features Billy Cobham and George Duke and they raise the already virtuoso playing on here by yet one more notch. Unfortunately Clarke will take a turn for the commercial after this album, his third final and best of his progressive rock/jazz fusion releases. (by Easy Money)

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Personnel:
Gerry Brown (drums on 01. + 03.)
Stanley Clarke (bass, vocals, piano, percussion)
Billy Cobham (drums, synthesizer on 06.)
George Duke (keyboards on 06.)
Jon Faddis (trumpet)
Steve Gadd (drums on 02. + 05.)
Ray Gomez (guitar on 01., 03 + 05.)
Milt Holland (percussion on 03. + 04.)
Icarus Johnson (guitar on 06.)
Tom Malone (trombone)
John McLaughlin (guitar on 04.)
Alan Rubin (trumpet)
David Sancious (keyboards on 01., synthesizer on 02. + 03., organ on 03., guitar on 05.)
Lew Soloff (trumpet)
Dave Taylor (trombone)
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horn & brass section:
Earl Chapin – John Clark – Peter Gordon – Wilmer Wise Al Aarons – Stewart Blumberg – George Bohanon – Buddy Childers – Robert Findley – Gary Grant – Lew McCreary – Jack Nimitz – William Peterson – Dalton Smith
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string section:
Marilyn Baker – Thomas Buffum – David Campbell – Rollice Dale – Robert Dubow – Janice Gower – Karen Jones – Dennis Karmazyn – Gordon Marron – Lya Stern – Ron Strauss – Marcia Van Dyke – John Wittenberg

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Tracklist:
01. School Days 7.52
02. Quiet Afternoon 5.10
03. The Dancer 5.29
04. Desert Song 6.57
05. Hot Fun 2.56
06. Life Is Just A Game 9.02

Music and lyrics written by Stanley Clarke

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Philip Catherine – Babel (1980)

FrontCover1.jpgPhilip Catherine (born 27 October 1942) is a Belgian jazz guitarist.

Philip Catherine was born in London to an English mother and Belgian father and was raised in Brussels. His grandfather played violin in the London Symphony Orchestra. Catherine started on guitar in his teens, and by seventeen he was performing professionally at local venues.

He released his debut album, Steam, in 1970. During the next few years, he studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston and with Mick Goodrick and George Russell. In 1976, he and guitarist Larry Coryell recorded and toured as an acoustic duo. The following year he recorded with Charles Mingus, who dubbed him “Young Django”. In the early 1980s, he toured briefly with Benny Goodman. He was in trio with Didier Lockwood and Christian Escoudé, then in a trio with Chet Baker. During the 1990s, he recorded three albums with trumpeter Tom Harrell.

PhilipCatherine1980_02Catherine has also worked with Lou Bennett, Kenny Drew, Dexter Gordon, Stéphane Grappelli, Karin Krog, Paul Kuhn, Sylvain Luc, Michael Mantler, Charlie Mariano, Palle Mikkelborg, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Enrico Rava, Toots Thielemans, and Miroslav Vitous. (by wikipedia)

And here´s his 5th solo album:

A jazz fusion album produced in an extremely clear transparent sound. Catherine (guitar) is supported by Jean-Claude Petit (keyboards, synth), Jannick Top (bass) Andre Ceccarelli (drums) a string ensemble and on the very personal track “Janet” by the voices of his little daughters. All in all mostly relaxed but engaged and interesting playing (mainly by Catherine and Top) (by siriuspooka)

Babel, originally released in 1980, is an album rooted firmly in the late 1970’s fusion style. The compositions are strong and the arrangements are adventurous. The album features strong performances from ace sidemen André Ceccarelli (drums) and Jannick Top on bass. (jazzineurope.mfmmedia.nl)

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Personnel:
Philip Catherine (guitar, guitar synthesizer, vocoder)
André Ceccarelli (drums)
Jannick Top (bass)
Jean-Claude Petit (keyboards, synthesizer)
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String Quartet:
Roger Berthier (violin)
Pierre-Yves Defayes (violin)
Hervé Derrien (cello)
Pierre Llinares (viola)
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Children’s Voices (on 02.):
Isabelle – Janet Catherine

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Tracklist:
01. Babel (Catherine) 6.14
02. Janet (Catherine) 6.06
03. Riverbop (Catherine) 4.46
04. Spirale (Catherine) 4.57
05. Philip À Paris (Petit) 5.43
06. Magic Ring (Catherine) 3.42
07. Dinner-Jacket (Catherine) 3.32

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Jerry Goodman & Jan Hammer – Like Children (1974)

FrontCover1.jpgLike Children is a collaborative album between two past members of the ground-breaking and highly influential Mahavishnu Orchestra, keyboardist Jan Hammer and violinist Jerry Goodman. In 2006 this album was re-released on CD. The original album was released in 1974 by Nemperor Records.

“At times, the album sounds like a forgotten work-in-progress from the Mahavishnu Orchestra, not surprising given that it was recorded solely by two of its five members not long after the original line-up’s acrimonious split (a third former member, bassist Rick Laird, contributed a song),” said Vincent “Vicente” Rodriguez, former pop music critic at the Dallas Morning News.

“The best two tracks are ‘Steppings Tones’ and ‘Country and Eastern Music.’ The former sounds like it could be an outtake from either of the Orchestra’s first two albums. It’s a moody, soulful track that allows Goodman to shine on the violin with Hammer adding a soft keyboard arrangement in place of what would surely have been Orchestra leader John McLaughlin’s delicate acoustic picking. Goodman’s crisp, textured playing is also a reminder that he could not only keep up with McLaughlin’s light-speed electric guitar runs, but that he also served as an effective counterpoint to McLaughlin during the quieter moments.

“The catchy and infectious ‘Country and Eastern Music’ is the album’s strongest song. The upbeat track illustrates that McLaughlin should’ve allowed the other members to share in the song-writing duties from the outset,” added Rodriguez. “He finally did in ‘The Lost Trident Sessions’ that was released twenty-six years after it was recorded and would’ve been the original line-up’s third studio album.”

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Unfortunately, the internal strife had taken its toll before that album could be completed, so they instead released the live album “Between Nothingness and Eternity.” It contains “Sister Andrea,” a Hammer composition that was the only non-McLaughlin song released by the original line-up during its early 1970s heyday (the studio version of “Sister Andrea” later appeared in “The Lost Trident Sessions”).

“Had McLaughlin relented much earlier, his gesture probably would’ve kept the original line-up together longer. For as good as ‘Country and Eastern Music’ is, that version of the Orchestra would’ve lifted the song to the stratosphere,” said Rodriguez. “One can only imagine McLaughlin’s incendiary guitar blasts driving the song accompanied by Billy Cobham’s relentlessly powerful drum fills and Laird’s underappreciated melodic bass lines anchoring the controlled chaos.

“But in fairness to Hammer and Goodman, the same thing could also be said of Cobham’s early work, particularly his debut album ‘Spectrum,'” continued Rodriguez. “A key difference is that ‘Spectrum’ was better produced and much more fleshed-out than ‘Like Children.’ It also benefited tremendously from the presence of outside musicians like guitarist Tommy Bolin, bassist Ron Carter and even Hammer. Plus, it contains ‘Stratus,’ a tense funk-vamp that has become as much a fusion classic as any of the Orchestra’s music.

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“Still, ‘Like Children’ is highly recommended to fans of the original Orchestra as a ‘What if?’ pointing to a possible new direction that fiery line-up could’ve taken had it stayed together. It’ll also be of interest to fans of fusion and Hammer, who pretty much abandoned this kind of unencumbered organic music in favor of working with Jeff Beck in the late 1970s (a partnership that generated its fair share of terrific music along with bombast) before moving on to the electronic synth-stylings of ‘Miami Vice’ in the mid- and late 1980s that haven’t dated very well.” (by wikipedia)

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Personnel:
Jerry Goodman (violin, guitar, violow. mandolin)
Jan Hammer (keyboards, vocals, synthesizer, drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Country And Eastern Music (Hammer) 5.35
02. No Fear (Hammer) 3.26
03. I Remember Me (Hammer) 3.47
04. Earth (Still Our Only Home) (Hammer) 4.15
05. Topeka (Goodman) 2.56
06. Steppings Tones (Laird) 3.29
07. Night (Hammer/Johnson) 5.47
08. Full Moon Boogie (Hammer/Goodman) 4.11
09. Giving In Gently (Hammer) / I Wonder (Goodman) 4.44

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Miles Davis – Jack Johnson (OST) (1971)

FrontCover1.jpgJack Johnson, later reissued as A Tribute to Jack Johnson, is a 1971 studio album and soundtrack by American jazz trumpeter, composer, and bandleader Miles Davis. In 1970, Davis was asked by Bill Cayton to record music for his documentary of the same name on the life of boxer Jack Johnson. Johnson’s saga resonated personally with Davis, who wrote in the album’s liner notes of Johnson’s mastery as a boxer, his affinity for fast cars, jazz, clothes, and beautiful women, his unreconstructed blackness, and his threatening image to white men. This was the second film score he had composed, after Ascenseur pour l’échafaud in 1957.

The music recorded for Jack Johnson reflected Davis’ interest in the eclectic jazz fusion of the time while foreshadowing the hard-edged funk that would fascinate him in the next few years. Having wanted to put together what he called “the greatest rock and roll band you have ever heard”, Davis recorded with a line-up featuring guitarists John McLaughlin and Sonny Sharrock, keyboardists Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea, clarinetist Bennie Maupin, and drummers Jack DeJohnette and Billy Cobham. The album’s two tracks were drawn from one recording session on April 7 and edited together with recordings from February 1970 by producer Teo Macero.

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Jack Johnson was released by Columbia Records on February 24, 1971. It was a turning point in Davis’ career and has since been viewed as one of his greatest works. JazzTimes later wrote that while his 1970 album Bitches Brew had helped spark the fusion of jazz and rock, Jack Johnson was Davis’ most brazen and effective venture into rock, “the one that blew the fusion floodgates wide open, launching a whole new genre in its wake”. According to McLaughlin, Davis considered it to be his best jazz-rock album. (by wikipedia)

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None of Miles Davis’ recordings has been more shrouded in mystery than Jack Johnson, yet none has better fulfilled Davis’ promise that he could form the “greatest rock band you ever heard.” Containing only two tracks, the album was assembled out of no less than four recording sessions between February 18, 1970 and June 4, 1970, and was patched together by producer Teo Macero. Most of the outtake material ended up on Directions, Big Fun, and elsewhere. The first misconception is the lineup: the credits on the recording are incomplete. For the opener, “Right Off,” the band is Davis, John McLaughlin, Billy Cobham, Herbie Hancock, Michael Henderson, and Steve Grossman (no piano player!), which reflects the liner notes. This was from the musicians’ point of view, in a single take, recorded as McLaughlin began riffing in the studio while waiting for Davis; it was picked up on by Henderson and Cobham, Hancock was ushered in to jump on a Hammond organ (he was passing through the building), and Davis rushed in at 2:19 and proceeded to play one of the longest, funkiest, knottiest, and most complex solos of his career.

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Seldom has he cut loose like that and played in the high register with such a full sound. In the meantime, the interplay between Cobham, McLaughlin, and Henderson is out of the box, McLaughlin playing long, angular chords centering around E. This was funky, dirty rock & roll jazz. The groove gets nastier and nastier as the track carries on and never quits, though there are insertions by Macero of two Davis takes on Sly Stone tunes and an ambient textured section before the band comes back with the groove, fires it up again, and carries it out. On “Yesternow,” the case is far more complex. There are two lineups, the one mentioned above, and one that begins at about 12:55. The second lineup was Davis, McLaughlin, Jack DeJohnette, Chick Corea, Bennie Maupin, Dave Holland, and Sonny Sharrock. The first 12 minutes of the tune revolve around a single bass riff lifted from James Brown’s “Say It Loud, I’m Black and I’m Proud.” The material that eases the first half of the tune into the second is taken from “Shhh/Peaceful,” from In a Silent Way, overdubbed with the same trumpet solo that is in the ambient section of “Right Off.”

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It gets more complex as the original lineup is dubbed back in with a section from Davis’ tune “Willie Nelson,” another part of the ambient section of “Right Off,” and an orchestral bit of “The Man Nobody Saw” at 23:52, before the voice of Jack Johnson (by actor Brock Peters) takes the piece out. The highly textured, nearly pastoral ambience at the end of the album is a fitting coda to the chilling, overall high-energy rockist stance of the album. Jack Johnson is the purest electric jazz record ever made because of the feeling of spontaneity and freedom it evokes in the listener, for the stellar and inspiring solos by McLaughlin and Davis that blur all edges between the two musics, and for the tireless perfection of the studio assemblage by Miles and producer Macero. (by Thom Jurek)

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Personnel:

he first track and about half of the second track were recorded on April 7, 1970 by this sextet:

Billy Cobham (drums)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Steve Grossman (saxophone)
Herbie Hancock (organ)
Michael Henderson (bass)

John McLaughlin (guitar)

The “Willie Nelson” section of the second track (starting at about 13:55) was recorded on February 18, 1970 by a different and uncredited lineup:

Chick Corea (piano)
Miles Davis (trumpet)
Jack DeJohnette (drums)
Dave Holland (bass)

Bennie Maupin (clarinet)
John McLaughlin (guitar)
Sonny Sharrock (guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Right Off (Davis) 26.54
02. Yesternow (Davis) 25.35LabelB1

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