Thom Rotella – Without Words (1990)

FrontCover1A technically skilled guitarist, Thom Rotella is capable of playing both commercial jazz and in a style influenced by Wes Montgomery. When he was six he started playing for the fun of it on his grandfather’s guitar and he began serious guitar lessons when he was ten. As a teenager, Rotella played rock but soon discovered jazz through Wes Montgomery’s recordings. He went to Ithaca College (as a classical guitar major), and at Berklee he often studied under Gary Burton (1970-1972). Rotella left Berklee to tour with a lounge band, moved to Los Angeles and, with Tommy Tedesco’s guidance, he became a studio musician. However after a few years he missed playing live music and in 1984 Rotella moved to New York where he continued working in the studios but also had the chance to appear in clubs. In 1987 he recorded his first solo album for DMP. The three albums that Rotella cut for DMP (1987-1990) all sold well in the commercial market. Eventually the guitarist became so involved in the jingle business that he moved back to L.A. A 1996 Christmas album for Telarc led to Thom Rotella being signed to the label and recording 1997’s Can’t Stop. A five-year period of silence marked the time between albums, but in 2002 Rotella returned with the light and airy A Day in the Life.

On this CD guitarist Thom Rotella sought to follow in the footsteps of Earl Klugh. Rotella’s attractive acoustic guitar is featured on some upbeat and moderately funky originals that are instantly forgettable with an anonymous sounding group of L.A. studio veterans. There are several potential TV theme songs in this batch. Lightweight is the best description for the pleasant set of background music. (by Scott Yanow)

That´s what I call “easy listening jazz-fusion”

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Personnel:
Alex Acuna (percussion)
Abraham Laboriel (bass)
Thom Rotella (guitar, mandolin)
Jim Studer (keyboards)
Carlos Vega (drums)
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Phil Ayling (recorder on 07., 10.)
Mike Lang (keyboards on 04., 05., 07. + 10.)
Jolyon Pegis (cello on 08.)

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Tracklist:
01, Since I Met You (Studer/Rotella) 4.53
02. Machu Picchu (Rotella) 5.37
03 . Only Love (Rotella) 4.40
04. In Your Arms (Rotella) 5.15
05. Island Nights (Rotella) 4.22
06. Cycles (Rotella) 4.14
07. Cardiff By The Sea (Rotella) 5.10
08. Without Words (Rotella) 3.25
09. Carnaval (En La Playa) (Studer) 3.48
10. (Look) In The Mirror (Rotella) 4.58
11. Somewhere Over The Rainboxw (Harburg/Arlen) 3.45

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YoungThomRotella
The young Thom Rotella

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Billy Cobham – Spectrum (1973)

FrontCover1Spectrum is the debut album by jazz fusion drummer Billy Cobham. The album contains much influence of the music of Miles Davis and Mahavishnu Orchestra, with whom Cobham had previously collaborated extensively.

Ken Scott, producer and engineer of Spectrum, on recording Cobham’s drums: “Bill Cobham’s drums were treated in exactly the same way as I recorded every other drummer. I just used more mics: Neumann U67s on toms, D20s or RE20s (at Electric Lady) on the bass drums, Neumann KM54 or 56 on snare, and either STC 4038s or Beyer M160 ribbon mics for the overheads. One other thing: in order to dampen the snare, Bill just laid his wallet on the top head.”

Leland Sklar, bassist on Spectrum: “Spectrum is such a benchmark for so many people. There was a sort of fire in it. It was new ground and it wasn’t very analytical. It was more flying by the seat of your pants. That’s where great accidents happen, which seems impossible these days. We never did more than a couple of takes on any of it. It was more or less a two-day record. It went by so fast.”

Tommy Bolin, who would go on to join the hard rock band Deep Purple two years later, plays lead guitar.

The song “Stratus” appears in the video game Grand Theft Auto IV of the radio station “Fusion FM”, as well as being the main sample in the Massive Attack hit “Safe from Harm”. (by wikipedia)

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Drummer Billy Cobham was fresh from his success with the Mahavishnu Orchestra when he recorded his debut album, which is still his best. Most of the selections showcase Cobham in a quartet with keyboardist Jan Hammer, guitarist Tommy Bolin, and electric bassist Lee Sklar. Two other numbers include Joe Farrell on flute and soprano and trumpeter Jimmy Owens with guitarist John Tropea, Hammer, bassist Ron Carter, and Ray Barretto on congas. The generally high-quality compositions (which include “Red Baron”) make this fusion set a standout, a strong mixture of rock-ish rhythms and jazz improvising. (by Scott Yanow)

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Personnel:
Tommy Bolin (guitar)
Billy Cobham (drums, electronics)
Jan Hammer (piano, synthesizer)
Lee Sklar (bass)
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Ray Barretto – Congas )on 02. + 05.)
Ron Carter bass on 02. + 05.)
Joe Farrell (saxophone on 02. + 05.)
Jimmy Owens (flugelhorn on 02., trumpet on 05.)
John Tropea (guitar on 05.)

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Tracklist:
01. Quadrant 4 4.20
02. Searching For The Right Door 1.19 / Spectrum 5.07
03. Anxiety 1.41 / Taurian Matador 3.03
04. Stratus 9.48
05. To The Women In My Life 0.51 / Le Lis 3.20
06. Snoopy’s Search 1.02 / Red Baron 6.37
All songs written by Billy Cobham

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The young Tommy Bolin

 

Herbie Hancock – Dedication (1974)

OriginalFrontCover1Dedication is the sixteenth album by Herbie Hancock. It was recorded in Japan in 1974 while Hancock was touring and first released on the Japanese CBS Sony label in September 21, 1974. Hancock performs “Maiden Voyage” and “Dolphin Dance” acoustically, while “Nobu” and “Cantaloupe Island” were performed on electric keyboards. It wasn’t released in CD outside Japan until 2013, as part of the “Herbie Hancock the complete Columbia album collection 1972-1988” box set. The track “Nobu” is regarded by many (including As One) as the first ever techno track, due to its other-worldly repetitive electronic groove.

This is a unique experiment in the Hancock discography, recorded in Tokyo in just one day during a tour of Japan. The first side contains two introspective, complex solo acoustic Posterpiano tracks, “Maiden Voyage” and “Dolphin Dance,” which are notable since they date from a period when Hancock was supposedly totally immersed in electronics. Side two has two even more unusual pieces — “Nobu,” a one-man show recorded in real time with the sample-and-hold feature of an ARP 2600 synthesizer providing a rhythm section for Hancock’s electric keyboards, followed by “Cantaloupe Island” with a pre-recorded synth bassline. Side two is a fascinating look back at the charms and stringent limitations of mid-’70s analog keyboards, as well as a challenge to Hancock’s on-the-wing inventiveness — and despite some inevitable stiffness in the rhythm, he comes through with some colorful work. This would be the first of several Japan-only Hancock albums from the ’70s, an indication that Japanese jazz fans were (and perhaps still are) far more open-minded and free-spending than their American counterparts. (by Richard S. Ginell)

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Personnel:
Herbie Hancock (keybooards)

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Tracklist:
01. Maiden Voyage 7.44
02. Dolphin Dance  11.18
03. Nobu 7.39
04. Cantaloupe Island 13.57

All compositions by Herbie Hancock

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Pat Metheny – Imaginary Day (1997)

FrontCover1Imaginary Day is an album by the Pat Metheny Group, released in 1997 by Warner Bros. Records. The album won the 1999 Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Jazz Album, while “The Roots of Coincidence”, an uncharacteristically aggressive song with hard rock-inspired sections, won Best Rock Instrumental Performance. This album marks the final appearance of longtime drummer Paul Wertico, who would leave in 2001 before the recording of Speaking of Now to work on other projects.

The album leans heavily toward world fusion, drawing upon a variety of global influences. Indonesian styles are particularly pronounced, with Balinese gamelan music appearing in “Imaginary Day” and “Into the Dream”. “The Heat of the Day” demonstrates repetitive hints of Iranian folk music. Imaginary Day also showcases the Group’s first (and thus far, only) forays into rock music and drum and bass with “The Roots of Coincidence”. In “The Awakening”, the album concludes with strongly Gaelic melodies. “The Awakening” and “Follow Me” have been played on The Weather Channel during Local on the 8s.

The liner notes use an image substitution cipher throughout. The CD and CD tray can be lined up to one of three different keys (red, yellow or blue) to translate the majority of the liner notes, which include quotations from authors as well as a short essay by Metheny and Rodby. For example, lining up the arrow on the CD to the red square on the CD tray will decode the front cover as “PAT METHENY GROUP IMAGINARY DAY”. Cover art by Stefan Sagmeister. (by wikipedia)

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More than ever, the Pat Metheny Group is into creating thick, exotic, electronic sonic landscapes, and Imaginary Day goes even further out on the cutting edges of technology and global influences than its predecessors. The floating Metheny group signature is often present but with radically reworked textures, and Brazil seems to be off his international itinerary, replaced by whiffs of repetitive Iranian folk music, Balinese gamelan music, and other global influences. Indeed, Metheny only sounds something like his familiar soft-focused self on “A Story Within the Story,” playing what amounts to a fine hard bop solo, and the song-like “Across the Sky.” At all other times, he expands his sonic palette on various guitar synthesizers and newly minted guitar mutations, at one point assigning an entire solo piece, “Into the Dream,” to the 42-string “pikasso guitar,” which sounds like a glittering African zither. “The Roots of Coincidence” is a total departure for the group, a gleefully hard-edged, out-and-out rock piece with thrash metal and techno-pop episodes joined by abrupt jump cuts. Along with his core lineup of Lyle Mays, Steve Rodby, and Paul Wertico, Metheny also includes the duo of multi-instrumentalists Mark Ledford and David Blamires adding various horns and things, and four top-line percussionists — Mino Cinelu, Dave Samuels, Glen Velez, and Don Alias — replacing departing member Armando Marcal. Through all the experiments, the Metheny Group’s music remains uplifting, intelligent, and always accessible to the casual and attentive ear in the late ’90s, even as it becomes more portentous. The “words” on the cover art and booklet are written in some kind of strange Esperanto alphabet, with symbols and objects replacing each letter, but there are enough translations in plain English to get you through. (by Richard S. Ginell)

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Personnel:
Lyle Mays (keyboards)
Pat Metheny (guitar, guitar synthisizer)
Steve Rodby (bass, cello)
Paul Wertico (drums)
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Don Alias (percussion)
David Blamires (vocals, guitar, trumpet, violin, mellophone, recorder)
Mino Cinelu (percussion)
Mark Ledford (vocals, flugelhorn, trumpet)
Dave Samuels (percussion)
Glen Velez (percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Imaginary Day (Metheny/Mays) 10.11
02. Follow Me (Metheny/Mays) 5.56
03. Into The Dream (Metheny) 2.27
04. A Story Within The Story (Metheny/Mays) 8.01
05. The Heat Of The Day (Metheny/Mays) 9.44
06. Across The Sky (Metheny/Mays) 5.13
07. The Roots Of Coincidence (Metheny/Mays) 7.48
08. Too Soon Tomorrow (Metheny) 5.45
09. The Awakening (Metheny/Mays) 9.28

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Various Artists – Jazz Fusion (1996)

FrontCover1Jazz fusion, fusion, or jazz rock is a musical genre that developed in the late 1960s from mixing funk and rhythm and blues rhythms with the electric instruments, amplified sound, electronic effects and playing styles of rock music together with jazz’s complex time signatures (which were derived from non-Western music) and jazz’s complex chord progressions and altered and extended chords. Fusion musicians typically create extended instrumental compositions based around a melody and a chord progression and lengthy solo improvisations. Fusion songs use brass instruments such as trumpet and saxophone as melody and soloing instruments. The rhythm section typically consists of electric bass (in some cases fretless), electric guitar, electric piano/synthesizer (in contrast to the double bass and piano used in earlier jazz) and drums. As with jazz forms that preceded fusion, all of the instruments–including the rhythm section instruments–are used as soloing instruments and all demonstrate a high level of instrumental technique.

FusionJazzThe term “jazz-rock” is often used as a synonym for “jazz fusion” as well as for music performed by late 1960s and 1970s-era rock bands that added jazz elements to their music. It is different from the UK Canterbury Scene’s progressive rock (“prog”) and other forms of prog-jazz fusion, in which extended prog instrumentals use improvisation and take on a jazz-influenced feel. After a decade of popularity during the 1970s, fusion expanded its improvisatory and experimental approaches through the 1980s, in parallel with the development of a radio-friendly style called smooth jazz. Experimentation continued in the 1990s and 2000s. Fusion albums, even those that are made by the same group or artist, may include a variety of musical styles. Rather than being a codified musical style, fusion can be viewed as a musical tradition or approach. (by wikipedia)

And this is just a sampler with Jazz Fusion … maybe it´s time for you to discover this kind of music … certainly not the worst idea. ! Most of the tracks were recorded during the Seventies … a golden decade for Fusion Jazz !

BackCover1Tracklist:
01. George Benson: Take Five (1974) (Desmond) 3.43
02. Herbie Hancock: Watermelon Man (1974) (Hancock) 5.00
03. Earth Wind & Fire: Love Music (1978) (Scarborough) 3.57
04. Astrud Gilberto: Zazueira (1971) (Ben) 3.42
05. Keith Jarrett: Common Mama (1972) (Jarrett) 8.12
06. Ned Doheny: To Prove My Love (1976) (Doheny) 4.50
07. Ramsey Lewis: Tequila Mockingbird (1977) (Dunn) 5.27
08. George Duke: Look Waht You Find (1979) (Duke) 4.46
09. Deodato: Super Strut (1973) (Deodato) 4.58
10. Stanley Clarke: Rock N Roll Jelly (1979) (Clarke) 2.36
11. Hubert Laws: Family (1980) (Laws) 7.30
12. Lee Ritenour: Theme From Three Day Of The Condor (1976) (Grusin) 4.07
13, Bill Withers: Use (1985) (Withers) 3.49
14. Santana: Tales Of Kilimanjaro (1981) (Santana/Peraza/Rekow/Pasqua) 3.29
15. Weather Report: Black Market (1976) (Zawinul) 6.14
16. Grover Washington Jr.: Love Like This (1992) (Roman/Cox) 4.49

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