Passport – Handmade (1973)

FrontCover1Passport is the creation of saxophonist Klaus Doldinger, who has stated that Passport is not so much a set group but a label and a name for his many projects. Doldinger, who had started out playing Dixieland back in the 1950s, by the following decade was a modern tenor saxophonist who also worked in the studios. His mind has always remained quite open and in 1970 he formed Passport to explore the combination of advanced jazz improvising with rockish rhythms. Passport matches Doldinger’s reeds (tenor, soprano, flute, and occasional keyboards) with an electric rhythm section. The group’s first recording (1971’s Passport) also included Olaf Kübler on second tenor and flute, organist Jimmy Jackson, electric bassist Lother Meid, and drummer Udo Lindenberg.

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Soon the group went through the first of many complete turnovers. The mid-’70s version usually teamed Doldinger with keyboardist Kristian Schultze, electric bassist Wolfgang Schmid, and drummer Curt Cress, and by 1978 the group had changed drastically again. However, no matter who was in the rhythm section, Klaus Doldinger’s lead voice and his band’s musical direction remained consistent through the years. Passport has released numerous albums, initially for Atlantic and subsequently via recordings and reissues for WEA and its subsidiaries and licensees, through into the 21st century, including 1996’s Passport to Paradise, 1997’s Passport Control (on Connoisseur), 1998’s Move, 2000’s Passport Live, and 2003’s Back to Brazil. (by Scott Yanow)

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Here is their 4th album:

This 1973 album is another great recording from German jazz rock band Passport that fits nicely with the definitive albums released by from the band including Looking Thru (1974) and Cross Collateral (1975). As a fan of progressive rock and jazz rock I personally find their interpretation of the jazz rock style very enjoyable.

The lineup on Handmade includes bandleader Klaus Doldinger (tenor and soprano saxophones, mini-moog synthesizer, electric piano, and mellotron); Frank Roberts (Fender electric piano and Hammond organ); the great Curt Cress (drums); and Wolfgang Schmid (electric bass guitar and guitars). The album was produced by none other than Deiter Derks, who worked with a number of German experimental rock groups (e.g. Cosmic Jokers etc.).

The playing on this album is excellent and is in keeping with what you might expect from an instrumental jazz rock album: superb ensemble work and excellent soloing on saxophones, electric piano and other instruments associated with the genre.

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However, there is the prog rock side of the equation too, which includes spacier sections played on the mellotron/mini-moog synthesizer, harmonies/melodies associated with European prog rock, and on occasion, some heavy riffs played in unison on several instruments. Come to think of it, there are also some fairly psychedelic/experimental sections too. I find the overall combination very appealing. The seven tracks on the album range in length from 2:39 to the lengthy title track (9:26).

This album is recommended to those folks that like their jazz rock on the proggier side. Other albums by Passport that might prove enjoyable include Looking Thru and Cross-Collateral , which present a refinement of the basic formula presented on Handmade. Other bands operating in a similar vein include Return to Forever ( Where Have I Known You Before , 1974 and Romantic Warrior , 1976). (J.Park)

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Personnel:
Curt Cress (drums)
Klaus Doldinger (saxophone, piano, mellotron)
Frank Roberts (keyboards)
Wolfgang Schmid (bass, guitar)

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Tracklist:
01. Abracadabra 7.23
02. The Connexion 5.38
03. Yellow Dream 4.22
04. Proclamation 2.42
05. Hand Made 9.31
06. Puzzle 4.08
07. The Quiet Man 4.37
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08, Handmade (live Doldinger Jubilee Concert 1974) 6.10

Music composed by Klaus Doldinger

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Neil Larsen – Through Any Window (1987)

FrontCover1Neil Larsen (born August 7, 1948) is an American jazz keyboardist, musical arranger and composer. He was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Sarasota, Florida before relocating to New York and then, in 1977, Los Angeles.

Larsen was born in Cleveland, Ohio and grew up in Sarasota, Florida. He learned piano, drawing inspiration from jazz artists John Coltrane, Miles Davis and the Modern Jazz Quartet, and from contemporary rock acts.

In 1969, he was drafted to serve in the Vietnam War. During his time in Vietnam, he worked as a band director, co-ordinating musical entertainment for US armed forces personnel. After his discharge, he moved to New York to work as a musician.

While in New York in the early 1970s, Larsen wrote television jingles and played on sessions for various recording artists He formed the band Full Moon with jazz guitarist Buzz Feiten, and their self-titled debut album was released in 1972. Larson was briefly a member of the Soul Survivors. He contributed as keyboardist, writer and arranger on their 1974 self-titled album on the TSOP label. He began touring as a member of Gregg Allman’s band in 1975.

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In 1977, Larsen relocated to Los Angeles, where he played on sessions by producers such as Tommy LiPuma, Russ Titelman and Herb Alpert. These projects led to Larsen signing with Alpert’s record company, A&M Records, for which he recorded on the Horizon label. Larsen’s first album, Jungle Fever, was released in September 1978. Larsen toured the US in support of the release with a band that included Feiten.

The title track from his second album, High Gear, was nominated for the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. The album peaked at number 153 on the Billboard Top LPs & Tape chart in the US and included musical contributions from Feiten, Michael Brecker, Steve Gadd and Paulinho da Costa.

Larsen collaborated further with Feiten in the jazz–rock fusion groups the Larsen Facts Band and the Larsen-Feiten Band. The latter released The Larsen-Feiten Band in 1980 on Warner Bros. Records. He has also recorded and toured with guitarist Robben Ford, who contributed to Larsen’s 2007 album Orbit.

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His compositions have also been recorded by George Benson and Gregg Allman, among others. Larsen took part in Miles Davis’s Rubberband sessions in 1985–86. His song “Carnival” was later adapted by Davis into the piece “Carnival Time”.

Larsen has worked as a session musician for many rock artists, including Rickie Lee Jones, George Harrison, Kenny Loggins and Don McLean. He was the pianist and musical arranger for the 20th Century Fox Television show Boston Legal, and musical director for jazz singer Al Jarreau.

From 2008, he toured and recorded as a member of Leonard Cohen’s band. Larsen performed on Cohen’s Old Ideas album and on the singer’s final world tour, in 2012–13. Cohen regularly introduced him on stage as “today’s foremost exponent of the Hammond B-3 organ”. (wikipedia)

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Through Any Window is the fourth solo album by Neil Larsen, released in 1987

Neil Larsen is a great keyboardist and composer and his 2 previous efforts are among the few fusion records released in the 70s that hold up after time. This was largely due to Neil’s avoiding the trendy synth stuff and using a Hammond organ as his instrument of choice. His partner, guitarist, Buzz Feiten also contributed his stellar talents to these recordings to make them even more enduring. This Cd released in the late 80s suffers from some of the synth crazy sounds he had previously avoided, but still has its moments which include a searing tenor solo from Michael Brecker on “Carnival” and great playing once again from Larsen and Feiten. (A.E. Pagano)

And the best track is a cover version of the classic Booker T. Jones & The MG´s tune “Hip Hug-Her” … hot, very hot …

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Personnel:
Lenny Castro (percussion)
Nathan East (bass)
Buzz Feiten (guitar)
Steve Ferrone (drums)
Neil Larsen (keyboards)
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Michael Brecker (saxophone on 01.)
Brandon Fields (saxophone on 07. + 09.)
Stephen ‘Doc’ Kupka (saxophone on 07.)
Steve Lukather (guitar on 04.)
Ricky Minor (bass on 04.+ 06.)
David Sanborn (saxophone on 05.)

Booklet

Tracklist:
01. Carnival 3.59
02. Alborada 4.00
03. Miss Baby Larue 4.39
04. Blind Spot 5.04
05. Tonar 4.04
06. Tropic Lightning 4.37
07. Last Call 3.43
08. Through Any Window 4.41
09. Hip Hug-Her 4.29

Music composed by Neil Larsen
except 09., written by Steve Cropper – Donald Dunn – Al Jackson Jr. – Booker T. Jones

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The Mark Almond Band – The Last & Live (1981)

FrontCover1Mark-Almond was a British folk-rock-jazz band formed in 1970 by acoustic guitarist Jon Mark and saxophonist and flutist Johnny Almond.

The two met and came to appreciate each other in 1969 as band members of John Mayall, with whom they recorded the albums The Turning Point and Empty Rooms in 1969.

The Mark-Almond Band, which initially included bassist Roger Sutton and keyboardist Tommy Eyre, underwent several line-up changes and minor name changes over the years: “Jon Mark/Johnny Almond”, “The Mark/Almond Band”, “Jon Mark/Mark-Almond Band” and “Mark-Almond Band”. (wikipedia)

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It was the band that couldn’t be; it was the age of the British headliners, and they were the loudest the world had ever heard. Some had been around for a while like The Who, some were relative new-comers like Led Zeppelin. All of a sudden, a band appeared that wasn’t louder than it had to be, and they didn’t even have a drummer. But as soon as they had built an audience with their often-times melancholy songs where the lyrics were important and heart-felt although a bit sentimental at times, they brought in the speediest drummer of all, the veteran of many formations around the great Charles Mingus, none other than Dannie Richmond. Still, the gentle sounds of the vibraphone and the acoustic guitars, the flutes and the flügelhorn dominated, and Mark-Almond survived for almost two decades, five vinyl albums’ worth with a few left-overs and live tracks to surface after it was all over.

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Johnny Almond, Tommy Eyre, Roger Sutton, Ken Craddock and Dannie Richmond are no longer with us, and Jon Mark retired to New Zealand. Some of the members have disappeared without a trace but what hasn’t disappeared is the large audience which regroups as time goes on, fascinated by a rare combination of lyricism, energy, virtuosity and by whatever else defines Mark-Almond’s as mindful music.

In acknowledgment of the influence of the blues, Jon Mark, in 1971, had produced a tribute album to Robert Johnson, who was known as “The King of the Delta Blues Singers”; here, among others, Jon Mark brought in his oldest friend, fellow guitarist Alun Davies who had played with him in Mark-Almond’s predecessor, “Sweet Thursday”.

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More solo work followed after the band’s demise;

“Stay”, now out on vinyl, being just one of a few more.

After the loss of his left-hand ring finger in an accident in Hawaii in 1972, Jon switched to keyboard; his composing style went through several permutations, beginning with “The Standing Stones of Callanish” and continuing with a vast output for the next two decades. (Eckart Rahn)

Mark Almond05I’ve been a fan of the Mark-Almond band for decades. Their work was hard enough to find on LPs. I heard them live in NYC and just fell in love with their breathy jazz. LOTS of instruments. Great horns and Guitars. Their studio albums are great but it’s on the live tracks they really stretch out and give new life to old songs. The selection on this live album is some of their best and live just makes them even better. The Last & Live is a great addition to any (jazz) collection. (Mike Walker)

Mark-Almond are among the most UNDER rated band ever in memory … listen to “The City” and you´ll know what I mean.

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Personnel:
Johnny Almond (saxophone/flute)
Jon Mark (guitar, vocals)
Dave Marotta (bass)
Carlos Rios (guitar)
Mark Ross (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Then I Have You 6.15
02. You Look Just Like A Girl Again 4.49
03. Lonely Girl 8.59
04. Other People´s Rooms 4.44.

05. The Ciy: 30.14.
05.1. New York State Of Mind 3.34
05.2. The City – Part 1 11.28
05.3. The City – Part 2 / New York State Of Mind 14.56

06. Girl On Table Four 5.10
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07. The Last & Live (uncut edition) 1.01.29

All songs written by Jon Mark
except New York State Of Mind written by Billy Joel

My copy was pressed in white vinyl:

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Derek Trucks Band – Same (1997)

FrontCover1Derek Trucks (born June 8, 1979) is an American guitarist, songwriter, and founder of the Grammy Award-winning The Derek Trucks Band. He became an official member of The Allman Brothers Band in 1999. In 2010, he formed the Tedeschi Trucks Band with his wife, blues singer/guitarist Susan Tedeschi. His musical style encompasses several genres and he has twice appeared on Rolling Stone’s list of 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time. He is the nephew of Butch Trucks, drummer for the Allman Brothers.

The Derek Trucks Band was an American jam band founded by young slide guitar prodigy, Derek Trucks, who began playing guitar and touring with some of blues and rock music’s elite when he was just nine years old. After experimenting as an adolescent with musicians he met between tours and recording sessions, Trucks founded The Derek Trucks Band in 1994. With family ties to The Allman Brothers Band, Trucks continued to experiment and play with others, carefully assembling his own band over a period of several years. Led by Trucks and loosely based in his family home in Jacksonville, Florida, the band generally consisted of six members.

The band drew upon the wide variety of the influences and musical preferences of its Derek Trucks01band members. Together, they have gained increasing public notice and critical acclaim for developing a unique sound of their own. Melding together blues, southern rock, jazz, rhythm and blues, gospel, soul, funk with Hindustani classical music, afro-beat and world fusion, the band has released six studio albums, two live albums, and a live DVD. The bandmates have combined their talents to perform pieces from some of the most highly regarded musicians before them, while at the same time collaborating on writing the songs they have recorded. The band’s eclectic sound is a way for Trucks to explore his own creativity alongside his role as a guest, and eventually a permanent member, in The Allman Brothers Band.

The Derek Trucks Band (often called simply, Derek Trucks) is the debut album by American jam band The Derek Trucks Band, released on October 7, 1997. The album was recorded between September 30-October 4, 1996 at Dockside Studios, Maurice. The album is composed mainly of re-arranged jazz and blues classics and the rest are original compositions by the band. Derek was seventeen years old at the time of the release of the album. In 2008, the album was made available digitally, and is now available on iTunes, and other online retailers like Real, Rhapsody, Yahoo! Music, eMusic, Napster and Puretracks. (wikipedia)

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Derek Trucks began building his own legacy at the age of 12, playing scorching slide guitar that prompted many to hypothesize that he was the reincarnation of Duane Allman in the flesh. The nephew of Allman Brothers Band drummer Butch Trucks, Derek was virtually born into a show business family, but don’t think for a minute that he doesn’t create his own opportunity. Backed by a skin-tight rhythm section and complimented by a top-notch organist, the youthful guitarist blazes through new arrangements of jazz and blues classics. He turns the trumpet wizardry of Miles Davis into slide-guitar magic, and his readings of a couple of Coltrane tunes pack a terrific punch. The band also contribute several of their own compositions, paving the way for a bright future as a group of tight-knit, talented musicians. A flawless recording. (by Michael B. Smith)

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Personnel:
Bill McKay (keyboards, synthesizer, clavinet, vocals on 03.)
Todd Smallie (bass)
Yonrico Scott (drums, percussion)
Derek Trucks (guitar, sarod)

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Tracklist:
01. Sarod (Trucks) 0.35
02. Mr. P.C. (Coltrane) 5.32
03. 555 Lake (McKay/Scott/Smallie/Trucks) 6.37
04. D Minor Blues (Oakes/Trucks) 6.05
05. #6 Dance (Oakes/Trucks) 2.41
06. Footprints (Shorter) 4.23
07. Out Of Madness (Scott/Smallie/Trucks) 4.12
08. Naima (Coltrane) 5.02
09. So What (Davis) 4.41
10. Evil Clown (McKay/Scott/Smallie/Trucks) 4.34
11. Egg 15 (Roper/Smallie/Trucks) 7.41
12. Sarod Outro (Trucks) 0.43

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Terje Rypdal – Bleak House (1968)

FrontCover1Terje Rypdal (born 23 August 1947) is a Norwegian guitarist and composer. He has been an important member in the Norwegian jazz community, and has also given show concerts with guitarists Ronni Le Tekrø and Mads Eriksen as “N3”.

Rypdal was born in Oslo, Norway, the son of a composer and orchestra leader. He studied classical piano and trumpet as a child, and then taught himself to play guitar as he entered his teens. Starting out as a Hank Marvin-influenced rock guitarist with The Vanguards, Rypdal turned towards jazz in 1968 and joined Jan Garbarek’s group and later George Russell’s sextet and orchestra. An important step towards international attention was his participation in the free jazz festival in Baden-Baden, Germany, in 1969, where he was part of a band led by Lester Bowie.[1] During his musical studies at Oslo university and conservatory, he led the orchestra of the Norwegian version of the musical Hair. He has often been recorded on the ECM record label, both jazz-oriented material and classical compositions (some of which do not feature Rypdal’s guitar).

His compositions “Last Nite” and “Mystery Man” were featured in the Michael Mann film Heat, and included on the soundtrack of the same name.

Rypdal was married (1969–1985) to the Norwegian singer Inger Lise Andersen/Rypdal, and they had two children, the auditor Daniel (1970) and the electronica musician Marius (1977). Rypdal was married again in 1988 to Elin Kristin Bergei (born 28 May 1955). They have two children Ane Izabel (1988) and the guitarist Jakob Rypdal (1989). They (as of 2013) live in Tresfjord. (wikipedia)

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Psychedelic rock was hardly a recognized genre in 1967 Norway, but it was where a self-taught guitarist, barely out of his teens, made a brief stop on his way to becoming a global force in music. Terje Rypdal recorded a single album with a group called The Dream that year. The group subsequently signed with Polydor Records and disbanded before recording again. It proved to be an open door for Rypdal as he stayed with the label under cover of his new band with Jan Garbarek and Jon Christensen. Bleak House was originally released in 1968 and now Round 2 Records has licensed the groundbreaking album for re-release.

A joint venture between Norwegian record store Big Dipper and an independent label, Jansen Plateproduksjon, Round 2 has a goal of re-releasing both classic and obscure Norwegian albums, on vinyl. Since 2015 the label has released a selective seven albums leading up to Bleak House which was culled from three live concerts that occurred in October 1968 in Germany. A number of Norwegian musicians make sporadic appearances including tenor saxophonist Knut Riisnæs and pianist/organist Christian Reim, a holdover from The Dream.

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Side A opens with “Dead Man’s Tale” a beautiful and bluesy piece that features Rypdal on guitar and flute, adding a vocal performance as well. Reim’s Hammond organ reverberates with the sound of the British Invasion of the 1960s. “Wes” is Rypdal’s tribute to Wes Montgomery, but more in spirit than practice. With ten horns participating, the number has a frenzied pace that owes much to Rypdal’s mentor George Russell. Winter Serenade is a three-part suite beginning with “Falling Snow,” a discreet duet with Rypdal and Reim. The “Snow Storm” movement is given some menacing life with the searing saxophones of Garbarek and Carl Magnus Neumann before Reim ushers in the tranquility of “Snow Melts.” Side B begins with the title track, its scope and sound reflecting the 1960s changing jazz scene in Europe with a collective avant-garde swing. “Sonority” and “A Feeling Of Harmony” close the side with pulsating heat and light.

The reissue of Bleak House gives us a lot to unpack. From a historical perspective, it represents a bridge in the European transition from jazz-rock into their unique avant-garde/free jazz hybrid. For Rypdal—even at this early stage of his career—his incorporation of post-bop, fusion and avant-garde, into a cohesive album, was a peerless feat of imagination. Rypdal has always been a heady composer, capable of floating intoxicatingly discordant melodies, impressionism such as that on “Winter Serenade,” or an unearthly sadness in his reflective pieces. Bleak House is a timeless and important recording and a pleasure to hear in this remastered format. (by Karl Ackermann)

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Personnel:
Jon Christensen (drums o 02. – 05.)
Ditlef Eckhoff (trumpet on 02.)
Kåre Furuholmen (trumpet on 02. + 04.)
Jan Garbarek (saxophone, bells, flute on 02. – 05.,)
Frøydis Ree Hauge (horns on 05. + 06.)
Kjell Haugen (trombone on 02., 04. + 05.)
Jarl Johansen (trumpet on 02. – 05.)
Tom Karlsen (drums on 01.)
Hans Knudsen saxophone on 02. + 05.)
C. M. Neumann (saxophone, flute on 02 – 05.)
Tore Nilsen (trombone on 02.)
Christian Reim (keyboards)
Knut Riisnæs (saxophone on 03.)
Terje Rypdal (guitar, flute, vocals)
Frode Thingnæs (tuba, trombone on 04. + 05.)
Odd Ulleberg (horns on 05. + 06.)
Terje Venaas (bass on 02. – 05.)
Øivind Westby (trombone on 02.)

Alternate front+backcover:
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Tracklist:
01. Dead Man´s Tale 7.08
02. Wes 4:15
03. Winter Serenade 6.08
03.1. Falling Snow
03.2.Snow Storm
03.3. Melting Snow
04. Bleak House 7.07
05. Sonority 5.24
06. A Feeling Of Harmony 3.01

Music composed by Terje Rypdal

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Jan Akkerman – Can´t Stand Noise (1983)

FrontCover1Jan Akkerman (born 24 December 1946) is a Dutch guitarist.He first found international commercial success with the band Focus, which he co-founded with Thijs van Leer. After leaving Focus, he continued as a solo musician, adding jazz fusion influences.

The son of a scrap iron trader, Akkerman was born in Amsterdam. At age five he took guitar lessons and his first single was released in 1960, when he was thirteen years old. Akkerman won a scholarship to study at the Amsterdam Music Lyceum for five years, developing his composition and arranging skills.

At eleven he was in the rock band Johnny and his Cellar Rockers with his friend Pierre van der Linden. Both then joined The Hunters. After seeing a performance by classical guitarist Julian Bream, he became interested in medieval music and the lute. He started the band Brainbox with van der Linden, Kaz Lux, and Bert Ruiter. They recorded for Parlophone.

Johnny And His Cellar Rockers featuring Jan Akkerman:Johnny And His Cellar Rockers Featuring Jan Akkerman

Akkerman joined the Thijs van Leer Trio in late 1969 which, as the nascent band Focus, was the pit band for the Dutch theatrical production of Hair (recorded as an album in 1969). Under the name Focus, the band explored progressive rock, an amalgam of classical, jazz, and rock music, and had hits in the seventies such as “Hocus Pocus” and “Sylvia”. The band’s albums Focus II and Focus 3 were certified Gold. In 1973 Akkerman was voted Best Guitarist in the World by readers of the UK magazine Melody Maker. With manufacturer Framus he helped produce one of the first signature guitar models.

Atlantic released his solo album Tabernackel, which contains his playing the lute. His concept album Eli, recorded with Kaz Lux on vocals, won the Dutch Edison Award for best album in 1976. On the album, Akkerman experimented with a 12-string guitar tuned in parallel fifths. In the late 1970s he began to use a guitar synthesizer, as on the album Oil in the Family. In 1985, he reunited Focus with van Leer for concerts and an album. The band reunited again in 1990 for the Dutch television program Goud van Oud (Old Gold).

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Akkerman was a session musician with André Hazes and worked with Alan Price, Herman Brood, Peter Banks, Jack Bruce, Charlie Byrd, Phil Collins, Paco de Lucía, Ice-T, and B.B. King.

In 1992, he was involved in a car accident, but he resumed playing in 1993. In the late 1990s, after an absence of nearly 20 years, he was persuaded to tour the UK again. He wrote for the Dutch magazine GitaarPlus. In 2013, Akkerman released the album North Sea Jazz. (wikipedia)

UK frontcover, 1986:
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Through this album Jan Akkerman demonstrates his consistency in terms of musical approach where he chose jazz-rock as a platform and let the improvisation, not necessarily using guitar as main soloist, works on top of that platform. He proves it through the composition he crafted at the opening track “Pietons” where the basic platforms is so obvious in jazz-rock landscape. Well, not all of his albums in the same vein though.

As far as composition, I enjoy the fourth track “Journey (A Real Elegant Gypsy)” which initially presumed would be similar, musically, with Al Di Meola’s. One really can sense his guitar style having listened to some of his albums. Other tracks “Back To The Factory” and “Just Because” demonstrate his virtuosities not only in playing his guitar strings but also in composing music under jazz-roxck vein … Peace on earth and mercy mild (by Gatot)

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Personnel:
Jan Akkerman (guitar,  bass, lute, percussion)
Tom Dijkman (drums on 07. – 10.)
Marc van de Geer (keyboards on 02. – 06.)
Lesly Joseph (bass on 07. – 10.)
Willem Swikker (keyboards on 07. – 10.)
Dino Walcott (bass on 05. + 06.)
Hans Waterman (drums on 05. + 06.)

CD front + backover:
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Tracklist:
01. Piétons (Akkerman) 8.00
02. Everything Must Change (Ighner) 6.29
03. Back To The Factory (Akkerman) 7.51
04. Journey (A Real Elegant Gipsy) (Flynn) 4.29
05. Heavy Treasure (Akkerman) 8.58
06. Just Because (Akkerman) 5.40
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bonus tracks (Recorded live 1993, at the Schauspielhaus Lelystad)
07. Crackers (Akkerman) 9.38
08. Burgers Blues (Intro) (Akkerman) 3.18
09. Prima Donna (Akkerman) 5.19
10. Sketches Of Pleasure (Akkerman) 11.10

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Harvey Mandel – Live At Broadway Studios 2001 (2018)

FrontCover1Harvey Mandel (born March 11, 1945, in Detroit, Michigan, United States) is an American guitarist known for his innovative approach to electric guitar playing. A professional at twenty, he played with Charlie Musselwhite, Canned Heat, the Rolling Stones, and John Mayall as well as starting a solo career. Mandel is one of the first rock guitarists to use two-handed fretboard tapping. (by wikipedia)

Always the innovator, always in demand and a pioneer of electric blues, few guitarists can claim to have played with John Mayall, Canned Heat and the Rolling Stones, performed at Woodstock and at the Grammy Awards with Bob Dylan.

Harvey The Snake Mandel’s career has spanned over 50 years, bridging the gap between the blues, jazz and rock with his two handed fretboard tapping and his creative use of sustain and controlled feedback. Mandel was a major influence on the styles of legendary artists Stanley Jordan, Eddie Van Halen and Steve Vai, among others.

Born in Michigan but raised in Chicago, he played with other Second City blues and rock greats like Charlie Musselwhite, Howlin’ Wolf, Mike Bloomfield, Steve Miller, Muddy Waters and Barry Goldberg before moving to San Francisco after being invited to play at the Fillmore by Bill Graham. And the Snake (so named by Barry Goldberg) continues to perform at a high level as hen tours with the Chicago Blues Reunion and the Snake Crew. (Press release)

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BLUES GUITARIST? ROCK GUITARIST? JAZZ GUITARIST? HIS OWN MAN ON THE GUITAR.

Mandel has long been known to fans as a “player’s player” when it came to the electric guitar. I first heard him on the “Stand Back!” album (which I still own) by Charlie (Charley) Musselwhite in ’66, and then on a pre-release of Mandel’s first solo album “Cristo Redentor” in ’68. He has released a number of albums under his own name which have been collected into a box set (with an unissued live set from the Matrix Club) which is now pretty expensive.

This (78 + minutes) album, recorded in 2001 in front of a live studio audience, can sit alongside his other albums as another good example of his guitar playing. The band is Mandel-guitar, John Ulen-drums, Joe Devito-bass, and Dave Scott-keyboards. The sound is very immediate, clean, and open, taken from digital soundboard sources, but has a couple of slight, very short sound level problems–but these are of no real concern.

This instrumental set includes versions of well known Mandel tunes like “Before Six”, “Christo Redentor”, and “Wade In The Water”, plus “The Snake”, “Blues Shuffle”, “Experimental Song”, “Midnight Sun” and a couple of others. This album is a showcase for Mandel in a straight quartet setting which accentuates his guitar playing. But his band too are no slouches on their respective instruments–especially Devito’s bass–which is almost a second lead instrument. The majority of the songs are in the 6 + to 8 + minutes range giving Mandel and the band room to expand the music in this stripped down setting playing for a live audience. “Wade In The Water” is 14 minutes long, giving the band a chance to really explore this tune. Included on this set are genres like the blues, rock, jazz, and a nice swinging shuffle, all of which show Mandel’s overall abilities exploring the sonic capabilities on his guitar.

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Fans of Mandel will want to give this a close listen. On”Christo Redentor” Mandel uses his guitar in place of the wordless vocals on the original album version. “Blues” is just that–a scorching example of Mandel’s blues chops–in his own inimitable style. But every tune has something that makes it well worth hearing for Mandel fans or fans of the electric guitar. There’s no fancy, intricate or cluttered arrangements–just Mandel in front of a basic band of sympathetic players which is perfect for hearing Mandel do his thing. And he does it.

There’s no booklet–just a single cover sheet with a short essay on the back. Too bad there’s spelling and grammatical errors–someone wasn’t paying attention. But in the end it’s the music that’s important–and this live set delivers on all counts. This is another example of what Mandel fans have known for some time–with all the albums he’s released–that he’s perhaps the best living relatively still unknown electric guitarist today. Just listen to “Midnight Sun”, with it’s distorted tone full of sustain and controlled feedback and fret board tapping. Ahh…yes. (Stuart Jefferson)

Recorded before an enthusiastic audience at Broadway Studios in San Francisco,
on June 21, 2001.

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Personnel:
Joe Devito (bass)
Harvey Mandel (guitar)
Dave Scott (keyboards)
John Ulen (drums)

Alternate frontcovers:
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Tracklist:
01. Before Six (Fraiser) 8.46
02. Blues Shuffle (unknown) 7.31
03. Blues (unknown) 8.32
04. Christo Redentor (Pearson) 7.51
05. Emerald Triangle (Mandel) 5.34
06. Experimental Song (Mandel) 4.59
07. Midnight Sun (Mandel) 7.31
08. The Bad Monster (Mandel) 6.13
09. The Snake (Mandel/Taylor) 7.17
10. Wade In The Water (Traditional) 14.00

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Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express – Happiness Heartaches (1977)

FrontCover1Brian Albert Gordon Auger (born 18 July 1939) is an English jazz rock and rock music keyboardist who specializes in the Hammond organ.

Auger has worked with Rod Stewart, Tony Williams, Jimi Hendrix, John McLaughlin, Sonny Boy Williamson, Eric Burdon. He incorporated jazz, early British pop, R&B, soul music, and rock into his sound. He has been nominated for a Grammy Award.

In 1965, Auger played on “For Your Love” by The Yardbirds as a session musician. That same year, Auger formed the group The Steampacket with Long John Baldry, Julie Driscoll, Vic Briggs, and Rod Stewart. Due to contractual problems there were no official recordings made by the band; nevertheless, nine tracks were laid down for promotional use in late 1965 and released on a CD by Repertoire Records in 1990 (licensed from Charly Records) as well as 12 live tracks from Live at the Birmingham Town Hall, February 2, 1964. Stewart left in early 1966 and soon thereafter the band broke up.

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With Driscoll and the band Trinity, he went on to record a cover version of David Ackles’ “Road to Cairo” and Bob Dylan’s “This Wheel’s on Fire”, which appeared on Dylan Covered. In 1969 Auger, Driscoll, and Trinity performed in the United States on the NBC special 33⅓ Revolutions Per Monkee.

In 1970, he formed the jazz fusion ensemble Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express shortly after abandoning the abortive “Wassenaar Arrangement” jazz rock commune in a small suburb of The Hague. Oblivion Express cultivated the talents of several notable musicians, including Average White Band drummers Robbie McIntosh and Steve Ferrone, as well as guitarist Jim Mullen. In 1971 he produced and appeared on Mogul Thrash’s only album, Mogul Thrash. Two members of that band, Roger Ball and Malcolm Duncan, would go on to form the Average White Band.

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Auger toured with Kim Simmonds, Gregg Errico, and Tim Bogert in the mid 1980s in a band they called Maestro. No album resulted from this collaboration and tour. In 1986, he played keyboards for the Italian singer Mango on the album Odissea.
Brian Auger after a show at the Cabaret de Monte-Carlo with bassist-arranger Pino Presti in 2006

In 1989, Auger was musical director for the thirteen-part film retrospective series Villa Fantastica made for German TV. A live recording of the series, Super Jam (1990), features Auger on piano, Pete York on drums, Dick Morrissey on tenor saxophone, Roy Williams on trombone, Harvey Weston on bass guitar, and singers Zoot Money and Maria Muldaur.

Auger toured with Eric Burdon in the early 1990s and recorded the live album Access All Areas with him in 1993. Oblivion Express was revived in 2005 with recording and touring. The group featured Brian Auger, his son Karma Auger on drums, his daughter Savannah Auger on vocals, and Derek Frank on bass.

In 2012, Auger released Language of the Heart, one of the few solo albums of his career, produced by Tea. It features Jeff “Skunk” Baxter and Julian Coryell on guitars.

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In 2014, Auger was invited by producer Gerry Gallagher to record with El Chicano as well as Alphonse Mouzon, David Paich, Alex Ligertwood, Ray Parker Jr., Lenny Castro, Vikki Carr, Pete Escovedo, Peter Michael Escovedo, Jessy J, Salvador Santana, Marcos J. Reyes, Siedah Garrett, Walfredo Reyes Jr., and Spencer Davis. This major recording project is due for release in 2019.

In 2014 Brian Auger and Oblivion Express played at the KJAZZ festival in Los Angeles and toured in Japan and Europe with Karma Auger on drums, daughter Ali Auger on vocals, Alex Ligertwood on vocals, Yarone Levy on guitar, Les King on bass, and Travis Carlton on bass. (by wikipedia)

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Originally released in 1977, and reissued on CD by Wounded Bird, Happiness Heartaches is a rock solid date by the Oblivion Express. Along with Brian Auger’s gigantic musical personality, the set is also driven in equal part by former Miles Davis and Return To Forever drummer Lenny White, as well as percussionist Lennox Laington. Rhythm is the key to groove, and it is displayed here in overdrive. This is “groove jazz” with teeth, and a deeply funky and welcome alternative to the increasing presence of disco drum machines in jazz recordings. And make no mistake, Happiness Heartaches is a jazz record, a claim many of the era’s jazzmen who were recording cannot hope to claim, so complete was their cave in to disco’s chart influence. “Spice Island,” with its languid vocal line and melody, influenced by Airto and Flora to be sure, but also by Leon Thomas’ solo recordings, is a case in point. Auger’s contrapuntal solo coming as a tag off the vocal and being played foil to by Jack Mills’ guitar is simply sublime. On “Gimme A Funky Beat,” the band takes the notion of Brazilian Carnaval into overdrive, with a rollicking bassline by Clive Chaman.

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Alex Ligertwood’s vocals leave a bit to be desired, as he is clearly not a jazz singer, but they aren’t too irritating. The set ends with a tour de force by Auger entitled “Paging Mr. McCoy,” a keyboard orgy propelled by the rhytmnatist’s percussion team. It’s full of crescendos, stops, starts, and side passages (like a beautiful, sped-up quote from the theme of John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme”) as well as regal overtones. The only real complaint is a consistent one regarding Wounded Bird’s reissues: rather than recasting and re-contextualizing the original cover art, they just shrink it, and there are no liner notes, making for a shoddy little package. Nevertheless, the music’s the important thing, so despite the real lack of aesthetics shown by the label visually, this is certainly a welcome addition to ever Brian Auger collection. (by Thom Jurek)

Oh yes, this is the funky side of Brian Auger !

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Personnel:
Brian Auger (keyboards)
Clive Chaman (bass)
Lennox Langton (percussion)
Alex Ligertwood (vocals, guitar)
Jack Mills (guitar)
Lenny White (drums, percussion)

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Tracklist:
01. Back Street Bible Class (Auger) 5.28
02. Spice Island (Mills/Auger) 8.56
03. Gimme A Funky Break (Ligertwood) 4.39
04. Never Gonna Come Down (Chaman) 5.34
05. Happiness Heartaches (Dennison/Ligertwood) 5.14
06. Got To Be Born Again (Langton) 4.18
07. Paging Mr. McCoy (Auger) 4.30

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Mahavishnu Orchestra – Mahavishnu (1984)

FrontCover1Mahavishnu Orchestra was an American jazz fusion band formed in New York City in 1971, by the English guitarist John McLaughlin. The band underwent several line-up changes throughout its history across two stints from 1971 to 1976 and 1984 to 1987.[2] With its first line-up consisting of musicians Billy Cobham, Jan Hammer, Jerry Goodman and Rick Laird, the band received its initial acclaims for its complex, intense music consisting of a blend of Indian classical music, jazz and psychedelic rock, and their dynamic live performances between 1971 and 1973.

Mahavishnu is an album by the Mahavishnu Orchestra, released in 1984 by Warner Bros. Records. During the 1980s, John McLaughlin reformed the Mahavishnu Orchestra for release of the two albums Mahavishnu and Adventures in Radioland. This band’s overall sound was radically different from the original Mahavishnu Orchestra, in particular because of McLaughlin’s extensive use of the Synclavier synthesiser system. This album features original Mahavishnu Orchestra drummer Billy Cobham. (by wikipedia)

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1984’s Mahavishnu was supposed to mark the return of drummer Billy Cobham to John McLaughlin’s side. Although the reunion ended badly behind the scenes, the record did manage to display some of the historic interplay these musician’s had shared in the past. The album does suffer from a lack of focus which could be blamed on McLaughlin’s new guitar synthesizer, which he tended to use too much. Many times the listener is not aware John is even playing because the damn synth didn’t sound like a guitar at all ! But again, John was in the forefront of the technology at the time and his indulging can be forgiven. He would eventually find his voices on his acoustic-synth trio outings.

Mahavishnu consisted of Miles’ sax man Bill Evans, outrageous bassist Jonas Helborg, brilliant keyboardest Mitchel Forman and an ever-developing Danny Gottlieb, replacing Cobham on tour, on drums. This band would not realize its full potential until Adventures In Radioland.

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Still, Mahavishnu offers “Clarendon Hills”, a tune penned by Evans, which is a full-out sonic attack which is among the best compositions McLaughlin has ever recorded. Katia LaBeque, ex-girlfriend of John McLaughlin and wonderful pianist, once again adds her talents and very effectively so on the Indian piece “When Blue Turns Gold” which brings the album to a droning close. For those of you able to obtain this record, remember… “Too dark. Use flash”. (Walter Kolosky)

This album somehow seems to have offended the gods, in as much as it garnered fairly poor reviews and often seems to be omitted from the discographies of both John McLaughlin AND the Mahavishnu Orchestra. My personal view is that the disdain is undeserved.

Whilst the keyboard and guitar sounds make it very much of its time, the solid rhythm section of Billy Cobham and Jonas Hellborg mostly keep it driving along, and there are some beautiful moments along the way.

Personal favourite tracks are: the opener, “Radio-Activity”, which combines typically liquid lines from McLaughlin and saxophonist Bill Evans with some fiery work from Cobham on double bass drum; the second track, “Nostalgia”, which is a moody and contemplative ballad; and the penultimate track, “Pacific Express”, which sees McLaughlin in his usual rapid-fire mode.

All in all, it’s an album I return to every year or two, and I’m always reminded how much I like it! (by Patrick Moore)

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Personnel:
Billy Cobham (drums, percussion)
Bill Evans (saxophone, flute)
Mitchel Forman – Fender Rhodes, Yamaha DX7, Yamaha “Blow Torch” Piano on “Clarendon Hills”
Jonas Hellborg (bass)
John McLaughlin (guitar, synclavier II, digital guitar)
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Hari Prasad Chaurasia -(flute on 09.)
Danny Gottlieb (percussion)
Zakir Hussain (tabla on 09.)
Katia Labeque (synthesizer, piano on 09.)

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Tracklist:
01. Radio-Activity 6.47
02. Nostalgia 5.56
03. Nightriders 3.45
04. East Side West Side 4.47
05. Clarendon Hills 6.04
06. Jazz 1.43
07. The Unbeliever 2.47
08. Pacific Express 6.23
09. When Blue Turns Gold 3.15

Music compsoed by John McLaughlin,
except 05, which was written by Bill Evans

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Keef Hartley Band – British Radio Sessions 1969 – 1971 (2013)

FrontCover1And here´s the story of a forgotten but really great musician, Keef Hartley:

Keith “Keef” Hartley (8 April 1944 – 26 November 2011) was an English drummer and bandleader. He fronted his own eponymous band, known as the Keef Hartley Band or Keef Hartley’s Big Band, and played at Woodstock. He was later a member of Dog Soldier, and variously worked with Rory Storm, The Artwoods and John Mayall.

born in Plungington, north-west Preston, Lancashire. He studied drumming under Lloyd Ryan, who also taught Phil Collins the drum rudiments. His career began as the replacement for Ringo Starr as a drummer for Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, a Liverpool-based band, after Ringo joined The Beatles. Subsequently he played and recorded with The Artwoods, then achieved some notability as John Mayall’s drummer (including his role as the only musician, other than Mayall, to play on Mayall’s 1967 “solo” record The Blues Alone). He then formed The Keef Hartley (Big) Band, mixing elements of jazz, blues, and rock and roll; the group played at Woodstock in 1969. However, the band was the only artist that played at the festival whose set was never included on any officially released album (prior to 2019), nor on the soundtrack of the film.

They released five albums, including Halfbreed and The Battle of North West Six (characterised by a reviewer for the Vancouver Sun as “an amazing display of virtuosity”).

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While in John Mayall, Mayall had pushed Hartley to form his own group. A mock-up of the “firing” of Hartley was heard on the Halfbreed album’s opening track, “Sacked.” The band for the first album comprised: Miller Anderson, guitar and vocals, Gary Thain (bass), later with Uriah Heep; Peter Dines (organ) and Ian Cruickshank (as “Spit James”) (guitar). Later members to join Hartley’s fluid lineup included Mick Weaver (aka Wynder K. Frog) organ, Henry Lowther (b. 11 July 1941, Leicester, England; trumpet/violin), Jimmy Jewell (saxophone), Johnny Almond (flute), Jon Hiseman and Harry Beckett. Hartley, often dressed as an American Indian sometimes in full head-dress and war-paint, was a popular attraction on the small club scene.

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His was one of the few British bands to play the Woodstock Festival, where his critics compared him favourably with Blood Sweat And Tears. “The Battle Of NW6” in 1969 further enhanced his club reputation, although chart success still eluded him. By the time of the third album both Lowther and Jewell had departed; however, Hartley always maintained that his band was like a jazz band, in that musicians could come and go and would be free to play with other aggregations.

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After that Hartley released a ‘solo’ album (Lancashire Hustler, 1973) and then he formed Dog Soldier with Miller Anderson (guitar), Paul Bliss (bass), Derek Griffiths (guitar) and Mel Simpson (keyboards). They released an eponymous album in 1975, which had a remastered release in early 2011 on CD on the Esoteric label.

In 2007, Hartley released a ghostwritten autobiography, Halfbreed (A Rock and Roll Journey That Happened Against All the Odds). Hartley wrote about his life growing up in Preston, and his career as a drummer and bandleader, including the Keef Hartley Band’s appearance at Woodstock.

Hartley died on 26 November 2011, aged 67, at Royal Preston Hospital in Fulwood, north Preston (by wikipedia)

Gary Thain & Keef Hartley

Jazz/Rock perfection !
In its pomp, the Keef Hartley Band was an extraordinarily powerful combination of rock and jazz. These sessions recapture the excitement of their live performances. A laconic introduction by John Peel gives way to the wonderfully driving medley Overdog/Roundabout/Just to Cry/Sinning for you, where the musicianship and sheer musical exuberance leave you gasping. Congratulations to whoever dug these forgotten gems out of the lockers. The BBC sound engineers did a top job. If you want to understand why some many modern sound so pallid, just sit back and enjoy this amazing collection. (Amazon Customer)

Jimmy Jewell
I wasn’t expecting much. Despite Keef Hartley being a superb drummer, always surrounded by incredible musicians – including Henry Lowther on trumpet and Gary Thain on bass and making some seminally robust albums- I wasn’t expecting much. Of course the musicianship is always top-notch but what about the sound quality…? Well, I needn’t have worried. The musicianship is amazing and the sound quality excellent (and on the latter point, I am very fussy). The release includes material from their best albums (the first four – where Miller Anderson provided lead vocals) with the tracks being extended (particularly with more brass) than the original studio versions. the very small downside is that Spit James doesn’t appear anywhere on this platter. [He was the lead guitarist on the incredible first album Halfbreed and a bit on the second…]. Anyway an essential purchase for any Keef fan which includes two tracks at the end from the Miller Anderson Band which fit in perfect. Essential !  (by Camarillo Brillo)

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Another of those great BBC recordings that make one wish they had been around in those days. John Mayall really knew how to pick guitar players and drummers. Keef Hartley band along with Jon Hiseman’s Colosseum are just two of the many fine bands that came from the Mayall school of band leading. We also get to hear the fantastic Miller Anderson on this album (by Peter Hodgson)

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Indeed: What a wonderful way to discover the fanststic sound, that great power of the Keef Hartley Band … and if you love Colosseum … than ist his album a must !!!

And I add the story of Keef Hartley by the deleted ammoniterecords.demon.co.uk

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Personnel:
Miller Anderson (guitar, vocals)
Harry Beckett (trumpet)
Mike Davis (trumpet)
Peter Dines (organ)
Lyn Dobson (saxophone, flute)
Dave Gaswell (trumpet, flugelhorn)
Keef Hartley (drums, percussion)
Spit James (guitar)
Lyle Jenkins (saxophone, flute)
Jimmy Jewell (saxophone)
Henry Lowther (trumpet, violin)
Chris Mercer (saxophone)
Gary Thain (bass)
Mick Weaver (keyboards)

Alternate front + backcover:
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Tracklist:
01. Medley 25.12
01.1. Overdog (Anderson)
01.2. Roundabout (Anderson)
01.3. Just To Cry’ (Lowther/Finnegan)
01.4. Sinnin’ For You (Anderson/Hartley/Dines/Finnegan) 3.20
02. You Can’t Choose (Anderson) 5.56
03. You Can’t Take It With You (Anderson) 8.00
04. Sinnin’ For You (Anderson/Hartley/Dines/Finnegan) 3:40
05. Inerview with Keef Hartley 1.09
06. Me And My Woman (Barge) 3.37
07. Too Much Thinkin’ # 1 (studio reccording) 5.43
08. Waiting Around (Anderson/Hartley/Thain) 2.24
09. Just To Cry (Lowther/Finnegan) 3.40
16. Shadows Across The Wall (Anderson) 4.36
17. To Whom It May Concern (Live Miller Anderson Band) (Anderson) 3.19
18. High Tide, High Water (Live Miller Anderson Band) (Anderson) 7.27

Track 01.: Recorded Live At The Paris Theatre London For “Sunday Concert” On 25th March 1971
Tracks 02. – 03.: Recorded Live In London For “Sunday Concert” On 23rd January 1970
Tracks 04. – 05: Recorded In London For “Top Gear” On 29th April 1969
Tracks 06. – 11.: Recorded In London For “Sunday Concert” On 12th November 1970
Track 12.: Recorded In London For “Top Gear” On 29th April 1969
Tracks 13. – 14.: Recorded In London For “Top Gear” On 14th November 1969
Tracks 15. – 16.: Recorded In London For “Sounds Of The Seventies” On 17th June 1971
Tracks 17. – 18.: Recorded Live At The Paris Theatre London On 13th September 1971

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Keith “Keef” Hartley (8 April 1944 – 26 November 2011)