Luke Leilani & His Royal Hawaiians – Hawaiian Moonbeams – Hawaii Goes Percussion (1957)

OriginalFrontCover1Hawaiian Moonbeams is the only full-length artifact of the eponymous band, released in 1957 on the Coronet label… and shrouded in mystery. Even as an Exotica fan, I prefer mystique in my music rather than cobwebbed history, but in the case of this album, the revelations and peculiarities are particularly noteworthy. Who are the Hawaiian Moonbeams? I wish I could tell. The liner notes do not reveal anything but prosaic hogwash about Hawaii. It is safe to assure that two gentlemen are behind this project, or to be more precise: two steel guitarists, with at least one of them being a known expert in his field, but more about this later. The album comprises ten songs, surprisingly enough all of them unique material, with a few purposeful chords of Hawaiian classics thrown in for the aficionado.

There are two instances where a ukulele player joins the duo, but apart from his appearance, there is anything but shedloads of steel guitars. One thing, however, is certain: despite this minimal instrumental base, the tonal range of the steel guitars lures and is able to deliver more plasticity and colorful hues than many other Hawaiian albums. The novelty factor of two steel guitarists is not overly huge, this is still a proper Hapa Haole album, albeit one where the reduction helps carving out the richness of the textures, surfaces and halftones.

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Now that this is settled, let me briefly unveil one of the most audacious naming convention-related incidents in Exotica history, for this album is also re-issued in the late 50’s and early 60’s as Hawaii Goes Percussion. The reason is completely beyond me, for there is not one single percussion device on board. Not. Even. One. On the plus side, the two stringed devices sound delicately crunchy and gossamery distorted, and this has nothing to do with a less than optimal studio or a wonky vinyl version rather than the recording technique. Everything sounds immediate, upfront and punchy. The greatest of all mysteries, though, is the final track called Luau Lei. The people at Coronet are so cheeky! Find out below why this is the case. But first a few words about the nine unique traks that precede it.

Scents of gentle Rock, Bluegrass notions, a pinch of wide prairies and larger doses of Polynesia: Hawaiian Blues is an uplifting, only very distantly melancholic ditty with lots of steel guitar layers and golden rhythm ukuleles. The fact that there are are two steel guitar players pays off in a richer density. The second guitarist plays rhythmic counterpoints in adjacency to the ukulele, and instead of creating an all too monotonous soundscape, the interplay between the experts becomes more interesting. The gleaming Serenade decelerates the tempo and launches with elasticized technicolor strings. The mood is inebriated as expected, but it is once more the interdependency and simultaneity of the two steel guitar strata which fathom each other’s sphere. Benign warmth and designed coolness are in a constant intertwinement, the tone sequences comparably modern instead of chintzy.

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Up next is Lovely Guitars which enchants with its short prelude whose afterglow is anything but wondrously dazzling and vigorous, showcasing the textural beauty of the steel guitar. The actual song is all about steel guitars. Their walls of sound are so huge that this tune seems to be played by a trio! The arrangement lives up to the title, this is indeed rather lovely and has warmth all over it. The cheekily titled Hawaiian Bounce then ventures into a few chords of Jack Owens’ Hukilau Song, and this is surely no accident, but a nod to those listeners who are right at home in the more popular docks of the Hapa Haole harbor. In other news, the tune is a swinging one, a curious remark due to the omission of horns. Side A closes with Swinging Palm Trees, another example of a more Rock-oriented structure with city-strolling and spiraling motifs. These are not perfectly memorable or catchy, but the rhythm guitar offers a streamlined counterpoint and coats the whirling melodic splinters. Best of all: the roles are not set in stone, and the rhythm guitarist is at one point responsible for the lead. Quite eclectic.

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The hammock-friendly Sunset opens side B with gleaming red-tinted melodies and a great coalescence of the two principal guitarists. The actual mood is not necessarily of the dusky kind, for the chords and various sustain phases are appropriately lively and effervescent. Devoid of romantic notions or a syrupy transfiguration, Sunset is more rooted in brighter daytimes. And so is Guitar Chant which goes back thematically to the opener and increases the tempo to create a glitzy guitarscape. The signature element are the short but eminently auroral pizzicato strings. Like swift jags or blebs they are unique enough to tower above the album’s cohesive riverbed. While Hawaiian Night is the first – and only – tune to invoke a nocturnal atmosphere not via its colorful guitars but thanks to the fissured, laid-back groove which allows the admixed short riffs of Ralph Rainger’s and Leo Robin‘s Blue Hawaii to conflate all the better with the dark background, South Sea Island is a comparatively long shanty of almost three and a half minutes, able to encapsulate yearning, carefreeness and a sense of drifting in its polymorphous setting. The tempo is constant, but the sub-themes and undertones oscillate and recur constantly.

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The final Luau Lei is the outro, but not just any outro. It leaves a stale aftertaste and wakes the detective in the Hapa Haole connoisseur. I am no luminary in this field, not in the slightest, but even I notice that this tune seems to be taken out of its original context. The sound quality and instrumental pool changes decidedly. A rhythm acoustic guitar in tandem with a ukulele as well as bass guitar vesicles form the fundament for the sun-soaked steel guitars to shine. The solution to this riddle: this tune is taken off another album released on Coronet, Harry Kaapuni & His Royal Polynesians’ Aloha Hawaii (1960)! I spot minor differences in the backing chords, so this is a slightly different recording that was probably turned down, but shelved anyway. The only problem with my stray theory: Aloha Hawaii is released in 1960, but Hawaiian Moonbeams precedes it by roughly three years. Exotica, the genre full of mysteries…

Two steel guitarists, the occasional appearance of a ukulele player, the inclusion of Harry Kaapuni in order to help out with the needed tenth track as well as the highly curious alternative title Hawaii Goes Percussion make Hawaiian Moonbeams an extremely curious, if also ephemeral artifact even by Exotica standards. The prosaic liner notes are particularly wasteful and unnecessary, for the extrinsic peculiarity which twirls around the album causes a peak in any detective’s interest to unravel a secret which is most definitely utterly mundane. To be honest: Hawaiian Moonbeams is too bland and unimportant an album in-between the bigger works of the genre to gain a cult following which tries to decrypt the mystique.

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To pose just one comparably pressing question: could it be that Harry Kaapuni is the guitarist on all of these works? This cannot be entirely ruled out. The wish to know just that is deeply engraved in mankind’s reception and the saying “honor where honor is due.” Be that as it may, music-wise, Hawaiian Moonbeams offers a good twist in terms of the Hapa Haole formula. Instead of ukuleles or soft percussion, two guitarists are in constant dialog. The ensuing arrangements are still varied and colorful, thanks to the tonal range and attack of the steel guitar. Dreamscapes, Rock infusions and beach panoramas meet, mesh and depart. There is no real corker on board that blows anyone away, but the immediacy and punch of the recording are worth noting. And who knows, maybe the album is indeed some sort of classic: at the time of writing, it is digitally available on Amazon MP3 and iTunes under the spiteful title Hawaii Goes Percussion, whereas Harry Kaapuni’s albums on Coronet are not. Is this telling, or yet another riddle? (ambientexotica.com)

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Personnel:
Luke Leilani & His Royal Hawaiians

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Tracklist:
01. Hawaiian Blues 2.35
02. Serenade 2.30
03. Lovely Guitars 2.59
04. Hawaiian Bounce 3.13
05. Swinging Palm Trees 3.01
06. Sunset 2.38
07. Guitar Chant 2.45
08. Hawaiian Night 2.36
09. South Sea Island 3.26
10. Luau Lei 2.18

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Richard Galliano & Jean-Charles Capon – Blues Sur Seine (1992)

FrontCover1Richard Galliano (born December 12, 1950, Cannes, Alpes-Maritimes) is a French accordionist of Italian heritage.

He was drawn to music at an early age, starting with the accordion at 4, influenced by his father Luciano, an accordionist originally from Italy, living in Nice.

After a long and intense period of study (he took up lessons on the trombone, harmony, and counterpoint at the Academy of Music in Nice), at 14, in a search to expand his ideas on the accordion, he began listening to jazz and heard records by the trumpet player Clifford Brown. “I copied all the choruses of Clifford Brown, impressed by his tone and his drive, his way of phrasing over the thunderous playing of Max Roach”. Fascinated by this new world, Richard was amazed that the accordion had never been part of this musical adventure. In this period, Galliano won twice the first prize in the “world accordion cap competition” which took place in Spain (1966) and France (1967). In the Spanish competition, the participants’ duty work was “Chaconne” by the Israeli accordionist Yehuda Oppenheimer. Galliano and Oppenheimer kept up their musical collaboration and personal friendship until Oppenheimer’s death in 2012.

Some later collaborations include Astor Piazolla, George Mraz, Brigitte Fontaine, Al Foster, Juliette Greco, Charles Aznavour, Ron Carter, Chet Baker, Enrico Rava, Martial Solal, Miroslav Vitouš, Trilok Gurtu, Jan Garbarek, Michel Petrucciani, Michel Portal, Eddy Louiss, Biréli Lagrène, Sylvain Luc, Renaud Garcia-Fons, Ivan Paduart, Anouar Brahem, Wynton Marsalis, and Toots Thielemans. He was a key member of Claude Nougaro’s band for several years as a pianist and accordionist. (by wikipedia)

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And here´s a pretty good album featuring Jean-Charles Capon:

What a handsome couple ! From the first bars of this duo, the obviousness of this meeting captured in 1992 is essential. The accordionist and the cellist do wonders both as soloist and as accompanist. Without the bow, Jean-Charles Capon (“the Lester Young of the cello” according to his playmate) could even pass for a double bass player. Their “blues” is obvious. However, between one of the princely instruments of the classical repertoire and the symbol of popular music, there was, a priori, a world. A unity of tone emerges, between the light mood of the musette colors and the sobs contained in a virtuoso bow. (Renaud Czarnes)

Resumption of the famous duet Capon-Galliano, where the marriage of the cello and the accordion delivers us a real little music in which the charm is constant, where the tones, of the most mixed, give a very warm accent to these reunions of time . Both of them light up the blues and we can only thrill with happiness listening to this album which will soon be 10 years old and has not aged. (Jazz Notes)

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A CD published in 1992 but nevertheless appearing in the recent catalog of Frémeaux. A masterpiece that it was good to resuscitate. Accordion, yes, but not just any: that of Richard Galliano associated with the cello of Jean-Charles Capon. Curious mixture? Absolutely not. In addition to the original compositions of these two virtuoso artites (Blues sur Seine, Kitou, Neigerie, Bateau mouche), we should also mention the titles of Toots Thielemans or Henri Sauget. The icing on the cake, here are the words of Galliano, which appear in the booklet: “In the minds of a large part of the public, the accordion and the cellist belong to two very distinct social strata. Through this disc, we aim to demonstrate that these two instruments are as noble as each other ”. Bernard Deharbre)

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Personnel:
Jean-Charles Capon (cello)
Richard Galliano (accordeon)

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Tracklist:
01. Blues Sur Seine (Galliano) 4.44
02. For My Lady (Thielemans) 5.08
03. Un Pied Dans Le Caniveau (Capon) 4.29
04. Waltz For Debby (Evans/Lees) 3.36
05. Laura Et Astor (Galliano) 3.10
06. Kitou (Capon) 4.57
07. Les Forains (Sauguet) 4.10
08. Tears (Reinhardt) 3.53
09. Good Bye Miles (Capon) 5.00
10. Neigerie (Galliano) 4.09
11. Fou Rire (Galliano) 3.29
12. Bateau Mouche (Capon) 3.19

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In the minds of a large part of the public, the accordion and the cello belong to two distinct social strata which are very distant from each other. Through this disc we aim to demonstrate that these two instruments are as noble as each other, that their marriage is very rich, that the repertoire can be the most universal there is, and finally that the blues is a musical language in its own right, the content of which does not only go through Harlem. Paris I love you… (Richard Galliano)

More than the unusual sound mixture, it is the meeting of two musical personalities that interests me, and twelve years ago, I proposed to Richard to form this duo. How in the business impose in France an accordion which is not only musette and a cello which is not only classical? Two extraordinary instruments that want to be jazz but French. As Brassens said, “good people don’t like to follow a different route than they do”. We met in Paris and we both live near the Canal Saint-Martin. “Atmosphere, atmosphere?” Blues … on the Seine. Jean-Charles Capon

Oregon – Live In NYC (1994)

FrontCover1Oregon is an American jazz and world music group formed in 1970 by Ralph Towner, Paul McCandless, Glen Moore, and Collin Walcott.

Towner and Moore had been friends and occasional collaborators since meeting in 1960 as students at the University of Oregon. By 1969, both were working musicians living in New York; while collaborating with folksinger Tim Hardin they were introduced to world music pioneer Paul Winter’s “Consort” ensemble, particularly member Collin Walcott, with whom Towner began improvising as an informal duo. By 1970 Towner and Moore had joined the Winter Consort and met fellow member McCandless; the four began exploring improvisation on their own, while their contributions continued to be seminal in redefining the Winter Consort “sound” in compositions like Towner’s “Icarus”.

The four musicians made their first group recording in 1970, but the label, Increase Records, went out of business before it could be released (it eventually was issued by Vanguard in 1980 as Our First Record). Oregon made its “formal” debut in NYC in 1971 (originally named “Thyme — Music of Another Present Era”, the name change to Oregon was suggested by McCandless).

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The group’s first release Music of Another Present Era was issued on Vanguard in 1972 (the four also recorded for ECM, though the recording, 1973’s Trios Solos, was billed as “Ralph Towner with Glen Moore”). With those initial recordings and the follow-ups Distant Hills (1973) and Winter Light (1974) (all on Vanguard), Oregon established itself as one of the leading improvisational groups of its day, blending Indian and Western classical music [1] with jazz, folk, space music [2] and avant-garde elements. The group released numerous albums on Vanguard throughout the 1970s, also making three records for Elektra/Asylum between 1978 and 1980 (including the highly acclaimed Out of the Woods and a live recording taken from performances at Carnegie Hall and in Canada in late 1979).

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After a couple years’ hiatus devoted to individual projects (including the birth of Walcott’s daughter in 1980), the group reassembled, recording for ECM, releasing the eponymous Oregon in 1983 and Crossing in 1984. Before the latter’s release, however, during a 1984 tour Walcott was killed in an automobile accident in the former East Germany. Oregon temporarily disbanded, but regrouped in May 1985 at a memorial concert for Walcott in NYC, with Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu sitting in (Walcott’s own choice for his replacement should it become necessary). In 1986 Gurtu was invited to join Oregon; the band resumed touring and released three albums during his five years as a member.

After Trilok Gurtu’s departure, the group continued as a trio, issuing two albums during that period. The 1997 album Northwest Passage marked a return to the inclusion of percussion, featuring either drummer Mark Walker or Turkish Armenian percussionist Arto Tunçboyacıyan on most tracks; subsequently, Walker was taken on as a full member.

Paul McCandless

In 1999 the ensemble traveled to Moscow, Russia to record with the Tchaikovsky Symphony Orchestra of Moscow Radio, premiering orchestral compositions that had been in development for years, some dating back to their first days with the Winter Consort; that project’s 2000 release Oregon in Moscow garnered four Grammy nominations. 2002 saw the release of Live at Yoshi’s, recorded in San Francisco, the first live Oregon recording in two decades.

In March 2015, it was announced that Glen Moore was departing from the group, with bassist Paolino Dalla Porta replacing him.

As of 2019, Oregon has no further plans to exist as a touring ensemble. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a wonderful bootleg, a radio concert to promote their album “Troika”, another hightlight in the grat history of this group.

Taken from a live radio broadcast originally recorded onto cassette tape. This is from the bands brief period where they were only a trio, after founding member Collin Walcott’s death and after his replacement, percussionist Trilok Gurtu, departed after being in the band for several years. During this period the band did record two albums as a trio, “Troika” and “Beyond Words” before adding percussion (and a forth member) back into the group.

Recorded live at the Symphony Space, New York City, May 26, 1994
excellent braodast recording

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Personnel:
Paul McCandless (saxophone, oboe)
Glen Moore (bass)
Ralph Towner (guitar, piano, synthesizer)

Oregon03Tracklist:
01. Waterwheel 25.28
02. Dialogue / Interview 4.36
03. Nightfall 12.23
04. Mariella 7.42
05. Charlotte’s Tangle 5.29

Music composed by Ralph Towner

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Miriam Makeba – Makeba Sings (1965)

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Zenzile Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 9 November 2008), nicknamed Mama Africa, was a South African singer, songwriter, actress, United Nations goodwill ambassador, and civil rights activist. Associated with musical genres including Afropop, jazz, and world music, she was an advocate against apartheid and white-minority government in South Africa.

Born in Johannesburg to Swazi and Xhosa parents, Makeba was forced to find employment as a child after the death of her father. She had a brief and allegedly abusive first marriage at the age of 17, gave birth to her only child in 1950, and survived breast cancer. Her vocal talent had been recognized when she was a child, and she began singing professionally in the 1950s, with the Cuban Brothers, the Manhattan Brothers, and an all-woman group, the Skylarks, performing a mixture of jazz, traditional African melodies, and Western popular music. In 1959, Makeba had a brief role in the anti-apartheid film Come Back, Africa, which brought her international attention, and led to her performing in Venice, London, and New York City. In London, she met the American singer Harry Belafonte, who became a mentor and colleague. She moved to New York City, where she became immediately popular, and recorded her first solo album in 1960. Her attempt to return to South Africa that year for her mother’s funeral was prevented by the country’s government.

Makeba’s career flourished in the United States, and she released several albums and songs, her most popular being “Pata Pata” (1967). Along with Belafonte she received a Grammy Award for her 1965 album An Evening with Belafonte/Makeba. She testified against the South African government at the United Nations and became involved in the civil rights movement. She married Stokely Carmichael, a leader of the Black Panther Party, in 1968.

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Musicians Hugh Masekela and Miriam Makeba were considered the power couple of South African jazz during the 1960s.

As a result, she lost support among white Americans and faced hostility from the US government, leading her and Carmichael to move to Guinea. She continued to perform, mostly in African countries, including at several independence celebrations. She began to write and perform music more explicitly critical of apartheid; the 1977 song “Soweto Blues”, written by her former husband Hugh Masekela, was about the Soweto uprising. After apartheid was dismantled in 1990, Makeba returned to South Africa. She continued recording and performing, including a 1991 album with Nina Simone and Dizzy Gillespie, and appeared in the 1992 film Sarafina!. She was named a UN goodwill ambassador in 1999, and campaigned for humanitarian causes. She died of a heart attack during a 2008 concert in Italy.

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Makeba was among the first African musicians to receive worldwide recognition. She brought African music to a Western audience, and popularized the world music and Afropop genres. She also made popular several songs critical of apartheid, and became a symbol of opposition to the system, particularly after her right to return was revoked. Upon her death, former South African President Nelson Mandela said that “her music inspired a powerful sense of hope in all of us.” (by wikipedia)

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Makeba Sings! is the fifth album of Miriam Makeba (LP RCA LSP3321), released in 1965. The album charted at number 74 in the US album chart. (by wikipedia)

Hugh Masekela is responsible for most of the arrangements and leads an impressive groups of musicians for these twelve tracks.

Miriam Makeba, the multilingual singer affectionately known to the world as “Mama Africa,” had a turbulent life, in large part because of the odious presumptions and endless roadblocks of apartheid. The Afrikaner government of her home country, South Africa, tried to negate her with thirty years of exile—barring her even from attending her own mother’s funeral. But instead of silencing Makeba, her exile laid bare the cold cruelty of South Africa’s dysfunctional system, as well as racism across the globe, amplifying her rich, soaring voice on the world stage.

By the time South African apartheid fell in 1994 the world was a more open place, but Makeba’s work was not finished. She devoted the rest of her life to a litany of good causes, and spent her final moments two weeks ago singing at a concert in Italy, in support of Italian journalist Roberto Saviano, who has faced dire threats for his bestselling book about the Naples mafia. At 76, still radiating energy but possessed of a thinning voice, Makeba sang her mouth-popping international megahit “Pata Pata,” then walked off stage, collapsed, and passed away.

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History will remember Makeba mostly for her activist triumphs, no doubt. When it came to her music many of her obituaries dwelled on her two most famous songs, “Pata Pata” and “The Click Song,” and mentioned little else. But just as she was an important activist, in many places Makeba was as ubiquitous a pop presence as Louis Armstrong. Accordingly, she has left a huge body of recordings—including 28 studio and live albums, eight greatest hits compilations, and scores of videotaped live performances—that can be mined for lesser-known gems. In memoriam, music blog Global Groove has posted a download of Makeba’s out of print 1965 RCA Victor LP Makeba Sings. Released the same year as the Grammy-winning An Evening With Belafonte/Makeba, Makeba Sings finds the bold singer in a relatively straightforward context, delivering heartwarming tunes with fluttering tropical arrangements, the kind typically reserved for Disney scores.

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What peels this LP away from the bland conventions of retro calypso and exotica is Makeba’s searing voice, which spans at least three languages in 35 minutes and imbues captivating tracks like “Cameroon” and “Kilimanjaro” with an almost startling intensity.

If anything, Makeba Sings shows that Miriam Makeba was too smart, too passionate, and too dynamic a presence to be crammed into the staid format of the exotic ditty. Even if, like me, you were too young to witness her triumphant testimony against apartheid at the UN and never managed to attend one of her many farewell concerts, it can make for a nicely nostalgic listen. Put it on when you grow weary of the blizzard of live concert footage, LP rips, and photo-montage tributes posted on Youtube. (by Peter Holslin)

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Personnel:
Miriam Makeba (vocals)
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Sanford Allen (violin)
James “Chief” Bey (percussion)
Alfred Brown (viola)
Kenny Burrel (guitar)
Jimmy Cleveland (trombone)
Diane Comins (harp)
Bobby Donovan (flute)
Ronnie Fink (saxophone)
Morriss Goldberg (saxophone)
Milford Graves (percussion)
Jonas Gwangwa (trombone)
Auchee Lee (flute)
George Ockner (violin)
Seldon Powell (flute)
Ramapolo (trumpet)
Daniel “Big Black” Ray (percusion)
George Ricci (cello)
Jerome Richardson (flute)
William Salter (bass)
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background vocals:
Betty Mthombeni – Edith Grootboom – Ernest Mohlomi – Katse Semenya – Mamsie Gwangwa Paul Makgoba

Arranged and conducted by Hugh Masekela

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Tracklist:
01. Cameroon (Salter/Masuka) 2.51
02. Woza (Masakela) 2.57
03. Little Bird (Hall) 3.31
04. Chove-chuva (Ben)
05. Same Moon (Thomas/Martin) 2.40
06. Kilimanjaro (Davashe/Glazer) 3.00
07. Khawuyani-Khanyange (Masuka/Makeba) 3.19
08. Wind Song (Saks/Salter) 2.43
09. Khuluma (Khoza) 2.42
10. Let’s Pretend (Salter) 2.43
11. Beau Chevalier (Gollman) 2.14
12. Maduna (Makeba) 3.49

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Miriam Makeba (4 March 1932 – 9 November 2008)

Jan Garbarek – Live in Matera (2019)

FrontCover1.jpgAs an improvising musician, Jan Garbarek has said that he seeks to make his playing “fit the tone, texture and temperament of the music. It’s about finding a common language.” The quest to explore that language has ranged widely across time and space, from the folk songs of his native Norway to improvisations around medieval polyphony and the music of the Indian subcontinent and Middle East, as well as jazz. In the course of these musical journeys, the intensely focused sounds of his tenor and soprano saxophones have become among the most instantly recognizable and haunting in contemporary music.

Garbarek was born in Mysen, Norway in 1947. His family later moved to Oslo and, at the age of 14, Garbarek first heard John Coltrane on the radio, which inspired him to take up the saxophone. Dexter Gordon, then a frequent visitor to Norway, also made a deep impression.

In 1962 Garbarek won a competition for amateur jazz players and for the rest of the decade worked regularly in Norway, usually as a leader, but he also spent four years with jazz composer and theorist George Russell, who would later describe him as “the JanGarbarek01.jpgmost original voice in European jazz since Django Reinhardt”. In 1969, ECM founder Manfred Eicher asked Garbarek to join the roster of his new record label. Garbarek’s first ECM album was Afric Pepperbird. “After we recorded it we knew we had something special,” Eicher remembered. It was to be the first step in one of ECM’s most distinguished recording careers.

Jan Garbarek rose to international fame in the mid-1970s playing with Keith Jarrett’s European Quartet, which released the albums Belonging, My Song and the live recordings Personal Mountains, Nude Ants, and Sleeper. Such collaborations, in the words of Jarrett’s biographer, Ian Carr, took “the art of classic jazz to its highest pinnacle”.

Triptykon (1972) was the first recording on which Garbarek used a Norwegian folk song in his playing, a direction in which he had been encouraged by American trumpeter Don Cherry. “Whether I like it or not,” Garbarek told one writer, “I am locked into a certain vocabulary or phraseology which is linked to Norwegian folk music.”

In 1979, Garbarek recorded Photo with Blue Sky, the first of a series of albums with the Jan Garbarek Group, a regular touring band whose line-up would evolve over the decades. It was not until 2007 that they recorded a live album, however, the double CD, Dresden. As the Guardian wrote of the group on their 2007 tour: “The contrast between an intense jamming sound and the songlike simplicity of the tunes is always Garbarek’s magic mix, but this version of the band has an exhilarating intensity.”

JanGarbarek02Officium, one of the most significant recordings of Garbarek’s career – and in the history of ECM – was made in 1993 in St Gerold monastery in Austria with the Hilliard Ensemble. Garbarek’s sax – a “fifth voice” – weaves soaring, swooping lines around the polyphony of the vocal quartet, creating effects that are as entrancing as they are unexpected. In 1999 came a sequel, Mnemosyne, which ranged further across time in its musical material, and Officum Novum explored the crossroads between east and west, with particular focus on the music of Armenia.

Garbarek’s restless musical imagination, so evident in his Hilliard collaborations and countless other projects over the years, keeps driving him forward. Of his musical journey he says: “It never really stands still. Not at any point in time can you say, ‘Now I reached something.’” (by ecm.com)

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And yes, Jan Gabarek ist still active … alive and well. So listen to his brilliant concert, recorded at the Gezziamoci Festival 2019 in Matera/Italy.

This show was broadcasted by an Italian TV-Station (this video is included in my file) and so we have a brilliant soundboard recording.

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In keeping with the theme of bringing cultures together, various concerts featuring international musicians will take place as part of the Materadio programming. An especial highlight promises to be the performance of Norwegian jazz saxophonist Jan Garbarek, who will be joined on stage by another world-class musician, Indian percussionist Trilok Gurtu. (press release)

Indeed: another nearly perfect perfomance by one the greatest jazz musician of our time !

Enjoy this rarity !

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Personnel:
Rainer Brüninghaus (keyboards)
Yuri Daniel (bass)
Jan Garbarek (saxophone, flute)
Trilok Gurtu (drums, percussion, tablas, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Opening (unknown) 2.32
02. Molde Canticle (Garbarek) 16.55
03. Untitled (unknown) 5.27
04. Hot Æ Dæ Fe Noko Vesolt Væ (Jutulen Og Stolt Øli) (Garbarek) 10.34
05. Matera Five (Brüninghaus/Daniel/Garvarek/Gurtu) 5.01
06 Matera Six (Brüninghaus/Daniel/Garvarek/Gurtu) 11.36
07 Matera Seven (Brüninghaus/Daniel/Garvarek/Gurtu) 7.20
08 Rainer Solo (Brüninghaus) 8.07
09 All Those Born With Wings (5th Piece) (Garbarek) 6.20
10.  Trilok Solo (Gurtu) 12.12
11. Improvisation (Brüninghaus/Daniel/Garvarek/Gurtu) 9.57
12. Had To Cry Today (Winwood) 7.10

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Greek Byzantine Choir – Christmas Hymnes (1993)

FrontCover1.jpgByzantine music is the music of the Byzantine Empire. Originally it consisted of songs and hymns composed to Greek texts used for courtly ceremonials, during festivals, or as paraliturgical and liturgical music. The ecclesiastical forms of Byzantine music are the best known forms today, because different Orthodox traditions still identify with the heritage of Byzantine music, when their cantors sing monodic chant out of the traditional chant books such as sticherarion, which in fact consisted of five books, and the heirmologion.

Byzantine music did not disappear after the fall of Constantinople. Its traditions continued under the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which after the Ottoman conquest in 1453 was granted administrative responsibilities over all Orthodox Christians. During the decline of the Ottoman Empire in the 19th century, burgeoning splinter nations in the Balkans declared autonomy or “autocephaly” against the Ecumenical Patriarchate. The new self-declared patriarchates were independent nations defined by their religion.

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In this context, Christian religious chant practiced in the Ottoman empire, Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece among other nations, was based on the historical roots of the art tracing back to the Byzantine Empire, while the music of the Patriarchate created during the Ottoman period was often regarded as “post-Byzantine”. This explains why Byzantine music refers to several Orthodox Christian chant traditions of the Mediterranean and of the Caucasus practiced in recent history and even today, and this article cannot be limited to the music culture of the Byzantine past. (by wikipedia)

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These are hundreds to over a thousand year old Byzantine hymns, of ancient beauty and devotion. Features one of the best chanters (Psalti) and choruses, Angelopoulis, who also appears on several CD’s of ancient Roman chant (was Byzantine in style) done by Harmonia Mundi label’s Marcel Peres, who brings to life ancient church music. The melodies are often in a minor key, are of great beauty and the words are from or paraphrased from the Bible. Entrancing. Getting an English translation would make it easier to appreciate if you don’t know Greek; see the booklet. One of the best. (by Karl Schulte)

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Personnel:
Greek Byzantine Choir conducted by Lycourgos Angelopoulos

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Tracklist:
01. Romanos the Melodist, Kontakion: Today the Virgin 1.28
02. Petros Bereketis, 3 Heirmoi: Odes 1,5,9 / 4.36
03. Iakevos Protopsaltis, Doxastikon for the Sunday preceding Christmas: Glory Be To The Father 6.44
04. Kathisma: Come, O Ye Faithful and Let Us Behold 1.34
05. Heirmoi for the 1st Canon of Christmas: Odes 1,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 / 7.54
06. Petros Lambadarios: Glory to God in the Highest 1.56
07. Petros Lambadarios & Verses from the Great Doxology: Today Christ is Born 4.06
08. Chant for Communion: The Lord Hath Sent Deliverence Unto His People 10.30
09. Petros Lambadarios, Troparion: Thou Wast Born Secretly in the Cave 2.25
10. Petros Lambadarios, Exapostilarion: Our Savior Has Descended Unto us From on High 1.17
11. Petros Lambadarios, Doxastikon: Glory to the Father, to the Son & to the Holy Spirit (The Magi, Kings of Persia) 2.48
12. Petros Lambadarios, Sticheron: All the Angels in Heaven 1.54
13. Petros Lambadarios, Apolytikion: Thy Nativity, O Christ Our God 0.59
14. Balasios The Priest, Calophonic Heirmoi: A Star Has Already Risen 4.38
15. Ioannis Trapezountios: Kratima 4.26

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Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion – Mozart Meets Cuba (2005)

KlazzBrothersFrontCover1In celebration of the anniversary of Mozart’s 250th birthday in 2006, Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion dedicated their new album to the genius of composition and improvisation, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The album is part of the quintet’s sophisticated crossover series between classical music, jazz and Latin-American rhythms. “Mozart meets Cuba“ invites the listeners to join in on an imaginary musical trip to Cuba, where they get to experience the Viennese Classic in a mould-breaking innovative way. Witty and playful and with a delicate musical intuition the arrangements of the Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion lead Mozart and his music on to novel musical dimensions, fusing the most beautiful compositions of the great Salzburg genius with the rhythm and harmonies of Latin jazz. Klazz Brothers & Cuba Percussion pay homage to a great composer of an extraordinary dramatic art, that is as relevant as it was 250 years ago. Thus, the ensemble has created a unique conversation between the Caribbean and the occident, glossily reconciling classical sonata themes with the Caribbean dancing rhythm. As a result the „Serenade No. 13“ is transformed into a cha-cha-cha and „The Turkish March“ converted into a “Cuban” one. Next to it, two single compositions are united to one piece as can be heard with Pamina’s aria from “The Magic Flute”. The aria is combined with „Besame Mucho“, motives of Ennio Morricones’ “Once Upon a Time in the West” resound within the overture of „Don Giovanni“.

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The programme „Mozart meets Cuba“ premiered at the Munich Philharmonic Hall in 2005. It was broadcasted worldwide by Euroarts. In the same year the same-titled album was released with Sony Classical, which was awarded the “Echo Classic” in the category “Classic Beyond Borders”, thus presenting the second “Echo” award for the successful quintet. Their international tour started just in time for Mozart’s birthday on 27th January 2006 with a concert at the “Wiener Konzertverein”, followed by various other performances at renowned concert halls such as the “Berlin Philharmonic Hall”, the “Gewandhaus Leipzig” and the “Semper Opera Dresden”.

“Mozart meets Cuba” becomes a memorable musical experience thanks to the unique intensityof the quintet’s impressive creativity in perfectly blending music of different genres. (grandmontagne.de)

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As a follow up to their accomplished fusion effort last year, “Classic Meets Cuba”, the Klazz Brothers and Cuba Percussion have collaborated again for much of the same, only this time focusing specifically on the works of Mozart. If the results are not quite as exhilarating as the first effort, it may be that the novelty feels somewhat worn this time despite the often virtuoso playing displayed here. Recalling some of Vince Guaraldi’s work in the 1960’s, the jazzy arrangements are once again supplemented with the beat-heavy Cuban rhythms churned out by Alexis Herrera Estevez on timbales and Elio Rodriguez Luis on congas. What continues to impress on this recording is how well the two sides of the ensemble – Estevez and Rodriguez on one and on the other, pianist Tobias Forster, bassist Killian Forster and drummer Tim Hahn – mesh so well in making all the disparate musical elements balance without contrivance.

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Many of Mozart’s most renowned pieces are here in reconfigured form. The warhorse Piano Sonata K. 545 (“Sonata Facile”) turns into a sunny Caribbean number, “Calypso Facile”, while the staccato-tempo Turkish March evolves into the propulsive “Cuban March”. More creatively, the familiar Piano Concerto No. 21, K. 467 turns into an African-accented bolero named appropriately “Afrolero” complete with a faraway-sounding whistle, while Eine Kleine Nachtmusik K. 525 becomes a percolating dance number, “Bomba de la Noche”. Even more audaciously, they turn the overture to “Don Giovanni” into a slow, evocative bolero number, “Don Muerte”, and the familiar aria, “La Ci Darem La Mano” into a lovely piano-dominated ballad, “Reich Mir Die Hand (Your Hand in Mine)”. Somewhat less successful are the two selections derived from “The Magic Flute” – “Yo Siento Mucho”, a cha-cha version of “Ach, Ich Fuhl’s” and Forster’s extended piano riffs based on the potpourri passage, “Salzburger Schafferl”. Latin pop artist Lou Bega lends his saucy vocals to “Son de Mozart”, a clubby reinvention of Fantasia in C Minor, K. 475. This is fun listening for fans of Latin-classical fusion. (Ed Uyeshima)

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Personnel:
Alexis Herrera Estevez (timbales)
Kilian Forster (bass)
Tobias Forster (piano)
Tim Hahn (drums)
Elio Rodriguez Luis (percussion)
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Lou Bega (vocals on 16.)
Olivier Roland Kerourio (harmonica on 08.)
Mario Felix Hernandez Morejon (trumpet on 08. + 16.)

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Tracklist:
01. Guantánameritmo – Sonate c-Moll KV 457 / 2.59
02. Salzburger Schafferl – Die Zauberflöte 5.16
03. Calypso Facile – Sonate C-Dur KV 545 / 6.11
04. Poema con Cohiba – Klarinettenkonzert 3.07
05. Kubanischer Marsch – Türkischer Marsch 4.00
06. Afrolero – Klavierkonzert Nr. 21 / 5.08
07. Don Cajon 0.34
08. Don Muerte – Don Giovanni 5.03
09. Sonatadur – Sonate A-Dur KV 331 / 3.29
10. Wenn Son, Danzon – Klavierkonzert Nr. 23 / 4.32
11. Reich mir die Hand – Reich mir die Hand, mein Leben 4.44
12. Tercero de la Noche – Eine kleine Nachtmusik 5.07
13. Yo siento mucho – Die Zauberflöte 4.48
14. Bomba de la Noche – Eine kleine Nachtmusik 3.59
15. Hasta la vista Mozart 2.27
16. Son de Mozart – Fantasie c-Moll 4.21

Music composed by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

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