Doc Holliday – 25 Absolutely Live (2008)

FrontCover1Doc Holliday, named of course after legendary Wild West character, hails from Macon, Georgia and released couple classic southern rock albums in early 80’s. Although they never got the recognition they deserved in Unites States, Doc Holliday was a hugely successful in Europe. Early days of this southern rocks hidden gem can be traced to beginning of 70’s, when the band leader Bruce Brookshire formed a band called Roundhouse which would later transform into Doc Holliday. Although southern rock losing its momentum in early 80’s, with little help from Molly Hatchet management, they got signed by A&M records. With legendary line-up of Brookshire and Rick Skelton on guitars, John Samuelson on bass, Eddie Stone on keyboards and Herman Nixon on drums they released self titled debut album on early 1981 and managed to break into top #30 chats. Through relentless touring with groups like The Outlaws and The Charlie Daniels Band, Doc Holliday gained new fans and later that same year they put out Doc Holliday Rides Again which turned out to be even more successful album. Disaster strike in 1983, when Doc Holliday decided to record their third album, 80’s pop oriented Modern Medicine in Germany. It wasn’t the kind of medicine southern rock fans were looking for, it sold poorly and band broke up soon after that. After three year hiatus, Doc Holliday got their act together and released Danger Zone, more traditional approach to southern rock genre. Over the years they have released several albums for small European record labels, which are difficult to find from the States, but well worth hunting down for. Doc Holliday remains popular touring act in old continent, especially in Germany.

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Almost 20 years after the milestone that is “Song for the Outlaw Live” Doc Holliday came up with an impressive document of their versatility on stage. No edits, changes or overdubs were made by producer Tom Hallek, to make “25 – absolutely live” sound exactly that. (by zinhof)

20 years after releasing their first live album the gods of Southern Rock return with an honest album featuring their best songs and a few cover song including Fire On The Mountain” (Marshall Tucker Band), “Run For Your Life” (Beatles) and “Born To Be Wild” (Steppenwolf)

A hell of a show … long live Southern Rock !

Recorded “Absolutely live” in hot nights in Germany during July 2006.

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Personnel:
Bruce Brookshire (vocals, guitar)
Daniel Bud Ford (bass)
Danny Lastinger (drums)
John Turner Samuelson (guitar, vocals)
Eddie Stone (keyboards, vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Ain’t No Fool (Brookshire) 6.02
02. Never Another Night (Brookshire/Samuelson) 4.10
03. Fire On The Mountain (McCorkle) 4.49
04. A Good Woman’s Hard To Find (Brookshire/Stone) 4.27
05. Southern Man (Brookshire) 4.35
06. Run For Your Life (Lennon/McCartney) 3.49
07. It Suits Me Too (Brookshire) 3.47
08. Highway Call (Brookshire) 7.40
09. Redneck Rock & Roll Band (Brookshire) 4.22′
10. I’m A Rocker (Berry) 4.44
11. Lonesome Guitar (Brookshire) 9.58
12, Born To Be Wild (Bonfire) 4.25

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FM Belfast – How To Make Friends (2008)

FrontCover1FM Belfast is an electro-pop band from Reykjavík, Iceland. Its members include Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson, Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason, Egill Eyjólfsson and Ívar Pétur Kjartansson.

FM Belfast formed in late 2005 as a duo of Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (Plúseinn) and Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, but didn’t really get going properly until Árni Vilhjálmsson and Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason joined. The band was a studio project for some time until the Iceland Airwaves festival 2006 when the band expanded into a full-on live act. The members now vary from 3 to 8 depending on member availability. The core of the band is made up of Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (Plúseinn, Hairdoctor, Motion Boys), Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir, Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (múm, Borko, Skakkamanage), Egill Eyjólfsson, and Ívar Pétur Kjartansson. They are joined sometimes by Sveinbjorn Hermann Pálsson (Terrordisco), Björn Kristjánsson (Borko, Skakkamanage), Birgitta Birgisdóttir and Eiríkur Orri (múm, Kira Kira, Benni Hemm Hemm).

Andri Snær Magnason, three-time recipient of the Icelandic Literary Prize, says he has to attend a FM Belfast concert at least once every six months, according to doctor’s orders. It is worth mentioning that Andri Snær is not a doctor, but his father is a doctor; his grandfather was a doctor; his sister is no less than a neurosurgeon! Should we, the common, soot-stained masses, doubt the professional medical advice of an entire family?

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The band’s live show often features many percussionists, among them are Sveinbjörn Pálsson, Björn Kristjánsson (Borko), Halli Civelek, Svanhvít Tryggvadóttir, Unnsteinn Manuel Stefánsson (Retro Stefson) and Þórður jörundsson (Retro Stefson).

Their first album was recorded in New York and Iceland, with the group recording, mixing, and mastering it, and creating the album artwork themselves.

Árni Vilhjálmsson has since left FM Belfast. (by wikipedia)

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And “How To Make Friends” is the debut album by the Icelandic band FM Belfast, released in 2008.

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Kicking off with the swagger and sass of “Frequency,” and falsetto lyrics about someone being their “designated driver” over a crisp, punchy arrangement that’s half-classic electro and half-classic EBM, FM Belfast come up with How to Make Friends, an album that takes bored-youth-seeking-kicks clichés and turns them into something just a little twisted. If the basic model of “21st century act reclaims synths from the ’80s” is equally well established — there’s very little on the surface that would distinguish the Icelandic act from any number of similarly minded acts in the U.K., the U.S., or many other spots — there’s still something purring along in most of these songs that feels enjoyably off. Rather than embracing sparkly overload or queasy psychedelic disruption, FM Belfast lock down call and response vocals and observational lyrics with almost brutal rhythms — “Tropical” may well be the least likely song to possess such a total, the only aspect suggesting a random playfulness being a sweet melodic part up against flatly sung words. At the same time, while the lyrics might not always be entirely sunny, there’s plenty of straight up joy to be had with the arrangements on songs like “Synthia” and “Par Avion,” so it’s not like How to Make Friends is simply po-faced through and through. Still, there’s a forced moment where the band takes on Technotronic’s pop-rave confection “Pump Up the Jam” and turns it into a slow and all-too-stiffly sung hotel-lounge swoon — the idea is cute, but ten seconds is all one needs to get the idea. (by Ned Raggett)

This album comes with 6 inserts illustrating the songs lyrics:

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Personnel:
Lóa Hlín Hjálmtýsdóttir (vocals, various instruments)
Árni Rúnar Hlöðversson (keyboards)
Örvar Þóreyjarson Smárason (various instruments)
Árni Vilhjálmssona (vocals, various instruments)

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Tracklist:
01. Frequency (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.49
02. Underwear (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.09
03. I Can Feel Love (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.33
04. Tropical (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.09
05. Pump (cover of Pump Up The Jam by Technotronic) (Kamosi/de Quincey 2.42
06. Par Avion (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona/Pálsson 3.16
07. VHS (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 2.52
08. Lotus (cover of Killing in the Name by Rage Against the Machine) (Commerford/Rocha/Morello/Wilk) 3.44
09. Optical (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.21
10. Synthia (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.14
11. President (Hjálmtýsdóttir/Hlöðversson/SmárasonVilhjálmssona) 3.45

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Avishai Cohen Trio – Night Of Magic (2008)

FrontCover1Avishai Cohen (Hebrew: אבישי כהן‬; born April 20, 1970) is an Israeli jazz double bassist, composer, singer, and arranger.

Avishai was born in Kabri, Israel. He grew up in a musical family at Motza and Beit Zayit near Jerusalem until the age of six, when his family moved to Shoeva, western Israel. He began playing the piano at 9 years old, but changed to the bass guitar at the age of 14, inspired by bassist Jaco Pastorius. Later, after playing in an Army band for two years, he began studying upright bass with Michael Klinghoffer. Two years later he moved to New York City, and got in contact with other jazz players. At the beginning of his stay there he had to struggle, working in jobs like construction. According to him his first year there was the most difficult year of his life, having to play bass in the streets, subways and parks. He studied music at The New School for Jazz and Contemporary Music, and after playing Latin jazz in a few bands in his student years, Cohen was approached by pianist Danilo Pérez to join his trio.

After a long period of performing in small clubs, Cohen got a phone call from the jazz pianist Chick Corea and was given a record contract. In 1996, he became a founding member of Corea’s sextet Origin, and his first four albums as a leader were subsequently released under Corea’s Stretch label. Cohen performed in Corea’s bands until as late as 2003, when he left the Chick Corea New Trio and started his own record label; he currently performs with his own group, the Avishai Cohen Trio (with fellow Israelis Daniel Dor on drums and Nitai Hershkovits on piano). His later albums have been released by this formation with extended lineup including wind instruments.

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Aside from Corea, Cohen has accompanied, recorded or performed with several noted jazz figures such as Bobby McFerrin, Roy Hargrove, Herbie Hancock, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Nnenna Freelon and Paquito D’Rivera. Other collaborators include Claudia Acuña (Wind from the South, 2000), Alicia Keys (studio recording) and the London and Israel Philharmonic Orchestras (concert performances). Cohen has been cited as “undoubtedly the most successful” of Israel’s jazz exports by The Jerusalem Post a “jazz visionary of global proportions” by Down Beat, one of the 100 Most Influential Bass Players of the 20th Century by Bass Player magazine, and “a great composer” and “a genius musician” by Chick Corea himself.

In 2002, Cohen founded his record label, Razdaz Recordz, and on September 9 of 2003, released his label’s debut album, Lyla. “I’ve always been interested in several genres of music, including jazz, rock, pop, Latin and funk,” says Cohen. “I’m always packed with ideas. I decided to start my own label because I’m involved in so many different Cohen2010.jpgprojects.” (Avishai Cohen, 2003) As of 2012, the label had produced 12 albums, five of which were Cohen’s. Other artists associated with the label include pianist Sam Barsh, saxophonist Jimmy Green, flutist Ilan Salem, and guitarist Amos Hoffman. Also produced by Razdaz are the works of some of Cohen’s associates such as drummer Mark Guiliana, who performed with Cohen on two of his albums. Razdaz produced an album for Guiliana’a band HEERNT in 2006. Razdaz also produced Lady of The Forest, the first album of the singer Karen Malka, in 2010. Karen had been touring with Cohen for three years prior. The most recent production of the label is Ilan Salem’s album Wild, which is Ilan’s third album, though it is his first under Razdaz.

Lyla is the first album released by Cohen’s Razdaz Recordz. The album was lauded for its genre breaking diversity. Cohen reflects on his work, “Lyla reflects much of who I am as an artist. The International Vamp Band has been touring for two years and I wanted to document that. I also started a rock band Gadu with Israeli drummer named Mike Starr dubbed by ‘Drummer magazine’ as one of the most aggressive drummers in Jazz and some young musicians who are graduates of William Paterson College. It’s creating a buzz in New York, I have been exploring a lot of new territory. I’ve also been working on pop tunes with a female vocalist named Lola. And, of course, to show the whole picture Cohen2015on the CD, I wanted to acknowledge my relationship to Chick. I’ve been associated with him for six years and have played hundreds of shows in his bands, so we’re very connected.”

Cohen’s signature sound is a blend of Middle Eastern, eastern European, and African-American musical idioms. The New York Times describes his 2006 album Continuo as conjoining “heavy Middle Eastern groove with a delicate, almost New Age lyricism”. Cohen often sings in Judaeo-Spanish (Ladino), to which he has a connection through his mother. For example, “Morenika”, from his album Aurora, is a very famous Ladino song he grew up hearing his mother singing around the house (by wikipedia)

And here´s a very rare album by Avishai Cohen; recorded and produced for the record market in the Ukraine only:

This Kyiv concert is, no doubt, memorable for all those who was then at the concert hall – and, apart from them, all of their relatives and acquaintances, because the sensations then had to find at least some way out) Non-speaking about it was just dangerous, and impossible as well… And – that was speaking enthusiastically, selflessly, and partly – silently (because this music is still much greater than any words), with light in the eyes, warm shine on the face – right? I’m sure that I’m right. Between the hall and the scene, a mystery of incredible might and depth took place, that was Music that for some time melted the several hundreds of various, separate souls – into the joint, large, live heart. I think that on that evening there was enough love to prevent or stop some war in the world – and probably, in the end, so it happened… That is why it seems to me that one such concert is worth a dozen of other nice concerts – because this was not nice. This was – truthful light magic. I know: the real soul of music opens up exactly on such evenings – in full, and no matter whether it is called jazz.

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But it matters that this is live music, which takes place here and now, which not only causes reaction, but also instantly reacts, breathes, changes, acquires a new clarity. If I’m not mistaken, “To the Bird” was performed by Avishai Cohen after his modest warning: – Now I will do this for the first time, – and he did! However, the essence here is not even technical skills, no. Just sometimes there happen performances, when it seems that the high sky went down on earth, and this is a wonderful experience. But others also happen, when one feels the earth flying up into the sky – and this is indescribably beautiful… The music by Avishai Cohen Trio on that evening was exactly like that – and let you be able to feel at least a particle of this sincere, warm beauty… (by Milan Asadurov)

Oh, what a night, what a concert … listen for example to “The Ever Evolving Etude” … sounds like a musical orgasm … and … he played a very special version of the Beatles classic “Come Together” !!!

Recorded live in Kiev Conservatory Hall on November 29, 2007

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Personnel:
Avishai Cohen (bass, vocals)
Mark Juiliana (drums)
Shai Maestro (piano)

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Tracklist:
01. Elli (Cohen) 9.04
02. Gently Disturbed (Cohen) 6.45
03. The Ever Evolving Etude (Cohen) 7.21
04. Ani Maamin (Shlonsky) 11.26
05. Remembering (Cohen) 7.12
06. Eleven Wives (Cohen) 5.29
07. To The Bird (Cohen) 5.48
08. Come Together (Lennon/McCarntey) 4.46

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Johnny Logan – Irishman In America (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgJohnny Logan is building a lot of bridges on his album “Irishman in America“. A bridge between Ireland and America. A bridge between past and present. A bridge between those of us who are still alive and those of our dear ones who have crossed to the land of the dead. Johnny Logan takes us down many roads and has many ambitions with his album. It comes as a continuation of the album called “The Irish Connection”. The recordings practically sent Logan on a journey around the globe. He recorded the rhythmic section – that is drums and bas – in Denmark together with his Danish band. Then he went to Germany to record all the keys, among others keyboard and piano, then he went to Nashville, USA to record the stringed instruments, pedal guitar and steel guitar, dobro, banjo, and the American fiddle – that is the violin. “There is not a single electric guitar on the album. Everything is made with acoustic guitars”, Johnny Logan explains in a voice reverberating with pride. From the USA he had to go back to Ireland to record the Irish fiddle and the characteristic Irish tin whistle. Beyond “Irishman in America” Logan has also written the songs “Sorry”, “Bridges of my Heart” and “Dancing with my Father”. The latter is also building a bridge to the beloved dear ones who have passed away, as it goes in the first lines of the chorus: “So I go/ dancing with my father/ through the streets of yesterday….”. The American link which Logan is making is connected to the history of Ireland, which saw thousands of men and women crossing the Atlantic Ocean to the land on the other side.

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Along they brought a musical tradition that has influenced the music which arose in the USA. “Thus bluegrass and the Cajun music have been strongly inspired by Irish music”, says Johnny Logan. But it is neither bluegrass nor Cajun songs that Logan has chosen for the album from America’s enormous backlist. He has chosen songs that in one way or another have meant something to him. And they are all very different. Right from “This Land is your Land”, which is an old American traditional, to “Piece of my Heart”, which is one of the biggest hits from the folk-rock-queen Janice Joplin. “It was important for me to find some songs which had a groove which touched me. They are all songs that were popular in the USA in the 70’ies, because I was very attracted to the country in those days and to everything on the music stage then. For example I simply love Janice Joplin, so it was only natural for me to include one of her songs”. Yet another bridge between the USA and Ireland – and between the USA and the Logan family – is the bridge that was built when Johnny’s dad, Patrick O’Hagan sang for the three American presidents, Lyndon B. Johnson, John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon. But otherwise it is mainly musically that Johnny Logan wishes to build bridges. He does that by allowing the two musical traditions to blend in untraditional arrangements where for example the Irish and the American fiddle are practically battling in the same tune. But, of course, quite true to Johnny Logan’s heart – a mainly friendly battle. (by Rie Nielsen)

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Personnel:
Pauli Andreasen (guitar)
Jesper Andersen (drums, percussion)
Peter Dencker (accordion background vocals))
Lloyd Green (pedal steel-guitar)
Tommy Keane (pipe)
Andreas Linse (keyboards)
Johnny Logan (vocals)
Charlie McCoy (harmonica)
John Sheahan (fiddle, whistle)
Michael Sherrard (guitar)
Jacob Skytte (bass)
Wanda Wick (guitar, dobro, banjo, mandolin, fiddle)
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background vocals:
Heidi Trolle – Adam Sherrard – Fionn Sherrard – Jack Sherrard

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Tracklist:
01. Rocky Road To Dublin (Traditional) 3.19
02. The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down (Robertson) 3.39
03. Belle Of Belfast (Traditional) 4.26
04. Dancing With My Father (Linse/Sherrard) 4.56
05. This Land Is Your Land (Guthrie) 3.55
06. Piece Of My Heart (Berns/Ragovoy) 4.07
07. The Alabama Song (Brecht/Weill) 4.37
08. Bridges Of My Heart (Sherrard) 3.41
09. Sorry (Linse/Sherrard) 3.53
10. Paddy On The Railway (Traditional) 3.17
11. Waxies Dargle (Traditional) 2.48
12. Irishman In America (Sherrard) 5.02
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13. Why Me (Logan) 3.32

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Otis Taylor – Recapturing The Banjo (2008)

FrontCover1.jpgThanks to films like Deliverance and the rise of bluegrass since the mid-’50s, the banjo has come to be associated with white Appalachia in most people’s minds, but the instrument actually has its origins in West Africa, arriving in the New World via the slave trade, and consequently became a dominant factor in early African-American song styles. A simple instrument with tremendous modal possibilities, the banjo, particularly in its five-string version, also has a much wider range of tones, approaches, and styles in its repertoire than most people only familiar with the slash-and-burn speed style of modern bluegrass are likely to realize. In this regard, the title of Otis Taylor’s ninth album, Recapturing the Banjo, is quite literally a mission statement. Taylor has always featured the banjo on his various recording projects, but here he brings the instrument front and center and enlists the help of several other contemporary black musicians, including Alvin Youngblood Hart, Guy Davis, Corey Harris, Don Vappie, and Keb’ Mo’, to present the banjo in a clearer historical light. This is no archival museum album, however, and while it does encompass and illustrate several banjo styles, from the clawhammer work of Davis on OtisTaylor01the traditional “Little Liza Jane” to the delicate picking style of Keb’ Mo’ on his own “The Way It Goes” and the jug band approach of Harris and Vappie on Gus Cannon’s “Walk Right In,” Recapturing the Banjo remains very much an Otis Taylor release, full of the kind of driving, modal trance tunes that he has always done so strikingly well. The opener, “Ran So Hard the Sun Went Down,” a Taylor original, is a case in point. With a massed banjo army of Hart, Harris, Vappie, and Taylor himself, and amended by Taylor’s daughter Cassie Taylor on bass and backup vocals, the song races in modal fashion with a steam-engine drive not unlike some of the North Mississippi trance blues of R.L. Burnside and company. It’s all pretty exhilarating. This isn’t an album full of purist intentions, either, and there’s plenty of lap steel and electric guitar included in Taylor’s powerful take on the old chestnut “Hey Joe,” for instance, which features a guitar lead that even pays homage to Jimi Hendrix’s famous version. Another highlight is Hart’s stripped-down (just Hart on banjo and Taylor on percussion) reading of another traditional song, “Deep Blue Sea,” that takes the banjo well out of the parlor. Taylor has yet to make a disappointing album, and Recapturing the Banjo is yet another striking example of how he combines the past and the present in a powerful contemporary cultural statement that informs and instructs even as it keeps the feet moving. So don’t expect “Orange Blossom Special.” This is the banjo in its original habitat given a 21st century twist while still paying tribute to its African past, and that’s quite an impressive hat trick indeed.  (by Steve Leggett)

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Personnel:
Guy Davis (mandolin, harmonica, background vocals)
Corey Harris (banjo)
Alvin Youngblood Hart (banjo, guitar, lap steel guitar, background vovals)
Ron Miles (cornet)
Keb’ Mo’ (banjo, bass, background vocals)
Kevin Moore, Jr. (drums)
Cassie Taylor (bass, background vocals)
Otis Taylor (vocals, banjo, guitar, mandolin, percussion)
Don Vappie (banjo, background vocals)

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Tracklist:
01. Ran So Hard The Sun Went Down (Taylor) 3.53
02. Prophet’s Mission (Hart) 3.34
03. Absinthe (Taylor) 4.21
04. Live Your Life (Taylor) 3.39
05. Walk Right In (Cannon) 4.02
06. Bow-Legged Charlie (Taylor) 4.26
07. Hey Joe (Roberts) 4.31
08. Little Liza Jane (Traditional) 2.45
09. Five Hundred Roses (Taylor) 4.13
10. Les Ognons (Traditional) 3.27
11. Deep Blue Sea (Traditional) 2.21
12. Simple Mind (Taylor) 4.22
13. Ten Million Slaves (Taylor) 4.08
14. The Way It Goes (Mo´/Linson) 2.57

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And here´s Otis Taylor with a fantastic live version of “Hey Joe” (feat. Anne Harris on violin and guitar whiz Taylor Scott ) , one of the best versions ever !

 

 

Ornette Coleman Quartet – Live At Jazz A Vienne (2008)

FrontCoverRandolph Denard Ornette Coleman (March 9, 1930 – June 11, 2015) was an American jazz saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter, and composer. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz movement of the 1960s, a term he invented with the name of his 1961 album. His “Broadway Blues” has become a standard and has been cited as a key work in the free jazz movement.[2] He was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship in 1994. His album Sound Grammar received the 2007 Pulitzer Prize for music. (by wikipedia)

And here´s a pretty good broadcast concert (French TV) …

Coleman is the creator of a concept of music called “harmolodic,” a musical form which is equally applicable as a life philosophy. The richness of harmolodics derives from the unique interaction between the players. Breaking out of the prison bars of rigid meters and conventional harmonic or structural expectations, harmolodic musicians improvise equally together in what Coleman calls compositional improvisation, while always keeping deeply in tune with the flow, direction and needs of their fellow players. In this process, harmony becomes melody becomes harmony. Ornette describes it as “Removing the caste system from sound.” On a broader level, harmolodics equates with the freedom to be as you please, as long as you listen to others and work with them to develop your own individual harmony. (by jazzbluesnews.space)

Recorded live at the Théâtre Antique de Vienne (Isère – Rhône-Alpes)

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Personnel:
Denardo Coleman (drums)
Ornette Coleman (saxophone, violon)
Tony Falanga (bass)
Al McDowell (bass)
Charnett Mack Moffet (bass)

OrnetteColeman03Tracklist:
01. Intro (Coleman) 0.34
02. Sleep Talking (Coleman) 6.34
03. 9/11 (Coleman)
04. Bach – 5 Bach Arrangements (Bach/Coleman) 12.26
05. Dancing Your Head (Coleman) 5.36
06. Song World (Pt. 1) (Coleman) 3.51
07. Song World (Pt. 2) (Coleman) 4.57
08. Song X (Coleman) 4.04
09. Lonely Woman (Coleman) 4.00

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Isère is a department in the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in eastern France named after the river Isère:

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Return To Forever – Returns (2009)

FrontCover1.jpgReturns is a live album by the fusion band Return to Forever. Released in 2009, it is the first recording by the band after a hiatus of 32 years. A video recording of the band’s live performances from the “Returns” tour at Montreux, Switzerland and (bonus material) Clearwater, Florida was also released in 2009 by Eagle Rock Entertainment as Return to Forever – Returns: Live at Montreux 2008. (by wikipedia)

When Chick Corea reassembled the members of the most commercially successful version of his Return to Forever ensemble in 2008 and embarked on an extensive tour, it was the jazz fusion event of the year. Younger fans barely born when the ensemble’s high watermark, Romantic Warrior, was released in 1976 could finally see the group in the flesh. Based on this sizzling double-CD document culled from the tour’s highlights, 32 years didn’t dim the quartet’s enthusiasm or uncanny instrumental precision and interplay. It includes extended versions of half the tunes on Romantic Warrior, the title cut from No Mystery, and three selections from Where Have I Known You Before, with that disc’s “Song to the Pharaoh Kings” clocking in at a whopping 27 minutes. Corea keeps his synths reproducing the ’70s sounds of the original recordings, which is great for those who want to relive the albums, but brings a somewhat dated touch to much of this. In reality, there are very few bands in 2008 creating this space-progressive jazz-rock fusion, and certainly none with the fine-tuned talents of these guys.

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Those chops are displayed early on a 13-minute version of “Vulcan Worlds” that can only be described as explosive — so much so that it elicits multiple rounds of rapturous applause as each member takes his turn in the spotlight. It’s especially exciting to hear guitarist Al di Meola once again shredding with his old band, since much of his recent material has been acoustic and world music-oriented. Stanley Clarke remains one of jazz’s finest bassists, grounding the sound but also taking dynamic solos that place his instrument in a lead guitar position. Hearing him trading frenzied, electrified licks with di Meola is one of the many pleasures of this reunion.

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But the band is intent on showing its quieter side too, with individual and duo collaborations that are predominantly unplugged. First up, Corea and di Meola join forces on “Children’s Song #3,” then the guitarist romps on acoustic as the piece ends with Corea returning to join in on his famed “Spain.” Disc two tamps down the fireworks by featuring lengthy acoustic improvisational work from Corea, Clarke, and drummer Lenny White in that order, that provides a contrast, some might say breathing room, to the fiery group compositions, but also drag down the energy and slow the show’s momentum. For jazz students, this is a mini master class for each instrument, yet how often others will return to these sections that comprise nearly half an hour of the second platter’s running time is questionable. A 12-minute “bonus track” of “500 Miles High,” a song from Light as a Feather, the RTF album with an earlier version of the band that did not include di Meola or White, is tacked on to the second disc. The set closes with producer Sir George Martin presenting the BBC Lifetime Achievement Award to the band, Corea’s brief acceptance speech, and a short acoustic performance of “Romantic Warrior.” It should be noted that this album’s sleeve photos are from the associated DVD of the band’s Montreux 2008 set, but only one tune here was recorded at that performance. (by Hal Horowitz)

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Personnel:
Stanley Clarke (bass)
Chick Corea (keyboards, synthesizer)
Al Di Meola (guitar)
Lenny White (drums)

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Tracklist:

CD 1:
01. Opening Prayer (Corea) 2.04
02. Hymn Of The Seventh Galaxy (Corea) 3.44
03. Vulcan Worlds (Clarke) 13.45
04. Sorceress (White) 11.22
05. Song To The Pharaoh Kings (Corea) 27.14
06. Al’s Solo, including (Corea, DiMeola, Piazzolla) 8.54
06.01. Children’s Song #3 (duet with Chick Corea) (Corea)
06.02. Passion Grace & Fire (Di Meola)
06.03. Mediterranean Sundance (Di Meola)
06.03. Café 1930 (Piazzolla)
06.04. Spain (duet with Chick Corea) (Corea)
07. No Mystery (Corea) 8.53

CD 2:
08. Friendship (Corea) /Solar (Davis) 8.53
09. Romantic Warrior (I) (Corea) 7.20
10. El Bayo de Negro (*) (Clarke) 11.26
11. Lineage (White) 7.39
12. Romantic Warrior (II) (Corea) 3.03
13. Duel Of The Jester And The Tyrant (Corea) 14.04
+
14. 500 Miles High (Corea) 12.48
15. BBC Lifetime Achievement Award to RTF as presented by Sir George Martin, including a performance of ‘Romantic Warrior’ (Corea) 8.20

(*) one of the finest bass solos ever !

CD2A

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