Just before leaving the Ghent record fair without purchase, I discovered a crate with mint ECM records from a German vendor. All were reasonably priced at € 10. My budget was limited so I decided to go for 2 releases with Egberto Gismonti on, given the fact that I collect ECM records with the graphic design in mind they caught my eye.

First one is Gismonti's 1976 release 'Dança das Cabeças' teaming up with the late Nana Vasconcelos. The two wanted to create an atmosphere as walking through the rainforest keeping a distance between them, all the time communicating with their instruments and voices.

Second is 'Magico'. I think actually a recording filed under Garbarek's name. The trio with Charlie Haden stands for another ECM catalogue highlight. I must confess I always faverod Gismonti's piano playing over his guitar style. Both are of extreme beauty and personality but I never really got into his expression on guitar, until now. Time to study in more detail I guess.

Picked up this record from the bargain section for 8.95€. Double 180gr vinyl. The fun part was that I even didn't notice that John Scofield plays on this until I got home. At this great price and artwork I just couldn't resist.

The quartet plays originals by all members as wel as classics by The Doors (yes, Light my fire), Cream (yes, Sunshine of your love),  Jobim and Dylan (well yes, The times they are a-changin).

On the cover Byrd is surrounded by a kind of aureola to distinguish him from the dark, flattened background. It's hard to get a nice picture from this cover let me tell you.

It is not hard to enjoy this album, given you are in for some adventure. Two long funky jams who serve as magic carpet ride for soloing escapades and 'Jamie': a short, more melodic oriented piece. The album marks a point in time where jazz was searching for ways to define itself in a new era. An era where soul, funk and rock were at the forefront of music business. Thoughts go out to fellow trumpetist Miles Davis, equally exploring new possibilities along the way during those late sixties/early seventies.

Considered to be not that outstanding as previous albums of Byrd this remains a great album. Remarkably to me is the presence of Joe Sample and Wilton Felder from the popular group The Jazz Crusaders aka The Crusaders. Byrd's output has been extensively sampled by the acid-jazz and hip-hop generation. This one will probably be no exception to that.

Blue Note BST-84380
Recorded at A&M Studios August 25th & 26th, 1971

A side:

  1. The Emperor
  2. Jamie

B side:

  1. The Little Rasti
Donald Byrd Ethiopian Knights album cover

Linger Lane is Bobby Hutcherson's 1975 offering on Blue Note. In search of (commercial?) success Hutcherson first plays through a couple of popular songs including 'People make the world go round' and the theme for the television series 'M*A*S*H', before switching to original compositions.

Playing however stays to laidback throughout the record as if nobody knows which direction it should really go. Stuck between smooth and free. A little bit odd is the marimba sound of Hutcherson on this recording. Most of the time it's feels like he is only playing the high range end of his instrument, producing a thin sound as if he was playing the xylophone, which is a pity. Expectations are not met on this recording, despite high carat players, what remains is a nice to have session anyway.

Recorded outdoors in Idylwild, California

A side:

  1. People make the world go round
  2. Theme from M*A*S*H
  3. Ntu

B side:

  1. Manzanita
  2. Mountain Caravan
  3. Silver Rondo
Bobby Hutcherson Linger Lane

After hearing part of this on YouTube I just had to own this album. It comes in the series that ECM reissued for a low price. Packaged in a mini gatefold sleeve, Gnu High is too beautiful for words. Here is this gathering of brilliant musicians under the umbrella of Kenny Wheeler. Wheeler a stylist first, playing for the form, well articulated.

At the same time he restrains his high carat companions in a positive way it seems, earning the respect he deserves. Jarrett is here to accompany, still keen to interact but stretching out only when it's his turn to solo. Holland is a roadworthy companion, we know, and DeJohnnette's sometimes to pushy trademark playing is a little bit further away in the mix this time. Which is fine for this setting.

Some things take time: writing a new post for example, or learning to fully appreciate a record. I bought Rush latest studio offering in combination with the Moving Pictures live vinyl back in 2012 or 2013. Don't remember exactly. I have to admit while always being a keen supporter of the band since mid-eighties, the last studio efforts since Test for Echo couldn't really caught much of my attention for a longer period of time. The band's strong live reputation remained through the years but I felt a lack of new inspiration. Vapor Trails was a turn for the best and back to guitar driven riffs. Trying to reinvent themselves again after decades seemed hard even for these outstanding craftsmen.

I listened to Clockwork Angels once in a while, heard new freshness and potential and now the last few weeks it caught me. In combination with the live performances I saw on the internet I really dove into it. At sixty-something they revived. There it is: the right balance between vocals, keyboards, guitars, bass and drums. A melting pot of sound with only equal parts and the occasional Peart penned one liner that seems to jump out once in a while and sticks in the head for the rest of the day.

Not looking to the past they obviously found new resources of inspiration, enough to raise the bar once more. They even do allow companions on the new and winding road. Strings are added and thankfully they are agressive, fully supporting and responsible for a whole new palette of sound. Now watch out you hipster young bands, before you know these gentlemen will kick your ass when they are well into their seventies.

 

Rush-Clockwork-Angels