Won't be able to see Abdullah Ibrahim's Mukashi trio perform live at the Ghent Jazz festival. So instead pulled out the Ekaya recording from 1984. A record showing the true soul of Abdullah. Always at ease behind the piano it seems, clever composing goes hand in hand with improvisation. Combined with the feet shuffling rhythmics of South-Africa, his voice is an unique one. Fled from apartheid in the sixties he is longing for Ekaya (Home) and finds some very capable companions on his musical road back.

The playing is at times harmonical tight and driving, lovely and laidback at other moments. Alto sax player Carlos Ward stands out with his fierce virtuoso soloing. Recorded by Rudy Van Gelder.

Ekapa-005
Recorded at Van Gelder studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 17th November 1983

A side:

  1. Ekaya
  2. Sotho Blue
  3. Ntyilo, Ntyilo

B side:

  1. Bra Timing from Phomolong
  2. Ek sê ou Windhoek toe nou
  3. Cape Town

 

Abdullah Ibrahim Ekaya

When I made the switch from vinyl to cd's in the late eighties, one of the first albums I bought was the Metheny-Coleman collaboration "Song X". However I returned my copy after just one listening session. Not that bringing records back to the shop was a habit of mine. It only happened a couple of times.

This story outlines what an impression Coleman could leave on the unexperienced listener. I was shocked and obviously didn't get the harmolodics. Nowadays Ornette Coleman is not a frequent run on my turntable or cd player either but I learned to appreciate his involvement in modern music. He took chances, he was a creator and did not fear or compromise. Like many of the true innovators he dedicated his life to his art.

It was through the Jorn Zorn's Naked City version of Lonely Woman that I learned to appreciate Coleman's music and it's potential beauty. The man still remains a mystery to many of us and people will rediscover his music for generations to come.

Photo by Andy Newcombe.

Ornette Coleman by Andy Newcombe

Michael J. Smith was (and stays) a fairly unknown piano player to me, to say the least. I picked up this copy years ago from the sales section (notice the hole in the bottom left corner meaning the record was selected for fast and cheap selling) and was pleasantly surprised. Yes I bought the record because of Jonas Hellborg who I knew from a Mahavishnu incarnation.

Third man in the party is Santana sticks man Michael Shrieve (remember Woodstock). I read an interview with Shrieve once looking back at that recording session. Smith picking up Shrieve at the airport accompanied by a timide young man who turned out to be the bass player for the recording. Little did Shrieve know what a bass player Hellborg would turn out to be.

Side A is a melodic fusion explosion with a fierce take no prisoners approach, side B starts of with a drum evocation by Shrieve, followed by a more free, improvised kind of playing.

Relativity Records, TR 8101
Recorded in Stockholm, May, 1983

A side:

  1. So let it spring
  2. The seventh way
  3. All our steps...
  4. Jonas


B side:

  1. Neap tide
  2. Sense
  3. The virgin bride
Michael J. Smith 'All our steps'

Drummer Peter Erskine is an important part of the music scene since the early seventies. The list of recordings he contributed to is impressive not to say overwhelming. Not only it's a long one, no it's a list of sometimes landmark music of that same period. Talking about lists. That of musicians and bands he collaborated with is of similar length and importance.

I am not going to dive deeper into this. Read for yourself. Those who believed this to be a framed story of Erskine's time with Weather Report (1978-1982) don't get what they expected. But personnaly I'm even more satisfied with the outcome. He shares stories and events, often not even chronologic. A must read for everyone serious about drumming, music and life. Yes life, I've you think that success is just around the corner for someone that talented then think again.

This book will go up on my bookshelf next to Bill Milkowski's "Jaco". I think mr. Erskine would approve.

Peter Erskine No Beethoven book

This is a John Scofield album recorded during his tenure with Miles Davis. There's no bass player hired as John is playing the bass parts himself. Scofield got Dennis Chambers on drums for later albums and touring but here the drum throne is taking by Steve Jordan. A wonderful choice. Jordan, as always, focuses on the groove and he's an original master at that. Funky and driving without losing himself.

The horn section (trombone, alt-sax) is the rare combination of Ray Anderson and David Sanborn. Anderson originating out of the free jazz-free funk corner, and Sanborn the sought after studio musician/fusion icon. Nevertheless the both find a common musical path on this adventure. Listen to 'Filibuster' to hear them go in higher gear. Peter Levin is humble playing keyboards.

A funky jazz album showing the fruition of an unique talent. Miles knew.

Grammavision Records 1984 GR 8405

A side:

  1. Just my luck
  2. Big break
  3. Best western
  4. Pick hits


B side:

  1. Filibuster
  2. Thanks again
  3. King for a day
  4. Phone home
John Scofield 1984 Electric Outlet album

Currently reading 'No Beethoven' by drummer Peter Erskine which I will review later. But with Peter in mind I started to search YouTube and catched a video of him with Palle Danielsson and Rita Marcotulli (see below). The tune is 'Something I said' and was (first?) recorded on the Steps Ahead album 'Magnetic' back in 1985-86.

Steps Ahead was an all-star fusion band who had gained some popularity by then (I think especially in Europe). Originally started as an almost acoustic venture, they got more and more into synths. Some of the compositions are loaded with them, overloaded at times it seems. Even Mike Mainieri's vibes got midified over the years. Still there are a lot of highlights on this album. 'Trains' became a live hit during concerts and there's a retake of Ellington's 'In a sentimental mood' which features Michael Brecker on Steiner Ewi, a MIDI wind instrument.

The more acoustic version of Steps Ahead comes near the end of the album with the laidback and aforementioned 'Something I said' written by Erskine.

Elektra Records

A side:

  1. Trains
  2. Beirut
  3. Cajun
  4. In a sentimental mood


B side:

  1. Magnetic love
  2. Sumo
  3. All the tea in China
  4. Something I said
  5. Reprise (Magnetic love)
     

Steps Ahead Magnetic