Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Library Artist Mladen Franko, 13 LPs

I didn't bother this time to put the album covers in order, especially with the added problem that the database doesn't provide years of release for quite a few of them.  Who cares, when we have 13 records to digest, some of which are quite forgettable.

The 1980 Sonoton album called Contemporary Sounds Vol. 2 (the Vol. 1 is a different composer, Danny Burdson) features some really stunning advanced composition, for ex. the track called Atoll:

In that same annus mirabilis, the 2 albums called Amazing Space feature the best sounding library funk-fusion you could hope to hear, approaching the great Puccio Roelens, the opener of the first volume called Sound Safari:

But don't waste too much of your time on the remainder, most of these are completely pedestrian.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Roland Bocquet of Catharsis / Paradia fame in The 1982 OST La Balance

Superb cover art again for Paradia, reminding me a lot of Matisse crossed with the French artist Sempe, and how beautiful to see it's by Bocquet himself.

I guess this artist needs no introduction, certainly for me the 1977 record Paradia is a masterpiece of expressive Gallic progressive music, perfect in its smooth and well-executed professionalism, and thus leaving his old Catharsis band far behind.  Long ago I was excited to find out he made those two other Robot library records, but they proved disappointing to me in comparison to his chef d' oeuvre, particularly since he recycled some of the Paradia compositions for them.  To complete his discography I bought this soundtrack he wrote for a movie, which I remember well from my art film days in university, called La Balance, with Natalie Baye.  From imdb:

Nicole is a Parisian streetwalker and Dede is her racketeer boyfriend, on the outs with his mob bosses because of a dispute over Nicole. When a police informant ("la balance") is murdered, the cops have to scramble for a replacement. Deciding on Dede, they begin to put a nasty squeeze on him and Nicole.

Despite the briefness of the above I do remember it was a great movie from the twilight of the golden age of French police movies.  (If you understand French you can, as usual, see the whole thing for free on youtube.  I guess the nostalgia of the art video rental stores is something only us old guys can indulge in and soon it will be a totally forgotten memory too.)

Ultimately, Bocquet only contributed a little to the soundtrack, but what he did do is astonishing:

This being A2's rendition of La Chanson de Nicole.  (Another appears with vocals on the b side.)  How many times have I made the same comment: no music this beautiful is ever written anymore.  Just check out how effectively the simple electric guitar solo adds punch to the ostinato rhodes piano and string arrangement weaving in and out of the synthesizer melody like birds in the sky.  Then towards the end, the guitarist dialogues on his own with the rhodes, like a suitor pleading with a beautiful woman.  Such artistry!

Sadly there is a lot of filler on this record, explaining why it has been forgotten by time.  In particular, the last tracks on each side-- and I will be polite about it-- are absolutely stinking piles of shit.

But the Chanson of Nicole should never have been forgotten...

Friday, 13 April 2018

Smith, Hellborg, Shrieve -- All Our Steps... from Germany 1983, by request

The trio includes American composer/pianist Michael Smith, the well-known Jonas Hellborg on bass and Shrieve on drums.  On the database it's described as fusion but it turned out to be more of an acoustic set, with a grand piano solo to start side one and a drum solo for side two.  So despite the high expectations, given the performers, it was a bit disappointing overall, with the ensemble performances not generating the kind of renewable energy one would have earnestly wished for.

I'll throw in another record I found in the course of looking for requests, this performance from 1985 (not the one which was requested I realize!) which features again some famous names (Kenny Wheeler, Norma Winston, John Taylor, etc.) and equally some interesting compositions. Note that bassist and composer for side b, Paolo Damiani, was on the amazing seminal prog record Buon Vecchio Charlie which everyone knows.

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

More Marie Rottrova and Flamingo in 1974

Going way back to close to the beginning of the series I thought for completeness sake we should hear this one too.  Unfortunately not as much to hang on to overall.  For example,  A3 Dlouhá Ulice by Drahoslav Volejníček:

I was surprised to hear that track B5 stole a small instrumental from Chicago, apparently without credit.

Specifically, it's the virtually unknown track called AM Mourning from Chicago 2 that was lifted.  Not that anyone would ever have noticed.  Nonetheless, some nice compositions, surprisingly, one from Polish genius Czeslaw Niemen, which proved disappointing and not progressive at all, and one from Jan Spaleny who you may recall I covered in conjunction with prog outfit Mahagon (I think the links for those were taken down there, sorry).

Monday, 9 April 2018

More Marie Rottrová with Já A Ty from 1983

Later on in the 80s as we are here we find her deep voice is a little hoarser, from all that smoking (possibly), drinking (probably), drugs (definitely), and (maybe) the swallowed seed of so many rich and powerful music executives.  How times have changed.

The first track as sample:

Saturday, 7 April 2018

Torsten Brandes: 1988's 5 Kleine Stücke Für Gitarre

Unfortunately very little here to hang on to, less than one side of a vinyl in equivalent length with 5 tracks totaling I'm guessing about 11 minutes, I desperately wanted to hear this due to the amazing creativity he brought to his duo with David Ward MacLean in Mystery Men and their masterpiece Strange Fruit.

Some scant information here.  Clearly these sound like composition exercises, but they are extremely high in standard and interesting, or to the average human I suppose, weird:

Wednesday, 4 April 2018

Howard University Jazz Ensemble HUJE '83, by request

Recalling my earlier comments about the university jazz bands lacking representation by African-Americans, who single-handedly invented the genre, this time checking out the photo of the band members on the inside we can see a hundred percent affirmative action in action with nary a white face to be seen in a sea of hip cats circa early 80s. The superior swing, the smoothness and the soulful singing on one track (Genesis) bear witness to their communal abilities here.  And since composition credits are spread out among such a large constituency we get presumably the cream of the crop in writing quality.

This is the requested 1983 installment from a long line of records.  And on the strength of this it's clearly worth hearing some more.

From discogs:

Howard University Jazz Ensemble (HUJE), Washington DC, USA, was founded in 1975 by its director, Fred Irby, III. Outstanding performances in the United States, Europe, South America, Asia, and the Caribbean have caused it to be recognized as one of the foremost college jazz ensembles. HUJE has been heard on radio and television as well as in concert, often appearing with celebrated performers. Members of the HUJE have won awards as performers and composers/arrangers, and the ensemble includes among its alumni several practicing jazz artists. Additionally, the HUJE was featured during the 1992, 1996 and 2005 Kennedy Center Honors Gala (CBS-TV). The HUJE has released thirty-four recordings in a distinguished series that began in 1976.

Btw, for those like me who were wondering, Howard University is in Washington, D.C.  A beautiful city, well worth visiting in the summer, with its grand monuments and enormous bureaucratic buildings reminiscent of the height of the Roman Empire, or perhaps the ancient American Empire, its wonderful museums, particularly the museum of democracy in which you can witness what a grand political system once existed here, the memorials of the great presidents of the past, none of whom will be equaled ever again obviously, the enormous and well-stocked swamps all around with their interesting and often abnormal lifeforms (please don't get too close, some are very dangerous).  There is a sense of all the wealth and power of the world passing within the perimeter of the city, from the hands of very lucky middle-aged white men to other very lucky middle-aged white men in order to further impoverish the 99.99999999 percent of citizens of the country, representatives of whom you will see sleeping peacefully on the many dirty sidewalks, perhaps politely asking for a crumb outside the boutique hotel gourmet restaurants where water costs 20 dollars a bottle and is shipped from 10,000 miles away.  Go perhaps to a place called Foggy Bottom where you may be privileged enough to see someone with a million, or even a billion times more money in their wallet than yours and don't be envious, they must be a billion times better a person than you.  Needless to say the most important man in the world resides here, and the luckiest too, with his harem of porn stars.  But be sure to stay safe and heed the common warning of the travel guides, if your skin is colored, stay away from the police: they are likely to kill you for holding your cellphone.

First track, called Hot Line, quite representative of the contents:

A beautiful record, from the beautiful city that is also lucky enough to be its own state.