Oct 27, 2013

Ornette Coleman Science Fiction: Everything but the Kitchen Sink

Science Fiction is one of the first free jazz/avant garde albums that ever spoke to me.

It has everything, crazy-ass free funk sounds juxtaposed with free form rhythms. Ornette pounds away on alto and violin. Charlie

Haden's bass sound didn't hurt either. I always liked that bouncy bright sound of his.

Check out "Law Years", I mean who in the heck would ever have a drum & bass duet that early in a tune? 

Science Fiction released in 1972 is the quintessential bridge album if I ever heard one. It does indeed sound like The Shape of Jazz to Come meets Dancing in Your Head.  A perfect balance between the classic Coleman sound and the new funkier world music vibes to come by the middle of the 70's.

I mentioned "Law Years" earlier: I had forgotten this, but I first heard that track on the Ken Burns Jazz Compilation for Ornette, probably the best single disc compilation out there for Ornette to this day.

I was so blown away by the track I bought the Complete Science Fiction Sessions the next day. Of course it took a while to warm up to the rest of the album as varied as it is. That compilation also included Broken Shadows as well, another album Coleman did for Columbia that wasn't released until 1982.

I remember back around the year 2000, when I was first discovering this new to me jazz music, it was exciting to acquire the taste for music like this;  because you know it's not exactly commercial music, and I can hardly think of a niche music more exclusive than free jazz.

Norman Connors Love From The Sun: Buddah Records 1974

Norman Conners Love from the sun
Norman Connors is best known out side of jazz for his R&B hit "You are my Starship" which went to #4 on the R&B chart in 1976.

Norman is also an exceptional drummer, and played with Sam Rivers on his albums Hues and Streams, as well as Pharoah Sanders' Village of the Pharaohs.

This album, Love From the Sun from 1974 features a pretty heavy duty jazz lineup.

 Herbie Hancock on electric piano, Eddie Henderson on trumpet, Carlos Garnett and Gary Bartz on saxophones, Buster Williams on bass, and Dee Dee Bridgewater on Vocals on a several tracks.

If you like the quiet storm style of funk that artist like Lonnie Liston Smith and Bennie Maupin laid to tape in the mid to late 70's you'll like Love from the Sun.

A perfect balance of modern jazz instrumental seriousness, and the more commercial element that jazz funk and rock brought to contemporary jazz. Certainly not an antiseptic sterile album by any means, think nice grooves and shifting rhythms.  Sometime they sit in the pocket to set a mood.

If you like the Hancock Mwandishi band, I think this Connors album would be worth picking up. If you are a mega Dee Dee Bridgewater fan you'll want this, quite frankly her voice is used as an instrument, it colors the tune to a great effect she appears on, damn near steals the show.

I like the sultry mood the music possesses, this mood I think is close to what you would identify as quiet storm, but there are plenty of modern jazz chops on this album too, it's not light-weight at all. 

Good luck trying to find Love From the Sun on CD, as of this writing it's only available on Vinyl and digital download

Oct 5, 2013

Return to Forever Romantic Warrior: Irresistible 70's Jazz Rock Fusion Vinyl

Romantic Warrior is the album I believe that turned many a progressive rock artist into jazz fusioners.

Of course I like the style and don't have a problem with that, but fans of prog groups like PFM and Iceberg probably would disagree with me.

Even  Phil Collins had a side project away from Genesis called Brand X that reminds one of this album in spots.

Chick Corea is quite simply one of the greatest jazz pianists of all time and he owns the genre of jazz fusion in the 70's in my opinion.

All due respect to Weather Report, but anything they did after Jaco Joined the band is too light weight for my tastes,  not that it is bad music or anything. I just happen to think RTF was the pinnacle of 70's fusion.

A few bands like Caldera went unsung that rivaled RTF, then RTF guitarist Al Di Meola produced his own classic albums, drummer Lenny White and bassist Stanley Clarke also added to the style with their own classics from the genre.

Romantic Warrior is the pinnacle of the genre in my opinion, with crystal clear production. This pictured vinyl sounds incredible, the CD doesn't even come close to the warmth and
heavy natural bass sound.

It really is amazing looking at the back of this cover, talk about a super group! This group was actually just a working band at the time, but in hindsight it is obvious how great this music and band was.

Romantic Warrior is so complex in spots, you wonder how this band could ever pull it off live, but they did and still do with various reunions.

I know some will undoubtedly point to Mahavishnu Orchestra and some of their complex fusion albums, but even they I don't believe topped this Romantic Warrior.

It's hard to argue how guitarist Di Meola is the star of the show here, this guy was a schred guitarist before the term was even coined, as much as I marvel at Eddie Van Halen, I always thought Di Meola was more interesting to listen to.

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