Schlagwörter: Jazz Fusion Kommentarverlauf ein-/ausschalten | Tastaturkürzel

  • blechtram 11:16 am am March 3, 2020 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 7.7/10, , Backdoor Classic, , Jazz Fusion, Nils Petter Molvær, Nu Jazz   

    Nils Petter Molvær: Khmer 

    Rating: 7.7/10
    Rated as
    : Album
    Album Status
    : Backdoor Classic
    Released: 1997
    Specific Genre: Nu Jazz
    Main Genre: Jazz, Jazz Fusion, Electronic
    Undertones
    : EDM, Breakbeat, Trip Hop, ECM Style Jazz
    Label: ECM

    1 Khmer 2 Tløn 3 Access/Song of Sand I 4 On Stream 5 Platonic Years 6 Phum 7 Song of Sand II 8 Exit

    An explorative but very disciplined approach extending jazz into electronic music on equal terms

    To me, this sounds like Tutu gone well – replacing tired old 1980s-funk with contemporary engery of trip hop and EDM. Obviously, Molvær‘s stylistic godfather regarding his trumpet sound is Miles Davis, especially Marcus Miller’s Davis – and quite openly so: The trumpet lick of „Platonic Years“ is the exact one that opens Davis’s Doo-Bop album with „Mystery“. While such a description should make me run for shelter, this release is actually quite terrific and (partially) makes me see even the lesser aspects of Davis’s synth-jazz era as a forerunner of successful outings of electronic and nujazz such as this.

    Khmer is a primarily stylistic affair. The sound is crystal clear, dominated by Molvær‘s now piercing, now soothing trumpet, floating over mostly programmed (?) beats which range from ambient background to heavy thunder, bordering on wild outbreaks à la Massive Attack here and there. Distorted guitars and filtered cellos (?) add to an explorative but very disciplined approach extending jazz into electronic music on equal terms. Molvær adds an eastern element to the grooves (the tabla-like percussion on „On Stream“ sounds like a sample from an Indian raga) over which he supplies his druidic trumpet solos.

    After the two mesmerizing, beat-and-crunched-guitar-driven openers and a great trip hop freakout on „Access/Song of Sand I“, the record gets dreamier and borderline ambient towards the middle, approaching Eno-territory on the mellow „Platonic Years“ and „Phum“. In a suite-like dramaturgy, the hypnotic beats of „Song of Sand II“ make an reappearance and the record glides away with „Exit“, less of a song and more of a coda. But what makes this work? Is it just the deliberate craftsmanship that adds layer on layer, creating an amazing array of musical details and nuances, rewarding a close listen? The true strength of this distorted and programmed approach to jazz is the fact that Molvær evokes yearning emotions mostly through timbre, swerving from heavy EDM beats to pure blissful melancholia to soothing inner landscapes of stalagmitical ice caves with astounding consistency.

    The criticism Khmer draws is easily explained: It does feel like an approach that works for one album. This is too experimental and cerebral for „Café-del-Mar“-listeners, but too electronic and ‚easy‘ for jazz snobs. I like to see this as an advantage of Khmer. It’s thinkable to give this to totally different people such as trip hoppers, house-junkies, jazz aficionados and chill-sound-folks, with at least some of each group ending up liking it. As an icicle blazing through the European jazz scene in the late 1990s, it’s still a cold gust of wind more than twenty years later.

     
  • blechtram 11:46 am am May 4, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 9.5/10, , , Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock, Miles Davis, ,   

    Miles Davis: Jack Johnson 

    Rating: 9.5/10
    Rated as
    : Album
    Album Status
    : Classic
    Released: 1971
    Specific Genre: Jazz Fusion, Jazz-Rock
    Main Genres: Jazz, Rock
    Undertones: Avant-Garde Jazz, Blues Rock
    Label: Columbia

    1 Right Off 2 Yesternow

    The outrageous one

    Miles Davis’ fusion albums of the late 1960s and early 1970s form something like the cast boy group of progressive jazz: the chilled-out mysterious one (In a Silent Way), the brainy weird one (Bitches Brew), the wild one (Live-Evil), the aggressively sexy one (On the Corner), and now: the one that everybody wants to hang out with – the outrageous one, the fun guy! In a less moronic way to talk about it, it really seems like Davis had a sort of vision for this period and what to do with the fusion style: though similiar, each of these albums represents one perfect stylistic distillation of what fusion could do.

    Jack Johnson, then, is obviously and audibly spliced together from several different jam sessions (this is most notable when a short part of In a Silent Way shows up on side B) – but let’s talk about what it sounds like if you have no edition history to consult.

    On the side-long first track (which is what this album is all about) a small raunchy combo kicks it right off with a simple blues rock rhythm, a distorted electric guitar attack, a bass finding its bluesy groove and staying with it – did I mix up records in the sleeve again? No, after John McLaughlin’s hilariously primitive riffs cease for some moments, Davis’ piercing trumpet takes over about two minutes in and it’s simply a ride of a totally loose groovy funky unstoppable jazz rock jam from here on, as the trumpet and the guitar exchange improvised solos and duels without giving it a thought. The soloing in the following ten minutes is just brain-melting, Davis screeches, rocks, and lumbers his way through the blues rock like you’ve never heard him. This part ends about twelve minutes in with some short ambient fusion intermezzo but thankfully immediately returns to the same relentless groove, with Steve Grossman’s saxophone and a new trumpet sound, the band continues to groove even swampier and Herbie Hancock is thrown into the mix. Judging from his performance he must have thought something like: „Okay guys, if you’re not taking this seriously, I’m not“ and plays a totally disastrous solo on some heavily distorted, disastrously sounding organ and the result somehow is instant history. With this completed line-up, they tip the rhythm into even dirtier territories, McLaughlin wraps it all up with a razor-toothed shredding guitar fest à la Hendrix and well that’s that.

    Side B is more akin to the calmer, more textured and nuanced fusion sound of Silent Way and Brew, and it’s also a very good track, with calm keyboard layers for Davis to float away on, the typical start-stop bass patterns and heavy editing. It’s a generally more pensive, deliberate affair that gets screechier and decidedly cross-grained in the second ten minutes when keyboard, electric guitar and trumpet are constantly fighting for attention. Good stuff.

    Either way, with all the splicing done here, the reduced fusion line-up and the improvised feel to it, this is not a „perfectly executed“ album – but who cares, among Davis’ fusion and jazz-rock albums, this stands as an absolutely unique, unrepeatable jam session that might well become your favourite „rock“ record for a while. Indispensable.

     
  • blechtram 10:06 am am May 3, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 7.0/10, , Ballbreaker Ensemble, Big Band, Experimental Big Band, , Jazz Fusion,   

    Ballbreaker Ensemble: Töff 

    Rating: 7.0/10
    Rated as:
    Album
    Album Status:
    for Genre-Enthusiasts
    Released: 2011
    Recorded: 2010
    Specific Genre: Jazz Fusion, Experimental Big Band
    Main Genres: Big Band, Jazz
    Undertones: Jazz-Rock, Avant-Garde Jazz, Chamber Jazz
    Label: Unit Records

    1 Angry Angus 2 Rebellion 3 Pagliatelle 4 Phazor One 5 Eintagsfliege 6 Reboot 7 Eruptio 8 Das Begräbnis des Herrn W.

    A culmination and synthesis of a lively, bubbling progressive fusion jazz scene

    A 13-piece-big band born out of the Jazzwerkstatt Bern, this record features almost an overabundance of Swiss jazz talent. While the Jazzwerkstatt lives off spontaneous one-off projects, this album was recorded by a proper band consisting of regulars. It’s clearly signalled as a collective effort: no ‚band leader‘, no ‚leading instrument‘ taking the spot, each composition by a different mastermind. It’s still a consistent album, as these people worked together in many other circumstances. But the sound is not necessarily what each composer or musician plays in their other projects, making it a unique album within the scene: with their dramatic, cerebral experimental big band mixed with the electric jazz-rock approach of, say, Frank Zappa’s The Grand Wazoo, the Ballbreaker Ensemble delivers a stormy album full of wild horn-section freak-outs, roaring statements of mischief (to compare Colin Vallon’s thunderous „Reboot“ to his out-of-sight-quiet ECM-albums is almost hilarious), academic, skippy ruminations („Rebellion“, „Phazor One“, ) and exuberant, balkan-esque tour de forces like Andreas Schaerer’s „Angry Angus“, whose playfulness is thwarted by a menacing electric guitar tone and funereal slower horn intersections in the middle – and so on, every piece is of note, as the pressing performances are on spot every time.

    It remains this particular constellation’s sole effort (although single pieces would appear on some of the Jazzwerkstatt anthologies), probably because it’s hard to get thirteen musicians (who are all busy playing for several other outfits) and composers under one umbrella on a regular basis. The album’s status suffers somewhat from this as it comes across as a side project, presumably worth less attention than the ‚actual‘ other projects each of the participants has. This is a shame, because this can easily be seen in a very different light: A culmination and synthesis of sorts of a lively, bubbling progressive fusion jazz scene whose more prominent talents started to get international recognition right around the time this appeared.

     
  • blechtram 1:57 pm am May 2, 2019 Permalink | Antworten
    Tags: 7.4/10, , , Herbie Hancock, , Jazz Fusion,   

    Herbie Hancock: Mwandishi 

    Rating: 7.4/10
    Rated as: Album
    Album Status: Genre Contender
    Released: 1971
    Specific Genre: Jazz Fusion, Avant-Garde Jazz
    Main Genre: Jazz
    Undertones: Jazz-Funk, Spiritual Jazz
    Label: Warner Bros.

    1 Ostinati (Suite for Angela) 2 You’ll Know When You Get There 3 Wandering Spirit Song

    From funkified electric grooves to pure introspective meditations to free form

    As the first record on which Hancock consequently combined the electric, free-floating approach taken from Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and his already heavy funk leanings, Mwandishi is the essential starting point for what Hancock would be doing the larger part of the remaining decade. While its follow-up Sextant is more manic and spaced-out, and Head Hunters is a lot funkier, Mwandishi holds its own quality against these two. Only the first track cooks heavy in its own relentless groove, while the second and third track (the latter taking up the whole of side B) explore a much looser, more cautious and introspective „inner space“ sound, not unsimilar to what Chick Corea’s Return to Forever would be doing in their quieter, relatively ostinati-free moments.

    The sound of these latter two thirds of the record is at times so meditative and relaxing it becomes almost elusive (in a good sense). Just a tingle of the percussion there, some tentative electric keys thrown in there, then the louder riff of the horn section, full stop – and back to searching, echoing keyboard strokes. The „Wandering Spirit Song“ taking up Side B goes from that ‚inner space’ calmness with just a little groove to complete free form halfway through. But even the free jazz section doesn’t sound wild or unrestrained, but rather poised – this isn’t the kind of gloriously chaotic, outrageous free jazz Sun Ra would be doing those years. It’s, so to speak, ‚Apollonian’ free jazz, used for dramaturgical and deliberate reasons. And brilliantly so: The different steps on the whole album, from funkified electric grooves to pure introspective meditations to free form – and right back to calm weather after having stirred the ocean a bit works perfectly, like different acts guiding the listener through the experience.

    Having said that, it isn’t a personal favourite as it is ultimately less extreme than other works by Hancock. It is nonetheless essential for anyone interested in Hancock’s musical development as well as in the greater 1970s context of jazz and fusion. Besides paving the way for his future output, it stands as a testimonial witnessing that in those years, there was no one else who could pick up the vanguard sounds of the era quite like Hancock and channel them into something that could serve as the perfect introduction for the uninitiated to exactly that vanguard.

     
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