Currently it's 20 degrees & windy, in the middle of a rather nasty snowstorm here, this winter's 1st -- but cast your mind with me back 2 last Fri afternoon, when it was gray & overcast & rainy & in the 40s, & snow was just rumored 2 B "on the way" -- a perfect setting 4 Grumpy Jazz-Rock Friday!
Believe me, if I could actually FIND some grumpy jazz-rock, I'd B listening 2 it. Instead, here's The List, some of which I actually LIKED....
Synergy -- Icarus.
Pat Metheny Group -- Eighteen/Barcarole.
Pat Metheny & Ornette Coleman -- Song X.
John McLaughlin -- Don't Let the Dragon Eat Your Mother.
Mahavishnu Orchestra -- Birds of Fire/Miles Beyond/Celestial Terrestrial Commuters/Sapphire Bullets of Pure Love/Thousand Island Park/Hope/Sanctuary/Open Country Joy/Resolution/The Noonward Race/A Lotus on Irish Streams/Awakening.
David Sancious -- Suite Cassandra/Dixie: March of the Conditioned Souls/Civil War of the Soul.
Weather Report -- Vertical Invader/T.H./Dr. Honoris Causa.
Pentangle -- Haitian Fight Song/Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.
Ian Carr's Nucleus -- Gone With the Weed/Out of the Long Dark.
Miles Davis -- In a Silent Way.
"Icarus" is something of a jazz classic, but Synergy's synthesized version of its haunting melody is the best version I can find. Both the Winter Consort & composer Paul Winter's solo versions R a little 2 mushy. At least Synergy's version has some 4ce 2 it -- it sounds really good 1nce U 4get the fact that it's totally synthesized. From SEQUENCER. Haven't heard Oregon's version of the tune, tho....
"Eighteen" isn't bad -- it's got some nice lite&bouncy guitar, & is EZily the best thing on OFFRAMP, near as I can tell, tho it's far from Metheny's best work. It's not Xactly distinctive -- lite jazz that's perfect 4 throwing out the household trash. "Barcarole" is noisy & has no tune -- it's as bad & painful in its way as "Forward March" off Metheny's FIRST CIRCLE album ... but nowhere near as funny. But 4 some REAL noise....
...There's "Song X." There's 2 much of Ornette Coleman here -- he's squeaking & squalling all OVER the place. There isn't enuf of Metheny. There's no melody whatsoever -- which I know was Coleman's whole point 2 Bgin w/. Jazz critics said SONG X was supposedly 1a Metheny's more "legitimate" albums, closer 2 "real jazz." I'd prefer something more illegitimate. & this track's only 6 mins long; summa the trax on the album R over 11 mins -- how the hell am I sposta get thru them?
McLaughlin's "Dragon" is loud but kinda spacey, w/ some nice gtr runs from McLaughlin & equally nice sorta-rain-droppy organ tones from Larry Young. OK, but over 2 soon. From DEVOTION.
"Birds of Fire" -- Wow, a tune! Mostly carried by Jerry Goodman's viola. Good riffage goes a long way w/ me. "Miles Beyond" hasa cool close-miked gtr (bass?) solo that un4tun8ly is over 2 quick. "Commuters" is also over 2 fast, w/ another good riff & some nice synth & gtr work. The 22-second "Sapphire Bullets" just made me laff -- Rastro got a whole write-up outta this? "Thousand Island Park" sounds like David Sancious (C below), w/ some nice piano from Jan Hammer. "Hope" is brief & anticipatory -- makes U wanna turn the record over.
"Sanctuary" is also pleasant & over way 2 fast. "Open Country Joy" features some very nice quiet keyb&violin sections & is over 2 soon. "Resolution" Cms 2 B building up 2 a big finish -- another good riff ... that just Nds.... "Noonward Race" is more noise from lightning-fingers McLaughlin -- I couldn't finish it. "Lotus" is a quiet piece 4 violin, gtr & keybs that again sounds like David Sancious -- or now I know where he got his sound from. Mahavishnu's quieter, more reflective pieces (like this 1) R pretty good. They shoulda done more stuff like this. "Awakening" is another furious rave-up, a lightning-fast riff w/ more screeches & smears. Overall, not bad. From BIRDS OF FIRE & THE INNER-MOUNTING FLAME. I'll listen 2 the 10-min "One Word" sometime in the future. MayB listening 2 King Crimson 4 so many yrs made it so I can finally hear these guys summa the time....
I heard "Suite Cassandra" 1nce a coupla yrs ago & still remembered the theme this time around. Sancious's melodies R sometimes pretty memrable. His 1976 TRANSFORMATION (THE SPEED OF LOVE) album is utterly brilliant in places, & where the melodies work they really stick with U. These trax from Sancious's 1975 debut FOREST OF FEELINGS Rn't quite as brilliant -- "Cassandra" lays-out his method: a sometimes-striking piano-theme statement followed by variations, w/ a return 2 that striking theme at the Nd. "Dixie" really does take-off from the Civil War standard; the 2nd section has some OK spacey synth effects toward the Nd, but that's about all.
Weather Report's live medley from I SING THE BODY ELECTRIC features some pounding, relentless drumming from Eric Gravatt & some good squawking sax from Wayne Shorter. There's some of the same feel here as on their classic "Boogie Woogie Waltz" medley from their later live album 8:30, tho this isn't as tuneful & there's nowhere near as big a finish.
I don't have NE Charles Mingus in the house, so I thot I'd try 2 Mingus pieces by Pentangle, a late-'60s British folk group known 4 their instrumental interplay. "Haitian Fight Song" gets a nice bouncy riff going, but both trax R pleasant but 4gettable.
Nucleus was a horn-based '70s British jazz-rock band. "Weed" gets funky in places, "Dark" was quieter & I couldn't finish it.
I closed w/ "In a Silent Way," which I've bn playing every now&then since I was in my 20s. Nice raindroppy piano & organ tones, soothing gtr by McLaughlin, Miles's trumpet cutting thru, perfect 4 a rainy afternoon....