Amoeblog

I REMEMBER JOHN ABERCROMBIE, 1944-2017

Posted by Rick Frystak, September 4, 2017 02:12pm | Post a Comment


-photo Doug Proper

by Rick Frystak

Guitarist John Laird Abercrombie passed away of heart failure last week at the age of 72, too young an age for an artist who had so many more years of creativity left. John was one of my all-time favorite guitarists, one of only a handful of unique, tasteful ''jazz-rock'' guitarists who managed to create his own style and mature with it for all the years that he was active and making records.

John's playing had a swing, a lilt, perhaps a swaying effect that was captivating and had me eagerly anticipating his notes to see where he would go with a tune or a solo. His songs were quite often effectively moody and dark which I loved, but alternately funky, and always a good melody but left room for discovery. When he really let go, as he soon highlighted on his early solo records and the Billy Cobham big band records he could bring the house down. But when he turned inward, it was like telling a secret or a heartbreaking whisper. And his compositional directions were such an amalgamation of the old standard beauty and a new, ear-bending edginess.

I first heard John on the small, independent Oblivion label album, Friends, featuring Marc Cohen playing a searing electric alto sax, inspiring John to higher highs of energy I'd rarely heard outside of heavy rock, the whole group developing music that would be years ahead of it's time. Then came his first of a 43-year ECM Records relationship, the immortal, iconic Timeless, with Jack DeJohnette  and Jan Hammer (fresh out of Mahavishnu Orchestra and Billy Cobham's fantastic Spectrum album),which took the heaviness and beauty and made some of the most intense trio jazz since Tony Williams' Lifetime. He excelled in the trio format, and in his group with Peter Erskine and Marc Johnson they swung hard, burned.  He released his last ECM record this year, Up And Coming, which would be, as the press kit notes, his first album played without a pick, just using his fingers. This sound seems more buttery and lyrical, perhaps like a fine scotch,  the tempering of John's later-career approach and character.

Continue reading...

Saluting the Legacy of Steely Dan In Recognition of the Passing of Co-Founder Walter Becker Who Died Today at Age 67

Posted by Billyjam, September 3, 2017 01:16pm | Post a Comment


According to Walter Beckers official website the 67 year old guitarist/songwriter and Steely Dan co-founding member with Donald Fagen died today. The sudden death of the revered Queens, NY artist comes on the heels of a serious operation he underwent in recent months. That hospital operating theater visit resulted in him having to cancel his participation at the last minute in Steely Dan's “The Classic West” performance at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles on July 15th and another one in New York around the same time this summer.

In a more recent Billboard magazine interview with Donald Fagen, the NJ born Steely Dan fellow founding member spoke vaguely on Becker’s medical status. But he was quoted as saying that, "Walter's recovering from a procedure and hopefully he'll be fine very soon.” That was just one month ago (August 2nd) and now this morning (Sept. 3rd) news breaks of Becker’s tragic passing, and still no specific cause of death announced.

In honor of the late great Walter Becker, as well as his surviving musical partner Donald Fagen, this Amoeblog salutes the indelible legacy of Steely Dan via briefly tracing their history and embedding (scroll down) a series of videos from the band’s illustrious back catalog with links to their corresponding albums. Highlighted by such five star albums as Countdown to Ecstasy (1973), Pretzel Logic (1974), Katy Lied (1975), and The Royal Scam (1976) Steely Dan’s music has long enjoyed an appreciation from a wide cross section of music fans: from 70’s classic rock collectors, to jazz & jazz-fused rock fans, and the countless hip-hop lovers (and producers and DJs) who were introduced to “the Dan” via their numerous samples in hip-hip songs over the years. These many examples include “Peg” sampled by De La Soul (with Prince Paul), “Black Cow” sampled by MF Doom, “Kid Charlemagne” sampled by Kanye West, and “Do It Again” sampled by deadmau5. And let's not forget the 1983 Club House produced 12" single, early era mashup / medley that pitch-perfectly blended Steely Dan's "Do It Again" with Michael Jackson's hit of that same year, "Billie Jean" from the album Thriller. Another endorsement of Steely Dan's coolness was the Minutemen's cover of the Katy Lied track "Doctor Wu" on the early 80's SoCal punk trio's album Double Nickles On The Dime.

Continue reading...

GOODBYE, ALLAN HOLDSWORTH. Remembering A Guitarist Like No Other.

Posted by Rick Frystak, April 20, 2017 05:48pm | Post a Comment

by Rick Frystak

On April 15, 2017, I was very saddened to be told that guitarist / violinist / composer Allan Holdsworth had passed away, leaving behind a legacy of recordings and for me, countless live performances I witnessed that will live forever in my soul. Along with being shocked, I just did not believe my brother's text that this news had happened. Fake? It was then that I was pointed to Facebook, where Allan's daughter had quietly and thoughtfully revealed her father's death.

The timing of his passing was, and is absolutely spooky. 2 weeks previously we had  seen Allan perform a celebratory gig to mark the release of a project in which I had participated in the production, and my brother Peter had provided photographs for: a huge, 12-CD box set of almost all of his albums,The Man Who Changed Guitar Forever. and a 2-CD set, Eidolon, of his ''best'' songs selected by Allan himself. I was grievously perplexed. I have to remind myself now that Allan had to be happy to see that the CD projects were on the store shelves. Dan Perloff, producer of the CDs for Manifesto Records, has said that the box set is already sold out. 

I first heard Allan while he was a member of the group Tempest., and their album Tempest. We knew immediately that this man was no ordinary guitarist. 

Continue reading...

Essential Records: The Tony Williams Lifetime, "Emergency!"

Posted by Rick Frystak, November 23, 2014 02:57pm | Post a Comment

They say music can be life-changing. I’ll buy that. Probably the most important and profound post-Beatles record in my Jazz life, or even my musical, personal and business life (you’ll see), was Emergency! by the The Tony Willams Lifetime. That’s a big sentence for an LP fiend like me. ONE record led by a drummer did all that? To me, Jazz is a huge, beautiful expression of the American Classical music, no small accomplishment in the last 100 years with everything out there. And I remember as if was yesterday how this record came to change my life.

In high school and later I was in a bluesy, Procol Harum-meets-Jefferson Airplane-style outfit called Moonfleet, after the film. We had the town and the era by the ear, so naturally we were asked to play our own Senior Picnic close to graduation at Westchester High School (still there), near the beach in L.A. I had played drums at another Senior picnic and I knew the picnics were free-for–all's in those days. We were excited to blow our fellow student’s minds, with coffins and dancers and fiery  entertainment, with myself on guitar then.

As per our gig deal, the school had hired a PA system for our show. The day came and we pulled in for a sound check with our equipment. What the hell? It’s a flat bed truck set up on the Jr. Varsity lawn!! With nice club-PA speakers! Loud!! With audio guys that knew what they were doing!! We had a big stage with good sound. But, hey, that music, coming over the system?

Continue reading...

One Album Wonders: The Free Spirits' Out of Sight and Sound

Posted by Eric Brightwell, July 28, 2014 12:11pm | Post a Comment
The vinyl LP was introduced by Columbia Records in 1948 but the 45 inch single remained the primary market for the music industry until the dawn of the album era, which began in the mid-1960s. During that period, for any number of reasons, many fine musical acts released only one studio album -- Perfect for completists on a budget! This series examines some of my favorite "one album wonders."


*****

THE FREE SPIRITS - OUT OF SIGHT AND SOUND (1967)

The Free Spirits - Out of Sight and Sound

With a few exceptions (notably Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, The Graham Bond Organisation, and The Doors), jazz and rock musicians moved tended to travel in separate circles until the late 1960s when jazz musicians Gary Burton, Miles Davis, Herbie Hancock and others created fusionLater, rock groups like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago, and the bands of the Canterbury Scene would incorporate jazz instrumentation and improvisation in what has sometimes been called jazz rock.

Located somewhere in the middle of fusion and jazz-rock (but definitely closer to the later) were New York City's The Free Spirits, comprised of Bob Moses, Chris Hills, Columbus Baker, Jim Pepper, and Larry Coryell. Drummer Bob Moses had previously played with Roland Kirk and guitarist Larry Coryell had been introduced on Chico Hamilton's soul jazz classic, The Dealer, in 1966.