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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Arthur BlytheElaborations/Light Blue/Put Sunshine In It ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), Early 80s. New Copy 2CD ... $14.99
A trio of 80s albums from saxophonist Arthur Blythe – brought together in a 2CD set! First up is Elaborations – a beautiful moment in which the loft jazz generation really got a chance to shine in the mainstream – and mostly without any sense of overdone attempts at commercialization! The album's a great summation of all the ideas that reedman Arthur Blythe was cooking up in the 70s underground – performed here with a hip group that includes Blythe on alto, Kelvyn Bell on guitar, Abdul Wadud on cello, Bobby Battle on drums, Bob Stewart on tuba, Wilbur Morris on bass, and Mohammad Abdullah on congas – some of them players who you might never have expected to be recording for Columbia Records! And yet the setting of the record doesn't interfere with their creativity at all – and instead, really seems to give Blythe and the group the sort of focus that only makes their ideas even better – on titles that include "Elaborations", "Metamorphosis", "Sister Daisy", "Shadows", and "The Lower Nile". Light Blue is a wonderful record from saxophonist Arthur Blythe – a set that features his group working through a number of tunes by Thelonious Monk – but with very different arrangements and instrumentation that change things up completely! The set came at a time when Monk was receiving a lot of new attention in the world of jazz, and at a time when Arthur's star had risen too – and the meeting of forces is wonderful – as Blythe brings all sorts of new rhythms and tonal combinations to play with familiar tunes that really transform in the process. The group is a familiar one for Blythe – and features Abdul Wadud on cello, Kelvyn Bell on guitar, Bob Stewart on tuba, and Bobby Battle on drums! And while you might scratch your head at the tuba, the instrument is often used in ways that might follow older bassline styles – but with a quality that bridges the alto and cello in a great way. Titles include "Nutty", "Coming On The Hudson", "Light Blue", "Epistrophy", and "We See". Put Sunshine In It is a record that really seems to live up to its title – as the sound here is maybe a little bit sunnier than on some of Arthur Blythe's previous albums! The record features heavy contributions from Todd Cochran – aka Bayete – who plays keyboards on most numbers, and introduces more of an electric vibe to the album than previous Blythe outings. The style isn't entirely fusion, but it's definitely warm and sunny – and Arthur responds as such with his solo work – a tight tighter and less edgey, but still nicely soulful. The album features a nice remake of the tune "Sentimental Walk" – from the movie Diva – plus the tracks "Uptown Strut", "Silhouette", "Put Sunshine In It", and "Tumalalumah". CD

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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Gary BurtonSomething's Coming/Groovy Sound Of Music/Time Machine ... CD
RCA/BGO (UK), 1964/1965/1966. New Copy 2 CDs ... $14.99
A trio of excellent Gary Burton albums from the 60s – collected together in a single set! Something's Coming is the launch of vibist Gary Burton as a leader – a force in jazz that would continue strongly for decades to come! At the time of the record, Burton had already been making waves as a session player on the Nashville scene – where RCA had some especially strong ears – but he's launched here in a mode that's quite far from those roots, and already filled with those modern, chromatic modes that would have Burton pushing the sound of the vibes forward strongly throughout his career – even on an early record like this! The group is very like-minded, and well-chosen – players who are spacious and modern, but never too much so – a quartet with Jim Hall on guitar, Chuck Israels on bass, and Larry Bunker on drums. Titles include "Melanie", "Careful", "Six Improvisatory Sketches", "Something's Coming", and "Little Girl Blue". Next up is a very cool take on the music of Sound Of Music – handled with some help from arranger Gary McFarland, in a way that really unlocks the modal potentials of the tunes! As you might expect from the revolutionary vibist Gary Burton, the approach here is quite different than the usual jazz album of Broadway material – and instead, both Burton and McFarland do a heck of a lot to open up the coolest potential of the songs – as they bring in other hip players who include Bob Brookmeyer on trombone, Phil Woods on alto, Joe Puma on guitar, and Steve Swallow on bass. Titles include "An Ordinary Couple", "Sixteen Going On Seventeen", "Do Re Mi", "Edelweiss", and a great take on "My Favorite Things". Time Machine is filled with beautiful sounds from Gary Burton – a seminal 60s session that really has the vibist coming into his own, and finding that new path towards musical expression that would flower even more strongly in the 70s! The album has Burton really strengthening up his sense of chrome – matching the boldness of other important 60s vibes players on the rise – like Karel Velebny or Bobby Hutcherson – but also working this really special magic in the way he lets each note resonate in the air – often with a much longer decay on the sound than the actual moment of its creation! Burton also plays a bit of piano on the record, overdubbed with his vibes – but in a way that's quite different than the vibes/piano combo of earlier acts – like the MJQ, or George Shearing Quintet – thanks to work from Steve Swallow on bass and Larry Bunker on percussion. Tracks include "Six Nix Quix Flix", "The Sunset Bell", "Deluge", "Chega De Saudade", and "Falling Grace". CD

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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Billy CobhamMagic/Alivemutherforya ... CD
BGO (UK), 1977/1978. New Copy 2CD ... $15.99
Two 70s albums from drummer Billy Cobham – back to back in a single set! First up is Magic – a real jammer of a record from Billy Cobham – almost a summation of all the work he'd done in earlier years, smoothed out with a sweet funky late 70s fusion groove! The sound on the set is really tight – still plenty hard on the instrumentation, but also with a focus that we really appreciate – one that's aimed as much at the soul-based jazz crowd as it is the headphone groovers who'd dug some of Cobham's trippier records in years past. Players on the set include Mark Soskin and Joachim Kuhn – both of whom add in some mighty nice keyboards – as well as guitarist Pete Maunu, whose jamming riffs make the best tunes crackle with electricity! Titles include "AC/DC", "Leaward Winds", "Puffnstuff", "Antares The Star", "Magic", and "On A Magic Carpet Ride". Alivemutherforya features Billy Cobham live – very alive, in fact – and jamming like the "muther" promised in the title! The set's filled with heavy drums from Cobham, set in a group that also features fusion heavyweights Alphonso Johnson on bass, Steve Khan on guitar, Tom Scott on tenor and soprano sax, and Mark Soskin on keyboards – all working in ways that are more strongly in the funky jazz side of the fusion spectrum than some of Cobham's more rockish sets – with lots of lean, angular grooves that sound especially nice on the saxes and keyboards! Titles include "Anteres The Star", "Shadows", "Bahama Mama", "Some Punk Funk", "On A Magic Carpet Ride", and "Spindrift". CD

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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Don EllisAutumn/Shock Treatment ... CD
BGO (UK), 1968. New Copy 2 CDs ... $15.99
Two late 60s classics from trumpet legend Don Ellis – back to back in a single set! Autumn is an album of explosive power and imagination from Don Ellis – a set that shows him very firmly shaking off the more academic mode of earlier years, and heading into hipper, more youth-oriented directions! The group's still a bit band on most numbers – but it's one with a lean, well-crafted sound that's not really big band jazz, and which also features some elements of later soundtrack scoring. Players on the date are all great – and include Frank Strozier, John Klemmer, and Ira Schulman on saxes – plus Pete Robinson on clavinet, piano, and electric piano! The set begins with the beautiful extended "Variations For Trumpet" – a suite-type number that has plenty of great colors from Ellis, plus loads of other horn work too. Other titles include "Indian Lady", "Pussy Wiggle Stomp", "Scratt & Fluggs", and "Child Of Ecstasy". Shock Treatment is one of the first really funky records from Don Ellis! Ellis was an emerging California trumpeter/composer who'd noodled around with some modern big band work in the mid 60s – but this hip 1968 session has him adding in elements like clavinet, Fender Rhodes, sitar, timbales, vibes, percussion, and even a spot of vocals to change the groove to a more mod and swinging one. Titles include "Mercy Mabye Mercy", "New Kind Of Country", "Zim", "Star Children", "Opus 5", "Rasty", "The Tihai", and "Milo's Theme". Plus, the CD also includes some bonus tracks not on the original album! CD

Close matches5
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Don EllisTears Of Joy/Connection ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), 1971/1972. New Copy 2CD ... $15.99
A pair of classics from Don Ellis – back to back in a single set! Tears Of Joy is one of the greatest albums ever from funky trumpeter Don Ellis – partly because he takes off in a whole new direction of tones and sounds! Don blows both a quarter-tone trumpet and four-valve trombone here – both instruments with a very distinctive vibe, which are then set up in a groovy large ensemble that features more trumpet and trombone, plus woodwinds and a bit of strings – and some great electric touches on Fender Rhodes, clavinet, and ring modulator! The tunes have that bold Ellis punch of a few years before, but also really hit an earthier vibe too – not just new ideas in sound, but also some rhythmic pulsation that really gives lots of the tunes a fresh sort of flavor. Titles include "Samba Bajada", "Strawberry Soup", "Euphoric Acid", "Get It Together", and "Bulgarian Bulge". Connection is a great set of electric groovers released at the same time that Don scored big with his soundtrack for The French Connection! As you'd guess from the title, the feel here is quite similar – funky electric big band jazz, with a very hip 70s action soundtrack feel – one that mixes acoustic sax and trumpet passages with some groovier keyboards and electronic bits – all wrapped up in production that's tight, but never too slick to be funky! The album features a great take on Don's excellent "Theme From The French Connection" – plus great electric jazz covers of "Alone Again Naturally", "Superstar", "I Feel The Earth Move", "Roundabout", and "Lean On Me" – as well as album originals "Chain Reaction" and "Train To Get There". CD

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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Maynard FergusonMF Horn 4 & 5 – Live At Jimmys ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), 1973. New Copy ... $12.99
A sweet double-length set from Maynard – one that's live and totally cooking, and proof that Ferguson's funky big band style could work equally well in a concert setting! As on other Ferguson classics from the time, the instrumentation includes a good deal of Fender bass and electric piano – electrifying the bottom sound of the rhythm while the acoustic horns really soar over the top – hitting amazing patterns and formations that change rapidly as the set grooves on – usually on longer tracks that offer plenty of room for solos! The group features some great work by European player Ferdinand Povel on tenor and flute – and titles include "The Fox Hunt", "Nice N Juicy", "Blue Birdland", "Two For Otis", "Left Bank Express", "Teonova", and "Stay Loose With Bruce". CD
Also available MF Horn 4 & 5 – Live At Jimmys ... LP 2.99

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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Eric GaleBlue Horizon/Island Breeze ... CD
Elektra/BGO (UK), 1982/1983. New Copy ... $14.99
Smooth fusion from guitarist Eric Gale – 2 80s albums for Elektra, back to back on one CD! Island Breeze has a sound that lives up to its name – one with slight tropical touches in the rhythms and the instrumentation, and a way of recording Gale's guitar that brings out a bit more brightness in the tone. Arrangements are by Bob James and Jimmy Kachulis – and titles include "Boardwalk", "We'll Make It", "Island Breeze", "Dark Romance", and "I Know That's Right". Blue Horizon is a bit more focused – a record with a style that's still relatively smooth, yet a bit more in the mode that we like on Gale's 70s work. The core group features some nice keyboards from Peter Schott and drums from Freddie Waits – and Hugh Masekela guests on flugelhorn on a bit of the album. Tracks have a solidly fusion-based approach, yet are relaxedly soulful, never with too much jamming – and titles include "When Tokyo", "Clock A Pa", "Call Me At The Same Number", "97th & Columbus", "Wait Until The City Sleeps", "Blue Horizon", and "Mako D'Amour". CD

Close matches8
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
HiroshimaEast/Providence ... CD
Epic/BGO (UK), 1989/1992. New Copy 2CD ... $14.99
A pair of later albums from one of the most unique fusion groups of their generation! First up is East, a record that really has Hiroshima embracing both their name and their previous approach to tight jazzy fusion – a set that's very electric, but also uses plenty of koto, taiko, and shamisen to give the music a strong Japanese flavor! The strongest lead comes from Dan Kuramoto, whose keyboard work and reed lines get plenty of space – but the set's also a definite group effort, with a warm sense of sympathy between the players – something you'd definitely need to blend acoustic and electric elements in this way! Machun sings lovely lead vocals on a few tracks – and titles include "East", "Tabo", "Streetcorner Paradise", "Daydreamer", "Living In America", and "Thousand Cranes". Providence showcases the continuing evolution of the Hiroshima sound – a set that still features the group's blend of electric fusion and more traditional Japanese elements – but which also marks a bit of a shift in the style of electric instruments at the time! In other words, the vibe here is more early 90s fusion than the sound of their earlier records – a shift in the choice of keyboards used by leader Dan Kuramoto, which are mixed alongside koto, shamisen, taiko, and percussion. Jeanette Clinger sings lead vocals in a few spots – and titles include "Turning Point", "Island World", "Time On The Nile", "With This Heart", "Kazen", "Providence", "One Of Us", and "Ribbon In The Sky". CD

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HiroshimaThird Generation/Another Place/Go ... CD
Epic/BGO (UK), Mid 80s. New Copy 2CD ... $14.99
A trio of albums from Hiroshima – collected together in one 2CD set! First up is Third Generation – a real breakout album for Hiroshima – and a set that seems to show up in just about every collection of vintage fusion albums we look at! The set's the group's third, as you might guess from the title – and it's got the Hiroshima quintet sliding together in a perfect groove – soulful fusion that's maybe got a strong Cali vibe, but which occasionally has a few exotic touches on the instrumentation – all handled in a style that's kind of an 80s update of the Japanese soul fusion mode of the late 70s. Rhythms are electric at a few points, but their offset by some koto, shamisen, and nice use of flutes and saxes by leader Dan Kuramoto – on titles that include "Heavenly Angel", "We Are", "Ren", "From The Heart", "Sukoshi Bit", "Long Walks", and "Distant Thoughts". Another Place is a record that definitely has Hiroshima taking their origins seriously – as although the album's still got the same fusion vibe as before, it almost seems to step up even more Japanese elements too! The rhythms are maybe a bit more programmed than in the past, but the album also makes use of wood flutes, koto, taiko, shamisen, and other Japanese instrumentation – and features some occasional vocals from June Kuramoto too – all in a slinky fusion style with a slight eastern current. Titles include "One Wish", "Save Yourself For Me", "I Do Remember", "The Game", "Undercover", and "What's It To Ya". On Go, Hiroshima are maybe moving a bit far from the fusion of their roots – but the overall sound here is still sweetly electric, and served up in a nice mix of eastern and western styles! If anything, the group seem even more focused on melody – not in a commercial way, but using more stripped-down instrumentation at times to focus on the special sweetness created in the compositions of leader/reedman Dan Kuramoto – who also plays keyboards and even a bit of shakuhachi on the album. There's vocals on the set – sung lead and soulfully by Barbara Long – but the main focus is instrumental, and titles include "Go", "I've Been Here Before", "311", "Obon", "No 9", "Why Can't I Love You", and "Hawaiian Electric". CD

Close matches10
CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Bobby HutchersonHighway One/Conception The Gift Of Love/Un Poco Loco ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), 1978/1979/1980. New Copy 2CD ... $15.99
A trio of incredible records from Bobby Hutcherson – two on CD for the first time ever! Highway One is a wicked post-Blue Note session from Bobby Hutcherson – one that's put together in a different way than his previous work, but still completely sublime throughout! The feel is almost to Hutcherson's earlier work what Woody Shaw's Columbia recordings were to his – tighter, with sharper production – yet still wonderfully soulful and with a strong sense of spirit. Key soloists include Freddie Hubbard on trumpet and Hubert Laws on flute – and the record also features George Cables on acoustic and electric piano, Cedar Walton on acoustic piano, and Eddie Marshall on drums. Includes the lovely "Sweet Rita Suite", plus "Circle", "Secrets Of Love", and "Bouquet". Conception is a really beautiful album from Bobby Hutcherson – late in his 70s career, but handled with the soulful depth of his brilliant early 70s work on Blue Note! The group's got George Cables on piano and Eddie Marshall on drums, plus a bit of extra percussion work by Bill Summers – and they're augmented by some larger arrangements on a number of tracks, but in a way that never gets in the way of the core souful playing on the record. Cedar Walton put the whole thing together with a masterful talent – both leading, arranging, and producing – and Bobby's never sounded better carving out his message on vibes. Titles include "Remember To Smile", "No Siree Bob", "Dreamin", "Dark Side Light Side", and "Quiet Fire". Un Poco Loco is a surprisingly great album by Bobby Hutcherson – and like his other albums for Columbia, a record that manages to be smooth, yet still has an edge! The format's bigger and more ambitious than previous years, but it's also an extension of the modal soulful style he forged with Harold Land – a really stretched out approach to the vibes that differs nicely from his 60s work, and which has some really soulful touches throughout. The group features George Cables on electric and acoustic piano, John Abercrombie on guitar, and Peter Erskine on percussion – but the real strength of the set is Bobby, who slides between vibes and marimba with a skittish energy that really cracks a lot of life into the set. Titles include "Un Poco Loco", "Ivory Coast", "The Sailor's Song", "Ebony Moonbeams" and "I Wanna Stand Over There". CD

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CD, LP, Vinyl record album cover art
Alphonso JohnsonMoonshadows/Yesterday's Dreams/Spellbound ... CD
Epic/BGO (UK), 1976/1977. New Copy 2 CDs ... $15.99
A great run of records from Alphonso Johnson – the best of his career, wrapped up here in one sweet set! First up is Moonshadows – one of the earliest of bassist Alphonso Johnson's funky fusion albums for Epic! Moonshadows is a nice little set of choppy grooves that recalls the best Herbie Hancock moments of the early 70s, plus some of the side projects of the Headhunters. Warmly funky, but with a nice edge – with a more jazz funk rooted sound than the later, slightly heavier Spellbound! The great group of players includes Patrice Rushen is on keyboards, Benny Maupin on reeds, Lee Ritenour on guitars, Airto Moriera on percussion, Gary Bartz on sax, plus Narada Michael Walden and Ndugu Chancler on drums. Tracks include "Stump", "Cosmoba Place", "Involuntary Bliss", "On The Case", "Amarteifio", "Pandora's Box" and the breezy "Up From The Cellar", which features vocals by Flora Purim! Yesterday's Dreams is a killer all-star session of funky fusion tracks – with a nice tight sound produced by Skip Drinkwater! Yesterday's Dreams differs a little from Alphonso's other strong mid 70s efforts in that it's not as spacey as a whole – but the rubbery, cleanly funky grooves are just as strong – and the record as a whole makes for more of a showcase for his excellent group of players! Bassist Johnson leads the session, but there's a huge amount of guests, such as Grover Washington, Patrice Rushen, Mike Clark, and Sheila Escovedo. Plus, Jon Lucien, Diane Reeves, Flora Purim, and Phillip Bailey all sing on the record! Titles include "One To One", "As Little As You", "Scapegoat", "Show Us The Way", "Tales Of Barcelona", and the future soul classic "Love's The Way I Feel 'Bout Cha". Spellbound is a soulfully spacey fusion set from Alphonso Johnson – with a really catchy sound! The maestro is working in an eclectic mode that's part Earth, Wind, & Fire, part Return To Forever, and part Alphonze Mouzon/Tommy Bolin jamming. The best moments on the record are the more straight ahead ones – which really flirt with chunky rock sounds on the other side of the rubbery fusion funkiness! Mouzon's working on all kinds of electric sounds on this one – a bunch of custom bass effects, steel drums and more – with Clyde Criner working with a long list of keys and synthesizers, Kevin Shireve on guitar and David Igelfeld on drums and percussion. Titles include "Face Blaster", "Summer Solstice", "Bahama Mama", "Nomads", and Moonlight Conversation" "Feelings Are. . .The Hardest Words To Say" and "Earthtales Suite". CD

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Steve KhanPublic Access/Headline/Crossings ... CD
GRP/BGO (UK), Late 80s/Early 90s. New Copy 2CD ... $14.99
A trio of later albums from a guitarist who first rose to fame in the 70s! First up is Public Access – a record that's got a slightly goofy cover, but a sound that's much richer than you might expect – thanks in part to great work on the album from percussionist Manolo Badrena! Some of the music here echoes the earlier fusion of guitarist Steve Khan – but other tunes bring in some warmer, Brazilian-y elements – including a bit of vocalization from Badrena, with occasional chorus work from Lani Groves and Vivian Cherry. The rest of the group features frequent partner Anthony Jackson on bass and Dave Weckl on drums – and titles include "Sise", "Silent Screen", "Mambosa", "Butane Elvin", "Botero People, and "Kamarica". The set then follows with three long tracks from Headline – a record that has guitarist Steve Khan almost returning to straight small combo work – although still with some of the wider colors of the fusion modes he first unleashed in the 70s! The album's got a tight core group here – Khan on guitar, Anthony Jackson on bass, Dennis Chambers on drums, and Manolo Badrena on percussion – and Chambers' drum performance is maybe more direct and swinging than some of Khan's previous drummers, which works especially well on the album's versions of songs by Joe Henderson and Ornette Coleman! Titles include "Caribbean Fire Dance", "All Or Nothing At All", and "Turnaround". Last up is Crossings – a great title for this set from guitarist Steve Khan – as the crossings here reflect Steve's increasing ear towards other cultures and rhythms in his music as the years moved on – even while still keeping things in a relatively fusion-based mode! Steve's got plenty of those warm colors that he always brought to his playing – working with a tight lineup that includes bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Dennis Chambers, percussionist Manolo Badrena, and tenorist Michael Brecker. Titles include "Descarga Khanalonious", "Melancholee", "Inner Urge", "Capricorn", "What I'm Said", "Pee Wee", and "Think Of One". CD

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LA ExpressLA Express/Shadow Play ... CD
Epic/BGO (UK), 1976. New Copy ... $14.99
A pair of jazz funk classics from this group who got their start with reedman Tom Scott! First up is the self-titled LA Express – funky fusion with a bit of a studio feel – played by the LA Express, a combo best known for their work with Tom Scott – stepping out here strongly on their own! Even without Scott's sax in the lead, the sound here is still pretty darn sharp – and the lineup features Robben Ford on guitars, Victor Feldman on keyboards, Max Bennett on bass, and John Guerin on drums and percussion – plus saxophones from David Luell, who kind of steps in where Scott left off! There's some nice jamming that's on the tighter side of the CTI sound – with lots of choppy sax lines from Luell over sweet electric rhythms – and titles include "The Shrug", "Stairs", "Cry Of The Jungle", "It's Happening Right Now", "Western Horizon", and "Down The Middle". Shadow Play is proof that the group could stand strongly on their own away from former leader Tom Scott! This time around, the sound is a bit more built-up than before – put together with a slight dose of soul in the mix, which really warms things up from the sharper sound of their debut! The album features vocals on 3 numbers – wonderful wordless scatting from Joni Mitchell on the track "Nordic Winds" – which almost comes across like a rare Euro fusion cut from the time – and straighter soulful singing from Paulette McWilliams on the tunes "Double Your Pleasure" and "Dance The Night Away". Players include Victor Feldman on keyboards and percussion, David Luell on saxes, Peter Maunu on guitar, Max Bennett on bass, and John Guerin on drums – and other titles include "Shadow Play", "Chariot Race", "Velvet Lady", "Mad Drums & Englishman", and "Vortex". CD

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Ramsey LewisDon't It Feel Good/Salongo/Tequila Mockingbird/Love Notes ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), Mid 70s. New Copy 2CD ... $15.99
Sweet electric magic from Ramsey Lewis – four 70s albums in a single collection! First up is Don't It Feel Good – massive keyboard work from the great Ramsey Lewis – easily one of his best records ever, thanks to some spaciously funky production by Charles Stepney! Stepney plays keyboards here along with Ramsey, and the twin-keys approach makes for a sound that's extra-special – one that sums up all the earlier soulful creativity of both artists in their late 60s Cadet Records years, and hones it down to an even sweeter groove for the 70s! A number of tracks have some sort of vocal component, but usually in a chorus mode that soon drops out when the keyboards hit home – and the record features a few great short "interlude" tracks that are almost as great as the longer numbers! Titles include the classic "Juaacklyn", a cover of Earth Wind & Fire's "That's The Way Of The World", and the tracks "I Dig You", "Fish Bite", "Don't It Feel Good", "Something About You", and "Can't Function". Salongo is a tremendous little record, and one of the funky 70s sets that Ramsey Lewis recorded with Earth Wind & Fire! Well, not Earth Wind & Fire entirely – but the Kalimba Productions team of Maurice White and Charles Stepney that gave the group its sound – plus a nice sprinkling of other players that were often associated with sessions by the group! Ramsey's own combo here includes Steve Cobb on drums and vocals, and Derf Reklaw on reeds and vocals as well – and the overall sound has bits of African and Brazilian influences, worked into a soulful fusion groove that sounds a lot like the instrumental backings EWF were using at the time. Titles include "Brazilica", "Slick", "Rubato", "Salongo", and "Seventh Fold". Tequila Mockingbird is an overlooked gem from the Columbia Records years, filled with loads of great grooves, and some pretty mighty keyboards! Part of the record has Ramsey working with Larry Dunn of Kalimba Productions – getting plenty of the Earth Wind & Fire groove that made so much of his Columbia sessions sparkle – while the rest of the set has the great Bert DeCoteaux handling things, and giving Lewis just the right mix of sophistication and soul he was using with other Columbia acts at the time. The album's a perfect example of the way that Ramsey stepped way ahead of the pack during this time in his career – using keyboards and grooves together in ways that so many artists today are still trying to match – but never hit it this right! Titles include "Camino El Bueno", "Caring For You", "Intimacy", "That Ole Bach Music", "Skippin", "Tequila Mockingbird", and "Wandering Rose" – that cool cut by Neal Creque! Love Notes is a great little album of mid 70s funk from Ramsey Lewis – very much in the mode of his Earth, Wind, & Fire related work – no surprise, since the album's dedicated to Charles Stepney, whose influence was such a key part of the sound of the group, and of some of Ramsey's other Kalimba-produced albums from a few years before! Ramsey plays Fender Rhodes, mini moog, and Arp – and he gets help on keyboards from Stevie Wonder and Derf Reklaw, who also plays saxes and percussion on the set. Features versions of Wonder's "Love Notes" and "Spring High", plus Reklaw's "Chili Today Hot Tamale", "Shining", and "Stash Dash". CD

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Ramsey LewisLegacy/Ramsey/Live At The Savoy/Chance Encounter ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), Late 70s/Early 80s. New Copy 2CD ... $15.99
Four later Columbia albums from Ramsey Lewis – all pretty darn great! Legacy is an overlooked gem from Ramsey's 70s years at Columbia – a record that has him grooving over larger arrangements, sweeping along in a great blend of soul and class that makes for some really great numbers! Side one of the album features Ramsey playing keyboards on the extended "Legacy" suite – a long piece composed and conducted by James Mack, which has Ramsey running through a lot of different moods and modes – some of them nice and funky! Side two features some nice shorter tracks – all electric groovers with plenty of funky keys! Titles include "Moogin On", "Don't Look Back", "Well Well Well", and "All The Way Live". Ramsey is a sweet late 70s groover from Ramsey – not as all-out electric as some of his earlier work for Columbia, but done with some nice arrangements that have a full and soulful feel! There's a bit of Kalimba/Earth Wind & Fire soul to the mix – and some tracks have production by James Mack and soulful backing vocals by Kitty & The Heywoods – both elements of which serve to provide a nice platform for Ramsey to soar over the top on Steinway. A few cuts feature a bit of electric keys, but overall, the style's in that "acoustic solo instrument over electric backings – in the manner that 70s mainstream fusion was using heavily at the time. Titles include "Dancin", "I'll Always Dream About You", "Every Chance I Get", and "I Just Can't Give You Up". Live At The Savoy is, as you might guess, a live set, but one that's got some wonderfully rich grooves – almost one of the first times that Ramsey's excellent studio approach was attempted on record in a concert setting! The backings are quite full, and produced beautifully here by Tom Tom 84 – who really keeps a classy Chicago vibe in place throughout most of the set – one that stretches from Ramsey's late years at Cadet Records, through all the growth and maturation at Columbia during the 70s. The core trio's augmented by fuller horns on most numbers, given a bit of an Earth Wind & Fire/Kalimba Productions groove – and there's a vocal chorus at a few points too. Includes a great version of "Close Your Eyes & Remember" – plus "Sassy Stew", "Callin Fallin", "Baby What You Want Me To Do", "You Never Know", "Lynn", and a "Hits Medley" of Lewis grooves from the 60s. Chance Encounter has a very full, carefully put-together approach – completely arranged and produced by Ramsey Lewis himself, but definitely using lessons learned from some of the other top-shelf talents who guided him during his years at Columbia Records! There's a pretty careful balance of material here – from spare acoustic piano numbers, to sweeter electric grooves, to one vocal track that's trying a bit more for a soul crossover. Ramsey mostly plays Steinway acoustic and Fender Rhodes – and tracks include "What's Going On", "Chance Encounter", "Intimacy", "A Special Place", "I Can't Wait", "Paradise", and "Just A Little Ditty". CD

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Miroslav VitousBass (aka Mountain In The Clouds) ... CD
Vortex/BGO (UK), 1972. New Copy ... $13.99
One of the greatest moments ever from bassist Miroslav Vitous – a very cool album recorded for the trippy Vortex label! The lineup here has Miroslav working with key help from the American underground – piano from Herbie Hancock, tenor from Joe Henderson, and drums from Jack DeJohnette – plus added guitar from John McLaughlin, who seems to have the same spacey sensibilities as Vitous! Henderson really opens up too – in that fluid style of his post-Blue Note work on Milestone – and obviously Herbie's a great one for a set like this too – hitting some of the spiritual modes of his Warner work. Some tracks are nice and long – and titles include "Freedom Jazz Dance", "Infinite Search", "I Will Tell Him On You", "Mountain In the Cloudes", and "Epilogue". Originally issued as the album Infinite Search on Embryo, but expanded here with the additional track "Cerecka". CD

Close matches17
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✨✧ Arthur BlytheLenox Avenue Breakdown/In The Tradition/Illusions/Blythe Spirit ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), Late 70s/Early 80s. New Copy 2 CDs ... Temporarily Out Of Stock
Four great albums from reedman Arthur Blythe – all together in one collection! First up is Lenox Avenue Breakdown – a stunning Columbia Records debut from Blythe! At the time of the date, Blythe had already spent years working in the jazz undergrounds on both coasts – developing a searing sound on alto sax that's perfect for the focused structure of this album – almost a tone poem of sorts, offering up a portrait of the Harlem scene that was a key part of Arthur's life at the time. The sounds are sharp, but also have a sense of energy that really holds them together – guiding the players through long readings of well-penned tunes by Blythe that are filled with loads of energy and life! Players include James Newton on flute, James Blood Ulmer on guitar, Bob Stewart on tuba, Cecil McBee on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Guillermo Franco on percussion – and titles include "Odessa", "Slidin Through", "Down San Diego Way", and "Lenox Avenue Breakdown". In The Tradition is a gem – as the set represents the modern musician taking on a host of older jazz currents, while carving things out with his own special sort of soul! Half the tunes are familiar favorites, the other half originals – and Blythe moves far past his avant roots, to showcase his deep understanding of so many different shades of jazz – blowing alto beautifully throughout, in a very hip quartet that features Stanley Cowell on piano, Fred Hopkins on bass, and Steve McCall on drums! Titles include great takes on "Naima", "Jitterbug Waltz", "Caravan", and "In A Sentimental Mood" – plus the originals "Break Tune" and "Hip Dipper". Illusions is maybe the boldest of Arthur Blythe's albums for Columbia Records – as the set bristles with newly creative energy right from the start, and provides a great showcase for some of the criss-crossings of styles and rhythms that were taking place on the New York scene at the time! The lineup alone announces something special – a cool combination of James Blood Ulmer on guitar, John Hicks on piano, Fred Hopkins on bass, Abdul Wadud on cello, Bob Stewart on tuba, and Steve McCall on drums – working together in some slight variations at times, often with these angular edges that are perfectly sharpened by Arthur's amazing work on alto sax. The music's never too free, but quite outside for a major label at the time – balanced out so that it's never overindulgent at all. Titles include "Bush Baby", "Miss Nancy", "My Son Ra", and "Carespin With Mamie". Blythe Spirit is a set that showcases the never-ending growth and imagination of reedman Arthur Blythe during this fruitful period of his career – and his ability to effortlessly blend together different elements in his music – especially sides of the New York loft jazz scene, and the Chicago-based AACM! The tunes are beautiful – mostly originals, and showing a richer spirituality than even a year before – while still working in that compellingly rhythmic mode that Arthur was hitting during these years – in a lineup that features Blythe on alto, Abdul Wadud on cello, Kelvyn Bell on guitar, Steve McCall and Bobby Battle on drums, John Hicks on piano, Amina Claudine Myers on organ, and Fred Hopkins on bass. The mix of electric and acoustic elements is fantastic – very fresh, even all these many years later – and titles include "Misty", "Spirits In The Field", "Just A Closer Walk With Thee", "Reverence", and "Contemplation". CD

Close matches18
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✨✧ Steve KhanEyewitness/Modern Times/Casa Loco ... CD
Antilles/BGO (UK), 1981/1982/1983. New Copy 2 CDs ... Out Of Stock
A trio of early 80s albums from fusion giant Steve Khan – all lined up in a single collection! First up is Eyewitness – an early 80s effort from guitarist Steve Khan – a set recorded after some big records for Columbia, and one that follows very strongly in their legacy! Khan's super-deft here, but also able to create these washes of sound as much as some bold lines on his instrument – moving between the modes freely in the company of a tight quartet – with Anthony Jackson on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, and Manolo Badrena on percussion – all much more in the loose, open style of fusion from the mid 70s than you might guess from the date of the record. Titles include "Where's Mumphrey", "Dr Slump", "Guy Lafleur", and "Auxilary Police". Modern Times has Steve Khan stretching out even more htan before – working on a set of three long tracks that really expand his ideas strongly – almost pushing his guitar sense of tone and color into some of the territory Pat Metheny was exploring at the time! The group is Khan's great quartet with Anthony Jackson on bass, Steve Jordan on drums, and Manolo Badrena on percussoin – and titles include "Blades", "The Blue Shadow", "Modern Times", and "Penguin Village". Casa Loco is a record that's maybe a bit more electric on the rhythms than some of Steve Khan's previous sets – thanks to use of Simmons drums by drummer Steve Jordan – but a record that's still got Steve himself playing very strongly in the lead! Khan's as deft as ever here, working out these swirling chords that brew together in waves of sound – that special place a few fusion artists found themselves after the rock-jamming years of the 70s. The album features a bit of vocals from percussionist Manolo Badrena – which come across surprisingly well – and titles include "The Suitcase", "Uncle Roy", "Some Sharks", "Breakaway", and "Casa Loco". CD

Close matches19
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✨✧ Trio (John Surman/Stu Martin/Barre Phillips)Trio ... CD
BGO (UK), 1970. Used 2CD ... Out Of Stock
A groundbreaking bit of free jazz from the UK scene at the start of the 70s – a record that not only set the tone for countless other improvised records to come, but one that also showed the world that England could really match the energy coming out of Germany and France at the same time! The group here is a powerhouse trio – John Surman on baritone, soprano sax, and bass clarinet – plus Barre Phillips on bass and the mighty Stu Martin on drums – a player who definitely seems to inspire the other two to new heights. And although Surman and Phillips might later record in more atmospheric modes, they've definitely got a lot of energy here – really letting loose on titles that include "Incantation", "Dousing Rod", "Foyer Hall", "Green Walnut", "Dee Tune", "Veritably", "Oh Dear", and "Caractacus". CD
(Out of print.)

Close matches20
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✨✧ Janne SchafferKatharsis/Earmeal/Presens ... CD
Columbia/BGO (UK), Late 70s. New Copy 2CD ... Out Of Stock
A trio of albums from Swedish guitarist Janne Schaffer – brought together in a single set! First up is Katharsis – a record that catapulted the artist from his home in the Swedish scene to big international fame – hot on the heels of a number of key guitar solos that Schaffer added to Abba records in the 70s! The album's all instrumental, and mostly a fusion workout overall – with loads of heavyweight guitar work from Janne, at a level that really makes the instrument talk more than most of his American contemporaries – echoing some of the phrasing that you might find from players like Adrian Belew or Robert Fripp. Titles include "The Blue Gate", "Atlantia Inn 2419", "Stocking Suite", "Ramsa", "Wintergreen", and "Bromma Struttin". Earmeal is a definite meal for the ears from guitarist Janne Schaffer – a musician who first rose to fame in Sweden, then captivated a global audience with records like this! The set has Schaffer maybe fitting in a bit more with his Columbia Records fusion contemporaries than before – using that amazing voice of his on guitar to work amidst modes that are sometimes soulful, sometimes a bit more brightly rocking – with help from Bjorn Jason Lindh on keyboards and flute, and Jeff Porcaro on some nice tight drums. Titles include "Bromma Express", "Hot Days & Summer Nights", "To A Beautiful Painter", "Happy Feet", "Shrimp A La Carte", and "Oriental Sign". Presens is maybe the tightest of all the Columbia Records albums cut by guitarist Janne Schaffer – a record that has some short, focused tracks that fall into the rock-influenced fusion style of the time – one with vocals from Janne, but the rest using only his guitar as the main "voice" in the lead! All tracks feature work from the great Bjorn Jason Lindh – who we love on his own records, and who plays keyboards, piano, and flute – on titles that include "Mr Allansson Pickles", "Open Eyes", "Desire", "Neonmoisture", "Fata Morgana", and "March From Refresher Course". CD
 
Partial matches: 2
Partial matches21
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Mostly Other People Do The KillingLoafer's Hollow ... CD
Hot Cup, 2017. New Copy ... $9.99
Fantastic work from a group who never fail to blow our minds – and who also seem to try out something different with each new record, yet never falter at all in their progress forward! Mostly Other People Do The Killing may have one of the longest names in jazz, but they've also got a brash approach that really lives up to the cockiness of their name – a confident step in whatever direction they want, which always leads them down the best path. This time around, they're mixing both modern and trad jazz expressions with literary inspiration from writers who include Thomas Pynchon, Kurt Vonnegut, James Joyce, Cormac McCarthy, and David Foster Wallace – each of whom are listed as reference points for certain songs – which are based around snippets of their text, then transformed into a musical mode. The instrumentation is a very offbeat take on trad – with Jon Irabgon on tenor and sopranino sax, Steven Bernstein on trumpet and slide trumpet, Dave Taylor on bass trombone, Brandon Seabrook on banjo and electronics, Kevin Shea on drums, Ron Stabinsky on piano, and leader Moppa Elliott on bass. Titles include "Kilgore", "Hi Nella", "Honey Hole", "Bloomsberg", "Glen Riddle", "Mason & Dixon", and "Five". CD

Partial matches22
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✨✧ Ekkehard Ehlers, Franz Hautzinger & Joseph SuchySoundchambers ... CD
Staubgold (Germany), 2004. Used ... Out Of Stock
... CD
 
 
 



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