Charlie Mariano – Mirror (1972)

Charlie Mariano
Mirror
Release 1972 – Atlantic SD 1608
A1     Himalaya     5:56
A2     Shout     2:23
A3     F Minor Happy     5:13
A4     Theme From Summer Of ’42    5:04
B1     Mirror     8:36
B2     Vasi Bindu (Raindrops)     5:36
B3     Madras    3:07
    Acoustic bass – George Mraz
    Drums – Ray Lucas
    Electric Bass – Tony Levin
    Electric Piano, Organ – Pat Rebillot
    Guitar – David Spinozza
    Percussion – Airto Moreira, Ralph McDonald
    Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Nagasuram, Flute – Charlie Mariano
    Vocals (on “Mirror” only) – Asha Puthli
    Written-By – Charlie Mariano (except A4)
Produced and mixed by Arif Mardin
Recording engineer – Gene Paul

Although his name appears on classic records by Mingus, Chico Hamilton, Shelley Manne, Elvin Jones (hey, lots of drummers seem to like him), I think I first started really paying attention to Charlie Mariano through his work with the wonderful Toshiko Akiyoshi, to whom he was married for a few years in the 60s.  Incidentally this is also how I discovered Lew Tabackin, who became Toshiko’s second husband and formed a much longer musical partnership.  Along with Phil Woods, these artists constitute a group of highly prolific jazz cats about whom I’d love to spread some enthusiasm. Might as well start here, even if this is an atypical example.

I had no idea Mariano had made any records this heady until I stumbled on it.  The garish cover art, with a creepy eyeball thing glaring out at you, acts like a sort of magnet.  It either attracts or repels you away, depending on your musical polarity.  I’m not sure the album art does the music justice, and in fact I would nominate it for my art gallery of Garish and Gaudy 1970s Jazz-Funk Album Covers, a project I am initiating right now (other inductees include a Blue Mitchell record I picked up recently, and this amazingly fugly George Duke/Billy Cobham thing).

Musicians of Mariano’s caliber can pretty much do whatever they want and pull it off.  I don’t know what kind of soundscape he had in mind when he went into the studio to make this album, but with the help of some very competent friends, he created a canvas on which he could moan, wail, and shriek (pleasingly) on soprano and alto sax in ways I did not expect.  The band he put together to create this moody, genre-blurring music with vaguely spiritual inclinations is more than up to the task.  One pleasant surprise is the presence of a young Tony Levin on bass, years before he would start progging it up with Peter Gabriel and King Crimson.  Levin was not a complete stranger to soul jazz/funk sessions in the early 70s – other records I have with him from this period include Jack McDuff and Deodato – but this is probably the first time that he really stood out for me in this capacity.  This may partly be due to the fact that he is featured right alongside upright bassist George Mraz.  Levin lays down the lower register funk, freeing up Mraz to do more textured and melodic things in the upper register.

Airto is somewhat underutilized on this record.  He doesn’t seem fully present or into it all the time, sometimes more like a percussionist “playing in the style of Airto” rather than the man himself.  Perhaps Mariano kept his eccentricities on a short leash, or maybe this was just session #374 for Airto in 1972 and goddamnit what do you want from the guy, does he have to be on fire all the time or what? Keysman Pat Rebillot satisfies the urge to hear some Fender Rhodes and also favors us with some acid-drenched, reverby organ on the opening cut, but his solos don’t really push the music anywhere adventurous.  Session vet David Spinozza gets in some nice solos on the guitar, in particular on the title track.  Drummer Ray Lucas is one of those guys who probably never got his due recognition.  His credits include King Curtis, Roberta Flack, Eugene McDonald, Shirley Scott, Donny Hathaway and a ton of other people: he was even briefly a bandmate of Hendrix, as part of Curtis Knight and The Squires.  There is nothing flashy about his playing, it doesn’t call attention to itself, but it casts a solid foundation to build around, and provides agile fills and texture when needed.  Never underestimate the importance of simply playing time.  Indian singer Asha Puthli contributes vocals to the album’s titular track (she also appeared on Ornette Coleman’s “Science Fiction” sessions from the same year).  At first I thought this was wordless vocalizing before I checked the back of the LP cover and saw that she was singing the free verse poem there.  I’ll have to assume her voice is deliberately submerged in the mix, perhaps to trigger subliminal spiritual contemplation.

Deliberate, because producer Arif Mardin was no amateur.  That guy knew how to mix.  And this record sounds great.  In fact, in spite of the fact that I started with a not-quite-perfect copy (although in better shape than the cover would indicate), the sound is pretty solid.  This is not only the mixing but also the famous Monach Pressing Plant who should get a shout-out.  Quality control!

All of the compositions are by Mariano except for Michel Legrand’s famous “Summer of ’42” theme, which is here given a languid deconstruction where Charlie plays the flute.  Slow funk grooves are blended with modal and outside riffing.  The second track, “Shout,” is like the opening of a baptist tent revival meeting, with Charlie coaxing harmonics from his sax by overblowing furiously.  F-Minor Happy is very Deodato-esque (Deodatismo?), a more rough-hewn and stoney take on CTI-style jazz funk.  “Vasi Bindu (Raindrops)” is a free and open piece coming halfway through the second album side, as if to help us come down from the plateaus of the massive title track.  The album closes with the short “Madras,” which features Charlie on the nagasuram for the first time on this album.  This South Indian instrument ends the record on a truly ceremonial note, sounding a bit like Mariano may have been trying to beat Don Cherry to doing the soundtrack for The Holy Mountain.  It makes you sit up and pay attention.

This record goes pretty deep, but is also just a damn pleasurable listen that you can enjoy while going about your day.  I feel the need to point that out because a lot of the adjectives used in this post (heady, spiritual, free, modal) would tend to indicate a record that might get in the way of activities like reading a novel, making love, writing a novel, or tidying up the house (unless you are the type of person who likes to fold laundry and clean bathrooms while listening to Anthony Braxton or AEoC in which case this warning doesn’t apply to you).  I hereby declare this record completely safe for “taking care of business.”  It might uplift you and inspire you to seek enlightenment, but it won’t automatically induce a trance state, epileptic fit, or other central nervous system anomaly.

mp3 iconflac button  24bit

 

 

Miles Davis – What I Say? Vol.2 (1971) with Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett

Photobucket

Songs 1-3 recorded in Vienna, 11/5/1971.
Songs 4-6 recorded at Fillmore West 11/17/1970

1. Yesternow part 3
2. Funky Tonk
3. The “Sanctuary” Theme
4. Directions
5. Honky Tonk
6. What I Say.

with Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett, Mike Henderson (all cuts)
Leon Chancler (##1-3), Don Alias (##1-3), James Mtume Foreman (##1-3).
Jack DeJohnette (##4-6), Jim Riley “Jumma Santos” (##4-6), Airto Moreira (##4-6).

————–

The is the second part of the two-disc set on sketchy label Jazz Music Yesterday in Italy and contains the rest of the November 5, 1971, concert in Vienna followed by three tracks from the Fillmore West recorded in 1970 with a different lineup. There is no shortage of official live performances from this era of Miles Davis that were released on vinyl and CD — Live Evil, Black Beauty, and Live at the Fillmore East. The main advantage to hearing his band in an `unofficial` context is that this is the music before it underwent the heavy editing of producer Ted Maceo, whose was burdened with the task of making editorial sense of these freeform jams in order to present them in a viable manner for commercial release. Maceo’s production skills were actually a crucial part of the creative process with Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson, but these unedited live recordings — as well as the boxsets of the complete sessions for those two seminal studio albums – are also extremely valuable for followers of Miles’ music. As I mentioned in the last post, the source tapes for this release are unspecified but are possibly made right off the `front of house` mixing console, although another possibility is that there were was a mobile recording unit at the location for the purposes using the material on an official release. Any Miles experts who want to sound off on this, please do. I read the man’s autiobiography when I was a teenager and remember next to nothing about it aside from his cantankerous demeanor…

Miles Davis – What I Say? Vol.2 (1971) with Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett in 320kbs em pee tree

Miles Davis – What I Say? Vol.2 (1971) with Gary Bartz, Keith Jarrett in FLAC LOSSLESS

password /senha / magickal incantation in comments section

Gato Barbieri – Bolivia (1973) with Lonnie Liston Smith

gato

Gato Barbieri
“Bolivia”
1973 on Flying Dutchman Records (FD-10158)
This pressing 2001, BMG France

Merceditas
Eclypse / Michellina
Bolivia
Niños
Vidala Triste

Produced by Bob Thiele

Bass – J.-F. Jenny-Clark , Stanley Clarke
Drums – Airto Moreira, Pretty Purdie (Merceditas only)
Guitar – John Abercrombie
Percussion – Airto Moreira , Gene Golden , James M’tume* , Moulay “Ali” Hafid
Piano, Electric Piano – Lonnie Liston Smith
Tenor Saxophone, Flute, Vocals – Gato Barbieri

The corporeal memory of pleasures briefly known and longing barely quenched. Her skin still ageless, her scent rich in my lungs, we drifted off together in exhaustion. She left me there sleeping, a note on the kitchen table. She left me there dreaming the Bolivarian dream of an America united across the hemispheres. She left me a folheto she bought from a street hawker who recited it for us from beginning to end and offered to continue with more. She may have bought it just to silence him and send him on his way, a bribe to leave us to our own private somnambulist poetry. A crowded street in the old city, as he walked away from us I barely noticed that all sound faded into a steady hum of a single note in the dark regions of my awareness, hearing only her voice; of all color fading into a uniform grey, seeing only her pale skin in the half-light. All senses withdrawn into one still point of awareness. She left me lost in the Bolivarian dream as she went back to the arms of the beast that bore me, the colossus of the north yawning and stretching its million arms to every corner of this dying earth. Our homes were exchanged in a backroom trade between our saints arm-wrestling the invisible hand that feeds us. They lost. The body memory of longing never quenched and peace in the future conjunctive. Even the strongest of unions could barely hold out against the fading of that dream.

—————–

This is another beautiful record from Gato Barbieri, making music quite unlike anything else going on at the time and with an ensemble that’s hard to beat. Lonnie Liston Smith receives co-billing on the front cover, and its no coincidence as his Cosmic Echoes band was putting out their first album on Flying Dutchman the same year. The opening track “Merceditas”, having no less than Pretty Purdy, Airto, and M’tume playing together, would seem to be a climax before foreplay, and in any other hands that might be the case. Barbieri pulls this off, though, as the strength of the rest of material is more than enough to carry the album. The title track is particularly rich, beautiful and terrifying. It is difficult for me to write about this record because the liner notes from Nat Hentoff, a much better writer than I’ll ever be, humble the movement of my pen. I will, however, freely quote from him:


“The life-affirming, surging spirit of these performances – with their supple range of colors, rhythms, soaring melodies – is the essence of that basic, visceral beauty that gives hope to lovers and revolutionaries and to all those who believe in real life before death. His music is an embodiment of perennial possibility that is made of blood and flesh rather than vaporous dreams. Gato, in sum, is among the the least abstract of musicians because he is so explosively, specifically alive.”

gato


in 320 kbs

in FLAC

password / senha in comments