Helio Matheus – Matheus Segundo Matheus (1975)
Original release, RCA-Victor, Brazil
2018 Reissue, Athens Of The North, AOTNLP017
A short-and-sweet Friday post for you to get your weekend started on point. Scottish label Athens Of The North (or AOTN) serves up a reissue of this cult classic that, thanks to a collector’s market gone mad, I will never be able to afford as an original pressing. No idea what they used for their source but it sounds pretty decent, so I feel like this label has done music fans a huge favor by making it available. As you can see below, the list of contributing musicians here is huge and includes members of Azymuth, Sá, Rodrix & Guarabyra and other heavyweights. Helio himself was well established as a writer and arranger in MPB circles at this time, but recorded very little under his own name. It’s a solid offering of samba-soul, samba-rock, MPB, and even a little dreamy orchestral psychedelic pop thrown in. It may have some questionable lyrics (for example, “Briguenta”) but the grooves make up for it. Plus it has maybe the best back-cover photograph of all time..
David Sancious and Tone – Transformation (The Speed Of Love)
1976 Epic Records PE 33939| Genre: Fusion, Jazz-rock, Progressive rock
If, like me, you thought that Incident on 57th Street and New York City Serenade were the high points of Bruce Springsteen’s early career, then you should probably give your attention to musical polymath and chameleon David Sancious. Sancious was keyboardist for the E. Street Band on their first two albums, and contributed to the title track of Born To Run. I think it would be a safe claim to say that his sensibility probably helped sculpt the “epic” sound they were crafting, particularly on the longer songs, but if you have The Boss too firmly in mind when putting on this record, you might be jarred by just how dissimilar it seems. I’ve always been a champion of things eclectic, but Sanscious might be too eclectic for his own good at times. With his virtuosity on multiple instruments taking front and center stage, it is hard not to marvel at least a little at the breadth of vision, but sometimes they straddle the grey area between stylistic transcendence and plain confusion. His debut record for Epic (Forest of Feelings, 1975) was produced by none other than legendary jazz-fusion drummer Billy Cobham, and at times the music comes close to holding its own with Return To Forever or Weather Report or Mahavishnu Orchestra, and at other times sounding a bit like a slightly funky Rush without the benefit of no horrible lyrics (everything here is instrumental).
James Gilstrap – Love Talk
1976 Roxbury Records RLX 105
Jim Gilstrap is better known as a backup singer, but Stevie Wonder fans might know him for singing the first verse of “You Are The Sunshine Of My Life”, which also makes him the first voice you hear on the epic Talking Book. His name appears on tons of albums. You can see a partial list of his session credits here , where you can see that he was very busy in the 1970s, working in the worlds of rock, soul, jazz, and funk. The fact that Gene Page did the arranging on this record is also worth noting. This album, which has never appeared on CD, is a nice, short set of soulful disco-funk, and the mellow version of Todd Rundgren’s “Hello, It’s Me” has me wondering if Prince ever covered the song on solo piano. Continue reading
Airto – Fingers
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | FLAC | Art scans at 300 dpi
1.4GB (24/192) | 865 MB (24/96)
CTI Records 6028| Genre: Fusion, Latin Jazz, Jazz Rock
This post was intended to go up over the weekend as a commemoration to wrap up the Festas Juninas. “Fingers” is really is a masterpiece from Airto Moreira, one of the progenitors of jazz fusion, with lots of help from future members of the Uruguayan group Opa and, of course, his wife Flora Purim. It is less “out” than his solo records up to this point but still retains enough traces of his wild urges toward surprise and experimentation to keep things interesting. The compositions, about half of which are contributed by Opa members, are accessible enough to instantly grab your attention but are always offering new nuances on repeated listens. How many edgy Latin-Jazz-Fusion albums actually contain EARWORMS in their grooves? This album has tunes you will be whistling to yourself for weeks afterward, in particular the track “Parana.” (more below) Continue reading