Tracks 12



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The influences of the blues and folk music came together powerfully in the the 1960's to make it a potent and exciting decade. The Youngbloods, a band from the east coast of America (though they ended up trekking to the west like many others) reflect these trends with both aspects showing strongly in their material. Several tracks on their debut album feature the classic e-piano sound from this period, the latter half of the 60's being the time when the instrument was really starting to catch on. All Over The World(1), a song that for me has a strong Liverpudlian overtones contains a nifty but inevitably short solo and Four In The Morning(2) has nice patterns played in the background throughout. The album's final cut is a good version of C.C.Rider(3) that has the keyboard player really rocking away throughout - still can't work out why Joey from Friends is pictured bottom left though :-).

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This trio are leading lights in the contemporary funky jazz scene in the United States, earning plaudits not only for their albums but also for strong live performances. Combustication is the only MMW album I am familiar with so I am not sure whether the skilful blend of tradition, experiment and general strangeness is typical. The band's keyboard maestro John Medeski certainly enjoys pushing the envelope, often twisting his sounds with various effects. He tends to favour the organ but on the odd occasion will switch to electric piano - the best example of this being the Wurlitzer solo used on one of the album's more conventional tunes Coconut Boogaloo(1). A few nice echoing touches also weave their way into the scratched up soundscape of Church Of Logic(2)and on final cut Hypnotized(3) some more Wurlitzer backs all kinds of weird noises.

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Those who monitor my Web Music area and are familiar with New Zealander Mark de Clive-Lowe will be pleased to know that his Six Degrees album is now out and very strong it is too. Mark is a real globetrotter, and has spent time in Cuba and Japan as well as studying jazz at Berkeley in the US. His time in London (where he is now based) proved crucial though, particularly the drum 'n' bass and west London jazz-house scenes and it's those particular styles that provide inspiration for all the other influences shine. Mark's Rhodes is very dominant providing either textured chords, melody lines or occasional solos on every one of the mainly self-penned tracks. The percussive opener Roundtrip(1) has a nice elements throughout, while on the witty jazz heritage tribute Melodious Funk(2) there's a very effective solo. A particular favourite of mine is El Dia Perfecto(3) which has a strong Azymuth flavour in the vocoder use as well as some nicely toned piano lines.

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Gil Scott-Heron is a conscious and streetwise wordsmith who has applied his talents to most forms of the written word. His uncompromising style has proved to be both enduring and influential, particularly with the more lyrical and intelligent end of the rap spectrum. This album dates from 1973 and typically for that period contains some nice e-piano parts, played either by Brian Jackson or Gil himself. The Bottle(1) is the best known cut with it's driving chord sequence making it a dance floor favourite despite it's solemn testimony about the problems of alcohol. Peace Go With You Brother(2) contains wonderful echoing textures at the start while Song For Bobby Smith(3) features a cool and effective short solo.

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A good set of Rhodes dominated jazz-funk from pianist Mike Longo which is currently available at a bargain price of $4.99 from CD Now. The opening cut 900 Shares Of The Blues(1) has lengthy piano solos and a funky feel simliar to that of The Crusaders. On the Latin tinged Ole For The Gypsies(2) Mike covers a composition by his former leader Dizzy Gillespie while on Funkia(3) it's back to more foot-tapping light jazz. A good set that shows how to staying on the right side of smoothness seemed a lot easier back in the day.

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The Glucklich compilation series originates from Germany and is put together by the specialist DJ Rainer Truby. The collection features Brazilian flavoured tracks of European origin and some great Rhodes work is to be found on Volume 2. Second Direction's Flying Carpet Ride(1) has Karl Heinz Merkel's short but sweet solo sandwiched between a gently rippling start and finish. Swiss band Emphasis present a slick cover of Vera Cruz(2) while Mikesch van Grümmer provides a very exciting solo on Mr.Circles' mammoth Schoch-Schach(3). Tracks like these would be hard, if not impossible to find any other way so well done Compost Records for bringing them to a wider audience.

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Contents   Tracks:  1  2  3  4  5  6  7  8  9  10  11

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