World of Jazz – Jazz and Rock #2

The second edition in an ongoing series in World of Jazz looking at the murky world between jazz and rock…..always a contentious area for those who would rather the two were kept apart…..

  1. Oregon – Joyful  Departure – Northwest Passage – kicking off with a band which I suppose is more “World Music” than rock and the band’s first recording in two years with the three surviving original members (Ralph Towner on guitar and keyboards, bassist Glen Moore, and Paul McCandless, who plays soprano sax, English horn, sopranino, oboe and bass clarinet) and in this instance  Arto Tuncboyaciyan on percussion  (Mark Walker plays on other tracks on the album). I’m building up to the rock stuff later with this track which might be better described as a mix of  progressive folk and jazz mood music.
  2. Marc Johnson’s Right Brain Patrol – Samurai Hee Haw – Magic Labyrinth – from 1996. The second album by bassist Marc Johnson’s “Right Brain Patrol” trio is  a siginficantly different from the first. The line up is more or less the same –  Arto Tuncboyaciyan (him again) is back on drums and percussion, but guitarist Ben Monder is replaced by Wolfgang Muthspiel, whose approach is a signature element this session. The fine remake of “Samurai Hee-Haw,” a Johnson original that first appeared on his outstanding Bass Desires album,  features a riveting rock based bass riff and some spacey guitar from Muthspiel.
  3. Ponga – Awesome Wells – Ponga – improvised jam sessions are the source of the material for this challenging 1999 album. The line-up made up downtown jazz legends  Wayne Horvitz (keyboards) and Bobby Previte (drums) who are joined by two   Seattle musicians Skerik (sax) and Dave Palmer (keyboards).  The minimal “Awesome Wells” is the standout track on this very bluesy rock oriented, funky, experimental  free jazz album.
  4. Santana – Song of the Wind – Caravanserai – 1972 saw Santana moving away from the latino-rock of Abraxas to this classic album of jazz-rock fusion. Often regarded as one of his finest recordings this album requires repeated listening to fully understand just what was being achieved. No doubt the impact of McLaughlin in Miles band played no small part in influencing quite a radical change in direction for Carlos.
  5. Isotope 217 – La Jetee   The Unstable Molecule – Isotope 217, one of Rob Mazurek’s numerous Chicago jazz side projects, hangs somewhere between post-rock and jazz. The band grew out of weekly jam sessions around the Chicago area. Mazurek recruited members of Tortoise (Dan Bitney, John Herndon, and Jeff Parker) for the,  which has a definite lo-fi vibe, balanced by Mazurek’s jazz endeavours. The album  neither straight jazz or post-rock, ubt somewhere rather magically in between. Tracks like “La Jeteé” employ the use of a variety instrumentation in the tradition of Tortoise.
  6. Rob Mazurek Chicago Underground Orchestra – Jeff’s New Idea – Playground – In contrast to the preceding –  Mazurek and his Chicago Underground Orchestra — this time consisting of guitarist Jeff Parker, again, trombonist Sara P. Smith, bassist Chris Lopes, and drummer Chad Taylor — and together they deliver some of the most innovative playing of late-’90s jazz. Parker’s tune has the loose improvisatory feel of  the music Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock were creating in the late 1960s, which allows room for exciting improvisation.
  7. Jack DeJohnette – Darkness To Light – Music for the Fifth World – DeJohnette’s 1992 album demonstrates his all round skills as composer, and keyboardist, as well as the percussion skills for which he is better known. The band includes guitarists Vernon Reid and John Scofield, who provide for an exciting amalgam of Reid’s rock leanings, and Sco’s jazzier chops.

To listen to the show click on the link below…..