Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Happy New Year Full of Jazz/Rock is Here -- Time to Party Like It's 1969!

(In case that headline is puzzling you... 1969 is the year Columbia released Miles Davis' In A Silent Way, and the year after the release of Filles de Kilimanjaro, when the Dark Prince got the party started and electricity started running through his veins.)  

Three weeks ago I received an email from Hungarian guitarist László Halper, asking if he could send me a copy of the CD he had made with his group, Band of Gypsys Reincarnation, called Electric Angelland. I get many of these requests and often need to decline them, but my instincts told me to accept his offer. I am certainly happy that I did.

After listening to it one time through, I can, at the very least, say it is some of the freshest and most innovative jazz/rock I've heard in a long while, all beginning and ending with László Halper's advanced techniques at making a guitar do nearly anything that Hendrix ever did, in a constantly unfolding series of compositional contexts. Halper says on his website that he founded the Band of Gypsys Reincarnation in 2007 with several leading jazz musicians in Hungary because, "through the sound of the band's music I wanted to create a bridge between the musical world of Jimi Hendrix, the jazz played by Hungarian Gypsies and traditional Gypsy music."  

I will be writing and publishing a complete review here and for All About Jazz (AllAboutJazz.com) as soon as I've had a chance to listen some more to this and his earlier CD, 40 Years After (2010), but I wanted to make a New Year's note that there is a discernible resurgence of interest in jazz/rock fusion coming, and László Halper's music is part of the reason why

In his liner notes for Electric Angelland, Halper writes that "It is widely known that Jimi Hendrix and Miles Davis wanted to make a joint LP. The music they dreamed about together can never come about, obviously, but I still was intrigued by figuring out how that fusion of Hendrix's music with jazz would sound." Indeed, the meeting of those two great musical minds would have followed in logical progression from the music Miles had been making with Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea, Tony Williams, Lenny White, etc, and the bigger, wider improvisational approach Jimi was beginning to take with his bands. 

It is sad indeed that Miles and Jimi weren't able to pull it off. But Miles' Bitches Brew-era personnel were the nexus of an era of magnificent changes that happened in jazz, and it is a vital and energizing tradition that has continued to this day.

Just recently here on Jazz (Jazzers Jazzing) I wrote about the tour of the jazz/rock supergroup Third Rail (George Whitty, keyboards; Janek Gwizdala, bass; Tom Brechtlein, drums) through Austria, Germany and Czech Republic, a European tour that was hugely successful and created quite a stir.

It is no accident that two other jazz monsters, drummer Steve Gadd and bassist Eddie Gomez, joined forces with Halper on Electric Angelland, and in 2010 for 40 Years After, it was the inestimable talents of trumpet master Randy Brecker.

Speaking of whom, the announcement of Grammy winners on January 26th is going to set off fireworks when the 761-yr.-old (1,850-yr.-old, if you accept the Ptolemy citation theory) city of Kalisz, Poland, celebrates its ancient birthday and the Jazz/Rock Fusion Renaissance of 2014 officially begins, as the magnificent recording Night In Calisia, performed by Randy Brecker, the Wlodek Pawlik Trio, and the Kalisz Philharmonic receives its well-deserved Grammy.

For the curious, Brecker and company's Night In Calisia competitors for Best Large Jazz Ensemble Album this year are:

Babylon - Darcy James Argue's Secret Society
Night In Calisia - Randy Brecker, Wlodek Pawlik Trio & Kalisz Philharmonic
Wild Beauty - Brussels Jazz Orchestra Featuring Joe Lovano
March Sublime - Alan Ferber
Intrada - Dave Slonaker Big Band

But till then, Happy New Year! May 2014 bring you abundance in all things, love, joy, freedom, peace and prosperity.

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