Category Archives: Artist Profiles

Artist Profiles: John McLaughlin

John McLaughlin

In a career that has spanned over 4 years John McLaughlin has been part of or led some of the most important movements in jazz and music. His compositions are now being treated with the reverence of classical music pieces and being interpreted the world over musicians of many varied genres.

John McLaughlin was born January 4 1942 in Doncaster, Yorkshire in England. The guitarist is well known for his eclectic taste in music. McLaughlin was a child when he first fell in love with jazz and the blues and he was just 11 years old when he began studying and playing the guitar.

The 1960s found him playing jazz rock and blues in his native England where he worked with Alexis Korner and Ginger Baker among others before moving to New York at the end of the decade.

McLaughlin had a busy year in 1969. He recorded his debut album Extrapolation and started working with two seminal voices in early fusion: Tony Williams (who employed McLaughlin and organist Larry Young in his trailblazing group Lifetime) and Miles Davis. Never afraid to forge ahead Davis had done a lot to popularize cool jazz and modal post-bop in the past and he continued to break new ground when he introduced fusion on his 1969 sessions In a Silent Way and Bitches Brew both of which feature McLaughlin’s playing. The guitarist was also featured on 1970’s A Tribute to Jack Johnson another Davis gem of the time.

Like bebop in the 1940s and modal jazz in the early 1960s fusion was controversial. Jazz purists felt that rock and funk rhythms had no place in jazz but thankfully McLaughlin disagreed and let his musical instincts guide him.

After participating in Davis’ and Williams’ groundbreaking fusion combos McLaughlin founded an influential group of his own in 1971: The Mahavishnu Orchestra fusion’s first super group. The Mahavishnu Orchestra created music that still has a unique influence today. The band included some of the finest contemporary jazz instrumentalists of the time: violinist Jerry Goodman (later Jean-Luc Ponty), keyboardist Jan Hammer (later Gayle Moran and Stu Goldberg), bassist Rick Laird (later Ralphe Armstrong) and drummer Billy Cobham (later Narada Michael Walden). The Mahavishnu Orchestra combined electric jazz and rock with Indian influences.

 

 

By the time Mahavishnu broke up in 1975 it had recorded several classic albums for Columbia (including Birds of Fire, Between Nothingness and Eternity, The Inner Mounting Flame, Apocalypse and Visions of the Emerald Beyond) and gone down in history as one of the 1970’s most influential fusion ensembles.

 

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Birds of Fire

 

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Between Nothingness and Eternity

 

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – The Inner Mounting Flame

 


The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Apocalypse

 

The Mahavishnu Orchestra – Visions of the Emerald Beyond

 

In 1973 collaborated with Carlos Santana on the album Love Devotion Surrender dedicated to their guru at the time Sri Chinmoy. They covered John Coltrane pieces including the classic “A Love Supreme” (with chanting) and several Mahavishnu compositions.

In 1975 McLaughlin did the unexpected by founding Shakti an acoustic group that employed traditional Indian musicians including tabla player Zakir Hussain violinist L. Shankar (Ravi Shankar’s nephew), T.H. Vikku Vinayakram (ghatam) and earlier Ramnad Raghavan (mridangam). The group released Shakti with John McLaughlin and A Handful of Beauty.

 

Shakti – Shakti with John McLaughlin

 

Shakti – A Handful of Beauty

 

Shakti underscored the guitarist’s interest in India’s music culture and religion. Shakti reminded listeners that McLaughlin was as appealing on the acoustic guitar as he was on its electric counterpart and proved that he wasn’t about to confine himself to playing any one style of music exclusively.

Indeed McLaughlin was heard in a variety of musical settings in the 1980s everything from a brief Mahavishnu Orchestra reunion in 1984 to an acoustic guitar summit with Al DiMeola and Flamenco legend Paco de Lucia in 1982 (The Guitar Trio) to a classical album with the London Symphony Orchestra in 1988. At the same time McLaughlin was also at the forefront of technology using the first guitar synthesizers.

McLaughlin was no less eclectic in the 1990s when his Verve projects ranged from 1993’s acoustic Time Remembered: John McLaughlin Plays Bill Evans (a tribute to the late pianist) to sessions featuring organist Joey DeFrancesco (1993’s Tokyo Live) and an acoustic McLaughlin/DiMeola/de Lucia reunion in 1996.

It was in 1997 that McLaughlin reunited with Zakir Hussain and a reconfigured version of Shakti for several U.K. concerts that were documented on Verve’s two-CD set Remember Shakti. In the subsequent years John has releasedAfter the Rain with Elvin Jones and a career retrospective titled The Promise as well as the live The Heart of Things and most recently Industrial Zen.

In 2005 he created a revolutionary guitar instructional DVD This is the Way I Do It that has met with universal praise. Today he continues on his musical journey by once again delving into yet another musical form that combines all of his past experience with as of yet unlearned knowledge.

I’m a guitar player that’s what I am primarily that’s what I’ll always be‘ McLaughlin has been quoted as saying. ‘(And) I’m an eternal learner. I don’t want to stop learning because I feel that no matter what I’ve done; I’m really just beginning again. I don’t think I’ll ever stop learning.’

In 2010 he received the reputable German jazzahead! Award. The award honors the activities of artists in the vibrant and distinct musical language of jazz.

In 2015 McLaughlin released Black Light featuring 8 original McLaughlin compositions including a tribute to his departed colleague collaborator and friend Paco De Lucia, with whom McLaughlin had intended to compose an album’s worth of new material just before De Lucia’s untimely passing. McLaughlin returned to acoustic guitar for a tribute to his friend titled “El Hombre Que Sabia”.

The rest of Black Light is electric showcasing McLaughlin’s band the 4th Dimension, “my three favorite musicians,” said McLaughlin. The 4th Dimension is composed of multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband on keyboards and drums, Etienne Mbappe on electric bass and drummer Ranjit Barot.

website: www.johnmclaughlin.com

Artist Profiles: EchoTest

EchoTest

Bassists Julie Slick and Marco Machera met the Three of a Perfect Pair Music Camp in 2011. They started collaborating in April 2014 to play a short series of concerts in Tuscany, after Julie’s European tour with The Crimson ProjeKCt.

Very instinctively, new songs were written during a few days of rehearsals. The spur-of-the-moment bass duets ended up being so satisfying and well-received that Julie and Marco ultimately decided to write and record more material together. They named their project EchoTest. The group’s live performances and albums include various acclaimed musicians such as Pat Mastelotto, Tim Motzer, Zach LoPresti, Ali Wadsworth, Ian Gray, and Greg Rosen.

EchoTest have reinvented the role of solo electric bass and superbly display the songwriting abilities of the duo, characterized by a mesmerizing combination of loop music, ambient soundscapes and interlocking bass patterns.

Discography:

Fourth Dementia (2014)
Slick Mix Vol II (2015)
Le Fil Rouge
Live in Philadelphia (2016)

website: echotestmusic.com

Artist Profiles: Camel

Camel in the early 1970s

Camel was formed in 1971, when three former members of blues rock band The Brew, guitarist Andrew Latimer, drummer Andy Ward and bassist Doug Ferguson, placed an ad in British rock magazine The Melody Maker.

Peter Bardens responded to the ad. Not long after they agreed on a new name, Camel. Camel played their first concert at Waltham Forest Technical College supporting Wishbone Ash in December 1971.

In 1972, MCA signed the band. They recorded a self-titled album, Camel, with material by Latimer and Bardens. MCA’s lack of enthusiasm led Camel to move to Decca Records’ subsidiary Deram Records, which at the time was the home for various emerging progressive rock bands. Camel had a long association with Decca which produced the group’s best loved and most significant work, including Mirage, The Snow Goose, Moonmadness, Rain Dances, Breathless, I Can See Your House From Here and Nude.

In early 1977, bassist Doug Ferguson left Camel. He was replaced by Richard Sinclair, a former member of Caravan. The band also featured Mel Collins on flute and saxophones. He preferred the independent role of session man and never joined the band as a full member.

Latimer and Bardens had major disagreements About the musical direction of the band. In 1978, after the album Breathless came out, keyboardist Peter Bardens left the band. Andy Ward and Andrew Latimer took advantage of this opportunity to expand the band. They decided to use two keyboard players. They contacted Richard Sinclair’s cousin Dave Sinclair, and his former bandmate Jan Schelhaas for the 1978 tour to promote Breathless. Things didn’t work out too well and by the end of the tour, Dave Sinclair and Richard Sinclair left Camel.

Impressed by an album by American progressive rock band Happy The Man, in 1979 Andrew Latimer and Andy Ward asked keyboardist Kit Watkins to join the band. They also recruited a reputable bassist named Colin Bass.

The new line-up recorded I Can See Your House From Here. Watkins left Camel shortly before the band entered the studio to record Nude in 1981.

That year was devastating for the band. In mid-1981, Andy Ward succumbed to alcohol and drug abuse and attempted suicide, unsuccessfully to the relief of all. However, Ward was unable to play drums. The band dissolved.

Camel was under contract with Decca and the label asked for another album. Andrew Latimer, the sole surviving member of Camel, went into the studio to record The Single Factor, which was released in 1982. Singer Chris Rainbow and bassist/singer David Paton joined the band. Other musicians who participated in the sessions included Anthony Phillips (former Genesis guitarist), Francis Monkman (Sky), and guest drummers Simon Phillips (The Who, Jeff Beck, Toto), Dave Mattacks (Fairport Convention) and Graham Jarvis (Cliff Richard). Bardens reconciliated with Latimer and made a guest appearance on the album.

In 1983 Andy Latimer contacted Dutch keyboardist, Ton Scherpenzeel, who was a former member of Kayak, one of the leading progressive rock bands in the Netherlands. Both musicians planned the new album, titled Stationary Traveller. The line-up at the time included Ton Scherpenzeel on keyboards, Colin Bass on bass, Andrew Latimer on guitar, flute, vocals; Chris Rainbow on vocals and Paul Burgess on drums.

The live performance video and CD of the Stationary Traveller was released as Pressure Points.

PolyGram took over Decca. Camel and Decca mutually and amicably agreed to end their agreement. Frustrated by lawsuits (which Camel won) and negotiations with record companies to release the new album, Dust and Dreams, Andy Latimer sold his home in the UK and moved to the United States of America in 1988. With proceeds from the sale of his London home, he financed construction of a small studio where he recorded and produced Dust and Dreams.

Latimer decided to go independent and started his own record company, Camel Productions, that released Dust and Dreams. It was a success and this led to some tours.

In 1994, Latimer returned and recorded Harbour of Tears, a tribute to his father, who ha passed away.

In 1998, Camel recorded a live album recorded in Los Angeles, California, titled Coming of Age, released on both video and compact disc.

An album titled ‘Rajaz’ was released in 1999. Keyboardist Ton Scherpenzeel returned to the band. In 2000, Canadian keyboardist Guy LeBlanc and fellow Canadian drummer Denis Clement joined Camel.

A Nod and a Wink came out in In 2002, highlighting Latimer’s flute. The album was dedicated to Camel’s former keyboardist Peter Bardens, who had passed away.

In October 2006 Latimer moved back to the UK. The following year, it was revealed that Andrew Latimer had suffered from a progressive blood disorder. He received treatment but it took him time to recover and regain his strength.

Camel re-recorded and extended The Snow Goose album. This new version came out on November 4, 2013. The lineup in 2013 included Andrew Latimer on guitars, flute, and vocals; Denis Clement on drums, fretless bass, keyboards; Colin Bass on bass and acoustic guitar, vocals; Guy LeBlanc on keyboards and vocals; and Jason Hart on Keyboards, Acoustic Guitar, Vocals.

Discography:

Camel (MCA, 1973)
Mirage (Deram Records, 1974)
The Snow Goose (Deram Records, 1975)
Moonmadness (Deram Records, 1976)
Rain Dances (Deram Records, 1977)
Breathless (Deram Records, 1978)
A Live Record (Deram Records, 1978)
I Can See Your House from Here (Deram Records, 1979)
Nude (Decca, 1981)
The Single Factor (Decca, 1982)
Stationary Traveller (Polygram, 1984)
Dust and Dreams (Camel Productions, 1991)
On the Road 1972 (1992)
Never Let Go (Camel Productions, 1993)
On the Road 1982 (1994)
Harbour of Tears (Camel Productions, 1996)
On the Road 1981 (1997)
Coming of Age (Camel Productions, 1998)
Rajaz (Camel Productions, 1999)
Gods of Light ’73-’75 (2000)
The Paris Collection (2001)
A Nod and a Wink (Camel Productions, 2002)
The Snow Goose (2013), re-recording of 1975 album

Compilation albums

Chameleon – The Best of Camel (1981)
The Collection (1985)
A Compact Compilation (1986)
Landscapes (1991)
Echoes: The Retrospective (1993)
Camel – Master Series, 25th Anniversary Compilation (1997)
Lunar Sea (2001)
Rainbow’s End: An Anthology 1973–1985, boxed set (2010)

website: http://www.camelproductions.com/

Artist Profiles: Ain Soph

Ain Soph

Ain Soph was formed in 1970 and was one of the pioneers of rock music in Japan. Their music is influenced by British progressive rock, adding Japanese elements. They were heavily influenced by Canterbury-style bands such as Camel, Soft Machine and Hatfield and the North. They are well known as a Japanese Canterbury music band and have released 7 albums in Japan.

Their album Tenchi-Sozo: Ride on a Camel contains a different version of their famous suite A Story of Mysterious Forest, recorded live, before their first album was released.

The Mysterious Triangle album (1993) was recorded live during 1976-1978. It features 6 previously unreleased songs and two tracks from previous albums with different arrangements.

Quicksand, the band’s third live album contains a selection of live performances from 1986-89. during that period, Ain Soph had two keyboard players. This recording includes 5 unreleased pieces and the 16-minute long ‘Quicksand.’

They played with Richard Sinclair in 2004. “They are one of the very best Canterbury music bands in the world. I am willing to join whenever they need my voice on recordings.” he said. Ain Soph also played at BajaProg2007 festival.

Discography:

* A Story of Mysterious Forest (King Nexus, 1980)
* Hat and Field (King Nexus KICS 2897, 1986)
* Marine Menagerie (Made In Japan MCD 2921, 1991)
* Tenchi-Sozo: Ride on a Camel – Special Live (recorded 1976-78) (Belle Antique MAR-9120, 1991)
* Five Evolved From Nine (Made In Japan MCD 2925, 1993)
* Mysterious Triangle – Special Live – Volume 2 (Belle Antique MAR-9336, 1993)
* Quicksand – Special Live – Volume 3 (Belle Antique MAR-9472, 1994)
* Studio Live Tracks ’80s and ’05 (POSEIDON PRF-041/Musea FGBG 4705.AR, 2007)

Website: ainsoph.jpn.org

Progressive Rock Profiles: Anyone’s Daughter

Anyone's Daughter
Anyone’s Daughter

Anyone’s Daughter is a German progressive rock band founded in 1972 in Stuttgart, in southwestern Germany by guitarist Uwe Karpa and keyboardist/vocalist Matthias Ulmer. The band started out playing covers of Deep Purple and other rock bands, and named themselves after the Deep Purple song released in 1971.

Anyone’s Daughter became one of the leading German progressive rock bands during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Their debut album Adonis (1979) is a progressive rock classic that was first released on the legendary krautrock label Brain in 1979.

Anyone's Daughter - Adonis
Anyone’s Daughter – Adonis

“Adonis” was later remastered and two previously unreleased bonus tracks: “The Taker” and “The Warship” were added to the original album. The main part of “Adonis” was the epic of the same name that was divided into four parts and took up the complete first side of the vinyl with a running time of more than 24 minutes.

One of the group’s finest recordings is its third release Piktors Verwandlungen.

 

Anyone's Daughter - Piktors Verwandlungen
Anyone’s Daughter – Piktors Verwandlungen

 

Discography:

Adonis (Brain, 1979)
Anyone’s Daughter (1980)
Piktors Verwandlungen (1981)
In Blau (1982)
Neue Sterne (1983)
Live (1984)
Last Tracks (1986)
Danger World (2001)
Requested Document Live 1980 – 1983 (2001)
Requested Document Live 1980 – 1983 Vol. 2 (2003)
Wrong (2004)

Progressive Rock Profiles: Gentle Giant

Gentle Giant in the 1970s
Gentle Giant in the 1970s

In 1970, the brothers Shulman founded progressive rock band Gentle Giant. Derek was the lead vocalist and played alto sax and bass, Ray sang and played bass and violin, and Phil handled the saxophone and added vocals. The rest of the band included Kerry Minnear on keyboards, who came straight from the Royal Academy of Music. Gary Green, a musician with a blues background, became the guitarist. Martin Smith was on drums.

Malcolm Mortimore replaced Martin Smith in late 1971 and was Gentle Giant’s drummer for the “Three Friends” album. John Weathers joined the band in 1972 and was the drummer featured in the “Octopus” album. The European edition of “Octopus” featured artwork by Roger Dean while the USA edition showed an octopus in a jar design created by Charles White.

Gentle Giant’s use of complex classical chord and time patterns, together with rock, blues, jazz and Early Music melodies and themes, set them apart from other progressive rock groups of their time.

Playing the Fool, the band’s official live album, was the last progressive rock-era album. Like other progressive rock acts, Gentle Giant switched to a pop direction in subsequent albums.

In 2012, EMI released the 4-CD boxed set I Lost My Head: Chrysalis Years 1975 – 1980, an anthology that includes Gentle Giant’s Chrysalis albums with bonus tracks.

Live At The Bicentennial , released in 2014 contains live recordings made at Calderone Theatre and Hempstead, New York in 1976.

British musician and producer Steven Wilson remixed Gentle Giant’s “The Power & The Glory” in 2014 and “Octopus” in 2015. The Steven Wilson remix of Octopus entered the BBC Rock charts at 34 in November 2015. “Everyone in the band is delighted to hear that the music that we created in 1972 seems to be even more popular in 2015,” said Derek Shulman, former lead vocalist and North American chairman of Frontiers Records. “To see Octopus in the top 40 is such a pleasant surprise. Steven Wilson remixed the music in 5.1 with his usual respect and care. All the Gentle Giant team especially want to thank the old and new fans for keeping the music we created years ago still vital today.”

Discography:

Gentle Giant (Vertigo, 1970)
Acquiring the Taste (Vertigo, 1971)
Three Friends (Vertigo/Columbia, 1972)
Octopus (Vertigo/Columbia, 1972)
In a Glass House (Vertigo/WWA, 1973)
The Power and the Glory (Vertigo/WWA/Capitol, 1974)
Free Hand (Chrysalis/Capitol, 1975)
Interview (Chrysalis/Capitol, 1976)
Playing the Fool – The Official Live (Chrysalis/Capitol, 1977)
The Missing Piece (Chrysalis/Capitol, 1977)
Giant for a Day! (Chrysalis/Capitol, 1978)
Civilian (Chrysalis/Columbia, 1980)
Live At The Bicentennial (Alucard, 2014)

Compilations:

I Lost My Head: Chrysalis Years 1975 – 1980 (EMI, 2012)