A rattle; a cranking sound that suggests revving; muted guitar sounds set against an ominous quiet… At the outset of this EP from fusion musician James Basdanis, things start so disjointedly they give no obvious clue as to where the music will go. After a little more gearing up, Basdanis turns out a few jazzy guitar notes in a melody that strongly suggests a Mediterranean slant, but this isn’t obviously something a world music buff might gravitate towards. Nor is it especially “jazz” in the most traditional sense, but certainly takes in elements of both. Hearing it for the first time, the slow, unfolding melody suggests something from the Frank Gambale back-cat mangled with glee by a Les Claypool project.
Randy and Michael Brecker: legends of jazz fusion, both together and apart. Often called upon for individual session work throughout the 70s and 80s, the brothers appeared on albums by Billy Joel, Joni Mitchell, Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Dire Straits. Both were among the most gifted players in their prime: separately, they were great, but together, they could be an absolute powerhouse. This is something that comes across with abundance throughout the archive double live disc ‘Live And Unreleased’. A show newly released in 2020 that captures the second Brecker Brothers Band with bassist Neil Jason partway through a European tour in 1980, the Breckers are on fire.
Led by vocalist/multi-instrumentalist Matt Cahill, Evoletah began life as a guitar driven rock band. Their first two albums were enjoyable to a point, but didn’t really do anything that would make them stand out in a world of other similar bands. In 2013, their ‘We Ache For The Moon’ presented something of a rebirth, with the band exploring jazz, rock and pop in a fusion that sounded almost cinematic. It had almost nothing to connect it to anything that’d come before, but it was superb and found a place as one of the year’s best albums. It was, and remains, a record that showcased a lot of musical talent, a broad musical imagination and a willingness to cut the strings of expectation. By doing what came naturally rather than trying to craft a broadly appealing alt-rock hit, the Australian band created an underground masterpiece.
Often irascible and difficult, sometimes just plain rude, Ginger Baker wasn’t always the easiest person to get along with, assuming most accounts are to be believed. As if often the case, with such difficulty came genuine brilliance. Few could deny that Ginger was one of the finest drummers who ever lived.
Not to be confused with the Transatlantic crooner that once sported two haircuts simultaneously, Michael J. Bolton is a UK based bassist, composer and arranger whose 2019 album ‘Earthrise’ is a brilliant instrumental work inspired by the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landings. Being a master of the bass, naturally, his instrument is often at the fore, but for lovers of busy jazz keys, complex guitar and even occasional ambient tendencies, this record is one with a huge amount to give.