Konstantin Orbelyan Orchestra – Государственный Эстрадный Оркестр Армении (Armenian State Estrada Orchestra) [1978]

armenia, orchestraThe music of Armenia has its origins in the Armenian Highlands, where people traditionally sang popular folk songs, with a long musical tradition, that was primarily collected and developed by Komitas, a prominent priest and musicologist, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Armenian music has been presented internationally by composers Aram Khachaturian, Arno Babadjanian, duduk player Djivan Gasparyan, composer Ara Gevorgyan, pop singer Sirusho, amid others.

One of the oldest types of Armenian music is the Armenian chantthe most common kind of religious music in Armenia, many of these chants are ancient in origin, extending to pre-Christian times, while others are relatively modern, including several composed by Saint Mesrop Mashtots, (simply) Armenian alphabet’s inventor.

Prokofiev, Shostakovich & Aaram Khachaturian
Prokofiev, Shostakovich & Aaram Khachaturian

Under Soviet domination, Armenian folk music was taught in state-sponsored conservatoires, instruments played include qamancha (similar to a violin), kanun (dulcimer), dhol (hand drum), oud (lute), zurna, blul (ney), shvi and saz.

Other instruments are often used such as violin and clarinet, and the duduk is Armenia’s national instrument. Traditional Armenian folk music as Armenian church music is not based on the European tonal system but on a system of Tetrachords, the last note of one tetrachord also serves as the first note of the next, which makes Armenian folk music based on a theoretically endless scale. (!)

Traditional Ensemble
Traditional Ensemble

Let’s go to our artist:

Konstantin Aghaparoni Orbelyan (July 29, 1928 – April 24, 2014) an Armenian pianist, composer, head of the State Estrada Orchestra of Armenia. He was a People’s Artist of USSR (1979), Union of Soviet Composers Board member, Armenian Composer’s Union secretary since 1983, Vice-President of All-Soviet Musical Society of the USSR. Also the uncle of his namesake Constantine Orbelian, he has been acknowledged as a pianist and improviser since he was in his early teens.

At age fifteen, he was invited to perform with the Armenian State Pop Orchestra, formed in 1938 in Yerevan, and subsequently became its conductor. Under his able direction for thirty-six years, the Orchestra rose to become one of the most accomplished of its kind. As a result, it came to represent Soviet jazz over thirty countries in Eastern and Western Europe, Near EastAfrica, and Southeast Asia!

Konstantin Orbelyan
Konstantin Orbelyan

Graduating in composition and piano from Edward Mirzoyan’s class of composition at Yerevan’s Komitas Conservatory in 1963, Orbelian achieved early recognition for his String Quartet, winning first prize at the International Competition in Moscow, where the chairman of the Competition’s panel of judges was the composer Dmitri Shostakovich. Orbelian’s rising talent and success were noted with great appreciation by the doyen of Armenian music of the time: Aram Khachaturian.

Next followed the premiere of Orbelian’s first symphony in Moscow’s famous Tchaikovsky Hall by the USSR State Symphony Orchestra. For this symphony, Orbelian was awarded the title ‘Laureate of the All-Union Competition’. His ballet symphony Immortality was composed in 1975 and performed by the Yerevan Opera and Ballet Theater. This work, too, won first prize in an All-Union Competition devoted to the music stage. One of the Orchestra’s highlights was its American tour (1975) which included twenty-five concerts in major cities from coast to coast. (!)

Live
Live

In the beginning of the ’90s after the collapse of the Soviet Union working with the orchestra and creating music became very difficult. In 1992 Konstantin Orbelian moved to San Francisco, spending his last moments in Los Angeles. Ever versatile in the scope of his repertoire, he has written musical scores for many films and stage musicals, music for theater, not to mention his extensive work in jazz/pop music.

Recently, more than 8 cd’s have been released with compositions for symphonic orchestra, as well as jazz and pop music, with an endless number of awards placing the maestro in one of the highest recognition spots throughout the globe.

Let’s go to our album:

Thanks to the fantastic work of our friends from Soviet Groove, we’ve been able to rediscover the pinnacle of Jazz, Pop, and Soul from countries like Armenia, Estonia, Latvia, Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, etc. At a time when the Iron Curtain still ruled the old world order, to the surprise of all, great composers/musicians had an exact idea of ​​what the Western world consumed!

Armenian (Bagratid Dynasty) Costume
Armenian (Bagratid Dynasty) Costume

I would go even further, groups like Gunesh, Firyuza, Yalla, Qaya, Sevil, among others, conceived one of the finest meetings between Jazz and Folk music. Our today album is just a first step of a fascinating and little-known aspect of these faraway cultures, mostly supported by legendary Melodiya (Μелодия) label, soon we’ll have an entry solely to this. By now, remain with a great Western-like big-band and վայելել!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Ты Моя Песня (A5) and Вокализ (B4).

Tracks Include:

A1 Сто Часов Счастья (One Hundred Hours of Happiness)

A2 Твои Следы (Your Footprints)

A3 Назан Яр (Nazan Yar) w/ Larisa Dolina

A4 Восход Солнца (Sunrise)

A5 Ты Моя Песня (You’re my Song) w/ Datevik Hovanesian

B1 Силуэт (Silhouette)

B2 Шум Берез (Noise Birches)

B3 Весенний Экспромт (Spring Impromptu)

B4 Вокализ (Vocalise) w/ Datevik Hovanesian

B5 Спасибо, Жизнь (Thanks for Life)

Мелодия ‎– С60–09733–34

Cafesjian Museum (breathtaking) Vista
Cafesjian Museum (breathtaking) Vista

Modrý Efekt (Blue Effect) ‎– Nová Syntéza (New Synthesis) [1971]

Blue Effect

The Czechoslovak New Wave was an artistic movement in cinema which evolved out of the earlier Devětsil movement of the ’30s. Disgruntled with the communist regime that had taken over Czechoslovakia in 1948 coup d’état (!), students of the Film and TV School of The Academy of Performing Arts in Prague (also known as FAMU) became the dissenters of their time. Their statement at making films:

‘Make the Czech people collectively aware that they were participants in a system of oppression and incompetence which had brutalized and bureaucratized them all.’

This was partly because of a cultural and political reform that the country had undergone since 1962. During this time the filmmakers of the Czech new wave enjoyed a state-supported film industry, an interest in both domestic/international market (special interest in the USA) and relative artistic freedom.

Trademarks of the movement are long unscripted dialogues, dark and absurd humor, and the casting of non-professional actors. The films touched on themes which for earlier filmmakers in the communist countries had barely managed to avoid the objections of the censor: playful observation, visual poetry, biting sarcasm, gentle humanism, mocking absurdism, tender eroticism, and formal experimentalism.

The Czechoslovak New Wave differed from the French New Wave in that it usually held stronger narratives, and as these directors were the children of a nationalized film industry, they had greater access to studios and state funding.

The Fireman's Ball , 1967
The Fireman’s Ball, 1967

As Alexander Dubček came to power over the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia with plans to present ‘socialism with a human face’ through reform and liberalization (Prague Spring), the Soviet Union and their Warsaw Pact allies invaded to snuff out reform. The movement came to an abrupt end and Miloš Forman and Jan Němec fled the country; those who remained faced censorship of their work.

Notable directors: Miloš Forman, Věra Chytilová, Ivan Passer, Jaroslav Papoušek, Jiří Menzel, Jan Němec, Jaromil Jireš, Vojtěch Jasný, Evald Schorm and Slovak directors Dušan Hanák, Juraj Herz, Juraj JakubiskoŠtefan Uher amid others.

The Troupe
The Troupe

Let’s go to our artist:

One of the most popular Czech Rock bands with links to almost every known prog/jazz from the country, (the) Blue Effect from Prague were formed in 1968 by guitarist Radim Hladík and singer Vladimír Mišík, both from The Matadors.

The line-up included also bassist Jiří Kozel, drummer Vlado Čech and guitarist Miloš Svoboda, who quit the next year. In 1970 they released their psych/blues-influenced debut ‘Meditace’ on Supraphon along with the jazz-rock album ‘Coniunctio’ in collaboration with legendary ensemble Jazz Q.

The Matadors
The Matadors

At this time Mišík left to join Flamengo, he was replaced by singer/keyboardist Lešek Semelka. Renamed to Modrý Efekt they released their second work ‘Nova Syntezá’ in 1971 on Panton with the outstanding help of the Czechoslovakian Jazz Orchestra. The album shows the band taking a more artistic approach on their music, leaving the psych influences of their debut for a much more jazz-oriented sound.

The ’70s were their most active period, with at least nine studio albums, progressing to fusion/prog tinges, being its last release in 1981. Since 2010 the band was reactivated by Radim Hladík (only original member) and has a very active career.

Modrý Efekt
Modrý Efekt

Let’s go to our album:

An incredible Brass Orchestra with a sharp rock group coming from the Eastern side of Europe. The compositions are long and as the album unfolds, Hladík shows an incredible jazzy background on his guitar solos. The Czechoslovakian Jazz Orchestra seems often the leading force of the album: tons of melodic introductions, interventions, and counterpoints performed by a great mass of brass musicians!

The ‘IM’ highlights are Směr Jihovýchod and Blues Modrého Efektu.

Jauku Ceļojumu!

Tracks Include:

A1 Má Hra – My Game (Radim Hladík)

A2 Směr Jihovýchod – Southeast Bound (Lešek Semelka)

A3 Popínavý Břečťan – Clinging Ivy (Radim Hladík)

B1 Blues Modrého Efektu – Blue Effect Blues (Kamil Hála, Vlastimil Hála)

B2 Nová Syntéza – New Synthesis (Kamil Hála, Vlastimil Hála)

Credits

  • Bass Guitar: Jiří Kozel
  • Drums (Uncredited): Vlado Čech
  • Guitar: Radim Hladík
  • Orchestra, Performer: Jazzový Orchestr Československého Rozhlasu
  • Performer (Skupina): Modrý Efekt
  • Piano: Lešek Semelka
  • Trombone: Ladislav Pikart, Miroslav Koželuh
  • Trumpet: Václav Týfa

Conductor, Arranged: Kamil Hála

Artwork: Jaroslav Fišer

Photography: Alexandr Janovský

Engineer (Zvuková Režie): Milan Papírník

Recording Supervisor (Hudební Režie): Vlastimil Hála

Producer: Dr. Oskar Jelínek

Panton ‎– 11 0288

Alphonse Mucha, 1896
Alphonse Mucha, 1896

JAGATARA (じゃがたら) – Hadaka No Osama (裸の王様) [1987]

edo akemi 3 cópia

It is amazing how in just one year, the amount of live footage from JAGATARA appeared on youtube, either as excerpts or full audio/video performances of this amazing band that still remains unknown to most of the Western public.

However, all this novelty occurs only in the musical field, with regard to information, interviews or photos we still rely on the detailed post made last year and seek help from Japanese readers to translate the material available on the official website!

Let’s go to our album:

After a bombastic and controversial start at the beginning of the ’80s, Edo Akemi (lead frontman, lyricist, composer) suffers a nervous breakdown during the tour and ends up in a hospital at the end of 1983. The band goes through a gap of almost three years.

In the interim, they released a live album in 1985 (君 と 踊 り あ か そ う 日 の 出 を 見 る ま で), the band’s fourth record and make occasional presentations on Japanese TV, always with medical guidance. Akemi’s recovery occurs in Shikoku.

Big Band Formation
Big Band Formation

From June 1986, a more willing and energetic Akemi returns to Tokyo and start to work with the band on new material. They return to perform live at the end of the year and begin to record Hadaka No Osama. On 21/03/1987 the fifth LP is released with positive reviews and remarkable evolution of the band.

The year 1987 is marked by memorable shows of up to four hours (!), long tours, and the launch of their third Home Video, entitled Hey! Goggle Tour!

In future entries, we will cover their other albums, now, enjoy a rare clip from one of their great successes, Tango. And appreciate what I believe be their best album!

Uhambe Kahle!

Tracks Include:

1 裸の王様

2 岬でまつわ

3 ジャンキー・ティーチャー

4 もうがまんできない

The Emperor’s New Clothes

  • Distributed: BaLcony Records – Girls-5

Doctor Records DC-1103

Tokyo Lights
Tokyo Lights

Salah Ragab (صلاح رجب) & The Cairo Jazz Band – Egyptian Jazz (1968-73)

folder cópia

At the time of the fall of the Egyptian monarchy in the early 1950s, less than half a million Egyptians were considered the upper class and rich, four million middle class and 17 million lower class and poor (!). Fewer than half of all primary-school-age children attended school, and most of them being boys. Egypt’s second president Gamal Abdel Nasser led Egypt through a victorious revolution in 1952. He was a proponent of cultural nationalism as a means of political independence.

Land reform and distribution, the dramatic growth in university education, and government support to national industries greatly improved social mobility and flattened the social curve. From 1953-54 through 1965-66, overall public school enrolments more than doubled. Millions of previously poor Egyptians, through education and jobs in the public sector, joined the middle class.

Doctors, engineers, teachers, lawyers, journalists, constituted the bulk of the swelling middle class in Egypt under Nasser.

Faten Hamama & Omar Sharif
Faten Hamama & Omar Sharif

Famous realist director, Kamal Al Sheikh became known for making compelling thrillers such as House Number 13 (1952), a film noir about a psychologist who tries to use his friend to commit a murder; Life or Death (1955), which unusually for the 50’s was shot on location in Cairo, and The Last Night which was nominated for the Golden Palme at the Cannes Film Festival in 1964!

The ’50s and ’60s saw the appearance of accomplished realist films from Youssef Chahine, most notably The Blazing Sky (1954) nominated for the Grand Prix at the Cannes. It’s the second film, Son of the Nile (1951) showed an early work of Social Realism, that started his international fame. The film focused on relations between traditional classes and elites, depicting the hard lives of peasant classes. Previous representations of peasants had used them largely as romanticized symbols of national identity.

El-Andaleeb El-Asmar
El-Andaleeb El-Asmar

Let’s go to our album:

Born Salah Eldin Ahmed Ragab (25/07/1935 – 03/07/2008) in Cairo. A Major in the Egyptian Army through the ’60s, and an avid jazz fan and drummer, Ragab first attempted to form a jazz band in 1964, with American saxophonist Mac X. Spears. The group didn’t get very far, then, on December 1966, Ragab met Hartmut Geerken and Eduard Vizvari at a reception following a Randy Weston Sextet show. The three hit it off and decided to form the Cairo Jazz Band (القاهرة الفرقة موسيقى الجاز).

The year that he became the head of the Egyptian Military Music Department, in 1968, The Cairo Jazz Band began to take-off. They were Egypt’s first big band, mixing American jazz with North African music, combining jazz instrumentation with indigenous melodies/instruments, like the Nay (flute) and the Baza (ramadan drum).

The Cairo Jazz Band
The Cairo Jazz Band

Such musical cross-fertilization was not unusual in itself; American musicians from Sun Ra to Yusef Lateef had long been fascinated by the music of Islam and North Africa, incorporating both the instruments and musical forms into their work. But Salah Ragab’s music presents a view from the other side of the musical equation of West meets the Middle East. Aligning himself with the compelling currents of American jazz music, to later be revered as the Godfather and pioneer of Egyptian jazz music!

Let’s go to the pinnacle of Egyptian instrumental music, beyond the barriers of jazz and folk, the refinement and creativity here is frightening! Enjoy this superb voyage, with luxuriant arrangements and also 5 (unmissable) bonus tracks present on the 2006 CD edition, without further ado the great master Salah Ragab.

Sun Ra & The Maestro - 80's
Sun Ra & The Maestro – 80’s

The ‘IM’ highlights are Egypt Strut and The Kings Valley – Upper Egypt. 

Trevlig Resa!

Tracks Include:

1 Ramadan In Space-Time

2 Dawn

3 Neveen

4 Oriental Mood

5 Kleopatra

6 Mervat

7 Egypt Strut*

8 The Crossing (Oubour)

9 Calling You

10 The Kings Valley – Upper Egypt

11 A Farewell Theme

12 Kleopatra (Alt. Take)

Credits

  • Alto Saxophone: El Saied El Aydy, Farouk El Sayed
  • Baritone Saxophone: Abdel Hakim El Zamel
  • Bass: Moohy El Din Osman
  • Bongos, Drums (Ramadan – Baza): Sayed Ramadan
  • Conductor, Piano, Drums, Congas: Salah Ragab
  • Drums: Sayed Sharkawy
  • Flute (Bamboo Nay): Abdel Hamd Abdel Ghaffar (Toto)
  • Piano: Khmis El Khouly
  • Tenor Saxophone: Fathy Abdel Salam, Saied Salama
  • Trombone: El Sayeed Dahroug, Mahmoud Ayoub, Sadeek Basyouny
  • Trombone (Bass): Abdel Atey Farag
  • Trumpet: Ibrahim Wagby, Khalifa El Samman, Mohammad Abdou
  • Trumpet, Flute: Zaky Osman
  • Tuba (Bass): Mohammad Abdel Rahman

* Bass: Esmat Abbas / Electric Guitar: Mohammad El-Tobgy 

Mizmar (Mozmar): Aly Abdel Mohsen, Aly Hassan, Hany Awad

Piano: Alaa Mostafa

  • Reissue Producer: Peter Dennett
  • Remastered By: Peter Beckmann

Recorded in Heliopolis, Egypt between 1968 and 1973 (tracks 1 to 7).

Egypt Strut was originally released on the Sono Cairo record label as a 45 rpm single.

Art Yard ‎– ARTYARD CD006

Hind Rostom
Hind Rostom

Alma y Vida – Alma y Vida (1971)

Capa

Argentina. Today’s album got a minor size text, compared to previous posts, because our friends from Cabeza de Moog already made a dossier about Alma y Vida, don’t forget to check it, as the whole blog as well!

On mid’s ’60s, Carlos Mellino had been, along with Alejandro Medina, future bassist from Manal, a member from The Seasons, one of the first beat bands from Argentina. Gradually, he was contacting with jazz musicians, meeting the trumpeter, Salvador, and the guitarist Barrueco. Soon after, as an arranger and musician, he was leading the band for Leonardo Favio, a national star. Bernardo Baraj recalls his entrance on the future band as a so-called millionaire football transference:

‘I was playing with Sandro and the rivalry at the time between Sandro / Favio, was like Boca / River; actually, its was a change, Ricardo Lew went with Sandro and I passed to Favio’s group. I remember when Leonardo finished singing, we always kept it playing, a non-stop thing, you know? The band sounded so tuned that when Favio really quite, we became an independent group. Thus was born Alma y Vida‘.

Leonardo Favio: Singer, Composer, Actor & Director
Leonardo Favio: Singer, Composer, Actor & Director

Let’s go to their history:

In 1970, Leonardo Favio told them he would stop singing for a while, instead of separating they choose to build your own project, beginning to play under its own name, under a jazz-rock influence. Their first public performances took place in the cycle of Opera Theatre of Buenos Aires, sharing the stage with no less than Manal, Arco Iris, and Vox Dei, on every-Sunday mornings. (!)

Salvador: ‘We always were the first ones to play and people used to whistle, we actually heard some buzz in the very beginning, because see and hear a saxophone and a trumpet at the time was very rare. However, amidst the whistles, some part of the audience stood up and yelled to another, Shut up, deaf!’

Mellino: ‘Imposing a formation with so many kinds and totally different styles, adapting it to our reality was a terrible challenge. We were out of the acoustic or drums, bass, guitar formula, add it that we behave well and were good professionals.’

1971
1971

The impact of these performances leads them to record a single with the legendary short-lived label Mandioca (we’ll have a dedicated post for it), with the songs Niño Color Cariño and He Comprendido. The participations on the mega festival B.A. Rock prompted them to record the first plate in 1971 for RCA Argentina. Shortly before, Mario Salvador left the group and was replaced by Gustavo Moretto. In its first studio album, classics like Mujer, Gracias Por Tu Llanto and Hace Tiempo achieved regular success. With Moretto’s entry, Alma y Vida found their best form among all audiences, not only Argentine Rock gigs and crowds. Thereby establishing itself as a regular entertainer in the mythical La Cueva on Pueyrredón Avenue.

Based on a solid live performance and creativity for hits, such as, Hoy Te Queremos Cantar and later Del Gemido de un Gorrion present on their second (Volumen II), and third (Del Gemido…) albums (respectively), the band reaches its pinnacle on musical charts, playing throughout the country, Uruguai and TV appearances.

Nowdays
Nowadays

In late 1974, Gustavo Moretto leaves the band to move into more complex music, he founds the prog trio, Alas. His departure accelerated a process of internal crisis, that not even the entrance of Osvaldo Lacunza couldn’t save. In 1975 Alma y Vida recorded its fifth and last Lp (Vol. 5), after a year the group finally broke up.

Let’s go to our album:

This is without any doubt an underestimated band, practically unknown outside Argentina, this superb super-group became certainly one of my personal faves, aside Spinetta, Serú Girán, Arco Iris, Fito Páez, etc. Firstly, there is no comparison to any other rock acts in the ’70s, compared to Argentina and Brazil, for instance, their spectacular jazzy sound, outstanding (!!) Mellino’s voice and lyrics that alternate on beautiful poetic love themes or social/political criticism, are a welcomed surprise.

The band completely leaves the commonplace psych-folk, prog or blues that was being made at the time, such as La Pesada, Pappo’s Blues, Sui Generis, Manal, Color Humano, Los Gatos, etc. Although Alma y Vida had never been an instrumental jazz band only! Inspired by Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago, the had the vision to introduce new aesthetics, solos, and colors to Argentine Rock.

Carlos Mellino
Carlos Mellino

Mellino: ‘We had a very large range because all came from different extractions, Bernardo and Juan were jazzists, Carlos a rock musician, Mario a scholar one, and I a Beatlemaniac. A mixed salad that made Alma y Vida a well-defined group.’

The ‘IM’ highlights are Mujer Gracias Por Tu Llanto, a ravishing sentimental ballad with melodic horn, smooth pace, reeds and some outstanding dramatic vocals from Carlos Mellino, creating a unique atmosphere. A statement about love and solitude for any woman! And: Realidad de Sentir, with a crazy drum solo intro, this jazzy uptempo, invites us to enter in another reality, with metaphysical lyrics about our human senses, god, nature and the universe. There are some woodwind attacks and this exciting melodic vein that are responsible for an album hard-to-describe.

A truly original approach, you do not want to miss this journey, Buen Viaje!

Tracks Include:

A1 Mujer Gracias Por Tu Llanto (Bernardo Baraj, Carlos Mellino, Ricardo Lew)

A2 Me Siento Dueño del Mundo (Bernardo Baraj, Carlos Mellino, Juan Barrueco)

A3 Hace Tiempo (Bernardo Baraj, Carlos Mellino)

A4 Realidad de Sentir (Bernardo Baraj, Carlos Mellino)

A5 La Morada (Gustavo Moretto)

B1 Veinte Monedas (Carlos Mellino, Esteban Mellino, Gustavo Moretto, Juan Barrueco)

B2 Lagrima de Ciudad (Carlos Mellino, Esteban Mellino)

B3 Y Esto? (Gustavo Moretto, Juan Barrueco)

B4 La Gran Sociedad (Bernardo Baraj, Carlos Mellino)

Credits

Alberto Hualde: drums

Bernardo Baraj: sax

Carlos Mellino: keyboards and voice

Carlos Villalba: bass

Juan Barrueco: guitar

Mario Salvador: trumpet

RCA Vik LZP-1196