The Metal Files

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Archive for the ‘jazz’ Category

Chick Corea & Bela Fleck Concert Review, Austin, TX, April 15, 2016

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I’m a pretty big fan of the late 60s/early 70s heavy fusion jazz movement that Chick Corea was a huge part of.  I caught the Return to Forever reunion show weveral years ago and it was great.  I’d also seen Bela Fleck and the Flecktones several times back in Virginia as his bassist, Victor Wooten, was from my hometown area.  They played there often.

When I first saw the show announcement I jumped on tickets, not paying attention to the fact that it was just Chick and Bela and no backing band.  Oh well.  Man, was I surprised when the show started.  It was incredible.

Two master musicians whose respective instruments worked well together.  Perfectly even.  It really was a great show.  I stayed through half of the second set as I had some late night dinner plans and yet another show to see closer to my house.

I highly recommend going to see this tour if you like either musician.  Thankfully no pictures are allowed inside the venue during performances.  I was able to just zone out and listen to some beautiful music.

 

Written by The Metal Files

April 16, 2016 at 1:49 pm

John Macey – More Notes For Your Money (1987)

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I uploaded John’s first album a while back and was contacted by a former student of his and also a family member.  One of them shared John’s followup album from 1987.  This is good stuff.  Here are the covers and the link to download.

Written by The Metal Files

October 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm

Sade & John Legend – Austin Review 9/7/11

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I had to turn in my metalhead membership card for a night.  May I have it back now?  Thanks.

Last night was Sade and opening act, John Legend.  What a show.  I’ve been a fan since her 1984 debut album Diamond Life.  What a voice.  Smooth, unique, beautiful.  She doesn’t tour often and when she did in the past, the opportunity never seemed right for me to see her.  That is until this show.

Earlier this year her tour dates were announced and the closest one to me was Houston.  It was a weeknight and once again I didn’t go, this time because of work.  I would have had to take a day and a half of vacation that I didn’t want to spare.  After the tour had started, more dates were added with Austin being one of them.  AUSTIN!  Even better it was scheduled at a venue 6 blocks from my house.

The day of the presale I wasn’t able to find a code to use and a friend on Facebook let me know that Citicard was one of the companies offering presale tickets.  Just so happened that I have a Citicard that hadn’t been activated yet.  Luckily the presale accepted my number and BOOM, I got 3 front row center tickets.  My friends got the next 3 seats.  We were set.  Finally I was going to see one of my favorite vocalists ever.  Just a week and a half earlier I got to see Odin in Hollywood, a band that I had waited 25 years to see.  I’m a pretty lucky fella for sure.

The day I bought the tickets, I called my buddy Mike who I knew was a huge fan and offered him one of the tickets for face value.  Mike is one of the biggest Sade fans I know and a phenomenal singer in his own metal right.  Mike sings for Texas metal legends Militia.  Mike instantly accepted and my other ticket was to go to whomever I decided to take with me.  That ended up being my best friend, Amelia.  I missed her birthday and thought that this would be a good belated gift.  She was pretty excited when I asked her to go.

Now, on to the show!  The 3 of us walked to a restaurant for a quick dinner then into the Frank Erwin Center to get our seats.  It reminded me of the old days going to shows at Hampton Coliseum and Norfolk Scope except none of the shows I saw back then were reserved seating.  Apparently there was some weird problem with the seating in the front row but security got it straight and we were able to remain in our spots.  Sweet!

John Legend was originally scheduled to go on at 7:30, but I think the problem with the seating and some other issues

John Legend

delayed him until 8:30.  I’ve never heard one song by the guy and didn’t know anything about him.  I had no expectations but generally was disinterested in seeing his performance.  All I can say is that I was pleasantly surprised when he started.  He’s a really good singer and pays the piano pretty well.  While I don’t think I’d ever buy any of his music, I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him live again.  He’s a solid performer and his backup band was pretty badass, especially the drummer and guitarist.  You could have inserted those dudes into any metal band and they would be able to hold their own just fine.

Being right up against the stage, we didn’t get the cleanest mix.  I don’t think I heard any of the bass and most of the drum sounds I got were straight from the kit, which was nice actually.  Same with the guitar, we got most of his stuff from his small Fender-copy stage amp.  There were times when you could hear John’s voice coming at us naturally, mainly when he would stand in front of us at the edge of the stage.  We were literally 10’ from the edge of the stage.  It was quite incredible, really.  Nice show, John Legend!

After his set, everything is removed from the stage completely and it was completely empty.  I noticed that her stage setup was under the stage and most things would be moved up and down with hydraulics.  Bob Marley’s One Love started playing and that has apparently been her intro music for years.

All of a sudden some spotlights come on and Sade appears as does her band, opening with Soldier of Love.  She is still

Sade

quite beautiful and her voice seems unchanged.  There were professional video cameras in the stadium.  We were asked before the show to sit during the performances of Jezebel and Pearls, obviously for video purposes.  When she did Jezebel, she sat on the edge of the stage right in front of us.  It was quite incredible for me.  The whole night.  Her set was a good mix of her hits as well as some lesser known songs (unless you’re a big fan).

There were a few quick wardrobe changes but it was no detraction at all.  She’s still got “it”…whatever “it” is.   She’s got a good sense of humor as well and that woman’s smile could easily melt glaciers.  Stunning.

Three of the guys in the band have been with her since her first album, which is pretty impressive.  They also had a band called Sweetback, whose first album is pretty good.  All of these guys have some serious chops at their respective instruments.

The sound up front was a little better, but the bass and keyboards were still pretty low because of our location to the mains.  No biggie.  Like during Legend’s set, there were time where you could hear Sade’s natural voice when she was at the edge of the stage and the music was low.  Incredible.  She belted out a few notes here and there that certainly gave me chills as did her performance of No Ordinary Love.  Easily my favorite song of hers and it was spot on beautiful last night.

Because of the pre-show delays, her performance didn’t end until almost 12:30AM.  I got up at 6:30AM for work and it took me forever to wind down from the show and finally fall asleep last night.  I’m tired but it was worth every effort.  I’ve seen a lot of shows since I first started attending concerts in 1985, but this one I think is in my top 10 all time and easily top 2 of all non-metal/hard rock shows.  It was a great night all around with great friends and wonderful music.  If she ever tours again, I’ll certainly try to be there and will certainly try for front row again!

  1. Soldier of Love
  2. Your Love Is King
  3. Skin
  4. Kiss of Life
  5. Love Is Found
  6. In Another Time
  7. Smooth Operator
  8. Jezebel
  9. Bring Me Home
  10. Is It a Crime
  11. Love Is Stronger Than Pride
  12. All About Our Love
  13. Paradise
  14. Nothing Can Come Between Us
  15. Morning Bird
  16. King of Sorrow
  17. The Sweetest Taboo
  18. The Moon and the Sky
  19. Pearls
  20. No Ordinary Love
  21. By Your Side
  22. Cherish the Day (Encore)

Ticket and fake rose petals that fell from the ceiling

Written by The Metal Files

September 8, 2011 at 9:39 am

John Macey – Eclipse (1981)

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As I mentioned in a previous blog, I had this album given to me when I was about 15 (1985) or so.  I listened to it quite often back then and always enjoyed the quirky, funky instrumentals on here.  A friend of mine recently converted my vinyl to digital format and I am putting it up on here for your listening pleasure.

This album came out in 1981 and sounds very mid-70s.  Macey is a very competent player as are all of the members in the band.  It was released on 51 West Records which was a sub of CBS.  There’s some good funky, jazz/fusion, 70s shred in parts of this that some of it sounds like it should be background music in a 70s car chase movie.  Until today, I don’t think I have listened to this album in about 20 years and it still sounds great to my ears.

Enjoy it.

Tracks:

  1. Eclipse
  2. Skyblue Dream
  3. Peter Pan
  4. Bent Metal
  5. F Hole Fantasy
  6. Star Piece

Written by The Metal Files

May 30, 2011 at 2:24 pm

Concert Review – Al Di Meola 4/3/11

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I’m the first to admit that I haven’t bought anything by Di Meola since his 1996 “…Plays Piazzolla” CD.  For me, 1983’s “Scenario” was my last favorite of the “electric era” and all those before it were all great.  Al is the man.  He’s got it all: technique, feel, speed, originality.  It wasn’t long after 1983 that he went more acoustic than electric style and really put out a lot of the world music stuff.  It just wasn’t my thing.  Sure it was Al playing some good stuff, but I loved that classic fusion analog stuff from the 70s and early 80s that he did.

I mentioned in another post about seeing Return To Forever a few years back and how great it was and also about missing a Di Meola show in Norfolk because he canceled the day of the show.  Luckily he didn’t cancel tonight.

Tonight’s show at the One World Theatre proved once again that this is one of the greatest places to see a show.  Great seating, great sound, intimate.  I was fortunate to score 2 seats on the center aisle, 2nd row and we had no one sitting in front of us.  Perfection.  My guitarist, Doug Morrison, attended with me.

Al comes on at about 6:10PM, says hello to the crowd, cracks a joke or 2 (Is Willie still here?”) and they go right into their set, opening with a song called Fire On Babylon.  He was on the acoustic for almost the entire set until they went into Midnight Tango and he strapped on his Paul Reed Smith and played electric for the end of the set and for the encore.  He was great.  Period.  His band was awesome (standup electric bass, drums, rhythm acoustic guitar, drums, percussion, accordion) and filled with all non-Americans except for his percussionist.  The real standout member was his accordion player, Fausto.  I’m rather neutral on how I feel about that instrument in general, but this guy was quite incredible.  The whole band was.  Al put down the shred on both the acoustic and electric like only he can do it.  He picks almost every note and his precision is incredible.  It was quite exhilarating to be sitting 10 feet from a musician that I have respected for about 20+ years now.

Even being unfamiliar with most of the material from tonight’s show, it didn’t really matter.  It was as I expected and more.  I’m looking forward to his next tour already.

I grabbed a setlist from the stage and this is the what was listed as “1st Set”.  There was another set to be performed at 8:30PM and I wonder if it was going to be any different.

  1. Fire on Babylon
  2. Brave New World
  3. Misterio
  4. Double Concerto
  5. Turquoise
  6. Oblivion
  7. Full Frontal Contrapuntal
  8. Capouiera
  9. Midnight Tango/One Night Last June
  10. Race With The Devil On A Spanish Highway (encore)

Written by The Metal Files

April 3, 2011 at 9:21 pm

Joe Jackson – Night and Day (1982)

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Christmas 1982. 

In an effort to curve my hard rock/metal listening ways, my Mom bought 2 albums for me on Christmas.  She was never too keen on metal and wanted to try and sway me to listen to something else.  As I am unwrapping gifts, I got to the records, both of them wrapped together.  I knew they were albums before I unwrapped them but had no idea as to which ones they were.   On top was Regatta de Blanc by The Police.  Behind it was Joe Jackson’s Night and Day.  To say I was disappointed would have been the understatement of the century.  It was like the kid in Christmas Story not getting his BB gun.  I was hoping to get something like a KISS, Black Sabbath or Judas Priest album (wishful thinking, I know).

So I basically said, “Oh.  Cool.  Thanks.” and went on to play with my Stomper trucks or something.  haha.  Shortly thereafter, though, I did put the records on to at least give them a shot.  I was already familiar with the Police so that was nothing new and I did fall in love with that album by them.

But the Joe Jackson was something completely different.  I listened to it a lot and still do.  It’s a pretty interesting album in many ways.  One, the only guitar used on the album was a bass.  No 6-string whatsoever anywhere.  The album is very well-written and performed.  Joe has a way of lyrical phrasing that really works with his music.  The album has sort of a NYC punk feel to it without sounding punk at all.  It’s hard to explain.  I love this album and always will.  I never delved into his other works although I am familiar with some of his other “hits” thanks to Anthrax or the radio.

The album seems to be sort of a concept album about life in New York City in the early 80s and touches on the gay culture a bit.  It’s a fine record overall and anytime I listen to it, it’s front to back, nothing skipped.

So, thanks Mom.  While you didn’t get me out of hard rock/metal, you did open my ears a little bit to some other stuff.

Written by The Metal Files

January 21, 2011 at 8:17 am

John McLaughlin – Austin, TX – Nov. 24, 2010

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Back around 1985/86 one of the guys from my church had given me and a few of us metalhead kids some records to listen to.  It was jazz stuff.  The 2 that stood out for me were John Macey’s Eclipse (would love to

The Master.

find this somewhere) and Mahavishnu Orchestra’s Birds of Fire.  Bird’s of Fire quickly became an album near and dear to my heart and still listen to it often.  I really like a lot of that early 70s jazz/fusion stuff and thanks to Pat, it opened my mind up to some other music outside of hard rock and metal.  Hell, just throw some distortion in some of this stuff and it would be metal.

About 2 or so years ago I saw an advertisement on Stubb’s website for John McLaughlin and freaked out.  I nabbed 2 tickets and the day of the show Doug and I were walking up on the venue and noticed that the crowd was very young.  I was a bit perplexed.  Why would all these kids want to see John McLaughlin?  Then I saw the show poster stapled on the outside wall.  “Jon” McLaughlin was playing that night.  Some young kid and an acoustic guitar.  D’oh!  I felt pretty stupid.  What a monkey!  We ended up just giving our tickets to someone in line.  They were pretty inexpensive so it was no big deal.  The 2 kids were appreciative.

A month or so ago I was fortunate enough to see Mahavishnu’s Billy Cobham at the beautiful One World Theatre.  It was quite awesome as was the venue.  Even prior to buying my Cobham tickets, my guitar player had snagged us 2 tickets to see John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension.  In case you didn’t know, John created Mahavishnu Orchestra after playing with Miles Davis (Bitches Brew).  Miles told him to form his own band and he did.  What a band he formed!

We get to the theatre around 7 and hang out for a bit.  It’s pretty rare for this venue to have an opening act on stage but they did for John’s 2 night stand.  It was 2 Argentinian brothers who call themselves Seis Cuerdas (6 strings in English).  They played a short set of latin/flamenco/jazz/almost metal stuff on 2 acoustic guitars.  They were pretty damned good but I was there to see John and his band.

The band comes out to a standing ovation and John greets the crowd an the music starts.  My God.  For as blown away as I was by Cobham’s show, this was even more intense.  John’s playing was awesome and having never watched any video of him before, I was blown away by his playing style.  His fretting and picking style reminded me a lot of Tony Iommi in that it was very limited motion.  You hear a lot of things being played but you don’t see them.  No wasted motion.  It was quite awesome to see.  John didn’t talk much between songs nor did he need to.  The music surely did the talking.

His backup band was great as well.  He had Etienne Mbappe on bass.  This dude was awesome.  First time I had seen a bass player wear gloves.  There were some great moments where he and John were playing off of each other and playing the same runs together.  Just awesome.  Gary Husband handled the keyboard duties and did a great job.  He also did some drums trade-off stuff with main-drummer Mark Mondesir.  Holy hell, this dude was quite possibly one of the most incredible drummers I have ever seen live.  It could have easily been a clinic in power-jazz drumming.  He was awesome and I enjoyed his performance even over Billy Cobham’s.  This guy is just awesome and seemingly can play anything.  I recommend looking him up on YouTube.  For as awesome as the bands was as a whole, Mark’s drumming made the night for me.  I’ll always be a drummer on the inside even if I am unable to play them nowadays.  Just awesome.

I was really hoping that they would do a meet and greet after the show like Cobham did, but no luck.  It was another great experience watching a stage full of great musicians doing their thing.  Next up there for me is Al Dimeola.  That one will be my “freak out” show.  Al is in my top guitar players of all time.  Having only seen him with Return to Forever a few years ago, I am pretty excited to see him up close (2nd row center aisle seats…same ones for Cobham and McLaughlin).

 

Thank you and goodnight!

Written by The Metal Files

November 25, 2010 at 11:20 am