Friday, December 25, 2009

Thijs Van Leer - Introspection 3

This third collaboration between flutist and member of Dutch progressive rock group Focus, Thijs Van Leer and arranger/producer/composer Rogier Van Otterloo was released in 1977. The concept remains the same as in the first two installments of this series and the result is just as beautiful. It features Thijs Van Leer on Flute, the beautiful voice of Letty de Jong and the orchestra arranged and conducted by Rogier Van Otterloo. The album was conceived and produced by Ruud Jacobs and John J. Vis and it was recorded at the famous Dureco Studios, in Holland. This album has been remastered and it is now available from the great re-issue company BGO Records.
Track Listing: 
1. Reigen Seliger Geister
2. Roundeau
3. Adagio
4. Brother
5. Sicilienne
6. Rondo III (sampled above)
7. He Shall Feed His Flock
8. Focus V

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Thijs Van Leer - Introspection 2

Flutist and member of Dutch progressive rock group Focus released the second partition of the "Introspection" series in 1975. This beautiful second collaboration with Dutch arranger/producer/composer Rogier Van Otterloo elaborates even further the concept of classical masterpieces mixed together with elements of pop music, including some originals by Van Leer himself, resulting in a beatifully crafted production. This production is available on CD paired with "Introspection 1". There is a remastered version on CD with a different cover, which is currently out of print.
Track Listing:
1. Goyescas No IV (Quejas - La Maja y el Ruiseñor) (sampled above)
2. Rondo II
3. Introduction
4. Siciliano
5. Focus III
6. Larghetto & Allegro
7. Introspection II
8. Sheep May Safely Graze
9. Mild Wild Rose
10. Bist Du Bei Mir
11. Carmen Elysium

Buy it at Amazon or at BGO Records

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Thijs Van Leer - Introspection 1

During his years of playing with Dutch progressive rock super group Focus, founding member, flutist Thijs Van Leer ventured into the realm on semi-classical music by joining Dutch producer arranger Rogier Van Otterloo. This LP was the first of a stream of productions they did together before van Otterloo's passing in 1988. The result was magical. The covers of classical musical pieces were done to perfection blending elements of pop music with the integrity of the masterpieces and viceversa, the original compositions sound as part of the same repertoire. Although corny at times and bordering on muzak (sometimes called "Elevator Music"), these beautiful and superb orchestral arrangements by Van Otterloo create a concept, which is attractive to any music lover, even the hard core fans of the group Focus. This production is available on CD coupled with their second rendition. The remastered version is no longer available on CD.
Track Listing:
1. Pavanne (Fauré Op. 50) (sampled above)
2. Rondo
3. Agnus Dei (from Mass in B minor JS Bach)
4. Focus I
5. Erbarme Dich (from St. Matthew Passion JS Bach)
6. Focus II
7. Introspection

Available at Amazon or at CD Universe

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Thijs Van Leer/Rogier Van Otterloo/Louis Van Dijk-Musica Per La Notte Di Natale

Since the raise to popularity of Dutch progressive rock super group Focus, it's founding member Thijs Van Leer has been balancing his musical career between his classical roots and his jazz-rock influences. On this release he teams up with pianist Louis Van Dijk and arranger/producer Rogier Van Otterloo to create this beautiful Christmas album, which according to the liner notes it is a compilation, but the whereabouts of the original releases is unknown.  The beauty of this album touches your spirit during the Christmas season and beyond. This CD is out of print. Note: Blogger filed a complaint regarding the posting of the shared audio files, thus the link has been removed.
Track Listing: 
1. O Jesulein Suss
2. Coventry Carol
3. Hark, The Herald Angels Sing
4. Es Ist Ein Ros' Entsprungen
5. Maria Die Zoude Naar Bethlehem Gaan (sampled above)
6. Von Himmel Hoch, Da Komm' Ich Her
7. Er Is Een Kindeke Geboren Op Aard'
8. Away In A Manger/Ich Steh' An Deiner Krippen Heir
9. Hoe Leit Dit Kindeke/God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
10. Concerto Per La Notte Di Natale
11. Urgen, Dagen, Maanden, Jaren
12. De Winter Is Verganghez

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tys Van Leer - Nice To Have Met You

One of the weirdest songs ever to sneak into the American pop charts was “Hocus Pocus” by Dutch progressive rock super group Focus, led by Thijs van Leer. The song peaked at number nine in the spring of 1973. From then until 1977 Focus had gained worldwide popularity so van Leer ventured into the solo jazzy field by going to New York and recording this album for Columbia Records. This was sort of his American debut. He even changed his first name from Thijs to Tys. The album was produced by percussionist Ralph McDonald and sax player Tom Scott and it mixed all of van Leer’s classical roots as a composer and flutist with his accomplished piano and organ playing. Personnel included a line-up of New York finest studio musicians: Ralph MacDonald on congas & percussion, Richard Tee on keyboards, Eric Gale, Eef Albers and Steve Khan on guitar, Anthony Jackson on bass, Harvey Mason on drums, Tom Scott, Michael Brecker, Alex Foster, Lou Marini and Ronnie Cuber on saxes, Randy Brecker and Jon Faddis on trumpets, Barry Rodgers on trombone, plus a string section & some background vocals. This rip from vinyl is generously provided by Smooth of the former blog My Jazz World. Unfortunately this album has never been released on CD.
Track Listing:
1. My Sweetheart
2. Nice To Have Met You
3. Pastorale
4. Bahama Mama
5. Hocus Pocus
6. Tonight Beneath The Sky
7. Rosebud (sampled above)
8. Super Ffishell

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Focus - Focus 9 New Skin

After some 35 years after Dutch progressive rock super group Focus was formed, its founding member keyboardist/flutist/vocalist Thijs van Leer reunites with former member of the 70’s line-up, drummer Pierre Van der Linden to produce “Focus 9” in 2006. This time they enlist two younger players, Bobby Jacobs on bass and guitarist Niels Van Der Steenhoven. Together they manage to recapture the original sound of the band as if this production was a follow-up to any of their 70’s albums. The classic van Leer Hammond organ leads the baroque jazz-rock mixture typical of Focus although his distinctive flute is not a present as before and his yodeling and vocal effects have turned from the humoresque/burlesque to the grotesque. Van Der Steenhoven guitar playing, although not as raw as Jan Akkerman’s, (former Focus guitar player), brings a new dynamic rock edge to the band and Jacobs bass playing blends perfectly with the old school sound of Van der Linden drums. The songs are reminiscence of the main beautiful compositions of the old Focus repertoire and even incorporating various titles of Focus songs and albums and even from Van Leer’s solo work. This is a great effort to recapture the fan base and attract new listeners by going back to basics. Unfortunately, this CD is being sold at Amazon at ridiculous prices but you can find it at Red Bullet Records for 10 Euros.

Track Listing:
1. Black Beauty
2. Focus, Pt. 7
3. Hurkey Turkey, Pt. 2
4. Sylvia's Stepson – Ubatuba (sampled above)
5. Neils' Skin
6. Just Like Eddy
7. Aya-Yuppie-Hippie-Yee
8. Focus, Pt. 9
9. Curtain Call
10. Ode to Venus
11. European Rap(sody)
12. Pim
13. It Takes 2 2 Tango
Buy it at Red Bullet Records or  
Buy Focus 9/New Skin at Amazon

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Jacques Loussier - Pulsion

Jacques Loussier (born 26 October 1934) is a very famous French pianist and composer best known for his jazz interpretations of many of Johann Sebastian Bach's and other classical composer's works. In 1959 Loussier formed the Play Bach Trio along with Pierre Michelot on bass and Christian Garros. In 1978, the trio broke up, and Loussier set up his own recording studio “Miraval” in Provence, known as a gateway for the likes Pink Floyd, Elton John, Sting, and Yes. In 1985 Loussier re-formed the Play Bach Trio for the 300th anniversary of Bach's birth. Loussier released “Pulsion” in 1979. This is a piano and drums (Luc Heller) album that blends classical, jazz and fusion elements in a very simplistic almost sketchy way. Nevertheless, the result is interesting and consistent with Loussier’s classical background although it would have benefited from adding bass and more accompaniments. Perhaps this will inspire other musicians or Loussier himself to re-record some of these great compositions. This album has never been released on CD but as an interesting note, in 2002, Loussier filed a lawsuit against rap superstar Eminem and executive producer Dr. Dre, claiming that the beat for the song "Kill You", which appears on the CD The Marshall Mathers, was stolen from his composition "Pulsion”. This Rip from Vinyl was generously provided by Smooth of the former blog My Jazz World.
Track Listing:
1. Pulsion
2. Soupir
3. Distraction
4. Cafeine
5. Mozart (sampled above)
6. Ludwig
7. Murmure
8. Secousse


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Zbigniew Seifert - Zbigniew Seifert

Polish violinist Zbigniew Seifert (1946 - 1979) released this self-titled album in 1977. It was sort of his American debut. Produced by flutist Chris Hinze and bassist John Lee (of the amazing rhythm section of John Lee & Gerry Brown), this album resembles more Hinze’s and Lee’s albums of the time than Seifert’s predecessor production, but the result is a well put together productions with a huge cast of musicians. Personnel are James Batton, Dwight Brewster, Hubert Eaves III, Rob Franken and Mike Mandel on Keyboards, Gerry Brown on drums, John Lee on bass, Joe Caro, Stefan Diez, Reggie Lucas and Philip Catherine on Guitars, Chris Hinze on flutes, Mtume on Percussion & Vocals, Jon Faddis, Randy Brecker and Michael Lawrence on trumpets, Michael Brecker on sax, Dave Taylor on trombone and Chris Hinze on flute, plus vocals by Tawatha Agee and Cheryl Alexander. Rip from vinyl was generously provided by Smooth of the former blog My Jazz World. Also check out more information about Zbigniew Seifert and a documentary done on his work at
Track Listing:
1. On The Farm
2. Quasimodo
3. Way To Oasis
4. For The Love Of You
5. Chinatown (sampled above)
6. Nasty Gal
7. Would You Ever...
8. Song For Christopher