Sunday, January 31, 2010

Michal Urbaniak - Body English

Michal Urbaniak - Body English

Released in 1976 on Arista Records, “Body English” followed the steps of the preceding amazing Fusion trilogy (“Fusion”, “Atma” and “Fusion III”) but at the same time it strayed away from it due to a softer tone in the compositions and the performances. Urbaniak’s sound is still present combining his electrified violin, Urszula Dudziak’s wide-range vocals effects and some elements of Eastern European music patterns and melodies. This is noticeable on tracks like “New York Polka” and “Sevenish”. Urbaniak complements this sound by using the lyricon (wind synthesizer) as the main performer instead of the violin on a few tracks (there’s even a track entitled “Lyricon”) and synthesizers and synthesizer solos are featured throughout. The funk factor provided by a great cast of New York musicians has softened up slightly. Personnel are: Michal Urbaniak on violin, violin synthetizers, lyricon, farfisa organ and polymoog, Urszula Dudziak on vocal, percussion and synthesizer, Harold Ivory Williams on keyboards, Basil Farrington on bass, Joe Caro on guitar, Steve Jordan on drums, Bernard Kafka on voice and Earl Crusher Bennet on percussion.

Buy it at

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Michal Urbaniak - Urbaniak (feat. Zbigniew Namyslowski)

Michal Urbaniak - Urbaniak
Michal Urbaniak states “This is a very special album recorded spontaneously on a surprised reunion with my dearest friend, my first big influence, fantastic musician, leader, composer and arranger Zbigniew Namyslowski.” That explains a lot about this release from 1977 on Inner City Records. Urbaniak’s fusion sound had turned funkier after his “Funk Factory” release in 1976 but somehow this album explores further into a type of jazz that seems truly influenced by Namyslowski’s playing and writing style. Namyslowski’s and Urbaniak’s compositions were probably written for this release and they display a sort of harmonic melody formed by Urbaniak’s violin and/or lyricon, Dudziak’s wordless vocals and Namyslowski’s alto sax. The funk factor is still present but there is an implied simplicity perhaps achieved by the spontaneity of the surprise reunion recording. Personnel are: Michal Urbaniak on violin and lyricon, Zbigniew Namyslowski on sax and flute, Urszula Dudziak on voice and percussion, the late Kenny Kirkland, whose contribution to this album is amazing, Tony Brown on bass and Lurenda Featherstone on drums. This album was a great recording to begin with and the re-issued CD by Inner City Records makes the quality of the music even better and more enjoyable. We hope they also re-release Zbigniew Namyslowski from around the same time. They already released Urszula Dudziak's album "Future Talk" from the same era.

Track Listing:
1. The Breaker
2. Strife
3. Mountaineers
4. Weird Creatures (sampled above)
5. Jasmine Lady
6. Always Ready
7. Stray Sheep
Buy it at CD Baby, Amazon or

Monday, January 25, 2010

Funk Factory (feat. Michal Urbaniak & Urszula Dudziak

Funk Factory
Funk Factory was released in 1976 on Elektra Records is the creation of famous Polish violinist Michal Urbaniak and his wife Urszula Dudziak in collaboration with the main cast of musicians who collaborated on Urbaniak’s “Fusion III”. This production seems to be a preview of what Urbaniak had in mind for his musical concept and career for the remaining of the 70’s and part of the 80’s. The vocal tracks (with lyrics) mark a drastic departure not only from the Columbia label but from his musical concept of the Fusion trilogy and pave the way for later funky-vocal oriented albums such as “Body English” also from 1976 and “Ecstasy” from 1978. Urbaniak’s high-flying electrified and modified violin sound is still as present as before but Urszula Dudziak’s wide-range vocals and sound effects are less of a driving force as they have given way to the somehow uneventful singing with dull lyrics. There are even a couple of tracks where Urbaniak doesn’t even seem to play. Nonetheless, the rest of the album, which is mainly instrumental, maintains the concept of the Fusion trilogy since at times these instrumental compositions sound like outtakes from those sessions and could easily be paired against some of Urbaniak’s best fusion, thus proving the point that most of any production by any artist contains material, such as the song “Funk It” (sampled below), which is worth considering if taken out of context from their original releases. The cast of musicians continue to stretch and provide further boundaries into improvisation and rhythmic accompaniment in a funkified manner. Personnel are: Michal Urbaniak on violin, Vi-tar and saxes, Urszula Dudziak on vocals and percussion, Wlodek Gulgowski on keyboards, Anthony Jackson and Tony Levin on bass, Steve Gadd and Gerry Brown on drums, Bernard Kafka on vocals, and John Abercrombie and Barry Finnerty on guitars. This album has been reissued thanks to the re-issuing label Wounded Bird Records.

Track Listing:
1. Watusi Dance (Instrumental)
2. Horsing Around
3. Rien Ne Va Plus
4. After All the World Goes Home
5. Next Please (Instrumental)
6. The Music in Me
7. Funk It (Instrumental) (Sampled Above)
8. Lilliput (Instrumental)
9. Sinkin' Low (Instrumental)
Buy Funk Factory at Amazon or Wounded Bird Records, or

Friday, January 22, 2010

Michal Urbaniak-Fusion III

Michal Urbaniak's famous Fusion trilogy came to an end with his third recording for Columbia Records, “Fusion III” released in 1975. In a way it solidified Urbaniak’s sound combining his high-flying electrified and modified violin, his wife, Urszula Dudziak’s wide-range vocals and sound effects with compositions influenced by Eastern European ethnic music patterns and melodies. This time all these elements receive an amazing funkified dose of musicianship from Urbaniak’s American counterparts as the original Polish line-up has been replaced by an amazing cast of New York musicians who stretch even further Urbaniak’s boundaries into improvisation and rhythmic accompaniment. Personnel are Urbaniak on violin and violin synthesizer, Urszula Dudziak on vocals, percussion and synthesizer, Wlodek Gulgowski on piano, organ and moog, the funkified rhythm section of Anthony Jackson on bass and Steve Gadd on drums replaced by Gerry Brown on “Bloody Kishka” and “Roksana”, Bernard Kafka on voice on “Stretch” and the amazing guitars and solos of John Abercrombie, Larry Coryell and Joe Caro who add a twist to Urbaniak’s Fusion sound, which never incorporated guitars before. Probably frustrated awaiting for Sony/Columbia to reissue it, this fusion gem has been reissued by the artist himself on his label UBX by re-mastering it from vinyl. The album as sold on iTunes is also by UBX but I have no way of knowing if it is taken vrom vinyl. Wounded Bird Records did issue it on CD and it is from the original tape (see it on Amazon). Regardless of which one you choose, it's worth it!!

Track Listing:
1. Chinatown, Pt. 1
2. Kuyaviak Goes Funky
3. Roksana
4. Crazy Kid
5. Prehistoric Bird (sampled above)
6. Bloody Kishka
7. Cameo
8. Stretch
9. Metroliner
10. Chinatown, Pt. 2
Buy it at CD Baby or Amazon or

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Michal Urbaniak's Fusion - Atma

Michal Urbaniak’s Fusion second release came about also in 1974 as this was a very prolific time for the Polish violin virtuoso. This classic of the fusion genre was also very much conceived around the elements that established Urbaniak’s group as pioneers. But this time the Eastern European folk music patterns and Urbaniak’s ethnic background have become embedded in the compositions themselves, which are centered more on concrete themes. The group continues to explore new boundaries into contemporary improvisational music by consolidation the creative mixture of Urbaniak’s high-flying electric violin and Urszula Dudziak’s wide-range voice as a non-verbal instrument. Her vocal sounds and effects are now featured as musical interludes. The interplay among the performers is enhanced by the use of synthesizers as solo instruments. In spite of the aggressiveness of the soloists, this album somehow has a smooth tone present throughout. Personnel are Michal Urbaniak on electric violin, vi-tar violin and soprano saxophone, Urszula Dudziak on voice and percussion, Wojciech Karolak on keyboards, Pavel Jarzevski on bass, Czeslav Bartkowski on drums and Ray Mantilla on Congas, Drums and percussion. Unfortunately this album has never been released on CD. Note: Blogger filed a complaint regarding the posting of the shared audio files thus the link has been removed.

Track Listing:
1. Mazurka
2. Butterfly
3. Largo
4. Ilex
5. New York Satsa (sampled above)
6. Kama, Pt. 1
7. Kama, Pt. 2
8. Atma-Yesterday
9. Atma-Today
10. Atma-Tomorrow

Monday, January 18, 2010

Michal Urbaniak Fusion

Michal Urbaniak - Fusion
Polish violinist Michal Urbaniak is one of the most prominent jazz-rock musicians coming out of Poland. He moved permanently to the U.S. in 1973 where formed his group “Fusion” joined by his wife Urszula Dudziak as they recorded a series of somehow commercial releases for Columbia and Arista Records. This first U.S. release from 1974 was very much conceived in the mainstream fusion genre of the period but the playing explores new territories into contemporary improvisational music. Eastern European folk music patterns and Urbaniak’s ethnic background compose part of the sound which characterized Urbaniak’s music, but the creative mixture of his high-flying electric violin and the use of Dudziak’s wide-range voice as a non-verbal instrument (sometimes electronically treated) with a startling array of sounds and effects are the true innovative unique combination, which provided a canvas for an abundance of interplay among the performers. Personnel are Michal Urbaniak on violin and soprano saxophone, Urszula Dudziak on voice and effects, Adam Makowicz and Wojciech Karolak on keyboards and Czeslav Bartkowski on drums. Unfortunately the Remastered CD, which was a low budget item when it was released, is available quite expensive from 2nd hand users, but you can find it on iTunes or Amazon Download.

Track Listing:
1. Good Times Bad Times (sampled above)
2. Bahamian Harvest
3. Impromptu
4. Seresta
5. Fusion
6. Deep Mountain
7. Bengal
Buy Fusion at Amazon or

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Colosseum II - War Dance

Colosseum II War dance
Colosseum II third and last album, “War Dance”, released in 1977, finally conceives a concrete band sound and identity to such extent that the only vocal track, “Castles” sounds out-of-context with the rest of the album. The cohesiveness of the band is at its peak by blending the same jazz-rock fusion and progressive elements augmented by the players’ virtuosity and animosity for stretching the boundaries of their individual musical styles. Personnel are Don Airey on organ, synthesizer, piano, keyboards, Clavinet, Tubular Bells, Jon Hiseman on drums and percussion, John Mole on bass and Gary Moore on guitars and vocals. This production sealed the legacy and testament left by this supergroup. After this album, Colosseum II called it a day. The One Way Records CD release from 1993 is also out-of-print. But now "War Dance" is available on iTunes.

Track Listing:
1. War Dance
2. Major Keys
3. Put It That Way
4. Castles
5. Fighting Talk
6. The Inquisition (sampled here)
7. Star Maiden/Mysterioso/Quasar
8. Last Exit

Saturday, January 9, 2010

Colosseum II - Electric Savage

Colesseum II Electric Savage
This second release by supergroup Colosseum II digs deeper into a journey of psychodelic jazz fusion mixed with progressive rock. The band proceeded to play with relentless passion blending their emerging distinctive individual styles with improved compositions always build-up around Moore’s guitar playing. Synthesizer solos are expanded as part of the band’s sound and Hiseman’s amazing drumming is superbly complemented by new bassist John Mole. This sophomore effort incorporates more instrumental passages and very few vocals. Moore’s singing on “Rivers” paths the way for what would be an illustrious solo career. Tracks like “Put It This Way”, “All Skin & Bone”, “The Scorch”, “Desperado” (heavily influenced by Return to Forever) and “Intergalactic Strut” lean towards the jazz rock fusion genre while “Rivers” and “Lament” reflect a hint of what the future held for Gary Moore’s solo career. The One Way Records CD release from 1993 is out-of-print. Now "Electric Savage" is available on iTunes.

Track Listing:
1. Put It This Way
2. All Skin & Bone
3. Rivers
4. The Scorch
5. Lament
6. Desperado (sampled above)
7. Am I
8. Intergalactic Strut

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Colosseum ΙΙ - Strange New Flesh

Colesseum II Strange New Flesh
After the dissolution of the rock supergroup Colosseum, founding member drummer Jon Hiseman decided to reform the group and call it Colosseum II, this time with the help of guitarist Gary Moore (coming out of Thin Lizzy), Don Airey on synthesizers and keyboards, Neil Murray on bass and Mike Starrs on vocals. In this eclectic debut “Strange New Flesh” the rock influenced by jazz and blues, which had characterized the original line-up, was replaced with a hard-hitting jazz fusion outing, which shows impressive musical abilities. The compositions "Dark Side of the Moog", the second half of Joni Mitchell's "Down to You” and “Winds” are very much inflected by the major fusion bands of the time, Chick Corea’s Return To Forever, Mahavishnu Orchestra, Brand X and Weather Report with an emphasis on Moore's soulful guitar leads, while the funky "Gemini and Leo" and “Secret Places” retain the original flavor of the first Colosseum. This combination of both genres is a bit awkward as far as a concept album is concerned. Nonetheless, the result confronted the players with a challenge that has endured the test of time as it has left testament of the legacy of this super group. Castle Music Ltd. released an expanded version of this debut album in October of 2005, now available at iTunes and Amazon downloads, and there was a One Way Records release from 1994, which is currently out-of-print.

Track Listing:
1. Dark Side of the Moog (sampled above)
2. Down to You
3. Gemini and Leo
4. Secret Places
5. On Second Thoughts
6. Winds
Buy Strange New Flesh: Upgraded at Amazon or

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Thijs Van Leer - Introspection 4

The last collaboration between flutist and member of Dutch progressive rock group Focus, Thijs Van Leer and arranger/producer/composer Rogier Van Otterloo was released in 1980. Just like the first three installments of this series, it features Thijs Van Leer on Flute, the beautiful voice of Letty de Jong and the orchestra was arranged and conducted by Rogier Van Otterloo. Once again the result is astounishing as the arrangements and the performances make these classical pieces become standard versions and the original compositions make a superb match for the classical tone. This album has been remastered and it is now available as sold by the great re-issue company BGO Records.
Track Listing:
1. Arcangelo (gigue from sonata op.5 n.9 - Corelli)
2, Introspection 4 (Rogier Van Otterloo)
3. Rondeau Des Enfants (Thijs Van Leer)
4. Grave, Allegro, Adagio, Allegro (sonata en E minor - Handel)
5. Le Tango (Thijs Van Leer - Roselie Van Leer)
6. Air (Telemann)
7. Pastorale (Scarlatti)
8. Largo E Dolce (J.S.Bach)
9. Siciliano,Allegro (Handel)
10. Song For Eva (Theme from Exit 7) (Van Leer - Ruiter)