Alain Markusfeld — Roll over the Eiger Trail
(Aloha Music no #, 2012, CD / DL)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2015-01-12This is kind of a confusing release, not only because Markusfeld hasn’t released any new full length recordings since his double Live album in 1981, but also because the track list showed several cuts that were on his late 70s albums Le Desert Noir and Platock. Those in the know have heard his releases on the now defunct Egg label, and as none of those have been reissued in digital format yet, so I sprung for it, figuring I had nothing to lose. So this CD turns out to be an archive, about half of the playing time (the first six cuts) comprise works heretofore unreleased from 1989 onwards, and the last seven are culled from the two aforementioned Egg label albums, just newly mastered versions of the same studio recordings. Since probably most are familiar with those older cuts, I won’t go into great length on them here, other than to say from Le Desert Noir we get the title track, “Bulgaro-Feld,” “Hot Love,” and “Atlantis Rock”; and from Platock we get “Fayava” and parts two and three of “Platock.” Full digital reissues of those albums (as well as the two later Egg albums) are still badly needed, but this best-of selection will certainly do for now. Launching the disc is “De Retour au Guerzido <<Tempete>>,” a piano based jazz piece from 2010 featuring plenty of hand percussion, string bass and some sax soloing, it’s a little reminiscent of the late Vince Guaraldi during his Peanuts period. We then move backward a couple years to 2008, for the the three minute introspective orchestrated piano lament “Automne à Bachalapsee,” the orchestrations provided by judicious applications of synthesizer. “Roll over the Eiger Trail” is the third cut, the longest (at 10+ minutes), and the newest, recorded in 2011. It’s a strong organ based jazz piece, in some ways similar to the opener, though one might rightfully suspect we have drum programs at work, and a mix of synthesized saxes along with the real deal, and synthesized orchestrations. Still, this is probably the strongest cut among the newer, previously unreleased material. 1989 is represented with parts 7, 8, and 9 of “Le Fleuve,” obviously a longer suite much of which remains unrecorded or unreleased. Here, Markusfeld is using a lot of synths in his jazz based compositions and some of that – especially on part 7 sounds fairly experimental for the time, possibly inspired somewhat by Zappa’s Jazz from Hell, though not as aggressive, and far more emotional and melodic. The latter two parts are also interesting, but the use of very obvious drum programs clouds the air; the music would have been served far better by the real thing rather than this electronic chatter. Still, this is all really good stuff, but any listener familiar with his pre-1981 material might be wondering why he no longer plays guitar. I am wondering the same thing too.
Related artist(s): Alain Markusfeld
Jazz Composer Mark Lomax, II Releases Epic 12CD Set – In addition to being a fine jazz drummer, Dr. Mark Lomax, II is a composer in residence at Ohio State University, where he has been very busy on the compositional front. The year 2019 is the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first ship bringing African slaves to North America, and in commemoration of this, Lomax has produced 400: An Afrikan Epic, a 12 volume set of CDs featuring a variety of different musical ensembles. » Read more
Chicago-Based Surabhi Ensemble Tours the World in January – Surabhi Ensemble was formed more than a decade ago in Chicago with the aim of bringing together musicians from varying traditions to make music. Saraswathi Ranganathan, who plays veena, assembled a cast that includes Arabic oud, Spanish guitar, and percussion from Africa and India. This month, the group will be sharing their sounds with concert-goers in Southeast Asia, Europe, and Africa. » Read more
Seaprog Festival Seeks Donations – Seaprog is a small festival in Seattle that highlights creative music from many genres with artists from around the world. It's also a US non-profit organization. They're seeking donations to help keep the ball rolling. Starting in 2013, the organization has been growing, and has featured such artists as Free Salamander Exhibit, Jack o' the Clock, Nik Turner, Cabezas de Cera, Miriodor, Thinking Plague, and many more. » Read more
The Seventeenth Dream of Dr Sardonicus Festival Tickets Now Available – Fruits de Mer Records and their merry crew of psychedelic explorers are getting set to present the next The Seventeenth Dream of Dr. Sardonicus Festival. The dates are set for August 2-4, 2019 at The Cellar Bar in Cardigan, Wales. They've also announced that the legendary Groundhogs will top the bill. » Read more