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Crimson Jazz Trio - King Crimson Songbook, Volume 2 CD (album) cover


Crimson Jazz Trio

Jazz Rock/Fusion

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Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Second album by mostly acoustic trio, founded by ex-King Crimson drummer Ian Wallace. As it is stated in their name - they are jazz trio, and it's absolutely true. This time another KC-related musician - Mel Collins is collaborated as guest on sax.

Musical material is all well known - great King Crimson compositions, just seriously reworked to become contemporary jazz pieces ( some vocals are presented as well). All music is more jazz, than fusion, but excellent compositions make it very interesting, pleasant and accessible listening even for those without big love to jazz.

Main accents there are atmosphere, acoustic warm sound, melancholic tunes, and great material just found its new life. Musicians are competent, and happily not demonstrate their technical abilities, but tried to save originals spirit.

So -great ,really great result. It's difficult for me to speak about such kind of cover-work as about masterpiece, but I can just tell that it is possibly greatest of possible re-birth of progressive classics.

Very recommended - and not only for jazz fans. Without doubt - 4,5!

Report this review (#278794)
Posted Wednesday, April 21, 2010 | Review Permalink
4 stars In a market congested with tribute albums and cover bands, the Crimson Jazz Trio offered something totally refreshing: new translations of classic KING CRIMSON music, in an entirely different idiom.

The second and (tragically) last chapter of their re-imagined KC catalogue stretched out even more than Volume One: interpolating original material, adding vocals, and reuniting drummer Ian Wallace with his erstwhile Crimson bandmate Mel Collins. Both had appeared in the 21st Century Schizoid Band, but that was strictly a nostalgia act. Inviting the sax player as a guest to these sessions not only gave the project more legitimacy, but added instrumental color to the piano-led trio, and a certain poignancy as well.

Both CJ3 albums, but this one in particular, offered a glimpse of what Wallace might have contributed to the court of the Crimson King back in 1971, given half a chance. Older fans could argue that the band lost something of its original warmth in the harsher climate of the Wetton-Buford improvisations, and beyond. But the Jazz Trio succeeded in resuscitating the human pulse hidden deep inside the avant-metal heart of later Crimson line-ups.

It might sound like straightforward jazz, but because the source material is so eclectic (ranging from the 1969 debut album to the double-trio Thrakking of the mid-1990s) the new music becomes likewise harder to pigeonhole. Even if the titles are familiar (and they should be, to any self-respecting Crimhead), the experience is like hearing the songs for the first time.

"Lament", for example, is more or less faithful to the original melody, with Jody Nardone's piano substituting for John Wetton's vocals. But the updated "Heartbeat" is a significant departure from its "Beat" album forefather, and truer to the spirit of Kerouac and Ginsberg, enough to make me want to trim my goatee and pull on a black turtleneck sweater.

The richer arrangement of "Hidden Garden" transforms it into a genuine song, instead of the incidental filler on the 1995 "THRAK" album (Nardone does the singing, and with the same sensitivity as his ivory tickling). And the ambitious 18-minute "Islands Suite" presents a mostly (I'm guessing) improvised, often free-form interpretation of the opening cuts off that 1971 LP, almost unrecognizable in this context.

The pleasant surprise of the earlier Songbook is missing, of course: this one is merely (and undeniably) pleasant. But it's hard to hear it without a lump in the throat. The album represents the final studio recording of the late Ian Wallace, who succumbed to esophageal cancer shortly after laying down these tracks. The instrumental version of "Lament", deliberately placed at the end of the album, makes a fitting valedictory. And the closing fade-out was a nice gesture too, suggesting that the one-time Crimson percussionist never stopped swinging his drumsticks.

Report this review (#912662)
Posted Monday, February 11, 2013 | Review Permalink
3 stars And the point was?

Some years ago I was "conned" into getting this album, believing that it featured Mel Collins, who is one of my fave sax players. I didn't listen to it then, but just recently dusting my collection it was time to hear some KC tunes in a Jazz interpretation with Collins guesting. Wow! Must be a nice combination, or so I thought.

Well, this recording comes across as if it was Jazz standards performed in an intimate, little club. The atmosphere is pleasant and the music is well, Jazz. The KC tunes form only a loose framework before completely unrelated piano runs fill the body of the songs. Nice if you like Jazz, but with the same token, they could have done the same on say, Fleetwood Mac, Dire Straits, or practically any other work that has a recognizable melody to it.

The connection with KC is former drummer Ian Wallace (RIP) - of course - who according to Fripp liked to tear the wings off butterflies. Hmmm, not very endearing....

Anyway, the music is quite OK and Tim Landers on bass stands out for me more than any of the others. Landers plays in a way that's both elegant and tasteful. Funny thing that by doing an excellent and unassuming support role, he steals my attention! Talk about true craftsmanship!

And Mel Collins, you may ask? Well, he must have been making the sandwiches and coffee for the band in the kitchen, but didn't get a chance to wet his reeds here. I feel ripped off!

Anyway, the music is fine, but not really something that I would miss. Good playing, questionable concept and I'd much rather "21st Century Schizoid Band" in it's place. It deserves almost a 4, but I wouldn't recommend it as "excellent addition", so we'll have to settle for "good, but non-essential"..

Report this review (#974753)
Posted Monday, June 10, 2013 | Review Permalink
5 stars This is just a fantastic album. It is of course a jazz album. They jazz several King Crimson songs. the result is outstanding. It is impressive the way the contruct the melodies, at times, being difficult to identify what is the King Crimson song they are doing the tribute. You have to listen many times to discover the details behind the music. It is also interesting that they are three and only one of them was a King Crimson member in the ealy seventies. I cannot rate this album no less than five stars, of course, what else if not.
Report this review (#1081615)
Posted Monday, November 25, 2013 | Review Permalink

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