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CONTINUUM

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Multi-National


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Continuum biography
Continuum was conceived in Holland by Hungarian multi-instrumentalist Yoel Schwarcz in 1967. The name "Continuum" was taken from the title of exhibitions of Schwarcz's paintings in a London gallery for whom he painted professionally.

He developed his musical ideas with a Czech guitarist called "Jan" and they performed as a duo in a club in Amsterdam the following summer. Schwarcz returned to London while Jan decided to remain in Amsterdam, and shortly afterwards Schwarcz joined forces with classical guitarist John Warren. They decided to form a group to develop their common ideas, the line up being completed with the arrival of Mike Hart on double bass and Dick Wildman on drums. Although the project was formalised in the framework of a band, Schwarcz was the de-facto leader, and it was very much his baby.

RCA entered into a contract with Yoel Schwarcz (not with Continuum) and Continuum released their self-titled first album in 1970. Side one of the album consisted of four improvisations on music by Bach and Handel. Side two was a side long suite in four parts composed by non-band member Richard Hartley and based on the poetical work of Lord Byron.

By 1971, only Schwarcz remained of the line up which recorded the first album. The musicians on that album were uncomfortable with improvisation, which Schwarcz wanted to explore further. He also sought to replace some of the acoustic sounds of the band with electric ones. Although Warren had decided to leave the band, he and Schwarcz remained good friends.

In came Peter Billam and Harvey Troupe to form the rhythm section, Billam also providing lead guitar. The new line up was completed by the arrival of respected keyboard player Tim Rice (no relation to the stage show writer of that name). This line up recorded the first side of the "Autumn Grass" album, released in 1971. Once again, the album consisted of one side of classical variations, plus a Rice composition, and one side long suite. The track "Autumn grass" was written by modern composer Patrie Standford specifically for the group. Interestingly, it was actually recorded by the first line up of the group before they split up, the album sleeve listing the former band members as "guest musicians". Apart from the wonderful improvisations by Schwarcz, the piece is particularly notable for its length. At over 26 minutes, it is one of the longest (but by no means THE longest) tracks to appear on one side of an LP. This resulted in so...
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Turner: Chamber Music of Roberto SierraTurner: Chamber Music of Roberto Sierra
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CONTINUUM discography


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CONTINUUM top albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

3.03 | 10 ratings
Continuum
1970
3.61 | 8 ratings
Autumn Grass
1971

CONTINUUM Live Albums (CD, LP, MC, SACD, DVD-A, Digital Media Download)

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CONTINUUM Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Autumn Grass by CONTINUUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.61 | 8 ratings

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Autumn Grass
Continuum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Cheesehoven

3 stars This wholly instrumental album is very much a game of two halves. Side one contains some rather ambling and unfocussed jazz-rock improvisations mainly based on classical pieces. Track one is Byrd's Pavan which begins with a beautiful performance of Byrd's familiar pavan before launching into a jazzy jam session. Although it does contain some lovely moments. mostly it smacks too much of self indulgent noodling, something which can be said of the whole side, with the exception of track two a very straight forward rendition of a Vivaldi slow moment. The third and final track on this side, "Overdraft" is even more noodly. So far there is nothing that would interest the average Prog fan, being as this is pretty standard jazz rock fare. Side two is rather different. Here we have the title track, a 26 minute piece. If side one led you to believe this would be more long winded noodling, you'd be wrong. Despite its length this is a tightly argued piece with elements of avant garde classical writing (melancholy strings are featured memorably through out), jazz, medievalism, an unusually interesting drum solo, in fact almost everything that early 70s progressivism was about, apart from bluesy rock that is. Prog fans should try to hear this track, even if the album as a whole remains somewhat dated.

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 Continuum by CONTINUUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.03 | 10 ratings

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Continuum
Continuum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by apps79
Special Collaborator Neo Prog Team

2 stars A different band formed in London in late-60's,CONTINUUM was an idea of guitarist/flutist Yoel Schwarz,a musician from Hungary,who performed around the same time at clubs in Amsterdam.His meeting with classical guitarist John Warren was the turning point for Yoel to form this experimental group.The first album is said to be recorded at Morgan Studios in London,featuring also Mike Hart on bass and Dick Wildman on drums.

Released finally in 1970 on RCA Label,''Continuum'' blends classical guitars with a baroque feeling and an improvisational jazzy mood.Side A consists of four tracks,all written by Schwarz,which are actually interpretations of works by Bach and Handel.While the tracks are structurally ok,the middle-parts of them contain improvisational flutes,harmonica soloing and some bluesy guitars also to support the delicate classical guitars and the deep double bass.The result is definitely way too experimental and different from anything I've heard by bands of the same period.Stepping to side B we find a 20 min. written by Richard Hartley,who appears as a pianist on the second album of the band (1971,''Autumn grass'',also on RCA).Entitled ''Legend of Childe Harold'',this suite is split in five parts and it is mainly based on classical strings,guitars and wind instruments.However, some good improvisational passages headed by flutes and bass are also present,while the overall atmosphere is closer to avant/prog and chamber music.For fans of dark instrumental music,this will be a very good listening.''Continuum'' won't be ever everybody's taste and ceretainly not mine.The album is highly experimental (especially its suite) and totally unique in its sound and atmosphere and I would recommend it mostly to fans of classical music and avant/prog.For the mass of progressive rock fans,this won't add anything charming in your collection.

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 Continuum by CONTINUUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.03 | 10 ratings

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Continuum
Continuum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars This band is an Unidentified Flying Group, that is all too forgotten. This extremely eclectic debut is only partly in the rock realm, but its folk, classical, pre-classical, blues, jazz and avant-garde influences is making it one of the hardest album to classify. This international quartet founded by Hungarian wind and acoustic guitar player Yoel Schwarcz, but based in Netherlands and England, certainly took a rather bold turn in reworking the classics, like Ekseption and Trace and much later Sky would, but here the interpretation are bold, daring, dazzling and inventive, mostly because the group built on the piece (Bach and Handel mostly) instead of adapting and electrifying them. Continuum even takes the risk of re-working Bourée and as you would've guessed, it does not match Tull's, but does stand on its own.

If the first side is somewhat conventional and presents jazz, blues and folk workouts from Bach pieces and as said above is rather excellent, but stays partly conventional, the second side is much more adventurous and the group enters the atonal and dissonant realms, using scales and an advanced use string quintet that are rather unfamiliar to the mainstream crowds.

The side-long suite Legend Of Childe Harold (written by Richard Hartley) where the voyage of Childe Harold and its tribulations and misadventures are described musically. Ranging from a pedestrian blues with jazzy solos ala early-Tull (Release) to the almost medieval and dissonant intro (Revelate) to the almost-dronal semi-medieval and semi- contemporary Judgment Approach, with the finale's frankly dissonant intro, this suite was quite an achievement for the year of recording. I wouldn't be surprised if Art Zoyd and Univers Zero heard this album's finale.

Clearly this album is the resultant of hundreds of influences, but it is safe to bet many progressive musicians also heard and inspired themselves from this album. This album is much more than a curiosity, it is a must hear for classical-loving progheads.

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 Autumn Grass by CONTINUUM album cover Studio Album, 1971
3.61 | 8 ratings

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Autumn Grass
Continuum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

4 stars Lie back and smell the daisies.

"Autumn grass" is a criminally underrated album from the early 1970's, featuring jazz influenced prog played by four highly proficient musicians. The feature (title) track was at the time of the album's release one of the longest single tracks to appear on one side of an LP (but by no means the longest), running to some 26 minutes.

The band was the brain-child of Yoel Schwarcz. Despite the fact that they only ever made two albums, he is the only person to be a band member for both (although the others who played on the first album appear as guests here) . The line up for "Autumn Grass" includes the highly proficient keyboard player Tim Rice (no relation to Andrew Lloyd-Webber's mate).

Side one consists of three tracks, all developed through live performances before being committed to vinyl. The opening "Byrd Pavan" is an improvisation on Byrd's "Earl of Salisbury pavan" combined with Purcell's "Air on a ground bass". The band add a jazz dimension to the Elizabethan flavoured "pavan", with the organ work of Rice being particularly dominant. "Vivaldi synthesis 2" is an adaptation of Vivaldi's "Guitar concerto", with synthesised strings backing. This pleasantly relaxing piece was later revived by Steve Howe on his "Steve Howe album". The final track on side one is "Overdraft", the only band composition on the album. This piece is the most jazz based of the four tracks, and also the weakest.

As mentioned previously, the inordinately long title track occupies side two. Composed by Patric Standford specifically for the band, the sleeve described the track as "a ritualistic invocation". Various guest musicians contribute to the suite, notably the Olympus Strings cello section. The highlight though is the wonderful flute of Yoel Schwarcz. About midway through the track, he picks out a baroque melody with sparse accompaniment. This theme is used as the basis for a developing improvisation with ever increasing backing driving the flute to a frantic crescendo, before the main theme restores order.

During my student years of the mid 70's, this track, and indeed the album was a regular feature of my turntable. Whilst the length of the piece had a lot to do with it (30 minutes between changing sides was most unusual), I found the music perfect to study to as it has that rare quality of supporting listening on many different levels.

"Autumn grass" stands as a truly remarkable work, criminally overlooked both at the time of its release, and indeed now. Recommended.

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 Continuum by CONTINUUM album cover Studio Album, 1970
3.03 | 10 ratings

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Continuum
Continuum Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Easy Livin
Special Collaborator Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin

3 stars Bach to the future.

Released in 1970, Continuum's first album is a confident statement consisting of three pieces based on Bach compositions, one based on Handel's "Allegro", and a side long suite composed for the band by Richard Hartley. There are lengthy sleeve notes explaining the compositions further, and I shall borrow from these during the review (although they are at times complex, perhaps even pretentious). Quotes from the sleeve notes are shown thus ^quote ^.

The album opens with "Invention", a band composition based on Bach's "Invention no. 13 in A minor". The two classical guitar players in the band pick up the theme before multi-instrumentalist Yoel Scwarcz switches to recorder and then flute. The piece was ^originally written as a counterpoint exercise ^, the band increasingly improvising away from the main theme.

"Allemande and blues" is another Bach inspired band composition. Guitarist John Warren ^plays the solo Allemande, a running dance in 4/4 beginning with an upbeat before digging into an earthy blues ^. Double bassist Mike Hart (the band use an acoustic double bass in place of a bass guitar), switches to bowing the strings for part of the track here. The blues section offers something of a contrast to the rest of the album, the flute improvisation being similar to Steel Mill's "Green eyed god".

"Allegro" is the only non-Bach inspired piece on the first side, the track being based on Handel's "Harpsichord suite no. 7". The classical guitarists alternate solos before Schwarcz moves into a harmonica improvisation. This section has even more of a blues feel than the previous track, the descending bass line offering much more of rock beat.

Side one closes with Richard Hartley's "Bouree" taken from Bach's "Second English suite". The medieval atmosphere of the track emphasises the fact that Bach composed the suite ^ for the English ^. The sleeve notes state that ^the theme is stated on recorder and guitar, before the bass leads into a rhythmically intriguing prelude to a 24-bar improvisation in the relative minor ^.

^The excursions of the first side act as a preparation for the more intense explorations of the second ^. Side two of the album is occupied entirely by "Legend of Chile Harold" composed by Richard Hartley. The piece is based on the poetic works of Lord Byron, and is ^a thinly veiled indictment on the world of the time^.

The suite is in five named sections, each having a sub-title describing the part of Childe Harold's journey being depicted by the track. For example "Approach of Judgement" is described as ^Sure doom advances, half remembered dances haunt on^.

Musically, the piece opens with heavy cello, not unlike some of ELO's early work, with phased strings and a dramatic feel. The extra strings added to the suite offer a slightly more classical feel, although the piece is still largely improvisational, with a jazz rock basis. The "Dance of destruction" section reflects ^The subtlety of man's inhumanity passed off as glory^, It has ^an 8 bar theme broken by a solitary 7 bar passage, and swings into a baroque vein gypsy dance^. As the piece develops, Schwarcz adds one of his fine lengthy flute improvisations, something he would do to fine effect again on the following "Autumn grass" album. Towards the end of the suite, the band experiment with electronic sounds and effects, the structure almost disappearing completely before being brought back together for a brief symphonic conclusion.

Why Continuum never gained the recognition the deserved is a matter for conjecture. Perhaps it was because they took themselves just a little too seriously, or maybe they were simply ahead of their time. Whatever the reasons, their debut album shows them to be highly talented performers, who were not afraid to venture beyond the confines of traditional rock and classical music, resulting in a couple of fine but criminally ignored albums.

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