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ATMOSPHERES

Jazz Rock/Fusion • Multi-National


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Atmospheres biography
Atmospheres is a project by Clive Stevens, who plays mostly pedal-effect-altered woodwind instruments, but his compadres is one of the most impressive and prestigious line-up ever in the world or JR/F, where he?s probably the lesser-known individual. Indeed, not only is there Oregon?s Ralph Towner (keyboards and devices) and Mahavishnu Orchestra?s Billy Cobham and Rick Laird (drums & bass respectively), but also the guitar pair of John Abercrombie and Steve Khan ? can you imagine? The line-up is completed by percussionist Harry Wilkinson, and the first album was recorded in 73 and released in early 74 on Capitol with an uncommitting artwork sleeve. The result is a steaming JR/F that sometimes from improvs to dissonant free jazz, but this extreme is occasional.

A second album Voyage To Uranus was released at the end of 74, but the awesome line-up couldn?t be kept, so only Towner and Abercrombie remained in anotherwise fairly different ensemble. Musically however, this second album was well within the continuation of the first album, still dishing the same red-hot fusion. Sadly that second album would signal the end of the group. Clive Stevens would not record another album as a leader until the closing of the century, when he would release two in a couple of years time. Sadly the two Atmospheres album have never (as of early '10) not receive a Cd reissue, which is a complete shame given the all-)star line-up of the first lp.

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ATMOSPHERES discography


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

4.00 | 2 ratings
Atmospheres (featuring Clive Stevens and Friends)
1974
4.00 | 3 ratings
Voyage To Uranus
1974

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ATMOSPHERES Reviews


Showing last 10 reviews only
 Voyage To Uranus  by ATMOSPHERES album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.00 | 3 ratings

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Voyage To Uranus
Atmospheres Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars A few months album the debut's release, Clive Stevens returned to the studio, but this time, the line-up is less stellar, even if Ralph Towner (keyboards) and John Abercrombie (guitars) are still present, with the former also toys with 12-string guitar. Stu Woods (bass) and Mike Carvin (drums) replace the MO alumni rhythm section along with Johnson on percussion. Again recorded in a NY studio and still released in 74, the album's cover with an intriguing flowing naked humans tripping out on whatever they took.

Opening the album, Shifting Phase is hotter and faster than anything on the first album, nearing RTF or MO execution speed (Aber even sounds a bit like McL), but this is not the case of the next few tracks, Inner Spaces And Outer Places even using a strong mid-tempo riff, while Aber, Towner and Stevens are jumping stars and galaxies with superb mastery, especially Aber's guitar. However the album takes on a contemplative turn with the really slow Un Jour Dans Le Monde, an ideal vehicle for Stevens' soft sax playing.

The flipside is definitely slower and more introspective, but it is no less hot-er than the afore- mentioned Shifting Phases track, even if the almost-9mins Water Rhythms is like a supernova exploding your mind. The album close on the aptly-titled Return To Earth and indeed it was a cool cosmic glide between galaxies, black holes and other spaceships, with Stevens shifting to a calm flute.

With its second and final album Voyage To Uranus (ever wonder why Uranus and never Neptune??), Stevens would not renew the experience again (most likely for sales and visibility issues - JR/F groups abounded in a more or less closed microcosm - and the project ends with this album. Just two largely forgotten albums, but well worth the hunt if you're into that trip. And I am.

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 Atmospheres (featuring Clive Stevens and Friends)   by ATMOSPHERES album cover Studio Album, 1974
4.00 | 2 ratings

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Atmospheres (featuring Clive Stevens and Friends)
Atmospheres Jazz Rock/Fusion

Review by Sean Trane
Special Collaborator Prog Folk

4 stars Clive Steven's idea of a project had grandiose line-up and unfortunately, such a stellar membership has not done much for this album's reputation and memory, since hardly anyone remembers it and the album (and its follow-up) has yet to receive a Cd reissue. Not that the music on the album is revolutionary or groundbreaking ? this is close to an early jazz- rock ala Mwandishi, Nucleus and Bitches Brew, but we are in 74 ? but it is the type of album that consolidates the genre.

Obviously, one of the strong points of this album is the Laird-Cobham section, which is obviously used to playing together, thus giving the greater freedom for the others to improvise at lengths. Indeed, composition-wise, all of the tracks are written by Clive Stevens, but the least we can say is that this is a minimum service, since the improvs are taking voluntarily most of the space. Don't get me wrong, the album is of an excellent level, both in collective cohesion (excellent interplaying between all participants) and solo-wise, where they all shine like a thousand suns. As Clive Stevens' is the project leader, you'd expect him to grab a lot of aural space with his wing instrument, which is often the case, but he allows this two guitarists space (namely in Earth Spirit and Nova 72), and Abercrombie shines particularly in Yesterday Today & Tomorrow with his electric guitar. Towner's Rhodes playing is very much in like with Hancock or Zawinul, especially in All Day Next Week.

Hopefully someday, a Cd reissue of Atmospheres' two albums will see the light of day, but in the meanwhile, you'll have to chance on the vinyls, which I'm sure are getting scarce. Nothing groundbreaking (it actually seems to be a bit late on the ball), but certainly worth throwing an ear on it.

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