Jaga Jazzist - A Livingroom Hush (00) - 7/10
A Norwegian 10-piece. The band name translates into something like "chased jazzist", and serves as an introductory description of the band's sound: Speedy jazz, or maybe rather jazz with a lot happening all the time. The jazz part of their music is made by the heavy use of brass instruments, most importantly saxophone, but also bass-clarinette, trombone, trumpet and tuba. Their use of upright bass instead of bass guitar is also a typical jazz phenomenon, but doesn't in itself make a big difference. What makes this interesting for the progressive rock fans, is the complexity and nearly symphonic structure of the compositions. And instruments such as flute, vibraphone, guitar and different keyboard sounds make it possible to consider this progressive rock just as well as jazz. The two drummers are excellent, and some percussive electronic effects reminiscent of Aphex Twin's are also extensively used. The sound is sometimes quite similar to that of decent alternative bands such as Air or Portishead. There are no vocals, so the lead instrument (if any) is mostly saxophone. Unfortunately, the lead melodies are in my opinion not really that interesting in themselves most of the time. However, the interplay between the instruments - the cumulative sound - is the important thing here, and works out very well. The length of the ten tracks ranges from one to eight and a half minutes. Fans of symphonic rock only should be warned that this record has a very contemporary sound. Moreover, the atmosphere is laid-back in a typically jazzy way, at the same time as there are lots of things happening. There are only few traces of what I would call melancholy or aggressiveness here, and parts of the record can be considered a little slick. Nevertheless: A good record that I recommend, even if it's quite different from prog.
Jethro Tull - Aqualung - 7/10
Jethro Tull - Thick as a Brick - 10/10
Jonesy - Keeping Up (73) - 6/10
This English band never sounds particularly complex. The atmosphere is mostly relaxed, and there are not too many things happening at a time. This usually demands strong compositions in order to keep the listener awake. Unfortunately, Keeping Up is rarely particularly original. What saves the record from being dull, is the instrumentation. Mellotron, piano, cello and trumpet are used in a beautiful manner alongside the obligatory drums and guitars. Moreover, the vocals are better than average. Some parts of the record are jazzy and experimental, whilst other are song-oriented and more commercially-sounding. Jonesy can be described as a mix of early Yes, early King Crimson, late-period The Beatles and straightforward rock from about 1970 - but they do have a sound of their own. Overall, though the most symphonic parts are really beautiful, Keeping Up is not an album I couldn't live without. It is a little too commercial, and fails to hold my interest all the way through.
Jumbo - Vietato ai Minori di 18 Anni? (73) - 8/10
Outstanding Italian progressive. Vietato... is a brilliant album which can be compared to both Biglietto Per L'Inferno and Van der Graaf Generator: The atmosphere is everything else than indifferent, with long angry parts. The vocalist is outstanding, and most of the time outraged in a manner that in my opinion even surpasses Peter Hammill! But like the other Italian classics, the music is changing frequently. Jumbo had access to a huge amount of instruments, and this makes it all so diverse that they turn out to be difficult to describe. For sure, there isn't one single second of mediocre compositions here. When the electric lead guitar doesn't lead the show, one can find flutes, piano, saxophone, strange percussion, organ, mellotron, violin, acoustic guitar etc. instead. The 7 minutes long track "Via Larga" starts with some funny rhythms and vocals which immediately recall Samla Mammas Manna. And another track lasting for 7 minutes, "Gil", sounds almost like a jam - and is among the best Italian progressive ever made! The Italian lyrics are strange, but interesting. Vietato... has some of the qualities of a masterpiece, but some of the record did lose some of its initial effect on me after repeated listening.