Herbie Hancock – Mwandishi

Released in 1971 on Warner Bros. Format: LP, white label promo

John Fahey & His Orchestra – Old Fashioned Love

Another interesting one from Fahey, side A consists of some amazingly intricate guitar duets with Woodrow Mann, including my favorite Fahey song “Jaya Shiva Shankarah”. Side B takes a strange turn though…halfway through the title track a 10-piece dixieland band kicks for a few tracks of New Orleans-style jazz. The album closes in a more familiar place with a contemplative solo piece that most Fahey fans would dig.

Herbie Hancock – Crossings

Releases in 1972 on Warner Bros. Records Format: LP

Creative Construction Company – CCC

Featuring some of Chicago’s finest musicians and founding members of the AACM, (Muhal Richard Abrams, Anthony Braxton, Leroy Jenkins, Richard Davis, Wadada Leo Smith, and Steve McCall), this 36 minute spontaneous composition doesn’t focus on soloing or instrumental technicality or rambunctious improvisIng, but creating and progressing an initially suspenseful, mysterious mood through focused, cohesive movements, with new sounds, moods, and melodies around every corner. Most of the musicians here play multiple instruments to sustain a versatile color palette.

Exuma – Exuma

Exuma’s first album is a powerful and ritualistic masterpiece of spiritual folk from the Bahamas. Exuma, the Obeah Man, is a master storyteller and preacher, sharing visions, myths, and prayers. His expressive, soulful voice takes on many tones as he delivers his musical sermons, from smooth to raspy, soft to confident. A group of singers, percussionists, whistlers, and toads join him and his acoustic guitar, making me imagine them all circled around a large fire in communal worship and grateful that they let us listeners in on it.

Soft Machine – Third

Pulling away from the jazzy psych-pop of their first two albums, Soft Machine gears towards sprawling sidelong compositions of spacey prog infused with thematic jazz fusion improvisations, compositional edits, and heavy doses of experimental post-production (Click for Full Review)

Tangerine Dream – Phaedra

While the music on Zeit feels motionlessly suspended in the empty vastness of space, the music on Phaedra seem to discover a swampy alien planet, Pulsing sequencers, dramatic mellotrons, airy flutes, and sweeping synthesizers are drenched in strange echoes and reverbs to create suspenseful alien soundscapes.

Eberhard Weber – The Colours of Chloë

The German upright bassist and composer is joined by a jazz quartet, cello ensemble, and choir for a colorfully complex album of atmospheric improvisation, progressive structures, and sweeping orchestral arrangements, with occasional segments of groovy fusion or synthesizer spaciness, all draped in the warm, reverbed production ECM albums are known for.

Collin Walcott/Don Cherry/Nana Vasconcelos – Codona

Spacious, Raga-inflected improvisations from Collin Walcott, Don Cherry, and Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos. Walcott has studied sitar directly under Ravi Shankar, and tabla under Alla Rakha, while trumpeter and flutist Don Cherry, after playing regularly with Ornette Coleman, has proceeded to travel around the world to study various musical traditions. Their wide influences come together organically to create meditative and exploratory music. A melodic and atmospheric fusion of airy flutes, watery sitar, hypnotic hammered dulcimer arpeggiations, driving webs of percussion, and bassy throat singing.

Miles Davis – Get Up With It

This fantastic compilation album consists of 2 hours of unreleased recording sessions ranging from 1970 to 1974. Despite some incohesiveness, this release contains some of the most exciting, creative and uncategorizable music of Miles’ career.

Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love

I highly recommend this album to fans of the innovative and exploratory period of jazz fusion of the early 70’s, where electric instrumentation, funk rhythms, experimental production techniques, and spacey synthesizers met the improvisation, freedom, and uplifting soul of the spiritual jazz of the 60’s. Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi trilogy, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Weather Report’s first LP are good touchstones, but this album truly offers something unique.

Tonto’s Exploding Head Band – Zero Time

A psychedelic synth odyssey created with only an expanded Series III Moog by Robert Margouleff and synth-guru Malcolm Cecil (who programmer synths on legendary albums by Stevie Wonder and Gil-Scott Heron in addition to his ambient solo work). The intricately layered results here feel like a synthetic wilderness, with a wide variety of colors and textures that sound warm, organic, and natural despite their electronic origins.

Joan Baez – Come From the Shadows

“What I’m asking you to do is take some risks. Stop paying war taxes, refuse the armed forces, organize against the air war, support the strikes and boycotts of farmers, workers and poor people, analyze the flag salute, give up the nation state, share your money, refuse to hate, be willing to work…in short, sisters and brothers, arm up with love and come from the shadows”

Tangerine Dream – Zeit

This is what I imagine a black hole might sound like. “Zeit” translates to “Time”, yet time feels completely suspended here, filled instead with vast negative space in which burbling VCS 3 synthesizers, suspenseful organs, and a droning quartet of cellos float in and out. These four sidelong pieces erase all traces of rock or any kind of beat from Tangerine Dream’s sound, leaving ominous space-ambient music in its purest form.