CD Turned Up Turned On [Digipak] (CD 4681291),
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Turned Up Turned On [Digipak]
1. Squashing Pollyanna
2. Fred Jones Pt. 2
3. All Things Rabbit
4. Heavyweight Love Match
6. Fur Turban
7. Three Legged Dog
8. Damage Done, The
9. Man, You Weren't Even There (Interlude)
11. Misty Mountain Hop
12. Yoga for Prison Girls
Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 301
Michael Bellar; Mark Thayer; Randy Crafton; Dan Stein
Personnel: Michael Bellar (accordion, piano, Fender Rhodes piano, harmonium, pump organ, Wurlitzer organ, keyboards, electric keyboard, synthesizer, dumbek, shaker, tambourine); Rob Jost (acoustic bass, electric bass); Brad Wentworth, Brad Wentworth (drums, djembe, dumbek, percussion); Robert Di Pietro (congas, dumbek, guiro, pandeiro, shaker, surdo, triangle, percussion).
Audio Mixers: Michael Bellar; Mark Thayer.
Recording information: Kaleidoscope Sound, Union City, NJ; King Kuts, Brooklyn, NY; Kitchen and Couch, NYC; Signature Sounds, Pomfret, CT.
Photographers: Michael Depasquale; Michael Bodycomb; Michael Bodycomb.
A press release that was sent out to the media with Turned UpTurned On described this instrumental CD as "alt-jazz," which isn't a term that one hears very often (at least not as of late 2009). One hears the terms "alternative rock," "alternative country," and "alternative rap" a lot, but not "alt-jazz." So what exactly is Michael Bellar calling "alternative jazz?" The material on Turned Up Turned On is mostly fusion and post-bop with hints of world music at times. Influences range from the Bad Plus and Medeski, Martin & Wood (minus the more avant-garde playing) to electric Miles Davis, and even though this 2009 release maintains a jazz improviser's mentality, Bellar and his As-Is Ensemble (which also includes bassist Rob Jost, drummer Brad Wentworth, and percussionist Robert Di Pietro) don't hesitate to use electric instruments and incorporate rock and funk elements. Bellar shines as a soloist, effortlessly moving from acoustic piano to organ to accordion to the harmonium -- and his talents as a composer yield memorable results on pieces that range from the funky "Heavyweight Love Match" to the Middle Eastern-influenced "Fur Turban," to the wistful "Yoga for Prison Girls" (never let it be said that Bellar doesn't come up with his share of amusing song titles). Although his own compositions dominate the album, he also turns his attention to Led Zeppelin's "Misty Mountain Hop," Ben Folds' "Fred Jones, Pt. 2," and Bjrk's "Unravel" -- all of which speak volumes about Bellar's musical outlook. Bellar doesn't play note-for-note covers of those tunes; he seriously interprets them and demonstrates that there is no reason why hard rock and alt-rock songs cannot be successfully reimagined as instrumental jazz. If Bellar wants to describe this 59-minute disc as "alt-jazz," that's his prerogative, but his outlook is essentially a fusion/post-bop outlook, and that outlook serves him well on Turned Up Turned On. ~ Alex Henderson
JazzTimes (p.69) - "He pulls out the accordion on the lyrical 'Sublime' and shows his piano chops on the odd-metered, Middle-Eastern-flavored 'Fur Turban.'"
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