Passport to Paradise ~ Three songs you’ve almost certainly never heard before…

…unless you’re Stephen Guy. (Who, by the way, almost certainly introduced me to this band. Have you started on that guest post yet, Steve?)

This is a literary blog. While the theme is movies, music and books, it’s really about words and how these themes inspire them. Every now and again, though, we’re going to let one of the themes stand largely on its own. Today, it’s music in the form of 1970s jazz fusion from saxophonist Klaus Doldinger’s band Passport.

This first bit is Ataraxia part I & II, from the album Sky Blue, released in 1978.

Listen, and enjoy.

This second, Heavy Weight, hails from Sky Blue.

Jazz fusion synthesises the genres of jazz and rock and developed along side progressive and art rock forms in the 1970s and late 1960s. Often heavily influenced by world music sounds and modalities (Brand-X, Mahavishnu Orchestra and Shakti), fusion also electrified jazz, literally, not just with guitars (which traditional jazz artists had already incorporated) but by bringing in the completely new sounds of synthesisers (Chick Corea, Passport, Caldera) and, later, computer generated effects (Pat Metheney).

Doldinger, by the way, is perhaps most well known for having composed the scores for the German film, Das Boot (The Boat) and The Neverending Story. Das Boot, for those unfamiliar with the title, grippingly tells the story of a German U-Boat crew hunting Allied ships in the Atlantic during WWII. One of cinema’s great creations, and Doldinger’s score weaves deftly throughout.

The third and final piece is Bird of Paradise, also from Iguacu.


There’s no quiz at the end, but do let me know if the journey was worth your time…so I know whether to subject you to this kind of stuff again.

8 Responses to “Passport to Paradise ~ Three songs you’ve almost certainly never heard before…”

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  1. karen says:

    you’re right, have never heard these before and …well, once is enough.
    Not my thing and a big thumbs down from me….sorry – but will be interested to hear others comments

    • Most definitely have heard of these songs before, they are all fantastic. I would have chosen at least one song from the Looking Thru album myself.

      I think it helps if you can play an instrument to appreciate this kind of music. I like to listen to musicianship and the stitching of ideas into a musical form.

      I don’t appreciate dance music, singing music, or computer cheating music (unless it is to celebrate the computer’s sound).

  2. Patrick says:

    [smile]

    No need to be sorry, Karen. I’m glad for the comment.

    People constantly surprise me with their taste in music, their likes and dislikes, which is why I like to ask. (Something I’ve noticed, it’s difficult to enjoy a piece of music I love if someone I’m listening to it with dislikes it.) I’ll never tell anyone they should like a piece, no more than I wish to be told which music I should like, but I’m always curious why they do or don’t.

    So, if you can, tell me what strikes you negatively enough to thumbs down it?

    I always associate Ataraxia with images of tropical paradise. The crisp clarity of the opening synth line… they’re like rain splattering on broad leaves to me. The swaying chords underlying it, like a stiff breeze swaying the canopy above. There’s a peace and a beauty to it, which overtime becomes inflected with melancholy. The bass line comes in, a counterpoint, a conflict, mechanical. The intrusion of man and machinery. As it becomes stronger, the lament begins, ending with a cry, a gasp, a sigh… For me, poingnant, painful yet beautiful.

    Not that I’m satisfied with the sad ending…. This is just Ataraxia Part I. Part II brings the forest back to life, with renewed vigour. [smile] but maybe that’s just me.

  3. Karen says:

    Patrick,

    Ok, you inadvertently persuaded me to listen again…and still I don’t get it (this genre of music) I know this is only 3 pieces, and quite often you will listen to a CD and not like 1 or a couple of the tracks, so I don’t have a lot to judge on.

    I’ve listened to these three pieces once more and have been trying to figure out just what it is that I don’t like about them.

    Ataraxia – tropical paradise? That’s interesting, because I closed my eyes and visualized and heard a sci-fi movie soundtrack. Parts of it also reminded me of piped music, elevator music, nothing music. I definitely need some of your imagination!

    “Heavyweight” just didn’t have enough of anything for me – I can’t seem to get a rhythm going in my head, my feet won’t dance and my voice can’t sing to music like that – funny though, I have Mahavishnu Orchestra and like it. I like music to help me focus, to transport me, to feel emotion….this didn’t.

    I’m also possibly being a little unfair. Years ago I had a friend I used to hang out with, who was very much into this kind of music and I not only had to endure it everytime I visited, but also him trying to analyze jazz fusion as some kind of intellectual prize. Needless to say, I got bored with the music and bored with him :) But, I concede, that it probably plays a part in my negativity and maybe, just maybe I associate this music with boredom!

    Regardless of what you play, the biggest thing is keeping the feel going. I just feel flat listening to this. but maybe that’s just me

  4. Patrick says:

    Thanks, Karen. There’s nothing unfair in what you’ve written. Music is art, and so, very personal. It’s not necessary to love or even enjoy something because someone else says it’s good.

    More than that, I can honestly say that while I love much of the music arising from the Jazz Fusion genre, there’s a lot of, well, crap.

    90% of everything is crud.

    That little adage is known as Sturgeon’s Law. Originally derived by Theodore Sturgeon in response to a critic’s derision of literary science fiction: “90% of it is crud.”

    There’s a lot of very ‘lite’ Fusion. German and Dutch bands like Passport and Focus tended to create highly structured pieces that may be technically superb, but sometimes a little lacking in emotional content. Synthesizers of the day produced new and interesting sounds that had very little timbral depth or organic feel, and there’s plenty of good music out there that sounds like it’s being played on the $50 casio keyboard you might have given your 10 year old for Christmas.

    This is true of both Progressive Rock and Jazz Fusion: there are bands I really enjoyed back in the early ’80s that I can hardly listen to now (Caldera, even some Return to Forever, Tangerine Dream, Queen).

    So I listen to Passport now, and I can hear in it the thin-edge of trite. On the other hand, this is music I all out loved in my early 20s, and much of that nostalgia stays with me. Ataraxia is a song that comes into my mind’s ear several times a year, and stays there for a day or two. It does spark my imagination.

    Hmmm… I think a couple additional posts are called for on this subject. Bear with me? [grin]

  5. Joe Blough says:

    I came here looking for some Passport album art to go with the Passport to Paradise CD I downloaded recently. I happen to like Passport’s “Balance of Happiness” CD better than most of Passport’s others – it doesn’t surprise me that most people here wouldn’t like the 3 tracks you chose. Passport is not what I would call representative of the genre of Jazz Fusion, but I don’t know exactly how to classify it, just like I wouldn’t know how to classify the Rippingtons, Spyro Gyra, Yellow Jackets, Steps Ahead, Cabo Frio or Metheny – other than to say that they are all broadly Jazz. Most people can’t, or won’t, appreciate instrumental music, as opposed to vocal (singing). They simply don’t have the capacity or desire to feel instrumental melodies that have no words. This is music that can only really be appreciated in a music listening room with no distractions, not on a pair of ear buds while on some commute.

  6. Patrick says:

    Hey Joe,

    Thanks for this…

    Yep. Fusion is an eclectic breed of music, a variety indicated by the word “Fusion” itself. Such a wide array of musical genres, keys and structures are being fused to traditional jazz and rock forms that the genre is glutted with variety. So no one piece of music, or even a body of work from a single artist, is going to encompass or represent the genre.

    My mistake for suggesting that a few songs from Passport could do the job. (I’ve since posted a few more articles with a wider variety of selections.

    On the other hand, I disagree with two of your ideas. First, I think that most people can appreciate instrumental music, and even love it. I just don’t think they’re given much opportunity to hear it outside of a film or television score. Jazz can be a bit trickier to appreciate than most pop for an unaccustomed ear, but there are pieces that provide gentler learning curves. Pat Metheny has even charted a few numbers on popular radio, and “smooth jazz” has made some headway.

    Also, Di Meola, Metheny, Oregon and numerous other jazz, progressive, avante garde and other such illustrious forms of music live in my car deck — I commute to their sonic splendour all the time on a system that cost under $500 installed and includes original factory speakers in the back. A $10,000+ dollar sound system is unnecessary to enjoy and appreciate any music. While such a system will produce the best fidelity, almost any music built around structures of melodies and rhythms can be appreciated on even the most feeble of sound systems. It helps if you’ve familiarised yourself with it on a better system…because then you can fill in the missing fidelity with your mind’s ear.

    Cheers,

    Patrick.

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