Monday, October 20, 2014

Sweet Smoke - Just A Poke-Darkness To Light (1970/73 international, spectacular prog psych jam rock)

Sweet Smoke is a jazz rock band with an international line-up that came together in the mid- Sixties in Brooklyn, NYC. Only a few months after the group had been founded, the musicians were offered the chance to embark on a three month tour to the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico on the South-Eastern coast of America. Until then the members had worked as semi-professionals, mainly concentrating on their studies at various American music academies.  With their departure for Puerto Rico they decided to focus exclusively "i.e. professionally" on their own music. 

However, the band did not experience their greatest triumphs hi the States but in Germany and the Netherlands, to where they relocated in 1969. The German sculptor Waldemar Kuhn helped them to find a suitable abode in Emmerich near the Dutch border. Directly after their arrival, the band started to play live in the vicinity of their new base and delivered several gigs that year in cities like Amsterdam, Cologne and Bonn.

Their music thrived on the individual instrumentalist's talent of improvisation, and their press info noted: "You should listen attentively to their music and allow yourself to get acquainted with it, because this is music from the mind, the heart and the soul, and it changes constantly." Just A Poke (1970) & Darkness To Light (1972)

A year after their move from New York to Germany, Sweet Smoke recorded their debut album) “Just A Poke” with the line-up Andrew Dershin (bass), Jay Dorfman (drums), Marvin, Kaminowitz (guitar, vocals), Michael Paris (tenor sax, vocals) and Steve Rosenstein (guitar, vocals). The release caused a stir, not only due to its psychedelic sleeve designed by the Dutch artist Jan Fijnheer, but also thanks to an accomplished mix of cleverly arranged jazz and rhythmically complex rock elements. 

The record (engineered by the legendary Conny Plank) consisted of two long songs which filled a whole side of the album each and contained long solo improvisations by the musicians, complete with the legendary drum solo on "Silly Sally" with its highly original ping-pong sound effect The German music magazine "Sounds" commented: "One of the best German pop productions of recent times which will hopefully go on to yield the success it deserves." The musicians then proceeded to put their band activities on ice for a year and travelled to India, in autumn 1972 Sweet Smoke recorded their second album “Darkness To Light” with friends and family, as well as some additional instruments (cello, tamboura, flute, alto saxophone). Particularly the title track and the song " Kundalini " were unmistakably influenced by their Asian trip. 

Again "Sounds" commented favourably on the versatile material: "Sweet Smoke's music is constructed very logically. Since all seven band members appear to be welt served musically and play a very imaginative style, they have succeeded in finding a mix that will probably be responsible for quite a lot of sweet smoke." 
by Matthias Mlneur, July 1999
Just A Poke 1970
1. Baby Night (Sweet Smoke) - 16:30
2. Silly Sally (Sweet Smoke) - 16:28
Darkness To Light 1973
3. Just Another Empty Dream (Steve Rosenstein) - 4:19
4. I'd Rather Burn Than Disappear (Steve Rosenstein) - 4:14
5. Kundalini (Sweet Smoke) - 13:24
6. Believe Me My Friends (Marvin Kaminowitz) - 4:28
7. Show Me The Way To The War (Jeffrey Dershin, Suzan Dershin) - 5:29
8. Darkness To Light (Michael Paris) - 12:50

Sweet Smoke
1970 Just A Poke
*Andy Dershin - Bass Guitar
*Jay Dorman - Drums, Percussion
*Marvin Kaminowitz - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Paris - Saxophone, Flute, Vocals, Percussion
*Steve Rosenstein - Rhythm Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
1973  Darkness To Light
*Andy Dershin - Bass Guitar, Percussion
*Jay Dorman - Drums, Percussion
*Marvin Kaminowitz - Lead Guitar, Vocals
*Michael Paris - Saxophone, Flute, Vocals, Percussion
*Steve Rosenstein - Rhythm Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
*Jeffrey Dershin - Piano, Percussion, Voclas
*Rochus Kuhn - Cello

Free Text
Just Paste