Airto Moreira - Killer Bees


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There is no way in the world that the God-like names featured could be gathered together on one album. No way, that is unless your name is Airto Moreira. So how did 'Killer Bees' come into being? Airto saw  an opportunity to return to his jazz roots and explore some freeform playing ideas that had been kicking around for a while and called on old friends like Chick Corea, Mark Egan, Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke to come down to Santa Barbara and jam.


Membership of some of the hottest jazz combinations of all time makes ringing up old friends a creative process in itself and Airto had little trouble persuading his friends Chick Corea, Mark Egan, Herbie Hancock and Stanley Clarke to come down to Santa Barbara and jam. Used to playing within closely defined parameters on other people's projects the musicians were delighted to find that Airto didn't have parts written for them.
This album is the beautiful result. Musicians with outstanding pedigrees encouraged to play exactly the way they felt, sparring and playing off one another, experimenting with sound, yet retaining complete control over harmony and dynamics. The instinctive interplay between the musicians creates the deception that months of rehearsal went into creating this penthouse level of spontaneity. But the secret is simply years of playing together in lofts before any of them got famous.
Most tracks are first or second takes with additional tracks overdubbed. Hiram Bullock's coruscating guitar work was added later in New York. Fourth World reeds and keyboards maestro Gary Meek came over to California to contribute some wonderful saxophone to the mix. The music on the record ranges from the soulful, uplifting 'Nevermind' and 'Communion' - tracks on which Herbie Hancock spirits achingly beautiful piano playing out of the ether - to tracks like 'Killer Bees' and 'Nasty Moves' which show that rock music doesn't have a monopoly over power and aggression. Chick Corea's masterful electric and acoustic keyboards playing and Stanley Clarke's upright bass playing, his first for many years, help make 'Killer Bees' a milestone in modern jazz and a must for fans of true freeform composition.
Oh yes, the original tapes were turned down by the label who commissioned them. They 'weren't Brazilian enough.' But Airto and Flora's present record label boss, Robert Trunz, on hearing these masters of modern jazz playing exactly the way they felt, sparring and jesting musically with one another, experimenting with sound, yet retaining complete control over harmony and dynamics, dismissed the 'Brazilian' argument and took a world view and thought the world should be able to enjoy this classic album. Here's your chance.
Like a fusion of the best moments of Return to Forever, Weather Report and Miles Davis circa 'Bitches Brew', (ex-bands of collaborators here), 'Killer Bees' shows that jazz in the nineties can still delight, surprise and lead by example. 'Killer Bees' is a buzz.
As befits a recording of this calibre, B&W Music released a special 180gm metal-mastered vinyl collectors' edition. The heavier vinyl format means extra depth and width to the groves to facilitate almost perfect reproduction. The recording engineer, Chris Lewis, himself a great hi-fi lover, has not used any limiters or compressors for this special release, which highlights a dramatic difference over the commercial CD release. The records were manufactured in Germany by Pallas, a specialist hi-fi pressing plant, to strict quality and sound reproduction standards.
The packaging is equally impressive. Each box set is shrink-wrapped and contains nine colour reproductions of the original album artwork, with startlingly original interpretations of the songs created by Sussex-based designer, Gary Edwards, and Airto's own sleeve notes. The record is supplied with an anti-static sleeve and sits on a cushion of polystyrene foam. In all, the vinyl version of 'Killer Bees' is a must for any hi-fi jazz fan.

Track Listing (30 Second Samples)

Banana Jam
2 Be There
3 Killer Bees
4 City Sushi Man
5 See Ya Later
6 Nevermind
7 Communion
8 Nasty Moves
9 Chicken in the Mind

AIRTO MOREIRA Drums/percussion/vocals
STANLEY CLARKE Acoustic bass/electric bass
CHICK COREA Acoustic piano/electronic keyboards
MARK EGAN Electric, fretless bass
HERBIE HANCOCK Acoustic piano/electronic keyboards
GARY MEEK Tenor/soprano saxophones