Exposé Online banner

Oho — Gazebo
(Ohomusic OM067, 2018, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2018-08-06

Gazebo Cover art

Oho has been making great music since the early 70s, seemingly swerving and dodging any typical styles and genres as they avoided the classification game, instead going for whatever direction their muse took them at any point in time. The three founding members O’Connor, Heck, and O’Sullivan (Hence their name OHO) have long left the band (although Mark O’Connor is a guest one one track here), multi-instrumentalist and singer Jay Graboski who had joined by the time of the band’s first album Okinawa in 1974 is still among the members, all through the years guiding the band through their continuous evolution. And still, on their latest album Gazebo, the band still eschews any kind of classification, other than in a very general sense. In addition to Graboski, the current members include Ray Jozwiak (vocals, keyboards, and accordion) and David Reeve (drums, vocals, keyboards and more), the latter having been with the band since the beginning of the 1990s. In addition, no less than twenty guests have contributed to this track or that adding everything from trombone, french horn, saxes, bass, 12 string, pedal steel, percussion, additional vocals and more. The eighteen cuts herein are all listed as group compositions (with the exception of a couple interpretations) but one can sense that the diversity of what’s on offer here shows that ideas are are hatched and developed by individual band members and from that point developed as a group, having a lot of fun along the way. Thus, the tunes represent more of what the members’ interests are instead of trying to shoehorn their sound into any genre. One can find a little bit of everything herein, though everything on offer is played and sung impeccably by a group of experienced musicians who probably don’t care if you like it or not, it’s what they do, and being independent of any record labels, it’s all at their prerogative and pleasure.

“How Is Where We Go” is a great tune, and a catchy one as well, and pretty much exemplifies Oho’s creation process: write and arrange a great tune with thoughtful lyrics, bring it to life with whatever is needed to perfect it (some pedal steel went a long way in this case, plus additional lead guitar, percussion and vocals), and you end up with a tune that meets a number of criteria of excellence and doesn’t really sound like anything you’ve heard before. The opener “Ring in the Brightness” is a tune that is just as vital, a funky and powerful rocker with a horn section featured. The band does a tasteful cover of Randy Newman’s “Baltimore,” perhaps with a bit more of a rock punch than the original, with some great sax soloing from guest Gene Meros, following that up with “Blood Brother,” a good-timey piano tune that sounds like something from another era, with a horn section featured, and different singers taking their tunes as the song proceeds. “Denial” is another great tune with powerful arrangements and great lyrics and harmonies, built on an acousic guitar roadbed with accordion and other arrangements supporting judiciously.

With a good 65-plus minutes of great new material, the band added a couple excellent tunes “Slough of Despond” and “Limousine” that were on their two previous albums Where Words Do Not Reach and Bricolage respectively, and “Unique” which was an instrumental tune on the former, now is re-featured with lyrics. “Ocean City Ditty” which was originally an overtly commercial sounding single released a few years back by the band, is now remixed with additional female vocals and a horn section, with an overdubbed DJ intro and outro. “Out of Thin Air” is an old Oho tune from the early 90s, but a classic that got a complete re-recording here, much improved from the original that opened the Oho album in 1990. “Bleeding the Fifth” is a downright heavy tune with guest lead vocals from Barry Lee Reichart , a thunderous bass line and overdubbed layers of screaming guitars throughout. The album’s pièce de résistance comes near the end, and who would have thought that anyone could combine The Yardbirds “Over Under Sideways Down” with the famous Disney tune “It’s a Small World” and make it work, but Oho did it, and although this doesn’t sound much like either of the originals (though it tracks the Yardbirds a bit more closely), it’s a great interpretation of both tunes more or less superimposed on one another. Nothing short of brilliant. All taken, Gazebo is another great step forward from a band who’s name is synonymous with adventure and unpredictability.


Filed under: New releases, 2018 releases

Related artist(s): Oho, Jay Graboski

More info
http://store.cdbaby.com/cd/oho6

Latest news

2020-02-18
Jon Christensen RIP – Word reaches us today of the passing of Norwegian drummer Jon Christensen, a musician whose sensitive playing did much to help define the atmospheric sound of ECM jazz recordings. His work with Jan Garbarek, Bobo Stenson, Terje Rypdal, and many more was sensitive and varied, adapting to a wide variety of styles while maintaining a distinct identity of its own. Christensen was 76. » Read more

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Frágil - Sorpresa del Tiempo – While they are relatively unknown in most of the world, Frágil must be quite popular in their homeland of Peru. Case in point: this live reunion CD from a concert in 1999, recorded with a...  (2002) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues