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2 Feb 2017

Ahora Mazda ‎ “Ahora Mazda” 1970 Dutch Prog Jazz Rock

Ahora Mazda ‎ “Ahora Mazda” 1970 Dutch Prog Jazz Rock

In 1965 jazz musicians Rob van Wageningen (flute, saxophone) and the brothers Peter and Winky Abbink (bass and drums respectively) are playing regurlary with other jazz musicians like Hans Dulfer, Henk van Es and Theo Taldik but also under the name of Free Art Group. In this group they play in the jazz tradition with the intention of free expression, inspired by musicians like Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra and John Coltrane. They also accompany poets during jazz and poetry meetings. 

They are joined by Tony Schreuder (bass) in 1968, whilst they call themselves Group 67/68. Tony is a colleague of Rob from the record shop where both work. The arrival of a bass player makes Peter Abbink switch to guitar. During concerts in Felix Meritis they meet Ruud Tegelaar, manager of center Fantasio. He asks them to become the house band in Fantasio. By now their name is changed to Ahora Mazda, which comes from Ahoera Mazda, the god of light from the holy book Zend Avesta. The name is suggested by Tegelaar. Under the influence of Jimi Hendrix, Captain Beefheart and The Mothers Of Invention the music is changed from avant-garde jazz to psychedelic rock. Also the influences of world music play a part in the musical explorations of the new band. Percussion becomes an increasingly important ingredient and Rob also starts to play the kalimba (a thumb piano) and various oriental flutes. Lyrics both recited and sung are more and more interwoven into the musical trip. Not only do the play in Fantasio, but they also participate in the Provadya? tour and play regularly in Paradiso. They also appear at benefit concerts like Musicians for Vietnam. They are also be seen in double acts with bands like Shocking Blue, Groep 1850 and Circus. 

Ahora Mazda, 1969 
In 1970 there is some interest form the American record label E.S.P., but a deal is never been closed. However they do record an album for Bovema (on the experimental label Catfish, where also the first Solution album was released), with Joop Visser as producer. They don’t record the long jam sessions they were known for, but they choose shorter, more arranged songs. The album is recorded in three days and released on May 31, 1970. 

During 1971 Tony Schreuder and Winky Abbink are having more and more problems playing and rehearsing the music. At concerts they need the help of substitute musicians, like guitarist Jan Landkroon and Michiel Krijnen. Abbink is replaced by Paul van Wageningen, who played drums in Groep 1850. Because of these difficulties and the lack of atmosphere that came with the substitutes the band ceased to exist………. 

Bassist Peter Abbink, drummer Winky Abbink, and multi-instrumentalist Rob van Wageningen started their musical collaboration in the mid-‘60s playing with a host of Dutch jazz musicians including Hans Dulfer. Performing on their own as The Free Art Group, in 1968 they added bassist Tony Schreuder to the line-up (Peter Abbink switching to guitar), while changing their name to Group 67/68. A year later, under the arm of manager Ruud Tegelaar, the band had morphed into Ahora Mazda (the name borrowed from the Persian god of light and wisdom) and had begin to shift their focus from jazz to a more happening psych and rock sound. 
Produced by Joop Visser and reportedly completed in a mere three days, the quartet made their recording debut with the release of 1970’s “Ahora Mazda”. So before going any further, the back panel liner notes should give you a feel for this album’s unique flavor: 

“Coming from sources as varying as animal voices from the Amsterdam zoo, the cries of Charlie Parker; the Tueareg drums of the Sahara to Indian ragas and engines of ships Ahora Mazda’s music is a vessel of joy for anyone who wants to step outside of himself and swim the wave of changes which is moving our time. Travelers who roam along with them the spiritual gardens of the mind in the beautiful seasons of Amsterdam’s fantastic and paradiso know the pain and uncertainty of breaking down the barriers and know the happiness and the feeling of freedom when minds are coming through, join and make music a feast. Winky’s multicrossrhythemening drum work, Tony’s heavy solid bassground, Rob’s melodic flute lines and precious choice of instruments; Peter’s strange and contrary guitar notes, form a sphere of tones in which all kinds of contradictory feelings touch you, taking you in with a soft mood, driving up to a weird atonal dream, putting you back down on the ground by screaming electric violence. Ahora Mazda is a group who destroys its own music in the course of a set in order to form it again and differently with help of the audiences feelings. SO creating sounds new and changing surveying bare grounds of the realm of dream. Their music is not a mist of only pretty colours, pink and heavenly blues. The exciting reds and yellows; there’s much brown and gray, even dark black. The feelings of terror and paranoid that sometimes houses, alas in places where heads come together. The mirror which is held by Ahora Mazda 'I s partly shady, but look into it and you may see as many travelers before you did, something of your own mind.” 

Yeah, in a nutshell, this should be a stoner’s delight. The six extended tracks were all bizarre; full of a hard-to-describe and occasionally vexing mix of acid, experimentation, free form jazz, psych, and progressive moves. On tracks like the opener 'Spacy Tracy’, it’s all mixed together, making for one very strange aural trip. I won’t go as far as describing the album as commercial, though most of the set reflected an understanding of rhythm and melody. At the other end of the spectrum, 'Oranje Vryslaat’ was basically an unlistenable mixture of free form jazz and experimental sound collage. Not something I need to hear very often. As lead singer Peter Abbink wasn’t bad; occasionally sounding like a mega-stoned Marty Balin ('Timeless Dream’). All of the performances were in English, though Abbink’s heavily accented voice was initially hard to decipher. He also seemingly had a love for treated vocal effects ('Timeless Dream’). Whatever his limitations as a singer, the man could play guitar with several tracks displaying his obvious affection for Hendrix. Also worth mentioning was multi-instrumentalist van Wageningen who seemingly brought in the band’s wilder sides. His flute and sax solos definitely had that Ornette Coleman vibe going (though not everyone is going to appreciate it). And while they occasionally sounded like they were hanging on for dear life, the rhythm section of Winky Abbink and Tony Schreuder were consistent and steady….bad cat……… 

“Exclusively restored dynamic 24 bit remastering from the original master tapes. High quality 180 gram audiophile pressing housed in deluxe 350 gram carton gatefold sleeve. Ahora Mazda existed in a dark corner of deep space at the heart of the Dutch psychedelic underground. From 1968 until 1970 they were the house band at Fantasio, the epicenter of Amsterdams hippy movement. Drawing inspiration from Ornette Coleman, Soft Machine, John Coltrane, Captain Beefheart and others, Ahora Mazdas gravity-defying, self-described 'musical freedom trips’ exploring regions uncharted - journeys without maps. Released in May 1970, their only album is regarded by collectors as one of the hidden gems of Dutch psychedelia, and is sometimes likened to the best Krautrock groups of the era. This deluxe 180 gram double-LP set presents the original album in its entirety, plus a second disc of unedited live-in-the-studio performances from the same sessions, all mastered from the original tapes. The gatefold sleeve features the beautiful original cover art by Rik Lina, along with rare archival photos and liner notes by Ugly Things magazine’s Mike Stax…….. 

This album is a really fabulous psychedelic nugget from the land of the flowers and the windmills. It combines both more close-to-earth flute fronted bluesy jazz rock in style of German Rufus Zuphall and free freak-out improvisational soundscapes with some really cool jazz styled saxophones. These both elements are presented in the funny opening track "Spacy Tracy”, telling us a tale of a girl interested in the psychedelic way of life, starting as a mellow groovy rocker later morphing as completely free improvisation. “Timeless Dream” is then a minor key melodic tune, having sadly a quite disturbing fade-out ending taking place in the middle of the song. The two following about eight minutes long songs combine again the freeform improvisations and nice themes, featuring some very good jazz saxophone tunes from Mr. van Wageningen, and also Peter Abbink blows some really good raw electric guitar solos in style of Jimi Hendrix and Manuel Göttsching. “Power” is one of the few mostly constructed songs, containing really weird and scary effects used in the singing verse, creating a very mysterious overall feeling. 
The last five bonus tracks are a bunch of excerpts from the band’s collective jazz improvisations, which sound sometimes resemble the primitive passages of Syd Barrett’s “Lanky”, sometimes the cosmic electronic sound walls of Hawkwind. Sadly the excerpts are only cuts, varying in length from under two minutes to over four, beginning and ending from a silent void. I wouldn’t have mind hearing some improvisation “mistakes”, rather the hearing only glimpses of the grooves. But anyway, I really liked the little melancholic but still laid back feeling of this album, and I would recommend it warmly to anybody liking both 70’s psychedelic blues/jazz rock and dreamy impressionistic collective jams. Also the flute melodies are here very strong, so the fans of that instrument might want to try giving this album a listen……by Eetu Pellonpaa …. 

This 'Flying Dutchmen’ appeared only once, sad to say. They surely have been inspired by acts from the neighbourhood right beside. Hence this album has much of a krautrock effort. The band name is derived from the Persian mythology and indeed you will find some (rare) oriental impressions when listening. Founded by jazz oriented musicians Rob van Wageningen and the Abbink brothers Peter and Winky AHORA MAZDA represented a rather avantgarde approach decorated with weird, experimental moments and fuzzy psych guitars. Here and there flute and sax remember at German band Missus Beastly with Jürgen Benz and Friedemann Josch aboard. 
This ingredients are mixed up to a quite irresistible cocktail, which means any attempt will fail to categorize them in a strict sense. Just take Oranje Vrijstraat which puzzles me as no other. On one side this sounds improvised at all cost … but then I get the impression as if this is totally arranged, provided with a well thought out structure. A jazzy trippy thing where every member is soloing beyond exception, even drummer Winky Abbink. Can’t imagine really that this is spontaneously.played. And if they really did …. respect, respect. Never mind, if you’re searching for a challenge you’ve found the right album here. 

While Spacy Tracy starts very popular beat alike shaped, quasi referring to their musicals roots, it all develops to something new due to Peter Abbink’s incredible fuzzy guitar playing after a while. Next the drummer seems to drive crazy. And then somehow you begin to smell that the first collapse won’t be long in coming. So you can say this song describes their metamorphosis from a pop combo to an experimental prog band. An that’s it with the following songs in the same way. The band basically serves a jazzy setting but the Abbink brothers are the counterpart first and foremost with psychedelic guitar and unusual virtuoso drum playing. 

Pseudonym’s digital re-release is enhanced with five additional excursions where they are crossing their special spaced-out realm, seemingly excerpts from long improvisations which qualifies them for the krautrock category so much the better. Probably recorded live because they were known for offering intriguing hippy-underground gigs. The band’s eponymous effort is a sonic adventure. This album sounds ahead of time. A surprising snapshot from this short-lived crew. Absolutely recommended to anyone who is searching for original prog bands with an experimental approach when making the transition to the 1970s….by Rivertree 

Line-up / Musicians 
- Peter Abbink / guitar, vocals, piano, trumpet, organ 
- Rob van Wageningen / flute, saxophone, vocals, percussion, kalimba 
- Tony Schreuder / bass, percussion 
- Winky Abbink / drums 

A1 Spacy Tracy 8:30 
A2 Timeless Dream 3:35 
A3 Dolle Mina In Oranje Vrijstaat 7:35 
B1 Fallen Tree 9:20 
B2 Power 6:50 
B3 Fantasio 
Tabla – Rik Lina 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..