Jade Warrior Revisited

Symphonic world fusion pioneers, Jade Warrior finally get the re-issue treatment they deserve.

You can hear an interview with Jade Warrior including  music.

[Audio http://www.echoes.org/podcasts/EchoesPodcast-JadeWarrior.mp3%5D

Before Peter Gabriel moved from drum machines to Senegalese drummers, and when Andreas Vollenweider was doing music for poetry readings, Jade Warrior was orchestrating a world fusion built up from a host of exotic instruments and a frightening amount of overdubs. Initially a Jethro Tull clone band with arty pretensions, guitarist Tony Duhig and flutist/percussionist Jon Field reinvented themselves in 1974 with the first of a quartet of albums for Island records. Those four recordings – Floating World, Waves, Kites and Way of the Sun, – long out of print, have been resurrected in their entirety.
Jade Warrior used a symphonic expanse to sheath jazz improvisations, 24 track guitar blow-outs, pounding global percussion and some of the most searing melodies imaginable. With extensive overdubbing, Jon Field created African drum orchestras and serpentine flute choirs. A recreation of the Balinese “Ketjak” chant serves as a setting for one of the late-Tony Duhig’s many blistering guitar solos. Each album has its own modality.
Floating World
Floating World mixes aggression and serenity.

Waves
Waves flows through a seamless arc reflecting its title.

Kites
Kites is the most abstract and adventurous and also the most Japanese in it’s Zen-like balance of sound.

Way of the Sun
Way of the Sun is an explosion of color, exhilarating guitar solos and throbbing grooves.
I haven’t A-B’d these with the original vinyl versions, which generally sucked, but it’s obvious that this is a far superior re-mastering job than that executed by Island on the Elements collection several years ago. Elements put all four albums on two CDs, but in remastering, they either didn’t decode the Dolby or they decoded tapes that never had Dolby in the first place. Whatever, it sounded like they were recorded underwater. If you own that set, toss it out. If you see it, destroy it. Instead, experience the wide-open spaces and dynamics of Jade Warrior’s vision, fully revealed on these Eclectic Discs re-issues for the first time. They got it right from the reproductions of the original covers to David Platt’s liner notes which provide a good road map to the band and each disc.
Jon Field is reportedly getting a new edition of the band together, but it can never be the same without Tony Duhig, who died of a heart attack in 1990. But these four releases stand as testament to a vision still unmatched.
We had the opportunity to interview Jade Warrior in the 1980s.  You can hear that interview here.

Comment posted by
at 10/6/2006 1:02:53 PM
I was fortunate enough to hear the original Echoes broadcast of the Jade Warrior interview with Tony and John. It provided a fantastic insight in to the care and vision utilized to create their music. I feel their soundscapes are as relevant today as ever. They remain timeless.

Comment posted by
at 9/22/2006 7:12:20 AM
To Kim and John, my former WXPN mates-Remember when the Jade Warrior CDs were always our “emergency segueway” records? You could look at the grooves in the record, and in case you hadn’t pulled another record or something went wrong, you could confidently plop down the record needle on, say, the mellow portions of “Waves,” and nobody would ever know that the DJ just averted a major crisis and a serious “Dead Air” episode.

I know that you two always preferred “Way Of The Sun,” but my Desert Island Disc would be “Kites.” I think “Kites” is also the less dated of the four.

Anybody want an “Elements” box? Really cheap?

Comment posted by
at 9/19/2006 11:07:48 AM
Last year, I was a guest on the program “Desert Island Discs” on Echoes affiliate station WITF in Harrisburg, PA and had to pick my 8 must-have CDs if marooned on the proverbial desert island. I labored over numbers 2 through 8 but there was never a question about number one: Way of the Sun. That album takes me everywhere I want to go with music and after nearly 30 years I still hear new things in it when I listen.

I still have a vivid memory of the first time John and I interviewed Tony and Jon, in a tiny studio that looked like it had been a gypsy caravan, parked in the garden behind Tony’s 16th century thatched-roof cottage near Glastonbury, England. It was early spring, very damp, and on the tape you can hear the wind whistling through the walls. I could see where the British fondness for tea comes from!

Comment posted by
at 9/18/2006 11:38:37 PM
It is so disappointing and appalling how some mediocre bands become famous and others drop off the radar. Bands like the Sons of Champlin, the only Bay Area band that never made it big . Badfinger, the “2nd coming of the Beatles” never caght fire. And Jade Warrior, who were light years ahead of their time. Beautiful melodies interrupted by jarring interludes create a style that is totally unique and endlessly fascinating. I’m delighted to learn of their albums being re-released and eagerly await your Jade Warrior retrospective. Thank you, John.
Rick Fjellman, Medford, OR

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