A group of like-minded jazz musicians formed the original core of Piirpauke in 1974. Coming toward the end of the classic era of progressive music, the Finnish band established themselves almost immediately as a folk-inspired group with a free form, improvisational style and a tendency toward long, eclectic original arrangements. While the band would veer into more contemporary, pop and even classical compositions during the eighties and nineties, they would return to their jazz-folk roots in the new millennium. Despite an evolving membership the band has endured for nearly forty years, releasing more than eighteen studio albums as well as a wide range of live recordings and compilations.
In the late 1970s, Gary Bartz's work became quite commercial. But earlier in the decade – when the alto and soprano saxophonist led his Ntu Troop – he was more ambitious. Recorded in 1972, Juju Street Songs is among the risk-taking efforts that came from the Ntu Troop. This ambitious LP finds Bartz drawing on a variety of influences – everything from John Coltrane's modal post-bop to world music to the electric fusion that Miles Davis and Herbie Hancock were providing at the time. The term world music, of course, can mean a lot of different things; for the Ntu Troop, it means a strong Middle Eastern/Arabic influence on the moody "Teheran" and more of an Afro-Caribbean outlook on the exuberant "Africans Unite.".
Stefan Pelzl´s JUJU is one of Austria’s most constant and creative Jazz ensembles. Shortly after its foundation in 1988, the group won the “2nd Lower Austria Jazz Contest”. In these early days, JUJU was influenced by John Coltrane, Wayne Shorter and Yusef Lateef, but - once out of these footprints- was very soon able to create a very original style in composing and performing as well. Four albums were recorded and prove for an outstanding musical development. Virtually retaining the same core of the group, numerous top-musicians could be engaged for specific projects, including Leo Wright, Idris Muhammad, Ingrid Jensen, Lorenz Raab, Franz Hautzinger, Thomas Gansch and others. The group plays only original compositions, mainly by the leader.
One of the band's masterworks, Juju sees Siouxsie and the Banshees operating in a squalid wall of sound dominated by tribal drums, swirling and piercing guitars, and Siouxsie Sioux's fractured art-attack vocals. If not for John McGeoch's marvelous high-pitched guitars, here as reminiscent of Joy Division as his own work in Magazine, the album would rank as the band's most gothic release. Siouxsie and company took things to an entirely new level of darkness on Juju, with the singer taking delight in sinister wordplay on the disturbing "Head Cut," creeping out listeners in the somewhat tongue-in-cheek "Halloween," and inspiring her bandmates to push their rhythmic witches brew to poisonous levels of toxicity.
…What really shines on JuJu is the songwriting. From the African-influenced title track (with its short, hypnotic, repetitive phrases) to the mesmerizing interplay between Tyner and Shorter on "Mahjong," the album (which is all originals) blooms with ideas, pulling in a world of influences and releasing them again as a series of stunning, complete visions.