Rating: 2 stars **
Company: Baby Grand
Catalog: SE 1066
Grade (cover/record): NM / NM
Comments: still in shrink wrap (opened)
Catalog ID: 6145
If you've ever looked through the Baby Grand discography, Paul Zaza is one of the names you repeatedly come across. Zaza seems to have served as one of the label's main stars on both the business and musical ends, arranging, composing, conducting, and producing material for a slew of Baby Grand artists and even recording a couple of solo albums.
So here are the liner notes from the album: "Paul Zaza is a young genius whose talents combine the technical with the aesthetic. As a composer he's scored a dozen feature films and penned numerous songs. As a technician he's the sole owner of Zaza Sound Productions Studios. As a musician he's mastered more than a score of instruments and has performed in every medium. He's current host and star of "Sounds Good" a nationally syndicated teleseries now in its second year. Of this (his fifth record for Baby Grand), Zaza says "I'd done a number of commercial successes including Le Payback - the French Canadian disco hit) and really wanted to explore new areas of music. I approached the record company with the Contact concept and was put in touch with J.P. Jones. He loved the idea and this album is the end result of understanding vision and hard work."
Contact runs the gamut from sonic themes derived from tonalities received from deep space by radio telescopes to the "romance of the cosmos" and the mind of man. "I'm a child of a technical age" renews Zaza surrounded by the electronics of his "state-of-the-art" studio. "I grew up with the realities of space." But that's only one side of the multi-faceted musical personality for Paul Zaza is known for ballads, music which comes from the wellspring of a sensitive soul and touches the hearts of us all. Incongruous? "No" he smiles. "There's always been the bond between emotion and the galactic infinite. Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, myths and paintings depicting plants interceding in human affairs, and the ever-popular 'moon-June-spoon' tune."
So what the world did that all mean? Well, in the case of 1977's Zaza arranged, composed, and conducted "Contact" it boiled down to a dated collection of lukewarm, disco and occasionally lite-jazz tinged instrumental moves with dollops of Atari-inspired sound effects thrown in for giggles. Judging by the song titles and the throwaway sci-fi cover art, Zaza had clearly been watching lots of Hollywood films (Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, etc.). From a marketing standpoint I guess you couldn't really couldn't blame him for wanting to cash-in on the public's insatiable appetite for sci-fi themed material, though this stuff was all pretty mindless.
- So it should take the average listener about two seconds to figure out where Zaza got the inspiration for the leadoff instrumental 'Encounters - In the Beginning'. Imagine that movie's theme slapped into a throwaway disco-fied arrangement and you'd know what to expect. rating: ** stars
- Recognizing this album was recorded in the mid-1970s, the synthesizers that graced 'Velo City' were still pretty cheesy. Imagine the Star Wars cantina band scene with the aliens playing cheapy Casio keyboards and a slap bass. rating: ** stars
- Well, 'Quiescence' found Zaza and company turning their attention to adult contemporary elevator/make-out music. Smooth and ultimately faceless, this was the kind of stuff you were forced to listen to while on the phone with your IT helpdesk. The hope was that the soothing sounds would keep you calm, but the ultimate impact was to simply piss you off even more .... rating: ** stars
- Given I was expecting a mindless Saturday Night fever knockoff, 'Saturday Night Encounter' wasn't half bad - kind of a Stax-meets-an-anoymous disco band groove with plenty of Booker T. Jones-styled organ and a healthy dose of slap bass. rating: *** stars
- More cheesy synthesizer bleep and burps melded to a throwaway disco/lite jazzy beat made it hard to imagine a song sounding more '70s than the side two opener 'Dance of the Onids'. rating: ** stars
- Hum, 'Hard Contact' sounded like a bad Eumir Deodato track ... echoes of something off the 2001 A Space Odyssey soundtrack. Bad jazz-rock fusion that simply served to make you start looking around for those mid-1970s Jeff Beck jazz-rock albums. rating: ** stars
- C'mon, admit it. You thought 'Sphere of Flying' was a great title. Okay, the title was a bit on the lame side, but the song was actually a decent slice of mindless disco fodder. Nice melody and catchy beat that could have gotten you on the dance floor (at least until the discordant horn section at the end). rating: *** stars
- 'Encounters As It Was' was basically a reprise of the opening track. Wonder how it was that Zaza managed to avoid getting slapped with a copyright lawsuit for having liberally borrowed the title there from John Williams soundtrack for Close Encounters of the Third Kind ... rating: *** stars
Definitely a product of its time ...
"Contact" track listing:
1.) Encounters - In the Beginning (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 3:27
2.) Velo City (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 2:22
3.) Quiescence (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 3:55
4.) Saturday Night Encounter (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 3:30
1.) Dance of the Onids (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 3:48
2.) Hard Contact (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 4:20
3.) Sphere of Flying (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 3:21
4.) Encounters As It Was (instrumental) (Paul Zaza) - 2:40