Fireballet was an American symphonic/art-rock band from New Jersey that released the albums Night on Bald Mountain (1975) and Two, Too (1976), both on Passport Records. Multi-instrumentalist and composer Jim Cuomo hailed from Spoils of War and Mormos and later played in the multi-national jazz-funk group Pacific Eardrum. Cuomo and guitarist Ryche Chlanda partook in the 1977 Passport all-star project Intergalactic Touring Band.

Members: Jim Cuomo (vocals, drums, percussion), Brian Hough (Hammond organ, keyboards, backing vocals), Ryche Chlanda (guitar, vocals), Frank Petto (piano, synthesizer, Mellotron, keyboards, vocals), Martyn Biglin (bass, guitar)

They started as the Fireball Kids in Northern New Jersey in the early 1970s. By 1974, Fireballet featured guitarist Ryche Chlanda, bassist Martyn “Spike” Biglin, keyboardists Brian Hough and Frank Petto, and drummer/percussionist Jim Cuomo, who sang lead and wrote most of the band’s material.

Cuomo (b. 1945, Chicago – d. 2018, Portland, Ore.) was a veteran of numerous projects dating back to the late 1960s, when he played saxophone in the University of Illinois Jazz Band while earning his Masters. He performed with the band in Moscow and worked as a computer card programmer for composer John Cage. In 1969, he cut an EP with avant-psych rockers Spoils of War. The following year, he issued six cuts of musique concrète on the EP Cuomo’s Record, released on self-press Depot Records.

He then served as touring director for New York’s La MaMa Experimental Theatre, which brought him to Europe. Along with two other MaMa players, Cuomo settled in France and formed the folk-psych band Mormus, which backed François Béranger and issued the 1971/72 CBS albums Great Wall of China and The Magic Spell of Mother’s Wrath. During his time in France, Cuomo also played on 1971–74 albums by David McNeil, Jacques Higelin, Jacques Yvart, Jean-Max Brua, Michel Buhler, Pierre Barouh, and Mahjun.

Back in New Jersey, Cuomo established Fireballet, which regularly played the Ryder College Arts Center near Princeton. Taking advantage of the center’s state-of-the-art lighting setup, the band were known for their pyrotechnic showcases. Petto’s keyboard arsenal included the Mellotron, the ARP 2600 Synthesizer (serial #7), and an electronic strings device called the “Pettotron.”

The centerpiece of Fireballet’s early shows, which typically ran several hours, was their 45-minute epic “Night On Bald Mountain,” a multi-movement suite with themes appropriated from Debussy and the namesake Mussorgsky series. During intermissions, Chlanda performed solo guitar improvs with an assortment of gadgetry (pedals, echoplex, tape loops).

Along with band-friend and fellow Jerseyite Larry Fast (Synergy), Fireballet were one of the first stateside acts signed to Passport Records, an American label steeped in the UK/German underground (Nektar, Camel, Capability Brown, Lucifer’s Friend). They entered Broadway Recording Studios in New York City to record their first album with producer Ian McDonald, the one-time keyboardist/reedist of King Crimson and McDonald and Giles. Fireballet were one of the first bands to record in Sansui Quad.


  • Night on Bald Mountain (1975)
  • Two, Too (1976)


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