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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great galloping Gibbs - Live!, 11 Nov 2010
By 
Mr P "radletteer" (UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Just Ahead (Audio CD)
A great album. Really good live stuff from Ronnie Scott's Club in 1972.
The Keith Jarrett penned Grow Your Own kicks things off in no uncertain fashion. A big, ballsy number. The stompy trombone riff leads into a grungy guitar solo from Chris Spedding followed by a duet from John Taylor (electric piano) and Frank Ricotti on vibes. Roy Babbington and John Marshall lay down some great driving rhythm throughout. The opening track is a belter.
The second track, Three, is a vehicle for Ray Warleigh's keening alto. Gibbs said it had no theme - just a feeling. Moody electric piano, fine bass and then Marshall's cymbals then drums work their way in so, so subtly until they eventually coax things along to a fitting climax releasing the tension that has built up. It is packed with emotion and Warleigh's work is stunning. Wow!
Country Roads is a Gary Burton/Steve Swallow composition. Spedding lays down another whirlwind solo and Dave MacRae chimes in after to no lesser effect. A memorable opening theme soon gets mangled by Spedding's insistent twangs. A truly original guitar solo sees the former Womble and Jack Bruce man strutting his "fantastic colourations" as Ian Carr described them. Shame he does not play jazz any more. Actually I am not sure it was jazz then - it was just bleeding great. MacRae's keyboard takes it down low and cool before picking it back up with Spedding to find the theme again - one that will float in your head for ages.
Carla Bley's Mother of The Dead Man comes next. A complex, mean and moody, haunting theme with trumpet/flugelhorn from first Henry Lowther and then Kenny Wheeler telling the story. The big band bits are wonderfully intricate and dense but still - oh so beautiful.
Gibbs' Just A Head comes next a - big repetitive statement gets things going before tenor sax giant Alan Skidmore goes wild over a sprinting Babbington bass and Marshall's propulsive percussion. Multi-horn, sporadic interjections keep things edgy before Skidmore freaks and Marshall goes with him. All this segues into an escape valve for the band but Skidmore is still going mad until his last puff leads into Fanfare. A low rolling rumble from Marshall crescendos up to the joining horns as Ray Warleigh and Stan Sulzmann add little flurries of wistful playfullness. A great end to a memorable Disc 1.
Disc 2 starts with the John Marshall vehicle Nowhere (Gibbs). The much underrated drummer kicks off very quietly with some tinkly stuff echoing the electric piano. A two theme horn passage sets us up for more percussion that gets a bit more louder as the man warms to his journey. Another horn blast and then Marshall is in full flow all over the kit. A great powerful horn end is short and to the point. Great.
Sing Me Softly of the Blues another Carla Bley composition comes next. Another highly memorable theme with some warbly counterpoint gets things off and running. Tenor man Stan Sulzmann takes first solo and has plenty room to show his passion. An always thoughtful soloist eschewing the obvious as he tells his tale in a wonderful passage of playing. Frank Ricotti lets us calm down a little with his vibraphone solo with a bit less tension and volume leading back to the haunting, well-explored melody and a shrieking climax.
So Long Gone by Gibbs closes the deal. A darkly sonorous intro creeps along with some atmospheric noodlings before some beautiful tones emmanate from the reeds. The late Chris Pyne splutters some spiky trombone conversation over the top of the dense melodies. Pyne eventually decides to join the melody before the whole orchestra retches up a cocophany of turmoil. Then its ghostly calm all of a sudden. But not for long as we get another up-beat blast of melody and counter melody. Again it fades briefly before it all kicks off into a stomping, driving, evolving riff - typical of the era. Just when you think you have had enough Gibbs hauls it back - then lets it loose again. This time he injects another punctuation mark of music before more riff. Then its just Dave MacRae's keyboard magic encouraged along by Spedding, Babbington and Marshall in a frantic Goodie's soundtrack. Gibbs again yanks the reins and only MacRae escapes into some electric plinks and plonks and gurgles. Marshall catches him up and we have a two way conversation, then three with Ricotti on tabla. Then the whole band finds the riff again and Gibbs leads them to the somewhat abrupt, slighly less than satisfactory conclusion.
It is a brilliant live album that in my mind stands the test of time with some amazing playing with a whole landscape of sounds and tones in no small way influenced by the heavier sounds of late 60s rock.
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4 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars fantastic live, 18 Jun 2007
By 
Grzegorz Szymczak "gregg" (poland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Just Ahead (Audio CD)
live with john marshall (soft machine) and chris spedding (jack bruce). fantastic and rare reissue. strongly buy
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Just Ahead
Just Ahead by Michael Gibbs (Audio CD - 2008)
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