6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 4 April 2010
This is the album that really marked 24 year old Keith Tippett's arrival on the jazz scene, as a force to be reckoned with. It's a sign of the open-mindedness of music producers, labels etc. in those days that it was released on a 'rock' label.
I thought of titling the review 'not for neo-cons' because it embraces the Marsalis school's two pet hates, free jazz and jazz-rock fusion. Some of the fusion, I find, has not lasted too well, with some of the drumming being too insistent, mechanical and even ponderous at times, not the most propitious rhythmic setting for attempts at creative improvisation. (Billy Cobham's drumming in those days wasn't really about subtlety either, I suppose.) Three kit drummers plus congas produces an enormous clatter, which at times unfortunately becomes a clutter. On the plus side Gary Boyle's electric guitar is mixed well in and he does not fall into the trap of turning the volume control up... and up.
As for the 'free jazz' side I'd question how much of it is actually free. Each track has its own distinctive character, and bears the stamp of a presiding intelligence, namely Keith Tippett. But he probably didn't write out solos for the musicians to play, which jazz composers in the past have been known to do. Near the beginning of 'Gridal suite' there is a brief passage of sax plus drums improvising which is probably free, and is really unoriginal, sounding like a pale reflection of 'Interstellar space.' While 'Thoughts to Geoff' has some high-energy contrapuntal passages, it does have a structure of its own that is developed with a due sense of momentum. Detractors of this kind of music sometimes compare it to 'a fire in a pet-shop' but 'Five after dawn' is slow and atmospheric, maybe on a superficial listening it would sound rambling, but it does actuallly have quite a rigorous structure.
I would tend to say 'to hell with the neo-cons', and leave us to cultivate our own taste with this album, which might be a good way to start a Keith Tippett collection. Sometimes Amazon has a gizmo that lets you listen to a snippet of each track, but that would be misleading here, as each track might begin in one way, and then develop altogether somewhere else. Full of energy and imagination, but if you think you'd prefer the more mature Keith Tippett, you should go for 'Mujician' or his duos with Julie, or 'Tern' which is a great trio with Larry Stabbins and Louis Moholo.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 February 2011
It could be argued that there's been a fundamental shift in jazz and improvised music expression in the last few decades. At the beginning of the 1970s -when this album was recorded and originally released, incidentally- it could be more or less taken for granted that modern jazz, together with every other form the music took even then, had at the heart of its expression a certain emotional commitment. This manifested itself in playing in which technical accomplishment was as a rule leavened with a degree of what for want of a better term could be called soul. Okay, so this is a sweeping generalisation, but what's become obvious over the intervening decades is that `soul' is now at something of a premium and that the resulting gulf has been filled by ever greater technical accomplishment, if that's realistically possible.
The contention brings us far from nicely to the Keith Tippett Group, six musicians who on the basis of this evidence were striving for something deeper and far more nebulous than ever greater technical accomplishment. They achieved it too. As I write these words I'm getting a head full of "Green And Orange Night Park" -an evocative title if ever there was one- and Elton Dean's saxello in particular, all of which manages to be both ragged and shot through with the kind of commitment that's so thin on the ground these days. The music's momentum, aided in no small part by the presence of an unusually large amount of percussion, is a force unto itself and the resulting drive raises a smile of no little satisfaction.
"Thoughts To Geoff" is similarly enlivened by an undertow of energy and indeed urgency which suggests that these guys were motivated by more than time passing marked by the clock on the studio wall. Gary Boyle, a guitarist who can match John McLaughlin in the fast, multi-noted run stakes, puts in some of his most fractious and thus most telling work on record on this one, while trombonist Nick Evans and Tippett on acoustic piano and the perennially undervalued Mark Charig on cornet, fall right in with the urgency. But then being jazz musicians at a time of deep cultural flux was probably a significant spur.
In the final analysis this is an album which in its way is just as effective as anything out there in highlighting how moribund things are right now. But of course this doesn't put the mockers on buying, listening, wondering, and grinning.
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 2 June 2004
I had this on vinyl for many years on the old Vertigo label. I sold it, got a good price, and bought the CD. So I've lived with this one for quite a while.
How to describe it? Well it is what it is, an entity in itself. A bunch of musicians enjoying themselves in the studio and that's what comes across. You can tell that they do what they do because they love it and nothing else matters. The sheer exhuberance of the performance is totally infectious.
The last track on side two "Green and Orange Night Park" is a cracking piece of work and also turns up in an extended form in Centipede's "Septober Energy" Album of which Tippett was the inspiration.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2009
Thoughts from Jeff - This What Happens. . . . . . . . .
You wait 30 odd years and a treasured gem of vinyl turns into a bright CD.
From the inspired breath that kicks off the first track to the Black Horse disappearing into the distance, this album still manages to gallop ahead of the field. The core of Keith, Elton, Marc & Nick ably supported by the wonderful Robert, Bryan & Phil on drums, together with Tony, Roy, Neville & Gary on congas, basses and guitar combine to produce truly joyful sound.
I still have my original VERTIGO vinyl copy (signed by Keith), so that'll never be sold,
but Thankyou Repertoire Records for this wonderful re-release. If you know your early 70's jazz this is a must. Buy this quickly, they are only making 3,000 copies.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2009
This has been in my top 20 more consistently than any other album... and I'm not really that into jazz. But this doesn't sound smooth and cool like most jazz. It's really alive and bursting with a joyful energy that has to be heard to be believed. The only minus I could possibly find with this album is the occasional lengthy bouts of mass free improvisation.
So far I've not been able to find anything that equals this. In my mind at least, this is a supremely magical thing. And despite it's imperfections, it is perfect.