Monday, March 02, 2009
This is a great fusion album from 1975, recently reissued as part of ECM’s Touchstones series. I found it at HMV under "A" for Abercrombie, but never mind the billing—all the players seem to be equal partners on this album. Although Holland is credited with four out of six tracks, he doesn’t dominate the album. Everyone gets a fair shake. In fact, I detect a conscious effort to establish parity across both sides of the album. Side one is mostly Holland’s, while side two gives the guitarist and drummer the spotlight. The opener, “Backwoods Song” is about the tightest, most straightforward thing here, an easy rocking number on which Holland (who plays double bass throughout) produces a fantastic elastic tone. “Waiting” is a brief solo piece for bass; for balance, it’s countered on side two by “Unshielded Desire,” which amounts to a fierce drum and guitar battle by DeJohnette and Abercrombie. The lengthy “May Dance” sees the group locked in an intense conversation, while the album closer “Sorcery I” begins with a loose, improvisational opening, then coalesces into a slightly menacing lope in 7, giving Abercrombie some space for some wild soloing. And if that doesn’t jangle your pleasure centres, DeJohnette wallops the thing home with his own solo spot. Whew. This is an easy recommendation for anyone easing into jazz fusion after, say, discovering Mahavishnu. It’s a less regimented sound than McLaughlin’s outfit, but this versatile trio clearly had no difficulty igniting its own inner flame.