Herb Gauleiter Octet: North Coastin' (2003)
Baritone sax man Gauleiter has combined his love for the sounds coming out of '50s Los Angeles with his devotion to the teachings of Winkler Parvenu, the mystic and conman. His acute lack of directional sense led him to produce an album which pays homage to the Parvenuties, a sect he joined in the mid-1970s and which since then has transformed his outlook on life to such a degree that he now appears to regard any band numbering between five and eleven as an octet.
An essential tenet of the Parvenutie faith is that its members must keep to a strict diet of man- made foods. They also believe that, contrary to a certain school of thought, there are places from which God is entirely absentnot the least of these being the Californian compound where the members of the sect live out their days, conforming and performing to, amongst other things, a code of extreme sexual promiscuity. Given their belief that God is absent in their dwelling, they believe that all foods become man-made the moment they cross the boundaries of the compound. But that’s their business.
Fresh –not an appropriate word- from fathering his twenty-seventh child, Gauleiter took his band of the socially inadequate and deluded into LA’s ‘Eric Dolphy Memorial Barbecue’ studios on July 14 1998 to lay down the tracks heard here. However, as every musician present was a Parvenutie they took the task of laying down literally, and by the time they recorded pianist Russ Freeman’s "Russ Job" on August 9, Gauleiter had not only fathered his thirtieth child but also switched to the alto sax because of impaired breathing. He plays alto throughout his Begone Siren Voices, Say Yes To The Flesh suite with an understandable lightness of tone. Vocalist Teela Land hands over Gauleiter’s lyric, which basically sets out the importance not only of his faith, but also the advantages of drinking to excess an additive-enriched ‘orange juice’ as a means for attaining spiritual nirvana. It’s an engaging piece of fluff, the sincerity of which borders on the wry.
On Tate’s "Hands Apart, Eyes Wide Open," Land attempts to summon up the spirits, at least that’s what the booklet note claims, with a mixture of sobs, sighs and shouting. Karper joins her in the endeavour with circular breathing, just a little of which amounts to overkill, before Gauleiter shows just a touch of Leo Parker in his solo. His blues playing is entirely at odds with what’s gone before, especially as he is in turn joined by the enthusiastic clattering of Butcher’s Patriot spoon collection.
Scooby turns in a display of pocket tuba virtuosity –apparently whilst wearing double-breasted shoes- on Days Of Wine And Roses, at which point the spirits presumably left the building.
Such was the level of energy that these band members invested in their music making, allegedly, that the studio floor was their first port of call upon hearing of the completion of this disc. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this energy does not come over. However, it would be churlish not to quietly admire their blind faith and self-belief.
Track Listing: Russ Job; Begone Siren Voices, Say Yes To The Flesh: Part 1; Part 2; Part 8; Hands Apart, Eyes Wide Open; Synthetic Feast.
Personnel: Teela Land, Vocals; Colin Makepiece, Trumpet, French Horn, Washboard; Chet Butcher, French Horn, Spoons; Alvin Karper, Trombone; Bob Scooby, Trombone, Pocket Tuba; Nefertiti Medway, Alto Sax, Flute; Geri Laurel, Tenor Sax, Flute, Oboe; Herb Gauleiter, Baritone Sax, Alto Sax; Cecil Tate, Piano; Les Lehrer, Bass; Tub Fischer, Drums.
Style: Modern Jazz