Phil Miller/In Cahoots: All That (2003)
Miller plays ringleader, committing five of the seven compositions and often taking the lead when it comes to solo space. While there's plenty of emphasis on themes and heads, the tunes (from six to thirteen minutes long) tend to serve as vehicles for solo improvisation. Everyone pitches in.
The 12-minute "Inca" draws on a slowed-down chunky funk, steady as she goes from start to finish. Credit bassist Fred Baker and drummer Mark Fletcher for pinning things down in an unobtrustive fashion. Solos by Miller and Dean aim toward structure and evolution, the former mostly foregoing his ample virtuosity to develop a deliberate statement. Dean's sax playing, rather bright and scratchy in tone, assembles short phrases into an extended whole.
Other highlights include "Black Cat," an extended sunny anthem with notable solos by Miller (not holding back) and Baker (slippery and eager). "Sleight of Hand" slows things down a bit, going for a polyrhythmic pulse. "Your Root 2" takes a no-holds-barred voyage into dramatic intensity.
During certain periods scattered throughout the disc, In Cahoots tends to linger a bit much in the groove; keyboard vamps occasionally dip into the cheese. But the group deserves credit for its tightness, range, and energy. Whatever the context, this sextet milks the music for all it's worth.
Track Listing: Black Cat; Big Dick; Inca; Sleight of Hand; Upside; Out There; Your Root 2.
Personnel: Phil Miller: guitar, guitar synth; Fred Baker: bass guitar; Pete Lemer: keyboards; Jim Dvorak: trumpet; Elton Dean: alto sax, saxello, C-melody sax; Mark Fletcher: drums.
Record Label: Cuneiform Records
Style: Fusion/Progressive Rock