Gary Windo: Anglo American (2004)
Sometimes musicians are more famous for their associations. Gary Windo, a late Brit hornman from a period with no end of visionary English saxophonists, may be a strangely familiar name. Check your LP stacks: have anything by the Brotherhood of Breath (BOB)? Ray Russell or Robert Wyatt? Hugh Hopper or Carla Bley? Maybe even NRBQ? If so, then Windo's piercing, oft-agonizing wails have burrowed their way into your subconscious at some point.
Anglo American , referring to Windo's Atlantic-crossing career, is the followup to His Master's Bones , a compilation from 1996 begun by Windo prior to his premature passing. It is an eclectic collection of mostly Windo-led bands but also collaborations with a fascinating array of English and American characters.
The CD begins with a a brief solo introduction (for bass clarinet, voice and bells). The Symbiosis band follows on the lengthy "Standfast" from 1971. The group featured some of Windo's BOB bandmates mixed with Soft Machine members (Wyatt still on drums prior to his accident). The piece veers quickly into buoyant BOB territory, led by Feza's energy.
Two live tracks by the group WMWM feature Wyatt again on drums and effected vocals, bassist Ron Mathewson and keyboardist Dave MacRae. The music is in the later Soft Machine vein, but Windo's violent saxophone provides contrast with Mathewson's groove bass and MacRae's Mwandishi-isms. Windo and Friends is another return to BOB with a short excerpt from a 1976 performance at the famed Peanuts Jazz Club in London. It cuts off sadly in the middle, but a brief opportunity to hear Windo matched against altoist Dudu Pukwana is fun.
The rest of the CD presents Windo ostensibly as a leader: five tracks featuring bassist Steve Swallow and four tracks with Windo leading a sextet (the Shades) and a quintet (all from 1981) and his All Stars featuring Hugh Hopper on bass and Laurie Allen on drums. The first five quintet tracks are a marked departure from what precedes them. Recorded in 1979 and featuring vocals by himself and wife Pam and with Swallow's funked out electric bass propelling the perky themes, the only constant in Windo's shrill, pained tenor tone which bridges the gap between guttural blues and free jazz.
The Shades material is a mix of Huey Lewis and the News and Archie Shepp that is oddly appealing. The All Stars play the traditional "Red River Valley" straight out of a '50s sockhop, ending the album appropriately with a soulful solo by Windo.
Though Windo was not around to reap the benefits of these compilations, Anglo American shows that no matter the group, Windo always was himself.
Track Listing: 1 Round Ginkie 1:52; 2 Standfast 11:51; 3 Carmus 13:51; 4 Spiderman 9:38; 5 Take Off 5:31; 6 Anglo American 3:31; 7 Is This the Time 4:36; 8 Quick Steps 5:21; 9 Free to Go 3:33; 10 The Sun & the Moon 5:11; 11 Radio Improved 3:37; 12 Baxter 2:14; 13 Lassie Breaks Out 3:07; 14 Red River Valley 2:18.
Personnel: Terry Adams: Piano; Tony Adolino: Drums; Laurie Allan: Drums; Al Anderson: Guitar; Roy Babbington: Bass Guitar; Ian Bennett: Tenor Sax; Charlie Brocco: Guitar; Richard Brunton: Guitar; Marc Charig: Cornet; Nick Evans: Trombone; Mongezi Feza: Pocket Trumpet; Ed Fitzgerald: Bass Guitar; Hugh Hopper: Bass Guitar; Dave MacRae: Piano, Electric Piano; Ron Mathewson: Bass, Bass Guitar; Henry Miller: Bass; Louis Moholo: Drums; Dudu Pukwana: Alto Sax; Frank Roberts: Electric Piano; Janet Robinson: Cello; D. Sharpe: Drums; Joey Spampinato: Bass Guitar; Gary Windo: Bass Clarinet, Tenor Sax, Vocals, Voices, Bells; Robert Wyatt: Organ, Percussion, Drums, Mouth Percussion.