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Canadian drummer Barry Romberg's Random Access, with four previous studio recordings to its credit, has made its name with a carefully crafted electronic sound, owing much to Miles Davis' late-'60s/early-'70s recordings. With Accidental Beef, part five in the Random Access series, he takes the group outside the tighter confines of the studio for an excellent live recording that proves itself his most compelling work to date.
With a mix of spontaneity and and tight grooves, this sound churns with the power rock muscle of Geoff Young's guitar slashing over the driving percussion of Romberg and Blair Mackay. Add the sax work of Kelly Jefferson and the Miles-like trumpet work of Kevin Turcotte, and you have an hard-driving musical experience not unlike Miles Davis's sound from the Agartha (1975) period. But where Davis's live work from the '70s often had a feeling of out-of-control madness, especially to the uninitiated, Romberg infuses his madness with more of a method, laying down tighter percussion modes and a more focused structure.
Violinist Hugh Marsh lends a glowing eerie depth to the harmonies. His axe is unabashedly electric, and it's one of the most unusual sounds you'll hear, like drawing a bow strung with wire cable over a hot plutonium core. Unfortunately, he's not featured enough on solos.
Overall, Barry Romberg's Random Access, a great studio band, proves itself a great live unit, too, with Accidental Beef.
Track Listing: Whoa Nellie; Blair's Choice; Live Evil; Make Up Your Mind; Accidental Beef.
Personnel: Barry Romberg: drums and percussion; Hugh Marsh: violin; Geoff Young: guitars; Rich Brown: bass; Kevin Turcotte: trumpet; Kelly Jefferson: saxes; Blair Mackay: percussion.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.