Not only does this superb release represent the band’s first studio production in over two decades, “The Muffins” have gotten back into the biz in a huge and noticeably prominent way! Emanating from the Washington D.C. area, “The Muffins’” adroitly absorbed the finer attributes of the oft-fabled British Canterbury scene along with elements of modern/free form jazz during its tenure back in the 70s. In fact, the great improvising guitarist/composer Fred Frith once stated “The Muffins” were “the finest progressive band America produced.” Significant words indeed from a man who along with a few others turned quite a few eyes and ears with the legendary 70’s outfit known as “Henry Cow.” Much to our chagrin “The Muffins” called it a day via its dissolution in 1981, whereas “Cuneiform Records” subsequently reissued the group’s material on CD format.
This presentation leans towards a jazzy approach amid a discreetly perpetuated Canterbury scene style muse. Nevertheless, the quartet along with guest appearances by several D.C. area instrumentalists, rely less on avant-garde or unconventional strategies by pursuing affectionately melodic tunes. On “World Maps” for example, saxophonists Thomas Frasier Scott, Dave Newhouse (also performing on keys) and guest artist, trombonist Doug Elliot intertwine poignant choruses with a haunting melody. The musicians subsequently launch a framework consisting of succinct unison lines framed upon the primary theme that weaves in and out of the grand scheme of things. Scott’s memorably tuneful soprano sax work on “Dear Mona,” is augmented with a touch of echo, as the artists underscore a contemporary vibe with 1970’s type progressive rock. These characteristics can also be found on the whimsically affecting piece titled “People In The Snow.”
The prevailing factor of delight resides within their harmoniously constructed compositions and alluring arrangements marked by fluid backbeats, textural patterns, and airy voicings. A trace of urgency encircles the proceedings, thanks to the soloists’ briefly devised yet complexly woven time signatures. You can hum along with the soothing motif witnessed on “East Of Diamond!” Here, the quartet moves forward with a sequence of flourishing passages, underscored by Newhouse’ acoustic piano and Hammond B-3 organ treatments.
With this effort, analogies of a cloistered writer composing his or her ensuing masterpiece might ring loud and clear: especially when we consider the twenty-year gap between studio productions. Feverishly recommended.
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy
I grew up listening to my father's jazz records and listening to the radio. My dad was a musician for many years as a vocalist, bassist and drummer. His two uncles played in the Symphony of Reggio Calabria back in Italy. So music and jazz specifically have been a part of me since I was born. I love and perform in all styles of music from around the world. Improvisation in jazz is what drew me in, and still does as well as other genres that feature improvisation. A group of great musicians expressing themselves as one is the hallmark of great jazz and in fact all great music.