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Martin Archer: Blue Meat, Black Diesel & Engine Room Favourites

Glenn Astarita By

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One never knows what direction British multi-reedman Martin Archer will impart as he surges forward in a stealthy world of avant-jazz, electronics, or discombobulated jazz-rock. Hands down, he's one of the more creative musical souls on mother earth. Each new album marks a distinct journey. His fresh outlook and cornucopia of disparate concepts, executed with large and small ensembles—along with several albums collaborating with legendary British vocalist Julie Tippetts—represent a succession of distinguished agendas. Here, Archer's bountiful resourcefulness once again shines radiantly within a large ensemble format, where not all the musicians perform in concurrent fashion.

The album title might allude to a loud industrial-music type program, but in actuality, Archer cites the Chicago-based Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) as a major influence within the album notes. Comprised of three extended works, each piece is a study in semi-free jazz, incorporating capacious characteristics and an open forum for the artists to expand their wares. It's cohesive, but almost anything goes via the whirlwind tour. Dual percussionists and drummers, strings, horns and vibes all play significant parts amid an incessant reinvention process. On "Of the Above," violinist Graham Clark expresses lament leading to the band's aerial bombardment, spanning creaky sax notes and brash breakouts, and segueing back to the violinist's sonorous passages along with pianist Laura Cole's lush chord developments. Numerous contrasts and unexpected delights abound.

The final track "Blue Meat, Black Diesel & Engine Room Favorites" is partitioned as a multi-part suite. Here, asymmetrical horns, low- key rumblings and harmonically appealing choruses, hinging on traditional jazz and blues, are intersecting components of a lengthy journey. Add Clark's sweet violin phrasings and Corey Mwamba's cool and jazzy vibes work to a medley of cleverly concocted abstracts and temperate moments, and notions of an avant-garde film soundtrack come to mind. Nonetheless, Archer synchronizes an attainable blend of discordant mini-themes with harmonious passages throughout much of the program. A mark of invention along with qualitative factors has become a telltale constant within Archer's diverse discography. This 2013 release is yet another example of his far-reaching proclivities and fertile imaginative powers.

Track Listing: Engine Room Induction; Of the Above; Blue Meat, Black Diesel & Engine room Favourites.

Personnel: Martin Archer: sopranino, alto and baritone saxophones, bass clarinet, bass recorder, bass harmonica; Walt Shaw: percussion; Johnny Hunter: drums and percussion; Peter Fairclough: drums and percussion; Steve Dinsdale: percussion; Graham Clark: violin; Laura Cole: piano; Corey Mwamba: vibraphone; Seth Bennett: double bass; Kim Macari: trumpet; Lee Hallam: trombone; James Archer: bass clarinet.

Title: Blue Meat, Black Diesel & Engine Room Favourites | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Discus-Music

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