All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

197

Henry Cow: Concerts

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Whereas most "progressive" bands of the 1970s seemed to progress in the direction of ever-increasing virtuosity, in a manner not unlike the snake that consumed its tail and simply carried on, the members of Henry Cow were far stricter adherents to a truly progressive ideology. In the case of this live two-disc set—originally released in 1976 and recently reissued in expanded, remastered form—their approaches make for a body of music that serves as an overview of just how much ground the band actually covered during its golden age. The fact that these musicians did so without becoming paid-up members of some technocratic elite is to their resounding credit.

This is well indicated by "Off The Map, "Café Royal and "Keeping Warm In Winter/Sweet Heart Of Mine, played as one continuous piece by the same lineup that cut Legend (East Side Digital, 1973). The degree of discontinuity between these two bodies of music is notable, not least because the level of improvisation in this instance seems a whole lot more pronounced. The contrast also serves as indication of a collective willingness to branch out into musical territory beyond the remit of even the loosest notion of a rock band.

This theme of contrast is also notable when the improvised sections of this set are viewed against the formality of the songs. The band only used vocals intermittently in the course of its career on record, and Dagmar Krause had one of the most distinctive voices of this or any other age. Her musical identity in itself is as individual as Fred Frith's approach to the guitar, for example, and these are just two examples of a number that could be cited within the context of this music; on "Beautiful As The Moon, Terrible As An Army With Banners, performed as part of a medley, she carries a melody of almost iconoclastic individuality.

The band's only quartet recordings are preserved on "Groningen and "Groningen Again, the titles of which highlight the arbitrary nature of titling, inasmuch as both pieces were recorded in the Dutch city of that name. The benefit of hindsight, dubious though it always is, seems to reveal a band straining against form at the same time as it stayed shy of entirely open freedom. The result is music that wins the listener's attention through detail as much as the raising of its collective voice. That said, a singular power is also in evidence.

Trying to verbally encapsulate what this band did is a pretty pointless exercise. Besides, the time it would take can be far more constructively used in listening to the music, especially when Bob Drake's fresh remastering has had the effect of giving it an unprecedented immediacy. The sublimation of individual musical personalities to the needs and works of the collective might just nail it, however.


Track Listing: CD1: Beautiful As The Moon, Terrible As An Army With Banners; Nirvana For Mice; The Ottawa Song; Gloria Gloom; Beautiful As The Moon (Reprise); Bad Alchemy; Little Red Riding Hood Hits The Road; Ruins; Groningen; Groningen Again. CD2: Oslo (Tracks 1-8 inclusive); Off The Map; Caf

Personnel: Lindsay Cooper: bassoon, flute, oboe, piano, recorder; Chris Cutler: drums, piano; Dagmar Krause: voice, piano; Fred Frith: guitar, piano, violin, xylophone; John Greaves: bass, celeste, voice, piano; Tim Hodgkinson: organ, piano, clarinet, alto saxophone. Geoff Leigh: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute, clarinet, recorder (CD2:9-11) Robert Wyatt: voice (CD1:6,7).

Title: Concerts | Year Released: 2006 | Record Label: ReR Megacorp

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Fat Daddy CD/LP/Track Review
Fat Daddy
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Short Stories CD/LP/Track Review
Short Stories
by Gareth Thompson
Published: September 19, 2018
Read UHHM CD/LP/Track Review
UHHM
by John Bricker
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Decoy CD/LP/Track Review
Decoy
by Glenn Astarita
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller CD/LP/Track Review
Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Change In The Air CD/LP/Track Review
Change In The Air
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller" CD/LP/Track Review Paul Heller Meets Roman Schwaller
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 18, 2018
Read "Delirios Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Delirios Vol. 1
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: July 26, 2018
Read "There'll Be Some Changes Made" CD/LP/Track Review There'll Be Some Changes Made
by Dr. Judith Schlesinger
Published: May 17, 2018
Read "Let Go" CD/LP/Track Review Let Go
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: June 25, 2018
Read "Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery" CD/LP/Track Review Live in Miami @ the WDNA Jazz Gallery
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 5, 2018
Read "Hawthorne" CD/LP/Track Review Hawthorne
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 9, 2018