235

Bob Downes Open Music: Crossing Borders

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Bob Downes Open Music: Crossing Borders Here's another of Reel's exercises in twentieth century tape archaeology. Like earlier efforts, it has the practical effect of sealing another hole in the documented fabric of British jazz and improvised music from the last four decades of that century. It's highly worthwhile too, this labor of love, as on this occasion it yields a program of music every bit as inventive as that produced by bigger stars—the term is as good as meaningless in the circumstances—of the day. Recorded at the end of the '70s, this music is both timeless and symbolic of moments in time when the players came together informally to tease the music from out of the ether.

Although primarily a flautist, it's the pieces that document Downes on alto or tenor sax that are the most compelling. His alto sound on "Sad Senorita" is significantly textural, and has an edge both grainy and acerbic. In the company of the underrated Brian Godding on guitar it does a dance at once lively yet downbeat in emulation of the title. Drummer John Stevens, in marked contrast to his work with the Spontaneous Music Ensemble, shows how propulsive he could be in a relatively more orthodox setting, while the basses of Barry Guy and Mark Meggido conspire never to get in each others' way, lending impetus to the music's open feel.

Downes plays both alto and tenor sax on the opening "Jungle Chase," in addition to flute and the Columbian pan flute he opens the piece on. His facility as a flautist is brought home. His rounded, full-bodied tone is never reduced to mere piping and the effect is that of a wholehearted improviser working the moment as though it's the most precious thing. The impression is reinforced when he switches to alto sax about nine minutes in, with Guy again on bass tracking developments.

Trombonist Paul Rutherford crops up on "Basking In The Sun," a piece which is the embodiment of propulsive atmosphere. Downes' flute is at its most lyrical and the music coalesces in a manner that soundtracks the activity of the title most effectively. Rutherford, at his most necessarily conventional, reminds us of how lovely his tone was. The relative brevity of the piece is fine in itself, an example of open music in the most rewarding sense of the term.


Track Listing: Jungle Chase; South American Indian; Sad Senorita; Che Guevera; Basking In The Sun.

Personnel: Bob Downes: alto sax (1, 3), tenor sax (1), flute (1, 4, 5), Columbian pan flute (1), Bahian cowbells (1), bass flute (2), vocals (1, 2, 4); Paul Rutherford: trombone (5); Brian Godding: electric guitar (3-5); Barry Guy: bass (1, 3, 4); Mark Megiddo: bass (3, 4); Paul Bridge: bass (5); Denis Smith: drums (1, 5); John Stevens: drums (3, 4).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Reel Recordings | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "A Secret Sigh" CD/LP/Track Review A Secret Sigh
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 21, 2016
Read "Musings" CD/LP/Track Review Musings
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 2, 2016
Read "Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Sant'Anna Arresi, 2004
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "Detour" CD/LP/Track Review Detour
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 26, 2016
Read "The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp" CD/LP/Track Review The Core Trio Live, featuring Matthew Shipp
by Karl Ackermann
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Live At The Open Gate" CD/LP/Track Review Live At The Open Gate
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 13, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!