225

Harry Miller's Isipingo: Full Steam Ahead

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
Harry Miller's Isipingo: Full Steam Ahead Such is the nature of the reviewing game that some reviews just flow out, taking the perennial word count with it. This is usually because the force of life running through the music under discussion is vibrant enough to make it so, and Full Steam Ahead is a case in point.

If the notion that the 15 years between 1965 and 1980—as arbitrary as that period may seem just like any other—amount to the most fertile period in British jazz to date, then this release underpins it in no small measure. The participation of South Africans such as bassist Harry Miller, trumpeter Mongezi Feza and drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo, all of whom are present here, lent something vibrant to that scene too, as this collection of tracks caught at various times in the 1970s testifies. Isipingo was a blowing outfit in a number of senses, and the band's music was always a simultaneously tight but loose mixture that musicians often talk and dream about but very infrequently capture.

Here, the opening "Whey Hey!" and following "Good Heavens, Evans!" nail that one from the start. Feza and alto saxophonist Mike Osborne, both of whom are sadly no longer with us, always came to do more than play, and they prove it here with their own heady mixtures of fire and skill. The latter manifests itself in the way they show their command of tension-and-release, borne aloft as their efforts are by the downright extraordinary accompaniment of Stan Tracey, whose pianistic approach is sufficiently different to that of the band's regular pianist, Keith Tippett, as to suggest an entire alternative blueprint for working in such a potentially volcanic setting.

"Family Affair," on which Tippett does appear, is clearly a rambunctious affair of like-minded souls, and the point is emphasized by his expansive solo over Moholo's hyperactive snare drum. Trombonist Malcolm Griffiths is an approximate amalgam of Bill Harris and Roswell Rudd, appearing to look both forwards and backwards at the same time. Osborne, as was his way by this time, starts from a point a great many musicians spend twenty minutes trying to locate.

"Children At Play" is an apt title for too many reasons to discuss, especially as it emphasizes that this music can reflect a fundamental joy of life. That is, of course, something in itself. It's the best kind of realization to know that these guys could summon it up so easily, even in the face of life's adversities.


Track Listing: Whey Hey!; Good Heavens Evans!; Family Affair; Children At Play; Dancing Damon.

Personnel: Mongezi Feza: pocket trumpet (1, 2); Mark Charig: trumpet (3-5); Nick Evans: trombone (1, 2); Malcolm Griffiths: trombone (3, 4); Paul Nieman: trombone (5); Mike Osborne: alto sax (1-5); Stan Tracey: piano (1, 2); Keith Tippett: piano (3, 5); Frank Roberts: piano (4); Harry Miller: bass (1-5); Louis Moholo: drums (1-5).

Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Reel Recordings


Shop

More Articles

Read Northern Adventures CD/LP/Track Review Northern Adventures
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Collider CD/LP/Track Review Collider
by John Sharpe
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Eos CD/LP/Track Review Eos
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 28, 2017
Read More Than This CD/LP/Track Review More Than This
by Henning Bolte
Published: February 28, 2017
Read Road to Forever CD/LP/Track Review Road to Forever
by Jack Bowers
Published: February 27, 2017
Read Avenida Graham CD/LP/Track Review Avenida Graham
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 27, 2017
Read "Love For Sale" CD/LP/Track Review Love For Sale
by Geannine Reid
Published: June 23, 2016
Read "Between Brothers" CD/LP/Track Review Between Brothers
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 29, 2016
Read "Closer To The Sun" CD/LP/Track Review Closer To The Sun
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 10, 2016
Read "Roma-Rio" CD/LP/Track Review Roma-Rio
by Tyran Grillo
Published: May 22, 2016
Read "Shovel Down" CD/LP/Track Review Shovel Down
by Doug Collette
Published: December 18, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: Jazz Near You | GET IT  

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!