This is a really thrilling, wonderful and profoundly enjoyable albuma trailblazing and stirring adventure in world music and world jazz recorded long before either term was invented.
Made in '69, in London, by Indian guitarist Amancio D'Silva and four of Britain's finest jazzmen, it serves up a chili-rich dish of hard bop, Indian raga, ska, early electric Miles, a little rembetika, Link Wray and Willis Gator Jackson... and Ennio Morricone spaghetti western scores! Reissued as part of Universal's Impressed-Repressed series of long unavailable British jazz masterpieces, the groove today is as irresistible and out of it as it must have sounded three decades ago.
In the late '60s, the British jazz scene was still suffering from the crippling belief that the best jazz could only come out of the USA and that anything made in Britain must, by definition, be derivative and inferior. It was the Indo-jazz movement of the time, spearheaded by London-based Indian composer/arranger John Mayer and West Indian saxman Joe Harriott and their Indo-Jazz Fusions 1 and 2 albums, together with D'Silva, which as much as anything helped overturn this inferiority complex.
More visceraland more gonethan Mayer's sometimes overly academic and self-conscious multi-cultural constructs, the music on Integration also has little to do with the blissed out sitar sounds then popular within the counter culture. The first three tracks in particular, with saxophonist Don Rendell sharing the solo spotlight with D'Silva, are much more fiery, rough edged and incantatory, closer to the sort of music you'd hear in a Rajastan town square on market day. D'Silva's hard-picked and percussive style, wholly original and uncategorisable, performed throughout the album on electric guitar, references classical sitar and primal Link Wray with a little bit of bouzouki thrown in for good measure, while the horn arrangements evoke both the Skatalites and the Jazz Messengers. Rendell, on tenor for the majestic "Ganges" and "Jaipur," affirms his position as one of the most exciting hard bop saxmen and reveals some gloriously raucous ska and R&B roots.
Rendell drops out for the last four tracks, which foreground D'Silva and Carr and are more measured and reflective than their predecessorsbut no less magical. Carr, in '69 almost obsessive in his devotion to Miles (and later, of course, his distinguished biographer), is practically right up there with his hero's In A Silent Way initiatives, and with D'Silva conjures some top ranking early electric Miles. On the closing "Joyce Country," the duo mix Carr's Spanish tinge with D'Silva's "Rumble" moments to evoke Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western soundtracks.
Unforced in its sweeping cultural inclusiveness, and utterly convincing in its execution, Integration is a stone delight from start to finish.
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