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Brian Auger: Introspection

Doug Collette By

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Brian Auger: Introspection
A purposefully more far-ranging companion piece to The Best of Brian Auger's Oblivion Express (PolyGram, 1996), among other such compendia, Introspection is keyboardist/composer Brian Auger's personally-curated anthology covering the span of his career. In keeping with John Sellard's graphic design that features an array of period photos, the three-CDs' sound is as impeccable as its track sequencing also overseen by the artist himself

This forward-thinking musician has hand-selected thirty-five of his favorite live and studio cuts, a handful of which reappear from that aforementioned and highly-renowned fusion band, including some of his most popular tunes and some that didn't receive all the attention they deserved. But it's well to note the high points among these near three-dozen tracks, like "Freddie's Flight," recall the vintage Oblivion Express cuts here including "Happiness Is Just Around the Bend" and "Second Wind." That is, the rich funky rhythms sound perfectly natural as do the lines Auger unfurls from his instrument of choice, the Hammond B3; his pithy statements suggest even more potential for improvisation and represent an implicit humility as rare as his self-discipline.

Not surprisingly, the common thread here is the somewhat unsung bandleader/composer/ keyboardist's distinct style of organ playing. But Auger also utilizes a fair amount of piano on Introspection as well, even apart from "Pavane:" "If You Could See Me Now" is equally stellar, all the more so as it features ex-Mahavishnu Orchestra bassist Rick Laird. And then there's the glistening electric piano that highlights this arrangement of Herbie Hancock's "Butterfly" from that jazz icon's Thrust (Columbia, 1974); Brian Auger actually wrote lyrics to the latter tune and they're sung by his daughter Savannah, proof positive her presence is not merely nepotism—any more than sibling drummer Karma's loose-limbed percussion on so many cuts here.

The woman's vocal delivery is as smooth, fluid and airy there as on "It Burns Me Up" and "Isola Natale;" she actually harmonizes with herself on the latter, further evidence of her father's discerning choice in vocalists such as Alex Ligertwood who appears during " Whenever You're Ready." Her sister Ali Auger also acquits herself quite stylishly on selections from some vaunted sources standards including Lane/Loesser's "The Lady's In Love" and Burton/Hampton/Mercer's "Midnight Sun." Meanwhile, Auger's own lead singing on "Just Me Just You" and "Homeward"—a songwriting collaboration of Auger offspring—remind his voice has its charms, namely an aversion to affected phrasing or moving beyond his range.

Various recording locales a wide roster of different singers and band personnel including Julie Driscoll and Average White Band founder/drummer Robbie McIntosh comprise Introspection. The much-vaunted Oblivion Express is well-represented (and wisely so) with a half-dozen judiciously-placed numbers, while sessions conducted in the late Nineties and into the 2000's (in addition to some from the Sixties, Seventies and Eighties) feature some fairly stable lineups of musicians: Brian Auger is nothing if not savvy about the rare chemistry of a good band.

But it's to his great credit that this collection of disparate recordings is wholly and completely of a piece, alternately upholding and stretching beyond jazz tradition. Not that any such reaffirmation is really necessary, but Introspection is further evidence of an abiding style that's allowed this man to remain both distinctive and prolific as the years roll on.

Track Listing

CD 1: Freddie's Flight; It Burns Me Up; Butterfly; Isola Natale; The Lady's in Love; Midnight Sun; Season of the Witch; Inner City Blues; Light My Fire; Happiness Is Just Around the Bend; Fanfare for the Common Blue Turkey. CD 2: Planet Earth Calling; Sea of Tranquility; This Wheel's on Fire; Just Me Just You; The Road to Cairo; Indian Rope Man; Sundown; Second Wind; Somebody Help Me; We Three Kings; Whenever You're Ready; Future Pilot; CD 3: Ella; Pavane; Cry Me a River; Birds of Paradise; Lament for Miss Baker; Jam Side Down; If You Could See Me Now; Homeward; Looking in the Eye of the World; Dawn of Another Day; Voices of Other Times; I've Gotta Go Now

Personnel

Brian Auger: organ, Hammond B3; Alex Ligertwood: voice / vocals; Savannah Auger: voice / vocals; Ali Auger: voice / vocals; Karma Auger: drums; Patrick Gleeson: electronics; Gary Boyle: guitar, electric; Ho Yung-Kim: guitar, electric; Jack Mills: guitar, electric; Rick Hannah: guitar; George Doering: guitar, electric; Chris Clermont: guitar, electric; Jim Mullen: guitar; Dick Morrissey: saxophone; Katisse Buckingham: saxophone, tenor; Chris Golden: bass, electric; Barry Dean: bass; Derek Frank: bass; Rick Laird: bass, acoustic; Dave McDaniels: bass, electric.

Brian Auger: Fender Rhodes piano; Moog synthesizer; Korg MI piano; synth strings; Prophet 5 synth; Yamaha Grand piano; Yamaha CP708 grand piano; Mini Moog; Korg M3 Digital piano synth; Seven Foot Steinway Grand piano; Yarone Levy: guitar; Steve Dawson: trumpet; Larry Williams: trumpet, flugelhorn; Barry Dean: harmonies; Dave Ambrose: bass; Steve Evans: bass; Les King: bass; Dan Lutz: bass; Clive Thacker: drums; Godfrey McLean: drums; Terry Baker: drums; Robbie McIntosh: drums; Phil Bunch: drums; Phil Kinnora: drums; Dave Crigger: drums; Larry Vann: drums; Tom Donlinger: drums, Waterphone, wind gong; Karma Auger: sleigh bells, percussion; Long John Oliva: congas; Lennox Laington: congas; Julie Driscoll: vocals.

Album information

Title: Introspection | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Sunset Blvd. Records

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