I'll resist any pun that might connect the words "mushroom and "joint but more than a little psychedelia wafts like incense and patchouli through this collaboration between progressive rock and jazz veterans.
Mushroom is a more-or-less underground ensemble led by drummer Pat Thomas that has explored modern instrumental rock and jazz from its San Francisco base, including serving as support band for like-minded progressives Kevin Ayers (of Soft Machine) and Daevid Allen (of Gong), for the past decade. Here, they collaborate with trumpet player Eddie Gale, also a veteran of progressive music but from the jazz realm, including work with Sun Ra and Cecil Taylor's landmark Unit Structures. "After we heard the reissues of Eddie's 1960's Blue Note LPs that blended jazz with gospel, folk and soul, like a hybrid of the Edwin Hawkins Singers and Sun Ra, says Thomas, "we knew that we had to meet this kindred spirit who was not afraid to blend a diverse set of styles and let them stew and percolate.
From beginning to end, this is some seriously whacked out shit. The opening "Peace floats in very free time, progressive synthesizer music before synthesizers went pop, a spacious backdrop for Gale's powerful, dramatic trumpet entrance. "Selling Oakland by the Pound continually builds then dissolves a piano, vibes and percussion crescendo beneath a title that honors one of Genesis' most fabled album titles.
You catch more than a whiff of jazz too. "I Was Torn Down at the Dance Place, Shaved Head at the Organ radiates a heavy groove out from its repeated throbbing bass line to build a spiritually intense framework for Gale's premier trumpet performance of the set, exploratory yet always close to this rhythmic and harmonic corean electronic "Love Supreme for trumpet. The simple replacement of Gale's trumpet with Matt Gunitz' acoustic piano reshapes this sound into more of a progressive rock, Traffic-like jam.
Gale digs deep into his trumpet, down to the sound of bone, which brings out the sound and communal adventurous spirit (even if not quite the exact style) of New Orleans collective improvisation in "I Don't Need to Fight to Prove I'm Right, I Don't Need to Be Forgiven. As you soar with Gale's spacewalk through this tune's heady atmosphere, you can also look below and discover that Mushroom has evolved a new, or at least rarely heard type of electronic and yet organic music.
Track Listing: Peace; I Don't Need To Fight To Prove I'm Right - I Don't Need To Be Forgiven; I Was Torn Down At The Dance Place - Shaved Head At The Organ; Border Crossing; Selling Oakland By The Pound; Our Love; The Spirit.
Personnel: Eddie Gale: trumpet; Patrick O'Hearn Thomas: drums, congas (1); Ned Doherty: bass; Matt Henry Cunitz: Mellotron, Rhodes Electric Piano, Clavinet, piano, Hammond C3, Minimoog, Yamaha Electone, Korg MS-10 synthesizer; Tim Plowman (1,2,4,6): guitar; David Brandt (1, 2, 4, 6): vibraphone, congas, djembe, percussion; Erik Pearson (3, 5, 7): guitar, flute, tenor saxophone; Dave Mihaly (3, 5, 7): marimba, percussion.
The first record I bought was Miles Smiles. Having been a drummer since age two, hearing a young Tony Williams opened up so many possibilities for a 14 year old church drummer. My life changed that day and I've never looked back!