Mushroom was formed in the late 1990s by drummer Pat Thomas as a loose performing collective and has developed a small but quite rabid following. Lumped in with the jamband genre, they've never garnered quite the same amount of attention as other exemplars. Perhaps part of the reason is that they are not exclusively a jamband and not easily classifiable. One can never be quite sure what one is going to get when one purchases a Mushroom recording. They frequently invite guests, some known, others not, that take their music in unexpected directions. Their music has run the gamut from lengthy Bitches Brew-style improvs and Krautrock to soul-influenced jazz and psychedelic pop. But they do it all with a recognizable sound and ethos that stamps the recording as theirs.
For Joint Happening, Mushroom invited trumpeter Eddie Gale to perform with the band. Although on paper it may seem like a mismatch, that is not the case. Gale has always been an intrepid explorer. His tenure in Sun Ra's Arkestra and as a member of the ensemble that recorded Cecil Taylor's Unit Structures (Blue Note, 1966) are strong enough credentials. His two Blue Note albums, Black Rhythm Happening (1969) and Ghetto Music (1968), have long been underground favorites for soul-jazz fans. But perhaps the most pertinent Eddie Gale recording that relates to Joint Happening is Larry Young's Of Love And Peace (Blue Note, 1966), seeming to operate on the same groove principle that Young's disc relied on, with the band and Gale blowing freely over a percolating rhythm section. But admittedly the Young groove was more jazz-oriented and the organist never played a mellotron, among the first sounds to burst from this disc.
Gale's trumpet work was never particularly Miles-ian. He seemed far more influenced by Booker Little or Clifford Brown, but here he's blowing over the percussive grooves with a Davis-like stealth, choosing his notes carefully at first. But each of these pieces of varying lengthsome shorter (mostly seven-to-eight minute range), others lengthy side-long blowouts (if this were on vinyl)all find their own center, most rather quickly. Mushroom doesn't let Gale down either. They not only support him but their soloing here seems stronger than in the past.
Ultimately this disc hearkens back to that weird brief window of time (c. 1967-69) when various musics began fusing together: when Archie Shepp jammed with Frank Zappa, when Miles plugged in and Sun Ra played on the same bill as the MC5. It was a period when music was rife with all sorts of possibilities. What happened? Looks like we had to wait for Mushroom to meet up with Eddie Gale.
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.