389

Soft Bounds: Live at Le Triton 2004

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
Soft Bounds: Live at Le Triton 2004 When the legendary Canterbury group Soft Machine—with a variety of recent archival live releases generating renewed interest—dissolved with a whimper in the late '70s, it had arguably gone through more stylistic shifts in its ten-year run than anyone except perhaps Miles Davis. Best remembered for the classic lineup that released Third and Fourth—keyboardist Mike Ratledge, saxophonist Elton Dean, bassist Hugh Hopper and drummer Robert Wyatt—the group's successful cross-pollination of jazz and rock was as much about individual differences, which created incredible musical tension and energy, as it was about shared goals.

Of the four—despite moving on and forging individual careers that honed their specific strengths and musical predilections—history has proven Hopper and Dean to be the two with the most in common. Sure, Hopper tends towards more structured, albeit idiosyncratic and abstruse, composition, while Dean has always leaned towards free improvisation. But somewhere in the middle the two meet, as evidenced by the many times they've collaborated in ensuing years. Whether members of groups by other Canterburians, including guitarist Phil Miller's In Cahoots and drummer Pip Pyle's Equip Out, or collaborating on a variety of loosely Soft Machine-related projects like Soft Head, Soft Heap, and Soft Works, the juncture between Dean and Hopper seems to be where compositional form provides the framework, but freer improvisation the spark to greater unpredictability.

This ability to intuitively veer between structure and unencumbered interaction is what makes one of their latest projects, Soft Bounds, work so well. Teaming with French pianist Sophia Domancich—who worked with both in Equip Out and released a live album of improvised duets, Avant, with Dean earlier this year—and drummer Simon Goubert, one of the more surprising aspects of Soft Bounds is that it represents the first Soft Machine-related project to tackle material from the original Softs repertoire. Live at Le Triton 2004 features a lengthy look at Hopper's "Kings and Queens (originally on Fourth) in addition to one track each by the other members, but the group's known to cover other Softs material during the course of an evening.

There are unequivocal ties to classic Soft Machine, most notably the tightrope between form and freedom. But with the exception of Hopper's electric bass and Domancich's Rhodes on the second half of Goubert's surprisingly Coltrane-esque modal workout "Le Retour d'Emmanuel Philibert, this is an altogether more acoustic affair where the power comes from the players' inherent dynamics rather than sheer electric volume. Domancich's "La Part des Anges —the longest of the four pieces that comprise the hour-long set—manages to dissolve into maelstrom-like periods of chaos, only to magically find its way back to form.

What's most striking about Live at Le Triton 2004 is its clear reverence for jazz tradition, and not of the fusion variety. Instead, Soft Bounds finds the confluence of post bop, free jazz, European impressionism, and even a certain lyricism, making it one of the best Soft Machine spinoffs to date.

Visit Le Triton on the web.


Track Listing: La Part des Anges; Gimlet Abides on the Wagon; Le Retour d'Emmanuel Philibert; Kings and Queens.

Personnel: Hugh Hopper: bass guitar; Elton Dean: alto saxophone, saxello; Simon Goubert: drums; Sophia Domancich: piano, fender rhodes.

Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Musea Records | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Beekman Vol. 02" CD/LP/Track Review Beekman Vol. 02
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 23, 2016
Read "Natural Language" CD/LP/Track Review Natural Language
by Mark Corroto
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Real Talk" CD/LP/Track Review Real Talk
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 20, 2016
Read "The Promise Of Happiness" CD/LP/Track Review The Promise Of Happiness
by Roger Farbey
Published: December 7, 2016
Read "Once Upon a Time Right Now" CD/LP/Track Review Once Upon a Time Right Now
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: July 29, 2016
Read "Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift" CD/LP/Track Review Post Cool: Vol 1 The Night Shift
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: February 15, 2017

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

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!