This limited edition live set, recorded in the Netherlands, showcases the Soft Machine Legacy's bridging of previously explored horizons with a new outlook, firmed up by acclaimed British jazz guitarist John Etheridge. With three longstanding members of the early rendition of the Soft Machine carrying the torch, this album features richly lyrical jazz-rock architectures of various colors and flavors.
On the opening "Ash, Etheridge's understated electric guitar voicings provide an ethereal backdrop for Elton Dean's softly executed sax lines, embedded within a gently flowing theme. Then the soloists proceed to turn up the heat via some cat and mouse digressions as the band ventures off into a sequence of mini-motifs. The artists do carry forth sounds of the fabled Canterbury progressive rock era via bassist Hugh Hopper's early Soft Machine classic "Kings & Queens.
The majority of these pieces were composed solely for this occasion, which brings to mind the fact that this rendition of the ensemble's ongoing legacy never recorded as a unit until now. And with Dean's yearning melody lines, the band members generally doesn't aim to overpower, although they wisely pick their spots to do so. For example, the musicians slam matters into tenth gear on the fast-paced burner "Two Down, where legendary drummer John Marshall generates a pumping funk-rock groove. The highlights are bountiful throughout; this recent effort spawns a new epoch for the band's exodus into the future. Essential...
Track Listing: Ash; 1212, Baker's Street, Kings & Queens, Two Down, Big Cheese.
Personnel: Elton Dean: alto saxophone, saxello, Fender Rhodes piano; John Etheridge, electric guitar;
Hugh Hopper, bass guitar; John Marshall, drums.