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Peter Lemer Quintet: Local Colour

Glenn Astarita By

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British keyboardist Peter Lemer is highly regarded for his contributions to the fabled 1970s Canterbury progressive rock scene via his work with Gong, Gilgamesh and other bands of that bygone era and beyond. However, Local Colour originally released in 1968, is a free-form jazz outing that signifies Lemer's first and only solo venture. Moreover, this album denotes his fellow countryman and time-honored reedman John Surman's recording debut.

Reissued in 2013 as part of ESP's 50th anniversary, Lemer leads the band through a vibrant set with a trajectory that is underscored by perpetual motion, also featuring the always powerful drumming hero Jon Hiseman, recognized for his cutting- edge jazz-rock ensemble Colosseum, which was established in 1968. On a side-note, the album credits misspell his name as 'John.' Otherwise, the band opens with a loose and rather garrulous cover of Carla Bley's "Ictus," as the musicians circle around the primary theme, intensified by Surman and tenor saxophonist Nisar Ahmad Khan's fervently executed choruses. Amid a few highs and lows, Lemer's rhythmic voicings provide additional impact.

The quintet gels to an asymmetrical pulse during "Flowville," as Hiseman pushes and prods the frontline with his sweeping snare drum patterns and rapid cymbals hits. Lemer's vigorous phrasings spawn a gradual buildup that intimates foreboding circumstances, followed by Surman's barrelhouse baritone sax lines. Hence, the artists render a gusty aura. But Surman's pensive bass clarinet work on "Carmen," summons an unsettling climate atop a changeable metric, where the pianist and saxophonists improvise behind the beat, generating numerous contrasts along the way. Towards the finale, Lemer's trickling single note flurries, crosscut a somber theme. Overall, this gem has not aged one iota since its initial release. Besides the historical implications, there's a lot going on under the hood, so to speak. It's an exhilarating joy ride...

Track Listing: Ictus; City; Flowville; In The Out; Carmen; Enahenado.

Personnel: Nisar Ahmad Khan: tenor saxophone; John Surman (baritone saxophone, bass clarinet, soprano saxophone; Peter Lemer: piano; Tony Reeves: bass; Jon Hiseman: drums.

Title: Local Colour | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: ESP Disk

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