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S.O.S./: Looking for the Next One

Glenn Astarita By

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S.O.S./: Looking for the Next One Complete with an in-depth 16-page booklet—including photos and a storyboard of the core trio's existence, S.O.S features three protagonists of the '70s British progressive- jazz movement and beyond. The band formed in 1973 and lasted through 1976 with one self- titled album for the Ogun record label in 1975. Looking for the Next One, is a 2-CD set comprising of studio and live material that offers previously unreleased material that is grounded on the trio's innovative unification of electronics to supplement the sax trio concept. It's one of those unearthed treasures that hold its value several decades after the fact.

Experimentation with synthesizers was executed on a broad scale back in the day. On "News," a frothy ostinato underscores the coordinated sax parts and it becomes evident from the onset that the musicians were clearly on a mission framed on risk-taking and extroverted progressions. The common denominator is that they give it 110% via hyperactive creative sparks. On Alan Skidmore's droning "Looking for the Next One," the electronic quotient set forth by John Surman generates an oddball effect, contrasting an ominous theme-building exercise that becomes sprightly within the realm of a free-form slugfest, which is exacerbated by alto saxophonist Mike Osborne's flailing crescendos.

"Country Dance" progresses with a motif that projects a hidden beauty accelerated by symphonic-like three-sax attack, where the artists shifts octaves and engages in dizzying exchanges as they reconstruct the primary melody. On the live disc, there are additional electronic patterns scattered throughout as the trio veers off into unknown parts while maintaining fluid dialogues in concert with numerous re-engineering techniques and disparate angles. Although the trio moves along with the regimentation of gears functioning in a complex piece of machinery, the music is not without memorable hooks. Indeed, there is never a dull moment.

"Trio Trio" is a 23-minute opus that accentuates early British prog-jazz mementos. It features sweet-toned and majestic choruses rendered by Skidmore and Surman's introspective soprano sax lines. They even toss an Irish jig along with the swirling electronics, culminating into a festive audience-pleasing affair.

Looking for the Next One is surely one of the premier archival reissues of 2013. It is ahead of its time artistically and technically. The trio's striking ingenuity and convivial demeanor emerges in leaps and bounds from start to finish.


Track Listing: CD1: News; Rashied; Looking for the Next One; Country Dance; Q.E. Hall; The Mountain Road. CD2: Introduction; Suite; Trio Trio; Up There; Legends.

Personnel: Mike Osborne: alto saxophone, percussion; Alan Skidmore: soprano and tenor saxophones, drums; John Surman: baritone and soprano saxophones, bass clarinet, synthesizer, keyboards; Tony Levin: drums (CD1#5-6).

Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records | Style: Modern Jazz


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