Make a difference: Support jazz online

Support All About Jazz Your friends at All About Jazz are looking for readers to help back our website upgrade project. Of critical importance, this project will result in a vastly improved design across all devices and will make future All About Jazz projects much easier to implement. Click here to learn more about this project including donation rewards.

316

Soft Machine: NDR Jazz Workshop –Hamburg, Germany 1973

Nic Jones By

Sign in to view read count
By May, 1973, Soft Machine was well on its way from being a truly remarkable outfit to being a comparatively anonymous fusion band. This CD and DVD set goes to show this, but at least the music is played with the kind of fire that wasn't apparent on their studio albums of the time.

While the rhythm section—bassist Roy Babbington and drummer John Marshall—was a lot more "correct" than its predecessors, the pair does inject a kind of redeeming energy into "Link 1 / Link 2," while Karl Jenkins, on baritone sax, proves that he did, indeed, have equal facility on reeds and keyboards. In such company, Soft Machine's sole surviving founding member, keyboardist Mike Ratledge, plays it a lot straighter than he did in earlier incarnations of the band.

"Down The Road" gets a lengthier workout here than it does on Seven (Sony, 1973), with the addition of guitarist Gary Boyle making for a certain creative tension lacking in the studio version. The repetitive bass line gets a little wearing over ten minutes, though, especially when considering how earlier incarnations of the band would, perhaps, have utilized it as a mere starting point.

"Chloe And The Pirates" is both as experimental as anything on offer here —with one notable exception—and an opportunity for Art Themen to take a fiery and inspired soprano sax solo, in a context in which this customary stalwart of Stan Tracey's band has rarely been heard. He's almost quacking like Steve Lacy towards the solo's end, which in an odd way only goes to show that inspiration wasn't too far away—even if the music was radically different from what earlier Soft Machine lineups delivered.

The DVD largely duplicates the CD's contents, highlighting the group's emphasis on the music. Whilst there's nothing inherently wrong with this, the visuals add little to the overall experience.

The same can't be said for ex-Soft Machine bassist Hugh Hopper's "1983," in audio only on the DVD. It effectively summarizes that much missed individual's idiosyncratic take on fusion, as it stood at the time. Never afraid to utilize tape manipulation as a means for making music, Hopper's piece is a reminder of what his old band was leaving behind. The brooding, foreboding qualities of the piece never lets up, but the manner in which they're augmented by extraneous sounds makes for a tension unlike anything even within the composer's canon. Soft Machine certainly would never produce anything like it again, after this point in time.

Track Listing: CD: Fanfare; All White; Link1/Link2; 37 ½; Link 3; Riff; Down the Road; Link 3a; Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album; Chloe and the Pirates; Gesolreut; E.P.V.; Link 4; Stumble; One Across; Riff II. DVD: Fanfare; All White; Link1; The Soft Weed Factor; Link2; 37 ½; Link 3; Riff; Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album; Chloe and the Pirates; Gesolreut; E.P.V.; Link 4; Stumble; One Across; Riff II; 1983 (bonus audio only); Encore Improvisation/Stumble Reprise (bonus audio only).

Personnel: Roy Babbington: bass; Karl Jenkins: oboe, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, recorded piano, electric piano, piano; John Marshall: drums; Mike Ratledge: electric piano, organ; Gary Boyle: guitar (CD#7-16, DVD#1-16, DVD#18); Art Themen: soprano and tenor saxophones (CD#7-16, DVD#1-16, DVD#18); Hugh Hopper: bass and tapeloops (DVD#17).

Title: NDR Jazz Workshop –Hamburg, Germany 1973 | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Live at Pyatt Hall CD/LP/Track Review Live at Pyatt Hall
by Jack Bowers
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Flying Heart CD/LP/Track Review Flying Heart
by Troy Dostert
Published: January 23, 2018
Read The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow CD/LP/Track Review The 3Dom Factor: Live in Krakow
by John Sharpe
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Solano Canyon CD/LP/Track Review Solano Canyon
by Glenn Astarita
Published: January 23, 2018
Read Lucas CD/LP/Track Review Lucas
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: January 22, 2018
Read In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording CD/LP/Track Review In Paris: The Definitive ORTF Recording
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 22, 2018
Read "Eco Do Futuro" CD/LP/Track Review Eco Do Futuro
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: January 10, 2018
Read "Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas" CD/LP/Track Review Legacy: Neil Slater at North Texas
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 30, 2017
Read "Pathways" CD/LP/Track Review Pathways
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 30, 2017
Read "Spavati, Mozda Sanjati" CD/LP/Track Review Spavati, Mozda Sanjati
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: November 19, 2017
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017
Read "The Complete Syllables Music" CD/LP/Track Review The Complete Syllables Music
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 4, 2017