Open Music was Bob Downes' debut album, recorded for the Philips label in 1969 and his impact on the UK scene was such that he was voted top place in the flute category of the Melody Maker jazz poll's British musician section for three consecutive years from 1972. It has until now never been reissued on CD and rare vinyl copies have attracted high sums in second-hand markets. Although Downes is best known for his flute playing, he is a genuine multi-instrumentalist, playing no fewer than seven instruments on this album, including the less conventional, acetate paper.
The recording's centerpiece is "Dream Journey." The piece which received its premiere by Ballet Rambert on November 27, 1969 in Londonruns just over twenty minutes. Divided into two parts, the first eleven minutes of the track are devoted to flute and percussion, with special emphasis on the sporadic, dramatic interspersions of timpani. The whole piece is very cinematic and reflects music of a more classical nature, but the second half is considerably more jazz informed. The ensemble sax sections are dynamically engaging, underpinned by acoustic bass and drums building to repeated crescendos with Downes providing an exciting flute solo.
The next five tracks are either solo flute, flute and drums, or flute, drums, and bass. These largely improvised tracks are predominantly quiet, ruminative pieces dominated by Downes' intricate flute. However, "Ghosts in Space" is more structured with a strangely hypnotic head defined by flute, arco bass, and drums, while the middle collective improvisation section is enlivened by Downes screaming in the noisier parts. The final track, "Electric City" which was to give its name to a succeeding album, recorded by Downes for Vertigo (1970), is effectively a jazz-rock piece. Again, Downes inserts some scat singingor more accurately, shoutingall against a backdrop of ostinato bass guitar, Chris Spedding's unmistakable guitar work, and wild multi-tracked saxophones, all conjuring up an exciting mêlée of sound. This album surely explains Downes high-ranking in the Melody Maker polls. Open Music is an unusual and innovative collection of flute mastery.
Dream Journey: Score For "Blind Sight" (commissioned for) Ballet
Rambert; Birth Of A Forest; Integration; Contact; Ghosts In Space;
Desert Haze; Electric City.
Bob Downes: concert flute, tenor saxophone, Chinese bells, acetate
paper, alto flute, bamboo flute, alto saxophone, saxophone
mouthpieces, small tam tam; Derek Hogg: tympani (1), vibraphone, large
tam tam, finger cymbals; Dennis Smith: drums, tam tam; John Stevens:
drums; Harry Miller: bass, bass guitar; Jim Gregory: flute (1); John
Warren: baritone saxophone (1); Clive Stevens: tenor saxophone (1);
Chris Pyne: trombone (1); Nigel Carter: trumpet (1); Henry Lowther:
trumpet (1); Butch Hudson: trumpet (1); Chris Spedding: guitar (7).
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!
Get more of a good thing
Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.