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Osmosis: Osmosis

Glenn Astarita By

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Here's a band that largely went under the radar after its lone LP release for RCA Records in 1970. Based in Boston, renowned reedman Charlie Mariano looms as the only well-known musician in this septet. But that's not to say the other members lacked any technical acumen and/or a fertile imagination, especially when looking back into the advent of the jazz rock and jazz fusion movements that sprouted during this time.

The updated liners by journalist Sid Smith provide good insight into the band's formation along with anecdotes by guitarist Andy Steinborn. It's also interesting to note that Mariano's connection at RCA Records sealed the deal so to speak, which of course was a major feat, considering the expense of recording, production, marketing and most record label executives' reluctance to sign new and unproven talent. Remastered from the original RCA tapes this is the first 'official' CD release. Moreover, Steinborn sheds light on the fact that the artists' excitement level diminished after hearing producer David Blume's final mix that "sold the band short." He goes on to say that "listening to the finished album compared to hearing the rough mix in the studio it was as though somebody had put a blanket on the speakers."

Coupled with the jazz rock vernacular, certain pieces are tinted with the era's trippy rock movement with Mariano's jazzy or ethereal sax and flute passages floating on top of the variable currents. The ensemble also embeds world jazz inflected motifs, while executing a dreamy 1960s pop inflected groove with a Latin- based organ modality on "Shadows." Add a few fast-paced rockers used as zesty soloing vehicles and "Scorpio Rising," which is outlined with Steinborn's trebly wah- wah phrasings and a Mothers of Invention-style pop spoof, partially defined by high-pitched background vocal choruses.

The band merges psych rock with jazz and subliminal injections of late '60s flower power into "Geoffrey's Tune," featuring Mariano's otherworldly flute lines and lead vocalist Danny Cox's mellow delivery. Indeed, the musicians' morph an asymmetrical line of attack into several pieces, where no single genre or stylization takes precedence. Hence, this reissue abides by the old proverb that it's better late than never...

Track Listing: Of War and Peace (In Part); Beezlebub; Thoughts Often Stray; Sunrise; Shadows; Adrift; Sunlight; Scorpio Rising; Please Let Me Go; Geoffrey's Tune' Of War and Peace (In Full); Sleep, My Love (Epilogue).

Personnel: Charlie Mariano: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone, flute, nagaswaram; Bobby Knox: lead vocals; Danny Comfort: bass; Lou Peterson: drums; Bobby Clark: drums, percussion, vocals; Andy Steinborn: guitar, background vocals; Charlie Bechler: keyboard, melodica, timpani, chimes

Title: Osmosis | Year Released: 1970 | Record Label: RCA Victor


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