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CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music: A Blast From The Past

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The only (slight) problem with this album is its rather whimsical title which considerably undersells its significance. In his long career, Bob Downes has made some substantial contributions to jazz and improvised music, and this album is an important addition to his discography. Comprised of previously-unreleased archival pieces dating back to the 1970s, Downes can be heard on a variety of instruments including tenor saxophone, as on “Apparition," where--as on two other tracks--he is accompanied by virtuoso bassist and composer ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music: Let Your Mind...Space Out

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Any CD release by Bob Downes is a significant event but the psych-entitled Let Your Mind...Space Out is important because it also celebrates the 80th birthday of this virtuoso jazz multi-instrumentalist. It's hard to credit that Downes, like his contemporaries Mike Westbrook and Mike Gibbs has now achieved octogenarian status, given that his early oeuvre was populated by freewheeling jazz rock albums such as Electric City and Deep Down Heavy, both released in 1970. But Downes also made ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music: It's A Mystery

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Pursuing his self-styled Open Music route, multi-instrumentalist Bob Downes treads a very thin and courageous line between written jazz and total improvisation. Of his many recordings, some funky jazz rock, others wholly extemporized, there are several which involve organised pieces evolving into often lengthy improvisations. It's A Mystery (not to be confused with the pop song by punk star Toyah Willcox) contains archival previously unreleased recordings spanning the length of his career from the early 1970s onwards. The ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes: Bob Downes and The Alphorn Brothers

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This surely must be one of the strangest team-ups in jazz? A trio of German alpine horn players and British expatriate and jazz phenomenon Bob Downes. It may be an unconventional alliance, but somehow this album works at a very convincing level. Recorded in 2004 in his adopted home country of Germany, Downes wrote and arranged all the music and lyrics presented here. The almost surreal photomontage cover enhances the attractiveness of the CD but gives no adequate clue as ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music: New York Suite

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British flautist/saxophonist Bob Downes recorded some compelling albums in the early '70s and then, coinciding with his permanent relocation to Germany at the end of the decade, disappeared from the UK jazz scene. The music didn't stop with his migration though, as he subsequently produced several solo flute albums for his own label, Openian. In this archival recording from 1979 recorded in London, Downes augments his usual trio into a quintet with the addition of the late trombonist ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes: Open Music

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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 ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes: Electric City

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Despite this 1970 album having been previously reissued on CD in Germany and Japan, this is the first time it has received such an accolade in the United Kingdom, its country of origin. Bob Downes is a talented multi-instrumentalist and composer and this album was one of his incursions into the world of jazz-rock, although he was equally at home playing in a free jazz context with his acoustic Open Music trio. Originally released on Polygram's Vertigo label, Electric City ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music Trio: Flashback

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Bob Downes may be a name unfamiliar to many, but to some his name is synonymous with an electrifying period in British jazz. Downes was on the cusp of this new movement and recorded some idiosyncratic albums between 1969 and 1970. Deep Down Heavy was almost a rock album, whereas the as yet un-reissued Open Music recorded for Philips was much nearer to the free jazz genre. Two others were Diversions a trio album (for his own label Openian) and ...

CD/LP/TRACK REVIEW

Bob Downes Open Music: Crossing Borders

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Here's another of Reel's exercises in twentieth century tape archaeology. Like earlier efforts, it has the practical effect of sealing another hole in the documented fabric of British jazz and improvised music from the last four decades of that century. It's highly worthwhile too, this labor of love, as on this occasion it yields a program of music every bit as inventive as that produced by bigger stars--the term is as good as meaningless in the circumstances--of the day. Recorded ...