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Album Review

Jeffrey Morgan: Quasar-Mach


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Jeffrey Morgan: Quasar-Mach
Stark, electronic, space-age, experimental jazz by Jeffrey Morgan and friends, a gift from the 1980s when the left field was exuberant, loud and sometimes harsh. In those halcyon days, when you saw that a musician played more than one instrument on a tune, there was no multitracking, each musician would have an array of instruments laid out before them and while the event was going down they would pick up and play whatever was called for in the arrangement. Each of these tracks were live performance events. The title tune, "Quasar-Mach," comes at you with an alto saxophone solo, almost two minutes long, blowing the turkeys out of the trees and deep into outer space. Best track is "Ambient Metal," on which Morgan plays alto saxophone, percussion, piano and clarinet and is joined by Robert Heywood on percussion and Jennifer Young, who does some intense vocalizing. The track has an even tempo but the extreme tonalities are waaay out. The vocalizing takes the whole thing deeper into a darker nightmare, which is the best kind.

After that, a couple of piano solos, maintaining the punchy tempo and mood, or maybe when nobody was looking, the cat got up onto the piano? Seriously, Morgan has a unique style that deserves credit for its self-taught innovations. "Dreaming Phoenix" features Morgan on alto, Paul Tison on electric bass, James Stonecipher on electric guitar and electric koto, and multi-instrumentalist Harlan Mark Vale artfully tapping the traps. The phoenix is a dazzling fiery bird that takes control and brings down the thunder.

This is one of those old but awesome "vinyl LP" recordings, so now it is time to flip the disc over. "Prelude To Fallout" is a terrifying science-fiction doomsday number, featuring the deep gravelly voice of narrator Ted Roisum, and Morgan on alto, violin, trumpet, piccolo, clarinet and cornet, plus cello by "Captain" Kirk Heydt, electric bass by Paul Tison and Robert Heywood playing trumpet, cornet, mellophone and gong. Next, a couple of solos with Morgan on soprano saxophone, and the closer is another all-star line-up, with Morgan on bassoon, piccolo, flute, whistles, percussion and voice plus Robert Heywood on conch, whistles, percussion, and voice; plus two more vocalists, Cheri Knight and Harlan Mark Vale. The sound continues the theme of cosmic freedom and experimental explorations of the soul and existential bop. This is the true, the authentic, avant-garde sound of 1981. If you weren't there, you can still feel what it was like by listening to this album. This stands up after 40 years as an essential statement of avant-garde jazz expressionism.

Track Listing

Quasar-Mach, Ambient Metal, Two Haiku, Mood For Etude, Dreaming Phoenix, Abstract Notions, Prelude To Fallout, Orange Door, Subtone, Millenium Seeds


Jeffrey Morgan: saxophone; Robert Heywood: percussion; Paul Tison: bass; Harlan Mark Vale: percussion; James Stonecipher: guitar, electric; Jennifer Young: bass; Cheri Knight: vocals; Ted Roisum: vocals; Kirk Heydt: cello.

Album information

Title: Quasar-Mach | Year Released: 1981 | Record Label: Au Roar Records

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