Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...


Soft Machine: Switzerland 1974

Glenn Astarita By

Sign in to view read count
Much has been written about this vastly influential and time-honored jazz fusion unit that skirted the avant-garde spectrum, especially when saxophone great Elton Dean was in the band, in addition to its psychedelic persuasions during the 60s. This 1974 live concert in Switzerland, features soon-to-be guitar god Allan Holdsworth's entry into the band's lineup. At this time, keyboardist Mike Ratledge loomed as the only founding member of the unit. These historic performances are supplemented by the concert footage DVD, underscored by Holdsworth's adrenaline-fueled jazz shredding. Otherwise, the ensemble was in the midst of road testing new compositions for its upcoming, 1975 Bundles release.

The initial pressing of Bundles was one of the most disappointing presentations ever, since the music itself was so damn good. The soundstage was thin and lacked detail, but the audio characteristics of this live recording are surprisingly better than adequate. Here, the ensemble operates in tenth-gear, consummated by its agility, grace and Herculean power. And Holdsworth is ablaze as his exceptional technique is prominently highlighted; offsetting the sax and keys etched melodic content, immersed in the 70s majestic and stylistic British Canterbury progressive rock and jazz scene.

Ratledge's signature jazz-based fluency on the Lowrery organ is intact, along with drumming great, John Marshall's propelling beats and sweeping polyrhythmic fills. Most of the tracks from Bundles are performed, yet the musicians raise the bar from an improvisational standpoint. However "The Floating World," tempers the flow via a dreamland-like keys ostinato, followed by bassist Roy Babbington's titanic hybrid distortion-laden and standard electric bass soloing on "Ealing Comedy."

"The Man Who Waved at Trains" outlines Ratledge's sleek and shifty lines interweaving among the gorgeous melody, leading to a swift up-tempo breakout and topped off by Karl Jenkins' blithe soprano sax phrasings, where the rhythm section is on fire throughout. Incidentally, on Marhsall's solo piece "LBO," he generates a pulsating tone poem by darting across small cymbals and executing fluent toms patterns, followed by the audience's thundering applause. Simply stated Switzerland 1974 is a vital document that breathes anew and an essential acquisition for the group's legion of fans and staunch Holdsworth disciples.



comments powered by Disqus

Upcoming Shows

Date Detail Price
Soft Machine
Freight and Salvage Coffeehouse
Berkeley, CA
Soft Machine
Triple Door
Seattle, WA
Soft Machine
Triple Door
Seattle, WA
Levin Brothers, Soft Machine
Scottsdale Center For The Performing Arts
Scottsdale, AZ
Soft Machine
Hadleigh Old Fire Station
Hadleigh, UK
Soft Machine
Backstage At The Green Hotel
Kinross, UK
Soft Machine, Caravan, Hawklords, Krankschaft
O2 Shepherd's Bush Empire
London, UK


Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Bulería Brooklyniana Album Reviews
Bulería Brooklyniana
By Dan Bilawsky
January 23, 2019
Read At The Hill Of James Magee Album Reviews
At The Hill Of James Magee
By Mark Corroto
January 23, 2019
Read Stomping Off From Greenwood Album Reviews
Stomping Off From Greenwood
By Mike Jurkovic
January 23, 2019
Read Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018 Album Reviews
Live: The Rites of Spring Festival 2018
By Roger Weisman
January 23, 2019
Read Runner in the Rain Album Reviews
Runner in the Rain
By Jack Bowers
January 22, 2019
Read Driftglass Album Reviews
By Chris May
January 22, 2019
Read Pure Magic Album Reviews
Pure Magic
By Mark Sullivan
January 22, 2019