All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

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...

82

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.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
General Articles
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Hidden Details

Hidden Details

MoonJune Records
2018

buy
Switzerland 1974

Switzerland 1974

Cuneiform Records
2015

buy
 

Proto

Comma (Japan)
2012

buy
 

Live At Het...

Comma (Japan)
2012

buy
Alive & Well: Recorded in Paris

Alive & Well:...

Esoteric Recordings
2011

buy
 

Soft Machine At...

Comma (Japan)
2011

buy

Related Articles

Read Between the Silence CD/LP/Track Review
Between the Silence
by John Kelman
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Flying CD/LP/Track Review
Flying
by Troy Dostert
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Barxeta II CD/LP/Track Review
Barxeta II
by Geno Thackara
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Vidas Simples CD/LP/Track Review
Vidas Simples
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: August 19, 2018
Read Kinship CD/LP/Track Review
Kinship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Ask For Chaos CD/LP/Track Review
Ask For Chaos
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "Solo" CD/LP/Track Review Solo
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 11, 2018
Read "Last Things Last" CD/LP/Track Review Last Things Last
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 26, 2018
Read "Memories of Maynard" CD/LP/Track Review Memories of Maynard
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "Love & Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Love & Peace
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2018
Read "#Office for the Day" CD/LP/Track Review #Office for the Day
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Blue Maqams" CD/LP/Track Review Blue Maqams
by John Kelman
Published: October 13, 2017