Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!


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.

Track Listing: CD: Hazard Profile; The Floating World; Ealing Comedy; Bundles; Land Of the Bag Snake; Joint; The Man Who Waved At Trains; Peff; The Man Who Waved At Trains (reprise);LBO;Riff II; Lefty; Penny Hitch (coda). DVD: Hazard Profile; The Floating World; Ealing Comedy; Bundles; Land Of the Bag Snake; Joint; The Man Who Waved At Trains; Peff; The Man Who Waved At Trains (reprise); LBO; Riff II; Lefty; Penny Hitch (coda).

Personnel: Allan Holdsworth: guitar, voice; Karl Jenkins: Fender Rhodes piano, piano, Hohner Pianet, soprano sax, oboe; Mike Ratledge: Fender Rhodes piano, Lowrey organ, AKS synthesizer; Roy Babbington: electric 6-string bass; John Marshall: drums, percussion.

Title: Switzerland 1974 | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records


Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Rain or Shine CD/LP/Track Review Rain or Shine
by Jack Bowers
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Copenhagen Live 1964 CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Somewhere Glimmer CD/LP/Track Review Somewhere Glimmer
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lighthouse CD/LP/Track Review Lighthouse
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2017
Read Lattice CD/LP/Track Review Lattice
by John Sharpe
Published: December 14, 2017
Read I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "Laughing At Life" CD/LP/Track Review Laughing At Life
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: January 27, 2017
Read "Plays Hendrix" CD/LP/Track Review Plays Hendrix
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 10, 2017
Read "Glitter" CD/LP/Track Review Glitter
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 12, 2017
Read "Tangled" CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read "Falando Docemente" CD/LP/Track Review Falando Docemente
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 13, 2017
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 15, 2016

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!