Review

ART LANDE Art Lande And Rubisa Patrol ‎: Desert Marauders

Album · 1978 · Classic Fusion
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4.5/5 ·
Steve Wyzard
CLASSIC FUSION IT IS!

First, let's clear up the confusion. The name of the group is Rubisa Patrol, led by pianist Art Lande. Their first album in 1976, with a different drummer, was entitled Rubisa Patrol. The opening track of 1978's Desert Marauders, their second album, is entitled "Rubisa Patrol", but this track did not appear on the similarly-titled first album. Got it?

All that being said, Desert Marauders couldn't be more different from the first album, even though the two were recorded only 13 months apart. Rubisa Patrol has become one of the classic examples of brooding ECM melancholy and could almost be labeled World Fusion. Desert Marauders, on the other hand, is a far more vigorous musical statement, and in spite of being entirely acoustic, can more than hold its own when being compared to other Classic Fusion albums from the same time period.

Opener "Rubisa Patrol" is a rhythmic 15:57 epic and a jaw-dropping stunner. New drummer Kurt Wortman's vehement flourishes let everyone know immediately that this album will be different. Lande's playing has never been so vibrant, almost reminding one of fellow ECM pianist Bobo Stenson. After a number of starts and stops, Lande and trumpeter Mark Isham both take among their longest solos ever, and then meticulously double-track one another while playing the complex, long-lined final section. Isham's only composition on this album is "Livre (Near the Sky)", a light and airy respite after the dynamic opener. "El Pueblo de las Vacas Triste" begins leisurely but soon picks up speed, while "Perelandra" (a C.S. Lewis influence, perhaps?) is the one track most reminiscent of the previous album with its Bill Douglass flute solo. And if you couldn't get enough of the spirited "Rubisa Patrol", closer "Samsara" is a mini-epic that provides more of the same.

After making one of the stand-out albums of 1978, this group never recorded for ECM again, although they continued to perform together into the early 1980s. Lande would go on to record with Gary Peacock, Paul McCandless, and a heavily-synthesized duet with Isham, but never again did anything approaching Desert Marauders. The real mystery still to be solved is the reason why this album and its predecessor have never been released on CD.
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