SOFT MACHINE — NDR Jazz Workshop (review)

SOFT MACHINE — NDR Jazz Workshop album cover Live album · 2010 · Fusion Buy this album from MMA partners
4/5 ·
snobb
It often looks Soft Machine's archival materials are well researched and released in many versions,some good some not too much.But time to time surprises still occur - new Cuneiform release is a good example.

Usually (and not without reason) main object of attraction is band's "classic" period, there are many interesting live releases,coming from 1969-1971 released. This live album is unusual: it contains German concert,recorded by very different band's line-up (and it looks as the only existing recordings of this incarnation).

Chronologically this concert happened after band released Six album, only Mike Ratledge stayed on board from classic line-up. Karl Jenkins is more and more influential now, and all other musicians are mostly so-called "transitional line-up": Roy Babbington on bass,John Marshall on drums,guest sax player Art Themen and guitarist(!)Gary Boyle.But main attraction is not this really not very known version of band's line-up, but the music itself. This album contains perfectly played and well recorded (differently from some earlier live recordings)live set of fusion-Soft Machine, one between their best albums ever!

Yes, it is not free-jazz influenced improv-based classic band's music, but these recordings still sound surprisingly fresh and attractive. Mike Ratledge plays one of the most inspired electric piano for years, Karl Jenkins often switches sax to second electric piano, rhythm section are surprisingly groovy and guitarist is very competent.But main miracle is possibly the music itself: being mostly pre-composed with accent on soloing,it still contains huge improvisational moment,mostly between compositions.As a result,all album sounds as very successful (if fragile) balance between well crafted,but too predictable fusion of band's later works and still influential improvisational roots.Compositions come mostly from Six, but Seven will be recorded soon (with its well crafted pre-composed material with accent on soloing and absence of improvs).

In fact, this album is magical illustration how good band has been in some moments even being far not same legendary quartet from 1970.Possibly,one of the best release from post-classic era.



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