Sunday, February 14, 2016

The Keith Tippett Group - 1970 - You Are Here... I Am There

The Keith Tippett Group 
You Are Here... I Am There

01. This Evening Was Like Last Year (To Sarah)    9:10   
02. I Wish There Was A Nowhere 14:12   
03. Thank You For The Smile (To Wendy And Roger)    2:02    4
04. Three Minutes From An Afternoon In July (To Nick)    4:13   
05. View From Battery Point (To John And Pete)    2:00   
06. Violence    4:00   
07. Stately Dance For Miss Primm 6:51   
08. This Evening Was Like Last Year - Short Version    4:07

Bass – Jeff Clyne
Cornet – Marc Charig
Drums, Glockenspiel – Alan Jackson
Producer, Bells – Giorgio Gomelsky
Saxophone [Alto] – Elton Dean
Trombone – Nick Evans
Written-By, Piano – Keith Tippett

Keith Tippett left Bristol in 1967 and came to prominence in London in the late 1960s with his Sextet and his astonishing 50-piece ensemble Centipede. He is widely recognised as one of the most distinctive and radical pioneers in contemporary jazz today.

From solo performances through a myriad of duos, trios, quartets, sextets and septets to the 21-piece orchestra The Ark and the never-to-be-forgotten Centipede, he has shown a discipline, dedication and creative energy unparalleled in contemporary music in Britain.

Performance, composition, recordings, broadcasts, masterclasses, film scores, workshops and children’s education projects – all of these elements constitute Keith Tippett’s work over the past three decades.

The first time progheads (and the rock world in general heard) the name of Keith Tippett and his unique piano was on the KING CRIMSON single of Cat Food in very early 1970, and it created a shock. Obviously most observers could see that the then-unknown (to most anyway) Keith Tippett was obviously an excellent pianist, but his style left many astounded, but also turning away many. But those intrigued enough, probably sought who this weird guy was. A Bristol-born cornet and pianist, who met in 67 in the BS Music School, Elton Dean, Nick Evans and Mark Charig, forming the Keith Tippett Sextet, that played to some success in London's 100 Jazz Club. . Keith Tippett would also be signalled that year on BLOSSOM TOES' two albums as well as being determinant in the SOFT MACHINE's change of musical direction towards jazz-rock, since the group became a septet, using three of Tippett's collaborators.

Indeed, the names of Mark Charig, Lyn Dobson, Harry Miller, Roy Babbington, Elton Dean and Nick Evans should be familiar to many progheads, yet most of them had their "rock world" start with Keith Tippett and his first group. When his first solo album came out, "You Are here... I Am There" on the Phillips label, it was yet another shock as their awesome jazz-rock was at least on par with MILES DAVIS, HERBIE HANCOCK or IAN CARR's NUCLEUS, and further ahead than was Soft Machine. Funnily enough the KTG inversed their Phillips trajectory to Gracious and XXXX by having their second album on the legendary Vertigo Swirl label, while the debut was on the generic label. Titled "Dedicated To You, But You Were Not Listening" (a Soft Machine tribute), the album was certainly not easier on the ears either.

A good part of Keith Tippett's group would find themselves playing the horns on Crimson's Lizard and even on Islands, despite the presence of Mel Collins, who was alone during the tours to fill the horn dept. This wouldn't be the only collab between Fripp and Tippett as the former also produced the only album of the latter's huge group concept of CENTIPEDE. "Septober Energy" is probably one of the most controversial albums ever, with the group consisting of up to 50 musicians including all of Blossom toes, part of Soft Machine and many jazz-rockers present on the British Isles, even including the amazing JULIE DRISCOLL, whom he would soon marry and her taking the name of her husband, but adding an "s": she'd become known as Julie Tippetts since.

The Keith Tippett Group ceased activity in 71 and Keith's musical endeavours became even more adventurous, as he recorded some really challenging music, with Blue Print (produced by Fripp) and then found OVARY LODGE, a group that recorded two albums, the first again produced by Fripp. The music hesitates between a precursory RIO and written free jazz with improvs and contains again the usual suspects, the second album having wife Julie contributing. Keith would also help her with Julie's superb "Sunset Glow" in 74, recorded again with the usual gang, and somewhat similar and continuous of her "1969" album, still released under her Driscoll name. Since 76 (and still today), apart from appearing on Dean, Charig and other solo albums, Keith has mostly worked on his ARK or on his even more obscure MUJICIAN (sometimes with and sometimes without wife Julie), both of which projects are well into atonal and dissonant free-jazz and well out of focus of this site.

NB: Just as Nucleus would be one of the nursery of musicians that would end up in Soft Machine, the KTG woul have 5 musicians that would later play in SM.

To be honest, this album was my very first taste of the jazz fusion era. Not Miles Davis, not Mahavishnu Orchestra, but this gem. YAH...IAT is heavily overshadowed by Tippett's other work (King Crimson, Centipede, and his other album), and I could never understand why. Looking at the negative ratings, I can assume people expected another "Dedicated To You, But You Weren't Listening" or "Septober Energy". Let me tell you, it's definitely not. To me, this is the British response to Bitches Brew, albeit without the sidelong pieces.

This Evening Was Like Last Year (8.5/10) - Sort of an overture to this album. Quiet and deep strings, rapid-fire drumming, and lots of free jazz near the middle and end.

I Wish There Was A Nowhere (10/10) - A true jazz masterpiece, and the best song of the album. Lots of piano jamming and saxophone solos, with clear divisions. Also the longest song, clocking in at a grand 14 minutes.

Thank You For the Smile (8/10) - A kind of filler, if you ask me. But it's still valid in the album, and sets a different tone for the next side of the record. This track is actually a sadder reworking of the Beatles's famous track "Hey Jude", using the outro as a base.

Three Minutes from an Afternoon in July (6/10) - A single sax note. Seriously. This song does create the feeling of a hot July afternoon, but it kind of stops the flow of the album. The band kind of joins in at the very end, but is too late to save the track.

View From Battery Point (8/10) - Fanfare material. Quiet electric piano, kind of like looking out from Battery Point onto the landscape. Ominous, and really sort of preparation for the next track.

Violence (7.5/10) - A memorable opening melody, and contained throughout. Really does kind of represent a little fight, or as the title says... Violence. Not the best.

Stately Dance for Miss Primm (10/10) - A great closer! Truly grooving, with solos scattered throughout from the whole band. This is the first track I heard from this album, and I fell in love quickly.

This Evening Was Like Last Year [Short Version] (8/10) - The shortened version of the first track. Cuts the crap, but also removes some of the charm.

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