Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Pork Pie - 1974 - Transitory

Jasper Van't Hof's Pork Pie feat. Charlie Mariano 

01. Epoch 7:39
02. Transitory (Part 1) 4:47
03. Transitory (Part 2) 4:07
04. Angel Wings 5:15
05. Pudu Kkottai 8:04
06. Something Wrong 2:40
07. Bassamba (Part 1) 2:51
08. Bassamba (Part 2) 4:35
09. March Of The Oil-Sheikhs 3:04

Charlie Mariano Reeds, flutes
Philip Catherine Guitars
Jasper van't Hof Keyboards
J.F. Jenny-Clarke Bass
Aldo Romano Drums
Ivanir Do Nascimento Percussion

A3 dedicated to Peter Trunk.
Recorded at Conny's Studio Neukirchen, Germany, May 17 & 18, 1974.

Dutch keyboardist / composer Jasper van`t Hof was one of the most prominent young Jazz musicians on the European scene in the late 1960s / 1970s and a pioneer of the new European Jazz, which emerged like a Phoenix on the ashes of the stagnant Jazz tradition. A founding member of the legendary Association P.C., van`t Hof left the group in 1972 (to be replaced by Joachim Kuhn) and a year later formed his own ensemble Pork Pie (the name being a tribute to a famous Lester Young tune) with four other excellent musicians: the veteran American (but resident in Germany) saxophonist Charlie Mariano, Belgian guitarist Philip Catherine, French bassist Jean-Francois Jenny-Clark and Italian (but resident in France) drummer Aldo Romano. The group recorded a couple of albums on the legendary German MPS label, of which this was the first. The group played a completely innovative music, which moved freely between genres and included Free Jazz, Jazz-Rock Fusion, Psychedelic and World Music elements. All five members of the group were splendid musicians, blessed with virtuosity and inspiration, and the rapport between them was phenomenal. This album sounds today as advanced and oracular as it did at the time of the recording, losing nothing of its freshness, a true timeless masterpiece. The Brazilian percussionist Ivanir “Mandrake” Do Nascimento appears as a guest on some of the tracks and adds his magic to the mix. In retrospect this is a superb example of what was happening on the European Jazz scene at the time, underlining the perpetual quest for new forms of expression and ceaseless search for new musical vocabulary. Superbly remastered and elegantly packaged by Promising Music, this is a treasure and a great trip down the memory lane. Hopefully the other MPS recording by this group will follow soon. Brilliant!

Pork Pie was the fusion band of keyboardist Jasper van't Hof during the 70's with this being the best of their output. This brand of fusion comes with a jazz bent, with the band featuring Charlie Mariano on reeds, J. F. Jenny Clarke on bass and the recently departed Aldo Romano on drums.

The rock element comes from the guitar of Philip Catherine, he of Focus fame.

You cannot review this band without a comment about Mariano. A true innovator, he played with, amongst others, Charles Mingus before moving to Europe, where he has lived for several decades. His music has encompassed straight jazz, fusion, oriental and he has experimented with a large range of alternative instruments. Here he displays complete command of the nagaswaram, the instrument you can see him playing on the back cover. Most of all he is a lyrical and attractive player.

Not much needs to be said about Catherine, a brilliant guitarist, but I think more at home here in a jazz setting than in a true rock band. Let's face it, Focus were more "prog" than "rock". To amplify my point, listen also to Michael Gibb's "The Only Chrome Waterfall Orchestra"

I have great respect for Romano, more than a percussionist, a fine composer and band leader in his own right. He went on to make many fine but totally overlooked albums, including "Alma Latina", 1983, with Catherine. With the ever present Jenny-Clark on bass, they make a formidible rhythm section.

It must be said that of all the fusion bands that plied their trade in the 70's this is one of the very best and this is one excellent album, with its mix of ambient, jazz and even eastern colours, courtesy of Mariano.