Friday, October 7, 2016

Howard Roberts - 1975 - Equinox Express Elevator

Howard Roberts 
Equinox Express Elevator

01. Unfolding In 5:13
02. Timelaps 1:51
03. T T T T 4:43
04. Growing Natural Concern 3:53
05. 2dB, Eyes Of Blue 2:03
06. (The Single) (On This Side) 3:03
07. Real Freak Of Nature Historical Monument 3:21
08. Slam 5:34
09. Harold J. Ostly, The Country Tax Assessor 3:53
10. Unfolding In (On Itself) 1:39

Bass – Jerry Scheff
Drums – John Guerin
Electric Guitar, Classical Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Guitar [Moog Synthesized], Vocals, Vocals [Aged], Vocals [Twelve String] – Howard Roberts
Electric Piano – Mike Wofford
Organ – Dave Grusin
Percussion – Mayuto Correa
Synthesizer [Moog] – Ed Michel
Vocals – Diana Lee

From 1972 (not released until 1975), the follow-up to ANTELOPE FREEWAY, EQUINOX EXPRESS ELEVATOR, doesn't aspire to be nearly as experimental, but if anything it is a more accomplished, forward thinking set of collective improvisations and sophisticated ensemble arrngements, functioning not so much as solo features, but as an ever-evolving series of interconnected motifs, whose use of a dual-electric keyboards/dual-drum set-and-percussionist format certainly references the collective ensemble concept of Miles Davis' BITCHES BREW, even if it does not outright emulate the trumpeter' stylistic devices.

EQUINOX is a bold, original attempt to liberate jazz musicians from the narrow confines of standard song form structures (not that there is a damn thing wrong with those structures), and while ANTELOPE was more consciously a fusion recording, EQUINOX is Roberts' very personal attempt to define a fresh ensemble approach for himself and those progressive musicians like himself who often found themselves hemmed in by the commercial expectations of being successful Hollywood Studio musicians. In particular, the great drummer John Guerin distinguishes himself as both an improviser and composer, as does keyboardist-producer Dave Grusin, who never sounded so edgy.

(Note: In 1974, collaborators John Guerin (drums), Max Bennett (bass) and Tom Scott (saxophones) were to collaborate with Joni Mitchell on the new directions of her breakthrough hit, COURT AND SPARK.)

Please ignore the superficial. dismissive pronouncements of the initial Amazon commentator, who like those cocksure critics back in 1971, having no categories with which to put this music in an easily identifiable bag, simply pounced on the two most unabashedly progressive recordings Howard Roberts ever made and summarily put them to the sword, justifying their contempt by characterizing ANTELOPE FREEWAY in particular as a shameless commercial descent...wrong...Wrong...WRONG!

As a guitarist and scribe, I have been enjoying these two recordings for more than 40 years, and have long sought to drum up interest in digitizing them, the better to max out their stunning aural qualities and wide dynamic range and give them a good modern spit shine.

I am positively pumped that they are finally being given a proper CD release, 20-some years after Roberts passed away, as they represent a vital overlooked aspect of Howard Roberts' wit and adventurous musical outreach.



  2. thanks. this one and Antelope Freeway are pretty unique sounding records.