Sunday, October 2, 2016

Howard Roberts - 1995 - The Magic Band, Live At Dontes 1968

Howard Roberts 
The Magic Band, Live At Dontes 

01. All Of You
02. Shiny Stocking
03. All Blues
04. Polka Dots And Moonbeams
05. When Sunny Gets Blue

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Tom Scott
Bass – Chuck Berghofer
Drums – John Guerin
Guitar – Howard Roberts
Organ – Steve Bohannon

Recorded July, 1968 at Donte's in Los Angeles, CD

I am not sure this is ready for an audience beyond musicians or patrons who were present when the tracks were preformed live at Donte's in North Hollywood. As a musician I certainly got a lot out of repeated listens because there are parts where the ensemble (or individual musicians) were flat out cooking. There were other parts on most of the tracks where things seemed to get a bit jumbled. This is more a blowing session than pre-agreed upon arrangements.

Run through the sound samples to get a gist of the music. Granted, the way each track twists and winds musically, you are not going to get a true representation, but at least you will get a general feel. Also, nailing the music is a bit difficult. It's sort of like funk, mixed into 'free jazz' and tossed into where the West Coast style had evolved by mid-1968. Still, some of the improvising is amazing, and I definitely found riffs and fills that drummer John Guerin was using that are interesting. I also liked the way Guerin and bassist Chuck Berghofer held down the rhythm and pulse in a fluid (but still solid) manner.

Of course, if you are a guitarist your attention is going to be drawn to Roberts, who is the real center of the band, and the tracks on this album. The real variables are Steve Bohannon on organ and Tom Scott on soprano, alto and tenor saxophones. Bohannon adds an element of funk (and he can definitely swing), whereas Scott managed to play some phrases and passages that displayed genius, while going off the rails on others (to my ears, anyway.)

This was recorded for the V.S.O.P. label during July 1968. The sound quality is surprisingly good, and the audience noise, while in the mix, adds to the ambience more than it interferes with the music. This is not what I would call an essential album, but for the niche I mentioned above it is worth checking out.

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