Monday, January 2, 2017

Alphonse Mouzon - 1977 - Back Together Again

Larry Coryell / Alphonse Mouzon
Back Together Again

01. Beneath the Earth
02. The Phonse  
03. Transvested Express  
04. Crystallization  
05. Rock 'N' Roll Lovers
06. Get on Up (We Gonna Boogie)
07. Reconciliation
08. Back Together Again
09. Mr. C.    
10. High Love

Larry Coryell - Synthesizer, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards, Vocals
Alphonse Mouzon - Percussion, Drums, Vocals
John Lee - Bass, Vocals
Philip Catherine - Guitar
Tawatha Agee - Vocals
Cheryl Alexander - Vocals

This 1977 album presents a good collection of tight, short jazz rock instrumentals that feature the staggering virtuosity of guitarist Larry Coryell and blazing drummer Alphonse Mouzon.

Given the lack of a keyboardist, Back Together Again is a showcase for the guitarists and the drummer, with John McLaughlin-like shredding on the electric (the semblance to his style is uncanny) dueling with ferocious fills and double-bass drum attacks by Alphonse played at a breakneck tempo. Alphonse really is a remarkable drummer and I would place him in the same class as other jazz rock virtuosos like Billy Cobham. Additional guitarist Philip Catherine is quite good, adds a lot of color to each track, and provides some nice interplay with Larry on a few tunes. The focus however, is pretty much on Larry. Last, but certainly not least, bassist John Lee holds it all down with an unassuming style - very much like Rick Laird (Mahavishnu Orchestra).

The tunes are very short (2-6 minute range) and say precisely what they need to say in that time - that is, ferocious soling over an ostinato (usually played in unison with the guitar/bass). While this is not particularly interesting from a composition or arrangement perspective, this album really is all about the playing and Back Together Again certainly delivers in that respect. Admittedly however, the guys do break things up here and there with some quieter passages and other styles including funk.

Although jazz rock (with an emphasis on rock) is the main style, there are some quieter moments that feature acoustic guitars, and there is a bit of funk, with the title track being a good example of this. Although this album is 99% instrumental, vocals by Alphonse do turn up on the title track and there is also one other instance where he "sing-shouts". Fortunately, both examples are merely blips on the screen and do not detract from the listening experience.

After going their separate ways upon the breakup of the Eleventh House, guitarist Larry Coryell, and drummer Alphonse Mouzon teamed up again for what turned out to be a disappointing reunion. This despite the added presence of guitarist Philip Catherine. The same high energy fusion that made each player so popular is on display here, but so is Mouzon's infatuation with disco. "Beneath the Earth," "Transvested Express," and "High Love" contain some impressive playing, but the disco/funk of "Get on Up (We Gonna Boogie)" and "Back Together Again" make for a dated and uneven recording.

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