Wednesday, May 11, 2016

The Collective - 2014 - Idrissa's Dream (Live at Antioch College 1971)

The Collective 
Idrissa's Dream (Live at Antioch College 1971)

01. The Shepherd's Tune
02. Idrissa's Dream Part I
03. Idrissa's Dream Part II
04. Black Queen
05. Beginning Roots Part I
06. Beginning Roots Part II
07. Veil Of Solitude

Idris Ackamoor- alto and soprano saxophones, percussions
Margaux Simmons- flute
Lester Knibbs- piano
Steve Rumboat- french horn
Steve Maniscoso- drums and percussions

*special guest Greg LaMont Wright- soprano saxophone

Rec. Live at Antioch College, Kelly Hall, Ohio; August 29, 1971

This amazing concert is presented here for the 1st time ever, complete and with exact sequence. the title track is one of the most beautiful compositions that i had ever heard, if it'll not touch yr heart, consult the heart (and not the mind). spiritual jazz at his deepest heights. Presently there is a lot of attention being paid to the rebirth of The Pyramids. There have been multiple European tours, a plethora of reissues, and new recordings. However, The Collective's story has NEVER been told and/or heard outside of Ohio until now! Listen to this extraordinary music for the FIRST time. A music still fresh and vibrant after 42 years!" ~Idris Ackamoor, August 8, 2013. Idris Ackamoor - alto and soprano saxophones, percussions, Margaux Simmons - flute, Lester Knibbs - piano, Steve Rumboat - French horn, Steve Maniscoso - drums and percussions. Special guest Greg LaMont Wright - soprano saxophone on 'Beginning Roots'. Recorded live at Antioch College, Kelly Hall, Ohio, August 29, 1971.

Idris Ackamoor - 2006 - Music Of Idris Ackamoor 1971-2004

Idris Ackamoor
Music Of Idris Ackamoor 1971-2004 

101. The Collective The Shepherds's Tune 16 :58
102. The Pyramids Land Of Eternal Song Suite Part 3 10 :51
103. The Pyramids Lalibela 06 :01
104. The Pyramids Masenko Nights 02 :59
105. The Pyramids Ya A Ya A 06 :18
106. The Pyramids The River Ganges 11 :05
107. The Pyramids Mohgo Naba 08 :32
108. The Pyramids Queen Of The Spirits Part 3 06 :37

201. The Pyramids Aomawa 05 :35
202. The Pyramids Birth/Speed/Merging 07 :46
203. The Pyramids Black Man of the Nile 18 :39
204. Idris Ackamoor & Margaux Simmons w/ King's Drummers Of Tamale, Ghana Africa 03 :33
205. Idris Ackamoor Quartet Spirtual Rebirth 05 :48
206. Idris Ackamoor Quartet Topanga 06 :03
207. Idris Ackamoor Ensemble Centurian 08 :08
208. Idris Ackamoor Ensemble Cubana 11 :29

2CD collection of the ex-leader of legendary Afro-spiritual/deep funk/free jazz group from 1970s Ohio (later in SF), The Pyramids. Their music is one of the most deep attempts by African-Americans, deep sounds like Strata-East, aggressive performances like Tribe or Black Jazz, every free jazz/funk collector should agree on it. Featuring 10 pieces of The Pyramids taken from their 3 albums and unreleased (!) recordings (including their first live recording in Holland!). Notably, The Pyramids had even stayed in African countries like Morocco, Ghana, Kenya and Ethiopia and studied real African culture and music there in the early 1970s. Do you know other African-American jazz musicians who had done such a road trip in the early 1970s?? Also featuring the never-heard pre-Pyramids, P. Sanders and Strata East recording as The Collective, and 4 pieces from the late '70s to '00s, recording as Idris Ackamoor Quartet/Ensemble. Sixteen pieces in total. Ackamoor owns all original master tapes (it's a miracle!) and Em Records checked them all and compiled their finest and best cuts. All digitally re-mastered in excellent sound shapes.

Woah, now what is this? Jazz with heavy African & Indian influence plus some rough avantgarde experimentation. Not that unique a combination but there is something very mystic and unique about this compilation. Ackamoor plays some VERY intense alto sax at times and interestingly he doesn't do that usually as a solo - the music is in constant evolution, changing from easygoing bass-driven Egyptian melodies to nightmarish chaos in a few seconds, then going back again when the soloists slow down. I'm not one to use excessive hyperbole but damn, the solos on "Black Man of the Nile" are not just motherfucking intense, they're mother-Alber Ayler-fucking intense. There's a definite Sun Ra influence too but I think Ackamoor's weapon of choice gives him a more solid down-to-Earth sound. Choirs are featured on some songs, and their nonsense vocals work magnificently.

As seen from the title, this compilation showcases Ackamoor's music over the years so there's no actual theme to the album. Doesn't bother me, as he has a very personal sound and the CDs don't feel like they go all over the place, there's a cohesion. The primary band featured here is The Pyramids, whose output from the 70s has a distinct Egyptian & Arabic vibe. The band actually toured African countries during the time, studying the local music & culture, one can definitely hear they're very serious about this stuff. Real passion & intensity. On disc two some ensembles operating under Ackamoor's name are found, their sound is more typically "African-American", at times heavily resembling Art Ensemble of Chicago. The first song on the first disc is by The Collective, whose sound is a bit different from the rest of the album. It's an odd introduction, but the compilation is chronologic so I guess it's the logical choice.

Excellent stuff recommended to any fan of free- & African jazz.

The Pyramids - 2016 - We Be All Africans

The Pyramids 
We Be All Africans

01. We Be All Africans
02. Epiphany
03. Silent Days
04. Rhapsody In Berlin
05. Clarion Call
06. Traponga
07. Whispering Tenderness

Idris Ackamoor [Bruce Baker] (saxophone)
Margo Simmons (flute)
Kimathi Asante (bass, harp, percussion)
Bradie Speller (percussion)
Mark "Heshima" Williams (bass)
Kenneth Nash (vocals)
Donald Robinson (bongos, drums, percussion)
Kash Killion (cello)

Alto saxophonist Idris Ackamoor first met Margo Simmons (flute) and Kimathi Asante (electric bass) whilst students together at Antioch College, Yellow Springs, Ohio where one of their teachers was renowned pianist, Cecil Taylor. After founding the band in Paris in 1972, performing in Holland and embarking on a “cultural odyssey” across Africa, the group recorded three independent albums (Lalibela in 1973, King of Kings in 1974 and Birth / Speed / Merging in 1976) and became renowned for their striking live shows, mixing percussive, spiritual and space-age jazz with performance, theatre, and dance. After migrating to San Francisco to perform on the Bay Area arts scene, they disbanded in 1977 after a final show at the UC Berkeley Jazz Festival.
Almost 30 years later, The Pyramids reunited…

…unexpectedly following growing demand for their music from vinyl collectors and jazz fans and embarked on the first of many European tours featuring original members, as well as a fresh line-up including renowned percussionist Kenneth Nash. In 2012 the group signed to German label Disko B who released a new album, the free-form Otherworldly and all three albums from their rare back catalogue. Idris was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award by DJ Gilles Peterson at his Worldwide Awards and The Pyramids were back, gaining a whole new legion of fans.
For their new album, We Be All Africans, the group traveled to Berlin to hunker down in Max Weissenfeldt’s analogue Philophon studio. The result is a sparkling set of Afro- jazz-funk fusions, from the infectious chants of the title track to the reflective “Epiphany” and the yearning, mournful future single, “Silent Days” featuring the brilliant vocals of Bajka.

The Pyramids - 2012 - Otherworldy

The Pyramids 

01. Memory Ritual 6:12
02. Time Capsule 4:44
03. What The World Need Now 2:14
04. Nebulosity 6:37
05. Nebulosity Part 2 4:11
06. Uttering Sacred Words 3:11
07. Cloud Rider 7:46
08. Boundless Eternities 4:17
09. Absolution 7:31
10. Ancient Funk! 3:55
11. Otherworldly 2:57
12. They Came From Chicao 6:41
13. St. Louis Two! 4:18
14. Reincarnation 1:51
15. Memory Ritual 8:40

Alto Saxophone, Percussion, Producer, Directed By – Idris Ackamoor
Artwork – FPM Factor Product München
Bass, Cello, Percussion – Kash Killion
Bass, Percussion – Kimathi Asante
Congas, Percussion – Bradie Speller
Drums, Percussion, Vocals, Producer, Mixed By – Kenneth Nash

We're far too dignified to make a 'wonder of the world' gag, but the fourth album by The Pyramids is almost that remarkable. See, they formed in Ohio circa 1972, when cosmic jazz luminaries (Sun Ra, for example) were dotted around America’s musical landscape. Then, pioneeringly but logically, they explored their African-American heritage by actually going to Africa, before returning to music after some 35 years' absence. What's extraordinary about 'Otherworldly' – its expressive saxophone blare, heavy afro-funk workouts, hepcat proto-rapping and unyielding positive vibes – is that it feels like these dudes haven't aged a damn day.

The Pyramids - 1976 - Birth / Speed / Merging

The Pyramids
Birth / Speed / Merging

01. Birth / Speed / Merging Suite - Part 1. Aomawa
02. Birth / Speed / Merging Suite - Part 2. Birth/Speed/Merging
03. Birth / Speed / Merging Suite - Part 3. Reaffirmation
04. Jamaican Carnival
05. Black Man and Woman of The Nile

Alto Saxophone, Bongos, Zither [Ku Cheung], Flute [Bamboo], Talking Drum, Percussion, Vocals – Bruce Baker, Idris Ackamoor
Bass [Acoustic], Vocals – Mark Anthony Williams
Bass Guitar [Hagstrom], Talking Drum, Harp [Ugandan], Flute [Bamboo], Percussion, Vocals – Kimathi Asante
Congas, Bongos, Other [Rosenbow], Percussion, Drum [Guatemalan Stick], Vocals – Kenneth Nash
Drums, Talking Drum, Percussion – Augusta Lee Collins
Flute, Piccolo Flute, Percussion, Vocals – Margo Ackamoor
Recorded at His Master's Wheels Studio in November, 1975.

A ©? 1976 Idris Ackamoor, AKA Bruce Baker, Aomova Music, BMI.
B1 ©? 1976 by The Pyramids,
B2 ©? 1976 Idris Ackamoor, Aomova Music, BMI.

Album title: Birth Speed Merging 1976 on front cover, Birth / Speed / Merging on rear cover, Birth/Speed/Merging on labels.
Pyramid Records name on cover only, label catalogue number BB 30935.

Birth/Speed/Merging represents the San Francisco Bay Area era of the band. Relocating from Yellow Springs, Ohio in 1974, The Pyramids quickly met other musicians in the thriving San Francisco Bay Area music scene. After the departure of original member Kimathi to continue his African studies a very talented acoustic bass player named Heshima Mark Williams joined the band along with a new conga player named Mcheza Ngoma and new drummer Augusta Lee Collins. The Pyramids began working extensively around the area. Within the next year Kimathi returned from his travels and rejoined the band. The Pyramids now had two bass players; one acoustic and one electric. The composition "Jamaican Carnival" pays homage to the beautiful Caribbean island Jamaica and is one of the bands' most danceable tunes. For the composition "Birth/Speed/Merging Suite" the band utilized the brilliant percussionist Kenneth Nash to play on the track and it is one of the bands' most interesting and exotic compositions. There are a variety of unusual and beautiful percussion and string instruments used on the track featuring the Ugandan Harp, the Chinese Cheng, and a string instrument called the rosenbow. The composition is an aural delight of unusual sounds and beautiful colors.

The Pyramids - 1974 - King of Kings

The Pyramids 
King of Kings

01. Mogho Naba (King of Kings)
02. Queen of the Spirits
03. Nsorama (The Stars)
04. My Africa

Alto Saxophone, Composed By, Talking Drum, Balafon, Percussion [Calypso Box, Ethiopian Drum], Other [One-stringed Goge], Talkbox – Bruce Baker, Idris Ackamoor
Bass [Hagstrom], Idiophone [Ugandan Harp], Percussion – Kwame Kimathi Asante, Thomas Williams
Cello, Guest [Guest Artist] – Chris Chafe
Congas, Percussion – Bradie Speller, Hekartah
Drums, Bongos, Percussion – Donald Robinson
Flute, Percussion – Margo Ackamoor
Piano, Percussion, Guest [Guest Artist] – Jerome Saunders
Vocals – The Pyramids

They Play to make music Fire,
They Play to make the soul Burst out of the Body. - Vassime

"Recorded in the Country" at Appalachia Sound Recording Studio, Chillicothe, Ohio in March, 1974.

African Statue, courtesy Marvin Jones, Acirfa Company, 1137 E. 50th St., Chicago, Ill.

King of Kings was the second album that reunited all original members including drummer Donald Robinson while adding several special guests, pianist Jerome Sanders, and cellist Chris Chafe. King of Kings was recorded at Appalachia Sound Recording Studio located several hours away from Antioch in Chillicothe, Ohio. Unknown to the band at the time, Chillicothe was the site of ancient Indian burial mounds. This reality added to the very spiritual quality of the recording. The opening track "Mogho Naba" continued the groups' fascination and interest in African history and reflections. The Mogho Naba is the King of the Mossi people in what is now Burkina Faso, but dates back in antiquity. The tune's rhythm is infectious. The use of call and response chants and beautiful horn lines is meant to hypnotize and induce trance elevating spiritual consciousness. "Queen of the Spirits" was written as a dedication to flautist Margaux Simmons. It is one of the bands' favorite pieces of music. Utilizing the Ugandan harp, the African one string fiddle (goge), percussion, piano, and cello, the closing is prescient harking to world music and music for meditation that would come years later. The UK band Bonobo sampled a section of the composition for their hit album Days to Come.

The Pyramids - 1973 - Lalibela

The Pyramids 

01. Lalibela (Lalibela Opus Part 1) 05 :58
02. Sheba's Dance (Lalibela Opus Part 2) 04 :24
03. High Priestess (Lalibela Opus Part 3) 02 :39
04. Rock Churches (Lalibela Opus Part 4) 09 :19
05. Dialogue of the Spirits (Lalibela Opus Part 5) 02 :25
06. Mesenko Nights (Lalibela Opus Part 6) 02 :56
07. Indigo (Indigo Suite Part 1) 08 :12
08. YA A YA A YA A YA A (Anubis Awakens) (Indigo Suite Part 2) 06 :14
09. Sunset at Giza (Indigo Suite Part 3) 02 :35

We climb to the Highest Temple in Lalibela
We partake of the Holy Water, eat bread and drink Tej
in the Temple with our brothers.
We look out over the immense, mountainous land
of twelve sacred churches, and bathe our spirits
in their warm majesty
We drink heartily form the Holy Well of Lalibela
the Sacred Place.
LALIBELA written by
Idrissa & Margo Ackamoor
INDIGO by Kwame Asante

Recorded & mixed July 1973
at Schumacher's Studios
Engineer: Duane Schumacher
Photography: Leonard L. White

IDRIS ACKAMOOR is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, actor, tap dancer, producer, administrator, and director. He is the Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the multi-disciplinary San Francisco performance company Cultural Odyssey. Idris is also the Artistic Director of the legendary world music/jazz ensemble THE PYRAMIDS. Mr. Ackamoor has been honored with TWO Lifetime Achievement Awards for his extraordinary musical and theatrical contributions. The most recent was presented in January 2012 by the renowned BBC radio personality Gilles Peterson at the Worldwide Awards Show in London. In 2003 San Francisco‘s historic magazine, The San Francisco Bay Guardian, presented Idris with his first. During December 2013 Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids conducted their 7th tour of Europe mesmerizing audiences at various music hot spots in Germany, Denmark, The Czech Republic, Sweden, United Kingdom and Switzerland. One of the highlights of the tour was the band’s performance at the world’s leading underground music show The Boiler Roomin London where the presenter remarked, One of the most enthralling performances we’ve ever seen! Idris has performed and collaborated with tenor Saxophonists Chico Freeman and John Tchicai, the late alto saxophonist Charles Tyler, drummer Famoudou Don Moye of the Art Ensemble of Chicago, The Cecil Taylor Creative Orchestra, choreographer/dancer Bill T. Jones, writer Ntozake Shange and Pearl Cleage, his longtime partner actress Rhodessa Jones, and many others. Idris was a protege of Chicago legendary master clarinetist Clifford King who had played with Jelly Roll Morton and Freddie Keppard in the 1920s. Idris received his B.A. in Music from Antioch College, in Yellow Springs, Ohio where one of his most influential teachers was the influential pianist Cecil Taylor. Idris has also studied tap dance with legendary hoofers Al Robinson, Steve Condos, and Eddie Brown. Mr. Ackamoor is one of the first musicians of his generation to have traveled, lived and studied in Africa in 1972 – 73. During his stay in Africa he performed with the King’s Prayer Drummers of Tamale, Ghana as well as lived in Kenya where he studied the music of the Kikuyu and Masai. In 2013 Mr. Ackamoor received a James Irvine Foundation Exploring Engagement Fund Award to conduct concerts, music workshops, and rehearsals to build the Music is the Healing Force Community Orchestracomposed of low-income, African American, and nonprofessional musicians culminating in concert presentations in nontraditional arts venues in San Francisco. The U.S. Department of State, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau selected Idris twice as an Arts Envoy. In his role as an arts ambassador he journeyed to Johannesburg, South Africa conducting residency activities inside the Naturena Women’s Prison with his partner Rhodessa Jones. In 2007 Idris conducted his first U.S. Department of State Speakers Tour of Russia where he conducted performances and workshops throughout the country. Idris has rightfully been in the spotlight of late thanks to the renewed interest in his 1970s legendary band, THE PYRAMIDS which he re – united in 2010. In the last three years a stunning 12 albums have been released of Mr. Ackamoor’s music, including the first Pyramids’ album in over 35 years entitled Otherworldly. In addition, a 3 CD box set was released (of the bands 70s recordings) entitled The Pyramids 1972 – 1976 – They Play to Make Music Fire! As well, the reissue on vinyl of the same 70s recordings entitled Lalibela (1973), King of Kings (1974), and Birth Speed Merging (1976). All of the above were released simultaneously on Disko B Records of Munich, Germany. In 2004 Idris released his third CD entitled, Homage to Cuba. In 1999 Idris released his second jazz CD entitled, Centurian and in 1998 he recorded and released his first CD entitled Portrait. Idris has recently received an Individual Artists Award from the San Francisco Cultural Equity Program to compose for the next PYRAMIDS’album.

Spiritual Afro-jazz-influenced ensemble the Pyramids formed in 1971 while the members were attending Antioch College in Ohio. Originally featuring saxophonist Idris Ackamoor, flutist Margo Simmons, and bassist Kimathi Asante, the group eventually added several members, including various percussionists and, at one point, two bassists. Inspired by such artists as Sun Ra and pianist Cecil Taylor, the latter of whom taught at Antioch during the '70s, the Pyramids mixed African rhythms, free jazz, and even a touch of psychedelic soul. The group toured extensively, relocated to San Francisco, and released three albums including 1973's Lalibela, 1974's King of Kings, and 1976's Birth, Speed, Merging before disbanded in 1977. In 2010, the Pyramids reunited for a tour in support of their complete catalog's reissue campaign, and the group recorded an album of all-new material at Faust's studio in Germany during the summer of 2011. Otherworldly, the Pyramids' first new album in several decades, arrived the following year.

Lalibela was the first album recorded by The Pyramids following their landmark journey throughout Africa as students from Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. The album is one of the first cutting-edge "concept" albums as each side of the LP seamlessly flows from one composition to the next in the vein of a suite painting a musical portrait of the African adventure experienced by founding members Idris Ackamoor, Margaux Simmons, and Kimathi Asante. Lalibela, Ethiopia was the inspiration for the album. A journey to experience the 12th century rock churches of Lalibela by Margaux and Idris closed out their nine-month African odyssey. The personnel for the recording was augmented by new members percussionist Bradie Speller (Hekaptah), drummer Marcel Lytle, and soprano saxophonist Tony Owens (Masai). The album has plenty percussion driven rhythms, beautiful alto sax and flute melodies, soaring out-there improvisations, ritualistic chants, meditative tone pieces, high energy modal jams, and exotic African instruments collected during the African trip.

Yoshi Wada - 2012 - Singing In Unison

Yoshi Wada 
Singing In Unison 

01. March 15 Part 1        43:59
02. March 15 Part 2        22:34

Exrpt from originsl 3 LP set
Recorded on March 15, 1978.
A-D transferred from master tapes at Sanwa Studios.
Issued under permission from Yoshi Wada.

While singing has frequently been part of Yoshi Wada’s other compositions, this is the first work of his to be released that dispenses with all other forms of instrumentation. Three male voices are all that is needed to create this intense and beautiful work captured during two performances in 1978. Combining the ultra modernism of the minimalist movement and ancient vocal traditions, Singing in Unison rivals any other modern vocal work I have heard thanks to its powerful mix of simple structures, complex harmonies and, above all, its emotional warmth.

Singing in Unison is the latest in a series of recordings from acclaimed sound artist, composer, and performer Yoshi Wada. Recorded live over two nights in 1978, on March 14th and 15th at New York City's legendary performance space The Kitchen, Singing in Unison is a dramatic yet meditative work: modal improvisations for three male voices, singing, with great gravitas, in purposeful unison. These previously-unreleased recordings, featuring vocalists Richard Hayman, Imani Smith, and Wada himself are extremely powerful, with a glacial majesty and a sense of timeless wonder. Wada's earliest musical memories are of hearing Zen Buddhist ritual chants in his native Japan, and those memories are reflected in the deep vocalizations here; also evident is Wada's period of intense study with Indian master singer Pandit Pran Nath. Thus there is a definite "eastern" feeling to Singing in Unison, with further elements added by Imani Smith's Sufi background and Wada's interest in eastern European vocal styles, but the music is also informed by Wada's experiences in the Fluxus movement and as a member of the New York avant-garde community. The edgy atmosphere of 1970s New York City pervades these recordings, adding a hint of menace. Despite the fact that this is purely vocal music, fans of the slow-moving heaviosity of Sunn 0))) will appreciate Singing in Unison.

Again if anyone out there has the LP set, I would really appreciate it...

Yoshi Wada - 2009 - Earth Horns With Electronic Drone

Yoshi Wada 
Earth Horns With Electronic Drone

01. Earth Horns With Electronic Drone 77:00

Electronics, Other [Electronic Equipment Designed By] – Liz Phillips
Horn [Pipehorn Player] – Barbara Stewart, Garrett List, Jim Burton, Yoshi Wada
Mastered By – Koichi Hara
Other [Pipehorns Constructed By], Composed By, Recorded By, Other [Electronic Equipment Designed By], Liner Notes – Yoshi Wada

Duration: 77 minutes (excerpt from original 2 hr 42 min performance).
Recorded at Everson Museum of Art, Syracuse, New York, February 24, 1974.
Digitally transfered from original master tapes at Sanwa Studio, Osaka.
Mastered at Sonorous Audio, Osaka.

Thirty-five years since the performance of Yoshi Wada’s “Earth Horns with Electric Drone” was recorded in 1974, Japanese labels EM and Omega Point have finally made the recording commercially available. This fourth and ultimate installment of their Wada series is, musically speaking, the most demanding for its sheer duration and the relentless stasis. On this recording, Rhys Chatham, Garret List, Barbara Stewart and Wada perform on ‘Earth Horns’ and Liz Phillips manipulates a synthesizer to provide the continuous drone that’s either mesmerizing or unbearable, depending on your point of view. The CD version of this recording is a 77-minute excerpt from the 162-minute performance. The three-LP version captures the entire event.

I find the piece a joyful exploration of the space between noise and harmonicity. Wada designed the Earth Horns with the alphorn in mind, using plumbing materials in lengths of 10 and 20 feet and calibrated in octaves. These are combined with an electronic tone, tuned to the harmonics of the AC line cycle (or electric hum) of the room. Together, they produce a visceral experience of resonating overtones that vibrate with the physical bodies and change with the movements of those bodies in their environment. While the fundamental tones remain the same throughout, the shifting balance of the overtones, the subtle pulsing and beating between tones become more and more perceptible.

The disc itself is a gorgeous object in its own right. The CD package includes stunning photographs of performances of the piece at the Kitchen, and with the Merce Cunningham Dance Company at Nassau Coliseum. The liner notes contain original program notes by Wada in English, accompanied a Japanese translation for the Omega Point release. On the reverse side of the folded sheet is a yellowed print of an original poster by Fluxus guru George Maciunas announcing a performance of Wada’s works at the old Film Archives at 80 Wooster street.

Wada’s delightful experiments in sound certainly deserve better than archival status. But at the same time, I also question the motives for the serialized churning out of these so-called “lost masterpieces,” suddenly resurrected after decades. If the point of the performance lies in how the distinctness of the process of “recycling and reinforcing sound change” in the singular “acoustic time / space of the performance” as the composer suggests, a recording of this process seems, in a way to miss the point. What, of this performance is actually captured in the record? It also raises the question, is the compromised sound quality of the recording excusable because of its sexy collectability factor?

By Miki Kaneda

Does anyone out there have the complete LP set and be willing to needledrop it for the rest of us?

Yoshi Wada - 2008 - The Appointed Cloud

Yoshi Wada
The Appointed Cloud

01. The Appointed Cloud 60:23

Bagpipes – Bob Dombrowski, Wayne Hankin, Yoshi Wada
Computer [Interface Engineering And Software] – David Rayna
Timpani, Tam-tam – Michael Pugliese

Performed and recorded at the Great Hall of the New York Hall of Science, New York on November 8, 1987. Sound installation instruments: pipe organ, suspended metal sheet, siren, pipe gong, etc provided by Yoshi Wada.
Mastered at Magic Hour Studio, Osaka.
Issued under license from Yoshi Wada.
Special thanks:
To John Driscoll and David Rayna, who made this performance possible, to Peter and Barbara Moore/VAGA and Paula Mazzotta/VAGA for permission to use CD front cover photo,
to Marilyn Bogerd for sound installation photo, to Tashi Wada and Tim Olive for helping with English liner notes.

Yoshi Wada moved from Japan to the U.S. in the mid-'60s, after which he fell in with Fluxus types like George Maciunas and La Monte Young. While he learned from them about the merit of broad interests and deep study, Wada has followed his own restless muse, sparing little time for music business careerism. Even though he has worked with sound for decades, The Appointed Cloud is only his third record.

Cloud, recorded in 1987, documents a pivotal point in his career. Wada’s LPs for India Navigation and FMP, released in the early '80s, were artifacts of performances shaped by environments. For "The Appointed Cloud," Wada built a computer-governed 80-pipe organ in the New York Hall Of Science. It was reportedly a hit with the kids, who could start, stop and stack the piece’s segments with the push of a button.

Wada's performance from '87 featured a percussionist and three bagpipers (Wada among them), who added more layers of sound to the score. The recording is comprised a single one-hour track, requiring that you give it time and attention, but believe me, you’ll get a better immediate return from The Appointed Cloud than your 2007 401K contributions. Conventional organ voices rise out of mechanical hums, sustaining and layering long tones; the pipes and booming percussion are like a Greek chorus, adding their voices at key moments that ratchet up the intensity and redirect the narrative. The music ranges from contemplative church passages to moments of pure Scotch battlefield terror to pre-operatic Philip Glass terrain. Hocketing phrases seem to grow out of low drones and high notes like rocks surfacing as the tide recedes. It’s a marvelous immersive experience, one best played loud enough to hear the dance of overtones.

By Bill Meyer

Yoshi Wada - 1985 - Off The Wall

Yoshi Wada 
Off The Wall

01. Off The Wall I 20:27
02. Off The Wall II 20:02
03. Die Konsonanten Pfeifen 27:23

Recorded By, Mixed By, Producer – Yoshi Wada
Timpani [Tympani], Percussion [Tam Tam], Cymbal – Kevin Newhoff
Organ [Adapted] – Marilyn Bogerd (tracks: 1, 2)
Percussion – Andreas Schmidt-Neri (tracks: 1, 2)

Tracks 1 & 2 recorded May 11th + 12th, 1984 Berlin. Track 3 recorded at Künstlerhaus Bethanien Studio, Berlin on December 1st, 1983.

Tracks 1 & 2 originally issued on FMP Records (SAJ-49) in 1985. Track 3 is a bonus track, originally issued on cassette by Künstlerhaus Bethanien edition in 1983.

Gatefold three panel paper-sleeve with obi and insert containing a graphic score and a reproduction of the original liner notes for "Off the Wall".

Issued under license from Yoshi Wada (tracks 1 & 2 courtesy of FMP-Publishing). Special thanks to Jost Gebers and Tashi Wada.

Within the canons of the avant-garde, Minimalism, and music which utilizes drone, few are greeted with the awe inspiring respect offered to Yoshi Wada. He is a master who creates riveting effect with even the slightest whisper of tone. Wada entered public consciousness, like a number of other prominent Minimalists, as a member of Fluxus. Most of his early works were realized in galleries rather than concert halls. Like La Monte Young, Henry Flynt, and Terry Riley, he was a student of Pandit Pran Nath, offering insight into the careful control he imposes on his works. Unlike most of his peers, Wada was slow to record. His first album Lament For The Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile wasn’t released until 1982. It was followed in 1983 by Die Konsonanten Pfeifen a cassette issued in an edition of 50, and finally by Off the Wall in 1985. It would be twenty three years before his audience received another recorded document. By the time I encountered Lament.. and Off the Wall during the 90’s, they were legendary and virtually unobtainable.

Off the Wall was originally released by the German Free-Jazz imprint FMP. Strangely it finds itself slightly more at home with its catalog (in the company of artists like Hans Reichel) than it does within Wada’s. Most of his recorded output deals with duration and constrained tones slowly crossing to generate overtones, harmonics, and atonality. Though Off the Wall does contain all these core features, its totality is another beast. The work is composed for two bagpipes, an organ, and drums. It begins as you might expect, two interlacing bagpipes shifting across one another, underlain by an organ drone. The trio create some of the most beautiful harmonic interplay I can call to mind. It’s mesmerizing. Around the seven minute mark a timpani begins to sound. The bagpipes respond with a flurry of activity. Their notes beat against each other in a barrage of rhythms and tonalities.  Structurally Off the Wall is one of the most complex of Wada’s works. Over two sides it evolves from pure harmonic drone, toward the kind of percussive repetition utilized by Steve Reich and Terry Riley, back to a more reduced state, and then off again into a spectrum of interplay more familiar to Free-Jazz. It’s absolutely wonderful.

Yoshi Wada - 1982 - Lament for the Rise and Fall of the Elephantine Crocodile

Yoshi Wada 
Lament for the Rise and Fall of the Elephantine Crocodile

01. Lament For The Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile 22:20
02. Lament For The Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile (Continued) 22:40

Producer, Composed By – Yoshi Wada
Recorded By – Steve Cellum
Recorded on November 29, 1981, at Dry Pool, Media Study, Buffalo, N.Y.

Yoshimasa "Yoshi" Wada (born November 11, 1943), is a Japanese sound installation artist and musician living in the United States. He lived in New York for many years but now lives in San Francisco, California.
Born in Japan, Wada joined the Fluxus movement in 1968 after meeting George Maciunas. He also studied with the North Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath. Wada's works often incorporate the use of drone and are usually performed at very high volume, allowing for the overtones within the sound to be heard very clearly.
He frequently performs his own compositions, which feature much freedom of improvisation, on Scottish highland bagpipe and voice, and also employs a number of homemade instruments. These include "pipe horns" (very long horn-type instruments made from metal plumbing pipe) as well as large reed instruments involving multiple bagpipe-like pipes connected to a large air compressor; due to their appearance, Wada named these latter instruments "Alligator" and "the Elephantine Crocodile". His music has been scarcely released on recordings, having seen only two LP releases, on the India Navigation (1982) and FMP labels. Lament For The Rise and Fall of Elephantine Crocodile, The Appointed Cloud and Off the Wall were reissued by Japanese labels EM Records and Editions Omega Point in 2008.
Wada is also known for his mechanical and robotic installations. In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in the mid-1990s, he performed a whimsically entitled piece, Lament for the Rise and Fall of Handy-Horn, in which several compressed-air "auditory flare" signals used for nautical emergencies (the "Handy Horn" brand named in the title) were sounded for the duration of their usefulness, giving rise to an alarmingly high-decibel air-pressure environment and charged psychoacoustic environment.
Totally cool & weird album by this Japanese composer/instrument maker who was part of FLUXUS, moved to NYC for a while and made these weird, unique, bagpipe/reed-like instruments that were force-fed air by a compressor! LONG tones, obviously. Never before on CD, this was released on the jazz-oriented India Navigation label and has been unavailable for a couple of decades. Conditionally highly recommended if you dig the BIG drone! Contains full liner notes and photos of the instruments.

"If you have heard the music of Yoshi Wada, you have no doubt been impressed by his amazing sound-worlds. Born in Kyoto, he moved to New York in the late 1960s. He is well-known as a Fluxus artist with links to La Monte Young, and has been involved in many performances and sound installations. However, he has released only 2 recordings (as his solo albums) , both hard to find. Finally, a CD reissue of his most important and rarest LP, "Lament For Rise And Fall Of The Elephantine Crocodile" (Recorded in 1981, Issued on India Navigation in 1982). This CD contains 2 pieces: track 1 - solo overtone voice (he studied with legendary Indian vocalist Pandit Pran Nath) recorded at performance space 'Dry Pool', with a deep underground echo feeling; track 2 - dense psychedelic drones using bagpipe-like self-made instrument. These wondrous sounds will take you to another, better world!!"

Phil Miller - 2006 - Conspiracy Theories

Phil Miller 
Conspiracy Theories

01. Conspiracy Theories (7:07)
02. Press Find Enter (8:40)
03. Flashpoint(5:54)
04. 5s & 7s (8:11)
05. End Of The Line (11:03)
06. Freudian Triode (10:18)
07. Orinaca (5:44)
08. Crackpot (7:59)
09. Lydiotic (8:39)

- Phil Miller/ g,g-syn
- Peter Lemer/ kb
- Fred Baker/ b
- Mark Fletcher/ dr,pc

- Didier Malherbe / ss [1/2/6/8] , fl [4/5], doudouk [2], ocarina [7]
- Simon Picard/ ts [1/3/4/8]
- Simon Finch/ tpt,fghn [2/4/6/8/9]
- Annie Whitehead/ tb [1-2/4/6/8/9]
- Doug Boyle/ g [4]
- Richard Sinclair/ b [9]
- Dave Stewart/ xyl [4])
- Barbara Gaskin/ bv [4]

The English are doing jazz-rock right these days. Easy, I suppose, with such a stylish and refined player as Phil Miller and his ever-improving In Cahoots, this time with plenty of brass - trumpet/sax pair Finch and Picard as well as Annie Whitehead's trumpet, Didier Malherbe's soprano sax - the keys of Pete Lemer, and the fantastic rhythm section of Mark Fletcher and Fred Baker from the original line-up. As good as Miller's 'All That' (2003) was, in many ways this is better and shows a deeper relationship between the core members.
'Conspiracy Theories' is in large part a jazz recording but the presence and push of rock is always there, making it an unusually well-balanced album that will probably be disliked equally by both camps. It is jazzrock taken in a slightly different direction by sage masters of their craft; refined palates that prefer suggestion and subtlety over obvious aggressions. Fusion aged in oak barrels, smooth but poignant, and requiring some patience. The title swings with the deft harmonic style this ensemble has forged over the years and moves in between Latin, trad jazz and smokin' bop. Eight-minute 'Press Find Enter' is a pulsing beauty at times, packed with good jams if a bit too long. 'Flashpoint' finds a spacey groove with great fills from bassist Baker, and Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin guest on the very reminiscent '5s & 7s', moody and deceptively slow, hiding deep intricacies and making the Canterbury presence nicely felt. 10-minute 'Freudian Triode' is complex but loose, open to new avenues and much room for soloing, modulations, style shifts and spontaneous discoveries, 'Ornica' is fun and almost commercial, and both 'Crackpot' and 'Lydiotic' are slow-growing creatures of immense power that groove with quiet determination topped-off with our frontman's seasoned guitar phrasing. A splendid example of contemporary English fusion from this classy bunch, recommended to anyone willing to listen.

Phil Miller - 2003 - All That

Phil Miller 
All That

01. Black Cat (12:51)
02. Big Dick (6:59)
03. Inca (11:53)
04. Sleight Of Hand (13:17)
05. Upside (6:04)
06. Out There (7:30)
07. Your Root 2 (8:53)

- Phil Miller/ guit.guit.-synth.
- Elton Dean/ as,saxello
- Jim Dvorak / tpt
- Peter Lemer/ kb
- Fred Baker/ b
- Mark Fletcher/ dr

Guitarist Phil Miller's solid fusion ensemble with luminaries Pete Lemer on keys, Elton Dean on alto sax and saxello, as well as other top-notch players like Jim Dvorak (trumpet), Mark Fletcher (drums) and Fred Baker (bass) spewing thoroughly enjoyable tight-but-loose English jazz rock at its best. When artists of this caliber create together, the result is usually good. In this case, here is a group of guys that could be shooting pool together one minute and ripping the lid off a local jazz club the next.
'Black Cat', the melodic cooker that opens this CD, simmers for over twelve minutes and exhibits the chemistry and dynamics Miller's boys have. 'Big Dick' ups the ante and provides a platform for Peter Lemer's slippery ivories and the trance-like state this band can reach. Arabesque and street-wise 'Inca' saunters with funkadelic flavor and has some very cool horn arrangements and guitar-horn harmonies. These fellas dominate their musical space but don't overwhelm with flash or contrivance... it would be unnecessary. The delicious 'Sleight of Hand' swirls with odd times, John Coltrane old-school jazz expressions, causing you to smell the smoke, liquor and sex of the small jazz club atmosphere it conjures. 'Out There' has a Latin theme and is a quiet refrain before the great finale, the racing synth-jazzer 'Your Root 2', a prog rock diamond in the rough and a high note to close on for a completely satisfying session.

Phil Miller - 2001 - Out Of The Blue

Phil Miller 
Out Of The Blue

01. Early Days (8:35)
02. No More Mr.Nice Guy (7:42)
03. Delta Borderline (10:06)
04. Phrygian Intro & Phrygian Blues (12:58)
05. Open Sea (6:07)
06. Slime Divas (12:04

- Phil Miller/ guit.,guit.-synth.
- Elton Dean / (as,saxello) [1-2/4/6]
- Jim Dvorak/ tpt. [1-2/4/6]
- Peter Lemer/ keyb.
- Fred Baker / bass
- Pip Pyle / drums

-Doug Boyle/ guit. [3/5]

Guitarist / composer Phil Miller and his In Cahoots ensemble have been a consistently excellent source of great music for many years. This album is very special in their discography, as Phil wrote the music for this album during the period when his brother, pianist Steve Miller became ill with the cancer which eventually killed him in December of 1998. Phil had originally hoped that Steve would play on the recording but, as his illness progressed, that ceased to be a possibility. In a way this album is a tribute to Steve and is dedicated to his memory. This is a real return to roots for Phil, harking back to earlier days when he, Steve and Pip played together in Delivery, a band which leaned heavily on the blues for its starting point and it coincides with Cuneiform Records re-release of the Delivery album “Fools Meeting”. It represents something of a departure for Phil, being his first venture into the blues for 30 years. The writing is simpler and there is more of a groove in the rhythm section. The usual In Cahoots sextet line up of Phil Miller - guitar and guitar synthesizer, Fred Baker - fretless bass guitar, Elton Dean - alto sax and saxello, Pete Lemer - keyboards, Jim Dvorak - trumpet and Pip Pyle - drums is augmented by Doug Boyle on guitar. Excellent music from start to finish, which of course is not surprising for a band that keeps delivering one great album after another.

Phil Miller - 1996 - Parallel

Phil Miller

01. Simmer (9:58)
02. Parallel (8:48)
03. ED Or Ian ? (9:00)
04. Half Life (11:39)
05. Sitdown (8:51)
06. Billow (8:40)

- Phil Miller / guitar, guitar synthesizer
- Fred Baker / bass
- Peter Lemer / keyboards
- Jim Dvorac / trumpet
- Elton Dean / saxophones
- Pip Pyle / drums

Legendary guitarist Phil Miller and his In Cahoots ensemble have been active on the Canterbury / Jazz scene since the 1980s, constantly changing lineups but always producing music of the highest quality. A vehicle for presenting Miller’s intricate and highly sophisticated compositions, the ensemble’s recorded legacy through the years – both studio and live – is a great example of European Jazz. This album was recorded by a sextet, which consists of Miller – guitar and guitar synthesizer, Elton Dean – saxophones, Jim Dvorak – trumpet, Peter Lemer – keyboards, Fred Baker – bass and Pip Pyle – drums, who need no introduction all being already much respected and admired musicians. All that remains is to relax and enjoy this wonderful music played by simply the best musicians imaginable. Highly recommended!

Phil Miller - 1994 - Recent Discoveries

Phil Miller
Recent Discoveries

01. Riffy (8:19)
02. Trick Of The Light (6:11)
03. The Opener (8:20)
04. Recent Discoveries (10:48)
05. Chez Gégé (7:21)
06. Tide (9:20)
07. Breadhead (7:13)

- Phil Miller/ guit.,guit.-syn
- Elton Dean/ as, saxello
- Jim Dvorak / trumpet
- Fred Baker/ bass
- Pip Pyle/ drums

This 1993 sees Miller's quintet on sparkling form with tracks composed by ex-Soft Machine saxplayer Elton Dean and talented bassist Fred Baker as well as Phil Miller's own complex pieces.

Phil Miller - 1991 - Digging In

Phil Miller
Digging In

01. No Holds Barred (12:58)
02. Digging In (15:02)
03. Bass Motives (9:55)
04. Down To Earth (5:03)
05. Speaking To Lydia (5:57)
06. Bird's Eye View (2:02)
07. Louder Than Words (3:04)

- Phil Miller / guit.,guit.-syn,progr.
- Peter Lemer/ keyb. [1/2/3/5]
- Fred Baker / bass [1/2/3/5]
- Pip Pyle / dr.-progr. [1/2/3/5]

Guitarist Phil Miller resides as one of the preeminent exponents of progressive rock, notwithstanding his storied legacy amid the much beloved British Canterbury rock scene. Otherwise, this 1991 release features the guitarist performing with some of his longtime musical associates: bassist Fred Baker, drummer Pip Pyle, and keyboardist Pete Lemer. Armed with MIDI and electric guitars, Miller successfully masters the digital revolution with a congenial and altogether zestful set, featuring Pyle's drum programming and the soloists' astute effects manipulations. Here, the band melds jazzy motifs with ethereal backdrops, whimsical themes, and memorably melodic choruses. Furthermore, Miller and Lemer employ MIDI-based trumpet and vibes patches, whereas Baker often trades harmonious notes with the primary soloists via his fluent attack and articulately executed chord voicings. Ultimately, Miller's penchant for constructing melodically tinged compositions among a series of cheery arrangements provides the winning formula. Recommended.

Phil Miller - 1989 - Split Seconds

Phil Miller 
Split Seconds

01. And Thus Far (12:00)
02. Final Call (5:28)
03. Dada Soul (4:20)
04. Truly Yours (5:00)
05. Double Talk (5:55)
06. I Remain (3:30)
07. Your Root 2 (9:20)
08. Foreign Bodies (6:15)

- Phil Miller / guitar, guitar synthesizer
- Elton Dean / as, saxello [1, 4, 7 & 8]
- Steve Franklin / synthesizers [1, 4, 7 & 8]
- Fred Baker / bass [1, 4, 7 & 8]
- Pip Pyle / drums [1, 4, 7 & 8]
- Dave Stewart / keyboards, programming) [3, 5 & 6]
- Barbara Gaskin / backing vocals [3, 5 & 6]
- John Mitchell / keyboards, programming

In this album, his Solo Album is a work of the second work following "Cutting Both Ways". First Solo Album developed the creation of his music till then further and worked. It was a work that showed the directionality of "In Cahoots" that was one of the lifeworks of him enough. He will be sure to be a measurable figure for Canterbury Scene. And, a necessary person for Canterbury gathers and develops into "In Cahoots". The musician who is performing by the tune is different in this album. It distributes the musician by the tune to make the music that Phil Miller exactly created an embodiment and the tune has succeeded splendidly. In this album, the performance where the tension by In Cahoots overflows splendidly creates current their element and idea. The knowledge of men who cultivated it with Hatfields and Softs keeps good feelings and develops high-quality Jazz Rock consistently. The sense of Canterbury splendidly appears really to the third "Dada Soul". The song of Richard Sinclair is one treasure for Canterbury. The age is caught and Miller has introduced the guitar synthesizer in this album. Miller loves item of Jazz and is said that it copied Larry Coryell and John MacLaughlin well. And, he was felt that he had to take an original element to music strongly. It appeals to people as a sound of Miller surely now his style. "Double Talk" and "I Remain", etc. to participate also have ..Pop.. element, and other Dave Stewart And Barbara Gaskin takes the element of a sweet melody and offers us the depth of Canterbury. Overall

Phil Miller - 1987 - Cutting Both Ways

Phil Miller 
Cutting Both Ways

01. Green & Purple Extract / Hic Haec Hoc / A Simple Man (15:59)
02. Eastern Region (5:58)
03. Second Sight (5:02) *
04. Hard Shoulder (4:32)
05. Figures Of Speech (9:06)
06. Green & Purple (9:32)

* CD bonus track

- Phil Miller/ guit.,guit.-syn [4-5]
- Elton Dean [1-3/6] /as,saxello
- Peter Lemer [1-3/6] / synth
- Hugh Hopper [1-3/6] /bass
- Pip Pyle [1-3/6] /dr.


- Dave Stewart [4-5] / kb,pgm
- Barbara Gaskin [4-5] /voc)

Phil Miller is a pilar of the Canterbury sound community. Influenced by the great blues guitarists he developped a style of his own, a mixture of Blues, Rock and Jazz with a personal melodic approach.

Bands :
'Delivery' (1966-71), 'DC & The MB's' (1971), 'Matching Mole' (1971-72), 'Hatfield and the North' (1972-75), 'National Health' (1975-80, 1981, 1983), 'Gowen Miller Sinclair Tomkins' (1981), 'Phil Miller/Phil Lee Duo' (1980-81), 'In Cahoots' (1982-.), 'Oddjob' (1985), 'Hugh Hopper Band', 'Short Wave' (1991-96), 'Phil Miller/Fred Baker Duo' (1992-), 'Phil Miller/Steve Miller/Mark Hewins Trio' (1996-98)

Miller's first band 'Delivery' was formed in 1966 including his brother Steve (piano & vocals), Pip Pyle (drums), Jack Monk (bass) and later on Lol Coxhill, (sax). Monk was replaced by Roy Babbington in 1969, and with singer Carol Grimes, 'Delivery' recorded the album 'Fool's Meeting' (1970) including five Miller compositions. In late 1970 'Delivery' split and Phil and Steve joined Lol Coxhill in a new project called 'DC & The MB's', but the project ended when Steve Miller left to join 'Caravan' and Phil was asked by Robert Wyatt to join 'Matching Mole'. After the split of 'Matching Mole' he joined 'Hatfield & The North' and played then for five years with 'National Health'. After the break-up of 'National Health' in 1980 he was involved in different projects including a duo with ex-'National Health' guitarist Phil Lee and a trio with Lol Coxhill and his brother Steve.

In 1982 Miller formed his own band 'In Cahoots' as vehicle for his compositions, with Richard Sinclair, Pip Pyle and Elton Dean. In February 1985, Richard Sinclair was replaced by Hugh Hopper and the resulting line-up recorded most of the tracks of 'Cutting Both Ways' (1987) released as a solo record, followed by a tour of Europe. Fred Baker replaced Hopper and the band recorded Miller's second album, 'Split Seconds'. In 1991 Miller' recorded his first solo album, 'Digging In' (1991), followed by a duo record with Fred Baker 'Double Up' (1992) and, a 'In Cahhoots' live recording 'Live In Japan' (1993). In 1991 Miller played also together with Didier Malherbe, Pip Pyle, and Hugh Hopper in 'Short Wave' and in 1993 'In Cahoots' recorded 'Recent Discoveries' (1994) a record with a more pronounced jazz influence. In 1996 'In Cahoots' undertook a British tour , recorded 'Parallel' and went on tour with 'Caravan'. For the rest of the 90's Miller toured with 'In Cahoots' in England, France, Belgium and the Netherlands and played on Pip Pyle's solo album '7 Year Itch' (1998).

In May 1998 his brother Steve was diagnosed as suffering from terminal cancer and in June Phil played a reformed 'Delivery' benefit concert for Steve with Pip Pyle, Lol Coxhill and Carol Grimes. Steve died in December that year.'Out Of The Blue' (2001), recorded by 'In Cahoots' and written during the period when Steve was ill, is a tribute to Steve and dedicated to his memory. In 2004 'In Cahoots' recorded a new studio album, 'All That', followed by the departures of Elton Dean and Jim Dvorak. The same year Miller reunited with Richard Sinclair as part of the latter's live band and both played in the reformed 'Hatfield and the North' with the late Pip Pyle, and Alex Maguire. In 2006 'In Cahoots' released 'Conspiracy Theories' a studio record including participations of Richard Sinclair, Dave Stewart and Barbara Gaskin.

Robert Wyatt : "Phil Miller would rather play a wrong note than a note that somebody else had ever played".

'Cutting Both Ways' is one of those amazing collaborations that appeared long after the 'glory days', when the wonderful 'Canterbury Scene' had made its mark - perhaps it just continued to make its mark... This sub-genre of Prog is the one I find closest to my heart. The musicians involved always seem to deliver, album after album, therefore, I am probably not the right person to comment, but, I can only speak in utmost respect about the musicians performing here. Keyboardist Pete Lemer is a long- lost player of the genre. Canterbury afficianados are well familiar with bassist Hugh Hopper, sax player Elton Dean (bless him), drummer Pip Pyle (bless him, too - I'm shedding a tear by now..) and Phil Miller on guitars. This recording basically show-cases a 'who's who' of Canterbury-Prog, a 'Supergroup' of sorts, and is composed and played with that magical Canterbury touch.
Opening with a lengthy suite, 'Green and Purple Extract/Hic Haec Hoc/A Simple Man' wastes no time in grabbing our attention - fantastic production, epic sounding progression as an intro, and great main riff. This riff features a fantastic, extended Synth solo (possibly mini-moog, Lemer's main soloing instrument) followed by Elton's sax solo. This section is played in a kind of 'laid-back' fusion mode, followed by a very reflective section where E.D. gets in some expressive Saxello playing, and Miller's guitar solo is spot-on. This then merges into some more manic soloing from Elton on sax. To read my rambling may sound tedious, but the music on this album is an amazing and breath-taking journey for sure. Difficult to discern the composed parts from improvisation, indeed if there is any - the compositions are quite rigid, however, the first 2 pieces and the last suite on the album are, according to the sleeve notes, recorded as a result of the 'live-in-the-studio' approach. When speaking of Canterbury, 'mellow, wistful, gentle, complex, quirky...' are some of the adjectives used to describe this genre, and that is what's applicable here. 'Eastern Region' is quite nice, with more synth soloing from Lemer and some lightly flanged Bass from Hopper. 'Second Sight' is a track not featured on the vinyl edition of the album, therefore I can't speak of it.

'Hard Shoulder' and 'Figures of Speech' feature Miller and the wonderful Dave Stewart on synths and programming, with some backing vocals from the lovely Barbara Gaskin on the former. These display a different approach to recording, with focus on multi- tracking and utilising the (then) latest developments in music technology, thus confirming the album's title of 'cutting both ways'. These sound a little more synthetic, but still maintain a degree of complexity, and, particularly with the lengthy 'Figures of Speech', faithful to the genre. In some ways, 'Figures of Speech' is the highlight, granted Stewart's somewhat dubious direction he decided to take with partner Gaskin (some decent material on offer there, but far from prog) it actually shows that he has not lost any of the skill and tastefulness that made him such a renowned keyboardist during the 70's. Final suite, 'Green and Purple' features more jamming, with show-offy chops from Lemer and Miller again. Being a release from such a 'sterile' year (musically speaking), 1987. Fantastic album !!!