Horace, well, I… Hey, now. Don't forget that 2nd e — or Horacee will show you how good he really is with a pair of sticks. Horacee's not as well-known as ace jazzmen Tony Williams, Elvin Jones, Billy Cobham, or Lenny White — though he's been around as long or longer — but this reissue of his first-rate 1974 solo album, Tales Of The Exonerated Flea, is poised to show several younger generations what the one-time Corea sideman is all about. There wasn't a stiff digit in the house during the Flea sessions, and the stew's been packed with mucho más flavoring thanks to the remaster; instrument levels are suitably loud but plenty of ventilation beneath and between is spoken for. Another thing: audible hiss is present. Use your mind to block it out.
Horacee is more like an alchemist than a drummer the way his primary guest Jan Hammer is more like a wizard than a keyboard player. Horacee shuffles the beakers and charges the heat in his steamed-up beats, while Jan casts spell after facile spell like a man driven — the latter even sports a crazed look in his pic on the original back cover. No shortage of red-hot Moog-edy licks, indeed —Jan's solo/outro on "Puppett Of The Seasons " is so rousing, it's almost perversely so. John Abercrombie's steel strings burn like hot coils on "Chinnereth II ," but that 12-string acoustic on the eleven-minute "Sing Nightjar" is Ralph Towner's. One of Flea's hardiest compositions, it also sports Art Webb's pirouetting flute leads and subsequent soloing by Jan that finds him punching in deep, growling bass notes. Webb rebounds fashionably on "Benzélé Windows" before a heavy-duty funk groove, beefed up by mega-Moogbass, locks the tempo and Sonny Fortune's soprano sax takes the reins.
The two shortest tracks, the title track and "Delicate Evasions," are alternately hyper and restrained, brawny and delicate. The former kicks off with some nice fills by Horacee, and Hammer's eventual solo comes into play, while the latter is more earthy and revolves around Webb's agile flute melodies. The most free-feeling piece on the album, "Chinnereth II" finds Horace and percussionist (and future Hammer collaborator) Dave Johnson in prime form with a pervasive timbral carousel effected by tom-toms, snare and congas, topped by a shimmering curtain of cymballic rain. The closer, "Euroaquilo Silence," is the only cut to feature a co-writing credit by Jan — even better, it's a duo piece, a forerunner of Jan's collaborative efforts with percussionist Johnson (the first,
Time Is Free, came two years later). An improv workout on the kit and raw analog power couldn't be a better way to finish.
Tales Of The Exonerated Flea is an assuredly aphoristic interim for those of us who've come to appreciate the reissue process; this and Caldera are the best fusion reissues of the year. These albums are representative of how it was done; imitators reach, but they seldom grab. Let's pray the next reissue to finally see daylight turns out to be Hammer and Kindler's Like Children, which has been promised to us for several years, now... no sign of the ship's sails, just yet.
1. Puppett Of The Seasons (4:30)
2. Sing Nightjar (11:07)
3. Benzélé Windows (6:53)
4. Tales Of The Exonerated Flea (3:43)
5. Delicate Evasions (4:28)
6. Chinnereth II (8:05)
7. Euroaquilo Silence (5:41)
Total time – 44:47