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Soft Machine: NDR Jazz Workshop-Hamburg, Germany 1973

Ahhh, the sounds of the electric piano...there's really nothing like it, and during the early 70's, the fabulous Fender Rhodes could be heard throughout the bubbling jazz-fusion scene quite a bit. This 1973 live set from Soft Machine, recorded in Germany with one of their later line-ups, features Mike Ratledge on glorious electric piano, as well as organ, throughout the performance. The band here, which also features Roy Babbington (bass), Karl Jenkins (oboe, baritone sax, soprano sax, electric piano), John Marshall (drums), Art Themen (tenor and soprano sax), and Gary Boyle(electric guitar), play material mostly from their Six album and soon to be released at that time Seven.

Those familiar with Soft Machine are well aware that this period saw the band heavily jump away from psychedelia and into free form jazz-fusion. As such these performances here are quite airy and adventurous, with plenty of solo spots and complex, intricate arrangements featuring squonking sax, rumbling bass, tight drum work, sizzling guitar, and boatloads of majestic electric piano. Highlights include the masterful "Down the Road", complete with some scorching McLaughlin influeced guitar work from Boyle, the complex sax rave-up "Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album", and the menacing "Gesolreut", which is a must for fans of Return to Forever and Mahavishnu Orchestra. You can almost hear elements of Van Der Graaf Generator on the heavy & ominous "Stumble", where sax and organ create crushing riffs and battle for supremacy, and Marshall shows off his supreme drums skills on the blazing solo "One Across".

Toss in a fine DVD of the performances (yes, video of Soft Machine circa 1973!!!) and you have one hell of a treasure chest here from Cuneiform. It might not be the vintage Soft Machine line-up, but this is impressive nontheless.

Track Listing
1. Fanfare (0:47)
2. All White (3:37 )
3. Link 1/Link 2 (5:04 )
4. 37 1/2 (6:31)
5. Link 3 (0:47)
6. Riff (3:50)
7. Down The Road (10:41)
8. Link 3a (1:00)
9. Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album (4:46)
10. Chloe And The Pirates (8:33)
11. Gesolreut (11:48)
12. E.P.V. (3:33)
13. Link 4 (3:37)
14. Stumble (6:55)
15. One Across (6:09)
16. Riff II (1:08)

1. Fanfare
2. All White
3. Link 1
4. The Soft Weed Factor
5. Link 2
6. 37 1/2
7. Link 3
8. Riff
9. Stanley Stamp's Gibbon Album
10. Chloe and the Pirates
11. Gesolreut
12. E.P.V.
13. Link 4
14. Stumble
15. One Across
16. Riff II
Audio Bonus Material
17. 1983
18. Encore improvisation / Stumble reprise

Added: October 3rd 2010
Reviewer: Pete Pardo
Related Link: Cuneiform Records
Hits: 2206
Language: english

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