Vinyl; Pro-Ject RM-5SE turntable (with Sumiko Blue Point 2 cartridge, Speedbox power supply); Creek Audio OBH-15; M-Audio Audiophile 192 Soundcard ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair; individual clicks and pops taken out with Adobe Audition 3.0 – dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced (for 16-bit). Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.
I saved this album from being thrown in the trash by a college radio station. A bunch of us volunteer DJs had been tasked with sorting through thousands of LPs in a storage space over the course of several months and deciding what was worthy of putting into the main library and what would be discarded. I came in at the end of the process, when the management told us we could just scavenge for things to keep before they began tossing stuff for good. It was and still is a fantastic radio station, but I discovered a lot of the indie kids considered a lot of quality music to be unworthy. And a lot that was pretty collectible too, without much defacement to the album covers – Judy Sill white label promo, going to the trash? Bridget St. John on Dandelion? One-off heavy psych rock bands like Alamo or Granicus? Or Coleman Hawkins and Bud Powell records on Pablo, kind of boring past-their-prime recordings like everything on Pablo but still surely not destined for a landfill. It was my moral obligation to save these from oblivion and take them home. Including this album, a specimen that has potential to accomplish the rare feat of pleasing or at least sparking the interest of both the “rare groove” hunter and those into whimsical prog-rock bands fond of making up their own mythological universes.
During the Great Radio Purge of 2008, Most of the good jazz had been put back into the library. Now granted the first stage of this ‘trim the fat’ operation worked on the honor system, presuming that someone stumbling across a Sun Ra album on Saturn Records was going to keep it at the station and not take it home… This may be why I absented myself from the first stage, wishing to avoid such ethical dilemmas. Also, volunteering isn’t a very lucrative occupation , I was already doing two radio shows for them, and doing any more would impinge on innate laziness. In any event, I was remotely aware of André Cecarelli’s name as a figure in European jazz and jazz fusion, but mostly I was attracted by the bright mandala oil painting gatefold cover because I like shiny things. Opening it up, I found some guide notes that had been typed by the reviewing DJ and glued neatly to the inside jacket, which is a nice touch since usually they are handwritten on index cards fixed sloppily on the jacket with a glue stick, or just written directly on the album covers in ballpoint pen. After appreciating the DJ-reviewer’s tidiness, I then noticed some of the additional musicians on the recording: Janick Topp and Claude Engel (Magma), Didier Lockwood (Magma, Pierre Moerlan’s Gong), Ernesto ‘Tito’ Duarte (Barrabas), Alex Ligertwood (Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express, Santana). I mean, c’mon, it had to be worth at least a listen, right?
The album may not be as far out as this list of heavy friends playing on it might lead you to believe, nor as good as it probably ought to be, but it has some intense moments. I am less enamored of it than the DJ tasked with reviewing it in 1978, but then he or she also seemingly did not recognize any of the musicians who played on it and so perhaps had lower expectations than I did. As the reviewer states, this is much less jazz (as might be expected from something on the Inner City label) and much more fusion or jazz-rock (they suggested calling it “big band fusion…”) The reviewer makes a comparison to Mahavishnu Orchestra, which I don’t really hear: this stuff takes itself far less serious than anything John McLaughlin has ever played on. There is none of the sci-fi loonyness of Magma either, which may be a relief to many of you. If anything this stuff puts me in mind of Jean Luc-Ponty and George Duke, or maybe just mid-70s Zappa when George Duke was playing on his records. Bonus points for the use of steel drums on the track “Ded’s Circus.”
If I had to some this album up in one sentence it would be: “The kind of record that Howard Moon from The Mighty Boosh would get very excited about.” In fact the gravely spoken word on the interlude “What the…” on side two sounds suspiciously like the Spirit Of The Blues character from that show.
As a bonus, I photographed the track-by-track notes from the anonymous late-70s college DJ before having a go at removing them. Word to the wise, removing adhesive material that has been in place for over thirty-five years is not a guaranteed success (but I knew that before beginning). The stickers weren’t really bothering anybody, but I knew they were there and it would bother me sometimes late at night and I would consider digging through a few thousand LPs to find this one and try to remove them at 4 a.m. I opted to leave the reviewer’s overall impressions in place, however. I mean it’s part of the history now, right?