(Vocalion)

This is the first time that I meet a recording by flutist Bob Downes (…surprised? Just think that your writer knows nothing by The Doors except their opera prima, and never listened to Jefferson Airplane in his life – proudly). Flanked by Barry Guy on bass and Denis Smith on drums – with single participations by Jeff Clyne and Laurie Baker – Downes released this music in 1972 on his own Openian imprint. The opening track “Spanish plain” is built on a typical “corrida” cadenza which leaves room to a central improvised section, only to return to the initial vamp at the end. From there on the scenario changes quite abruptly, the leader’s chirping-and-whistling protuberance obviously ever present either in solo pieces (with a surprising-for-the-era abundant use of silence, as in “Naked forest”) or in quasi Jethro Tullian clothes (the beginning of the conclusive Maya” and especially “Sea shore”). The boss doesn’t limit himself to flute, though: in “Seventh wave” he’s featured on tenor saxophone, and his voice parallels the main instrument in several occasions as in a drugged ritual (the above mentioned “Maya”). Note that this material was used for performances by Robert Cohan’s London Contemporary Dance Theatre, which were held while the musicians played live on a different stage level, yet another snapshot of the almost naïve enthusiasm that characterized those years, when producing and releasing art with no fear of being categorized was easier and new genres started on a daily basis. It is also interesting to see where great names like Guy were at that moment in relation to what they went on to realize later on. So many fascinating aspects in this stuff, but then again the label specializes in this kind of retro-tinged creativity, always welcome and highly appreciated within these walls.

Advertisements