James’ Brand New Blog

On the turnturnturntable*: The London Experimental Jazz Quartet/Invisible Roots

- June 14th, 2012

london_experimental_jazz

The cover of the original LP issue of Invisible Roots, courtesy of mocm.ca

LEJQ-back

Believe this is from the CD reissue, a detail from the back cover, courtesy of theperlichpost.blogspot.com

Japan’s love of jazz and sweetnoise from #lndont continues to make the universe a better-sounding place. The latest example of the #ldnont connection is the CD release on Japanese imprint universounds/Deep Jazz Reality of a 1974 gem, Invisible Roots, by the London Experimental Jazz Quartet.

JBNBlog has always enjoyed the LP & admired the quartet of Eric Stach (saxes, flute), Gregg Dechert (piano), Gerry Van De Kamp (electric bass) & Randy Coryell (drums) for all they did back in the day. Hearing the CD, though, is a completely fresh experience.

Pause for a #ldnont quiz: The CD’s arrival makes obsolete the instruction on the back of the LP.

For the usual JBNBlog prizes, complete this thought aka fill in the blank word from the LP notes: “this is a recording. for best results, use a ——.”

Back to the CD. Now, it seems Dechert’s Tyneresque drive & funky flourishes keep the experiment on the move, while Eric . . . well, Eric is Eric & every squawk & occasionally soothing bit of icecreamKonitz sounds like 2012 all the time. Drums & bass come through especially well (or maybe I can just hear it all better) & again there is steady beat to most of the experimenting. It all sounds terrific. Go LEJQ.

To hear the 2012 version, just go down to 105 Clarence St. on Friday nights & Eric & friends will delight you. Check lfpress.com/events for details.

Back to 1974. As for the guests — what guests! The wildest track is Ron Martin Special With Mustard, 81 seconds of pure mayhemjoy. Yes, the award-winning visual artist (always a fierce conversationalist) joins on alto sax, Dechert & Coryell switch instruments & with everyone blasting away this is the maddest experiment. Gone totally right.

That track’s title also shows off the LEJQ’s penchant for playoff song names. That reaches a peak with Destroy the Nihilist Picnic. Bass & piano get in the groove & the relatively conventional proceedings are indeed a bizarro world variation on that memorable picnic.

Joining in for extended picnicking is another good friend, Peter Denny, aka “the swinging professor.” Peter’s vibes are often occasions for quieter visits to inner & outer space on Invisible Roots. This is an LEJQ experience unheard/underappreciated before listening to the CD this week. Previously, it was the squawks & shrills that dominated JBNBlog’s mind’s ear . . .  it turns out there are many moments when Invisible Roots takes us to a lounge on Demos waiting for that shuttle to Phobos. Mellow, yes. Excellent also.

Peter croaks out some astonishing bass sax, too. This might be the first #ldnont recording with a bass sax since primitivist Lombardo (or did the Royal Canadians ever have a bass sax?)

JBNBlog would definitely like to know more about cellist/flutist/vibist Erna Van Daele . . . any contacts appreciated.

The CD reissue adds a 1975 bonus track The Potential of Something Exquisite, taken from an unreleased album Fruit from Another Garden, Vol. II. It is nine seconds shy of 29 minutes & so will take some more listenings before its shape is revealed.

Yosuke Ogawa produced the re-issue. Ken Tsukamoto directed the project. JBNBlog salutes you & everyone involved. Luv from Japan has reached #ldnont through the Nihilist Spasm Band . . . Invisible Roots keeps the luv growing. As for Japan’s deep jazz understanding, it was a swank Tokyo hotel where vintage Ornette Coleman could be heard on the lobby sound system as we checked in a few years back. Now that is a hip city.

Here is some background from Eric:

He generously made one of his 10 copies available to JBNBlog. The CD and download versions were available May 23. A vinyl reissue is to follow.

“So after 38 years, having it reissued again — it almost feels like Picasso fathering a child in his 70s. I’ll be 72 in December . . . they have the same visuals as on the original (beautifully reprinted).

The front cover photo is of the late Janice Janes (a change from the original version of the post where I called her Janice Cherfurka — see the comments from Stephen Harding and Paul Chefurka). The photographs of Janice & the Dundas St. store window mannequins on the back cover were taken by ace photographer Paul Chefurka. Once a bandmate of JBNBlog’s in a folkie outfit which played NDP coffee house gigs, Paul now lives in Ottawa.

“Nick Gurr who engineered the album while working at Fanshawe College in 1974 recently returned to live in London after many years working across Canada. I spoke with him recently on the phone,” Eric writes in a letter he dropped off to go with the CD.

A little more background: Invisible Roots was recorded at the Creative Electronics Sound Studio on April 23, 1974. Producer was Peter Cracknell & tape operator was Michael Spearman. Contacts for these two aces also appreciated.

The LP is a now v. rare. It was released on Scratch Records as SR-10.

*An occasional series devoted to random reports on good music which has come JBNBlog’s way.  A couple of notes: plenty of ace sounds will go uncelebrated here, but may find another home on lfpress.com or in The Free Press &,  as you might expect,On the turnturnturntable loves vinyl & the 1965 Byrds, but 45 rpm masterpieces are experiencing a bumpy ride on the new $33.01 Fisher-Price player (the penny is to weigh down the arm). So.  Let it rawk, CD, album, LP, EP or (here’s hoping) 45 . . . whenever the mood strikes & space allows.

 

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2 comments

  1. Stephen Harding says:

    That’s Janice Janes on the original album cover. The photo was taken by Paul Chefurka.

  2. Paul Chefurka says:

    Stephen, you’re absolutely right about Janice’s last name. She didn’t change it when we married. She was plenty happy being JJ…

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