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Command All Stars

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Reviews of Command All Stars

 

02/02/2009 Paris Transatlantic

The Command All-Stars were a one-off group whose lone album Guilty but Insane was recorded for Ronnie Scott Productions in 1972 but has remained unissued until now. Produced by King Crimson's Robert Fripp, the date brings together pianist Tippett with trumpeter Marc Charig, trombonist Nick Evans, drummer Keith Bailey, bassists Harry Miller and Johnny Dyani, and Elton Dean on saxophones and electric piano for five rousing group improvisations. Apparently one of the tapes has been lost, but Reel Recordings' Michael King was able to salvage the music from one reel for posterity, adding on a performance from Maida Vale that features Louis Moholo, bassist Neville Whitehead and guitarist Jeff Greene. The first two tracks, "Guilty" and "But Insane" work together as a suite, Tippett and Dean trading volleys on acoustic and electric pianos as the twin basses and Bailey's light, all-over wash tug at notions of swing underneath. Tippett's florid stair-steps and prosaic anthems are here in full force, but not in service of any discernible song structure. Yet the music also bears little resemblance to the windswept silences of his contemporaneous work in Ovary Lodge, which makes his playing here an interesting neither-nor proposition and foretells such relentless performances as those on Tern (SAJ, 1982) and in Mujician. The tape dropout that separates the two pieces and the abrupt halt to "But Insane" as the proceedings are clearly just warming up are unfortunate, but thankfully the shimmering forest walk of "African Sunset" and Miller's staggering wooden flute solo are clear and intact.

 

16/12/2008 Dusty Groove

"Spontaneous collective improvisations" from the Command All Stars -- a batch of some of the best British jazzmen of the early 70s, recording in very free formation at the Command Studios under the guidance of Robert Fripp! The tunes are all pretty freewheeling -- more outside than usual, even for these musicians -- and the album's a wonderful chance to hear the farthest reaches of the talents of players who include Keith Tippett on piano, Elton Dean on saxes and electric piano, Nick Evans on trombone, Harry Miller and Johnny Dyani on bass, and Keith Bailey on drums.

 

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