“Dear Prof. Leary” is not only a super-rare and highly touted collectors item but also one of the earliest and strangest examples of the upcoming Jazz/Rock Fusion recordings that would soon transform the Jazz world. Originally released in 1968 on MPS, Barney Wilen And His Amazing Free Rock Band’s “Dear Prof. Leary” l.p. was a sextet of two trios, one playing the more Rock style and the other in the Jazz idiom, complete with two drummers, producing what can only be described as psychedelic Free-Jazz. Highlights include covers of The Beatles “The Fool On The Hill”, Ornette Coleman’s “Lonely Woman” and Bobbie Gentry’s “Ode To Billie Joe”, scattered amongst the originals.
Review: Any album combining '60s hits like “Ode to Billie Joe” and “Respect” with Ornette Coleman's “Lonely Woman” deserves more than a passing glance. The late French saxophonist Barney Wilen was already thirty-one when he recorded Dear Prof. Leary with His Amazing Free Rock Band in 1968 for the German MPS label. Best-known by then (and, likely, afterwards as well) as Miles Davis' saxophonist on the trumpeter's noir-esque soundtrack to director Louis Malle's Ascenseur pour L'échafaud (1958), Promising Music's reissue of Dear Prof. Leary presents another side to the largely forgotten Wilen. Continue reading at ALLABOUTJAZZ.COM.