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Jazz → BBC In Concert 1971  

BBC In Concert 1971

Artist: Soft Machine
Soft Machine - BBC In Concert 1971 CD
Label: Hux
Regular Price: $17.95
On Sale For: $8.98 
Year: 2005
Format: CD

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Recorded on March 11, 1971, BBC in Concert 1971 was done after Robert Wyatt had recorded his last album (Fourth) with the band, but several months before he was out of the Soft Machine lineup. Unsurprisingly, then, it finds the group as oriented toward out-there jazz as they ever were with Wyatt on drums, to the point where it's not so much jazz-rock fusion as near-avant-garde jazz. Too, it was also a point in Soft Machine's evolution where the lineup could actually change during the performance, which is why this particular disc bears the billing "Soft Machine & Heavy Friends." The first song, the ten-minute "Blind Badger," is actually the Elton Dean group (which soon evolved into Just Us) with Mike Ratledge on electric piano; the next, "Neo-Caliban Grides," is the actual quartet that comprised Soft Machine at this point, with the addition of Phil Howard (later to replace Wyatt) as a second drummer; and the 32-minute medley features the Soft Machine quartet plus Roy Babbington and Neville Whitehead on bass, Mark Charig on cornet, Ronnie Scott on tenor sax, and Paul Nieman on trombone. Only the closing "Slightly All the Time"/"Noisette" is just the core Soft Machine quartet. It's all rather confusing (though the liner notes explain things in cohesive detail), the larger point to take away being the energetically complex, constant direction-changing performances themselves, though it's not easily digested by those who like memorable structures or riffs. Note, incidentally, that most (though not all) of this material was previously issued on the 1993 release BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert. ~ Richie Unterberger

This is a live session recorded for the BBC at London's Paris Theatre on March 11th 1971. John Peel introduced the concert as being by "Soft Machine and Heavy Friends". This is a unique recording in that, for this BBC session, the band augmented and fragmented and performed with other great jazz musicians, including Ronnie Scott on tenor sax. It actually begins with the Elton Dean Group (which a year later evolved into 'Just Us') - Dean, Mark Charig, Neville Whitehead and Phil Howard - augmented by Mike Ratledge on electric piano. Then Dean, Ratledge and Howard are joined by Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt. The 30-minute plus medley is by the regular Dean-Ratledge-Hopper-Wyatt quartet. For the last three numbers within the medley, Soft Machine is augmented by Ronnie Scott on tenor sax, Mark Charig on cornet, Paul Nieman on trombone and Roy Babbington on bass. A very strong performance that features some of the most jazz-oriented music Soft Machine ever produced.
ARTISTS
Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper, Robert Wyatt, Mike Ratledge, Roy Babbington, Mark Charig, Phil Howard, Paul Nieman, Ronnie Scott, Neville Whitehead
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