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Two Concerts from a Golden Age of British Jazz by Workpoints

As I have stated in my reviews, Jazz comes in many different formats and structures. Since the 60s and 70s, we have now branched out into many categories of jazz. There is fusion, rock, contemporary, be-bop, swing, big band, cool & smooth jazz, and a particular type of jazz genre that came out of the early 60s called "avant garde" (or jazz expressionism). The followers of this movement were people who studied and learned techniques of music and jazz, but then went on to explore new trails, sounds and emotions. Some famous people who went in this directional path were greats like Miles Davis, John Coltrane and Charles Mingus to name a few.

Over the years of my listening and playing, I have investigated styles of European musicians. Many of them, I found out, were quite outstanding world wide in their specialized field. In this new CD entitled Workpoints, many of those same European musicians I had listened to are heard currently on the CD. Their performance on this CD was excellent, but their sound was certainly in a different style. Most of the CD was recorded in the 60s, but it is very clear sounding..matching today's technology.

It's very different to listen to something that is not familiar, or doesn't perhaps seem pleasing to the ears. The musicians on the CD are trying to make a statement, create an impression, give more emotion than found in a regular melodic tune. The first album I heard that took me to a different plane was one by Miles Davis called Bitches Brew. It started off with the common standards of jazz, melody, bridge and solos, but then it seemed like the form was gone. The beat had also changed, or it was entirely gone. Solos had almost become interruptions in this particular production.

When you listen to avant garde music, try to listen to it in sections. Listen to a track or section, take a break, then come back to it. This will "cleanse your ears" in order to hear many other different textures on the CD, otherwise it will all start to sound dissonant. Don't try to listen for a melody right off the bat, because it might not be there.

The CD itself is very good. I was excited to see artists featured who were musicians that had already made a name for themselves. For example, Kenny Wheeler(trumpet)now has 11 CDs out on the ECM record label; Mike Gibbs(trombone)is now one of the master composers and orchestra leader in London; John Marshall(drums)headed up one of the most awesome jazz-fusion group called Soft Machine in the UK.

So don’t be afraid to listen to something new. Just because it's different, does not make it bad; it’s another avenue to explore in the great world of jazz. With all the wonderful, all-star players that did a fine job playing on this disc, I give this CD a 3 out of 5 on my Jazz-o-meter.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Workpoints
  • CD Title: Two Concerts from a Golden Age of British Jazz
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Cuneiform Records
  • Rating: Three Stars
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