In retrospect, the 1970s got a bad rap -- sure, there was Viet Nam, Nixon, disco, gas shortages, and really bad TV, but there was an awful lot of musical creativity going around in several different spheres (especially in the first half of the 70s). Miles Davis was pursuing his then-controversial electric period, and fusion (which Miles helped to birth) was getting popular but hadn't yet succumbed to the miscellaneous excesses and bland-outs waiting in the wings. Bands from all over the world got into the act, and alas, some fine music got lost in the shuffle. But, the Compact Disc Revolution continues! Secret Oyster, a Danish combo, got their 1973 platter reissued in fine style.
Taking their cues from Miles' "children" -- Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report -- and the less commercial UK wing of jazz-influenced progressive rockers -- Soft Machine, Hatfield & the North, Matching Mole -- Secret Oyster features lots of reeds/guitar/keyboards unison voicings; crisp propulsive rhythms (with undertones of swing), willowy, folk-like melodic fragments, mercurial soloing, and the wee-est hints of funk in their approach. Karsten Vogel has a nicely bittersweet tone (with a genuine "cry" to it with hints of free/out-ness) a la Wayne Shorter, although he's no imitator. Claus Bohling fluid guitar-ing recalls (in spurts 'n' spells) Terje Rypdal, Jeff Beck (the latter circa Blow By Blow/Wired) and, if you can imagine it, a less blues-driven Duane Allman -- his guitar sings as well as making a few rockin' splashes. Kenneth Knudsen has a nicely restrained touch on the electric piano (never overplaying or heavy-handed) -- a little Les McCann-like, even. Secret Oyster seem to have tumbled to the concept of what's left out is as vital as what you but it. More remarkably: Secret Oyster does not sound especially dated -- slip this fine platter when you're spinning discs for your jam-band and/or contempo-fusion pals and surprise them! The brains of jazz and the thorny dynamics of rock, together in varied proportions -- reminds me of what was special about fusion in the first place. Recommended!