This previously unreleased live recording of the legendary British jazz-rock quartet exceeds preconceived expectations, largely due to the clarity of audio processing and band’s contemporary edge. As stated in the press kit, this rendition of the ensemble is perhaps the best known amid all the personnel changes including various tribute permutations and offshoots.
The great saxophonist Elton Dean recently passed away, yet his legacy within this aggregation and British modern jazz circles in general, has left a huge imprint upon the global jazz arena. Here, we are treated to Hugh Hopper’s monstrous fuzz-bass lines, Mike Ratledge’s patented, grainy organ lines amid a conglomerate of whispery themes fused with hard-hitting improvisational excursions.
The band launches the first set with Hopper’s lovely and minor-classic "Facelift." Yet one of the ensemble’s distinctive attributes pertains to its intertwining of memorable, Canterbury style themes with ferocious interplay. And with abrupt shifts in momentum, Dean and Ratledge flex quite a bit of muscle atop Hopper and drummer Robert Wyatt’s fluid and propulsive rhythmic forays. As they combine power with meaningful dynamics and airy dreamscapes. In addition, the soloists’ soaring jazz-based dialogues are sometimes augmented by circular ostinatos and temperate musical planes.
This newly released audio CD and the first DVD release by Soft Machine -- recorded several months later at the TV studios of Radio Bremen - should be deemed as essential listening. In retrospect, this package revitalizes a highly creative era in British jazz and progressive rock environs. It was a veritable metamorphous that intimated new standards for change and creativity.