During the 1960s (and into the early 70s), many jazz players made attempts to be "with it" (or as the young people say these daze, "down") re: appealing to the younger crowd who were turning on and tuning into rock, funk and Soul/R&B. Most of the results were embarrassing then and/or quaint today (Duke Ellington covering a Beatles hit?), this lost/now found gem is one of the few that worked. There was a posse of young jazz players who grew up with/around rock & roll at the same time they were establishing themselves in jazz, and Steve Marcus was among them. At first glance, anyone with a sense of musical history would likely think this platter a recipe for disaster: Marcus & tackle mod period pieces of the mid-60s: the Beatles’ proto-psychedelic "Rain," the Byrds’ "Eight Miles High" (whose original is STILL one of the most unique slices of American musical history - even today, it sounds like a collision of Beatles, raga and Ornette Coleman’s Prime Time) and Donovan’s slice of flower-power whimsy "Mellow Yellow." The reasons that it works so well (then and today) is that the players don’t sound like they are condescending to the material, and these guys approach these songs with the brazen ferocity of the 60s free jazz movement laced with the visceral backbeat/punch of rock. They state the melody with the right balance of respect and irreverence, then ZANG! into the ionosphere with wild solos reflecting the passionate roar of John Coltrane and the spiky squall of Sonny Sharrock. (Would that Larry Coryell would have kept those fires burning today.) TNK
, ignored on its release in 1968, stands as one of the better efforts at a fusion of rock and free jazz from the jazz side of the equation.
Water Records, PO Box 2947, Sa Francisco CA 94126 /