When I first heard about this one, I admit that I was a little excited and the combination of Lloyd Miller and The Heliocentrics is just that, excitement.
You’ll recall that The Heliocentrics have been turning up on the pages of FLY Global Music with increasing regularity from to the debut album Out There to last years’ award winning Inspiration Information collaboration with the Godfather of Ethio Jazz, Mulatu Astatke (full review HERE and still sounding brilliant on the Jazz Chronicle decks on a monthly basis).
And in truth, the sneaky 10″ was the first I saw of this new release (at May’s Jazz Chronicles in the hands of a certain Martin Gordon) so the album has been the talk of the message boards ever since.
But it’s not only The Heliocentrics (as lead by Malcom Catto) that we’ve heard of before. Lloyd Miller was destined to be an underground jazzman by definition being the son of a professional clarinet player and coming from New Orleans. He had his first 78 out in 1950 and then in the late 50s followed his Dad to Iran and absorbed himself in the music and instruments of Persia and the Middle East. And then, like many other jazz musicians from the U.S. he found Europe’s ears receptive to his jazz leanings and lived in Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden and Germany and toured with Eddie Harris and Don Ellis (he of the Turkish Baths; you see the connection?).
Anyway, we already know that his favourite ex-pat home was in Paris where he teamed up with the ‘left bank’ of Jef Gilson (see reviews of Soul Of Africa) and worth checking the re-issue with Lloyd Miller on Free Spirits on Kindred Spirits.
You don’t need to get all these previous releases (or even Jazzman’s compilation A Lifetime In Oriental Jazz) to appreciate this new album. In fact, I’m in two minds whether you need to as this is brilliant.
‘Electricone’ is fantastic introduction, ‘Nava’ fades out far too soon and the track ‘Pari Ruu’ just is crate digger’s Indo-eastern jazz heavenwithout spending hours diggin’ or the cash buyin’.
That’s just the first three tracks! Whether it’s the Heliocentrics or Miller that provide, what the label say is “a freeform mix of Eastern arrangements, jazz and angular psychedelics” is debateable but there’s no doubting that together they prove to be a spiritual force.
‘Salendro’ is a neat diversion that hails from the Far East whilst ‘Spirit Jazz’ is Far East – West Coast and all cosmic points in-between: and therefore for fans of Pharoah Sanders to Nat Birchall and all points in-between.
For funky jazzster that are friends of Alice [Coltrane], ‘Modality’ is fantastic! In fact, I’m struggling to say “fantastic” enough here. ‘Rain Dance’ goes indo, ‘Lloyd Lets Loose’ is beat poet jazz meets Peanuts freestyle
‘Latin’ is a proper Astatke-esque jazz piano groover that sets your feet a-movin’ and your heart a-pumpin’ that make’s it a modern classic even before it’s released. And ‘Charhargah’ isn’t far behind in its modal cool whilst ‘Sunda Sunset’ is a suitable chill out ending to the CD.
You don’t have to be on the hubble bubble pipe to get this vibe and just as exciting as the album, we’re promised a tour next year (Oh! don’t you wanna be on that tour bus?)
And whilst we’re in the vibe, must mention that the artwork for the album features a specially commissioned illustration by artist Alex Williamson with photography by Alexis Maryon and I’d say there’s it’s got that Eastern look at say a Roald Dahl story which is just about the right pitch if you ask me.
On a final note, how does this work? Metro’s Album of the Week gets 3 stars and Lloyd Miller (Age 72) and The Heliocentrics gets 4 stars on the same page! In the Jazz Chronicles, there was and always will be a place for Lloyd Miller (and the Heliocentrics for that matter) but Lloyd is certainly no jazz drop out – more of a jazz must get: fantastic!
Reviewed: Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics – Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics (Strut) Cat. No. STRUT060CD Release date: 19th July 2010
1 Electricone (3:42)
2 Nava (4:55)
3 Pari Ruu (4:15)
4 Salendro (2:08)
5 Spirit Jazz (6:55)
6 Modality (3:19)
7 Rain Dance (3:22)
8 Lloyd Lets Loose (3:30)
9 Bali Bronze (6:14)
10 Latin (3:16)
11 Charhargah (4:07)
12 Sunda Sunset (5:39)
http://e-edition.metro.co.uk The Metro 19th July 2010 p38 “A stunning return for a man who inexplicably dropped out of jazz history” John Lewis