Exposé Online banner

MJ12 — MJ12
(Gonzo Multimedia HST402C, 2016, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2016-11-07

MJ12 Cover art

At first, this album seemed to come out of nowhere, a release from a band I never heard of. But one look at the personnel and my hopes went up. The name Percy Jones jumps out, bringing up all sorts of wonderful associations, most notably with Brand X, though of course he’s been a part of many other great recordings, ranging from Brian Eno to Steve Hackett to Tunnels and more. The other names — Stephen Moses (drums), Chris Bacas (saxophone), and David Phelps (guitar) — are less familiar, though a little research turns up Moses working with Michael Zentner, Gary Windo, Blind Melon, Voltaire, Alice Donut, and more. Phelps shows up on recordings by John Zorn, Peter Apfelbaum, and even Public Enemy. Right out of the gate, “Call 911” brings to mind the kind of energetic, quirky jazz rock of Unorthodox Behaviour, though with a sax and without keyboards. The sprightly 7/8 piece builds into a great unison line, then breaks into a crazy guitar solo. Jones’ massive fretless sound slips and slides around for a really tasty backing to the guitar, then they hit the unison part again before Bacas takes a turn. During the sax solo, Moses’ tricky cymbal work is impressive, keeping the rapid rhythm going even at low volume. “Bad American Dream Pt 2” starts out with a beautiful bass solo backed by what must be washes of guitar synth, and later features gritty slide work from Phelps. On the whole, the music is much more jazz oriented than Brand X was, even in the earliest times, which I’d put down to the presence of the sax, and the fact that Phelps is much less of a rock guitarist, much more into avant-garde sounds and effects, than John Goodsall. Some parts of the album are very loose sounding, nearly free improvisation, and it’s great to hear Percy Jones in this kind of setting, with room to wander, tossing in his harmonics and sliding fills. MJ12 gives me everything I want in an electric jazz recording and avoids all of the overindulgent technical showboating that fusion so often falls prey to.


Filed under: New releases, 2016 releases

Related artist(s): Percy Jones, MJ12

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

Claudia Quintet - For – For their fourth release, John Hollenbeck and company have produced yet another engaging disc of Euro-folk chamber jazz, for lack of a better quick descriptive for their unique and identifiable style....  (2008) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues