Neil Sadler — Theory of Forms
(Bleeding Arts BA 10012, 1999, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01
Theory of Forms is a high-energy blast of horn-powered energy almost from start to finish. Sadler is an accomplished composer, keyboardist, and percussionist, and he’s recruited a crew of Zappa alumni to realize his tightly arranged musical vision. Most prominent is guitarist Mike Keneally, whose inventive playing shines on every track. Other than the obvious link in personnel, though, the Zappa connection is irrelevant. This is electric jazz that simply kicks butt in complicated ways. In the midst of the tricky rhythmic arrangements, there’s a lot of improvisation. The opening cut, “Jazz Bastards”, features a great solo from trombonist Bruce Fowler and some wild Keneally guitar work. The second track starts with some eerie string synth, and works into a disjointed improv session with both muted and straight trumpet from Walt Fowler over a stuttery groove. These first two cuts illustrate the opposing poles of the album: insanely complex horn and guitar arrangements on the one hand, flowing improvisations on the other.
This recording packs the energy of early electric jazz classics by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and the rest, but manages a style all its own. Sadler’s compositions are complex without being freakish, and he uses advanced techniques like bitonality and rhythmic cycles fluently. Casual listening may illicit a response like, “That sounds interesting – I wonder what’s going on.” Further study (or checking the web site) reveals some of the technicalities for those interested.
[Note: As of when the review was published, the composer's technical notes were available on the link below, which may or may not still be valid. - ed.]
Simeon Coxe RIP – Simeon Coxe, best known for his experimental electronics in the band Silver Apples, has died at the age of 82. The band's 1968 debut album set the stage for both German electronic music and experimental punk music a decade later. Coxe died on September 8 from pulmonary fibrosis. » Read more
Ennio Morricone RIP – Famed composer Ennio Morricone has died at the age of 91. The creator of scores for more than 500 movies, some of his works have become the most recognizable sounds in the history of cinema. His soundtracks for Sergio Leone's Westerns made from 1964 to 1971, are iconic landmarks in film music, but he also composed for dramas, comedies, and other genres. He won the Academy Award for Best Original Score in 2016 for The Hateful Eight. » Read more