The Muffins with Marshall Allen & Knoel Scott — Loveletter #2 "The Ra Sessions"
(HOB002, 2005, CD)
by Peter Thelen, Published 2006-05-01
What does one get when The Muffins mix it up with two great sax players (Marshall Allen and Knoel Scott) from Sun Ra’s Arkestra? That’s right, not two – but four sax players, plus bass and drums, in seven semi-structured and free improvisational jazz blowouts: Nothing seems to be composed in this setting, unless composed on the spot, yet not surprisingly this comes off as a very expressive and inspired workout for the most part, and overall quite listenable, albeit occasionally chaotic. Saxophobes need not apply, but anyone who enjoys the Muffins early material, or even their regular releases of late (Bandwidth, Double Negative) will find a touch of this adventurous free improv spirit in all of their music, just not so much of it all at once. The six players work together well, and while the groove seems to be constantly turning and twisting, and interplay seems to constantly shift among the several layers of woodwinds, there’s still plenty here to sink your teeth into and tap your foot to. While the saxes tend to dominate the proceedings, a groovy and wicked wah-wah guitar solo and sweet flute melody that follows it are the highlights of “Chickenhead,” the album’s longest track. Both Muffins and Arkestra fans – and fans of wind-driven jazz improv in general will find this collection worthwhile.
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
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
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
Joel Vandroogenbroeck RIP – Word has reached us of the death of Joel Vandroogenbroeck, best known as one of the founders of Brainticket, He also recorded electronic music under a variety of names. He was born August 25th, 1938 in Brussels, Belgium and died December 23, 2019 in Arlesheim, Switzerland, aged 81. » Read more