Command All Stars: Curiosities 1972 (2009)
That infinite moment with which a lot of the music AAJ covers is preoccupied is amplified here, rife with a depth which far outstrips the casual manner in which the music came together. Afforded the relative luxury of three days of studio time in February 1972, some of that time's most creative individuals on the British scene came together to work both spontaneously and collectively. The results, even while inevitably reflective of that casual approach, demonstrate the primacy of that moment and how it was addressed.
"But Insane" possesses positive kinetic energy, with the sheer volatility of Elton Dean's sopranino sax saying it all, in its way, though not to the detriment of Keith Tippett's rolling, boiling piano.
Harry Miller's African flute on "African Sunset" takes the music outside of every Anglo-American domain, as does Johnny Dyani's approach to the bass. His deployment of intervals is, again, the work of a distinctly African sensibility on the glibbest level; at a more profound one, a blueprint for how to maintain impetus even while being pensive.
Two basses and electric piano are hardly the likeliest combination, but somehow it works on "African Sunrise." Tippett has what it takes to realize that electricity makes a significant difference to what he has at his disposal. And whilst the very sound of the instrument might be redolent of the time, bassists Miller and Dyani take the music outside of that time, ensuring the music is digestible at any given moment, in a manner speculative of how the music was made.
When a seven piece band comes together for the lengthy "Roots And Wings," not one of those precious moments is wasted, despite the subversion of convention. The lengthy bass dialog between Miller and Dyani is not so much broken up as it is augmented by Marc Charig on muted cornet, his inherent lyricism to the fore even as he improvises in an environment of near complete freedom. Further on Dean is at his slightly fractious best; spinning lines out as though he's trying to reach an accommodation with the ether. Throughout, drummer Keith Bailey seems a little unfocused, but repeated listening is enlightening with regards to the pertinence of his contribution, and he honors the moment as much as any of his comrades.
Track Listing: Guilty; But Insane; African Sunset; African Sunrise; Roots And Wings; Vehim.
Personnel: Elton Dean: electric piano (1), sopranino sax (2, 5), alto sax (5, 6); Marc Charig: cornet (5, 6); Nick Evans: trombone (1, 6), valve trombone (5); Keith Tippett: piano (1, 2, 5), electric piano (4); Jeff Green: guitar (6); Harry Miller: bass (1, 2, 4, 5); African flute (3); Johnny Dyani: bass (1-5); Neville Whitehead: bass (6); Keith Bailey: drums (1-5); Louis Moholo: drums (6).