Ahhhhh, now this is some very cool strange-jazz. The late Hugh Hopper, founding member of the notoriously stratospheric Soft Machine, and Elton Dean, an early bandmate in that group, were always active outside the SM home base, and this is another in a series of releases of sometimes experimental, sometimes jazzy, sometimes avant-garde, sometimes all three, compositions with the four-stringed gent—nominally the leader, one must suppose—content to flesh out the subtler sectors. Numero D'Vol commences with an atmospheric number, the title cut, and wafts its way lazily along, punctuated by soaring sax work from Simon Picard, a gent who goes a long way towards revivifying an instrument much too defenestrated by the likes of Kenny Gee and David Sanborn.
Then there's keyboardist Steve Franklin, whose contributions to that track are at first faintly reminiscent of Quiet Sun's LP, though he soon switches to organ on the second number as Charles Hayward races up the percussive element before all collapse into a spacious free-form chaos of floating and cross-colliding blazons wallowing into a slow semi-rebuild. There's an exceedingly generous amount of experimentation here, as Hopper, like Holgar Czukay, was always fond of mapping out new territory (and, all truth to tell, Hugh was forever much better at it), a task his mates are well up to. Likewise, fidelity to the new "traditions" are always observed well enough not to dump the listener into pure chaos, and thus, though one is never very long on terra firma, the transition into slipping between dimensions is a relished experience.
It can easily be said that Numero D'Vol is a serious extension of a hard-core avant-jazz sidestream that has ceaselessly struggled since Coltrane and ilk to continually re-form, redefine, and re-contextualize itself, a job not many are sure will end any time soon and more than a few are convinced has no terminus (I side with the latter but sympathize with the former). Bootz makes this very evident as it nails an exceedingly meaty raison d'être before slipping into Shovelfeet to dissipate its own fundament. And that's exactly what's so attractive about the entire CD. It never stays still for very long yet manages to compose itself as an ongoing conversation of esoteric philosophies and fractal conjectures.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2010, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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