Curved Air Records [Release date 05.08.16]
We live in age when every album, every gig, seems to be heavily choreographed. With albums pieced together and artists not necessarily sharing the same studio, or even continent, and gigs fixed to a lighting sequencer or backing track and with little scope for spontaneity.
The first of the ‘Curved Air Rarities’ series reiterates that there are some bands out there prepared to push the envelope, especially in the live situation. Whether you want 15 different versions of their 1970 piece ‘Propositions’ (topped and tailed by Sonja Kristina’s intro and reprise) is a moot point but fans may be interested if only to pick out their favourite rendition. OK, if you’re asking, the second “Norway improv” is pretty definitive.
The improv sequence itself is essentially jazz fusion and if you were to listen to this album end to end you would definitely have to be under the influence of something, when you might even forget that you were listening to the same piece.
Compiled by the band’s keyboard player Robert Norton, the idea is that the band never play the improvisation the same way on different nights. If we get multi variations on a theme the album is also subject to subtle variations in recording quality, presumably taken from the desk and not subject to the rigours of multi-track location recording.
For this reason the album has an element of very good bootleg quality and is really capturing the moment. Not a click track in sight and a testimony to the band’s wonderful musicality and – in particular – Kirby’s guitar prowess. Recorded in 15 different locations during the years 2013-14 it also bears witness to this band’s great revival in recent years. ***
Review by David Randall
David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.
Curved Air play A New Day Festival on Saturday 6 August and Cambridge Rock Festival on Sunday 7 August.
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