Friday, January 20, 2017

USA: Harry Miller - Which Way Now(CUNEIFORM RECORDS 2017)

During the '70s and early '80s, before his death in a car accident, South African native Harry Miller was one of the great bassists and artistic forces on the British progressive jazz scene, anchoring such bands as Brotherhood of Breath and leading groups of his own such as Isipingo. Featuring South African expatriates and British stalwarts, it effected an exuberant blend of American-style jazz--modern and not-so--rock-charged British improvising and folk-tinged jazz from Capetown. The group recorded only one album, Family Affair (1977), but with this excellent-sounding, previously unreleased 1975 concert recording, taken from a German radio broadcast, its legacy expands. Comprising four compositions by Miller, whose ties to Charles Mingus are evident, Which Way Now captures Isipingo's fondness for long set pieces (the shortest runs 14:40) characterized by reaching, high-intensity solos, insistent ground rhythms, sharp games of give and take between the horns and rhythm section and multidirectional arrangements. The British players include pianist Keith Tippett, alto saxophonist Mike Osborne and trombonist Nick Evans. Miller's fellow South Africans are drummer Louis Moholo and trumpeter Mongezi Feza, who died before the making of "Family Affair." --Lloyd Sachs