Monday, October 17, 2011

Gabor Szabo and Charles Lloyd: Spellbinder, 1974

This album is made up of four pretty long tracks and each one features a slightly different crew. On the first song we hear the basic band, on the second they are joined by Charles Lloyd, on the last song the band plays with Tommy Eyre, and on the third song, Anthony Ortega sits in. All tracks were recorded live at the Troubadour in West Hollywood. The band plays all the songs with a lot of energy and the album is full of memorable moments, but the song I want to talk about today is Stormy, the one that Anthony Ortega appears on. For this performance, Ortega plays flute and dubs himself out with a tape delay called the echoplex.

I really like hearing the warmth of a tight, live band mixing with the warm, less controllable sound of live electronic processing. In genres like jazz where that type of processing is usually done in the studio, or more often not done at all, hearing it in a live setting can really add a new element to the music. This recording certainly does not mark the first appearance that electronic processing made in jazz music. Sun Ra, certain AACM projects, and other groups have incorporated electronics into recordings predating this one. And many jazz bands nowadays routinely use electronics that make the echoplex look like a caveman tool. Still, when a band that otherwise plays without manipulation adds an electronic touch, it can be an effective way to work with a new body of sounds and change up the music for a segment of the performance, like a bass player switching to a bow. Many musicians have made great music in which the electronic aspects are more of a focal point and organizing force in the music, but Ortega uses the delay to a different effect. It does not contribute to the structure of the music like delay can in dub, it simply responds to the flute and ornaments Ortega's playing.

Gabor Szabo: guitar
Wolfgang Melz: bass
John Dentz: drums
Mailto Correa: congas and percussion
Charles Lloyd: flute on "Sombrero Sam"
Tommy Eyre: keyboard on "People"
Anthony Ortega: flute and echoplex on "Stormy"

Stormy by Easy Jams