In the 80s, the band engendered a cagey slant on mainstream swing and then morphed into the risk-taking New York downtown scene, eventually garnering widespread attention and sell-out crowds at the Knitting Factory and other hip venues. They regrouped in 2006, carrying the torch for what has become a singular sound, ingrained in classic jazz stylizations, bop, funk, and the free-jazz domain. Known for its quirky deviations, razor-sharp horns arrangements and melodic hooks, the septet's spunkiness and tightknit overtures align with the stars on Manhattan Moonrise.
Robyn Hitchcock has made a few albums that announce themselves as masterpieces right out of the box, such as I Often Dream of Trains, Fegmania!, or the Soft Boys' Underwater Moonlight, but his catalog also includes a handful of records that sneak up on you with a subtle excellence, such as Eye, Respect, and Jewels for Sophia. Propellor Time falls into the latter category; on the surface, it doesn't feel all that different from the albums that immediately preceded it (Olé! Tarantula and Goodnight Oslo), but play it a few times, let it sink in, and this album sounds like one of the most satisfying things Hitchcock has made since the mid-'90s.
Released in 1974, Faces in Reflection was, in many ways, George Duke's third album as a leader for MPS. The first two, Solus and The Inner Source, were recorded separately but issued as a double-LP by SABA, which shortly thereafter ceased doing business and was folded into MPS. That said, there is little resemblance between the man who recorded his early albums like Save the Country, those aforementioned, and the seasoned studio experimentalist who cut Faces in Reflection. Duke's periods with Cannonball Adderley and Frank Zappa (the latter an ongoing relationship; it was Zappa who introduced Duke to the synthesizer) had taught him a ton musically and about working in the studio. The players here include Leon "Ndugu" Chancler and bassist John Heard.