This is a reissue of the 1977 album by Sonny Phillips, with original liner notes. Phillips marks Eddie Harris and Ahmad Jamal as his primary influences. Phillips studied under Jamal in the '50s and, like both players, he had a gentle, soulful ability. From Jamal, Phillips inherited or formulated a subtle, understated style of playing that used space and sounds akin to Miles Davis. It was in 1963 that Phillips toured as an organist with the great improviser Eddie Harris. On "My Black Flower," one can hear the beguiling, Jamal-inspired piano, and the organ fantasies are heard on "Me and Me Brudder." Another feature of this album is the inclusion of Latin rhythms, courtesy of conga and percussion journeyman Ralph Dorsey.
Despite being a key participant in the "Left Coast" scene of more avant-leaning music from the American west coast—in particular, part of the Cryptogramophone imprint that, while less active than in its "glory days" during the first years of the new millennium—Alex Cline releases so infrequently as a leader that any new music from the percussionist/composer is worthy of attention. That he has flown so far under the radar, in recent years, that his last Cryptogramophone release, 2013's For People In Sorrow, was largely (and unfairly) overlooked. Thankfully, that's not the case with Oceans of Vows, a sumptuous two-disc set that documents a two-hour suite of music—two parts, each consisting of five movements.
The show captured on King Biscuit Flower Hour (In Concert) (1996) was recorded circa Greg Lake's 1981 self-titled debut, and features Lake (guitar/bass/vocals) leading an impressive backing combo with Gary Moore (guitar), Ted McKenna (drums), Tommy Eyre (keyboards), and Tristian Margetts (bass). The set originated as a King Biscuit Flower Hour broadcast from the Hammersmith Odeon in London on November 5, 1981. During this time, Lake was on an extended hiatus from Emerson, Lake and Palmer (ELP), and issued a pair of solo efforts…
This live performance presented by the King Biscuit Flower Hour is an above average production of Wakeman's best-loved tunes. King Biscuit appropriately keeps the concert full-length, without any splicing, so that the songs are enjoyed exactly as they were during the staging. Wakeman electrifies San Francisco's Winterland Theater with stunning versions of "Lancelot and the Black Night" and "Merlin the Magician," two of this album's finest cuts. Particular attention is given to "The Forest," a track rarely played live from Wakeman, but placed fittingly in the middle of the eight selections here. Recorded in 1975 at the height of progressive rock's glory days, Wakeman's attentiveness and passion can be felt from the opening keyboard surge. His accompanying musicians play a large part as well, with some expert guitar work from Jeffrey Crampton and spectacular vocal execution via Ashley Holt.