Tuba player Bob Stewart's CD came out about the same time as Howard Johnson's Gravity release, and Stewart suffers by comparison. Bluesman Taj Mahal contributed the much too talky "Big Kneed Gal" and very tedious "Fishin' Blues." Carlos Ward's "Nubian Stomp" is at best uninspired reggae, while his street strut "Nette" barely gains headway in spite of trumpeter Graham Haynes' spirited solo.
This relaxed disc (recorded in 1981 but released for the first time in 1994) sounds a bit like Pharoah Sanders (in one of his peaceful moods) meeting the rhythm section of Miles Davis's Bitches Brew. The use of the late Gene Adler's kalimba adds atmosphere to one song and his piano is a major asset during the lengthy episodic exploration of Annette Peacock's "Skin on Skin." Ralph Simon's soprano recalls Wayne Shorter a bit in spots, he cooks on tenor during "Gepetto" and his solos are consistently thoughtful and full of purpose. With sympathetic support from one of two rhythm sections, Simon constructs an interesting set of moody music.
Groups that are difficult to categorize – not necessarily impossible to categorize, but difficult to categorize – can be challenging for marketing departments to promote, although they are certainly a lot of fun if the listener is broad-minded. Beyond the Pale is such a group. Half the fun of listening to the largely (but not exclusively) instrumental Postcards, in fact, is trying to figure out exactly where this Toronto-based combo fits in stylistically.
Welcome to "Postcards", the latest mix of modern day progressive music that is issue 79 of Prog Magazine's cover disc. Plenty of recognisable names are on offer this month. There's brand new music from UK prog rockers Threshold featuring new (or rather returned) vocalist Glynn Morgan, more ebullient grooves from Amplifier's hot new platter "Trippin' With Dr Faustus" and ex-Touchstone singer Kim Seviour makes her first solo forays with "Call To Action". There's also classy new Magenta music from "We Are Legend" in the form of "Trojan", the return of US proggers Discipline and fellow US proggers Circuline, who recently made their first trip to the UK for dates with IO Earth…