Three British albums produced by Peter Eden and released in one year – 1970-1971 – are the matter of this attractive box set, with contributions from legends of British jazz and indeed classical giants – bassist Barry Guy (born 1947) has since made a name for himself in the more lofty world of early music, though not exclusively so.
Saxophonist Mike Osborne’s Outback is the first of the discs, a bold, explorative record comprising just two tracks from his trio, the first of which, So It Is, runs to over 23 minutes followed by Outback itself. Sonny Rollins hovers somehow, and one is reminded too of Miles Davis’s roughly contemporaneous Bitches Brew.
Disc two is Howard Riley’s Flight which is essentially adventurous, free-form jazz from his trio (Barry Guy on bass, Tony Oxley on drums, Riley himself on piano), beginning with the eighteen-and-a- half minute Motion. It’s Jackson Pollock transferred to the recording studio, a wildly careering, highly neurotic stream of consciousness. This stuff would have sounded very bold and out there in 1971, from the then markedly youthful, long-haired players. Nowadays there is little tolerance for such avant-garde experimentation. Was there tolerance even then, one asks, or did they just sit respectfully out of good manners? Cirrus quietens down somewhat but it is still unmistakably free-form.
John Taylor’s Pause and Think Again completes the trio of albums, a sweetly accomodating disc, which presumably drew a wider audience and, dare I say it, may have cast more general warmth about than the more uncompromising Riley and Osborne discs. It begins with the suave seduction of And Think Again, a John Taylor/Norma Winstone composition, continues with the more percussive White Magic, exhilarating sax runs, bass and drums on form, and Taylor in the piano driving seat. The track, Pause, is another course in the sensual feast and Pause, and Think Again is clearly the most accessible of the three discs.
Included in the Turtle package is a 17,000 word essay by Colin Irwin, enlivened by quotes from press reviews, vintage black-and-white photos, and contributions from the players concerned as they recall the sessions in question. An impressive production.