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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Fat Doggie




1. Hole in Your Pocket
2. Fat Doggie
3. Give it Up
4. Three's A Crowd *
5. Huevos Nuevos
6. The Cantatta Baratta
7. Suite for Renee
8. Many Moods *
9. Five Verses For
10.Don't Ever Let Me Catch You

Greg Alper Band
rec. 1978, Blank Tapes Studio, NYC


First Hand must have acute instincts because this album is rare in its original LP form and its restoration must answer a real need amongst devotees of the Alper brand of funk-meets-disco-meets-James Brown. There's an excellent note from Charles Waring setting the scene for the 1978 recording and indeed giving us a biography of the leader himself (it was Coltrane that blew his mind), a full two page photographic spread and indeed a page of reminiscences from Alper himself, who also provides the capsule notes on each of the tracks. So all in all the project has been brilliantly realised. The only remaining question is whether the music's any good.

Hole in Your Pocket features a raucous repetitive vocal from Ray Anderson amidst the cacophonous Disco/James Brown melee. The backing figures in Give It Up may be derivate of the Brown Band's horn section's routines but they're still exciting nonetheless. Once divested of his grand guignol vocalising Anderson settles down to preach some righteous, quixotic `talking' trombone on Three's A Crowd. It's here that one can best appreciate the relevance of Alper's oft-stated Ellingtonian influence. With individual, eccentric instrumental voicings like Anderson's the band could take on a range of colours and moods. Therefore try the `greasy' trombone solo on The Cantatta Baratta. Maybe the Latino vibe of Huevos Nuevos is rather insistent, but it is also nicely textured and well sustained throughout its seven minute length.

Suite for Renee is in essence an extended drum solo, whilst Many Moods starts out like a Horace Silver song, its lightly etched Blue Note ethos being - probably - the nearest to conventional jazz that the band gets throughout the programme. The nicely voiced horns in Five Verses For usher in a polyrhythmic, Pharoah Sanders-influenced rave.

This slice of New York musical life is funky, pacy and raucous. The individual members of the band went on to other realms - indeed Alper did too, going into film music - leaving behind this uneven, but full-bloodied testimony in their wake.

Jonathan Woolf

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