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



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TURTLE RECORDS

Pioneering British Jazz 1970-71

RPM RECORDS RPMBX 528

 

 

CD1

Mike Osborne – Outback

So It Is

Outback

Mike Osborne (alto saxophone): Harry Beckett (trumpet): Chris McGregor (piano): Harry Miller (bass): Louis Moholo (drums)

CD2

Howard Riley – Flight

Motion

Cirrus

Forgotten Game

Two Ballads

Flight

Howard Riley (piano): Barry Guy (bass): Tony Oxley (drums, percussion)

CD3

John Taylor – Pause, And Think Again

And Think Again

White Magic

Pause

Awakening/Eye to Eye

Interlude/Soft Winds


John Taylor (piano): Kenny Wheeler (trumpeter): Chris Pyne (trombone): Stan Sulzmann (alto saxophone): John Surman (soprano saxophone): Chris Laurence (bass): Tony Levin (drums): Norma Winstone (voice)

[3 CDs: 41:18 + 42:18 + 41:24]


Turtle Records was the brainchild of Peter Eden. The local jazz scene in London was in good health in the late 1960s, despite the omnivorous incursions of Rock, and carving out its own stylistic avenues, some largely independent of American models. Specialist record labels were willing to capture the new sounds and Turtle was one of a number. Eden himself was also active on Harvest and Deram.

There are three LPs in this handsome and stylish box set, with an extensive 17,000 word booklet by Colin Harper, complete with evocative and well reproduced photographs, playbills and ephemera and full discographies of the three sessions. A number of interviews with leading lights such as Mike Westbrook, Barry Guy, Norma Winstone, Howard Riley and Eden himself are included, as is what must be one of the last interviews with John Taylor. The discs were made during 1970-71, the high point of Eden’s direct active involvement with record making, a process that absorbed him between 1968 and ’72. For the first time these three Turtle LPs are reissued remastered from the original tapes – there have been reissues but these were from the LPs.

Outback was Mike Osborne’s first album under his own name and teamed him with Harry Beckett, Chris McGregor, Harry Miller and Louis Moholo for two long tracks that chart the more austere and combustible, pressure-cooking elements of Osborne’s compositional and executant talents. What they also show is supple command of tempi, and an almost antic disposition that is most apparent in the title track where the level of theatrical intensity is high. Howard Riley’s trio, with bassist Barry Guy and Tony Oxley, drums and percussion, is featured on Flight. There are no studio overdubs here, simply visceral modernism on-the-go where colour-conscious micro-dynamics of Cirrus preface the juddering torrent of Forgotten Game. Moments of fugitive lyricism can be found – search and ye shall find – but whilst the two ballads offer a semblance of calm, if not quite romanticism, the title track’s frantic vehemence is more the name of the game. John Taylor and his band turn in Pause, And Think Again, a five-track disc produced by John Surman – playing soprano throughout. Taylor has a better-sounding piano than poor Riley, or maybe Riley had pulverised the life out of it during his disc – and this session is far more congenial and less abrasive. Themes are nice and brassy and solos – especially Surman’s and Kenny Wheeler’s – are full of verve. The set’s conversational elements are best savoured in Pause, its more abrasive, thrashing qualities – not too far from Riley’s - on Awakening. Taylor himself is on excellent, often allusive form, and supports Winstone on her vocal excursion deftly.

This excellently realised box restores these vigorous and still-challenging discs in the best possible sound.

Jonathan Woolf



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