Soft Works - Abracadabra

Year of Release: 2003
Label: Tone Center
Catalog Number: TC-4029-2
Format: CD
Total Time: 60:15:00

Twenty years after having written British jazz-rock history as Soft Machine, Elton Dean, Allan Holdsworth, Hugh Hopper and John Marshall got together to try and evoke those magical moments once again. Recorded in only two days in London on June 6th and 7th, 2002, no doubt a lot of attention goes to the pure jazz saxophone of Elton Dean, who occasionally also confides himself to the fragile sound of the Fender Rhodes. Some "connoisseurs" go as far as saying that this new album to them evokes memories of Soft Machine's Bundles era. In all honesty, Dean's input tends to put the emphasis of Soft Works on authentic jazz rather than on jazz-rock. Then again it's, Allan Holdsworth's unique style on both guitar and synthaxe that adds a slight amount of rock within the concept. When you dissect Allan's way of playing on the synthaxe, as during "Baker's Treat" (a piece of superb English humour, as of course it concerns the London based Baker Street!), it's as if you're listening to some authentic Alan Gowen material recorded during his life with National Health. As if Allan has succeeded to bring the dead back to life! As the name of the band implies, a lot of compositions start out rather "soft" before developing towards a more aggressive nature, where of course improvisation is the keyword.

Already released in a different sleeve on Universal in Japan and now licensed from Moonjune Records, no doubt Tone Center has added this release to its roster mainly because of the inclusion of Allan Holdsworth. Nevertheless it remains a difficult collection of jazz inclinations, with the largest chunk reserved for the saxophone of Elton Dean. On the final track "Madame Vintage," Dean isn't around, which means you get a different kind of music alltogether. Those of you who know the Holdsworth solo albums Atavachron or Metal Fatigue might like this track best because it really highlights the technical skills of Holdsworth, whilst the rest of the material tends to drift away from the jazz-rock idiom whilst concentrating on the pure jazz elements. Therefore I'm afraid this album won't appeal to as many people as it was intentionally meant for.

Seven Formermy (10:22) / First Trane (11:33) / Elsewhere (8:01) / K Licks (6:50) / Baker's Treat (5:40) / Willie's Knee (5:17) / Abracadabra (7:34) / Madame Vintage (4:52)

Elton Dean - saxophones, Fender Rhodes
Allan Holdsworth - electric guitar, synthaxe
Hugh Hopper - electric bass
John Marschall - drums

Abracadabra (2003)

Genre: Canterbury

Origin UK

Added: November 2nd 2003
Reviewer: John "Bobo" Bollenberg

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Language: english


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