Jazz

Mal Waldron ‘Left Alone’ (Mal Live 4 to 1, Philips/Japan, 1971; Left Alone ‘86, Paddle Wheel, 1986; w/ Archie Shepp, Left Alone Revisited, Enja Records, 2002) & Abbey Lincoln

Personnel: piano, Mal Waldron, alto saxophone, Kohsuke Mine, bass, Isao Suzuki and drums Yoshiyuki Nakamura

While at Prestige Mal Waldron estimated he wrote up to 400 compositions, the most famous being ‘Left Alone’ written for Billie Holiday and the John Coltrane destined ‘Soul Eyes’. First recorded by Coltrane for his Interplay for 2 Trumpets and 2 Tenors (1957), the musician loved the piece that would become of the genre's classic songs so much he recorded it three times with different ensembles.

‘Left alone’ became known as Waldron’s ‘signature tune’, even though the lyrics were written by Billie Holiday. Holiday never released her version; it was one of the seven songs she wrote but never recorded, as she said she was meant to but would 'always forget the damned sheet music.' This absence is deeply poignant and powerful. The fact that there is no record of her singing something so indelibly hers, transforms her absence into a presence in an almost ghost-like way. With this in mind; it is striking how often Waldron recorded versions of songs from Holiday's repertoire throughout his his career. It's as if he were continually seeking out some connection with her.

As heard in the interview extract with Waldron included at the bottom of this piece their bond was a tender one, he likened their relationship to one of brother and sister. It is affecting to hear him speak of Billie Holiday in this way, especially when he remembers her as relaxed and warm (she was the godmother of his child). Perhaps especially because Holiday is so often represented and remembered in a fashion that emphasises the brutal nature of the circumstances of her death and difficult life and by so doing erases her complexity as a woman and artist. Waldron speaks of how Holiday taught him to value words, in themselves, and how this shaped his phrasing as a musician.

Here’s Waldron’s recollection of how the song was written/composed, taken from the 2001 Ted Panken interview:

'In the previous set, we heard Mal Waldron with two great divas of the generation that grew up listening to Billie Holiday.  Mal Waldron played for several years with Billie Holiday.  I wonder if you can talk about how that happened and address the experience.

It was really an accident.  Because her pianist… She was working in Philadelphia, and her pianist just conked out, he couldn’t function any more.  So she needed the pianist.  So she asked Bill Duffy, who had written the book with her, to find a pianist, and Bill asked his wife, Millie Duffy, if she knew any musicians, and Millie asked Julian Euell, who was one of her friends, and Julian Euell asked me, and I said “The buck stops here.”  I got on a train and went there.  So it was an accident, but it was a beautiful accident for me.

Were you always a fan of her music?

Oh yes, I was a fan of her music, but I had never played it.  But I got a crash course!

And “Left Alone” was written for her?

Yes.  She wrote the words and I wrote the melody.  We were on a plane going from New York to San Francisco.  It took more time than it does now because they were propeller planes.  She just wanted to write tune about her life, so she wrote those lyrics, and I wrote the melody.  By the time we got off the plane, it was finished.

What was she like with the band?

She was very relaxed.  In fact, she didn’t make rehearsals.  She didn’t like to make rehearsals.  She just came on and did it.  So I had to rehearse the band!' 

Here is the Abbey Lincoln version of 'Left Alone' from 1961, recorded with Coleman Hawkins, Eric Dolphy, Booker Little, Mal Waldron and Max Roach for her album Straight Ahead. It’s an extraordinary performance by Lincoln, her bold style perfectly suits the lyricism's direct nature. The fact that she sings it so straight makes it all seem even more tragic. She sings the lines as if recounting something factual, a weather report or something of that kind.

Lincoln's interpretation appeals to me because it feels honest, real. Something I really dislike in singers is the way they over-dramatise tragic material, or do something stagey (slow it down, stretch words or whisper parts of it, pause for drama etc). Such mannerisms only emphasise their lack of knowledge. When I first heard the Abbey Lincoln interpretation of this song I thought it was a bit strange, the forthright tone of it all and the distance (I was imagining how Billie Holiday might have sung it, how she might have used her trademark brittle elongation of words and sounds).

Then I came to really love it for those same reasons. As anyone who has heard someone speak like this of life, or love – or heard themselves perhaps speak like this – this is how such words are said, without self-pity or self-doubt. They are said as a statement of fact external to the speaker. Such words are a lament of the resigned, the broken. Then if you listen closely there are gradations in Lincoln’s performance, especially in this part, which is repeated:

Maybe fate has let him pass me by
Or perhaps we'll meet before I die
Hearts will open, but until then

I'm left alone, all alone

Something about the way she sings ‘perhaps’ as if there might be space for doubt is extremely touching. Waldron said that Billie Holiday wanted to write something of 'the story of her life.’ The fact that this song remains as her last testament is deeply sad.

Musically it’s a beautiful performance by the group: the Coleman Hawkins solo is moving, Waldron’s presence is so muted it can hardly be heard and I particularly like the way the music comes together, offering some kind of grounding or foundation for Lincoln to sing her truth, as she sees it. The music in terms of its performance feels deeply empathetic to me.

The live performance in Japan with Waldron with Kohsuke Mine (alto saxophone) Isao Suzuki (bass) and Yoshiyuki Nakamura (drums) is also very beautiful, a technically flawless performance, where Mal Waldron’s piano solo begins ever so gently, at points a a repetition of single notes. It is not so different from the first Waldron recording of the song from 1959 with Jackie McLean. The album description has it that Waldron is at the piano playing ‘the moods of Billie Holiday.’ Both performances have the same clarity, lacking perhaps the expression of something deeply felt, defined by a certain control.

Later performances, for example this one from 1986, when Waldron reunites with Jackie McLean and then in the one from the final year of his life, recorded with Archie Shepp are more emotional in the way they show a more expressive side of the pianist (the second one especially).

My favourite, along with the 1971 performance in Japan is this version Waldron recorded in February 2002, the year of his death (he passed away at the age of 77 the following December in Brussels). I understand that Archie Shepp’s sense of drama as a performer might not be to everyone’s taste, especially when compared with the other more formal renditions, but I always appreciate it. You sense something of his spirit when he plays. This quality I think encouraged Waldron to become more expressive as well, more lyrical, more present in his final performance of the song that defined his career.

Here is the interview where Mal Waldron speaks of what he learnt from Billie Holiday, the context of this, his most famous song which ended up becoming a dedication to the late artist throughout Waldron's professional life.

‘A Taste of honey’ Doctor Pablo & Dub Syndicate (North of the River Thames, ON-U, 1984) plus P. Desmond, S. Vaughan, C. Baker and others

Originally my intention was to write something extremely simple and short about this silvery-delicate cover by an English melodica player who took on the name Doctor Pablo when fronting the great Dub Syndicate on this 1984 ON-U release.

A release that is considered to be a kind of oddity in the Dub Syndicate catalogue, as Rick Anderson writes in his AllMusic review 

"This is one of the more curious entries in the always interesting On-U Sound catalog. Doctor Pablo is Pete Stroud, a British melodica player who fell in love with the "Far East" sound of pioneering melodica virtuoso Augustus Pablo and hooked up with label head Adrian Sherwood and his house band, the Dub Syndicate, to record an album of languid reggae instrumentals in a style closely based on that of his namesake. (Even the album title is a tribute: It's a parody on the title of Augustus Pablo's classic album East of the River Nile.)

What gives this album an added whimsical twist is the fact that two of the tracks are covers of popular British tunes -- there's an arrangement of the popular TV theme song "Man of Mystery" and a setting of the "Dr. Who?" theme. Others are more simply standard-issue instrumental reggae with featured melodica. The Dub Syndicate plays things a bit more restrained than usual, but its mighty rhythm section is as powerful as always, especially on the album's stand out track, a long and eerie Stroud composition entitled "Red Sea" (which would later be appropriated by Singers & Players as the rhythm for their equally powerful song "Moses"). Fans of the On-U label's signature sound should consider this a strongly recommended purchase, but newcomers may do better starting out with one of the Dub Syndicate albums or one of the compilations in the Pay It All Back series."

This piece of writing on 'A Taste of Honey' dub-version was going to be a quick continuation of my earlier ‘theme’ (see here) about explosions in 80s music; notice the classic, essential dub-explosion just before 1’40” (x2). Then to complicate things, all or some of my other favourites intruded in on it, forcing themselves to be included or at least heard. Sorry too for the sudden ending of the upload: pretty unfortunate.

Another writer with a different kind of mind might usefully tackle the question as to why pop music now is so concerned with originality - despite it being an era of sample-based recycling and reinvention and while there is a kind of relative stasis or lack of confidence about the act of creating music in itself. Never before has popular music been so self-aware and “complicated” in the French sense. Still, it would be unthinkable for a stream of artists to cover one song as was the case with “A Taste of Honey” through the 60s and into the 70s.

Dub artists always covered pop/soul songs, either in their entirety or splicing them up. And yet, returning to “A Taste of Honey” decades after its moment is kind of strange, but touching too. A vast contingent of popular singers covered the song in a relatively short period of time in the 60s: Barbra Streisand, Andy Williams, Julie London, Bobby Darin, Herb Alpert & The Tijuana Brass among many many others.   

Three highlights though, Paul Desmond in 1965 and Sarah Vaughan

who does all kinds of unexpected things with her phrasing – unexpected that is for a typical singer, not for her such experimentation is an essential part of her gift.

And Chet Baker on his 1965 album Baby Breeze. Some criticise the version for the so-called “honky tonk piano” in the background that’s considered to be too loud and out of place, but I think it makes it, roughing up Baker’s early dulcet singing style. Another point of interest: how Baker slows the song right down, making it simpler and foundational like a folk song. It's really wonderful, I think.

To read more on Chet Baker, Sarah Vaughan, jazz and dub, follow the tags. 

Ballads for Two, Chet Baker & Wolfgang Lackerschmid (In-akustik/Inak,1986) plus live performance & interview  

1979 was an important year for Chet Baker, a period of great activity and development. Central to this were his recordings with German jazz musician/bandleader/composer Wolfgang Lackerschmid, best known for his work as a vibraphonist, but he also played other percussion instruments.

Ballads for Two, while continuing a longstanding jazz tradition of pairing two notable artists is a curious release, surprising even for Baker whose late work showed an impressive range and interest in experimentation. Such creativity also marked his earliest recordings, certainly. But the sheer virtuosity, the lyricism of Baker’s playing (and undoubtedly his pin-up good looks) has often come to obscure this side of his work.

Baker/Lackerschmid recorded two albums together in 1979: Ballads for Two and Baker/Lackerschmid with a band, guitarist Larry Coryell, bassist Buster Williams and Tony Williams on drums. Here's a review on Ballads for Two by Bob Rusch:  

'This was a record not so much of rhythm as of tonal coloring, pitch and reverberation. This was also an avant-garde Chet Baker, without gimmicks, just meeting an interest to expand and further develop: to invent, expand, create. This was also very beautiful creativity; art for art's sake. Wolfgang Lackerschmid played vibes in a manner owing itself more to Red Norvo and Gary Burton than Milt Jackson, and proved himself to be a creator and artist in his ebb and flow with the trumpeter. Bravos for both artists.'

This was a record not so much of rhythm as of tonal coloring, pitch and reverberation.

‘Dessert’ is a marvel in its expression of tender, difficult to express emotion and the way the music upsets our expectations

as is the cover of the standard, ‘You don’t know what love is’ with its deep vulnerability and imperfection. To get a sense of this, compare it to the classic rendition by Baker from the 1950s. Here’s a live performance that one listener claims was recorded in Norway, with this line-up: Chet Baker (tp) - Wolfgang Lackerschmid (vib) - Michel Graillier (p) - Jean-Louis Rassinfosse (b). 

And an interview from around the same time where Baker speaks in Italian about his struggles with heroin addiction and his music (with English subtitles).  

Blackened Cities, Melanie De Biasio (Play It Again Sam/PIAS, 2016)  

Personnel: Backing Vocals [Backings] Bart Vincent, Double Bass – Sam Gerstmans, Drums – Dre Pallemaerts Piano – Pascal Mohy, Synth [Vintage Synths], Backing Vocals [Backings] – Pascal Paulus, Voice [Chant], Flute – Melanie De Biasio 

« Blackened cities, rumble, strangers stroll and lovers stumble »

Inspired by the urban, in every sense and three cities in particular – Detroit, Manchester, Charleroi (the Belgian city where De Biasio spent the first 18 year of her life) – Blackened Cities marked a striking departure from her popular 2014 release, No Deal.  

It is difficult to categorise Blackened Cities, as a jazz record or even – as I’ve seen online – rock, the latter being a particularly strange designation for this work: one single 25-minute track that weaves in and out, both De Biasio’s vocal-line and the various melodies. In tone/conception it reminded me, possibly and even I’m not sure, of the Dirty Three (even if the origin of their music is much more southern, earthier and folk-driven). Jazz, in all its imperfections, is a better fit, let’s say in the Miles Davis sense of the term. (It is beautiful, has extraordinary presence and speaks to the heart, whatever it is). 

This review by Thom Jurek from AllMusic covers it all for me: 

'When Melanie De Biasio released No Deal in 2014, it was embraced by jazz critics, DJs, and club audiences simultaneously. Gilles Peterson was so taken with its monochromatic ambient textures, stark arrangements, and clever improvisational intimations that he commissioned an album of remixes.

Blackened Cities is not a conventional follow-up, but an adventurous endeavor rife with risk. The release consists of a single 24-minute track that unfolds like a suite. The conservatory-trained Belgian vocalist and flutist and her longtime musical associates -- Pascal Mohy on piano, Pascal Paulus on analog synths and clavinet, and Dré Pallemaerts on drums (with guest double bassist/cellist Sam Gerstmans) -- deliver a full-scale sonic drama that crosses a wide musical expanse and evokes an encyclopedia of stylistic references, yet comes across as a totally original whole.

Its title comes from impressions of postindustrial cities De Biasio visited on her international tour: Detroit, Manchester, her native Charleroi; each has a storied past and a devastated façade, yet reflects its own unique beauty and tenacity.

Recorded live in the studio, Blackened Cities began as an unfinished three-minute idea brought in by the singer and left open for group interpretation. It starts with a whisper, a single organ-esque chord followed by a cello, before its lone guidepost enters: Pallemaerts' nearly constant, always inventive drumming -- shuffling, syncopating, circling -- is the pulse that signals each wave-like segment. (The spirit of Tony Williams on Miles Davis' In a Silent Way is redolent.)

The musical reference points are wildly diverse: Nina Simone (the cover of "I'm Gonna Leave You" on No Deal was a watermark), the piano vamp from the Doors' "Riders on the Storm," Julie Tippetts with Brian Auger, Talk Talk's Laughing Stock, Simin Tander, Annette Peacock, Portishead, The The's "Uncertain Smile," Judy Nylon, and more come and go unhurriedly.

The work gradually builds and then builds some more, without ever ratcheting up in intensity. Even at its most improvisational, Blackened Cities retains its moody, spatial, and spectral sense of groove. De Biasio delivers her lyrics in flowing extensions and deconstructions; the instrumental themes emerge from and vanish into them. Her unique phrasing employs the same maxims of silence and space that her musicians do. Even her own flute break uses an economic palette, elastically balancing harmony with breath ...

This aural travelogue's sensual cool, brooding tension, and elegiac tenderness are inseparable from one another. It is complete, but even at this length Blackened Cities ends all too soon.'

Related article: In a silent way, Miles Davis (Columbia Records, 1969)

Coda: 

‘L’amante religieuse’/’Hysm’ Émile Parisien Quartet (Au revoir porc-épic, Laborie Jazz, 2006)

 

With its light-hearted reference to one of the talismanic tracks in the history of jazz (‘porc-épic’ is ‘porcupine’ in French) this release presents itself a little deceptively, as this music is more Spiritual, deeply mood-driven and mystical, rather than anything like the eccentric, (at times) high-energy hard-edged squall and bop of Charles Mingus. 

Any of the tracks on the record deserve attention but ‘L’amante religieuse’ is particularly sweet for its mood of anticipation and the way it moves from 2’20”. 

A review of the album by Mathieu Durand, published in French in Citizen Jazz, speaks of ‘L’amante religieuse’ saying how it makes manifest the quartet's primary influences (Mingus, Ornette Coleman and Coltrane) while noting its pyramid structure, the way each musician makes their entrance, as is the style of classic jazz recordings, all against a sombre background.  

(… les mélodies se transforment de-ci, de-là en lignes sinon free du moins chaotiques - en témoigne l’antinomique « L’amante religieuse », à la construction pyramidale. A partir d’une introduction orientale où Parisien démarre seul, chaque musicien fait son entrée, de manière décalée, sur la pointe des pieds : la contrebasse, sombre, à l’archet, précède la batterie, puis un piano souvent en arpèges plus qu’en accord. Le morceau palpite jusqu’à se clore sur une sortie successive des instruments). 

Appropriately for music carrying such a title this is music for contemplation, music that carries within it some call towards a non-material value. 

And yet as Durand notes the titles are often ‘humorous’ even including a reference to Homer Simpson; he welcomes this as a change within the often too-serious milieu of contemporary jazz. Speaking about another track ‘Le clown tueur de la fête foraine’ he notes that the Émile Parisien Quartet is not looking to make listeners laugh, or think, ‘only to play’. 

To quote Durand once more, he writes how ‘Hysm’ recalls film sound-tracks, and the ‘nostalgic moods’ of McCoy Tyner when he accompanied Coltrane to end with another reference to J.C. saying how the entire album would appeal to those who admire the work of the saxophonist.  

Coda : 

‘I am your mind’ parts 1 & 2, Roy Ayers Ubiquity II (Virgin Ubiquity II: Unreleased Recordings, 1976-1981, Rapster Records, 2005)

Part one, originally released on Ayers’ 1973 Virgo Red album (Polydor)  

with its rich, almost excessive bassline and the vocals hidden, almost totally with Ayers doing his best to teach, to tell and inform. (I always feel sorry for his paramour at the time of these recordings, as he can be so harsh and so open about the failures in their relationship, alongside his lack of feeling and desire to escape, while being ever so genteel and elegant in his expression. “Dippy doo, run, run, run/Dippy doo, run, run, run.”)  

Many of the reactions to ‘I am your mind, part II’ below the video are excited by what they see to be the persona Ayers takes on and his apparent domination, manipulation of a woman. But when I first heard it I somehow skipped the ‘sister’ and thought he was speaking to other men, speaking of the need for self-determination in a psychological sense; in other words, I thought it was something much more collective and political. I still think that you can respond to the lyrics in this way, even if it is apparently directed to a lover, a woman he is criticising, while calling her his good friend, before saying that he will leave her, or she will leave him. It remains ambiguous, they are both running away. 

Whatever, it doesn’t matter. This is extraordinary on every level. That line ‘tell me something to make me feel better’ is extremely honest and self-revealing.  

If you believe in yourself
You'll know the real you
It's coming from within
Sincerely, sincerely
You subject yourself to being vulnerable
Not knowing why you fall in love
And so you become
What you are made to become
It's not at all fair that I feel as I do
Tell me something to make me feel better

My sister, I am your mind. Within you there's a never-ending magnitude of infinite strength, wisdom and will. You travel my roads through life never knowing your own true reality because my thoughts remain like distant quasars. You abuse me by never letting me say and do as I feel. Our thoughts split from love affairs to choice of friends. We argue like two enemies, yet we are good friends.

Now, there are moments when we harmonize with each other, and become one with nature and reality. But these times are few. When after you have replenished yourself, the fear of the truth sets in. We split, and you start to run again. Running, running, running. Running through women, men, jobs, people and life looking for the answer when I had it all along. But I smile... because I am your mind.

I was your mind yesterday; I am your mind today; and I'll be your mind tomorrow. And as our end draws near we will become closer. But you and I, you and I, we will never be one, for I will part from you and you will part from me; you finding another mind and I another soul. And we'll travel on and on.

By the way, I need more than sex to nourish my equilibrium. But I do need sex. I also need sun, trees, stars, creativity and love. But you saturate my soul with too much of one and not enough of the other. Therefore, I cry. But why do we cry? Because tears cleanse the windows of our minds. I am your mind.

Tell me something to make me feel better
All your thoughts inside your mind wanting to be free

Well, now you've got the chance to let your mind grow... and be free. Because the music is just trying to say things to free your mind. And if you let your mind be free, then you can understand mine. There's no need to be afraid of me. I want to be your friend. I'm just trying to give you music from deep, deep, deep within.

And on and on, and on and on

Tell me something to make me feel better

All of your dreams can become reality. My dial reaches full, but you've only been turning me halfway. Turn me up, and alpha and theta waves will spew from your pores. Knowledge, peace, happiness and prosperity will be placed at your feet. Let's, let's create. Solve. Love. Accomplish. And unify. As-Salaam-Alaikum.

Coda:

'Gharbzadegi’ Robert Wyatt (Old Rottenhat, Rough Trade, 1985) plus live performance, 2002

It's so easy to decide on a name
It's a name caller's game
It's so easy to look down from above
Helicopter vision
Get the picture when you're outside the frame
Retrospective my eye
Call it art and you can say what you like
It's a name caller's game
Your perspective describes where I stand
Out of line, out of mind
Calling myopia 'focus', of course,
Makes it easier still
Gharbzadegi means nothing to me
Westernitis to you
...We get so out of touch
Words take the place of meaning

So sweet this drum-beat, splintered and fragile like birds’ bones and the instruments taking the part – the piano repeating a few notes over and again to provide the foundations, (apparently, arguably) echoing Coltrane

with an English accent, poetic-abstract lyrics conveying a radical critique (damning ‘Westernitis’ – Gharbzadegi in Farsi … or Western Imperialism) sung so carefully and consciously as if it were a lullaby; could any listener ask for more? 

Listening to this you can see the deep influence Robert Wyatt had on Radiohead; I could pick any of their earlier/less-commercial tracks to provide proof of the fact, the influence of the Soft Machine alumnus seeps from their music (the way they use momentum, or not – and lyrically as well, the off-hand allusions to politics and the overriding emphasis on the creation of mood).

Wyatt’s song ‘Gharbzadegi’ is labelled ‘rock’/’progressive rock’ on websites of record, but this is jazzy, of course it is; in the way draws attention to the materiality of the instruments and the parts -  focussing on sound as quality in and of itself. 

The way the music disrupts our expectations of the parts the instruments should play (the piano provides the foundations, as if it were a bassline, but then the flourishes and exuberance); in the way the parts rise and fall, the gentleness of it all; the submerged momentum.  

As for the concept: Gharbzadegi 

Gharbzadegi (Persian: غربزدگی‎‎) is a pejorative Persian term variously translated as "Westoxification," "West-struck-ness"[1] "Westitis", "Euromania", or "Occidentosis".It is used to refer to the loss of Iranian cultural identity through the adoption and imitation of Western models and Western criteria in education, the arts, and culture; through the transformation of Iran into a passive market for Western goods and a pawn in Western geopolitics.

The phrase was first coined by Ahmad Fardid, a professor of philosophy at the University of Tehran, in the 1940s. it gained common usage following the clandestine publication in 1962 of the book Occidentosis: A Plague from the West by Jalal Al-e-Ahmad. Fardid's definition of the term as referring to the hegemony of ancient Greek philosophy, differed from its later usage as popularised by Al-e Ahmad.

Al-e Ahmed describes Iranian behavior in the twentieth century as being "Weststruck." The word was play on the dual meaning of "stricken" in Persian, which meant to be afflicted with a disease or to be stung by an insect, or to be infatuated and bedazzled. "I say that gharbzadegi is like cholera [or] frostbite. But no. It's at least as bad as sawflies in the wheatfields. Have you ever seen how they infest wheat? From within. There's a healthy skin in places, but it's only a skin, just like the shell of a cicada on a tree."

Al-e Ahmad argued that Iran must gain control over machines and become a producer rather than a consumer, even though once having overcome Weststruckness it will face a new malady - also western - that of 'machinestruckness'. "The soul of this devil 'the machine' [must be] bottled up and brought out at our disposal ... [The Iranian people] must not be at the service of machines, trapped by them, since the machine is a means not an end."

Live performance taken from the 2002 Robert Wyatt documentary Free Will and Testament

Words take the place of meaning …

Coda: 

‘Seriously deep’ Eberhard Weber/Colours (Silent Feet, ECM, 1978)

Personnel

Eberhard Weber – bassCharlie Mariano – soprano saxophonefluteRainer Brüninghaus –pianosynthesizerJohn Marshall – drums

It’s interesting to think about that line between the overly sentimental and lacking in heart, the formulaic and manufactured (the kind of over-produced sounds you hear on the radio as if pre-digested) and other kinds of music that mine a similar territory of accessible, not too difficult music, but escape such criticism.

Perhaps it’s always about context and reception, alongside something about the musician/composer that allows this reprieve. This piece of music, chosen for me by YouTube (by the anonymous seer at YouTube, or ‘algorithms’ - according to one person commenting on this phenomenon of modern-day tech-mysticism)

ˈalɡərɪð(ə)m/

noun

plural noun: algorithms

1.    a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

could tick all the boxes for the kind of jazz I like least, but escapes such categorisation because of the skill of the musicians, is that what it is? Or the way it sounds, the beautiful production sound maybe; or the way it makes me think of other favourite musicians from the era, albeit a much quieter version thereof. Or the way the elements are perfectly balanced and the way it returns to the centre; yes, it could be this (but I always say this about music I like). Maybe it's the track title, who knows about such things?

Even if arguably this kind of jazz, the borderline background music you hear being played in a chain hotel bar (all muted and tasteful tones, very 80s lighting) has ushered in a kind of undeniable stasis in the genre and smothered much of the wild individuality and freedom that stamps earlier periods, I like this music. 

According to the very short, dismissive ‘review’ by on Allmusic: 

'In the late '70s and '80s, bassist Eberhard Weber's music epitomized the ECM sound. Emphasizing long tones, contrasting sound with silence (... edit) Weber performs three stretched-out originals including the 17½-minute "Seriously Deep." This music moves slowly and requires a lot of patience by the listener.'

But listen to ex-Soft Machine drummer, John Marshall from 9’20” and the so-natural, but highly complex interaction with Weber, which is so beautiful to hear, as is the contained aggression, for want of a better description, that is conveyed in this music at this point.

And then around 11’30” something remarkable happens; the piece offers up an interlude, a kind of space and introspection. I love this, this section where the instruments communicate with each other: the insistent piano line asking the others to listen (and the other instruments responding with a controlled groove, taunting almost with the rolling drumming so flashy, while remaining under-stated if that’s possible).

This is taken from John Kelman’s interesting look at Weber’s significance, his collaborators and innovations on All About Jazz

As the jazz-rock fusion movement gained ground from its early years in the late 1960s through its glory days in the early-to-mid-1970s—blending the more sophisticated harmonies of jazz with rock music’s rhythmic power and high volume—all too often it was about muscular chops and complex writing for the sake of it. Little attention was paid to nuance and understatement. While guitarist John McLaughlin’s high octane Mahavishnu Orchestra and keyboard player Chick Corea’s guitar-centric incarnation of Return to Forever were tearing up the charts around the word, in Europe a different approach was taking place—something that didn’t fit into the broader definition of fusion but, nevertheless, took advantage of the broader sonic textures afforded by technological innovation. 

Here is his assessment of the Weber record Silent Feet, which starts with an appreciation of the wonderful contribution/foundations provided by the drummer, John Marshall (something that immediately struck me as well):

What Marshall brings to Silent Feet, almost from the start of the opening “Seriously Deep,” is more overt virtuosity, a more direct kind of energy and a considerable change in texture. As opposed to Christensen’s dark, splashy cymbal work, Marshall’s was more delicate; but once the 18-minute track makes its way into Mariano’s first solo of the set, Marshall’s more unbridled power becomes inherently clear (...)

As a soloist, Weber had evolved considerably; while in later years he would turn to greater scripting, here he was on the ascent in his improvisational prowess, a lithe player combining dexterity and lyrical intent with visceral glissandi to make him, to this day, one of the instrument’s great soloists, and one whose electro-bass permitted him a facility not available to the more unwieldy double-bass. He solos for four glorious minutes before turning things over to Mariano who, on soprano, again asserts his position as a player who, recently deceased, was well-known but absolutely not reaching the larger audience he deserved.

Check out this interesting interview with Weber by Kelman, entitled ‘Positive Pragmatism, again from All About Jazz

The best, or most perceptive review of this work comes from the ECM site, by Tyran Grillo,  apparently there are repeated references to the novel Watership Down (“Silent Feet” and “Eyes That Can See In The Dark” both refer to a central creation myth among the story’s protagonists, a herd of rabbits fleeing in exodus from the warren they once called home’ to be found in this music) on the record that also assesses Weber's work with his group, Colours:

“Seriously Deep” throws a light blanket of tender drones and electric piano, quilted with gorgeous solos on soprano sax and bass. Steady rhythms (hereon provided by ex-Soft Machine drummer John Marshall) turn something otherwise mournful into life-affirming joy. The title is not a pretentious statement of the music’s emotional cache, but rather a description of its physical path as it digs toward the center of the earth. The second, and title, track of the album’s modest three is an ironic one, requiring active hands to evoke silent feet. The helix that is Weber and Brüninghaus spirals in place as cymbals connect like base pairs within, thus leading to one of the latter’s most captivating pianistic passages. It is the kind of balanced exuberance that characterizes Pat Metheny at his most potent stretches of imagination. Stellar breath control from Mariano plays beautifully off Weber’s every move, making for one of the finest cuts in the collection.'