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(70:00 / 'Flying Spot')
TRACK LIST: 1. Echologic 7:19 2. Thrush 7:10 3. Westside Highway 6:48 4. Blue is You 8:09 5. Trees 8:30 6. West 8 4:31 7. Wormhole 4:08 8. The Reach 5:19 9. Paper Walls 4:52 10. Mr. Bliss 5:30 11. Groove Monkey 7:37 LINEUP: Steven Munger - saxophone David Broyles - guitar Michael Smith - guitar Jess White - bass Joel Veatch - drums
Prolusion. JAM CAMP is an American band with three releases to their credit. "Live" is a follow-up to their two studio albums, "Black Hills Jam: Preserves Vol. 2" and "Jam Camp: Preserves Vol. 1".
Analysis. This is a collection of eleven instrumentals, three of which, Echologic, Thrush and Mr. Bliss are new compositions, the others being renderings of the group's old favorites. The first of the new ones opens the album and is in a way as explosive in nature as a volcano at the peak of its eruption, so I think it's Jam Camp's best composition to date. The most diverse and, at the same time, intensely evolving piece here, Echologic is surprisingly equally rich in wild improvisational jams and, say, typically progressive transitions. If you read my review of "Black Hills Jam", you'll find out that I have always been enthusiastic about this ensemble's work, so while I've already applauded the best track on this CD, I am certainly pleased with most of the others too. Nevertheless, compared to that titan, even the other highlights of this recording, namely Thrush, Westside Highway, Blue is You, Paper Walls, Mr. Bliss and Groove Monkey seem in places to be a bit superfluously melodious, which though doesn't prevent me from enjoying them, since overall, each is classic Jazz Rock / Fusion at its best with plenty of mind-blowing solos (particularly so on the part of the guitar players), plus not without musical magic. Featuring far more composed moves than quasi or real improvisations, Trees, West and The Reach, all appear to be more unhurriedly developing than their studio counterparts, the pace being slow everywhere, save for their mid-sections where the band suddenly accelerates, having pushed the guitarists to the fore, whose rockingly dynamic solos-pyrotechnics there, well, make each of these cuts something noticeably weightier than a fusion ballad. Finally Wormhole is a swingy Jazz Rock, almost replicating its studio version. With its syncopated moves, provided mostly in conjunction with unison (or in fourth/fifth) solos and some other standard jazz tricks as well, this is the only piece in the set that leaves me cold.
Conclusion. Personally I find each of Jam Camp's studio outings somewhat surpasses this live album. Nonetheless all the improvisational grandeur we can expect from these five musicians is still here, their playing being almost always strong and inspired, meaning even when the band steps a mellow musical path. Recommended to fans of Soft Machine (especially those enjoying the Soft Machine Legacy), Weather Report and similar classic jazz-rock ensembles.
VM: July 30, 2007
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