Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The Other British Fab Four...

No, it isn’t a typo. That’s their name – a loose affiliation of four outstanding British improvisers who have played a major role in British music history. They maintain individual musical careers outside the mantle of this group but have been creating outstanding improvised music since 1988. The quartet is made up of saxophonist Paul Dunmall, drummer Tony Levin, double bassist Paul Rogers and pianist Keith Tippett.

When I first became aware of Mujician I immediately thought Tony Levin was the bassist from King Crimson (he isn’t) and Paul Rogers was the vocalist/guitarist from Bad Company (he isn’t). I didn’t know who Paul Dunmall was but Keith Tippett was familiar. He was the keyboard player who had been a studio musician for King Crimson in the early seventies and became the husband of Julie Driscoll (her album Open, with Brian Auger and the Trinity is one of my essential desert island recordings of all time). Then he started popping up on recordings by other musicians as well as duets with Julie.

Then I heard Spacetime, Mujician’s 2002 recording on Cuneiform Records. It was a revelation to me. There was structure but there was plenty freedom. It constantly kept my attention. As in the very best ensembles, there are no weak links.

The concert offered up here illustrates this beautifully. It was recorded in November of 2007 in London. The concert is made up of two sets. Unfortunately I have no titles for the pieces but that doesn’t matter. Just bask in this rich music!


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