LLoyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics (Strut)

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Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Rain Dance
LLoyd Miller and the Heliocentrics: Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics (Strut)

Both London's Heliocentrics and their label Strut have an admirable practice of getting different artists together for projects (see here and here) and sometimes they just soar.

This is one such project, the Heliocentrics with multi-instrumentalist Miller who grew up on Dixieland/New Orleans jazz but then, when his dad was posted to Iran in the late Fifties, began to pick up local instruments.

By the Sixties he was living in various parts of Europe, played with Afro-orientated Jef Gilson and has ever since been a quiet champion of Middle Eastern and North African music . . . inna jazz style.

This album -- unlike the Heliocentrics with Mulate Astatke -- doesn't aim for the spheres or come with some turbo-charge but rather allows the seductive, almost ambient-psychedelic mood to predominate as saxophones weave around flutes and what I take to be santoor and other Middle Eastern instruments.

The rhythmic pulse is kept low and propulsive for almost hypnotic effect, but over the surface the Western jazz and Middle Eastern melodies and instruments interlock (and interplay) in a way which isn't easily tagged as "world music" or "jazz" but something quite of itself.

Sometimes one party or other dominates slightly, but never hijacks proceedings -- and only Lloyd Lets Loose (with Lloyd speaking about music and anti-consumerism in the middle ground behind the more free playing) is out of place, if not downright irritating. It's a joke, but not that funny and you only need to hear it once.

But elsewhere there is (mostly) seductive, sublimely understated playing by all parties and even it doesn't reach those heights of other Heliocentrics projects it still takes wings in its own way.

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