Thursday, October 18, 2012

Natural Life - Unnamed Land (USA, 1977)

On this record, which I think is quite superior to the previously posted ST, the basic quintet (recall this comprises Mike on guitar, Robert Rockwell III on saxes, Bill Berg on drums (and cover art), Bobby Peterson on piano, and W. Peterson Jr. on bass) is augmented by a half dozen more musicians playing vibes, flutes, congas, clarinet, and Rick Peterson on synths (on the last track).  Each song is composed by a different musician pretty much.  For me the standout is the collaborative track "Trio" which is arranged by Elliott, but composed by the two Peterson  gentlemen.   This record has a kind of smooth overall softness in composition and arrangement that to me is so attractive and typical of the late seventies style that, as I mentioned, is utterly concerned with crafting beautiful music with no cynicism, irony, technical artifice, or impediments.

Both "Unnamed Land" and the next, "All Music" are really masterpieces in this genre of american chamber fusion, like the famous Coalition Mindsweepers from osurec.  Btw I'm confused about the placement of the ST Natural Life, although the date on the sleeve is 1977, it seems originally it was the first record to appear, since it predates Mike Elliott's Atrio from 1974 and seems to be a little rougher than these next 2 records.  Presumably it was private pressed first, then rereleased on ASI?

I want to draw your attention to the track Trio, in the middle part of which there is an absolutely stunning vibes-flute interaction, this part is called "Migration" and is credited to bassist Will Peterson.  I don't know how you can more perfectly 'describe' acoustically this image of birds in a wetland, taking flight, dipping, soaring, splashing, in a soft and beautiful landscape.  And it leads so wonderfully into the springtime with the soprano sax from Robert Rockwell.  (As I said before, the soprano sax and the clarinet are classic instruments for these seasons.)  Pay attention as you get suddenly an ascending riff (on the sax) exactly like a bird flying away towards the end.  Just stunning.

And what about the cover drawing from Berg? Well, seems to be a group of native americans or perhaps africans in shallow waters at a beach with the vision of ancestors in the sky-- esthetically great, but the concept?  And the faces in the sky--  yikes!
Here's the track I mentioned, Trio:



Tristan Stefan said...


LRRooster said...

Hi TRistan
Thx for this one and thx too for uploading on zippy

Brandon Master said...

Tristan could you send me a email with all Natural Life's and Mike Elliot's Music, I don't want to waste this great music. My email is I'll thank you in advance.

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