“This is truly the best jazz/rock/fusion release I’ve heard in recent memory. If you thought that great fusion/jazz was dead, you were dead wrong and the proof is in this 3 disc pudding!” – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery NYC
“Just about the most sublime hangdog thing you’re likely to hear this side of Chicago. Instant classic” – Steve Day
“Two great gigs captured on a single album and one that will find its way into my best of the year list with ease.” – Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS
Martin Archer – tenor saxophone, saxello, melodica, electronics
Charlotte Keeffe – trumpet and flugelhorn
Pat Thomas – piano, keyboards, electronics
Orphy Robinson – xylosynth
Chris Sharkey – guitar, electronics
Anton Hunter, guitar, electronics
Dave Sturt – bass guitar, electronics
Adam Fairclough – drums
3xCD set (for the price of 2xCD) of Anthropology Band live in 2022 at the Newcastle Festival Of Jazz And Improvised Music and at Café Oto, London
The band’s current 8 piece line up was on fiery form for both gigs, playing a mixture of both old and new material to full houses. With the electric 70s music of Miles Davis as it’s starting point and the improvised abstraction of AACM as its end point, these recording show a band growing out of the studio and going from strength to strength as it hits the stage.
The best kept Scald secret is track 2, disk 2. This incredible three disk session, covering two live 2022 dates, one in September the other in October, is full of comparison versions of compositional material and improv. Track 2, disk 2 is a single slow blues. It only pops its head up at the Café Oto, London date, there’s no Newcastle ‘take’ for reference. The fact is People Talking Blues is just about the most sublime hangdog thing you’re likely to hear this side of Chicago. The track grows out of an electric bass intro, nailed to the floor by Adam Fairclough’s stripped down drumming, playing spaces so pace can’t get ahead of itself. Ms Keeffe’s trumpet-voluntary turns on the tab via a scalding hot solo bursting over Pat Thomas’ Hammond grinder. Castigating keyboards, a found-sound, rejuvenated Blue Note – Jimmy Smith meets Freddie Hubbard. Then comes Chris Sharkey’s overload-Fender gripping the ghost of Hendrix. This blues contains references for sure, but it has complete current currency. Peopled with talk, angling post-modernism; for crying out loud what more do we need to hear? This is a staggering example of inspired collectivism. Okay, a blistering moment but not the end of the story, the rest of this recording has plenty of hurricanes.…. The Newcastle Castle gig opens with a drum break that sets cats among pigeons. This is no 16 inch maple Gretsch bass drum, nope a much bigger beast, one that could power house American stadiums. There’s a genuine part of the Anthropology Band that easily breaks those kinda decibel limits. I got no problem with that. They segue into Blade Juggler like they’re aiming for MTV status. It’s bloody lovely because, in its complexity, it is so bloody lovely, they aren’t looking to roll over rock n’ roll. As the band fold their way out of Mauger Hay, Orphy Robinson’s xylosynth is signalling a truly natural high. Later when Mr Archer’s melodica seals the lines of The Candidates it’s like he’s opening a window to let in some fresh air. The sheer dynamics of these performances provide the most convincing aspects of this music. Open windows, open doors, open minds. Which set, September/Newcastle or October/Oto? At a push my money is on the latter simply because it feels slightly more defined. Newcastle has emotional reach but at Oto it’s easy to tell Hunter’s guitar from Sharkey’s, I can ‘feel’ Pat Thomas’ piano promising Wednesday evening is going to come-down, there’s a ‘lived in’ reality to its purposefulness. I’ve given all three disks a lot of ear-time. Heard Brotherhood Of Breath, sensed the humanity in the anthropology of making music across all three sides, wondered yet again about the depth of the chasm in Keeffe’s trumpet. Some recordings state their purpose so defiantly it does not matter whether they are told by someone else that it’s wonderful. Here there are eight musicians who know they’ve turned another ‘brilliant corner’. Scald, be careful, instant classic. – Steve Day, June 2023 – http://www.wyldepublications.com/
In addition to the composed tunes, there are pieces title ‘drums introduction’, or ‘piano introduction’. The opening track, ‘Mauger Hay’ could have been called melodica introduction with its mournful introduction of the theme were it not for the rumbling bass that segues into ‘Give me back some truth’. Here, Archer is on ebullient form with his tenor saxophone muscling the other musicians into line. The tune slows to blend into ‘The dancer and the spark’, give Thomas space to place his trademark rumbling arpeggios carefully into the mix. The first of the drum introductions urgently usher in the ensemble into the ‘Blade juggler’ building to full, free onslaught. Here giving Robinson and Keefe space to relish the dynamics of the piece and find individual ways of interpreting this. The trumpet solo continues into ‘Lazy Susan’ but the rhythm section performs a volte face from prog workout to sauntering skank. Pat Thomas lyrical piano solo leads into a Randy Weston composition ‘African Village / Bedford Stuyvesant’, from the classic ‘Blues to Africa’ release and the only piece not written by the band members. On this piece, the octet seem to swell in numbers and build to a huge orchestra. They capture the vivacity of the original composition but layer it with the blend of prog rock, free jazz, astral travelling and energy that, live, the band always exudes. It was at the end of this piece that the audience (who had either been edited out of the recording or were captivated by the playing) burst into well-earned applause. As if one live set was not enough, the Café Oto set is paired. The Café Oto gig ends with ‘Fire on 88th’, Thomas, Robinson and Archer are all on sterling form and the piece ends in a riot of sound before the audience responds warmly. In the Newcastle set, the same pieces are played in a different order. And to a more raucous audience which drives the band to up the tempo a little and play more fiercely in their solos. For instance, Thomas’ closing coda to ‘African Village / Bedford Stuyvesant’ which closes the show has his hallmark pummelled chords and scuttling arpeggios bursting from the piano before the ensemble rejoin with the theme. I envy the audiences at either gig the opportunity to catch the dynamism of the playing of the band and the tightness of their rhythms and passion of their improvisations. Two great gigs captured on a single album and one that will find its way into my best of the year list with ease. – Chris Baber, JAZZ VIEWS https://jazzviews.net/anthropology-band-scald-live-2022/
One of the good things about being Martin Archer must be that, as sole proprietor of an underground jazz record label, if you want to release three entire live sets by your quixotic octet on three CDs, clocking in at nearly three hours, you can. It’s no vanity project, though. Anthropology Band are a UK avant-supergroup incorporating both members of Black Top (Orphy Robinson and Pat Thomas) as well as two of the best guitarists on the scene (Chris Sharkey and Anton Hunter. Archer’s no slouch either, blowing some nicely tart lines on tenor and saxello. Their music plugs into a couple of Archer’s abiding obsessions. On the one hand, there are meandering jazz-rock jams with the simultaneously wafting yet hefty vibe of 1970s Miles or Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band. Solos arise, make a point, then subside into a swampy group melee that rumbles on with its own implacable logic. On the other hand, extended interludes of more abstract excavation touch on Archer’s love of the AACM’s genre-straddling innovations. With five of the eight musicians also providing electronics, these venture into satisfyingly nebulous regions. It’s a group that knows exactly what it’s doing, and does it very well. – Daniel Spicer, JAZZWISE.
Martin Archer organizes different bands for the Discus label, each one different personnel & concept-wise. The Anthropology Band are mostly an electric octet, all of whom have worked with Mr. Archer previously. You should recognize the names of a few of these musicians: Pat Thomas (keyboard wiz for Derek Bailey,Eugene Chadbourne & many others), Orphy Robinson (worked with the London Improvers Orchestra, Louis Moholo and Robert Wyatt) and trumpeter Charlotte Keeffe, who has worked with Paul Dunmall, Julie Tippetts and in Ron Caines/Martin Archer Axis. Two of the three discs here were recorded at Cafe Oto in London in October of 2022. the third disc is live from the Newcastle Festival of Jazz in September of 2022. Several folks here double on electronics: Archer, Thomas both guitarists and the bassist. Things begins with spacious electronics, something that Mr. Archer has gotten better at over the more than 100 discs on the Discus label, playing saxes & keyboards, arranging and producing. Eventually the band breaks into a groove with (synth) vibes, saxes, guitars and keyboards all swirling tightly together. Considering that this is a live recording, the sound is superb, well balanced and warm. Mr. Archer plays a fine saxello solo on the second piece with a fine, tight electric jazz/rock band backing. Different members of the octet get a chance to solo and shine throughout: Orphy Robinson on Zappa-like vibes, both electric guitarists playing in the Miles Davis-like ‘Agartha’ vibe plus a fine layer of electric piano and/or synth from Pat Thomas. What I like about much of this music are the way the horns, keyboards and guitars slip in and out of the arrangements, helping to keep the music focused and never completely free. Drummer Adam Fairclough (perhaps son of Peter Faircough, who has worked with Keith Tippett, Paul Dunmall & Mr. Archer), kicks off the fourth tracks with a short, powerful drum solo. This piece features an amazing vibes solo from Mr. Robinson, some sly, snarly guitars, a dense, tight package of horns at the center of the storm. There is way too much great music here to discuss it all so I will leave you with this: this is truly the best jazz/rock/fusion release I’ve heard in recent memory. If you thought that great fusion/jazz was dead, you were dead wrong and the proof is in this 3 disc pudding! – Bruce Lee Gallanter, Downtown Music Gallery NYC
Scald – Live 2022 (DISCUS 155CD, 3xCD) shows Martin Archer on tenor sax, saxophone & melodica with the ANTHROPOLOGY BAND, with the two sets on 26.10. at Café Oto and their performance at the Newcastle Festival Of Jazz and Improvised Music on 29.9. Together with Charlotte Keeffe on trumpet & flugelhorn, Pat Thomas, one of the greats in British improv, as a worker of Faust on piano & keyboards, Orphy Robinson (Thomas’ partner in Black Top) on xylosynth, Chris Sharkey and Anton Hunter (Ripsaw Catfish, Sloth Racket) on electric guitars, Dave Sturt (Jade Warrior, Theo Travis/Cipher, Gong) on bass guitar and instead of Pete Fairclough his son Adam (from the psych jazz/trip-hop collective Bop Kaballa in Liverpool) on drums. Um – “Dad was an advertising sales rep and Mum a book-keeper. But I was a ’70s teenager and music exploded” – to tie in with the free spirit of those years and with Yo Miles!, in an electronic update with Electronics in turn. From the 2019 debut, Archer’s ‘Give Me Back Some Truth’, ‘The Dancer And The Spark’, ‘People Talking Blues’ and ‘Fire On 88th’ were also on the programme, alongside ‘Mauger Hay’ (from ‘Laik Tors’ by Das Rad) as a small melodica elegy, the blaring ‘Blade Juggler’ (which he composed with Julie Tippetts), the guitar cracker ‘Lazy Susan’ between smooth and funky and ‘The Candidates’ as a frickly all-inclusive monster track, Keeffe’s ‘Build / Burst / Soap’ and ‘African Village / Bedford Stuyvesant’ as rousing Afrofunk from Randy Weston’s “Blues to Africa” (1975). The Sturm und Drang of trills and horn blasts, two guitars, growling bass and bobbin lace vibes peel out of electronic webs, as live-evil as can be. To unfold the timeless truthfulness and healing power of such music and to make the spirit sparks dance. To brood over why the conditions are getting worse all the time, even though the music is getting better and better. Music is part of a wider intellectual experience. It leads to serious questioning of wider power structures, Archer says in an interview with ‘Morning Star’. Bluesy, funky, with terrific Fire! spitting by Archer and Keeffe, swirling mallets, solemn anthems, guitar shreds. Sursum corda!!! – Rigobert Dittmann BAD ALCHEMY [BA 120 rbd]
MILES DAVIS is mentioned as starting point for the 3-CD set of a live performance the ANTHROPOLOGY BAND gave at the Newcastle Festival Of Jazz and Improvised Music and Café Oto in London in 2022. Together they were at high speed level those 2 nights that have been perfectly recorded and now released on CD. It is a very interesting mixture and improvisation of all kinds of directions, jazz, freestyle-jazz, fusion jazz and complex progressive rock, but it actually goes even further than that. SNARKY PUPPY is being praised for doing a similar thing, but once you hear ANTHROPOLOGY BAND, then you will be even more impressed, because these guys stretch things much further, which is partly thanks to the amazing MARTIN ARCHER, the leader and founder of the band and their label DISCUS MUSIC. Make sure not to miss this exciting instrumental triple CD set that takes you straight back to the actual performances of the band in 2022. – Gabor Kleinbloesem, STRUTTER’ZINE
The sensational 3CD set Scald will transport you straight into the scorching heart of Anthropology Band’s mesmerizing live performances from the year 2022. This magnificent ensemble presents its remarkable performances recorded at the Newcastle Festival of Jazz and Improvised Music, as well as the legendary Café Oto in London. The band’s current lineup is a formidable ensemble of eight masterful musicians. They set ablaze both venues with their dazzling virtuosity and creativity, crafting an extraordinary tapestry of sound that effortlessly weaves together the echoes of yesteryear and the experimental frontiers of the present. The collective draws inspiration from the electrifying rhythms of Miles Davis’ groundbreaking 70s music, while simultaneously embraces the boundless boundaries of improvised abstraction. In this transcendent live recording, the band emerges from the confines of the studio, stepping boldly onto the grand stage. Notably, Anthropology Band played a complex mix of avant-garde experimental music, jazz improvisation, and progressive rock. – PROGRESSIVE ROCK CENTRAL – https://progressiverockcentral.com
The Anthropology Band is a big band jazz rock project by Martin Archer from Sheffield. A first album was released in 2019, recorded in a changing line-up with the participation of 15 musicians and under Archer’s name (see “Anthropology Band”). Well, at least there was ‘Martin Archer’ first on the side of the back of the cardboard cover, followed by ‘Anthropology Band’. In 2022, an 8-member version was active live. Two recordings, from the 26th of October from the Café Oto in London and from the 29th of September from the Newcastle Festival Of Jazz And Improvised Music, were recently released by Discus Music on a triple CD, this time under the group name Anthropology Band. “Scald – Live 2022” offers almost three hours of dedicated ensemble jazz rock, partly inspired by the electronic fusion of an early 70s Miles Davis, brass-heavy Canterbury prog (Nucleus, Soft Machine) and arguably also by the larger-scale projects of Keith Tippett (see “Septober Energy” and “Frames””), but without contributions from human voices or strings, but all in all quite independent and very virtuosic. Sax and trumpet dominate the sound, pling, screeching and howling accompanied by electric guitars, and sonorously complemented by all kinds of keyboard sounds, wild to elegiac piano excursions, various electronic noise, booming, crunching and chirping, a reverberating xylophone and everything driven by the filigree scurrying to powerfully angry rhythm section. The result is an original, retro-modern, heavily electronically polluted rock jazz that is a bit bulkier and more powerful than on the Esrtling mentioned at the beginning. A few numbers from the studio album will be performed live, plus new pieces and also some improvised parts. The band is very dynamic, sometimes discreetly and sensitively swaying or cautiously sound-painting, sometimes swinging rocking, sometimes more violently quick-tempered and free-format noisy. Sometimes the music also gets into weird blues realms (“People Talking Blues”), where the electric guitar plays expressively into the foreground. Otherwise, jazzy-rock patterns or free sound tinkering dominate, but without the music being too wild or crackly. Of course, all this is not light fare either. People who appreciate jazzy-progressive tone painting in the spirit of the 70s (and of course the music of the sources of inspiration mentioned above), but at the same time have no objection to freer electronic digressions and edgy improvisations, “Scald – Live 2022” should appeal to them very much. Whether it should have been 3 CDs, that remains to be seen. Enjoyed in one piece, the whole thing is quite exhausting and there is also a lot of redundancy in terms of the material played (although the interpretations are quite different). The performance from London would have been enough for me. However, since the package is available for the price of a double CD and you are not forced to listen to the 3 hours without interruptions, “Scald – Live 2022” is still highly recommended to the target group outlined above. Much better made jazzy-electronic brass rock can hardly be found anywhere else these days. – Achim Breiling, BABYBLAUE SEITEN http://www.babyblaue-seiten.de/album_21164.html#oben
Discus label boss Martin Archer leads the Anthropology Band on these live recordings, where the musicians tackle mainly original compositions with collective purpose. Electronics do come into the equation but never take over the proceedings, even if at times the other-worldly effects might be disconcerting to some ears. There is a lot of music on these three CDs, the Newcastle gig acting as a forerunner for the Café Oto appearance four weeks later. A quick glance at the track listing shows a duplication of some tunes between the two locations but anybody comparing performances will note differences between them. In the London performance we are treated to first and second sets where the band lay out their mixture of the written and unashamedly freely improvised. There are no breaks for us to take a breath. To open, the leader’s melodica graces Mauger Hay. That transforms into Give Me Back Some Truth, initially awash with electronica but taking a turn into something resembling an off-centre take on In A Silent Way. Archer concentrates on saxello initially, dipping in and out of the action; his contributions are often buoyed up by electronic underpinning, a background also to be found behind Keeffe and Robinson. The trumpeter offers a thoroughly modern approach to her instrument while the vibes man creates a ringing presence with a touch of distortion. The themes we encounter are drawn out over busy backgrounds with tempos often clearly laid out – for instance on both versions of Fire On 88th, the rhythm is best described as left-field funk. However, on the 20-minute plus The Candidates (longer than the Newcastle version), the freedom principle is totally alive and well, Archer’s saxello offering up plenty of squeals and bleats with a touch of Bechet-like tremolo around the edges. Tradition also rears its head on People Talking Blues, the spirit of the genre alive and well, albeit in a fragmented fashion; the guitar at its heart does nothing but aid the general bow to the past. This sometimes intense and densely pitched music is clearly aimed at a certain type of audience but the open-minded should at least dip into this intriguing contemporary world. – Peter Gamble, JAZZ JOURNAL
The style of the group ….. is characterized by a fusion of prog rock, free jazz, flashes of psychedelia and experimentation with aspects of exploration and abstraction. It is lively music, peppered with moments of atmospheric suspension, periods punctuated by pressing and repeated riffs, PLUS bursts of improvisational freedom. A symphonic music of an electric type, energetic and often engaging, which, like the group’s previous works, recalls in some of its passages the Miles Davis of the electric period, but in a Brit Prog key, or rather in Archer style : at times perhaps a little repetitive, and somewhat obsessive, but certainly imaginative and also fun. – Alessandro Bertinetto, KATHODIK
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