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The Advancement - The Advancement CD (album) cover

THE ADVANCEMENT

The Advancement

 

Crossover Prog

3.56 | 5 ratings

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Guldbamsen
Forum & Site Admin Group
Site and Forum Admin
4 stars West-Coast Breeze

This self-titled debut would prove to be the sole release from the American West-coast act, The Advancement. Often cited as one of the first genuine fusion releases, this is still a long ways from the chops dominated jazz rock that was to come up through the 70s. It literally exudes warmth from it's pores, and is just about as seductive and melodic like a feline friend stretched elegantly over an old Victorian garden chair.

Coming together in 1969, The Advancement were hot on the heels of the psychedelic power train of the San Franciscan area, but whereas one more than often would be facing a truckload of flowers and the much lauded mind expanding LSD sheets, with The Advancement the music seems to speak for itself. It doesn't need it's audience persuaded by treacherous substances, although I'd imagine a fair few will have shared some gelatinous moments in the presence of this record.

With a rhythm section established by bassist Lou Kabok and drummer Hal Gordon, both members of the famous Hungarian guitarist Gabor Szabo's quintet at the time, there's just no getting around the jazzy feel of this album, but it's still not what one would expect - especially if you've heard Szabo's quite unique take on guitar driven jazz. This is far more exotic and, dare I say, poppy...

Most of the music found on this record frolics around in a breezy concoction of the kind of folk you'd expect to hear at orange sunsets, psychedelically tinged calypso and stunningly wafting fusion, all of which filter through one another in order to conjure up this beautiful pop-like instrumental behaviour.

Starting off the album, the track 'Juliet' offers up a unique blend of Baroque influenced instrumentation and psychedelic rock with a minor r. Imagine taking a stroll through the Fantasia castle with Tim Buckley and his guitar beside you, and you're not that far off. Then the jazzy quotient takes over with the second cut 'Painful Struggle' that starts off the album's cool-cat jazzy vibes - underlined by a breathtaking solo played on an upright bas. Shortly after the tune suddenly develops wings, and you get to hear the breathtaking interplay happening between the vibraphone and guitar, sounding particularly sweet and meant for each other - like were they joined at the hip.

The song off The Advancement's sole album, that in my humble opinion had the biggest chance of receiving airplay, is 'Stone Folk'. Based around the traditional jazz form the track bizarrely never sounds like it, much credited to the ingenious chord progression that tends to reverberate in your head long after the album has finished. This one's also the only tune to feature any vocal work.

The rest of the tracks move agilely around in the aforementioned styles, gathering considerable speed during 'Moorish Mode' where the jazz again gets pushed to the front of the bus - now taking it's cue from the swaying yearning qualities of the middle-eastern Phrygian scale.

Other tasty touches to the remainder of the album are the wonderful twang of the mouth harmonica that's processed through some kind of filter, the blues boom of 'Hobo Express' - as well as the omnipresent cool-cat early jazz vibe that runs through the whole body of music like a throbbing sensuous red artery.

I often picture myself listening to this on a long boat cruise through the Mediterranean sea - swooping gently about in turquoise blue waters with this charming music playing as soundtrack. The effortlessness of the moods would merge with the bobbing beauty of the surroundings like sonic kismet - silhouetting that distinct early jazz rock that always had a naive little melody on it's lips.

Guldbamsen | 4/5 |

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