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Continuum - Autumn Grass CD (album) cover




Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.70 | 30 ratings

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Psychedelic Paul
4 stars CONTINUUM were a two-album British band led by the Hungarian multi-instrumentalist Yoel Schwarcz. Their music featured a unique combination of Progressive Rock, Classical and Jazz. Their first eponymously-titled album passed by virtually unnoticed at the time of its release in 1970, but their second album "Autumn Grass" (1971) is now gaining some well-deserved recognition in the modern Internet era. The album is split into three pieces of music on Side One and the whole of Side Two is occupied by the 26-minute-long suite and title track, "Autumn Grass". Continuum were discontinued shortly after the album's release, but their two amazing albums have now magically reappeared in a spacetime continuum known as the Internet.

The tremendous album opener "Byrd Pavan" is presumably a tribute to Jazz trumpeter Donald Byrd, although there's not a trumpet to be heard anywhere on this gorgeous 9-minute piece of music. It begins as a hauntingly-beautiful melody featuring a stately, processional church organist and a flirtatious flautist in accompaniment. The music has a sacred and ethereal ambience, conjuring up an image of some deeply religious and solemn occasion in church. It sounds like the kind of classical Baroque music you might have heard played back in Henry Purcell's time. First impressions can be deceptive though, because out of nowhere comes an animated harmonica player alongside the church organist who suddenly breaks out into a funky fugue of Jazz-Fusion in a dazzling display of keyboard wizardry. A sensational saxophonist joins the party too with some swinging and sophisticated soloing. The bass player and acoustic guitarist also have their moment of glory in the solo spotlight. Although the music is titled "Byrd Pavan", this is no slow processional dance - this is an upbeat, up-tempo and uplifting funky Jazz number that will have the church parishioners dancing down the aisles, although the vicar probably wouldn't approve.

The clue is in the title as to what you can expect with "Vivaldi Synthesis Two" because it's Vivaldi's Guitar Concerto given a modern twist with an acoustic guitar virtuoso bathed in soothing symphonic synth strings. This refined and romantic refrain is only 140 seconds long, but it's a marvellous 140 seconds of mellifluous musical magic. Vivaldi has never sounded so vibrant and vivacious.

The next piece of music is titled "Overdraft", and a bank overdraft is just what you might need to buy the original "Autumn Grass" LP album, as it's become a pretty rare collectors item these days. This 11 minute piece of music begins as a gentle piano and flute number before breaking out into a fabulous funky Jazz session. The music features a scintillating psychedelic guitar solo as well as an impressive display of keyboard dexterity from the lively organist. This sublime swinging sensation concludes with the gently tinkling sound of a solo piano to play out Side One. This is stirring and stimulating Jazz-Rock designed to light a fire in the soul.

And now we come to the magnum opus, the 26-minute-long title track, occupying the whole of Side Two. This is no "Moonlight Serenade". This music is as bright and bubbly as sparkling lemonade. As might be expected, this long piece is a veritable potpourri of musical instruments and styles. It's a stunning interplay, featuring Baroque piano pieces, classical cellos, pastoral flutes, haunting harmonica solos, gentle acoustic guitars and tympanic drum sequences. All in all, it's a magnificent display of musical virtuosity in which all of the assembled players are given their chance to shine and display their musical feathers in all of their magnificent plumage. The music on this album has been described as a "ritualistic invocation", which sums it up rather nicely I think.

"Autumn Grass" is an intoxicating concoction of Jazz and Classical music combined together into an intriguingly heady cocktail of masterful melodies and intricate improvisation, which could best be described as Baroque Jazz-Rock. If you're looking for something completely different, then step out into the "Autumn Grass" world of Continuum, because this is the album for you. "Autumn Grass" is playful and pastoral and this enchanting and emotionally elevating album sounds good at any time of the year.

Psychedelic Paul | 4/5 |


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