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Continuum - Autumn Grass CD (album) cover

AUTUMN GRASS

Continuum

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.61 | 8 ratings

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Easy Livin
Special Collaborator
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars Lie back and smell the daisies.

"Autumn grass" is a criminally underrated album from the early 1970's, featuring jazz influenced prog played by four highly proficient musicians. The feature (title) track was at the time of the album's release one of the longest single tracks to appear on one side of an LP (but by no means the longest), running to some 26 minutes.

The band was the brain-child of Yoel Schwarcz. Despite the fact that they only ever made two albums, he is the only person to be a band member for both (although the others who played on the first album appear as guests here) . The line up for "Autumn Grass" includes the highly proficient keyboard player Tim Rice (no relation to Andrew Lloyd-Webber's mate).

Side one consists of three tracks, all developed through live performances before being committed to vinyl. The opening "Byrd Pavan" is an improvisation on Byrd's "Earl of Salisbury pavan" combined with Purcell's "Air on a ground bass". The band add a jazz dimension to the Elizabethan flavoured "pavan", with the organ work of Rice being particularly dominant. "Vivaldi synthesis 2" is an adaptation of Vivaldi's "Guitar concerto", with synthesised strings backing. This pleasantly relaxing piece was later revived by Steve Howe on his "Steve Howe album". The final track on side one is "Overdraft", the only band composition on the album. This piece is the most jazz based of the four tracks, and also the weakest.

As mentioned previously, the inordinately long title track occupies side two. Composed by Patric Standford specifically for the band, the sleeve described the track as "a ritualistic invocation". Various guest musicians contribute to the suite, notably the Olympus Strings cello section. The highlight though is the wonderful flute of Yoel Schwarcz. About midway through the track, he picks out a baroque melody with sparse accompaniment. This theme is used as the basis for a developing improvisation with ever increasing backing driving the flute to a frantic crescendo, before the main theme restores order.

During my student years of the mid 70's, this track, and indeed the album was a regular feature of my turntable. Whilst the length of the piece had a lot to do with it (30 minutes between changing sides was most unusual), I found the music perfect to study to as it has that rare quality of supporting listening on many different levels.

"Autumn grass" stands as a truly remarkable work, criminally overlooked both at the time of its release, and indeed now. Recommended.

Easy Livin | 4/5 |

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