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Phil Miller - In Cahoots: Conspiracy Theories CD (album) cover


Phil Miller

Canterbury Scene

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3 stars The English are doing jazz-rock right these days. Easy, I suppose, with such a stylish and refined player as Phil Miller and his ever-improving In Cahoots, this time with plenty of brass - trumpet/sax pair Finch and Picard as well as Annie Whitehead's trumpet, Didier Malherbe's soprano sax - the keys of Pete Lemer, and the fantastic rhythm section of Mark Fletcher and Fred Baker from the original line-up. As good as Miller's 'All That' (2003) was, in many ways this is better and shows a deeper relationship between the core members.

'Conspiracy Theories' is in large part a jazz recording but the presence and push of rock is always there, making it an unusually well-balanced album that will probably be disliked equally by both camps. It is jazzrock taken in a slightly different direction by sage masters of their craft; refined palates that prefer suggestion and subtlety over obvious aggressions. Fusion aged in oak barrels, smooth but poignant, and requiring some patience. The title swings with the deft harmonic style this ensemble has forged over the years and moves in between Latin, trad jazz and smokin' bop. Eight-minute 'Press Find Enter' is a pulsing beauty at times, packed with good jams if a bit too long. 'Flashpoint' finds a spacey groove with great fills from bassist Baker, and Dave Stewart & Barbara Gaskin guest on the very reminiscent '5s & 7s', moody and deceptively slow, hiding deep intricacies and making the Canterbury presence nicely felt. 10-minute 'Freudian Triode' is complex but loose, open to new avenues and much room for soloing, modulations, style shifts and spontaneous discoveries, 'Ornica' is fun and almost commercial, and both 'Crackpot' and 'Lydiotic' are slow-growing creatures of immense power that groove with quiet determination topped-off with our frontman's seasoned guitar phrasing. A splendid example of contemporary English fusion from this classy bunch, recommended to anyone willing to listen.

Report this review (#172828)
Posted Sunday, June 1, 2008 | Review Permalink
3 stars DISCLAIMER !

I am not a jazz expert. Neither have I had much exposure to jazz. I am a newbeginner in this type of music I am starting to really enjoy now.

Phil Miller is a guitarist from the Canterbury scene. He has been involved in a lot of the most known bands here. He is also listed under the Canterbury scene. This album though is some of the most left-field Canterbury scene albums out there and many miles away from Caravan and Supersisters. In short; this is a straight jazz album....... but with some references to the likes of National Health, Gilgamesh..... well, to all the jazzy Canterbury bands. That includes my favorite band Soft Machine.

A track that could had been on Soft Machine's Six or Seven album is the excellent second track on this album; Press Find Enter. That very intense track is the best on this album by a long distance. The rest of the album is interesting too, but not of the same standard. Although this album is filled to the rafters by the good and greats from this scene, it somehow lacks in good melodies. The musicianship is excellent though. I am pretty sure jazz fans will love this album, but I am feeling too "green" to really get much out of it. But as an advert for jazz towards a Canterbury fan like myself, this album has done a grrrrrrrreat job ! I will probably come back to this album in some years time and perhaps add another star when I have sunk deeper into the jazz scene. But for now; this is a very good album, but still a bit foreign to me.

3.5 stars

Report this review (#408643)
Posted Saturday, February 26, 2011 | Review Permalink

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