Oliver Lake – Holding Together 12” LP

Oliver Lake-holding together

Ok, so I would say that this is one of the most mandatory destinations in the Avant-Jazz/Free Jazz spectrum. It’s an unsurpassed shocker of staggering originality, complexity, bridge-of-the-razor innovation & meticulous technical acumen. It also amalgamates both rash improvised wilderness & punctilious composition & instrumental-coordination fashioning both into an incredible consensus. The musicians, all exorbitant veterans of both virtuosity & arrant Off-Road/Avant-Garde are as follows – Oliver Lake on alto & soprano sax & flutes, Michael Gregory Jackson on electric guitar, Fred Hopkins on double-bass & Pheeroan ak Laff on drums. I am fairly confident to surmise that these musicians must have had considerable development & practice together prior to this recording, as their interaction is of such sophistication & fluidity. It is difficult to do this album justice with mere words! This is actually the second review of the LP I have written, as a hugely detailed dissertation I devised on Holding Together two years back somehow got lost amid missing memory-sticks & perishing hard-drives (bollocks!). But similar to the previous review of “Shine!” You have an outstanding quality of work here. The entire album coruscates, but I would direct particular astonishment at the opening track Trailaway Shake/Sad Lo-uis & especially Hasan & Holding Together. Holding Together rattles in at 10.30. It’s one of the most accomplished & piercing pieces of Avant-Garde Jazz I have heard. utterly Beguiling & beautiful, but also with a strong undercurrent of quite menace & disturbance. Lake employs the flute, sometimes decked in reverb, Jackson plays an acoustic guitar (& a flute at one stage) & Ak’laff uses whiskers on the kit (plenty of bells, maracas & triangles are also stationed). they Manage to convey such a precise quality of emotion through their dialogue, it’s a gigantically evocative track, parlous & vulnerable teetering on tragedy. This constant threat that never quite discloses itself. “Holding Together”…as in holding it together/maintaining/not going under perhaps? That’s the impression I get. Like the frailty of life in the inner-city, uncertainty & the constant threat of madness or misfortune. Or maybe that’s simply my own miscued interpretation!? Whatever the case, truly incredible stuff.

“Hasan” is a mere 4.12 minutes in length but leaves one hell of an impression. opening with a complex  group syncopation before plunging into the vortex as Lake blazes an explosive display of celerity & exclamation. Out of the chaos comes one of the dopest bass-lines you will ever here in your life, at an ultra-odd angle (a fast 19 i think?) loop that Hopkins secures as the rest of the group converge & cavort.

TrailAway Shake/Sad Lo-uis clocks the dial at 10.04 & is one of those major morphological encounters, shifting & sheading forms in totality through-out the tracks lifespan. You get sections of alien tender outlandishness & clogged, chaotic hysterical vacuum all intersecting & cross-pollinating.

Quite the masterpiece & thankfully, still very much available & in-print.

Rekd: 1976

Label: Black Saint