Saheb Sarbib Quartet UFO! Live On Tour
1981 Cadence Records
Recorded Live in 1979
Saheb Sarbib bass, piano and shenai (an Asian oboe-like instrument)
Mark Whitecage alto saxophone (right channel)
Daunik Lazro alto saxophone (left channel)
Martin Bues drums
1. One For Mo (dedicated to Muhammad Ali) (Sarbib)
2. Egypt (Sarbib)
3. UFO (Sarbib)
4. Between C&D (Sarbib)
This is a wonderful live recording, with the bass, drums and two saxes line-up that Sarbib seemed to prefer. This was a new recording to me, although I know his Soul Note releases from the same period. I'm again indebted to Dale, bits of whose collection I'm letting loose to those who'll give the material a listen. As I work through the records Dale's shared with me I am beginning to realise what a man of good judgment he is. Most of the LPs he's shared are new to me, but they all contain truly marvelous music. I've been playing them on tight rotation for several weeks. My comments are based upon these recent experiences.
Sarbib is a driving bass-player, who writes angular and abstract themes which the saxophonists obviously enjoy playing no end. The double alto front line is an interesting one, and works well, especially as the stereo allocations allow the listener to hear who's playing at any one time. Whitecage plays on one of the Soul Note releases, but it's long-term associate Lazro who really impresses especially on the opening track. Bues seems to understand every twist and turn that Sarbib makes, and I had a big grin on my face for most of the time I listened to the two of them tumble around. I'm a sucker for such playing.
The LP's cover contains the transcript of an interesting, and at times playfully combative, interview with Sarbib by Bob Rusch from Cadence Magazine. There's quite a bit to learn about the bassist here, even when he is being purposely illusive. The middle eastern sounds that come through the themes and the band's playing seem to be something to do with Sarbib's origins, and his fluency in fusing the tightness of bands in the jazz tradition with free playing, Asian and African influences owe a lot to being the son of a jazz musician and studying widely across the world's music. I'd certainly like to hear more from the man, whose music I only have a small sample of, and I'm completely ignorant about his European work and US-based big bands. The origins of 'One for Mo' are clear; 'Egypt' is the strongest articulation of the North African themes in his work; and 'UFO' describes the landing of a craft from another world. It's the most textual of all the tracks. 'Between C&D' isn't a musical reference as I first thought, but named for the Manhattan 10th Street loft of John Betch, whom Sarbib has played with. Whitecage has his strongest playing here, with twining, bluesy lines forming round mellow bass and percussion. When Lazro, solos the band go into overdrive, and then sit back and admire all that they have achieved, prod it some more, and then let Sarbib have pretty traditional solos, before a jolly ensemble out. The audience are strangely reserved, possibly not familiar with the music. I'm guessing it was recorded in Europe, possibly France.
It's a joy throughout.
Expect more goodies soon.