Ron Caines / Martin Archer Axis: Les Oiseaux de Matisse

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Just when you’re resigned to not hearing an invigorating blast of new music, this nourishing one comes along. 

Ron Caines was a stalwart of the British band East of Eden decades back, the band having emerged at the end of that allegedly most heady of decades the 1960s, “freaking out” on a regular basis and cementing for themselves a place in pop culture, at least for people with an above average sense of inquiry. Today that sense is still in Caines’ music, and this meeting with Archer and a group of like-minded inquirists has resulted in a programme far fresher than a lot of the recycled same old same old that would claim the new (or should that be “nu”?) tag. 

Time’s well spent digesting this music that’s free of overt influences, including the compositions. The title track for example is a semi-static affair complete with live sound processing and Caines’s soprano sax, which  sidesteps every well-known player of the instrument from Bechet to John Butcher.

“Heavy Loaded Trane” finds Caines on alto sax very distantly echoing Arthur Blythe, tonally speaking, while Laura Cole’s piano nods in Alice Coltrane’s direction, and Archer’s tenor sax is somewhat out of Shepp’s bag.

Such references are mere touchstones, however, especially as the overall richness of this set places it in a small field within the context of the seemingly never ebbing tide of new releases. Repeated listening will I reckon disclose riches I’ve yet to hear. That’s not an assertion I make too often.

Discography
Haptic Space #1; Labyrinth; Les Oiseaux de Matisse; Nymphzuruck; Various & Diverse; Triangulation; Heavy Loaded Trane; The News From Nowhere / Mazeep; Haptic Space #2 (77.10)
Caines (as, ss) Archer (s, cl, elec.); Graham Clark (vn, g); Laura Cole (p, elp); Gus Garside (b); Johnny Hunter (d); Herve Perez (live sound processing, shakuhachi) Chairworks and Discus Music Studios, locations not given, May-July 2018.
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