JJ 03/84: Holdsworth, Young, Guy, Mathewson, Stevens – Retouch

Forty years ago Mark Gilbert enjoyed hearing virtuoso guitarist Holdsworth thriving in an open-ended, semi-free setting. First published in Jazz Journal March 1984


Deriving from around the same time as Touching On (also on View, VS 105), this album deliv­ers more, similar goods. No Fear is a largely improvised piece which lasts over 36 minutes; only the head and tail appear to be prearranged. Re Touch bears a superficial resemblance to part of No Fear‘s improvisation.

No Fear begins confidently, with its strident ensemble riff, then eventually subsides into generally well-measured and empathetic improvisation. The biggest treat for this heavily biased guitarist is the Allan Hoid­sworth solo, which closely follows the theme. I am not alone in believing Hoidsworth to be one of the most underrated and un­sung contemporary musicians, and a true genius who should be afforded the same recognition as the most eminent figures in jazz history. Hyperbole? No.

After Holdsworth’s solo, it appears to be Barry Guy who dispenses with ‘time’, and things become fragmented: Frag­mented into exploratory inter­play, and what sounds like ex­perimental and at times tentative counterpoint. The players appear to be listening closely to each other, and plenty of space is left between statements. Moods swing between contemplative and stormy.

Re Touch is short, sharp and up, with more outrageous solo lines from Holdsworth, and Ron Mathewson replacing Barry Guy on bass. Since all four players are credited with composition, I assume this is completely impro­vised.

This is enjoyable, at times bril­liant, music and thanks are due to View Records for making it avail­able for the first time.

No Fear Part 1 (21.06) – No Fear Part 2; Re Touch (19.38)
Allan Holdsworth (g); Jeff Young (p); Barry Guy, Ron Mathewson (b); John Stevens (d). Recorded May 1977.
(View Records VS 0025)