Zzebra: Hungry Horse (Live In Germany 1975) 

Zzebra, the eclectic jazz-rock band founded by Dave Quincy and Terry Smith, was captured in concert in Bremen

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The music of Zzebra was a mélange of different genres: jazz, rock, fusion, progressive and Afro-rock. Three of its number went on to join Ian Gillan is his post Deep Purple outfit. Guitarist Steve Byrd and bassist John McCoy were Gillan mainstays along with drummer Liam Genockey who also played in Steeleye Span before joining veteran jazz sax hero Trevor Watts’ group Amalgam.

The two founder members of Zzebra, Dave Quincy and Terry Smith, had teamed-up following the demise of their relatively successful jazz-rock band If. They were approached by Lasisi (Loughty) Amao, previously of Osibisa fame, who suggested forming a new band. Smith only appeared on the first eponymously titled album which was released on Polydor in 1974, subsequently to be replaced on guitar by Steve Byrd.

Zzebra’s second album Panic (Polydor, 1975) was of much the same heterogeneous ilk as its predecessor but contained oddities such as a cover of the Righteous Brothers’ You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling. Perhaps due to the group’s idiosyncratic material Zzebra broke up after the second album but not before recording a third album. Sadly, they were dropped by Polydor before it could be released. Happily, it did eventually see the light of day under the appropriate title Lost World (Angel Air, 2001). For those keen to hear this band’s studio oeuvre, the first studio albums were released on a twofer entitled Zzebra/Panic (Angel Air, 2010), which should still be available.

This new release, taken from a concert in Bremen in 1975, includes tracks from both Polydor albums plus three new ones – the slow-building No Point, a soulful Poverty Song and the emotionally charged Society, all of which later appeared on the final (posthumous) album. Whilst the band’s sound is not as hooky or subtle as that of If, there are some elements of jazz-rock and Afro-rock amongst the heaviness. On some of the numbers, Alan Marshall’s vocals sound a bit like Chris Farlowe’s in Colosseum and in many respects Jon Hiseman’s band is a near comparator to Zzebra. Loughty Amao’s percussive-driven Mr J. takes its inspiration from Osibisa with some strong saxophone contributions. Zzebra may be a bit left field (i.e., rockist) for jazzers but there are some good moments here.


Discography
Panic; Mr. J; No Point; You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling; Poverty Song; Liamo; Society; Hungry Horse (58.43)
Dave Quincy (as, ss, ts); Tommy Eyre (kyb, v); Steve Byrd (elg); Lasisi (Loughty) Amao (f, bar, ts, v, cga, pc); John McCoy (elb); Liam Genockey (d, pc, v); Alan Marshall (v). Bremen, 1975.
MIG Music MIG00832