13 January 2008
THE CHITINOUS ENSEMBLE DIRECTED BY PAUL BUCKMASTER - CHITINOUS
The Chitinous Ensemble Directed by Paul Buckmaster for Deram from 1971.
This has been one of my most listened to albums over the past few months.The strings just take it into another dimension (I know little about classical music but I guess the nearest comparison might be Ligeti) and there are similarities to the later "On The Corner"by Miles Davis on which Buckmaster was very influential.
Here's an excellent write up about it from znrcds:
This long lost Brit-jazz release is a much sought-after collector's item as the original vinyl LP almost never turns up. Released in a small quantity in 1971 on the British Deram label (a Decca company), Chitinous has attained near legendary status amongst British jazz collectors. Many will remember Buckmaster from the pop/rock world as he arranged the strings and orchestral parts (and often played the cello, too!) on such famous recordings as David Bowie's "Space Oddity", The Rolling Stones "Sticky Fingers", The Bee Gees "Odessa" and many Elton John albums including "Tumbleweed Connection" & "Madman Across the Water". In 1972 Buckmaster was introduced to jazz great Miles Davis which led to a friendship and to Buckmaster's involvement on Davis' landmark "On the Corner" album! Prog fans will know him from his soundtracks, too. He scored the infamous "MacBeth" (employing the Third Ear Band to play the music!) and more recently the high-profile "12 Monkeys" starring Bruce Willis, Madeleine Stowe & Brad Pitt! In addition to the usual "jazz" instrumentation of keyboards, guitar, bass, drums, sax & trumpet, this uses a large 'classical' ensemble of 18 violins, 5 violas, 7 cellists (including the solos played by Buckmaster himself), 2 doublebasses, 2 trumpets, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, bass clarinet, baritone sax, and percussion! Then there is the jazz-rock ensemble which reads like a who's who of Brit-jazz: Ian Carr (Nucleus)-trumpet & flugelhorn, Brian Smith (Nucleus)-soprano sax, Peter Robinson (Quatermass, Brand X)-electric piano, Dave Richmond (Manfred Mann) & Brian Odgers (Vangelis)-bass guitar and John Marshall (Nucleus, Soft Machine)-drums - among others!!! Musically this is best described as the perfect marriage of contemporary classical music & the world of jazz-rock. Hints at Nucleus or Soft Machine here & there, some hints at Miles Davis' electric work (which was certainly a general influence on Buckmaster's work) and the classical elements are certainly influenced by a myriad of composers of the latter half of the 20th century. Certainly this was very avant-garde for 1971 and doesn't really sound that dated today. And it is, for something described as a marriage of jazz-rock & 20th century classical music, much more restrained and even beautiful than that might make you think. In conclusion it is fair to say that if you are a fan of British jazz-rock or the Brit-jazz scene then you will simply love this album. If you are a fan of fusion or adventurous rock music then you should know that this is closer to Miles Davis than it is to Brand X. Especially if you love the marriage of an orchestra with the jazz or rock world in a very integral way, that is to say not just window dressing like strings on an Elton John album, then this is right up your alley! BTW, Chitinous (pronounced like the word kite) comes from chitin meaning the "substance forming horny cover of beetles & crustaceans".
This was reissued in 2005 on cd by Vocalion and is still widely available at a very reasonable price.If you enjoy it please try and buy a copy if only for the truly excellent sleeve notes.
Ripped @320 from the Vocalion cd reissue.