Dr. Lloyd Miller, to give him his full title, has both been a student and player of jazz for many of his 72 years. He's won Composer's Guild awards, lectured and taught jazz at university level and even achieved his doctorate studying Persian music in 1972. He's also performed with the likes of Nat Adderly, Eddie Harris, Wynton Marsalis and Zoot Sims among others. With his A Lifetime in Oriental Jazz recently rediscovered by Jazzman, the label took the giant step of putting him in a studio with Malcolm Catto and Jake Ferguson of the Heliocentrics, who won much praise for their work on Mulatu Astatke's recent album. In just two hours, and despite having never met before, this quartet of songs were cut and in the can.
Not that they suffered from such constraints. The freedom and life captured on this release is palpable, most noticeably in the space given to the flute-like solos on opener "Electriconnee. The other players instinctively seem to know when to drop out and give Miller room, before joining in again on drums and double-bass. "Way Out East" is perhaps the most conventional work here, a straight piano-led vamp led by Miller, while "Gol E Gandom" clearly benefits from his years of dedication to Eastern scales which come out in force toward the end of the tune. "Ando Le" sees the addition of a zither-like instrument to the party, with the piano lines joining in and matching the eerie melody after a while. The contribution of Catto and Ferguson can't be praised enough, and they respond to Miller's lead with aplomb. Jazzman also deserve serious props for making this happen and getting this underrated titan of jazz into a studio at his ripe old age.
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