Neil Sadler — Theory of Forms
(Bleeding Arts BA 10012, 1999, CD)
by Jon Davis, Published 1999-11-01
Theory of Forms is a high-energy blast of horn-powered energy almost from start to finish. Sadler is an accomplished composer, keyboardist, and percussionist, and he’s recruited a crew of Zappa alumni to realize his tightly arranged musical vision. Most prominent is guitarist Mike Keneally, whose inventive playing shines on every track. Other than the obvious link in personnel, though, the Zappa connection is irrelevant. This is electric jazz that simply kicks butt in complicated ways. In the midst of the tricky rhythmic arrangements, there’s a lot of improvisation. The opening cut, “Jazz Bastards”, features a great solo from trombonist Bruce Fowler and some wild Keneally guitar work. The second track starts with some eerie string synth, and works into a disjointed improv session with both muted and straight trumpet from Walt Fowler over a stuttery groove. These first two cuts illustrate the opposing poles of the album: insanely complex horn and guitar arrangements on the one hand, flowing improvisations on the other.
This recording packs the energy of early electric jazz classics by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever, and the rest, but manages a style all its own. Sadler’s compositions are complex without being freakish, and he uses advanced techniques like bitonality and rhythmic cycles fluently. Casual listening may illicit a response like, “That sounds interesting – I wonder what’s going on.” Further study (or checking the web site) reveals some of the technicalities for those interested.
[Note: As of when the review was published, the composer's technical notes were available on the link below, which may or may not still be valid. - ed.]
Ginger Baker RIP – Legendary English drummer Ginger Baker has died at the age of 80. After coming to fame with Cream in the 60s alongside Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce, he became one of the most recognized and influential drummers of the rock era. On September 25, his family announced that he was critically ill, and on October 6 his death was confirmed. » Read more
Alex's Hand Seeks Spa Treatment – American / European band Alex's Hand has a new album in the works called Hungarian Spa, which looks to be their biggest and best yet, featuring a large roster of guest musicians. They're seeking funding to take the project on the road, and are looking for help from the crowd of wisdom. » Read more
Legendary Co-Founder of The 13th Floor Elevators Passes Away at Age 71 – Sadly, Roky Erickson passed away on May 31, 2019. Known as the father of psychedelic music and co-founder of the ground breaking 13th Floor Elevators, Roky had a profound influence on music from the 60s to today. Plagued by his own personal demons, Roky had a difficult life and is now free of these burdens. » Read more