Didier Malherbe

Bloom

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While in Gong, Didier Malherbe's moniker was Bloomdido Bad DeGrass, usually shortened to Bloom. It was only suitable that his first solo album would use his nickname for a title. Leaving Gong in 1979, the saxophonist re-settled in France, where he recruited the musicians accompanying him here, all unknown youngsters. A couple of songs are subpar, but in general this album is an exciting dose of jazz-rock, bridging a gap between the space rock of early Gong, the jazzier edge of the group's mid-'70s albums, and fusion jazz outfits like Return to Forever and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. "Bateau-Vole" is inhabited by the same fire found in John McLaughlin's group, drummer Jano Padovani delivering one hell of a Billy Cobham impression. "Indecision" begins with a rambling recitation on its title. It walks around aimlessly for a few minutes before launching into an Angel's Egg-inspired riff. This is the only moment where Malherbe explicitly refers to his early Gong days. Side two of the LP presents two much stronger and serious compositions. Guitarist Yan Emeric Vagh's "Dan-Dan" (the only track not penned by the leader) is an excellent McLaughlin-esque fusion piece, typically late-'70s and beautifully performed, showcasing his acoustic guitar playing. "Suite À Tout de Suite" opens with Malherbe's angelic flute and develops into a full-fledged romp, bringing the album to a nice halt. Bloom stands among the man's best solo works and aged better than his '80s material.

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