In 2009, the U.K.'s Jazzman imprint released A Lifetime in Oriental Jazz, its stellar compilation of Dr. Lloyd Miller's rare, groundbreaking Middle and Far Eastern-influenced jazz recordings covering the '60s through the '80s. Less than a year later, Strut was able to entice the great multi-instrumentalist and arranger to record with its house go-to band for international groove experimentalism and cult jazz revivalism, the Heliocentrics. (They were last heard from with Mulatu Astatke on the imprint's Mulatu Steps Ahead.) OST is an all-acoustic program that features Miller on piano, santur, clarinet, sitar, tar, wood flute, oud, phonofiddle, Thai guitar, dumbek, vibes, and percussion. The evolving chameleon-like Heliocentrics collective utilized seven of its many members and a couple of guests. Miller, who has been working with various Eastern cultures since 1950 -- and even had a television program in Tehran in the '60s -- wrote or co-wrote ten of the set's 13 cuts, most of them with various members of the Heliocentrics, with a couple of traditional tunes in the mix as well. The styles reflected here range from "Modality," with Miller on clarinet referencing John Coltrane, to a re-recording of his "Electricone"; to "Nava," a melody in the Persian scale on which he plays four different instruments backed only by a rhythm section; to "Lloyd's Diatribe," where he rants into the mike during an open-ended jam in multiple time signatures about the "jumpy, jerky, bothersome, nervous, and weird noise disguised as music that is far too common all over the globe" since 1960. This cut is a throwaway, but the rest of what's here is exotic, beautifully textured, composed, and improvised sounds that seamlessly meld ancient folk and traditional musics in various scales with post-bop and truly spiritual jazz that is very easy to be hypnotized by. The array of instruments and rhythms employed makes for an ambitious undertaking, but the story told in both composed and improvised sequences is literally astonishing for its beauty. That Miller is a genius and in full grasp of all his capabilities is no surprise given his long career. That the Heliocentrics respond so instinctively and expertly, pushing not only their collective envelope as a band but even his, is not only remarkable -- it results in an utterly intoxicating, revelatory listening experience.
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AllMusic Review by Thom Jurek