Peter Lemer Quintet / Pete Lemer

Local Colour

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British pianist Peter Lemer is one of the U.K. jazz scene's primary links between '60s free jazz and '70s fusion, but his sole album as a leader, recorded in 1966, sticks closely to the former. Lemer, a former student of Paul Bley, opens the set with a rattling version of Carla Bley's "Ictus," then runs through a program of originals that run from fairly "out" ("City" has some absolutely frenzied free blowing by saxophonists Nisar Ahmad Khan and John Surman, accompanied at one point by Lemer banging on the top of his piano) to relatively restrained (the melody of "Frowville" wouldn't sound out of place on a Dave Brubeck album). Although Lemer's often highly rhythmic piano playing drives the band, Khan and Surman are the stars of the album, taking most of the solos. (The bass solo comes late in "In the Out" -- have your fast-forward finger ready accordingly, but don't miss the remarkable Khan/Surman duel right after.) Even the most experimental pieces, however, keep the traditional theme-solos-theme structure, so Local Colour is the sort of album that's useful for the free jazz novice. It's just traditional enough that it's not scary, but neither is it so traditional that it's boring. It's a shame this group didn't get a chance to record more.

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