Sunday, March 15, 2015

Lenny White - 1978 [2015] "Astral Pirates"

One of Lenny White's finest, most essential albums, The Adventures of Astral Pirates is a jazz-fusion masterpiece with a futuristic science-fiction theme. Star Wars was number one at the box office when, in 1977, White produced this disc with Al Kooper, and perhaps Elektra was hoping to cash in on the film's popularity. If you open the record's foldout cover, you can read White's tale of sci-fi battles that take place in the fifth millennium A.D. But you don't have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate the mostly instrumental songs on this imaginative, risk-taking album, which finds White blending a jazz/rock/funk foundation with elements of everything from Middle Eastern music to Asian music. This set isn't the least bit predictable, and it could easily be described as "the sound of surprise" -- critic Whitney Balliett's term for jazz -- even though no one will mistake it for straight-ahead bop any time soon.

'Lenny White's Adventures Of Astral Pirates' is the drummer's fourth solo album. There is some of the best drumming, jazz, rock or otherwise, on this recording. There is very syncopated, punchy jazz-funk and there is heavy, heavy metallic rock with lightning fast drumset playing on this disc. Highly recommended for anyone serious about playing drums or interested in how experimental recorded music was in the 70's. This album was originally released in 1978. A versatile drummer, Lenny White is still best-known for being part of Chick Corea's Return To Forever in the 1970's. White was self-taught on drums and he largely started his career on top, playing regularly with Jackie McLean (1968) and recording "Bitches Brew" with Miles Davis in 1969. White was soon working with some of the who's who of jazz including Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, Gato Barbieri, Gil Evans, Stanley Clarke and Stan Getz among others. As a member of Return To Forever during 1973-76, White gained a strong reputation as one of the top fusion drummers, but he was always versatile enough to play in many settings.

 Fusion Jazz at its prime! I wore this record out!! I played the song Revelation and the Great Pyramid every day for two years (1978-1980), I cant tell you how many metal, rock ,jazz concerts hearing the sound guys use this album while setting and and breaking down. This is a must have album for all musicians!!! Play it ,you will get it! Please play Universal Love if you are wanting to be enlightened or you are having a bad day for real !! Universal Love is one of the best songs ever written !

'Lenny White's Adventures Of Astral Pirates' is the drummer's fourth solo album and I was very skeptical right from the start.My first Lenny White CD purchase was 'Streamline' and that's probably my favorite of all his albums,and between CD's and vinyl I have most of them,including this one.I am not a huge fan of White's early solo albums-he spends a great deal of time imitating Billy Cobham's spastic fusion drumming style and fills every available space with his instrumentation-much as he also did with Return To Forever.So on 'Astral Pirates' his drumming is very loud,but at the same time is more controlled and explores the sci-fi theme of this music.And the louder numbers are also saddled with simple funk numbers that came to full flower on the next outing.Not only that but this is probably his better crafted material thus far,even the fusion pieces.The presence of more vocals on this album gives White's music a sense of individuality that it didn't tend to have earlier when he was trying to imitate the styles of other fusion drummers instead of working on being his own musician.So in the end I have a vinyl LP copy of this album (not the Wounded Bird CD issue spoken of) but an album is an album and for all interested I strongly suggest that for a good introduction to early Lenny White you should pick this up-it's a great sampler from his fusion side rather then his funk side.For that I suggest 'Streamline'.

Track listing:

1 Prelude: Theme For Astral Pirates 1:20
2 Pursuit 2:58
3 Mandarin Warlords 5:06
4 The Great Pyramid 2:30
5 Universal Love 3:30
6 Remenbering 0:34
7 Revelation 3:25
8 Stew, Cabbage And Galactic Beans 3:51
9 Heavy Metal Monster 4:39
10 Assault 3:36
11 Climax: Theme For Astral Pirates 7:42

Personnel:

Bass - Alex Blake
Drums, Percussion, Synthesizer - Lenny White
Guitar [Lead] - Nick Moroch
Guitar [Rhythm] - Jeff Sigman
Keyboards, Vocals - Don Blackman
Synthesizer [Programming] - Patrick Gleeson

3 comments:

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  2. Great - thanks!

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