CD Helen 12 Trees [Digipak] (CD 1167878),
back to browsing

Helen 12 Trees [Digipak]

  • 1. Helen Twelvetrees
    2. Parvati's Dance
    3. Sleep, My Love
    4. Thorn of a White Rose
    5. Neverglades Pixie
    6. Charlotte
    7. Avoid the Year of the Monkey
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 441042

  • Credits
    ProducerJoachim Ernst Berendt

    Personnel: Charlie Mariano (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Zbigniew Seifert (violin); Jan Hammer (piano, Fender Rhodes piano, synthesizer); Jack Bruce (bass guitar); John Marshall (drums); Nippy Noya (percussion).
    Saxophonist, flutist, and composer Charlie Mariano was 26 years into his recording career as a leader when he popped this wild bit of hardcore jazz-rock fusion out in 1976. He'd been playing with musicians from all over the world for most of his tenure, and Helen 12 Trees was no exception. The musicians Mariano was capable of recruiting had always been astonishing; in fact, it was his norm, but this group, despite being together for a very short time, was one of his finest. Mariano is aided by Jan Hammer from the Mahavishnu Orchestra on keyboards, former Graham Bond Organization and Cream bassist Jack Bruce, Soft Machine drummer John Marshall, Polish violin wizard Zbigniew Seifert, and Asian percussionist Nippy Noya. Just under 40 minutes in length, this is one of the great, under-heard records to ever come from the fusion years. Tracks like "Parvati's Dance," where Mariano plays the Indian nagaswaram, a reed instrument that has a very unusual tonality, is gorgeous when juxtaposed against the droning violin of Seifert or the high-pitched wandering keys of Hammer. Bruce and Marshall are playing a near dub rhythm of pulse and bubble. "Thorn of a White Rose" is by Hammer, the only non-Mariano cut here. It carries within it dueling winding lines of violin and saxophone, and Hammer becomes the funky part of the rhythm section where Bruce carries a straight series of four-note lines very forcefully as Marshall plays his kit in knotty, military style with heavy snare. Mariano's solo hits the skronk a bit before Hammer comes right back to post-bop jazz on the Rhodes. "Neverglades Pixie" is a ballad gone to wonky funk, where the hand percussion on bells, vibes, metal rods, and other more standard instruments adds another layer to Marshall's rimshots as Seifert takes a solo right out of Cajun fiddling and the blues -- until he gets to meet Hammer's big, cluttered chords and winds it out to the Gypsy jazz side of things. The bottom line is that over seven tracks, this set never runs out of surprises, grooves, kinetic energy, or astonishing improvisational ideas. But more than this, because of the great sensitivity Mariano has as a leader, it never runs out of soul either. There is pure poetry in this music, albeit of a very strident nature, and is certainly one of the finest under Mariano's name as a leader -- it's a stone classic and one of the best examples of post-Miles jazz-rock fusion ever recorded! MPS was a visionary label, and kept putting out quality jazz, rock, and big band records until it closed its doors in the late '70s, and this title is prime evidence of label boss Joachim Ernst Berendt's vision. [The CD reissue by SPV is a 24-bit remaster done in Japan from the source tapes. It is beautifully packaged in a gatefold facsimile cover of the LP, with full liner notes in English and German, and the black CD is encased in a lined sleeve. The entire package is house in a heavy-paper outer sleeve (that also contains original art work) to protect it. It not only sounds wonderful, but it also looks great. The best thing besides the music is that its cost is totally manageable for ardent CD buyers.] ~ Thom Jurek

  • Critic Reviews
    Down Beat (p.75) - 4.5 stars out of 5 -- "The leader alternates between alto, soprano and flute, and wields the South Indian nagaswaram on 'Parvati's Dance,' launching a raga groove into the Pink Floyd stratosphere."
0 Stars 0 average rating
Out of Stock
Our price $11.73
Add to wishlist

What viewers like you said...

Have you listened to this album? Be the first to write a review

Also suggested for you...

  • buy now for


  • buy now for


  • buy now for


  • buy now for