Epic 1975 / Esoteric 2014
Rainbow rising: an emotional jazz-rock masterpiece from the woods of time.
It speaks volumes of David Sancious’ talent that, on the strength of his barely heard homemade demos and contribution to the first three Bruce Springsteen LPs, he was offered a contract with Epic and a chance to be produced by Billy Cobham. So “Born To Run” sounded like a call to action for David, who promptly delivered on his promise with the album which, despite remaining unjustly obscure for years, made Sancious a perfect foil for the likes of Stanley Clarke, Jack Bruce and Peter Gabriel, although he’s never shone as bright as an accompanist as he does here. With a childhood friend and a fellow E STREET alumnus Ernest Carter on drums and Gerald Carboy on bass, David’s debut demonstrates a multifaceted approach to a composition – translucently romantic yet not without Sancious’ socially conscious stripe.
It starts and ends with a piano – bonus “Promise Of Light” being purely acoustic – but once “Suite Cassandra” opens up into a dramatic panorama, organ and synthesizers ascend in unison showing David’s magnificent mastery of both instruments. The artist’s grasp of classical, symphonic form is most evident in the piece’s central part, while it’s there that funk and rock tropes make their initial appearance to return on a full scale for the swaggering “One Time” and hint at “East India,” arguably the most adventurous offering on the record. By carefully layering the melody, it explores a pentatonic idiom that’s much more Far East than the titular territory and casts a shadow onto the two-part “Dixie” for the Confederate anthem to turn futuristic.
The trio’s civil rights connection – and musical telepathy – is revealed, via James Brown’s link, in “Come On If You Feel Up To It… (And Get Down)” wherein Booker T-like jive meets a tailspin six-string shredding. The title track crosses a completely different terrain, though, thriving in a post-bop atmosphere whose ivory dynamics reach towards fusion but stop on a jazzy side of things, just like the speedy “Crystal Image” picking up a clean piano line from the chamber mood of “Joyce #8” to give it a graft of groove. It gets down with “Further On The Forest Of Feelings” to bring things to a close in an adventurous mode: quite a journey, it takes repeated visits to enjoy all the details: a genuine delight.