Antilles New Directions 1988 / Gonzo 2013
Sax kicker’s adventures in hi-fi in attempt to redefine his most productive decade.
Having released two albums in his lifetime, Gary Windo could have been a pale footnote on music pages if not for the work the reedsman logged in on the records by the likes of Robert Wyatt and NRBQ. Yet ignoring those albums would be a major mistake: both laid down in the ’80s, there’s a little common ground between the wild bark of "Dogface" and this LP’s experiments in marrying free jazz to the plastic pop prevalent in the day. As a result – and per the title’s suggestion – the drift is in constant flow and quite often one feels like drowning.
Thus, the superficial funk of “Subway Love” and “Clean Machine” jars once the almost-techno repetition sets in and sleazy keyboards smooth the sax’s angles, so even Gary’s patented humor, quite charming in the rocking “Don’t Bite Too Hard (Your Teeth Are Too Sharp)”, can’t help it. But some terra firma can: that’s why his take on Albert Ayler’s “Ghosts” stands out and an instrumental version of “Sister Europe” by THE PSYCHEDELIC FURS who Windo had also played with, gets an anthemic, progressive blow.
It’s all in the production, though, with drums too frontal and improvisations kept to a minimum, as the title track pitches a tempered bop into the new wave bobbing only to hang vocals in the midst of the groove to muddle the mood until the blues rear their head above it all. Still, there are riffs courtesy of DEPECHE MODE associate Knox Chandler who adds a metal carcass to “Breakfast In Bed”; innovative it might be, but the impact is the strongest once the short “Ginkie,” a piece from the past, starts spreading its brass harmonies in a sensual fashion, as Gary plays unaccompanied, or when “Blonde Country” gives its melodic line, which would later form the “Have I Told You Lately” figure for Van Morrison, a slight Latino slant.
A mixed bag, then. If only Windo lived to remix it, the album would have been more than curio it is.