Europa 1982 / Gonzo 2013
Unsung hero of British brass brilliance goes for a howl and a haul of a canine-themed bender.
For all his jazz brilliance, the great late Gary Windo had always been a rocker who used to play with the likes of Keith Tippett, Hugh Hopper and Robert Wyatt, almost joining the latter’s MATCHING MOLE, but it would be a different kind of animal which the saxophonist chose as a totem for his solo debut. Recorded during Windo’s second stint in the USA, “Dogface” is a kaledoscope of various line-ups – some, like THE WOOFS, shaped in the studio and named on the spot; other, such as NRBQ, powerful enitites in their own right – bent on celebrating, as the album’s title suggests, a man’s best friend. Jam-based as they are, the electric madness of “The Husky” and “Rex And Spot Meet The International Bitches” betraying its provenance, eleven pieces on offer sparkle with spontaneity throughout.
The spark is always there, be it the aforementioned originals or a glorious take on Sister Rosetta Tharpe’s “That’s All” that somehow hints at her immortal “Hound Dog” and throws a ball to the swinging “Don’t Be Cruel” after having a ball with “Feela Dog” by Rufus Thomas that, of course, rewrites a certain kind of walkin’. Yet “Puppy Kisses” sets it rolling, just like “Lassie Breaks Out” finishes it off, in quite an unhinged fashion, as the leader unfolds his wild solo over a fusion funky groove, while his wife Pam’s piano boogies down lightly, as do NRBQ on the elegant “Baxter” and “Guard Duty” which they composed especially for this project in a juke joint style for Gary to add, respectively, some breeze and sleaze to. The lame military march of “Hound” fares much tighter until it breaks into Latinesque dance and brass rumination, one to be ruined by the title track’s hilarious chant.
Given the meaning of “dogface,” it’s rather logical but keeping it straight is, fortunately, impossible as killing the buzz would be a major crime. A special record on all fronts, then.