Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics: Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics

Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics
The Heliocentrics have worked with everyone from DJ Shadow to Mulatu Astatke. On their latest release, the London-based collective centered around drummer Malcolm Catto, bassist Jake Ferguson and producer Mike Burnham work with ethno-musicologist Lloyd Miller.
Lloyd Miller brings a lifelong interest in Persian and Eastern music to the table. On tracks like “Pari Ruu” maker it easy to hear his input. The track’s Middle Eastern sounding flute adds a new and different depth to the normal Heliocentrics’ fare. But most American ears are unaccustomed to hearing the tones of Middle Eastern music, which makes the album a difficult listen.
Persian music incorporates much more harps, lutes, and flutes than American jazz. In addition, Middle Eastern music utilizes quarter tones. Quarter tones are completely unused in American music and for the most part can not be comprehended by American ears. Despite what esoteric listening I might engage in, I found the tracks that really used quarter tones almost completely unenjoyable; not that I could not enjoy the musicianship that went into making the music, but the sound is abrasive to my ears.
There are plenty of tracks on the album, that more use the instruments from the region rather than the quarter tones of the region. “Spirit Jazz” features oboe, flute, harp, and other traditional instruments but uses them in a more traditional bebop jazz way. Tracks like “Modality” feature saxophone that reminds me of John Coltrane‘s more experimental work in free jazz.
Overall, the Lloyd Miller and the Heliocentrics’ collaboration is probably not destined to top the charts but I do not think that was its purpose. The album showcases musicians in their top form showing off a type of music rarely played outside of the Middle East. A lot of the tracks are challenging but for those with worldly tastes, it is worth a listen.
Rating: 7.0/10
MP3: Lloyd Miller & The Heliocentrics “Spirit Jazz”
Buy: iTunes or Insound!

1 Comment

  • Lloyd Miller says:

    Thanks for the writ up. Actually jazz as always had quarter tones from its African roots to today. Guitarists, horn men, vocalists all use the Ep and Bp semi-flat quarter tones to get soul. All early blues artists, early turn of the century cornet man Bunk Johnson, all the Chicago greats like Johnny Dodds and on into the Swing era. Boppers and cool jazzmen all had quarter tones everywhere. Check it out again. Thanks, Lloyd Miller

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