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Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Belgian Weekend Extension - Babs Robert & The LovePlanet: Self-Titled (Alpha, 1970/2014) ****

Recently, Paul and I met in Munich and of course we took the opportunity to visit our friend Ernst Nebhuth at Ludwig Beck, a department store with a very nice music department, especially regarding classical music and jazz. In other reviews I have already mentioned what an expert and connoisseur Ernst is (another friend of ours refers to him as “the wikipedia of free jazz”) and as you can imagine he recommended a lot of stuff to us and we lost some Euros there.

One of the vinyls he recommended to me was Babs Robert’s “Babs Robert & The Love Planet”, a super rare album from 1970 for which you had to pay around € 500 until this re-issue was published. I didn’t hesitate to buy it (it is still around  € 50) - and it is worth every cent. The music swings (literally!) to and fro between spiritual soulful passages which remind of early Art Ensemble of Chicago, The Pyramids or Archie Shepp to pop standards  back to cool jazz arrangements. The musicians (almost all of them appear as composers as well) chose a really percussive approach and combine it with modal grooves and free elements and group improvisations. As a result the album bursts of surprising chord changes, sound track elements that could have appeared in a French film noir of that time, Cecil Tayloresque piano eruptions and slapstick interludes (“P.A.C.M.”), cha-cha rhythms and Pharoah Sanders reminiscences (“Pro Forma I” obviously quotes “The Creator Has a Masterplan”), Arabian drones mixed with classic European free jazz (“His Master’s Noise”), easy listening pop crossed with the music of annual fairs (The Beatles’ “Yesterday”) and exuberant African and Latin American grooves as the foundation for wild piano clusters in my favorite composition ”Extra-Pol-Action Ice Cream ’70”.

This sounds like world music but it is an excellent classic jazz recording (isn’t jazz world music after all?).

The band is:
Babs Robert (saxes, flutes), John Van Rymenant (baritone sax, fluegelhorn) Johnny Peret (vibes), Johnny Brouwers (piano), Paul Dubois (bass), Michel Gobbe (bass) and Robert Pernet (drums, percussion). All musicians also play various percussive instruments like cow bells, claves, rattles, tambourines etc.

The re-issue of “Babs Robert & The Love Planet” is limited to 250 copies and there are some copies which are still available. Don’t hestitate.

Listen to the beginning of  ”Extra-Pol-Action Ice Cream ’70