Pablo Of The Week: Matrix “Harvest”

Veering almost wildly from the more classical jazz styles that the label had become known for, this is the only appearance of the “Jazz Fusion Supergroup” on Pablo. There are a total of six titles in their discography, published by five different labels. This is the only title I have, not being a huge lover of fusion as a general consideration (unless it involved Jaco, for whom all time must stop).

Recorded in June of 1980 (which is forever ago and yet seems so near), Matrix brought to bear a very disciplined and tight performance, exceptional musicianship, and mass-brass dynamic energy. But what might not be apparent while listening is that the group is comprised of several multi-instrumentalists – some of which are switching instruments at various times within a particular tune or contributing vocally to impeccable harmonies (as in the opening to the title track, Harvest).

True to its vintage, there’s no shortage of flugelhorn soloing on side one … shades of Chuck Mangione? But Harvest goes beyond the Mangionesque radio friendly pop-jazz idiom to deliver some challenging musicianship, beautiful arrangements, and some very tight and tuneful performances. Like a time capsule pulled out of an awkward and transitionary moment in history, “Harvest” can evoke the aroma of memories and arouse certain thoughts that only make sense in the context of the time in which music like this could actually be heard on the radio.

Long out of print, you can still find Matrix’s “Harvest” in the crates at used record stores. Be diligent – it’s worth it.

Chris Sommovigo loves music, enjoys audio, designs cables, seeks Truth. Since the mid 1980's he has been on both sides of the microphone, all sides of the industry, prefers tubes and vinyl, appreciates and respects solid state and digital, and will make great efforts to be present for a wonderful meal. Aside from this present foray into editorial life, Chris remains a small-scale manufacturer, importer, and specialized retailer and has recently started taking guitar lessons again after a 32-year hiatus.

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