Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love

Released in 1974 on ECM Records

Recorded on June 28 and September 12, 1973 at Different Fur Music in San Francisco, California

Format: LP


For awhile I thought the abstract grooves, cosmic atmospheres, telepathic communication and open-ended structures of Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi band ended with Sextant in 1973, but I’ve been excited to discover projects from members like Bennie Maupin, Eddie Henderson, and Julian Priester carrying on the Mwandishi spirit. For Love, Love, Julian Priester brought over Mwandishi’s synth player Pat Gleeson for some futuristic sounds on his Arp 2600 and behind the mixing board.

Side A:

Love, Love begins with a prologue of swirling improvised ambience created by a wash of flutes, piano splashes, upright bass and percussion. Eventually the off-kilter drum and electric bass groove of the title track emerges from the ether. The groove is in a 15/8 time signature (Similarly to Mwandishi’s “Ostinato (Suite for Angela)”) and persists hypnotically for the next seventeen minutes, with dense atmospheres swirling and mutating around it. Immediately one begins to hear the spacey experimentation brought by Pat Gleeson, from the light phaser effects on the hi-hats to the alien-sounding harmonization on the heavily processed horns (or is it guitars? or synth?). Despite retaining the same groove for so long, Side A goes many places and never gets boring. It feels like an exploratory adventure on another planet through its ever-evolving textures, including wailing guitar solos, reverbed trombones, wah trumpet solos, enveloping panned synth sounds, and congas creating thick webs of polyrhythms over the groove…the adventure goes on and on until the density recedes and the rhythm section is left alone to march back into the ether.

Side B

The mysterious and open “Images” serves as the freest track on the record. After some watery improvisation, a light groove forms that feels somewhat tropical with its breezy flutes, while still retaining the spacey, alien quality of the album. This light groove quickly evaporates back into chaos, eventually condensing into a much more shadowy groove that could fit right at home on Bitches Brew. As Julian Priester starts his trombone solo, the intensity begins to grow under the surface; quietly chaotic synths and ominous piano chords become more entropic until the track explodes into utter wildness, culminating in a fiery solo from saxophonist Hadley Caliman. Synths and reverbs eventually swallow the track whole until it disappears entirely.

Album closer “Eternal Worlds” is held together by a driving swing on the drums and an anthemic melody created by a united horn section.  Julian shines through with a triumphant trombone solo riding the waves of the music. The song builds in intensity until the drums and bass settle into a furious samba rhythm topped off by a cathartic, sheets-of-sound piano solo from Bayeté Umbra Zindiko. The horns get pretty crazy as the reverb gets turned up and they transition from unison to polyphonic walls of sound, only to go back to their unison anthem sounding more triumphant than ever, riding it out to an epilogue of swirling ambience from whence it came.

I highly recommend this album to fans of the innovative and exploratory period of jazz fusion of the early 70’s, where electric instrumentation, funk rhythms, experimental production techniques, and spacey synthesizers met the improvisation, freedom, and uplifting soul of the spiritual jazz of the 60’s. Herbie Hancock’s Mwandishi trilogy, Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew, Weather Report’s first LP are good touchstones, but this album truly offers something unique.

2 thoughts on “Julian Priester Pepo Mtoto – Love, Love”

  1. Jake, your obvious understanding and tuned in ability to hear nuance in music is only equaled by your wonderful writing. It is a pleasure to read even though I don’t know much about music. It makes me want to buy this record. Janie

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