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AL NEIL -piano, zither, text

RICHARD ANSTEY -contrabass, vocalizations

GREGG SIMPSON -drums, acoustic collage

"New CD RETROSPECTIVE captures jazz innovators in their prime, adds rare recordings. Rating 10 out of 10"

Richard Anstey the artist you hear on this site passed away in Vienna, Austria on Nov 12th, 2004 of a massive heart attack. His two children and family mourn the passing of what was a truly unique man.

He inspired us with just how much he lived life.

This CD is still for sale until existing inventory is gone.

"Legendary is a term that gets thrown around too often, but in the case of Al Neil the word sticks. RETROSPECTIVE, a new two-CD set documenting his trio with drummer Gregg Simpson and bassist Richard Anstey, shows why. The new RETROSPECTIVE collects all the material that was released on a limited edition LP in 1976 and doubles the fun with many rare performances never heard before. The sound of the performances are excellent. Two CDs, 21 tracks of incomparable brilliance from hipster Al Neil and his loyal henchmen Gregg Simpson and Richard Anstey." John Goodman -North Shore News

"The world of designer clothing, video games, youth obsession, the latest everything masks the serious details that constitute reality. So it is quite possible that you have never heard of Al Neil.

In the middle sixties, after a short sabbatical, he reappeared with Richard Anstey (bass), who also produced this set, and Gregg Simpson (drums), both twenty years his junior and both also visual artists. Musically, the trio have arrived at a sparkling integrated configuration rarely achieved, not only in its powerful surging lyricism, but now containing messages for future language that would be considered prototype concepts for generations of musicians. Utilizing voices, radios, tapes, toys, noise-makers and LP records, all being manipulated as improvising sound sources — likely early examples of turntable DeeJaying and sampling — they collectively generate an astonishing, intimate and personal concept.

The enclosed 36 page booklet contains photographs, reminiscences by Simpson and Anstey who paint clear pictures of the circumstances surrounding the adventures, process and evolution of the trio, plus a selection of reviews. Simpson described Al's piano playing as "…a kind of mystical music, a cross between Bud Powell, Edgar Varese and Claude Debussy", and the music as "…nothing short of extraordinary... combining snippets of melodies like Summertime, which appeared through waves of arpeggios, polychromatic chord clusters, whirling dervish modal lines, and atonal free passages." A spirited free-wheeling high energy extension of all their bebop histories.

The Al Neil Trio, Retrospective 1965-1968, Blue Minor Records 121 2001 (2 CDs) is a documentation of those heady times. This is not a document to be dissected, but rather to be relished as an example of a most distinct period (December 1965 - June 1968) in a somewhat invisible Canadian history, a personal development of three of our most creative artists." Bill Smith              -Coda Magazine  January 2003

"All Neil basically started the Vancouver jazz scene with a club called the Cellar and was eventually considered by many to be the finest jazz pianist to come out of Canada - including Oscar Peterson." Calgary Herald

"From the outset of this collection, it is obvious that Anstey and Simpson were kindred spirits and exceptional instrumentalists with a hearty appetite for experimental techniques and technology. On their respective solos on the earliest track, the lengthy, 'Summertime'-like 'Dreamers Exposed" from late 1965 Simpson combines an Elvin Jones- derived power with rim effects that would soon be in vogue with first generation European free improvisers. Anstey uses glissading chords to fluidly pivot between chromatic and motivic materials. More importantly, Anstey and Simpson complement the veering Neil, instead of attempting to closely follow him. The cohesion of Neil's Trio stemmed from this elasticity.

Plugged into an emergent Vancouver scene of musicians, dancers, poets, film makers, and light show artists, Neil's Trio soon found themselves opening for Janis Joplin and Big Brother and the Holding Company during Vancouver's Trips Festival of 1966, a three day event whose fare spanned The Grateful Dead and Michael McClure.

A most welcomed and necessary document, RETROSPECTIVE 1965-1968 confirms Neil's status as a Canadian original, whose passionate abandon blurred the line between genius and goof." Bill Shoemaker -Wire Magazine (http://www.thewire.co.uk/date/223sep.htm) September 2002    

"the muted and bowed effects of Anstey and Simpson’s uncommon mastery of complex rhythms, serve to highlight the work of maestro Neil." Vancouver Sun 

"Some of the straighter pieces sound sort of like Paul Bley on an acid trip. The more open ended tracks are the most valuable of what's here, but developments in the intervening years make it difficult to realize what a departure these performances represented at the time." Canadian New Music Magazine

"There is a sense of high excitement and interest, which is partly theatrical, partly musical and partly just weird, but after listening to this record, you won't soon forget it - fascinating." Cadence Magazine

"The Al Neil Trio created a challenging and demanding music with a sharp critical edge, filled with wit and verve. Their musical investigations represent some of the highest levels ever reached in any genre of Vancouver art in terms of their complexity, originality, commitment and intensity. These two CDs are a sample of the finest and the most original art of this or any other period in the history of the Vancouver art community, a true record of the best avant garde musical art of that time and place. RETROSPECTIVE is an invaluable contribution to the reintroduction of some of the most valuable moments in the history of Vancouver art and music." Jamie Reid -vancouverJazz.com

"Canadian pianist Al Neil may be little known except for a circle of old Vancouver enthusiasts, but it makes this two-CD RETROSPECTIVE all the more fascinating to study. As a writer and poet, he imported his spontaneous cut-up technique into the music, which added to drummer Gregg Simpson's tape loop contraption (the "vortexerola"), and bassist Richard Anstey's uncanny vocalizations produced some very weird real-time sound collages. Neil's style combines elements of Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and Taylor (even though he wasn't aware of it); he has power, over-spilling emotions, and a certain form of madness that actually pushes the music further over the edge than what Taylor was doing at the time. It takes you back to the days when experimental music meant taking risks. A definitive document." François Couture                   -All Music Guide

RETROSPECTIVE CD launch March 23, 2002 in Vancouver at Black Swan Records. (left to right Richard Anstey, Al Neil and Gregg Simpson)

 

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Richard Anstey was the driving force behind getting this music reproduced to CD. Due to Richards passing no additional releases of this CD are planned. When existing inventory is gone the purchase option on this page will be removed.


 

THE TRACKS

 

MODAL                          7.4 MB
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8:04                  

 

 

 

BELLS                      7.4 MB
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8:05  

 

 

 

FOR BIRD                    4.1 MB
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4:26      

 

 

 

RECITATIVE            5.7 MB
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6:14     

 

 

 

HORSE OPERA             4.8 MB
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5:13                  

 

 

 

ROAD TO RIO          3.2 MB
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3:28       

 

 

 

MINOR MODE              6.6 MB
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7:14     

 

 

 

CATHEDRAL                6.6 MB
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7:13      

 

 

 

MALLETS                      7.2 MB
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7:50