The recipe is fairly simple, though it sometimes takes a few moments for the floppy-disk samples to kick in. Gregory starts off a pre-programmed bass riff, say, which Orrell then decorates with awful syn-drum noises from an antique drum machine, and then the saxophonist warbles over the top in the appropriate register, such as fatback funk, Paul Desmond lyricism or cack-handed Bacharach. The range of moods and musical jokes is immense, but whenever they decide to try to sound like themselves the effect is both eerie and enlightening. For their final number they brought on the other members of the quartet and proceeded to accompany a filmed documentary, The Collapse of the Takoma Steel Span Bridge, from 1940. As the bridge first swung in the hurricane-force wind, then buckled and fell into thesea, the band went from jaunty Mack Sennett comic-cuts to a genuinely moving lament.
The Apollo Saxophone Quartet had an unenviable task following that, but their performance of Graham Fitkin's "Stub" soon dispelled any doubts, reminding one just how excellent a piece this is. Kees Van Unen's "Rhombi" continued the impeccably timed, and very Steve Reich-ian, wind-phasing, with the quartet's ensemble of saxophone registers sounding as tight as fingers in a fist. In the more leisurely paced pieces written by jazz composers - Bob Minzer's "Saxophone Quartet" and the two excerpts from Chick Corea's "Children's Songs" - where there was more room for individual voices to come through, the music sounded a little too airy-fairy, with no really convincing solo voices to spark excitement. Gregory's own "Hoe Down", a furious deconstruction of Bulgarian folk music, closed the show on an appropriately upbeat note. However, it was the mad elevator music of the Gas Giants that followed you home, whether you wanted it to or not.Reuse content