Review from the May 2012 issue (163) of Jazzwise magazine by Andy Robson
Phil Miller (g), Mark Armstrong (t, flhn), Paul Booth (ts, as, ss, fl), Peter Lemer (kys), Fred Baker (b), Mark Fletcher (d). Rec. 13 and 29 November 2009, and 25 January 2010
Things may come and things may go but like the Art School Dance, Phil Miller goes on forever.In Cahoots may have said sad farewells to the late lamented like of Pip Pyle and Elton Dean, but Miller’s signature sound continues, as recognisable now as in Matching Mole days. Mind Over Matter features, as you might imagine, plenty of free flowing rock jazz. There’s also a funky undertow as on the opening joyful groove of ‘Medley’. It’s big, it’s epic and it may sound like 1975 all over again, dripping as it is with Lemer’s splendidly old school synths, but that’s no criticism. This is music to be enjoyed rather than questioned, and with stellar contributions from Paul Booth and the fiery trumpet of Armstrong, notably on ‘Pent Up Part II’, there’s plenty to remind you that a dash of blaring brass and a fuzz bass break can still make the hairs stand up on the back of your neck.
Guitarist Phil Miller’s In Cahoots have been recording in one form or another since their debut album in 1985. This latest offering features two versions of the London-based band, a quintet with Pete Lemer on piano, Fred Baker on bass and Pip Pyle on drums, augmented by special guest Doug Boyle on guitar, and a sextet with Elton Dean on alto sax and saxello and Jim Dvorak on trumpet added to the basic quartet. The project is built around a half-dozen recent compositions which Miller felt reflected a strong feeling or influence from the blues, plus a short piano piece by Pete Lemer entitled ‘Phrygian Intro’, which precedes Miller’s ‘Phrygian Blues’. The music has a flowing, energised jazz-rock feel, both in the inventive soloing and in the cohesive, often quite intricate ensemble playing, and goes well beyond a series of standard-issue blues workouts. Out of the Blue is available directly from the artist at Crescent Discs, 29a Colvestone Crescent, London E8 2LG (cost is £12, which includes postage).