Artists who enjoy a long career, also enjoy the privilege of musicially reinventing themselves from time to time. You can also call it neccesity.
Some of the artists are stuck, out of fear or self doubts, but those who are – can earn a great appreciation from their audience.
Sometimes, the experiments to break free from the musical image that the publich eye has on the artist, do not reach a wider audience. Usually, these album will not be included in the ‘best of’ lists, so newbies will miss it too.
So, in short – if you’re not a hardcore fan of an artist, you may gonna miss an artistic milestones.
For example, Neil Young is conceived as an acoustic/electric singer/songwriter, but only the brave ones who’ll dig in his eighties period, will discover his vocoder and synth albums like Trans or Landing On water.
I can also mention John Martyn’s 1991 album Cooltide or Arthur Lee‘s post Forever Changes works.
Bert Jansch is known as a singer/songwriter and a blues man.
True, 99% of his career he did just that – wrote songs and sang them. But, many people miss one of his most beautiful albums of all – Avocet.
Avocet was born in a rather random way.
Towards the end of the seventies, the raising punk movement killed not only prog rock, but also murdered the entire Soho folk scene and stabbed her with a big pin in the chick.
Pentangle disbanded couple of years earlier, and though Jansch kept on releasing albums – looked like the public began to lose interest in folk music and Jansch began to lose momentum.
Bert was touring Scandinavia with Martin Jenkins, a violinist and a mandocello player. In the show, amongst the other songs, they played a new jazzy piece, then still untitled.
Jansch’s Danish manager asked why he wouldn’t record this piece. Bert said, in his humble way as always – no one asked.
In half an hour, the manager booked a recording studio for the duo to record this piece and some others.
Long time friend Danny Thompson was recruited to play double bass and helped with the production, and this is how Avocet came to be.
Avocet, for the first time in Jansch’s career is an instrumental album. It’s also a conceptual album – all the tracks are named after birds.
It’s so beautiful to hear his interpretations of the different birds’ characters.
The collaboration between these three fabulous musicians – Jansch, Jenkins and Martin, makes this release a band album where everyone contributes equally, and no one is a side musician.
There are parts where Jansch’s guitar is pushed aside in favor of Martin’s violin, though he doesn’t stop play for a second.
Thompson does it again – a solid, jazzy and strong base to the leading instruments. His playing is sensitive, accurate and soulful and provides another dimension to the music.
Altogether, the album has six tracks, including the 17 minutes theme song that keeps the listener in focus throughout the entire piece. The pieces mixes folky, Irish, bluesy, classic and jazzy moods and makes this album one of his best in his career and most definitely the most stylistically rich.
**Edit: this album is being reissued by Earth Recordings with a beautiful vinyl print. More details here