Get this crazy baby off my head!


Neil Sadler

Neil Sadler - Theory Of Forms - 1999 - Bleeding Arts

By recruiting a band of Frank Zappa veterans circa Make a Jazz Noise Here including guitarist Mike Keneally and horn players Albert Wing, Kurt McGettrick, and Fowler brothers Walt, Bruce, and Steve keyboardist-percussionist Neil Sadler signals his radical musical intention of carrying on the tradition of wildly imaginative, composition-based, instrumental jazz-rock.... - San Francisco Bay Guardian

This is delightfully frenetic, jazzish, and fusiony art executed with quirky, energetic, odd-metered, free-blowin' yet structured abandon. Neil Sadler's seven compositions are whirlpools of beat, whole-tone scales, and staccato attacks and explosions -- all geared for great improvs and dynamics. Ah, there is also room for Keneally fusion riffs and Torn-like howling sustain. Walt, Steve, and Bruce Fowler bring in a definite Miles Davis/Mark Isham aura along with that Steve Coleman, Dave Binney, and Brecker feel in many places. There are Lost Tribe echoes as well. That Zappa-esque or Raymond Scott eclectica fills many a niche in these complex pieces. A sense of early Larry Coryell and the Eleventh House is present on "Suehiro." If you're into hot sax, brash brass, wild'n'weird guitar, bizarre synth atmospherics, complex percussion lines, and tight compositions, you'll get off on this. Guaranteed. This is beyond acid jazz, eludes fusion, twists tighter than free form, and just flat out smokes! You hear it said that Miles Davis' Bitches Brew set a standard, started jazz fusion, and so forth. Well, Sadler's Theory of Forms would have made Davis grin, then smile and whisper, "Neil, you da man, this is the $#!* man. Yeah, this is the good stuff!" © John W. Patterson © 2014 AllMusic, a division of All Media Network, LLC. | All Rights Reserved http://www.allmusic.com/album/theory-of-forms-mw0000752702

"Somewhere between post-Zappa jazz-rock and serial music. Keyboardist Sadler and guitarist Mike Keneally offer dense, challenging lead parts, while Beller and Woods wrap their angular lines around the tunes like a caduceus." - © Karl Coryat BASS PLAYER MAGAZINE April 1999

A horn section comprising the Fowler brothers, Albert Wing and Kurt McGettrick, plus high profile guitarist Mike Keneally equals instant cult status among Zappa aficionados, but Sadler's music merits more widespread attention. His complex, oblique scores generate vigorous, purposeful music, architectonically rugged yet sufficiently pliable to offer surprising twists and turns. Sadler's keyboard work adds Gothic flourishes of the kind that Don Preston has supplied for Michael Mantler. A conceptually mature and brilliantly executed amalgam. - Displayed by kind permission of 'The Wire' Magazine http://www.neilsadler.com/NEIL6.HTM

Theory of Forms is a high-energy blast of horn-powered energy almost from start to finish. Sadler is an accomplished composer, keyboardist and percussionist and he's recruited a crew of Zappa alumni to realize his tightly arranged musical vision. Most prominent is guitarist Mike Keneally, whose inventive playing shines on every track. Other than the obvious link in personel, though, the Zappa connection is irrelevant. This is electric jazz that simply kicks butt in complicated ways. In the midst of the tricky rhythmic arrangements, there's a lot of improvisation. The opening cut, "Jazz Bastards," features a great solo from trombonist Bruce Fowler and some wild Keneally guitar work. The second starts with some eerie string synth, and works into a disjointed improv session with both muted and straight trumpet from Walt Fowler over a stuttery groove. These first two cuts illustrate the opposing poles of the album: insanely complex horn and guitar arrangements on the one hand, flowing improvisations on the other. This recording packs the energy of early electric jazz classics by Mahavishnu Orchestra, Return to Forever and the rest, but manages a style all its own. Sadler's compositions are complex without being freakish, and he uses advanced techniques like bitonality and rhythmic cycles fluently. Casual listening may ellicit a response like, "That sounds interesting - I wonder what's going on." Further study (or checking the website) reveals some of the technicalities for those interested. - Displayed by kind permission of 'Exposé' Magazine http://www.neilsadler.com/NEIL6.HTM

Now this is surprisingly different. First off, you must put yourself in a Frank Zappa frame of mind (if that's possible). English born composer, keyboardist / percussionist Neil Sadler has created the quintessential fusion release, combining rock, Latin, funk, jazz, big band and orchestral styles with very complex harmonies and rhythmic changes. In keeping with the Zappa tradition, many of the players on this release are Zappa alumni including the horn section of Walt (trumpet, flugelhorn), Bruce (trombone) and Steve (alto sax) Fowler, Albert Wing (tenor sax), Kurt McGettrick (tenor sax) along with guitarist Mike Keneally and bassist Bryan Beller, all from the Zappa family tree. You've really got to have a versatile musical appetite to enjoy the twisting arrangements and sharp turns that the composition takes at a moments notice. Guitarist Keneally is the featured soloist on many of the tracks and it's interesting to hear where he takes the music, at times it's as if he's hanging on for dear life. The horn arrangements are superb, very well thought out and executed to perfection. Zappa would be very proud of his students and the compositional skills of Sadler. Sadler's keyboard and percussion skills are noteworthy as well. © MH, FUSE magazine http://www.fusemag.com/

There are always some records that get your attention more effectively than others, and usually when you listen to them, you find that there is a reason for that. This time, I think that the reason why I paid special attention to Neil Sadler’s album is that few works have made me wonder how extensive the jazz fusion field can be. Indeed, fusion is, just like symphonic rock, electronic music or RIO, a style in which people tend to copy those who succeeded with a particular formula. The fact is that Sadler’s album has an enormous influence of Frank Zappa or Miles Davis, but the variety of fusion-like styles that were included in this album is definitely impressive. First of all, it is important to talk about the musicians. Who plays on this CD? Where do they come from? Easy... Neil Sadler is a British keyboard player and percussionist that was in charge of composing all the tracks and getting the whole band together. The result was a meeting of jazz masters with a common Zappa background. A horn section led by the Fowler Brothers, Walt (trumpet), Steve (alto sax) and Bruce (trombone), Albert Wing (saxes), Kurt McGettrick (saxes), two bass players: Joel Woods and Bryan Beller (Beer for Dolphins) and the great Mike Keneally (Zappa, Sting, XTC) on guitar. The album includes 7 tracks, all of them in the fusion vein. The record begins with "Jazz Bastards" (6:46), a song full of mood changes, sometimes guitar led, sometimes with a remarkable trumpet guiding the melodies, while Sadler’s percussions provide an excellent support. There is something that can be noticed in this song and that will stay there for the whole album: a clear influence from Miles Davis on Walt Fowler’s trumpet parts. "Dna for beginners" (9:36) is a more rock-styled track, with a Crimson-like guitar (?) and a more atmospheric (though still jazz oriented) and changing support from the drums. The Zappa influence can be heard on pieces like "Suehiro" (4:36) and "Theory of Forms" (12:36), a track that also includes a more traditional jazz approach, mixed with the modernity of fusion. Wonderful. Sadler also presents a more experimental side on "Sid Sings" (5:38) and a more orchestral jazz line on "runRim" (7:21), a delicate and inspired track. The album closes with "wFb" (9:00), a powerful rocking theme with a jazzy dialogue between the saxes and the trumpet (at some moments reminding of the Canterbury school), an inspired impressive guitar, and the keyboards layers that give the opportunity to the other musicians to express themselves. Finally, I might say that, as a big fan of jazz, this album caused me a particular reaction: the impression of rediscovering fusion. One more thing must be said about Sadler’s style: he provides an excellent support and generates music that can be suited for other musicians to play and contribute with their own ideas. "Theory of Forms" is impressive, but I don’t think that this is the highest point that Sadler can reach. If he considers what he did on this album and tries to go beyond, then we might be talking about the next fusion master. © Enrique Gómez - January 2001© 2000-2011 progVisions - All rights reserved. http://www.progvisions.com/reviews_uk/ns_tof_uk.htm

“Theory Of Forms” is composer/percussionist/keyboardist Neil Sadler's debut album. The music is a dynamic, complex and incendiary inventive fusion of jazz, rock and great dark percussive work from Neil which adds depth and perspective to the album. Neil’s music is intensified and elevated by the presence of music legends that include guitarists Mike Keneally and Bryan Beller, the great LA bassist Joel Woods and Zappa horn greats Walt Fowler, Albert Wing, Bruce Fowler, Kurt McGettrick and Steve Fowler. FUSE' magazine stated that "Sadler has created the quintessential fusion release", and Mike Keneally said that "Neil knocks me out completely. I LOVED playing that stuff." An article by AAJ STAFF, published on May 1, 1999 said, “If you're into hot sax, brash brass, wild-n-weird guitar, bizarre synth atmospherics, complex percussion lines, and tight compositions, you'll get off on this. Guaranteed. This is beyond acid jazz, eludes fusion, twists tighter than freeform, and just flat out SMOKES!” The album is HR by A.O.O.F.C. Read more @ http://www.neilsadler.com/index.htm [All tracks @ 192 Kbps: File size = 76.7 Mb]


1. Jazz Bastards 9:36
2. DNA For Beginners 4:36
3. Suehiro 4:36
4. Theory Of Forms 12:36
5. Sid Sings 5:38
6. runRim 7:21
7. wFb 9:00

All tracks composed by Neil Sadler


Mike Keneally - Guitar
Bryan Beller - Bass (1,2,7)
Joel Woods - Bass (3,5,6)
Neil Sadler - Keyboards, Percussion
Albert Wing - Tenor Sax (1,4,7)
Kurt McGettrick - Tenor Sax (3,5)
Steve Fowler - Alto Sax (3,5,6)
Walt Fowler - Trumpet, Flugelhorn
Bruce Fowler - Trombone (1,4,7)


Neil Sadler is probably not well known to most progressive rock fans. Although very progressive in nature, his music lies somewhere between classical and jazz. As a classical percussionist and keyboard player, he has worked with members of the the London Philharmonic, European chamber orchestras, and made appearances at various European jazz festivals. Neil, born in England, moved to LA to work with numerous American artists on this, his debut instrumental album. Along with Sadler on keyboards and percussion, the band features Mike Keneally (guitar) who has worked with both Steve Vai and Frank Zappa, Bryan Beller (bass), along with a slew of Frank Zappa horn alumni - Walt Fowler (trumpet, flugelhorn), Albert Wing (tenor sax), Bruce Fowler (trombone), Kurt McGettrick (tenor sax), plus Steve Fowler (alto sax) and Joel Woods (bass). The level of musicianship appearing on this album is second to none, easily out-doing most progressive bands. However, musicianship alone does not make the perfect album.
The CD bursts into life with "Jazz Bastards", a very lively track, which immediately establishes the ground for what is to come with unusual melodic scales, and complex patterns. Perhaps surprisingly, the drumming almost entirely straight 4/4, albeit decorated with odd beats here and there within a conventional rock-style drum framework. After a few minutes, psychotic trumpet and sax solos burst in over a more conventional jazz rhythm, making a blatant right-angle change in direction, followed by some extremely expressive and experimental lead guitar work (not surprisingly, reminiscent of some of Steve Vai's work). Throughout the song, various atonal motifs keep reappearing, which go some way to helping maintain a sense of continuity through the mayhem of changes.
Track 2, "DNA for beginners", starts with some rather ominous orchestral string parts, percussion and gongs, which would probably work very well as film music. This kind of style is probably much more familiar to progressive rock fans, with its mysterious textures and atmospheric feel. Before long, a very Fripp-like lead guitar comes in with some very unusual synthy percussion. The overall sound is a lot like much of Zappa's work with synth percussion and strings. Later on in the track, a more Eastern feel emerges, with tablas and splashes (perhaps a faint Trilok Girtu influence?) and far-Eastern guitar scales. At over nine minutes of mostly soloing, with very little overall structure or development, it's hard not to make accusations of muso-pretentiousness, but some hard concentration on what's going on really does pay off, if you have the stamina! The next track, "Suehiro", is virtually a pop song by comparison, at four and a half minutes, with a definite upbeat feel. No rest from the atonal scales however. Suehiro is mostly a guitar/sax workout, again mostly over surprisingly straight 4/4 drum pattern. The song is mostly led by brass harmonies and unison parts, along the same lines as some of the material from Andy Sheppard's electric band. The twelve and a half minute title track, "Theory of forms" comes next, opening with more jazzy unison melodies. Definitely no traces of prog here, but nonetheless very progressive to the open mind. Some lovely tension-building atmospheres with sound effects follow, taking the pace down a notch, with the distant feel of something bigger approaching. Then, after several minutes of interesting layered sounds, aggressive piano-like percussion patterns come in, not unlike some Earthworks patterns, but with more power and aggression. What begins as a nice track, building up with direction, then moves on into minutes of seemingly endless improvised soloing, in different forms. Great for Zappa fans, but perhaps a little too much for more mainstream prog fans. "Sid Sings" comes next, opening with a muted trumpet, piano and synth strings. After a relaxed start, and a brief exploration into piano/percussion unison lines, the pace chances with an upbeat jazz rhythm and walking basslines from Joel Woods. Plenty of interesting ideas packed into under six minutes in this song ensures little excuse for distraction!!! Probably one of the more accessible tracks on the album. Next up is "RunRim", featuring very synthetic but effective synth strings and some more quiet Fripp-like guitar. Many of the tracks on the album throb along over an undercurrent of unusual percussion, and this one is no exception, with some beautifully indescribeable sounds. A fairly dark, moody track, with jazz tendencies. The last track, "wFb" could be an Andy Sheppard track, very sax-led, with more brass harmonies and unison parts. The drums on this track are extremely mechanical, almost to the point of sounding like a very dull drum machine. However, they do keep the momentum going, with various layers of melodies weaving about on top. All in all, a superly technical and experimental album, with some very interesting ideas, particularly in the percussion department. However, where there are conventional "drum" parts, they tend to be very standard, and not particularly innovative, which is surprising considering the high level of percussive experimentation elsewhere on the album. Lots of jazzy sax playing, and impressive soloing, though perhaps a little too much for many prog fans. The lead guitar work of Mike Keneally ensures that the overall sound doesn't stray too far into the jazz world, with some very extreme and unusual sounds and solos. Fans of Frank Zappa, Earthworks, or Andy Sheppard will probably love it, but I think it would only appeal to the more open-minded or jazz-friendly prog fans. - Overall: 7/10 © Neil Durant © http://www.dprp.net/reviews/9905.htm#neil


A.O.O.F.C said...


P/W is aoofc

ratso said...

This sounds interesting, so thanks for posting it. It will be something else to play while the raindrops keep on falling (on my head). Up north they have a colossal cyclone which should ensure the weather is unpredictable for some time yet. Say have you heard Godley and Creme's Consequences?
I hope you have managed to cook and eat that egg.

A.O.O.F.C said...

G'day, ratso.Batten down the hatches, old chum! I don't like that "Consequences" release. Not exactly fusion, is it? I threw away the egg. The sun went in! Enjoy the weather, me ol' china & TTU soon...Paul!