REVIEW

 

BRIAN AUGER AND THE TRINITY WITH JULIE DRISCOLL
Berliner Jazztage 1968 [no label 1CD]
Live in Berlin, Nov 28 1968. Don Ellis guests on tk 2. Ex FM stereo

November 1968 saw the Auger-Driscoll Trinity preparing for the release of "Road To Cairo," the long-awaited follow-up to their "This Wheel's On Fire" hit, with a clutch of high profile gigs and TV appearances across the UK and Europe. Their appearance at the Berlin Jazz festival came towards the end of this run, and captures the band in fiery, if fractious, form. (Another performance from the same period, on German TV's Beat Beat Beat, is also in circulation, and well worth hunting down).

The set opens with a brace of instrumental numbers, before (an initially, barely-audible) Driscoll takes the stage for a stately "Take Me To The Water." The set's highlight, however, is "Season Of The Witch," as spectral as its studio counterpart, but throbbing with energy, and a one-of-a-kind Driscoll vocal, stretching notes and syllables, rephrasing the lyric and unleashing her full, magnificent range. A very spirited "Shadows Of You" follows, before Driscoll wraps it all up with a magnificent "When I Was A Young Girl."

The brilliance of the performance notwithstanding, the group's appearance at the festival was itself the source of some controversy. Trumpeter Don Ellis was a firm convert to their sound, and makes a notable guest appearance onstage, while the Trinity's own furious fusion of jazz, rock and R&B remains one of that hybrid's crowning glories. But the jazz purists in the audience audibly recoiled from the band… you can hear them booing after almost every number… a response that finally prompted Auger to speak out against them. "I think of music as just music, whatever it is. If it's good it's good, as far as I'm concerned. I personally listen to anything as long as it's good, and I'd like to thank the director for giving us the chance to play on this festival, and I'd like to thank you all for being so open-minded tonight."

The final track on the disc, "This Wheel's On Fire," was not recorded at the festival; it's probably from one of the TV dates the band played elsewhere during the summer. But it retains the strength of the main event, and reminds us once again, just what a truly original, and uncannily timeless band the Trinity was. - Dave Thompson

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