Set 2: "The Iridescent Concubine" - Louisville Town Hall, Kentucky - Apr. 21st 1972. This set and its companion, the eight-CD volume two, display all the strengths that made Emerson, Lake & Palmer one of the world's most popular bands during the '70s, and the weakness that comes with a trio's attempt to play complicated music. Keith Emerson was a virtuoso keyboard player, Greg Lake supplied a pleasant voice and flair for writing melodic songs, and Carl Palmer played drums as though he would perish if he stopped. But the group lacked the depth of fellow progressive rock bands, such as Yes and King Crimson. Those groups supplied multiple lead instrumentalists – Yes with their guitar/keyboard tandem and Crimson with their venerable guitarist, Robert Fripp, and a series of cohorts who played saxophone, violin, or second guitar.
These marvellous performances are culled from Artie Shaw’s final recordings as an instrumentalist. It is crystal clear that he retired at the height of his powers. Throughout these pieces, his playing is a joy to the ear and the mind, and his unique sound on the clarinet has seldom if ever been better captured. Shaw was still in his prime as a leader as well: this last Gramercy Five was a collective of the first order with a sound and style of its own, attuned to the times but never falling into the trap of trendiness.
In the early 70's a band named Catalyst was formed in the heart of Philadelphia. The core of the group was Odean Pope, Sherman Ferguson, Eddie Green and Al Johnson (who was replaced by Tyrone Brown after their first album). The band drew from a wide range of musical styles; jazz, funk, R&B, avant garde and fusion all found their way into the creative sonic tapestry of Catalyst. With the given talents of Catalyst they could have and should have been bigger but sadly they found themselves with little promotion or recognition outside the proximity of Philadelphia. Thankfully Catalyst were able to leave behind four extraordinary recordings that will appeal to both jazz heads and those in the hip hop community.