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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Don Mather, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby

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Dr Midnight

Delmark DE 579



1. Blues for C Piff
2. It's Surely Gonna Flop If It Ain't Got That Bop
3. Mary Anne
4. Tetemetearri
5. Dr Midnight
6. The Odd Couple
7. China Cat Sunflower
Cameron Pfiffner - Tenor sax, soprano sax, flute, piccolo
Pat Mallinger - Tenor sax, alto, sax, Native American flute
Pete Benson - Hammond B3 organ
Ted Sirota - Drums


Wikipedia tells us that "All saber-tooth mammals lived between 33.7 million and 9,000 years ago". That's rather longer than Sabertooth have been the late-night resident band at the Green Mill club in Chicago every Saturday. But the group has been a regular attraction there for 14 years, and this CD helps to explain why. The quartet is led by two eccentric saxophonists: Cameron Pfiffner, who is noted for the unusual range of hats he wears to each gig, and Pat Mallinger. Both are versatile musicians, playing a variety of instruments in a variety of jazz styles. Certainly they can deliver straight-ahead swinging jazz which gets the foot tapping, as they do in The Odd Couple. But their range is wider: embracing bebop (as in It's Surely Gonna Flop), calypso (Mary Anne) and even a Grateful Dead tune by Jerry Garcia (China Cat Sunflower) - which chugs along with a boogaloo beat.

The two leaders (Cameron and Pat) contrast well with one another: the former being the more traditional; the latter tending to take more risks. But with both men - indeed, with the whole group - you can expect the unexpected. And that's one of the things that keeps this session bubbling with excitement. For example, Telemetearri starts with mystical Native American flute backed by Ted Sirota's tomtoms and growls from the Hammond organ. When the tenor sax enters, it echoes John Coltrane in its explorations, and then organist Pete Benson plays a gruff solo. And the title-track evokes the eerie feeling of the witching hour - with wailing sounds, unaccompanied tenor and tortured alto.
The recording quality is sometimes rather fuzzy, especially during the Hammond organ solos, but this album can be recommended for the atmosphere it conveys of a talented and eclectic band playing for everyone's pleasure until early on Sunday morning in a Chicago nightclub.

Tony Augarde





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