Horacee Arnold – Tales Of The Exonerated Flea

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In 1974, drummer and composer Horacee Arnold assembled a stellar cast of players for Tales of the Exonerated Flea, his second Columbia album. Following on the heels of 1973’s acclaimed Tribe, Tales was recorded at the height of the jazz-rock fusion era. Arnold’s vision was a wide-ranging one and he recruited players form all over the jazz world, from stalwarts like bassist George Mraz and flutist Art Webb, to vanguardists like Sonny Fortune, to hardcore fusion players like Weather Report’s master percussionist Dom Um Romao, the Mahavishnu Orchestra’s bassist Rick Laird, and keyboardist Jan Hammer. As if this weren’t enough, Arnold even reached into ECM’s roster and signed up their two iconoclastic guitarists Ralph Towner and John Abercrombie. The end result is one of the most fascinating, soulful and truly successful albums of the entire genre. What one hears in listening to Tales of the Exonerated Flea is a cast of players who are seeking to open up both rock and jazz to new modes of expression. There are no sterile chops or elongated knotty passages that serve neither rhythm nor harmony. What’s happening here is real fusion, of style, language, color, rhythm, harmonic and melodic concepts as well as dynamics. An intense examples is “Sing Nightjar” with its intricate melody and fine, provocative solos by Towner on 12-string and Hammer. The initial funky Latin groove of “Benzele Windows” that is introduced to fiery effect by Romao is quickly underscored by Webb’s brilliant flute work and added to by Abercormbie and Fortune playing in tandem. When Hammer’s electric piano enters the fray, moving in counterpoint with Arnold’s lightning rhythmnatism, the piece becomes a startling orgy of rhythm and complexity before the shimmering dark funk of Laird, Hammer, and Arnold creates a dark funky groove for Fortune’s soprano solo. The title cut uses a striated, extended and tensely convoluted bop line to introduce a burning Latin flavored stomp undergirding a modal line in the head. The chugging rhythmic invention at the heart of “Chinnereth II” belies a rather delicate if involved melody line before the tune becomes a joyful song with many parts and choruses. In all, Tales of the Exonerated Flea is a fusion record of the very best kind, it’s full of soul, restless adventure, high-wire soloing and dirty grooves. Reissued on CD by Rock and Groove in 2004, it should be explored by everyone interested in the development of jazz-rock (Thom Jurek/AllMusic).

Track listing:
A1 Puppett Of The Seasons 4:31
A2 Sing Nightjar 11:09
A3 Benzélé Windows 6:57
B1 Tales Of The Exonerated Flea 3:45
B2 Delicate Evasions 4:28
B3 Chinnereth II 8:06
B4 Euroaquilo Silence 5:44

Bass – Clint Huston,George Mraz, Rick Laird
Electric Guitar – John Abercrombie
Flute, Flute [Alto] – Art Webb
Percussion – Dom Um Romao
Percussion, Congas – Dave Johnson
Drums, Percussion, Timpani [Tymps] – Horacee Arnold
Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Sonny Fortune
Synthesizer [Moog], Electric Piano, Piano – Jan Hammer
Twelve-string Guitar – Ralph Towner
Vibraphone, Marimba [Bass] – David Friedman


Label: Columbia – KC 32869
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album
Country: US
Released: 1974