I wasn’t exactly sure what to make of this CD when it landed on my doormat.  The band’s name together with the cover art – kind of a cross between The Beatles’ Yellow Submarine and Pink Floyd’s Relics – made me wonder if this was some sort of arch parody in the manner of XTC’s Dukes Of Stratosphere albums. 

A quick investigation on the internet revealed that Johnny Almond had once been in a group with Jon Mark.  This band’s name was Mark Almond which only served to make me even more sceptical.  As I read on though, it became clear that Johnny Almond had been a prolific and respected session musician as well as a band leader in his own right.  I’ve heard it said that your brain retains all the information that it has ever processed and that with training, you can recall any of this information at will.  If my brain had retained the information present on the back cover of  my copy of Blues Breakers With Eric Clapton which quite clearly says that John Almond plays baritone sax on the album then it had evidently decided not to remind me of it.patent

Patent Pending is a jazz rock album so redolent of its time that much of it would pass muster as the soundtrack to the next Austin Powers movie.  Almond plays tenor, alto and baritone saxes along with flutes, organ, vibes, mellotron and bass clarinet.  He is supported by Geoff Condon on trumpet and flugelhorn; Johnny Wiggins on piano and organ; Jimmy Crawford on electric guitar; Steve Hammond on electric and acoustic guitars and Roger Sutton on bass.  Drummer Alan White would go on to join prog supergroup Yes.

I like a bit of brass and I’m fond of a bit of organ (settle down at the back) so I really enjoyed this album.  If opening track Ensingle were a stick of rock it would have “Groovy Baby” running right through it.  An atmospheric cover of Yusef Lateef’s Before Dawn allows the band to  stretch out a bit as does Almond’s own Voodoo Forest.  Reversed For Two Horns takes a mildly psychedelic free jazz turn while Pequeno Nova adds a bit of Latin flavour.

Patent Pending wasn’t the best jazz album to be released in 1969, nor was it the best jazz rock album of that year – Miles Davis can lay claim to both of those, having released both In A Silent Way and Bitches Brew that year – but it is great fun.

John Scott

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