Dick’s Picks: Top notch ’60s psychedelic jazz freek-out vinyl LP from Dave Pike..
Dave Pike (1938-2015) was a jazz vibraphone and marimba player. He recorded extensively for top German jazz imprint MPS Records and also played with Bill Evans, Paul Bley and Kenny Clarke.
Pike was something of a musical prodigy, learning the drums aged eight and self-taught on his chosen instrument – vibes. He earnt his jazz stripes playing with Paul Bley in the late’50s before surfing the free-jazz zeitgeist in the ‘60s with each release pushing the envelope a little further. Naming your album ‘Doors Of Perception’, after Aldous Huxley’s legendary essay on the wonders (and horrors) of taking mescaline, should tell you all you need to know about where Pike’s head was at this time (maan).
What’s the album like?
Although not released until 1970 parts of the album were recorded as far back as 1966, highlighting just how ahead of the curve Pike was – the album itself is an all-star cast too with Herbie Mann on production duties and musical accompaniment from Lee Konitz, Eddie Daniels, Don Freidman, Chuck Israel and Annie Wise. Across the five tracks Pike sets his sights high and attempts to lay down the audio equivalent of the acid experience (that’s no mean feat btw!) with sound effects used throughout to enhance the experience – opener ‘Free Improvisation’, or ‘Free Inprovisation’ if the label is to be believed, does exactly what it says on the tin: a metaphorical door opens (signified by, yup you guessed it, a creaking door), intermittent radio frequencies warble, an ominous thunderstorm breaks and various toots, parps and blows appear as musical fragments over the following three minutes…
‘The trip’ hots up on the next track ‘The Drifter’, whose phased drums with a side-order of echo, make it come on like a Northern Soul groover as heard underwater. Lee Konitz/Eddie Daniels (can’t be sure who) offer up some skronking sax work before Pike gives it some distorted vibe action – at the three minute forty mark some applause is added to the mix before we’re off again with solos courtesy of Eddie Daniels and Pike once more – the groove never lets slip and this track alone makes it worth the entry fee.
There’s more space age bachelor pad jazz on album closer ‘Anticipation’, set to a less frantic tempo than previous tracks and amidst some incredible percussion sections Pike’s vibes do their thaang – with a smattering of proto-studio trickery messing up yer’ head and Friedman’s piano work adding some deft melodic trills, it’s a wondrous final comedown for those who’ve been on the (err) trip with Mr Pike for the albums duration……in fact the albums duration might be its only failing, at only 27 minutes in length any self-respecting psychonaut may well just have to place the needle back at the start of side one…..