British composer and musician Jan Steele (b.1950) studied ethnomusicology in the mid-1970s while being a jazz flutist and saxophonist, a duality reflected in his entire career. His 1974 debut LP (Albanian Summer) was the first of a series of collaborations with saxophonist Janet Sherbourne, an album of compositions for saxophone and piano by Dave Smith. Steele’s 2nd release (Voices And Instruments, 1976) was for Brian Eno’s Obscure series, a split LP with… John Cage. Close, but not exactly a part of, the London’s Musicians Collective, Steele smoothly navigated between avantgarde collaborations (Trevor Wishart) and more mainstream jazz projects. From 1980 to ’84, he directed the English Gamelan Orchestra, of which one track is included on this LP.
♫ Desert Island Dusks was published in 1986 by Gérard NGuyen in the Labyrinthes series on his Disques du Soleil et de l’Acier. The series, partly inspired by the Obscure collection and partly by Jose Luis Borges, was inaugurated with a Pascal Comelade LP (Détail Monochrome, 1984). ZIZ! Ensemble was Steele and Sherbourne’s name as a duo, a vague enough name to accommodate for various session musicians, as is the case here. Desert Island Dusks is a beautiful collection of dreamy and exotic evocations of far away lands, lush female jazz vocalists and late night piano improvisations. Janet Sherbourne’s sweet voice graces several tracks, as if a prolongation of her soft saxophone lines. Steele handles piano, synthesizer and composition, but not exactly as a band leader, rather as the one who sets the mood for each track.
01 Desert Island Dusks (5:16)
02 Ivory (5:44)
03 The Victoria Incident/Has Ras (5:19)
04 City Night Music (3:04)
05 Nobody But You (5:01)
06 Mary Ashford Music (3:13)
07 Motorway Music (4:31)
08 Ludo Funkatoniko (7:26)
Total time 39:30
LP released by Disques du Soleil et de l’Acier, France, 1986
ZIZ! Ensemble Gamelan Disco, included in Bad Achemy #8 >