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Simon Jeffes | Piano Music (Zopf)
Strange, in December 97 I can't remember a nation in mourning. Flags weren't at half-mast, no-one made a tearful pilgrimage to Somerset, people didn't throw flowers. In fact, the loss wasn't widely reported, he was just one of the most influential musicians of all time, that's all. He was the man who added strings to Sid Vicious, produced the embryonic Clash, was remixed by the Orb and, most importantly, ate some bad fish and hallucinated the Penguin Café Orchestra. His cross pollination of any and every musical style, played by his merry band of classical, jazz, pop and rock musicians, has touched many an ear and worked its way into countless other's work. This collection pulls together sketches and drawings of his tinkling on the ivories from over the years. Some are early incarnations of PCO pieces, others future works and there's one fully-fledged song, completed by the band after his death. It lacks the flow of a 'proper' album, but it's still an engrossing listen. All the Jeffes quirks are to be heard, sometimes clearer then when the band is going full tilt. A tune will suddenly stop and change course mid-way, or a repeated sequence will juxtapose the melody and none of it fits into any category. What it does fit is your mood, or maybe it shapes it. Sometimes you want to throw your head back and your arms out and fall backwards, confident that the dancing sunbeams will hold you as Kora Kora swirls around you, or you want to crouch in the corner and cry as Piano Sketch plays. Elsewhere you can dance in a verdant field, lie down beneath a shimmering moon or sail on a deep blue ocean. Untitled has a warped fairground feel, as if something wicked this way comes. Technics Op. 1.2 shows Simon's experimental side as the piano is surrounded by angelic swoops and highlights his ability to make something so simple, yet totally enthralling. The interpretations are endless, all the seasons are covered and the only limitation is you, it's all up to your mind. As Cajun Piano drifts along a drowsy bayou into the sunset you can close your eyes and dream, dream of what was, might have been, but, more importantly, that oasis of a café, a colourful respite from the grey world where beautiful music fills the air and you can dance like a speck of dust in the breeze. Thanks to Simon Jeffes you don't have to get food poisoning to do this now.

Laurence Arnold
CWAS #9 - Winter 2002