Space Case: Retrospective
By Bruce Morley
What a treat, the legendary Space Case's three albums from 1981-85 in one set. The logical successor to drummer Frank Gibson Jr's out-there fusion group Dr. Tree, Space Case saw Gibson, trumpeter Kim Patterson and keyboardist Murray McNabb, alongside saxophonist Brian Smith and bassists Andy Brown and Bruce Lynch turn back a little toward their roots, playing grooves more slinky, funky, jazz-oriented, and straight-ahead swinging. They've all never played better. Superb solos flow throughout the album, with Smith in particular an absolute stand out. There's some compositional muscle here too; all but four of the 19 tracks are written by the players themselves. It's also a reminder that Lynch (now long lost to 'commercial' music) is a great bass player, while the late Andy Brown turns in a brief solo full of surprises on his own Hello All. Gibson is again central to the proceedings, channelling Tony Williams, filling and connecting sparse horn lines with his prodigious technique (check the intro to Smith's Southern Excursion), booting soloists, and peaking in a fiery duet with trumpeter Kim Patterson on Wayne Shorter's Dolores, the final track. A rewarding album.