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Album Review

Originally released in 1983 on the tiny SAJ label (a subsidiary label of the cult fave European free-improv label FMP) but reissued by Atavistic as part of their Unheard Music Series in 2003, Tern is a live recording gathering pianist Keith Tippett, saxophonist Larry Stabbins (late of the jazz-influenced Young Marble Giants' spinoff Weekend and soon to form the long-running pop-jazz duo Working Week), and South African percussionist Louis Moholo, who doubles on cello at times. The album title refers both to a set of three, and to a small, pretty shore bird native to the U.K., and unlike many free improvisational performances, much of Tern actually falls under the general descriptor "small and pretty." All three players draw from a conventional jazz background as well as their more experimental excursions, and their interplay is largely free of the honk-blat-phwee, with only brief passages of the two-part title track edging towards cacophony. By contrast, the closing "The Greatest Service" is downright placid, a low-key end to an often-enchanting performance.


Born: 25 August 1947 in Bristol, England

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '60s, '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

For a time during the 1970s, there were two "Keiths" who played prominent — though never overlapping — roles in the world of art rock and progressive rock music. For the majority of fans and casual FM listeners, there was Keith Emerson, the embodiment of flashy virtuosity, performer before audiences larger...
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Tern, Keith Tippett
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