Pierre Moerlen's Gong - Leave it Open. 1981 USA
CD reissues: 2006 BMG/Arista (Japan mini-LP); 2011 Esoteric (UK)
Late in the game fusion album from one of the big names of the genre. Given the date, and other intangibles, I just presumed this would be yet another American styled fuzak album that dominated the record bins of the day. So I never bothered to hear it until now, when the Japanese mini-LP just showed up (2016). This is anything but fuzak. Leave it Open is a very fine jazz rock album, like the kind you might hear in France during this era, with some superb gritty guitar leads from Bon Lozaga. Moerlen's tuned percussion is integral to the music, and doesn't sound gimmicky, which it often can. And you can almost never go wrong when Charlie Mariano is present on saxophone. Best of all, the songwriting is stellar, and the 17 minute track is never boring, nor does it sound like a bunch of ideas pasted together. There's a moment at the 12 to 13 minute mark that sent my hair on end. The only track here that sounded like I first expected is 'It's About Time' with its predictable funky business. And even at that, it's fairly well done and better than average. But the rest is excellent throughout. A major surprise for me.