English foursome Arc emerged from Skip Bifferty [aka Heavy Jelly] in 1970. They were a lesser but very talented blues-based heavy prog outfit comprised of Michael Gallagher's keys, Tom Duffy's bass, the drums of David Montgomery and guitarist John Turnbull. Occasionally compared to Patto though they also remind of Supertramp if that group had been young and hungry, Arc sound not unlike many bands of the era who took from what the Beatles had established but adding a harder, rawer feel mixed with the semi-classical sparks of early Yes, making 'At This' a respectable collector's item.
Any chance that one has to hear a master musician in his or her preferred setting is a gift. For all the one-offs and ensemble by committee type of gigs that spring up, it is the reunion with familiar collaborators for a stint of a few nights that really becomes integral for the best performances. On his new recording, At This Time, pianist Steve Kuhn found himself just in the right time and place to record a trio record that feels timeless and truly inspired. The ensemble, which features legendary bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Joey Baron, was happy to find itself in an extended engagement at Birdland Jazz Club in New York in September 2015 and found time to get into the recording studio before heading to Europe on tour.
The original Affinity essentially survived for just one album, a superb, jazz-tinged effort released on the Vertigo label in 1971, and subsequently reissued on several occasions since then – a cottage industry that seems to have spawned more interest in the band today than they ever attracted during their career. Certainly few people were aware that the group continued on following the departure (for a solo career) of vocalist Linda Hoyle later in 1971, but this set – aptly titled for the timespan it covers – not only documents the band's further activities, it also suggests that their ultimate demise was far from timely. With Vivienne McAuliffe proving a more than ample replacement, Affinity continued both gigging and recording, and this collection of previously unreleased demos and outtakes finds the band in excellent form. One can only imagine how great they might have been, had they had a full studio (and a recording budget) at their disposal!