Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Groove attack: Hard hitting spaced out fusion funk. The Rowohlt Jazz Encyclopedia characterizes keyboard player Dieter Reith as a “Master of rhythmic tension”. Born in Mainz, Germany in 1937, this multi-talented musician created just such tension by forming a band with four American expatriates for his 1975 MPS album “Knock Out”. Bassistguitarist Dave King had “Krautrock” experience through his work with the German rock group Embryo. Percussionist Sabu Martinez had already worked with Dizzy Gillespie and Duke Ellington. Reith demonstrates his know-how on piano, Fender Rhodes, synthesizer, and as composer-arranger. His themes, played in unison with Jamaican saxophonist Wilton Gaynair, sound full, big-band-like, and then flow into slickly constructed jazz-rock thunderstorms. On “Dark Green”, Reith’s solo piano artistry shines over a two minute stretch before the dynamic band comes in. Dieter Reith was taking piano lessons by the age of five. He quit his music and physics studies to become the pianist for Germany’s Southwest Radio Dance Orchestra, which he later led. Reith became well-known as an organist. His playing had a significant impact on the sound of Peter Herbolzheimer’s Rhythm & Brass Combination. Reith played with the Kurt Edelhagen Orchestra and, along with Herbolzheimer and Hollander Jerry van Rooyen, composed the music for the opening of the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany.
Liner Note Author: Hans Hielscher.
Recording information: Tonstudio Bauer, Ludwigsburg (12/1974-01/1975).
Translator: Martin Cook.
Arranger: Dieter Reith.
Dieter Reith's Knock Out is one of the many reasons Germany's MPS label has such a stellar reputation. This date features the great German composer and keyboardist with a stellar band that would be worth hearing no matter what they played: Jamaican saxophonist Wilton "Bogey" Gaynair, the iconic (and iconoclastic) percussionist Sabu Martinez, drummer Todd Canedy, and bassist Dave King (formerly of avant Krautrockers Embryo). Musically, Knock Out walks a killer line between CTI-styled jazz-funk, early Euro-disco, rock, and propulsive modern jazz. Reith's various keyboards add all kinds of textures and sounds to the palette of roiling bass, breaking drums, and bubbling percussion. All four tunes are long, full of labyrinthine twists and turns akin in many ways to what Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter were composing for Weather Report during the era. On the opening title track, Reith's knotty use of the Rhodes piano in the main body of the tune is appended by synths emulating flute and strings in the midsection, adding space and dimension. The interplay between King and Canedy is lockstep and hard-grooving, while Martinez colors everything with his intuitive syncopation and funk. "Day Dreamer" alters tonal exploration on the keys, colored by echo and reverb, with an Afro-Caribbean tinge that also manages to quote directly from "Caravan" after the midpoint and features a stellar solo by Gaynair. Reith delivers a long intricate acoustic piano solo as an intro to the last number, "Dark Green," before Gaynair's soprano, King, and Canedy join the fray, threatening to explode. Instead they pick up on a modal vamp and let Martinez act as the bridge-builder between rhythmic strains and the melody becomes infectious, a true finger-popper, before the various soloists take their turns. Despite Reith's many accomplishments before (as one of the architects of Peter Herbolzheimer's Rhythm Combination & Brass) or after this (as a film composer and bandleader), Knock Out is one of the crowning achievements -- if not the crowning achievement -- in his career. ~ Thom Jurek