Jan Hammer & Jerry Goodman: Steppings Tones
Like Children (Wounded Bird WOU 430)
Composed by Rick Laird.
Recorded: Nederland, Colorado, 1974
Rating: 81/100 (learn more)
Mahavishnu Orchestra's bassist Rick Laird's composition "Steppings Tones" was originally scheduled to be on the Mahavishnu Orchestra's third studio album. (The piece's title is based on a word game the fellows in Mahavishnu used to play, which juxtaposed letters.) When the group's implosion prevented that from happening, the original recording took place with Mahavishnu at Trident Studios in England, and remained unheard until 1999 when it was released on The Lost Trident Sessions. Laird was never pleased with it because in all the turmoil of the recording sessions, he was unable to complete the composition. He thinks it just hangs there.
With the piece in their pocket, Hammer and Goodman decided to reprise it the year after Mahavishnu broke up. The two create almost a clone of the original, yet without John McLaughlin's guitar or Laird's bass. The versions are so much alike that I can recycle part of the review I wrote earlier for Mahavishnu's version. Here are those comments with strategic revisions: "'Steppings Tones' is written," I wrote, "in intervallic steps, which
Laird Hammer loudly lays down as McLaughlin Hammer provides a panning arpeggio. Cobham Hammer provides the requisite fills. Goodman plays a repeating melody as Hammer comps with some electric piano. The theme repeats over and over as if running in place. The tune would make a good theme for a TV detective show."
Rick Laird is right. While I love the piece's sound and structure, it does seem unfinished. In my earlier review, I also mentioned that the Like Children version was more complete than the one on The Lost Trident Sessions. I don't know what I was thinking or smoking. They are both incomplete.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky