In the mainstream, Mancunian MAX BEESLEY is known as a fine actor but music collectors know he has quite a CV . A trained pianist and perfusionist, he’s worked with people like Incognito, Paul Weller, EWF, Omar, Lisa Stansfield – even Stevie Wonder! In the early 90s he fronted his own band – MAX BEESLEY’S HIGH VIBES who released a couple of collectable 12”s on Boogie Back Records. Then, though, acting and lucrative pay packets beckoned, though every now and then he was tempted back into the studio to play and record with some of his old mates.
Indeed in 2020 he went back to music in a big way, releasing a solo album, ‘Groove Spectrum’ and, reenergised, earlier this year he announced he was reassembling his High Vibes collective. The news came via the release of a single, ‘Zeus’ – as you know, king of the Greek Gods who ruled from Olympus! The cut, therefore, was of Olympian proportions – an intriguing and lengthy slice of cosmic funk with Max’s vibraphone taking centre stage.
Investigation revealed that the “new” High Vibes collective was something rather special. Such is Max’s standing that he can call on some big names to help him deliver his musical ideas. Thus, amongst the current “high vibers” are star drummer Steve Gadd, horn man Walt Fowler, guitarist Dean Parks, keyboardist Christian Sands and conga player Luis Conte. The bassist is Max’s old pal Jerry Meehan who also helped Max produce ‘Zeus’ and you can now hear more as the parent album, also called ‘Zeus’ has just won release.
You won’t be surprised to learn that the overall music soundscape offers more of what, for want of a better label , is “cosmic funk”. Spacey and funky in equal measures, the music is powerful and relentless. There’s breathing space on the reasonably gentle, ‘We’ll Always Have Yesterday’, the Latino-inflected ‘Sergio’s Bag’ and the slinky ‘Snake Oil’.
All the tracks are lengthy affairs. – the shortest clocks in at over six minutes; the longest at almost eleven. Clearly Max and the team were having fun, bouncing their music ideas and expertise off each other. If classy musicianship and cosmic funk’s your thing, you’ll need to know that the album’s out now via Legere Records