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Gary Windo: Steam Radio Tapes/Dogface

Two albums from the vaults of this late, great sax player.

English sax giant Gary Windo sadly died in 1992, but a listen back to two of his recorded works reminds us what a vital, challenging and multi-faceted player he was. Windo performed with, among others, Keith Tippett’s Centipede and Robert Wyatt (he’s on Rock Bottom), and Nick Mason no less offered him recording time at Floyd’s Britannia Row studio.

In 1976 he made Steam Radio Tapes there with a roster of guests including Mason, Wyatt, Steve Hillage and the Manfreds’ Mike Hugg.

Even now it’s a joyous slice of brass-charged jazz rock. With Wyatt at the mic Come Into My Garden swings from Canterbury to disco and back, and Windo’s equally adept at fluid melody, rhythmic, bluesy stabs and blasts of avant-garde noise.

His first solo album proper, Dogface (’82) is a more demanding listen. Playing and composing on the fly with artists including his wife Pam and guitarist John Platania, here Windo’s at his most playful. Yes the music’s less immediate, but the frisson of creation is palpable, the zany Puppy Kisses shows his generosity as a player, and Rex And Spot Meet The International Bitches highlights his cheeky sense of mischief. Niche, skilled, and fun.