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Mantler's 'Movies' is probably the most intelligently done fusion, if we must call it that, since 'Mysterious Traveller' .... 'Movies' presents eight thematically linked pieces, each of which has a distinct mood, a particular emotional focus (hence the title?). While Bley plays with sentiment, some times burlesquing it and sometimes expressing it directly, Mantler's music breathes a different and cooler air. The eight compositions are consistently interesting and personal - Mantler's harmonies are his own - and the ensemble plays beautifully. Of the instrumentalists, Mantler himself is perhaps the least widely known, but it is his steely trumpet playing that dominates the ensemble sound and establishes the emotional climate of the music. To my knowledge he has never before put his own playing so far forward. I hope he does it again. Williams is typically excellent - it's a pleasure to hear him recording regularly again - and Coryell and Swallow could not be better. Carla Bley plays some unison lines on tenor, but her most significant contribution is her wise and subtle use of synthesizer to enlarge the music's space and give it greater dimension and reach. This is intense, stellar music. Miss it at your own risk, particularly if you're into fusion: this is some of the most interesting work being done in the idiom. Certainly it is superior to the more commercial releases around.- MUSICIAN
If the eight segments which make up "Movies" are intended to paint pictures in the mind's eye, they succeed admirably ... Mantler performs with a bright, hard tone, like a more careful Freddie Hubbard, while the focus of the themes restrains Coryell from across-the-fretboard calisthenics ... The whole group comes on like a more mature and musicianly Mahavishnu Orchestra: in place of speed for speed's sake antics is a sense that Mantler has distilled his thoughts down to their finest essence. The result is an album of shining freshness.
- MELODY MAKER
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