East-West by the Paul Butterfield Blues Band 1966
The classic with extended tracks in form of Nat Adderely’s hard bop classic work Song and the raga influenced title track.
"East-West" track in music history
In 1996, former Butterfield Blues Band member Mark Naftalin (keyboards), who recorded on the album and is pictured on the cover of East-West, released a CD on his own ‘Winner’ label entitled East-West Live, comprising three extended live performance versions of the tune “East-West”. Noted music critic and prolific author Dave Marsh contributed a substantial essay in the liner notes regarding the historic importance of the song, both the original 1966 recording and the live versions.
Marsh, interviewing Naftalin, notes that the tune was inspired by an all-night LSD trip that “East-West“‘s primary songwriter Mike Bloomfield experienced in the fall of 1965, during which the late guitarist “said he’d had a revelation into the workings of Indian music.”
Marsh’s expansive liner notes observe that the song “East-West” “was an exploration of music that moved modally, rather than through chord changes. As Naftalin explains, “The song was based, like Indian music, on a drone. In Western musical terms, it ‘stayed on the one’. The song was tethered to a four-beat bass pattern and structured as a series of sections, each with a different mood, mode and color, always underscored by the drummer, who contributed not only the rhythmic feel but much in the way of tonal shading, using mallets as well as sticks on the various drums and the different regions of the cymbals. In addition to playing beautiful solos, Paul [Butterfield] played important, unifying things [on harmonica] in the background - chords, melodies, counterpoints, counter-rhythms. This was a group improvisation. In its fullest form it lasted over an hour.”
In his summation, Marsh points out that “‘East-West’ can be heard as part of what sparked the West Coast’s rock revolution, in which such song structures with extended improvisatory passages became commonplace.”
Going on to call the Butterfield Blues Band “one of the greatest bands of the rock era”, Marsh concludes that “With ‘East-West’, above any other extended piece of the mid-Sixties, a rock band finally achieved a version of the musical freedom that free jazz had found a few years earlier.”
The album front cover was photographed at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.