The Weekend Australian - Review - - Music Reviews - Steve Creedy

Fo­cus 8.5/Be­yond the Hori­zon Fo­cus and Friends Cherry Red Thijs van Leer may have had a habit of part­ing com­pany with gui­tarists, but that doesn’t mean the man with the su­per­sized side­burns doesn’t have a sense of hu­mour. Hence, one sus­pects, the de­ci­sion to sub­ti­tle this al­bum Fo­cus 8.5. The ti­tle is a ref­er­ence to fact the al­bum’s un­re­leased tracks were recorded more than a decade ago dur­ing a 2005 South Amer­i­can tour by the Fo­cus 8 line-up. Don’t be fooled into think­ing this is just an­other col­lec­tion of warmed-over out­takes. It is a re­fresh­ing and en­er­getic fu­sion of jazz, prog and world mu­sic.

Van Leer and drum­mer Pierre van der Lin­den rep­re­sent the clas­sic early 1970s band that hit the charts with in­stru­men­tals such as Hocus Po­cus and Sylvia. They are joined by van Leer’s step­son, Bobby Ja­cobs, on bass and Fo­cus 8 gui­tarist Jan Dumee as a ca­pa­ble re­place­ment for the leg­endary Jan Akker­man.

The friends in­clude Brazil­ian bass supremo Arthur Maia, sax­o­phon­ist Mario Seve and drum­mer Mar­cio Bahia.

Nods to the band’s baroque-tinged origins in Fo­cus Zero and Sur­rexit Chris­tus are com­ple­mented by a move into new ter­ri­tory with the joy­ful Latin ex­plo­sion of Hola, Coma Es­tas and the retro jazz-rock of Rock 5.

The seven tracks (or nine, de­pend­ing on how you count the quirky in­ter­play of drums on Talk­ing Rhythms) penned by the band or pro­ducer Marvio Ciri­belli are nicely recorded and end too quickly.

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