Personnel: Lenny White (synthesizer, drums, syndrums, percussion); Don Blackman (vocals, piano, electric piano, organ, synthesizer); Nick Moroch, Jeff Sigman (guitar); Alex Blake (bass).
One of Lenny White's finest, most essential albums, The Adventures of Astral Pirates is a jazz-fusion masterpiece with a futuristic science-fiction theme. Star Wars was number one at the box office when, in 1977, White produced this disc with Al Kooper, and perhaps Elektra was hoping to cash in on the film's popularity. If you open the record's foldout cover, you can read White's tale of sci-fi battles that take place in the fifth millennium A.D. But you don't have to be a sci-fi fan to appreciate the mostly instrumental songs on this imaginative, risk-taking album, which finds White blending a jazz/rock/funk foundation with elements of everything from Middle Eastern music to Asian music. This set isn't the least bit predictable, and it could easily be described as "the sound of surprise" -- critic Whitney Balliett's term for jazz -- even though no one will mistake it for straight-ahead bop any time soon. ~ Alex Henderson