The idea of Soft Works first arose in 2000 as an initiate of Leonardo Pavkovic, to revive and reconnect some of the great musicians who had played in Soft Machine. Soft Works, with the above line up, was the first solid iteration of this idea, although the band wasn’t long lived and recorded one studio album and played only 11 concerts. Eventually, with some lineup shifts, the band became Soft Machine Legacy and now are known simply as Soft Machine. This is a great live documentation of four extraordinary and legendary players touching on their legacy, but generally performing new music, from their studio album.
Dedicated to the loving memory of
Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and Allan Holdsworth.
With love, John Marshall and Leonardo Pavkovic.
SOFT WORKS by Leonardo Pavkovic
Perhaps if there were a “progressive mantra,” it might be embodied by my drive and determination to always keep moving forward and looking ahead – that same ‘go for it’-type attitude which so many great MoonJune artists carry with them into live performances and recording projects. That said, a person cannot gauge progress without reflecting back on the road traveled which carried him to a given point in life. The music on this album brings back a lot of fond memories, but it goes far deeper than that: the band, itself, was a result of some of my earliest efforts in the music industry; efforts which served as an impetus for carrying the entire ‘MoonJune’ concept forward.
I first met Elton Dean back in the mid ’80’s, while still residing in Italy. In what some might refer to as “fate” or “destiny” (and it would certainly be difficult to argue against it, in this instance), Elton and I reconnected again, a decade-and-a-half or so later, via two mutual friends – ethnomusicologist, Verna Gillis, and her husband, the legendary jazz trombonist, Rosewell Rudd. Fittingly, it happened on the first day of the new millennium: January 1, 2000.
Reflecting back on that day, it truly was the start of a new era in my life. Had Elton’s and my paths not again crossed, I seriously doubt that not only would ‘Soft Works’ never have materialized, but more than likely I wouldn’t have started MoonJune Music Bookings & Management or the MoonJune Records label, either. It seemed like a dream, at the time: getting to assist and produce the very musical artists I had long idolized. Looking back, it still bears that same resemblance. ‘Dreaming,’ in fact, is central to this story. Not long after reconnecting with Elton, the two of us met with John Marshall and Hugh Hopper (whom I had the privilege of meeting, 5 or 6 years earlier), and corporately began dreaming about a potential Soft Machine reunion!
The dream continued the following year, when LA jazz / rock journalist, Ken Kubernik, introduced me to another of my heroes: legendary guitar icon, Allan Holdsworth. Knowing his previous history with the band, I naturally viewed Allan as the missing piece to the Soft Machine reunion puzzle. I told him of our (Elton, John, Hugh and myself) ambitions and offered him the position as the band’s fourth member – which he promptly accepted.
Shortly thereafter, I met back up with Elton and ‘Soft Works’ was born. In collaboration with Ken, “Abracadabra” (up until now, the lone release by this exquisite lineup) was the first project I ever produced.
Unfortunately, the career of the late, great Allan Holdsworth had its fair share of peaks and valleys. After a total of 11 dozen in Japan and Italy, and festival gigs in the US and Mexico, Allan decided to bow out. [Shortly thereafter, he was replaced by UK guitar virtuoso, John Etheridge, which gave birth to ‘Soft Machine Legacy.’ (… and which has more recently adopted the original ‘Soft Machine’ moniker.)]
Throughout the world, demand for the band was instantaneous and fevered. My reflections on this period are always bittersweet. There was a ton of potential that unquestionably was left unfulfilled by Allan’s departure. Conversely, seeing what started as a promising vision of hope become a reality served as the motivation and impetus for all things MoonJune!
My magical encounters with Elton Dean, Hugh Hopper and Ken Kubernik led to meeting John Marshall and then, ultimately Allan Holdsworth. Although sadly short lived, the creation of this progressive supergroup fundamentally changed my entire existence. Despite the lone studio album and only a small handful of live performances, the progressive genre is graced by our foresight to have recorded several of these shows. “Abracadabra In Osaka” represents the best of these recordings: serving as a living testimony of true musical icons — the group which unknowingly became the seed which would sprout, grow and blossom into MoonJune Records and MoonJune Music.
Thank you, Elton, Hugh, John and Allan — and Ken … with your help, I have achieved an incredible dream in my own life! I am truly blessed to love what I’m doing, and to be doing what I love
Produced by Leonardo Pavkovic.
Recorded live at Namba Hatch, Osaka, Japan, August 11, 2003.
Stereo-mix of the show was carefully restored, enhanced and mastered by Mark Wingfield.
Graphics and design by Hajo Müller (www.hajo-art.com).
Photos courtesy of Centro Servizi Culturali Santa Chiara di Trento.
For more information about this historic archival release, please refer to the extensive liner notes in the album’s booklet.
You can read more about MOONJUNE’S SOFT WORKS CONSPIRACY
in All About Jazz article/interview:
‘Leonardo Pavkovic: Nothing Is Ordinary’ by Chris Slawecki
Direct link: bit.ly/2TDkjW6