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12 Apr 2017

The Masters Of Deceit "Hensley's Electric Jazz Band & Synthetic Symphonette" 1969 UK Psych Prog Jazz Rock








The Masters Of Deceit "Hensley's Electric Jazz Band & Synthetic Symphonette" 1969 UK Psych Prog Jazz Rock
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Masters of Deceit were an Indianapolis band that had its only release, “Hensley’s Electric Jazz Band & Synthetic Symphonette” on the highbrow east coast major label Vanguard Records.Led by keyboardist Tom Hensley, who also handled most of the vocals, the band also included Steve Blum on guitar, Gary Campbell, bass and vocals, and Stan Gage on drums. I believe the record was recorded in NYC.Soon afterwards, Hensley relocated to Los Angeles and became a successful session keyboardist, playing with many big names, including Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, Cher, David Cassidy, The Carpenters–to name but a few.The Masters of Deceit LP is relatively obscure today. It was re-released on vinyl and CD by Comet Records in Italy a few years ago. Original LP copies can be found for less than $50 but are not common.Musically, Masters of Deceit occupy an end of 60’s/beginning of 70’s transitional niche, drawing from psychedelia, jazz-rock and progressive rock. ....................
And now, a little surprise from the archives, the band who inspired ABBA to write their world-conquering disco hit, "Voulez-Vous". Only joking.

It was with a certain trepidation that my eyes alighted on the sleeve of this disc. The faintly absurd long-winded title, and the somewhat out-of-it expressions on the faces of the protagonists, particularly the sideways glance of the obliquely-coiffed gentleman at the front who looks uncannily like Paul Giamatti impersonating a member of Soft Machine, suggested that this could either be an elaborate hoax (kind of a prog take on the Rutles) or a lost classic in the making.

But lo! It turns out that the record does sound a lot like Wyatt-era Soft Machine, actually. Which is remarkable enough coming from an American band, even more so considering that this was actually made in 1969, when the Canterbury Sound was still in its birth pangs. There are clavinets galore (always a good sign) and plenty of slightly askew harmonies and tricky time signatures to set the pulse of the committed Brit-prog fan racing. Particularly appealing is the whimsical jazz-rock of "Boxes", making like a prototype for Hatfield & The North's jolly japes. Even the portentously titled 14-minute closer "Pieces: Together: Pieces", almost hinting at Magma in its middle section before straying into Caravan territory, doesn't outstay its welcome.

This record is really cool, long and deceptively strong. I think I'll be returning to it often....by...Patricksmash .......................

It's psych in the sound and prog in the song structure. The jazz influence is also quite strong. Rather nice, with crisp drums and some urgency in the songs. Nothing outstanding though, and the singing is a bit flat, without being annoying like a lot of singing of that era could be........by...gotofritz .........


The Masters Of Deceit' originates in Indianapolis, United States, created and led by Tom Hensley, an excellent keyboardist and arranger. He was born in the area and studied piano from a very young age, going through jazz and bluegrass bands in his adolescence, which would give him a good jazz education. In the university he studies communications, and is chosen as the best pianist in the 'Jazz Notre Dame Intercolegial Festival'. The group was integrated by Hensley in keyboard and voices, Steve Blum in guitar, Gary Campbell in low and choirs, and Stan Gage in drums. They only manage to release an album before losing themselves in total anonymity, 'Hensley's Electric Jazz Band & Synthetic Symphony', under the label Vanguard Records, in 1969.
Of a particular sound, this work becomes difficult to define, it is rock mixed with jazz, with the unmistakable quota of psychedelic rock of the time, which is 'softened' by the enormous display of sound, which is based on the good preparation and sophistication. Is that it is a group of apotheotic level, excellent performers, extraordinary rhythmic bases, a great bass jazz, the same for Tom Hensley, who untangles impeccable bases in organ, piano and harpsichord, and plays very well in counterpoint with Steve Blum, the outstanding guitarist of the group, who is sublime, leaves excellent accompaniments, fine arrangements and wonderful jazzy solos, almost virtuous. 

The quality of the musicians is also reflected in the very good compositions, so the songs become an adventure through unknown lands for the time, they are songs with sung parts, with strange, dissonant harmonies, mixed with arrangements and somewhat progressive riffs , jazz bases, sophisticated and clean solos, a certain approach to jazz fusion, each note in its place is applied almost perfectly. Huge quality performing rock of the time, with all the inevitable musical elements that were circling in the atmosphere of that moment, added to the presence of jazz and the complexities, make this work a strange and atypical jewel, a fusion like few works psychedelics at the time have shown.
The style is strange, it could be interpreted or reinterpreted in different ways, maybe this depends on the personal judgment of each one, in particular we have rock and jazz merged, but we could also venture capriciously to say that it could be progressive proto rock, or progressive early, or jazz-rock early. This incognita speaks very well of the final work, which is very lucid and advanced, it is like a compositional experiment, unconventional in certain aspects, with all the risks that this implies and with the value that this entails, since it is the result of a very careful fusion. 

Some passages are strange and do not quite convince, but this level with the great potential of sound, the impeccable execution, the impetus of sound that can go through many changes and speed, in addition to the interesting complexity manifested in the arrangements , and the jazz spirit that praises all sound; because in this work there is no cliché or yeite taken from anywhere, the painstaking complexity, which at times manage, account for this. 

Tom Hensley has kept a low profile, so there is little information about him on the web, it is known that after the release with The Masters Of Deceit 'he would move to Los Angeles, with his wife. There he would become a coveted session musician for many years, especially in the 70s, working with people like Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, Cher, David Cassidy, The Carpenters, among others.......

Interesting psychedelia with prog and jazz-rock influences. The band from Indiana with its only playlist. Keyboardist Tom Hensley played with Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, Cher, David Cassidy, The Carpenters ........
Led by keyboardist Tom Hensley, who also handled most of the vocals, the band also included Steve Blum on guitar, Gary Campbell, bass and vocals, and Stan Gage on drums. I believe the record was recorded in NYC. Soon afterwards, Hensley relocated to Los Angeles and became a successful session keyboardist, playing with many big names, including Neil Diamond, Helen Reddy, Cher, David Cassidy, The Carpenters–to name but a few. The Masters of Deceit LP is relatively obscure today. It was re-released on vinyl and CD by Comet Records in Italy a few years ago. Original LP copies can be found for less than $50 but are not common. Musically, Masters of Deceit occupy an end of 60’s/beginning of 70’s transitional niche, drawing from psychedelia, jazz-rock and progressive rock. If you’re a fan of such genres.....

 The Masters Of Deceit
*Tom Hensley - Organ, Clavinet, Piano, Vocals
*Gary Campbell - Bass, Vocals, Tenor Saxophone
*Stan Gage - Drums
*Steve Blum - Guitar, Bass

Tracklist
Shining 4:31
Boxes 4:52
The Grand Illusion 3:34
Long Hard Journey 7:22
Mirror 4:32
Pieces: Together: Pieces 15:09 

johnkatsmc5, welcome music..

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