The progressive rock era produced some fine keyboard players. Kieth Emerson,
Rick Wakeman and Tony Banks come to mind but the primary difference between Brian Auger and the
others was that his roots were in jazz rather than the classical foundation of most other
progressive rock bands.
Throughout the 70’s he produced some great music with several different bands of musicians. These two albums stand out as some of his best work.
Befour contains a strong collection of songs starting with a version of the Sly Stone classic “I Wann Take You Higher” , a jazz take on a classical composition “Pavane” and a stunning version of the Traffic song “No Time To Live” with Gary Winston Boyle on lead vocal. Auger adds many jazz touches to this work that gives his music a singular identifiable sound. There are two jazz standards on this album, Herbie Hancocks’s “Maiden Voyage” and Eddie Harris’s “Listen Here” that features 4 drummers and is an amazing jam. The album closes with “Just You Just Me” which was later redone on Second Wind.
Second Wind finds Brian with a new band. And a strong vocalist Alex Ligertwood who later worked with Santana. The centerpiece of this album is the remake of “Just You Just Me”. The original was a spare track featuring organ this version features scratch guitar, Alex’s powerful vocal and perhaps Auger’s best ever electric piano solos. The track just soars from start to finish. The rest of the album contains a great version of Eddie Harris’s “Freedom Jazz Dance” with added vocals and solos and four other strong originals.
If you like jazz fusion with rock as well as great musicianship these albums are a great place to start with Brian Auger’s music.