The Insect Trust iTunes Tracks

The Insect Trust

Creating an archetypal fusion of avant rock’n’roll styles including old-timey folk, psychedelic blues and free-form jazz, New York-based The INSECT TRUST managed to trip-out without tripping up – too much.
A five-piece comprising guitarist Bill Barth, banjoist Luke Faust, singer Nancy Jeffries, plus Bob Palmer and Trevor Koehler on saxophones, they touted their wares for two years before the release of their eponymous debut LP, THE INSECT TRUST {*7}, in 1968.
Also featuring session work from guitarist Hugh McCracken, drummer Bernard “Pretty” Purdie and bassist Chuck Rainey, the loose set suffered from the lack of one identifiable direction (example opener `The Skin Game’). At times more avant-jazz/blues than folk on several cuts (with the exception of Koehler’s one-minute dirge, `Foggy River Bridge Fly’), the JOAN BAEZ-like Jeffries held them together on acid-folk cues like `Miss Fun City’, `Been Here And Gone, So Soon’, `Mountain Song’ and `Going Home’; three fine outsider tracks stemmed from J. Calicott (`World War I Blues’), J. Nehemiah (the 7-minute `Special Rider Blues’) and Gabor Gzabo (`Walking On Nails’).
A ragtag of jugband, psychedelia and R&B, sophomore set HOBOKEN SATURDAY NIGHT (1970) {*6} had a good-time, feel-good air about it; guests here comprised Purdie, McCracken, Elvin Jones, Bob Bushell, Donald McDonald, Ralph Casale, Charles “Buddy” Nealy and William Folwell. Folk? Well there were the odd (the very odd `Now Then Sweet Man – Mr. Garfield’ indeed) smatterings of it, but it was the brassic (pre-PIGBAG) BO DIDDLEY-meets-LOVE assault of `Somedays’ that proved to be the catalyst. Jeffries’ performance on the 7-minute `Our Sister The Sun’ (co-penned by the aforementioned Folwell), the Joplin-esque `Trip On Me’ and `Ragtime Millionaire’ were outstanding, while the wayward waltz approach comes courtesy of Faust’s `Reciprocity’. Interestingly enough, Jeff Ogden’s `The Eyes Of A New York Woman’ was inspired lyrically by the literary work of Thomas Pynchon’s sci-fi novel, “V”.
Sadly, The INSECT TRUST took flight in 1971; many of them now deceased: Koehler committed suicide in 1976 after a stint as Moondog, Palmer died of liver failure in ’97 and Barth died following a massive stroke in 2000. Jeffries was working as an A&R executive at Elektra Records (she signed SUZANNE VEGA and ZIGGY MARLEY, among others).
© MC Strong 2010/GFD // rev-up MCS Dec2016

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