Richie Havens drew out the best of Canadian jazz-folk for this forgotten classic.
The reason this album exists traces back to Richie Havens, the man who single handedly opened Woodstock. He got the Canadian trio of vocalist Fran Losier, guitarist Jean Cousteau, and Gilles Losier on piano and bass into his New York studio with some well-known psych-folk locals, produced their lone record, and released it through his own Stormy Forest label. Havens even contributes a little sitar here and there, but A Summer's Night doesn't sound like Richie's solo albums. Instead of intense acoustic strumming and gruff vocals, the emphasis here is more on head nodding Arlo Guthrie-like folk arrangements and a little lounge jazz. The cover of Gershwin's "Summertime" even breaks out the old brushes on the drum kit. It's a very subtle album, one whose depth is not fully revealed 'til after several listenings. The mood throughout is quite subdued, with Fran's Nico-ish, occasionally slightly masculine vocals leading the way. "Infinity" is the record's opus, running its eight minutes through passages sparse and dense, reversed and reverberated, lyrical and emotional. All the pieces come together in that classy raga. However, patience was never a virtue of the American buying public and, in its time, the album sold poorly, contributing the eventual dissolution of Stormy Forest a few years later. Don't let history repeat itself. Fairport Convention fans should find this in their collections immediately.