martes, 30 de junio de 2009

Walt Dickerson - Relativity (1962)

Largely continuing the blueprint of A Sense of Direction, Relativity finds Walt Dickerson mixing standards with adventurous yet upbeat originals. This time around, though, there's a subtext to Dickerson's standards selection: all three -- "It Ain't Necessarily So," "I Can't Get Started," and "Autumn in New York" -- had been previously recorded by Milt Jackson, which invited explicit comparisons and gave Dickerson a chance to show off how distinctive and pioneering his Coltrane-influenced approach to vibes really was. As for his originals, Dickerson is once again in a good mood, offering bursts of up-tempo energy in "Steppin' Out" and the title track, as well as a playfully swinging tribute to his eight-year-old sister titled "Sugar Lump." On the more cerebral side, there's a free-form dialogue with bassist Ahmed Abdul-Malik, "The Unknown," which features some of Dickerson's freest playing. If there is a flaw with Relativity, it's that it doesn't have quite the same spark of revelation as Dickerson's first two albums; critics were beginning to identify his brief note clusters and stop-start phrasing as stylistic trademarks, and aside from the duet with Abdul-Malik, the record doesn't really push Dickerson's sound into new territory. Still, taken independently of context, Relativity is another fine recording and one of the better pieces of Dickerson's underappreciated legacy. (Steve Huey)

1.- Relativity
2.- It Ain't Necessarily So
3.- I Can't Get Started
4.- Steppin' Out
5.- The Unknown
6.- Sugar Lump
7.- Autumn In New York

Walt Dickerson (vibes); Austin Crowe (piano); Ahmed Abdul-Malik (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ on January 16, 1962.

lunes, 29 de junio de 2009

Bobby Bradford and The Mo'Tet - Live In L.A. (1983)

Cornetist Bobby Bradford has recorded far too infrequently throughout his career. A mellow-toned player with an adventurous style that is usually surprisingly accessible, Bradford is well-featured on this excellent quintet date with altoist James Kousakis, both Roberto Miguel Miranda and Mark Dresser on bass and drummer Sherman Ferguson. Together they perform five of Bradford's originals, music that at its best (particularly on "Sho Nuff Blues" and "Dirty Rag") looks both backwards to earlier styles and extends the innovations of Ornette Coleman. Recommended.

1.- Sho' Nuff Blues
2.- Ornate
3.- Ashes
4.- You Know
5.- Dirty Rag

Bobby Bradford (cornet); James Kousakis (alto sax); Roberto Miguel Miranda (bass); Mark Dresser (bass); Sherman Ferguson (drums).

Recorded on June 7 & 8, 1983 at Music Lab., Los Angeles, CA.

viernes, 26 de junio de 2009

Borah Bergman - A New Frontier (1983)

On the years Bergman has broken down any residual distinction between left -and right- hand functions in piano-playing. On the two large-scale pieces wich make up "A New Frontier" he sets up huge whirling shapes with each hand, which then engage in confrontational dialogue. There is something slightly mechanistic about the playing on "Night Circus" that makes one think of the player-piano pieces of Colon Nancarrow, but this is eliminated on the remarkable "Time For Intensity", a more richly coloured pair of contrating pieces, the second of which, "Webs And Whirlpools", is quite astonishing. (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, Ninth Edition).

The similarities in style between pianist Borah Bergman and Cecil Taylor cannot be denied. Bergman, like Taylor, assaults, cajoles, and fully explores the instrument; there's nothing mild or polite about the way he rips through chords, develops spiraling, teeming two-handed statements, or barrels through the octaves with each hand making its own furious phrases. This contains two lengthy pieces, each broken into movements. This is intense solo piano that requires just as committed and concentrated an effort from the audience as the performer in order to appreciate and follow the direction. (Rob Wynn).

1.- Night Circus
- Part I : By The Red Moon
- Part II : Trapeze

2.- Time For Intensity
- Swift River
- Webs & Whirlpools

Borah Bergman (piano)

Recorded in New York on January, 1983.

jueves, 25 de junio de 2009

William Parker Quartet - Sound Unity (2005)

Recorded at two live dates in Canada in July and July of 2004, Sound Unity is the most beautifully wrought of William Parker's ensemble recordings. Certainly it doesn't break as much ground as some, and it acknowledges his debts to composers like Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, and Eric Dolphy, and that's fine; in Parker's able hands as a leader, this band with saxophonist Rob Brown, drummer Hamid Drake (are he and Parker the best rhythm section in jazz or what?), and trumpeter Lewis Barnes understands that both listening and silence are as important as what notes to play. The interaction between the horn players feels like they've been playing together for a very long time -- check out the 18-plus-minute title track. What's also important to note here is the fluidity that the rhythm section engages the horns with, such as on "Wood Flute Song," or the crazy, funky joy on "Hawaii." The bandmembers nearly lift off; they're having so much fun. The music on this set is one of those bridges -- across tradition, subgenre, nuance, and harmony. Parker's lyricism is profound, and has never been heard quite like this before. Brown is a more subtle player than some Parker has worked with before, and Barnes is a natural singer on the trumpet. The gap that's provided in the absence of a piano allows for a less strident interaction harmonically and dialogically. The music here flows, reaches, steps back, and reaches further, with Parker's guidance allowing for the horns to push one another as they do on "Groove," not so much for what they know, but for what they bring to a tune emotionally. "Harlem"'s folk song melody and lyric are among the most beautiful Parker has yet written; it's a place where blues and the Middle Eastern musics of Morocco come together. This is a stellar offering from one of the music's greatest lights. (Tom Jurek)

1. Hawaii
2. Wood Flute Song
3. Poem for June Jordan
4. Sound Unity
5. Harlem
6. Groove

William Parker (bass); Rob Brown (alto sax); Lewis Barnes (trumpet); Hamid Drake (drums).

Recorded live to multi-track at Vancouver International Jazz Festival and Suoni Per Il Popolo (Montreal) in the Summer of 2004.

martes, 23 de junio de 2009

Dave Douglas - Convergence (1998)

On “Convergence” the brilliant trumpeter-composer Dave Douglas pursues new territory following up on “Parallel Worlds” and the more recent “Five”. Douglas once again utilizes the sparkling talents of violinist Mark Feldman and cellist Erik Friedlander as the combination of strings, trumpet, and rhythm section consisting of Drew Gress (bass) and Michael Sarin (drums) create music that transcend many of the existing boundaries of jazz. “Parallel Worlds” and “Five” were landmark recordings for Douglas’ chamber-like excursions with his lead trumpet, string arrangements, pounding backbeats and keen sense of swing which comprised a sound that added a new and refreshing dimension to modern jazz.

Historically speaking, Douglas’ utilization of strings within this unit tends to play more of an active role contrasting other projects of this ilk past and present. Douglas’ creative visions along with these superb musicians-stylists project a group feel, which sounds uncannily natural. “Convergence” could be a pivotal masterpiece for this band as they extend their collective wares to provide music that is dazzling, pleasantly hypnotic, non-derivative and flawlessly executed.

The brief opener is a traditional Burmese song which translates to “Will You Accept My Love Or Not?” as the band performs incredible unison runs with all the intensity of a turbo-charged Indian raga or John McLaughlin’s amazing Jazz-East Indian band “Shakti”. Douglas’ “Joe’s Auto Glass” is filled with complex charts which touch upon Ornette Coleman’s renowned harmolodic development while Douglas’ “Tzotzil Maya” exemplifies the trumpeter’s sweet, crystalline tone and brilliant lyricism. Despite flawless technique, Douglas is a team player and skilled bandleader, as his compositions increasingly become more identifiable as time passes by reflecting his glaring personalized vision.

“Meeting at Infinity” borders classical, blues and hefty doses of hard-edged swing as the thematic approach is multi-colored and at times linear. “Meeting at Infinity” is a prime example of Douglas’ collage approach to compositional development. On Kurt Weill’s “Bilbao Song”, the band performs a playful tribute to Weill as Mark Feldman’s sonorous and lush violin passages prod the band into an about face as they deconstruct the familiar melody line. Michael Sarin’s polyrhythmical drumming is a thing of beauty as he lays the foundation for an all hands blowout of sparkling improvisation and winding thematic development. Douglas takes the lead, as wit and humor intentionally and momentarily bastardize the melody while the movements seamlessly transform into lush romanticism.

Douglas’ tribute to the late great “poet of jazz” drummer Tony Williams is portrayed via his composition “Goodbye Tony”. Here, Mark Feldman opens with a monstrous violin solo as Michael Sarin’s intense drumming paves the way for the forthcoming intensity along with Drew Gress’ pulsating bass lines. Douglas solos with passion and fire as this tribute to Tony Williams turns into a ferocious swing romp while Friedlander and Feldman change gears and handle the bottom end with Gress and Sarin. The proceedings heat up as the band engage in impossibly fast yet fluctuating tempos. Douglas and co. trace the evolution of William’s jazz career from Miles Davis, to his 1980’s Quartet with Wallace Roney. Erik Friedlander gradually balances the torrid pace with a pensive, warm cello solo, followed by light choruses that suggest heartfelt or sad emotions in accordance with the untimely passing of this great and important jazz giant. “Goodbye Tony” appropriately ends on a somber note.

“Convergence” is a milestone recording for this band as Dave Douglas continues his masterful assault on modern jazz. Enough said. ***** Out of 5 stars. Hopefully USA jazz radio will not ignore this gem and give “Convergence” some much deserved airplay; hence the pathetic state of affairs for jazz radio in general, that notion may be wishful thinking".

(Glenn Astarita)

1. Chit Kyoo Thwe Tog Nyin Lar (Will You Accept My Love or Not)
2. Joe's Auto Glass
3. Tzotzil Maya
4. Meeting at Infinity
5. Desseins Eternels
6. Bilbao Song
7. Border Stories - The Story
8. Border Stories - The Elaboration
9. Border Stories - The Exaggeration
10. Border Stories - Apocrypha
11. Collateral Damages
12. Goodbye Tony
13. Nothing Like You

Dave Douglas (trumpet); Mark Feldman (violin); Erik Friedlander (cello); Drew Gress (bass); Michael Sarin (drums).

Recorded on January 22 & 23, 1998 at Sound on Sound, NYC.

lunes, 22 de junio de 2009

Roy Ayers - Stoned Soul Picnic (1968)

Stoned Soul Picnic is vibraphonist Roy Ayers' third and probably best solo album, made in 1968 while he was still a part of Herbie Mann's group. Ayers stands clearly in the shadow of Bobby Hutcherson on this primarily modally-oriented date, sounding nothing like the groove-meister he would become known as later in the 1970s.

Producer Mann, always an underrated talent scout, assembles an especially exceptional septet for Ayers here with Gary Bartz on alto sax, arranger Charles Tolliver on trumpet/flugelhorn, Hubert Laws on flute, Herbie Hancock on piano (and probably uncredited organ on the title cut), Ron Carter or Miroslav Vitous on bass and Grady Tate on drums.

The program is a typical late 1960s menu, heavy on such Top 40 pop covers as the dated "Stoned Soul Picnic," "For Once In My Life" and "What The People Say." What sets these and the interesting, if unsuccessful, cover of Jobim's "Wave" apart are Tolliver's rather ingenious arrangements. Tolliver seems to tear apart the constraints of these duds (although "Picnic" is beyond hope) by dramatically slowing down the melodies, providing Ayers the time and space to set the mood (Tolliver correctly recognizes Ayers's strengths with ballads) and punctuating with nicely considered horn statements in between.

It is the two modal originals here — Ayers lovely "A Rose For Cindy" and Tolliver's waltz, "Lil's Paradise" — that make this disc worth hearing. Ayers plays some of his finest-ever work on these pieces. You're sure to hear something new and different in these pieces every time. Hancock completists will also be especially pleased with the pianist's performance here (and on "What The People Say" too).

Except for the nods toward late 1960s pop-jazz conventions, Stoned Soul Picnic is a marvelous disc well worth investigating. With so much of Ayers's West Coast work of the 1960s (especially with Jack Wilson) lost in limbo, this disc serves as a cogent reminder of the strength of the vibist's chops. And groove lovers might be happily surprised hearing what Ayers was up to before the groove. (Douglas Payne)

1.- A Rose For Cindy
2.- Stoned Soul Picnic
3.- Wave
4.- For Once In My Life
5.- Lil's Paradise
6.- What The People Say

Roy Ayers (vibes); Gary Bartz (alto sax); Charles Tolliver (arranger, trumpet, flugelhorn); Hubert Laws (flute); Herbie Hancock (piano, organ); Ron Carter (bass on #1 & 2); Miroslav Vitous (bass on # 3-6); Grady Tate (drums).

Recorded on June 20, 1968.

viernes, 19 de junio de 2009

The Michael Marcus 3 - Live In N.Y. (1999)

Clearly indebted to Ornette Coleman, Michael Marcus leads his trio (drummer Cody Moffett and bassist Chris Sullivan) through dangerous terrain, navigating the way with his stritch and bass clarinet. Sounding on stritch very much like a cross between an alto and a soprano saxophone, Marcus hits the ground hard as he propels with a solid forcefulness that is as exciting as it is invigorating. The piano-less, sax-led trio faces numerous hurdles, including the challenges of maintaining harmonic balance and listener interest for a full recording. Marcus manages to do it all so well that the piano isn't missed at all. For the most part eschewing cliché, the reedist runs through six tunes of his own plus Dolphy's "Serene" and Monk's "'Round Midnight." He toots a wicked bass clarinet on the latter that pays homage to its composer while leaving Marcus' stamp. (Steven Loewy)

1.- Blue Halo
2.- Serene
3.- Message From Marcus
4.- Involution
5.- Thematic Collisions
6.- 'Round Midnight
7.- Message From Marcus (solo)
8.- Blue Halo / Glittering Twilights

Michael Marcus (reeds); Chris Sullivan (bass); Codaryl Moffett (drums).

Recorded Live at The Knitting Factory, N.Y.C. on January 22 & 23, 1999.

martes, 16 de junio de 2009

William Parker / In Order To Survive - The Peach Orchard (1997-1998)

The Peach Orchard is a two-CD set showcasing bassist William Parker's work with an ensemble consisting of composer/instrument maker/pianist Cooper Moore (who limits his involvement in music to Parker's groups), improvisational saxophonist, Rob Brown and percussionist extraordinaire Susie Ibarra (Assif Tsahar, Matthew Shipp Trio, Davis S. Ware Quartet, One World Ensemble). This cream of the New York, contemporary, free jazz scene veers from such challenging, busy compositions as the explosive first track "Thoth" to such reflective pieces as "Moholo," basically a study in rhythmic intricacy featuring a five-minute introduction led by Ibarra to the 19-minute piece. Brown is eloquent and lyrical as he sails up and down scales through "Three Clay Pots." The title track is inspired by the devastation of a cherished Navaho orchard by an oppressive U.S. Army. The lengthy piece (20:45) is the quartet's collage of hostility and deep sadness. Disc Two opens with the profound and eerie "Posium Pendasem #3." Assif Tsahar joins the group on bass clarinet for the melancholy, piano-led piece. The beautiful mystery of autumnal changes are explored in "Leaf Dance," at once both bittersweet (Brown's lines) and playful (Cooper Brown). A traditional jazz melody acts as bookends for a series of Latin, common-time, and extemporaneous, thematic variations in "Theme For Pelikan." The band's theme, "In Order to Survive," a lively, rollicking and urgent composition fueled by the growing intricacy of Cooper Brown's part closes this two-disc set that offers new discoveries upon every listen.
(Thomas Schulte)

1. Thot 14.12
2. Moholo 18.51
3. Three Clay Pots 15.24
4. The Peach Orchard 20.45

5. Posium Pendasem #3 11.36
6. Leaf Dance 25.28
7. Theme From Pelikan 17.10
8. In Order To Survive 12.24

William Parker (bass); Cooper-Moore (piano); Rob Brown (alto sax); Susie Ibarra (drums);
+ guest on track 5,

Assif Tsahar (bass clarinet)

Recorded by Alen Hadzi Stefanov
1, 4: Context / NYC on March 20, 1998
2, 3, 8: Knitting Factory / NYC on July 2, 1997
6, 7: Alterknit / NYC on February 7, 1997
5: Context / NYC on March 21, 1998

lunes, 15 de junio de 2009

Walt Dickerson - Peace (1976)

On Peace, Cyrille drives things along with great generosity of spirit. Working without piano, Dickerson sounds both edgier and more expressive, recalling the innovative work of the previous decade. (The Penguin Guide To Jazz Recordings, Ninth Edition).

1.- Universal Peace
2.- Chant of Peace
3.- Warm Up

Walt Dickerson (vibes); Lisle Atkinson (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded on November 14, 1976.

miércoles, 10 de junio de 2009

Rob Brown Trio - High Wire (1993)

This trio session was altoist Rob Brown's first as a leader. All three musicians had served time in Cecil Taylor's bands and the listener indeed gets a strong sense of the Jimmy Lyons influence here, with perhaps some Oliver Lake thrown in for good measure. In fact, if you dropped Taylor from his early-'70s band (with Lyons, Sirone, and Andrew Cyrille) and updated it by a couple of decades, you might very well come up with something approximating this disc. Brown has a liquid and linear way of phrasing that allows him to glide through the relatively free structures he's created here (all the compositions are penned by him) and even when he drives scorching to the outer limits of his horn, there's an innate lyricism that's never far below the surface. When he takes off into the ether on tracks like "Just a Touch," the results mark a high-water mark in the ecstatic jazz scene of the early '90s. Older listeners might argue that, for all its technical proficiency, the music is essentially a regurgitation, with little real advancement, of music first heard in the late '60s and early '70s, and there's certainly something to be said for this point of view. For younger listeners, however, those weaned on the experimental rock scene, the musicians in this trio and others opened many a conceptual door. Parker is a solid enough mainstay here, though one might wish for a bassist with a less muddy tone, someone (like Sirone!) more capable of punching through the storms. Krall has a precise, coloristic attack that serves well as a foil for both of his comrades. Brown shows himself in full command of his horn and if, ultimately, High Wire is more a free blowing session than an exposition of ideas (the tunes are a bit sketchy and perfunctory), it's a solid, enjoyable one that fans of the downtown New York scene will want to own. (Brian Olewnick)

1.- Hex Key
2.- Totter
3.- Revealing
4.- Just A Touch
5.- Turmoil
6.- Trickster

Rob Brown (alto saxophone); William Parker (bass); Jackson Krall (drums).

Recorded on July 22, 1993 at Tom Tedesco's Studio, N.J.

martes, 9 de junio de 2009

Jemeel Moondoc Sextet - Konstanze's Delight (1981)

Konstanze's Delight consists of just three long pieces, the first of them an opportunity for the whole band to show its stuff. As so often in this context, Parker is the cement, setting off on dark, seductive chant that gradually reels in Moondoc, Campbell and the underrated Jamal, who conjures up storms on this record. The two horns seem to be engaged in a game of one-on-one ball, chasing, dodging, body-checking and setting up half a dozen false climaxes before the whole thing unwinds. At longer than half an hour, it palls pretty seriously before time's up, but it's part of a live set and is doubtless pretty typical of what Moondoc was doing at the time. "Chasin' the Moon" is high-octane stuff, a starring vehicle for Jamal and Christi. (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on Cd - Ninth Edition)

1.- Konstanze's Delight
2.- Chasing the Moon
3.- High Rise

Jemeel Moondoc (alto saxophone); Roy Campbell (trumpet); Khan Jamal (vibraphone); William Parker (bass); Dennis Charles (drums); Ellen Christi (voice).

Recorded live at 3rd Street Music School, New York on October 24, 1981.

lunes, 8 de junio de 2009

Walt Dickerson - Life Rays (1982)

In the dynamic company of Sirone and Cyrille, Walt emerges as a particular kind of modernist, a radical-conservative. Most of the tracks are quite long, but "Good Relationship" and a titanic version of " It Ain't Necesseraly So" give the set epic dimensions. Dickerson seems to be striking harder than usual, Cyrille is faultless and the music has a strongly percussive quality. Sirone is magnificent whenever soloing, but rather anonymous in accompaniment. (The Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD - Ninth Edition)

1.- No Ordinary Man
2.- Good Relationship
3.- Life Rays
4.- It Ain't Necessarily So

Walt Dickerson (vibes); Sirone (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums)

Recorded on February 4 & 5, 1982 at Barigozzi Studios, Milano (Italy).

Sam Rivers Winds of Manhattam - Colours (1982)

Sam Rivers, the octogenarian multi-instrumentalist and composer, has always been just outside the kind of mainstream attention that would have made him a jazz superstar. He played tenor in the Miles Davis quintet, but managed to officially only record on one album. He worked with Dizzy Gillespie, Cecil Taylor and McCoy Tyner, but seldom showed up on their recordings. With his late wife Beatrice (for whom one of jazz’s best compositions was named), Rivers opened Studio Rivbea in Manhattan in the early 1970s, and served as a mentor to generations of younger musicians. Relocated to Orlando, Florida, since 1990, Rivers continues to compose, arrange and perform.

Colours, recorded in Milan in 1982 with his group Winds of Manhattan, is demanding, occasionally discordant, sometimes dense, sometimes austere and rhythmically idiosyncratic. There is simply no “easy” way to listen to it. This is jazz meticulously arranged for an ensemble with no drummer, no bassist, no brass and no keyboard or guitar player. The entire sonic range consists of eleven saxophones and/or flutes.

“Lilacs” starts with everyone playing the theme in unison. It sounds like a bop chart, but without a rhythm section, the piece gets totally recast. Rivers burns on tenor as the band vamps behind him. The title track presents a slowly shifting melodic line, while long-tone chords hold the harmony in suspension. “Spiral” has a twisting line, one repeated phrase chasing the previous one. It’s busy, but every line is lucid. Double solos run through the piece. They’re tough to separate, but with players like Steve Coleman and Bobby Watson, all are good. “Matrix” alternates staccato bursts — baritones with baritones, sopranos with sopranos, tenors with tenors — with rich harmonic tapestry. Rivers brings out his distinctive flute playing for “Revival.” “Blossom" ends the album on an ambitious note. Without solos, lengthy and challenging, it features a rush of flutes, rhythmically restless unison phrases and the intriguing use of counterpoint. It is a most impressive piece of composing and arranging. (Charles Farrell)

1.- Lilacs
2.- Colours
3.- Spiral
4.- Matrix
5.- Revival
6.- Blossoms

Sam Rivers (soprano & tenor saxophone, flute); Marvin Blackman (soprano & tenor saxophone, flute); Talib Kibwe (soprano and tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute); Chris Roberts (soprano saxophone, flute); Steve Coleman (alto saxophone, flute); Bobby Watson (alto saxophone, flute); Nat Dixon (tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute); Bill Cody (tenor saxophone, oboe); Eddie Alex (tenor saxophone, piccolo); Jimmy Cozier (baritone saxophone, flute); Patience Higgins (baritone saxophone, flute).

Recorded on September 13, 1982 at Cine Music Studio, Milano (Italy).

viernes, 5 de junio de 2009

Don Patterson - Boppin' & Burnin' (1968)

Although organist Don Patterson is the leader of this set that in 1998 was reissued on a CD, the quintet date is most notable for the playing of trumpeter Howard McGhee. McGhee, who had not been heard from much on record for a few years, proves to still be in prime form. Altoist Charles McPherson, the young guitarist Pat Martino and drummer Billy James complete the group. The repertoire is particularly strong with two McGhee originals (including the memorable and haunting "Island Fantasy"), "Epistrophy," "Now's The Time" and a trumpet feature on "Donna Lee." Highly recommended. (Scott Yanow)

1. Pisces Soul
2. Donna Lee
3. Island Fantasy
4. Epistrophy
5. Now's the Time

Don Patterson (Hammond B-3 organ); Charles McPerson (alto saxophone, except #2); Howard McGhee (trumpet); Pat Martino (guitar); Billy James (drums).

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ, on February 22, 1968.

jueves, 4 de junio de 2009

Billy Harper - Black Saint (1975)

Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper helped launch the Italy-based Black Saint jazz label with this 1975 release. And not only does this represent the inaugural outing for the label, it also signifies one of the finest modern jazz releases of the '70s. Influenced by tenor sax giant John Coltrane, Harper proceeded to mold a distinctly personalized sound awash with slight inferences of R&B and hard bop. Additionally, the saxophonist's melodic gifts come to the forefront throughout this often-invigorating studio date. On the opening piece, titled "Dance Eternal Spirits, Dance," the tenor saxophonist fuses an engagingly melodic theme with lightning-fast flurries atop a peppery jazz waltz groove. Harper radiantly executes soul-searching lines atop a loosely based jazz waltz/swing vamp during "Croquet Ballet," as he alternates lower-register voicings with high-pitched, plaintive cries. Here the artist shrewdly reworks the primary melody as he literally interrogates his tenor saxophone. Highlights abound, while trumpeter Virgil Jones and pianist Joe Bonner provide Harper with buoyant frameworks via hearty soloing and intuitive support. Vigorously recommended. (Glen Astarita)

1.- Dance, Eternal Spirits, Dance!
2.- Croquet Ballet
3.- Call of the Wild and Peaceful Heart

Billy Harper (tenor sax and cow bell); Virgil Jones (trumpet); Joe Bonner (piano); David Friesen (bass); Malcolm Pinson (drums)

Recorded on July 21 & 22, 1975 at Barclay Studios, Paris.

miércoles, 3 de junio de 2009

R. Rudd, S. Lacy, M. Mengelberg, K. Carter, H. Bennink - Regeneration (1982)

In 1982, very few people were aware of late pianist Herbie Nichols' name, much less playing his music. Versatile avant-garde pianist Misha Mengelberg gathered together a noteworthy group (comprised of trombonist Roswell Rudd, soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy, bassist Kent Carter, and drummer Han Bennink) to play three songs apiece by Nichols and Thelonious Monk. The musicians very much understood the composers' purposes, and on such numbers as "Monk's Mood," "Friday the 13th," "Blue Chopsticks," and "2300 Skiddoo" (the latter two had never been recorded with a group larger than a trio before), they come up with definitive treatments. Highly recommended. (Scott Yanow)

1. Blue Chopsticks
2. 2300 Skiddoo
3. Twelve Bars
4. Monk's Mood
5. Friday the 13th
6. Epistrophy

Roswell Rudd (trombone); Steve Lacy (soprano saxophone); Misha Mengelberg (piano); Ken Carter (bass); Han Bennink (drums).

Recorded on June 25 and 26, 1982 at Barigozzi Studio, Milano (Italy).

martes, 2 de junio de 2009

Walt Dickerson - This Is Walt Dickerson ! (1961)

Absolutely delicious.
Soon, more Dickerson.

Walt Dickerson never got quite the credit he deserved for pioneering a modernist approach to the vibes during the early '60s, aligning himself with the emerging "new thing" scene and expanding the instrument's vocabulary beyond Milt Jackson's blues and bop influences. Dickerson's groundbreaking sessions for Prestige all predated the rise of Bobby Hutcherson as the hot new "out" vibes player at Blue Note, and while Hutcherson was a bit freer early on, Dickerson's work still sounded adventurous and forward-looking. This Is Walt Dickerson!, his opening salvo, is every bit the statement of purpose the exclamatory title suggests. Each of the six selections is a Dickerson original, and he proves to be a marvelously evocative composer. Witness the cool, film-noir ambience of the mildly dissonant opener, "Time"; the haunting atmospherics of "Elizabeth," a tribute to his wife; the way the repeated riff of "Death and Taxes" imparts the sense of drudgery and inevitability suggested by the title; or the way Dickerson and pianist Austin Crowe keep twisting the rhythmic emphasis and cadences over the repetitive beat of "The Cry." Dickerson's harmonically advanced playing is just as distinctive, too. He keeps the use of vibrato to a bare minimum, so much so that it's almost a shock when he lets some shimmering chords ring out on "Infinite You"; moreover, his use of rubber mallets instead of the customary felt-tipped augments his soft, controlled tone. In addition to Crowe, Dickerson is backed by bassist Bob Lewis and future Cecil Taylor drummer Andrew Cyrille. A striking debut, This Is Walt Dickerson! sets the stage for continued excellence, but also proves that Dickerson's talent was already fully formed. (Steve Huey)

1.- Time
2.- Elizabeth
3.- The Cry
4.- Death and Taxes
5.- Evelyn
6.- Infinite You

Walt Dickerson (vibraphone); Austin Crowe (piano); Bob Lewis (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums).

Recorded in Englewood Cliffs, NJ on March 7, 1961.