:::Fuchsia Swing Song:::

Posted: Monday, 28 June 2010 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , ,

Recorded in 1964 immediately after leaving the Miles Davis Quintet, Sam Rivers' Fuchsia Swing Song is one of the more auspicious debuts the label released in the mid-'60s. Rivers was a seasoned session player (his excellent work on Larry Young's Into Somethin' is a case in point) and a former member of Herb Pomeroy's Big Band before he went out with Davis. By the time of his debut, Rivers had been deep under the influence of Coltrane and Coleman, but wasn't willing to give up the blues just yet. Hence the sound on Fuchsia Swing Song is one of an artist who is at once very self-assured, and in transition. Using a rhythm section that included Tony Williams (whose Life Time he had guested on), pianist Jaki Byard, and bassist Ron Carter, Rivers took the hard bop and blues of his roots and poured them through the avant-garde colander. Today, players like Joshua Redman, Branford Marsalis, and James Carter do it all the time, but in 1964 it was unheard of. You either played hard bop or free; Davis' entire modal thing hadn't even completely blasted off yet. The title and opening track is a case in point. Rivers opens with an angular figure that is quickly translated by the band into sweeping, bopping blues. Rivers legato is lightning quick and his phrasing touches upon Coleman Hawkins, Sonny Rollins, Coleman, and Coltrane, but his embouchure is all his. He strikes the balance and then takes off on both sides of the aisle. Byard's comping is actually far more than that, building in rhythmic figures in striated minors just behind the tenor. "Downstairs Blues Upstairs" sounds, initially anyway, like it might have come out of the Davis book so deep is its blue root. But courtesy of Byard and Williams, Rivers goes to the left after only four choruses, moving onto the ledge a bit at a time, running knotty arpeggios through the center of the melody and increasingly bending his notes into succeeding intervals while shifting keys and times signatures. He never goes completely over the edge as he would on his later Blue Note dates. The most difficult cut on the date is "Luminous Monolith," with its swing-like figure introducing the melody. Eight bars in, the syncopation of the rhythm sections begins a stutter stem around the time and then the harmony with Byard building dense chords for Rivers to jump off of. On the Connoisseur Series CD (shame on Blue Note once again for making some of its best outside records "limited editions"; titles like this should be as readily available as Horace Silver's Song for My Father, but the label had been playing it ever so safe for a while and making fans buy the limited number of titles over and again) there are alternate takes of "Luminous Monolith" and three more of "Downstairs Blues Upstairs," making it a very worthwhile look at the entire session. This is a highly recommended date. Rivers never played quite like this again.
:::Review by Thom Jurek:::

Sam Rivers - Fuchsia Swing Song (1964) 

1. Fuchsia Swing Song 6:03 
2. Downstairs Blues Upstairs 5:33 
3. Cyclic Episode 6:56 
4. Luminous Monolith 6:30 
5. Beatrice 6:12 6   Ellipsis 7:42

Bass - Ron Carter
Drums - Anthony Williams
Piano - Jaki Byard
Saxophone [Tenor], Composed By - Sam Rivers


On this 1967 Impulse release, tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp unleashed his 18-minute tour de force "The Magic of Ju-Ju," combining free jazz tenor with steady frenetic African drumming. Shepp's emotional and fiery tenor takes off immediately, gradually morphing with the five percussionists -- Beaver Harris, Norman Connor, Ed Blackwell, Frank Charles, and Dennis Charles -- who perform on instruments including rhythm logs and talking drums. Shepp never loses the initial energy, moving forward like a man possessed as the drumming simultaneously builds into a fury. Upon the final three minutes, the trumpets of Martin Banks and Michael Zwerin make an abrupt brief appearance, apparently to ground the piece to a halt. This is one of Shepp's most chaotic yet rhythmically hypnotic pieces. The three remaining tracks, somewhat overshadowed by the title piece, are quick flourishes of free bop on "Shazam," "Sorry Bout That," and the slower, waltz-paced "You're What This Day Is All About."
:::Review by Al Campbell:::

Archie Shepp - The Magic Of Ju-Ju (1967)

1. The Magic Of Ju-Ju 18:34
2. You're What This Day Is All About 1:47
3. Shazam 4:43
4. Sorry 'Bout That 10:08

Bass - Reggie Workman
Drums - Beaver Harris , Norman Connor
Percussion - Dennis Charles
Percussion [Rhythm Logs] - Eddie Blackwell
Percussion [Talking Drums] - Frank Charles
Saxophone [Tenor], Written-by - Archie Shepp
Trumpet, Flugelhorn - Martin Banks
Trumpet, Trombone - Michael Zwerin


You Know the Number is another outstanding record from the Henry Threadgill Sextet. Over the course of six originals, Threadgill and the band fuse complex and spirited arrangements with incisive solo work. The material includes the calypso-inspired numbers "To Be Announced" and "Bermuda Blues" (one of Threadgill's most straightforward compositions), as well as the bittersweet ballad "Silver and Gold Baby, Silver and Gold." Other songs, like "Theme From Thomas Cole" and "Those Who Eat Cookies," feature the kind of buoyant, march-like rhythms and spastic, cartoon soundtrack horn arrangements Threadgill favored. Throughout the set, the band revels in some lively New Orleans-style unison playing and contributes excellent solos (special mention should go to trumpeter Rasul Saddik for his adept and blazing solos, and also to drummers Pheeroan Aklaff and Reggie Nicholson for their propulsive and tight rhythmic support). As usual, Threadgill's solos include an intriguing mix of dark pathos and intensity, while bassist Fred Hopkins and trombonist Frank Lacy follow suit with intriguing contributions of their own. This title is a must for Threadgill fans and also worthwhile for those interested in the experimental side of jazz.
:::Review by Stephen Cook:::

Henry Threadgill - You Know The Number (1986)

1. Bermuda Blues 9:26
2. Silver And Gold Baby, Silver And Gold 5:45
3. Theme From Thomas Cole 6:39
4. Good Times 6:33
5. To Be Announced 6:27
6. Paille Street 4:26
7. Those Who Eat Cookies 6:16

Bass - Fred Hopkins
Cello - Diedre Murray
Percussion [Left] - Pheeroan Aklaff
Percussion [Right] - Reggie Nicholson
Saxophone [Alto, Tenor], Flute [Bass] - Henry Threadgill
Trombone - Frank Lacy
Trumpet - Rasul Sadik

Recorded directly to two-track digital tape at Uptown Chelsea Sound, NYC, October 12 and 13, 1986.
Note that track 6 does not appear on the LP.

:::Tales of Captain Black:::

Posted: by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , ,

Tales of Captain Black first appeared in 1978 on the Artist House label in America. It was a label set up for the purpose of allowing visionary artists to do exactly what they wanted to do. They had issued a couple of records by Ornette Coleman previously, so it only made sense to issue one by his then guitarist, James Blood Ulmer. With Coleman on alto, his son Denardo Coleman on drums, and bassist Jamaladeen Tacuma on bass, Ornette's harmolodic theory of musical composition and improvisation (whereby on a scale of whole tones, every person in the ensemble could solo at one time and stay in this new harmony) was going to get its first test outside of his own recordings. Blood was, before he was a jazz player, a funk guitarist who had tenured with Black Nasty and a side project of George Clinton's in Detroit, as well as playing as a sideman to organ groovemaster Big John Patton. Having an ally in Tacuma, Ulmer brought funk deep into free jazz territory. The disc opens with "Theme From Captain Black," a furious exercise on the interplay between Ulmer and Tacuma's root contribution. Ulmer sounds like a sideways Jimi Hendrix driving home the rhythmic riff from "Voodoo Chile" as Tacuma charges toward Denardo to undercut the time and Coleman soars over the top. But we also hear Ulmer slipping his fills in, faster than lightning, always in the cut and rolling those strings out like a sax player. On "Moon Shine," we hear the blues angle of harmolodics assert itself. Long, repetitive melody lines are played between Coleman and Blood; there's a modal feel, but it's subverted by the lack of flats. Blood augments all his chords to be played as drone-like as possible, so then even though the piece appears to be played in a minor key, after the first two measures it makes no difference because everyone is soling, not along a set of changes but a melodic line introduced at the beginning. Here is where Blood shines. His fiery arpeggios cut across the bass and rhythm lines and become their own tempo while never leaving the ensemble. The melody restates itself only often enough for the microtonal alignment between Coleman and Blood to become apparent.
They are playing in different keys, and through different modal inventions, but sound in unison. On "Revelation March," which Blood recorded on Are You Glad to Be in America, is indicative of the complexities of harmolodics; it also offers a glimpse of this music out from under Coleman's tutelage. The previous melodies were all from Coleman's fake book. Here, Blood introduces the anarchy he's interested in, allowing fragmentary ideas to assert themselves as the sole reason to engage in group improvisation. Tacuma and Denardo are more than up to the challenge. Tacuma trades single lines with Blood's triple-timed fours and chords, creating a kind of melodic invention on the fly. Denardo treats the tune as if it were a march in hyperspeed. Only Coleman dares to play his loping, easy, graceful pace, blues -- wailing it above the chaos. It's beautiful. Safe to say, there are no weak tracks on Tales From Captain Black, and even the redo of "Revealing" from Ulmer's previous album show an unbridled excitement and an extrapolation of that tune's rhythmic and harmonic elements into something more sinister, more driven, more angular, more mercurial. Captain Black marks the real beginning of Ulmer's career as a leader. It has been a bumpy, restless ride since that time with many creative and professional ups and downs, but it hardly matters. Records like this one make him the most visionary and brilliant electric guitarist in a generation.
:::Review by Thom Jurek:::

James Blood Ulmer - Tales of Captain Black (1978)

1. Theme From Captain Black 3:14
2. Moons Shine 3:52
3. Morning Bride 4:57
4. Revelation March 4:32
5. Woman Coming 3:38
6. Nothing To Say 4:13
7. Arena 4:24
8. Revealing 4:42

Drums - Denardo Coleman
Electric Bass - Jamaaladeen Tacuma
Guitar, Music By - James Blood Ulmer
Saxophone [Alto] - Ornette Coleman

:::Suspended Night:::

Posted: Thursday, 10 June 2010 by jazzlover in Etykiety: , , ,

When Tomasz Stanko first started working with a trio of Polish teenagers in 1994 -- Marcin Wasilewski, piano; Slawomir Kurkiewicz, bass; Michal Miskiewicz, drums -- on film projects and live gigs inside his native land, he might have glimpsed, but surely never fully conceived of, the sound that the quartet's relationship would offer a decade later. Suspended Night, on ECM, follows the hugely successful Soul of Things on the same label. It is only the second international offering from this group, but the flowering and maturation of this creative relationship are nothing if not utterly stunning. This ensemble has developed its own bravely compelling yet tonally accessible voice in articulating Stanko's unique compositional language; it is one that opens up the jazz tradition from the inside in startling and wonderful new directions. Suspended Night opens with "Song for Sarah," a ballad that stresses the harmonic language utilized so wonderfully on Soul of Things. Wasilewski's intensely lyrical, Bill Evans-influenced style is the perfect complement to the languid tempo and moving melody of Stanko's balladic utterance. Stanko's playing of the melody moves directly in concert with his pianist's chromatic subtleties, with unhurried, emotional nuance as the rhythm section punctuates his lines with shimmering, dancing colorations and whispers. The rest of the disc is made up of ten "Suspended Variations." They are compositions that offer enough skeletal direction and structure to allow a spacious inner freedom; improvisation feels effortless, innovative in terms of dynamic, tone, and harmonic invention as an exploration of tonal color is combined with space and melodic inquiry that is holistic and open-ended. The dynamic range here is also compelling as it seems to flow and extend rather than explode for the sake of releasing tensions. Where Soul of Things concentrated on intimate dialogue, Suspended Night uses that exchange and extends both subtleties and vagaries while keeping the major tenets of its subject in full view, always with grace and a poetic elegance. This a major new lyric statement that actually looks at jazz as a future music of unfolding investigation rather than as merely a historic tradition celebrating itself. Suspended Night is essential for any serious jazz fan and a wonderful introduction to Stanko's music as well.
:::Review by Thom Jurek:::

Tomasz Stańko Quartet - Suspended Night (2004)

1.Song For Sarah 5:30
2. Suspended Variation I 8:52
3. Suspended Variation II 8:24
4. Suspended Variation III 7:13
5. Suspended Variation IV 7:04
6. Suspended Variation V 4:20
7. Suspended Variation VI 8:54
8. Suspended Variation VII 3:25
9. Suspended Variation VIII 4:21
10. Suspended Variation IX 5:52
11. Suspended Variation X 4:47

Double Bass - Sławomir Kurkiewicz
Drums - Michał Miśkiewicz
Piano - Marcin Wasilewski
Trumpet - Tomasz Stańko