Friday, March 17, 2017

CHICO FREEMAN – Chico (LP-1977 / India Navigation ‎– IN 1031)




Label: India Navigation ‎– IN 1031
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Silver labels / Country: US / Released: 1977
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at India Navigation Records, 1977 / Merger - Recorded in concert, New York
Artwork [Cover Art] – James Russell
Produced by India Navigation Company
Matrix / Runout (Side A, etched): IN-1031-A
Matrix / Runout (Side B, etched): IN-1031-B
Note: Track A2 is not listed on the label, only on the back cover.

A1 - Moments ................................................................................................ 16:30
a)      Generation
b)      Regeneration
A2 - And All The World Moved...  .................................................................. 10:00
B  -  Merger ................................................................................................... 16:00

Personnel:
Chico Freeman – tenor saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Cecil McBee – bass
Muhal Richard Abrams – piano
Steve McCall – drums, percussion
Tito Sampa – percussion

Chico (LP-1977) was mostly taken up by the 17-minute two-movement suite Moments, the 10-minutes And All The World Moved... (a duet with bassist Cecil McBee), and the 16-minute jam Merger, for a piano-based quintet (McBee, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams, drummer Steve McCall, percussionist Tito Sampa).


As part of the Freeman family legacy of Chicago; his father, legendary NEA Jazz Master* saxophonist Von Freeman; his uncles, guitarist George Freeman; and drummer Bruz Freeman, Chico amassed a diverse résumé of performing R&B to blues, hard bop to avant-garde. His collegiate studies in Advanced Composition and Theory at Northwestern University led him to teach composition at the AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) Music School, and while attaining his Masters in Composition and Theory at Governor State University, he studied composition with NEA Jazz Master Muhal Richard Abrams...

* Note:
The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), every year honors up to seven jazz musicians with Jazz Master Awards. The National Endowment for the Arts Jazz Masters Fellowships are the highest honors that the United States bestows upon jazz musicians.



Although jazz was the first music Freeman was exposed to, many of his early professional gigs were at Chicago clubs with such blues artists as Memphis Slim, and Lucky Carmichael.

After arriving in New York, he immediately began working with Jeanne Lee, Mickey Bass, John Stubblefield, and Cecil McBee. Through apprenticeships in New York and abroad with such innovators as Elvin Jones, Don Pullen, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra, and Jack DeJohnette, Freeman developed his own group and rapidly rose to prominence with his energetic and exploratory style...
When superstar bands were being organized by promoters in Europe, Freeman brought together The Leaders — an all-star sextet of internationally recognized bandleaders. The group, consisting of Cecil McBee, Kirk Lightsey, Lester Bowie, Arthur Blythe, and Famadou Don Moye, set the standard for eclectic and innovative music from a band comprised entirely of composers...
Freeman elaborates, “First comes expression, and when you find yourself in need of being able to express more, you develop the technique in order to accomplish that objective.” For Freeman, Spoken Into Existence manifests in notes and tones the meaning of Michael Jordan’s dictum, “You have to see it to be it” (or, as Freeman puts it, that “you can manifest what you want to achieve or materialize it if you can see it clearly”) and the aphorism, “words are things.”

Freeman has perfected an immediately recognizable approach to music and composition, blending what he has experienced from his past and providing fluidity into a future of infinite musical possibilities.

(Excerpts from the biography of Chico Freeman)
http://chicofreeman.com/biography/



If you find it, buy this album!

CHICO FREEMAN – Kings Of Mali (India Navigation – IN 1035 / LP-1978)




Label: India Navigation – IN 1035
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1978
Style: Modal, Free Improvisation
Recorded at India Navigation Records in September 1977.
Photography By [Cover] – Beth Cummins
Liner Notes – Marguerite E. T. Green
Producer – India Navigation
Published By – Art Ensemble of Chicago Publishing Co.
Phonographic Copyright (p) – India Navigation Company
Matrix / Runout (Side A, etched): IN-1035-A
Matrix / Runout (Side B, etched): IN-1035-B

A1 - Look Up ................................................................................................. 11:30
A2 - Minstrel's Sun Dance .............................................................................. 7:55
B1 - Kings Of Mali ........................................................................................ 10:05
B2 - Illas ........................................................................................................ 11:10

Personnel:
Chico Freeman – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, alto flute, bailophone
Jay Hoggard – vibraphone, bailophone
Anthony Davis – piano
Cecil McBee – bass
Famoudou Don Moye – drums, percussion, bailophone, gongs, whistles

Kings Of Mali is a post-bop/avant-garde jazz lp by Chico Freeman on India Navigation Records (IN 1035) in September 1977 and released in 1978.


“As much as I’ve travelled and on the road playing with such masters as McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jack DeJohnette, Sam Rivers, Sun Ra, Dizzy Gillespie and so many jazz greats, as well as leading my own groups including founding “The Leaders” and the group “Roots,” an inner voice was telling me, you need to go to another level both musically and personally,“ Freeman explains. “You need to work with other musicians from different cultures and create new avenues of expression."



The LP, like many others recorded and produced by India Navigation in New York city, featured many of the top American players in post-bop and avant-garde jazz and features songs inspired by African history and the legacy of African Americans.

Kings of Mali (september 1977), perhaps the best of the early days, featured a stellar quintet with vibraphonist Jay Hoggard, pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Don Moye. Freeman, who also plays soprano and flute, stretches out on four of his colorful and complex originals, which are dedicated to the ancient kingdom of Mali. Titles include "Look Up", "Minstrels' Sun Dance", "Kings Of Mali", and "Illas". 
(Dusty Groove, Inc.)



If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

PHAROAH SANDERS – Tauhid (LP-1968)




Label: Impulse! – A-9138, ABC Records – AS-9138
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Stereo / Country: US / Released: 1968
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvidation
Recorded At Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, 11/15/66.
Design – Robert Flynn
Design [Liner] – Joe Lebow
Photography By – Charles Stewart
Engineer – Rudy Van Gelder
Liner Notes – Nat Hentoff
Producer – Bob Thiele
Matrix / Runout (Side A): AS 9138 A LW
Matrix / Runout (Side B): AS 9138 B LW
Matrix / Runout (Side A + B): VAN GELDER (Stamped)
Note:
A-9138 on sleeve. AS-9138 on labels and runout. Black and red ABC Impulse! labels 1968.
"A Product Of ABC Records, Inc. New York, N.Y. 10019 Made in USA" on bottom perimeter of label.

A  -  Upper Egypt & Lower Egypt ................................................................ 16:30
B1 - Japan .................................................................................................... 3:29
B2 - Aum / Venus / Capricorn Rising ...........................................................14:52

Pharoah Sanders – alto sax, tenor sax, piccolo flute, vocals
Warren "Sonny" Sharrock – guitar
Dave Burrell – piano
Henry Grimes – bass
Roger Blank – drums, percussion
Nat Bettis – percussion


A - Upper Egypt and Lower Egypt

The album opens with a collective meditation. Tympani(?), cymbal smashes, Sharrock's new approach to post-Coltrane ballad guitar, twangy and shuddering, Burrell as chordal colourist - a group - sound - and - feel -, not the soloist as free individual striving to be the lone voice...
A brief Henry Grimes bass solo - again concerned with textures and sounds, with the bass's properties as means of producing sound, with timbre and quality, with woozy arco rather than the melodic, horn-like role of La Faro or Gomez with Bill Evans.
Now Sanders' enters for the first time. His delayed entry could be said to either downplay or enhance the individual leader role I hinted at in the first paragraph: by waiting so long, his entry becomes more expected ("this album is under his name - where is he?"), more hoped for, perhaps - but at the same time the delay is a way of saying "you don't - need - to hear me straightaway - these other guys are important too." Playing piccolo, rather than sax, he vocalises through the instrument while playing, as he does on 'To Be', the flute/piccolo duet with Coltrane on 'Expression'. An 'exotic' and still striking sound, it could have become a novelty effect if Sanders had chosen to over-deploy it, but this and 'To Be' are the only recorded instances, I think. Needless to say, it's effect is a little different to Roland Kirk's use of similar techniques...
Drum ritual, low-toned. Almost nine minutes in, and Grimes is about to solo again - no, instead he locks in and begins to build the famous groove that will underpin the rest of the track (I guess we've reached 'Lower Egypt')... In itself, with the emphasis on rhythm (the players' truly functioning as 'rhythm section' here!), this could be seen as part of the 'back to Africa' movement - although (I speak from a position of relative ignorance), with a simplified, totalizing effect that downplays the complexities of actual African tribal music.
And Pharoah's solo, though brief, has such impact. For reasons of context perhaps: it's the first time he's let rip on sax, indeed, the first time we've heard him play sax at all on the album. Once again, the employment of the delaying/ waiting tactic - "that groove's been going on for - three minutes - now - what the hell is going on?" You're about to find out - Pharoah, first, echoing the groove line, three times playing the riff, then some repeated figure, now a note, first clean, now overblown - then, suddenly, WHAAARGH! WHAAARGH! WHAAARGH! I find it hard to restrain a physical reaction to those overblown whorfs of sound when I hear them. They seem so inevitable, so right - so truly the sound of a man as himself, as one with his instrument, as looking at his true centre, his true self. From the liner notes, his quotes resonate: "I don't really see the horn anymore. I'm trying to see myself. And similarly, as to the sounds I get, it's not that I'm trying to scream on my horn, I'm just trying to put all my feelings into the horn. And when you do that, the ntoes go away[...] Why [do] I want clusters [of notes]? So that I [can] get more feeling, more of me, int oevery note I play. You see, everything you do has to mean something, has to be more than just notes. That's behind everything I do - trying to get more ways of getting feeling out."
The subdued vocals that follow, might be a little underwhelming on their own, but are perhaps a necessary coming down, back to earth, back to the groove, to melody, after that solo...



B1 - Japan

At just over three minutes, this is quite clearly an 'interlude' between the two long tracks. Chugging bells and a stately promenade beat, Grimes mixing things up a little by alternating affirmative on-the-beat plucks with melodic counterpoint that goes in a slightly different direction. Sanders then sings the melody a few times, Grimes takes what I suppose one might call a short solo, then it ends.

B2 – a) - Aum

Pharoah had been here before, participating in Coltrane's 'OM' from 1965 (about which, see 'Circling Om', Simon Weill's superb article, available on the All About Jazz website). Things aren't nearly as terrifying here, though this is probably the freest section of the album. Lick-spit-riddling cymbals and hit-hat keep the sound tight, Grimes' immediately perplexing it with fast free walking, Burrell adds boxy ominous chords, then Sanders comes in, sribbling away on alto while Roger Blank switches to the more forceful toms. Off-mike for a moment, we might suppose Pharoah to be in an eye-closed calisthenics of ecstasy; he roils up and down, his tone vocal and gruff (though not as powerful as on tenor). Sawing, see-sawing up and down in motions that lead to a - strain - for volume and air, at the end, of those long notes held before the next darting rally. Highest in the mix behind the sax are the drums - the recording isn't great (they really should release a new mix of the album), but your ear can just about pick up Sonny Sharrock raging behind the Pharoah. Imagine the sonic experience if this had been better recorded! These guys truly had power behind their sound, it was - frightening - ...

B2 – b) - Venus

Sounds like they suddenly turned Sharrock up in the mix because they thought he was going to solo - as it is, Pharoah comes back in almost immediately, on tenor, but we do get to hear a precious few seconds of that guitar squall. Sanders' tone just - radiates - spirituality - later on, perhaps he traded on that a bit too much (by playing even just melodies he could convince), but here the utter sincerity is captivating, the vitality of being and the living of life in sound. Shakers and cymbals, strummed repeated bass notes and finally piano runs that prefigure Lonnie Liston Smith's harp-like arpeggios on 'Hum-Allah'. One might also note that 'Aum/Venus/Capricorn Rising' has the concision 'Hum-Allah' lacks. The three-part structure focusses things, prevents over-reliance on just one groove, one vibe. Sanders' playing of the melody, and variants on it, are the main focus here; either Sharrock's not playing, or he's just really undermiked - I guess guitar in avant-jazz wasn't really too common at the time; maybe producer Bob Theile just didn't know how to deal with it.




B2 – c) - Capricorn Rising

'Capricorn Rising' seems to be a variation on the melody of 'Venus', no less sublime. It's as if Pharoah taps into this stream of melody which is that of the universe - he takes a little fragment, puts it in barlines, turns it into a melody of its own - self-sufficient, but part of a greater whole. And I guess that's the essence of jazz improvisation too - endless variation, and sometimes that reality can include what we'd term noise, fearsome sounds of overblown shrieks - all part of Pharoah's 'Journey to the One'. Earth-bound for transcendence, Pharoah's playing here acknowleges difficulty and struggle; indeed, it - incorporates - them into lyricism, rather than retreating into the slightly drippy peace-and-love sentiment, as with 'The Creator Has a Masterplan'...

So, where does that love 'Tauhid' as a whole? Well, it shows that, for all their reputations, free jazzers wrote damn good tunes... At a relatively brief 34:20, Tauhid has all the elements which characterised Sanders' astral excursions—explicit spiritual references, vocal chants, a rolling bass ostinato, "exotic" percussion, out-there but lyrical tenor saxophone, and extended vamp-based collective jamming—and crucially, was played by an edgier and more challenging band, including guitarist Sonny Sharrock and pianist Dave Burrell, than was assembled for Karma. The later album was made by a distinctly more blissed-out line-up, lacking Sharrock, in which the comfort-zone pianist Lonnie Liston Smith and vocalist Leon Thomas figured large.
Over the next few years, Lonnie Liston Smith, already worryingly jazz-funkish on Karma, played a key role on Sanders' albums, which became increasingly codified and formulaic. In retrospect, the first cut was indeed the deepest, and for many devotees Tauhid remains Sanders' finest (half) hour.

­_Rewiew By – DAVID GRUNDY



If you find it, buy this album!

Saturday, March 4, 2017

JOHN COLTRANE QUINTET – Coltrane In Tokyo Vol. 1 (1966 / 2LP-1980)




Label: MCA Records – MCA VIM-4628–29(M)
MAPS 9764
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Japan / Released: 1980
Style: Free Jazz, Modal, Free Improvisation
Recorded live at Koseinenkin-Hall, Tokyo, on July 22, 1966.
Previously released on Coltrane In Japan (Impulse! ‎– IMR-9036C / 3LP-1973)
Album Photography : Tadayuki Naitoh
Album Designed by Hisashi Tominaga
Manufactured By – Victor Musical Industries, Inc.
Matrix / Runout (A-Side Run Out): VIM-4628 - 9764A-1
Matrix / Runout (B-Side Run Out): VIM-4628 - 9764B-2
Matrix / Runout (A-Side Run Out): VIM-4629 - 9764A2-1
Matrix / Runout (B-Side Run Out): VIM-4629 - 9764B2-2

A1 - Introduction To My Favorite Things ........................................................ 14:40
        (Solo By Jimmy Garrison)
A2 - My Favorite Things Part 1 ....................................................................... 11:36
B  -  My Favorite Things Part 2 ....................................................................... 31:20
C  -  Leo Part 1 ............................................................................................... 17:15
D  -  Leo Part 2 ............................................................................................... 28:00

Personnel:
John Coltrane – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, soprano saxophone
Pharoah Sanders – tenor saxophone, alto saxophone, bass clarinet
Alice Coltrane – piano
Jimmy Garrison – bass
Rashied Ali – drums, percussion

JOHN COLTRANE QUINTET / Coltrane In Tokyo Vol. 1 (1980 Japanese MCA rainbow label 5-track double vinyl LP), recorded live during Coltrane's only tour of Japan at the Koseinenkin Hall, Tokyo on July 22nd 1966 with Pharoah Sanders, Alice Coltrane, Jimmy Garrison and Rashied Ali.


Coltrane In Tokyo is a remarkable set of music, documenting two stints in Tokyo in July of ’66, it shows Coltrane with his newest cronies at some absolutely inspired heights of playing. Their sound is unlike anything that came before it, fed by the fiery push and shove of the more melodic Coltrane and the fractured torment of Pharoah Sanders; Alice Coltrane’s otherworldly piano playing and Rashied Ali’s untraceable flurry of rhythms "powered" by the increasingly dissonant, thumping grooves of Garrison’s masterly interweaving.
Coltrane In Tokyo sees Coltrane climbing towards the height of his gradual evolution, and each document of Coltrane’s journey is seemingly more mind-opening than the last. His explorations into foreign tonal and improvisational ideas with Eric Dolphy on 1962’s Ole Coltrane planted the seed for his mystical brand of intense soul-searching, only to be expanded upon time and time again until it seemed as if the man were ready to explode with ambition for want a higher state of understanding. Coltrane’s thirst for new sounds is fundamentally intertwined with his desire to see the universe from a new, higher perspective, and this is why his music exudes its spiritual, even cosmic aura.



Arriving in July 1966, Coltrane is only one year away from his untimely death, but his fervor for life is at an all-time high. His stream-of-consciousness investigations are more adventurous than ever, and this record encapsulates brilliantly the heart of what makes jazz music so compelling. The opening cut of this set is a wild retelling of an old favorite that everyone knows: “My Favorite Things.” But not everyone knows this version. The main theme is merely alluded to, putting all the focus on the improvisation; and to see the constant re-invention of such a well-known standard from its humble beginnings on Coltrane’s 1961 release to the hour-long epic majesty as presented to Japan on this night is absolutely extraordinary. It’s a testament to the immortality of jazz as an artform and its room for constant reinvention, solely through the unique sensibilities of the musicians telling their own stories.





There’s almost a sense of competition going on here, with Coltrane bumping up the ferocity to match the atonal shrieks of his sideman. The take on “Leo” here, a cut that originally appeared as a sax-drum duet on Interstellar Space illustrates the dynamic fury of the ensemble like nothing else. The addition of the extra horn and Alice Coltrane’s piano adds new dimension to the tune in unexpected ways, coloring it with new shades of ethereal chaos. The highlight may still be when all else goes silent, though, and Rashied Ali’s drum solo takes over. He tears open conventional hard bop style and shows me the song’s rhythm through a kaleidoscope, fracturing my sense of time and momentum. There’s unbelievable power behind his playing, his kick drum pounds like the stomp of a warhorse; his fills tumbling, dynamic, atmospheric. Alice C.’s piano solo immediately thereafter spirals through realms of the unreal and climaxes into a full-on imaginative flight from Coltrane and later Pharoah.

Coltrane liked to open his tunes with extended bass solos, which is evident in both of the near-hour long tracks, “My Favorite Things” and “Crescent”. This technique is something I’ve fallen in love with, as Jimmy Garrison’s bass throughout the album adds gravity to the music, nimbly intermingling with Ali’s schizophrenia, somehow navigating the polyrhythms and outlining the groove. But, stripped of all the other elements, Garrison’s bass delineates the atmosphere of the tune with ad-libbed solos that draw the listener into the world of the song before the rest of the band takes flight, beating around connotations and whispers of a hardbop swing, scaling through hints of motifs and building cleverly with tense chords and transient grooves. When the rest of the band comes tumbling in nearly 15 minutes into “My Favorite Things,” the stage has been set, the lights dimmed, the incense burned...



If you find it, buy this album!

JOHN COLTRANE QUINTET – Coltrane In Tokyo Vol. 2 (1966 / 2LP-1980)




Label: MCA Records – MCA VIM-4630–31
MAPS 9765
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Japan / Released: 1980
Style: Free Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded Live at Sankei-Hall, Tokyo, on July 11, 1966.
Previously released on Second Night In Tokyo (ABC Impulse! ‎– YB-8508–10-AI / 3LP-1977)
Album Photography : Tadayuki Naitoh
Album Designed by Hisashi Tominaga
Manufactured By – Victor Musical Industries, Inc.
Matrix / Runout (A-Side Run Out): VIM-4630 - 9765A-1
Matrix / Runout (B-Side Run Out): VIM-4630 - 9765B-2
Matrix / Runout (A-Side Run Out): VIM-4631 - 9765A2-1
Matrix / Runout (B-Side Run Out): VIM-4631 - 9765B2-2

A  -  Afro Blue Part 1 ...................................................................................... 21:50
B  -  Afro Blue Part 2 ...................................................................................... 17:30
C1 - Introduction To Crescent ........................................................................ 13:10
        (Solo By Jimmy Garrison)
C2 - Crescent Part 1 ...................................................................................... 12:20
D1 - Crescent Part 2 ...................................................................................... 27:55
D2 - Short Closing Theme : Leo ...................................................................... 1:25

Personnel:
John Coltrane – tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone
Pharoah Sanders – tenor saxophone
Alice Coltrane – piano
Jimmy Garrison – bass
Rashied Ali – drums, percussion

JOHN COLTRANE Coltrane In Tokyo Vol. 2 (1980 Japanese MCA rainbow label 6-track double vinyl LP), recorded live during Coltrane's only tour of Japan at the Sankei-Hall in Tokyo on the 11th of July 1966.




The songs on this album are noted for their very lengthy running time, all during which each player takes long, free solos, and sometimes the melody is not even played but only briefly alluded to.
By this point in his career, Coltrane was firmly enmeshed into the avant-garde style of jazz. Sanders, who was an innovator of free jazz, influenced Coltrane's playing through his technical use of overblowing and fierce vibrations of the reed, and this record is remarkable for its use of multiphonics, overtones, and other extended musical techniques from both players.





The surreal marathon of 40-minute opener “Afro-Blue” on this album is by far the longest Coltrane ever recorded. It opens with the well-known head before Coltrane takes a modest soprano sax solo, getting free but restrained, then passing over the reigns to a fervent Pharoah, whose solo takes it to the edge. He wastes no time getting atonal before transforming into a grand, beautiful cascade of multiphonic despair and ecstatic overtones, shrieking for the entire duration of his 12+ minute solo. Alice C.’s piano solo dances freely with ghostly grace and tempered insanity, only to lead into an unbelievable 18-minue solo from Coltrane, whose warped melodicism creates a psychokinetic energy to match the intensity of Pharoahs’s all-out visceral whirlwind. Coltrane’s interaction with Ali is remarkable, the two always feeding off one another and, no matter how free and unrestrained, staying remarkably tight through the windstorm of free-flowing tempo fluctuations, as if their minds were merged in meditation.
After a 12-minute bass intro, Coltrane's song "Crescent" is kicked off, with both saxophones taking ferocious solos during the almost hour-long version. The performance concludes with a short statement of the theme from "Leo", behind the MC's introduction of the band.
Coltrane’s dive into the avant garde is clearly manifested here, as his group goes to the edge to find the zone and suspend themselves there. The level of intensity, longing, and joy that pervades the collective imagination of this recording gives it a towering stature in the jazz world. It is an album with a presence that cannot be ignored by any music fan...

_Review by Kyle Banick



If you find it, buy this album!