Sunday, June 29, 2014

DETAIL - Johnny Dyani/Frode Gjerstad/ John Stevens – Backwards And Forwards - First Detail (1982-85)

Label: Impetus Records – IMP CD 18203
Format: CD, Album, Reissue; Country: UK - Released: 2000
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Staccato Studios, Stavanger, Norway on 11th October 1982
Track C previously unreleased, recorded in 1985, no other details.
Original cover artwork (front cover reproduced above) 1 2 NO 1 by John Stevens
Original LP design by Fay Stevens
Engeneer By – Kjell Arne Jensen

The free jazz group Detail, co-founded by Norwegian saxophonist Frode Gjerstad and British drummer John Stevens, was most often a trio. In the beginning the third member was Norwegian pianist Eivin One Pedersen. Pedersen left shortly after bassist Johnny Dyani joined. After Dyani's death in 1986, Kent Carter took over as bassist. Detail continued performing and recording until Stevens' death in 1994. The group's seven recordings were released on Impetus, Cadence, and Gjerstad's label, Circulasione Totale.

Frode Gjerstad is one of the few Norwegian musicians playing modern improvised music outside the 'ECM-school'. He has chosen to play with foreign musicians because there is no tradition in Norway for free improvised music.

His relationship with John Stevens which started in 1981 and lasted up until Stevens' death in 1994 was of great importance both musically as well as on a personal level. Through Stevens, he became acquainted with the playing of some of the finest British improvisers. His longstanding group with Stevens, 'Detail', started as a trio in 1981 with keyboardist Eivin One Pedersen, though Johnny Mbizo Dyani came in on bass in 1982 and Pedersen left later that year. The group played mainly as a trio until Dyani's death in 1986, though they did invite occasional guests to fill out the lineup; they undertook a tour of Britain in 1986 as a quartet with Bobby Bradford on cornet. Bradford did another tour with Detail with Paul Rogers on bass and then one with Kent Carter on bass; a quartet tour of Norway was organised with Billy Bang in 1989. The group then continued as a trio with Carter till 1994 when Stevens died.
_ By Joslyn Layne, Rovi

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Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LARS-GÖRAN ULANDER TRIO – Live At Glenn Miller Café (2004)

Label: Ayler Records – aylCD-013
Format: CD, Album; Country: Sweden - Released: 2005
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded in concert at the Glenn Miller Café, Stockholm, Sweden, August 25 & 26, 2004.
Design, Cover art By – Åke Bjurhamn
Layout By – Stéphane Berland
Photography By – Lars Jönson
Executive producer By – Jan Ström

One of the joys of recorded jazz is rediscovering a deserving artist that fell into the cracks of history. You've probably never heard of alto saxophonist Ulander, for example, unless you followed Swedish jazz in the 1960s, when he was actively recording with the likes of Berndt Egerbladh, a talented pianist who composed hip post-bop tunes, and Lars Lystedt, a valve trombonist and longtime fixture on the scene, or remember him as a member of radical pianist Per Henrik Wallin's mid-'70s free trio.

The problem was that few of those LPs were distributed outside of Sweden then, or survive now, and Ulander recorded less than a handful of sessions between 1975 and today, preferring a career as full-time producer at Swedish Radio to the rigors of the road. Live at the Glenn Miller Café is, in fact, Ulander's debut session as a leader, and displays his circuitous, lyrical improvising in five lengthy performances from 2004. In his younger days, Ulander exhibited a bit of Jackie McLean's biting tone and edgy urgency when playing more straightahead material, but now, exploring freer territory, he's neither extravagant nor overly expressionistic, engaging in open, conversational interplay with bassist Palle Danielsson and drummer Paal Nilssen-Love.

  Lars-Göran Ulander

Sedona, Arizona is home to a series of peculiar structures. To the layperson eye they are little more than cobbled together cairns slowly crumbling to dust. But to the local populace of crystal-wearing, chakra-obssessed mystics these stone piles are focal points, dots on a metaphysical map where spiritual energy pools in abundance and believers gain regular ingress to other states of consciousness. To the jazz fan the imperfect analogues are legendary clubs, venues where doyens stride the stage and make history as they build on the music night after night. The Village Vanguard, The Velvet Lounge, The Vortex, The Bimhaus, these are but a few. Thanks to the assiduous efforts of Ayler Records the Glenn Miller Café is earning a ranking among the number.

Jan Ström refers to the Café as the label’s “number one ‘studio’.” That’s no errant boast given that at least seven of the imprint’s releases to date were birthed within its walls. I can’t help pondering what the cafés supper club friendly namesake would have thought of much of the improv-centric music radiating from the stage. Whatever his possible opinion of the place, the incongruity often makes for some delightful irony; especially when ensembles like the Lars Göran Ulander Trio are the purveyors for an evening. In common with certain others on the Ayler roster including Anders Gahnold and Martin Küchen, Ulander represents relatively obscure surname to most non-European jazz listeners. His work on the Ayler-released Per Henrik Wallin compilation The Stockholm Tapes helped reverse the tide of American anonymity, but those recordings dated from the 70s. This recent one connotes his commercial debut as leader and presents a saxophonist still in possession of considerable creative skills.

Joining Ulander in the trio are two seemingly incongruous compatriots. My experience with Palle Danielsson is pretty much limited to his work on various ECM outings, mostly in the company of talented, but sometimes overly-sedate pianist Bobo Stenson. Paal Nilssen-Love frequently represents the other side of the coin, a powerhouse drummer comfortable in the company of Brötzmann and Gustafsson and one who a breaks a heavy beading sweat every time behind his kit. The two players meet beautifully in the middle between their respective poles, Danielssonn producing a full-bodied tensile thrum when it comes to pizzicato and Nilssen-Love favoring nuance as much as brawn in his myriad rhythms. Ulander trolls the lower regions of his alto, brushing the tenor range with a tone furrowed by emotive veracity.

“Tabula Raasa G.M.C.,” first of three lengthy collective improvisations, finds the three reaching a flexible consensus that sustains for nearly the entire set. The Mingusian anthem “What Love” serves as a fitting median piece. The leader engages Danielsson in a dialogue worthy of the source incarnations, mixing dialects of Dolphy and McLean in a continuation of a conference initiated on the earlier, enigmatically-titled “Intrinsic Structure I.” Sprawling in scope, “Ionizacion- Variaciones E.V.” borrows kernels from Varese’s epochal percussion ensemble piece and injects slivers of jazz time. All three tracks feature propulsion-packed, texture-stacked solos by Nilssen-Love. Ulander’s own “J.C. Drops” closes the concert and he shows an even stronger abiding influence of Art Pepper in his velocious, often piercing lines.

Add Ulander’s name to those of others like James Finn, Bill Gagliardi and Stephen Gauci, saxophonists of the far-better-late-than-never fraternity who are finally receiving some measure of their due. And thanks to the Glenn Miller Café, a venue slowly accruing legendary status, for help making it happen.

September 5, 2005 (Dusted)

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Sunday, June 22, 2014

JOE McPHEE and SURVIVAL UNIT II – At WBAI's Free Music Store, 1971 (CD / hat ART-1996)

Label: hat ART – hat ART CD 6197
Format: CD, Album, Limited Edition; Country: Switzerland - Released: 1996
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded At WBAI's Free Music Store, N.Y. N.Y., October 30, 1971.
Design Concept [Graphic Concept] – fuhrer vienna
Liner Notes – Chris Albertson, Joe McPhee
Liner Notes [Producers Note] – Werner X. Uehlinger
Mixed By [Mix], Mastered By [CD Master] – Peter Pfister
Photography By [Photo] – Ken Brunton
Producer – Pia And Werner X. Uehlinger
Recorded By – Chris Albertson

The Hat Art label (Werner X. Uehlinger) was formed in the mid-'70s partly to document the music of multi-instrumentalist Joe McPhee. The tapes of this live concert, which was broadcast by the small New York radio station WBAI, were released for the first time on this 1996 CD. Doubling on tenor and trumpet, McPhee is joined by Clifford Thornton (heard on baritone horn and cornet), Byron Morris (on soprano and alto), pianist Mike Kull, and percussionist Harold E. Smith. Due to the passionate nature of much of this fairly free music and the use of Thornton's baritone horn, one does not really notice the absence of a string bass. The six lengthy pieces (which are sandwiched by somewhat stilted announcing) are full of fire but also have their quiet and lyrical moments. A strong all-around performance that should not have taken 25 years to release.

McPhee – the Poughkeepsie-based saxophonist/trumpeter/composer – came on the scene in the late 1960s and appeared on a now-reissued recording by his mentor Clifford Thornton (whose Gardens of Harlem is in desperate need of reissue, by the way). After a few releases on CJR (all now available on Atavistic’s Unheard Music Series), Uehlinger released McPhee’s Black Magic Man and the relationship has existed ever since, resulting in some of the finest improvised music of the period. The music – by McPhee on tenor and trumpet, Thornton on baritone horn, Byron Morris on soprano and alto, Mike Kull on piano, and Harold E. Smith on percussion – is hot and intense, coming straight from McPhee’s most fiery period. It features the core of McPhee’s repertory at the time, including the acetylene torch intensity of “Black Magic Man,” the declamatory “Nation Time” (where the horns blend with wonderful color), and the gorgeous ballad “Song for Lauren,” where McPhee really begins to establish his powerful lyric strain that would become so recognizable on later recordings. McPhee already sounds in full command of his horns – listen to his lovely trumpet intro to “Message from Denmark” – and the band sounds great too (the underrated Kull just crushes on “The Looking Glass I”). They’re at their most powerful on the intensely dark rise-and-fall of “Harriet,” an exceptional document of free improvisation from one of the music’s true masters.

hat Hut catalog:

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Thursday, June 19, 2014


Label: Goody – GY 30001, Goody – GY 30.001
Goody Series Vol. 1
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album, Reissue, Unofficial Release
Country: France - Released: 1969
Style: Free Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded on July 22, 1967 at Sound City Studios in New York City.
(Track 2 - ''Babe's Dilemma'', bonus track, is not on the original release)
Engineer – Orville O'Brien
Liner Notes – Archie Shepp
Photography By – Philippe Gras
Producer [Serie Directed By] – Claude Delcloo, Jean Luc Young

For those who don't know better, the free jazz movement is considered a sharp break with the past heritage of the music. That really wasn't the case. As Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp hearkened back to field hollers and very basic folk forms, musicians like Clifford Thornton went in the opposite direction, building on the music of the sophisticates and expanding the possibilities for jazz. Listening to music with this much space in it, it might be hard for some listeners to hear the Mingus. But it's there. And because that's there, Ellington is here in heaping handfuls as well. Sure this stuff is rough in spots. But the myriad of tones this man uses to express himself keeps things interesting and alive — the bright clarion of cornet and trumpet, the somber, thoughtful vibes, and a rhythm section that embraces two bass players to keep things rooted. The leader plays valve trombone, an enormously flexible instrument that allows him to meld with a variety of moods and produce music at once heartachingly simple and brain-twistingly complex.
For those with open ears — and minds.

Trombonist/trumpeter Clifford Thornton, is a natural extension of the music of Ornette Coleman.
Recorded one day after John Coltrane’s funeral, this session features Trane sideman Jimmy Garrison on two tracks and Joe McPhee (playing trumpet) on three. Thornton, who rehearsed across the hall from Ornette’s trio, certainly was listening. His piano-less quintet and extended New Art Ensemble pursue Coleman’s breakthroughs in melody and rhythm with different instrumentation. They certainly prove that free principals can be applied to the vibes, as Karl Berger does here and on later recordings with Don Cherry. Alto saxophonist Sonny King (we should find out more about this guy) tears through songs bridging bebop and freedom principles.
Thornton’s valve trombone is the payday here. He floats lines, setting moods or barking replies to the cornet. Thornton’s trombone later recorded with Sunny Murray, Sun Ra and Archie Shepp. The liner notes point out he was denied a visa to enter France because they suspected him of belonging to the Black Panthers. His revolutionary music and self-produced LP’s received little attention in the mainstream press, as he had no access to distribute his music, and in the late 1960s and 1970s, American record companies were withdrawing their support of creative music. The Cecil Taylors, Anthony Braxtons and Joe McPhees of this world either became exiles or recorded for small foreign labels. Clifford Thornton moved to Europe and died in relative obscurity in the mid-80s. This document of significant music calls for further exploration of the ever-neglected free jazz past.

Published: November 1, 2001 (AAJ)

Originally issued on Third World Records in 1969 as Third World LP 9636.

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Sunday, June 15, 2014

DAVE BURRELL – After Love (LP-1970)

Label: America Records – 067 867-2
Series: Free America – #07
Format: CD, Album, Reissue, Remastered, Limited Edition - Released: 2004
Style: Free Jazz
Recording Date: 1970, Paris, France.
Art Direction, Design, Painting – Gilles Guerlet, Jérôme Witz
Photography By [Paintings] – Fredéric Thomas
Producer [For America-musidisc] – Pierre Berjot
Reissue Producer [Prepared For Reissue By] – Bruno Guermonprez
Supervised By [Reissue] – Daniel Richard
Transferred By [Transfers], Mastered By [Mastering] – Alexis Frenkel

Part of the reissue series of recordings from the French America label, this CD cleans up the sound from the original's horrible French pressing c. 1970 and holds up 44 years later as one of the best recordings of the free jazz diasporic period.

01 After Love Part 1 “Questions and Answers” (D. Burrell) . . . 21:42
02 After Love Part 2 “Random” (D. Burrell) . . . 7:03
03 My March (D. Burrell) . . . 22:03

Dave Burrell, leader, piano
Alan Silva, amplified cello, violin
Ron Miller, mandolin, bass (track 1)
Don Moye, drums
Bertrand Gauthier, drums (track 1)
Roscoe Mitchell, reeds
Michel Gladieux, bass (track 3)

When, in 1969, a young journalist named Paul Alessandrini proposed a series of “exspress Portraits” to Jean-Louis Ginibre, Chief Editor of “Jazz Magazine”, to be published under the title “The New Heads of the New Music”, Dave Burrell, aged 29, was probably the most discreet and apparently the most “serious” (no doubt because he wore glasses!) of the eleven musicians chosen. Musically - he’d already produced some phonographic evidence - this pianist was neither the least ‘turbulent’ nor, literally, the least iconoclastic. This was reason enough for him to have been selected among the whole ‘bunch’ of freejazzmen who’d just landed in Paris from New York and Chicago, and who immediately scattered throughout the capital’s studios and jazz clubs (not to mention other spaces, sometimes institutions, which had never heard as much…). A few jazz fans, and also professionals who were novices where ‘new jazz’ was concerned, but were excited by the scent of surprise inherent in this music, undertook the financial risks; after all, wasn’t their aim to sell this music that seemed to turn its back on most of the commercial criteria reigning over the music business? As for Burrell (no relation to guitarist Kenny Burrell, nor the New Orleans pianist Duke Burrell), if his biography remains extremely concise (are lucky musicians those without a story?), at least Alessandrini informed us that he ‘was born on September 10th, 1940 in Middletown, Ohio of parents originating in Mississippi and Louisiana. When he was still a child he lived in a musical atmosphere: his mother played piano and organ, and sang spirituals in a Baptist Church (Note: Baptist religious services were the most propitious in terms of musical paroxysms and collective trance phenomenal. His father, a union man, defended black workers rights. For four years he studied music at Berklee School of Music and at the Boston Conservatory, then for two years at the University of Hawaii.  He lived in the heart of the Black ghetto, in Cleveland and Harlem, while making frequent trips to the ‘paradise’ of Hawaii.  He recorded with Giuseppi Logan, Marion Brown (Juba-Lee, Three for Shepp). Pharoah Sanders (still spelt ‘Pharaoh’ at the time), (Tauhid), then under his own name for Douglas (High). Deeply marked by his recent stay in Algiers, he’s just recorded two compositions conceived over there, under the general title of ‘Echo’: with himself leading, there are Archie Shepp, Grachan Moncur, III , Sunny Murray, etc’ (In ‘Jazz magazine’ No. 171, October 1969). We would later learn that his name was actually Herman Davis Burrell III: that is was his mother who initiated him to jazz: that in Boston he sometimes played with the very young drummer Tony Williams and saxophonist Sam Rivers (two indispensable pioneers who later appeared in the Blue Note catalogue and then alongside Miles Davis); that in 1965, in New York, he’d formed the Untraditional Jazz Improvisational Team with Byard Lancaster (reeds), Sirone (bass), and Bobby Kapp (drums); that three years later with Moncur (trombone) and drummer Beaver Harris, he’d created a musical variable-geometry collective, the 360 Degree Music Experience, with the motto: ‘from ragtime to no time at all.” Such a stance of absolute openness is something that would cross the pianist composer’s entire output, from prime percussion to Giaccomo Puccini (he was indeed to tackle a re-reading of some of the great arias from ‘La Vie De Boheme’) with amongst other decisive moments, his sole physical contact with the African continent during the Algiers Pan-African festival. Like other pianist-composers, notably Sun Ra and Jaki Byard , Dave Burrell invented an approach for himself  which might be superficially qualified as ‘plural’, indeed ‘schizophrenic. Classical, traditional here, and unbridled, ‘free’ there… Like a kind of  Dr. Jekyll  & Mr. Hyde.  In fact, here as there (and as in Stevenson’s novel), it’s a question of one and the same being, the same ‘soul’, ensuring the indisputable continuity of this apparent stylistic patchwork. The continuum of which saxophonist Archie Shepp spoke not long ago, that Great Black Music returning to the words of the musicians in Chicago’s A.A.C.M. (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians), or again in all the music that exists, in the phrase of the Philadelphian Byard Lancaster, between ‘Sex machine (James brown) and ‘A Love Supreme’ (John Coltrane): such is the profound unity of the Burrell universe with, obviously, a whole range of singularities, ‘distinctive features’ with a juxtaposition and mingling of his taste for classical forms and virtuosities, notably with the piano’s African-American pioneers (ragtime, stride, boogie…), or, as in this ‘After Love’ for a March tempo that’s distended and distorted to anamorphosis and verbal explosions. This reminds us that these were joyous militant years, and that forbidding was still forbidden - even to mix the sounds of an electric cello, or a violin and a mandolin, to associate a multi-blower from Chicago (and The Art Ensemble’ Of…) Roscoe Mitchell, the Art Ensemble’s percussionist (Don Moye), a former partner of Cecil Taylor and Sun Ra (Alan Silva) with young Parisian rhythmicians (Michel Gladieux, who was part of the Dharma quintet, and Bertrand Gauthier, who dropped his sticks in favour of a camera), and therefore to play-enjoy without hindrance. Who mentioned nostalgia? It’s just a moment in history.
_ By Phillippe Carles

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

DAVE BURRELL – High Won - High Two (2LP-1976)

Label: Arista – AL 1906, Freedom – AL 1906
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album; Country: US - Released: 1976
Style: Free Improvisation, Free Jazz
Recorded in New York City, 6th February 1968 except East Side Colors (9th September 1968)
Art Director – Bob Heimall
Artwork [Cover Art] – Benno Friedman
Design – Nancy Greenberg
Liner Notes – Stanley Crouch
Photography By – Raymond Ross
Producer – Alan Douglas
Producer [Additional Production] – Michael Cuscuna

"High Won-High Two" is the second studio album released by jazz pianist Dave Burrell. It was recorded on February 9, 1968 and was first released as an LP record later that year by Black Lion Records.

A  -  West Side Story (Medley) . . . 19:48
        (Arranged By – D. Burrell, Composed By – L. Bernstein)
B1 - Oozi Oozi . . . 3:11
B2 - Bittersweet Reminiscence . . . 3:45
B3 - Bobby And Si . . . 2:13
B4 - Dave Blue . . . 2:37
B5 - Margie Pargie (A.M. Rag) . . . 3:02
C  -  East Side Colors . . . 15:52
D  -  Theme Stream Medley . . . 15:35
        a. Dave Blue
        b. Bittersweet Reminiscence
        c. Bobby And Si
        d. Margie Pargie (A.M. Rag)
        e. Oozi Oozi
        f. Inside Ouch

DAVE BURRELL – Piano, Composed, Arranger
SIRONE (Norris Jones) – Bass
BOBBY KAPP – Drums (tracks: A to B5, D)
SUNNY MURRAY – Drums (track: C)

Dave Burrell has long been a favorite pianist for his remarkable ability to play across stylistic boundaries in jazz. After graduating from Berklee College of Music in 1965 with a degree in composition, arranging and performance, Burrell dedicated himself to the pursuit of creative music that combines his dual talents as composer and free jazz improviser, performing alongside artists such as Marion Brown, Archie Shepp, Pharoah Sanders and David Murray. Few pianists have so successfully and consistently performed improvised music containing influences ranging from Jelly Roll Morton, Thelonious Monk and Duke Ellington to classical composers such as Puccini—see Burrell's LP, "La Vie de Boheme" (BYG/Get Back Records, 1969) and this a front of you, Leonard Bernstein trio LP "High Won-High Two" (Douglas/Black Lion, 1968 - Arista/Freedom, 1976) with Sirone and Sunny Murray. His predecessor, pianist Jaki Byard was similarly able to seamlessly employ the entire history of jazz in a single solo with Charles Mingus' 1964 sextet...

... Dave Burrell has long had a highly original style on piano, not quite outside but far from conventional. This LP, a trio set with bassist Sirone and either Bobby Kapp or Sonny Murray on drums. Most intriguing is a 19½-minute "West Side Story Medley" that features Burrell playing many of the songs from Leonard Bernstein's work in abstract fashion. There is also the lengthy "East Side Colors," five brief (around three-minutes apiece) versions of five of Burrell's originals and the "Theme Stream Medley" which has reprises of the five songs plus a sixth piece ("Inside Ouch").
_ By Scott Yanow

Extremely good set.

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Saturday, June 7, 2014

GRACHAN MONCUR III – Aco Dei De Madrugada (One Morning I Waked Up Very Early) / New Africa (2LP-1971)

Label: BYG Records – 529.205
Series: Double Actuel – 205
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Compilation; Country: France - Released: 1971
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation
Side A/B - Recorded In Paris 11. August 1969
Side C/D - Recorded In Paris 04. November 1969
Executive-producer – Claude Delcloo
Producer – Jean Georgakarakos, Jean-Luc Young

Two seminal sessions from avant soul trombonist Grachan Moncur III. Beautiful recordings.

New Africa (1969)
A1 - New Africa . . . 17:30
        1st Movement: Queen Tamam  
        2nd Movement: New Africa    
        3rd Movement: Black Call       
        4th Movement: Ethiopian Market        
A2 - Space Spy . . . 6:55
B1 - Exploration . . . 10:45
B2 - When . . . 12:00
        Grachan Moncur III – trombone
        Roscoe Mitchell – alto saxophone, saxophone [piccolo]
        Archie Shepp – tenor saxophone (track: B2)
        Dave Burrell – piano
        Alan Silva – contrabass
        Andrew Cyrille – drums, percussion

Aco Dei De Madrugada (One Morning I Waked Up Very Early) - 1969
C1 - Aco Dei De Madrugada (Traditional Bresilian) . . . 7:02
C2 - Ponte Io (Traditional Bresilian) . . . 6:46
D1 - Osmosis . . . 9:25
D2 - Tiny Temper . . . 5:28
        Grachan Moncur III – trombone
        Fernando Martins – piano, vocals
        Beb  Guérin – contrabass
        Nelson Serra De Castro – drums, percussion

 Grachan Moncur III

In 1969 Grachan Moncur III - jazz trombonist and composer - recorded two albums for the legendary French free jazz record label BYG: "New Africa" and "One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Aco Dei De Madrugada)".

Moncur had come to France via Algiers, where he had played at the First Pan-African Cultural Festival. This Festival, which focused on Black African ethnic identity politics, had been held in Algeria from the 21st of July to the 1st of August 1969 by the new-fled Organization of African Unity. Moncur had come to the Festival together with Archie Shepp, with whom he had been playing since 1967 (i.a. on 'Life At The Donaueschingen Music Festival' and 'The Way Ahead') and with whom he would remain closely associated in further years (on 'Things Have Got To Change' and 'Kwanza'). Besides Moncur, Shepp brought with him cornet player Clifton Thornton, pianist Dave Burrell, bass player Alan Silva, and avant drummer Sunny Murray.

At the Festival, the whole group was invited to record in Paris by BYG Actuel's Jean Georgakarakos and Jean-Luc Young, and record they did: in a very short time span, working in ever-changing constellations, they created scores of beautiful free jazz records. "New Africa" was recorded on august 11th 1969, only ten days after the end of the Festival; "One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Aco Dei De Madrugada)" was recorded only a little later, on september 10th and november 4th 1969.

But the jazz corpus created by those invited to record by BYG Actuel - though one of the most enticing on record - was marred by greed: to this day, BYG's mainmen Bisceglia, Young and Georgakarakos have apparently not paid any royalties to the artists involved. The financial problems this created for Moncur initiated a downward spiral, which was worsened by health problems. The result was that Moncur was able to record only rarely after the early 1970's, apparently became quite depressed, and didn't even merit a personal entry in the 7th (2004) edition of "The Pinguin Guide To Jazz On CD".

It is ironic that where a Festival (the First Pan-African Cultural Festival) provided the main impetus for BYG Records, another festival proved to be it's undoing. BYG Records organized a festival together with the countercultural magazine Actuel called 'Le Festival Actuel'. It was planned to take place from October 24th to 27th 1969 in Paris. However, the French authorities denied the organizers the necessary permits, fearing that either a Woodstock-like chaos or a repetition of the may 1968 student riots might ensue. This forced the organizers to move the entire Festival at a very late stage to Belgium, to a place called Amougies (or Amengijs in Flemish) which is near the French-Belgium border. The Festival had a very ambitious line-up, featuring Pink Floyd, Captain Beefheart, Soft Machine and Ten Years After. Also, much of BYG Records roster of Free Jazz performers participated; Grachan Moncur III appeared on Saturday night, together with Don Cherry, saxophonist Arthur Jones and pianist Joachim Kurt Kuhn. Frank Zappa was master of ceremonies at the Festival. Though an audience of 15-20,000 attended the Festival, the financial strain it caused was too much of a burden for BYG Records, which finally went bankrupt in the early seventies.

Bisceglia went on to become a Jazz photographer; Jean Georgakarakos founded Celluloid Records; and Jean-Luc Young founded the record label Charly Records in France in 1974 and moved operations to England in 1975. Living up to his reputation for shady deals, Young ran into legal trouble due to copyright infringement in 2000 while still working for Charly Records.

The trombone - Moncur's instrument - has held a particular fascination for me ever since I saw drone metal band Earth perform live, Steve Moore - who has roots in Free Jazz - providing beautiful trombone gravitas to Earth's haunted Americana. But Moncur's trombone playing is light years removed from Moore's drones: his style is firmly rooted in Jazz tradition.

Moncur's music is not Free Jazz of the chaotic and noisy, Merzbow kind; and it is also devoid of the cheap quasi-mystical exoticism which can spoil Indian/Jazz-fusion-type Free Jazz. Notwithstanding the influence of Shepp's ethnopolitical protest music, both albums present a rather lyrical style of Free Jazz, elegant rather than intransigent, poetic rather than acerbic, a mélange rather than a hotchpotch. Moncur comes across as a good-natured progressive who chooses to explore both the heartlands and the borders of the Jazz tradition, rather than as a revolutionary firebrand who aims to scorch the earth of that tradition.

But that does not mean that Moncur's music lacks passion - on the contrary!

'New Africa' features Roscoe Mitchell (alto sax), Dave Burrell (piano), Alan Silva (bass) and Andrew Cyrille (drums). It opens with the eponymous seventeen-and-a-half minute suite, which consists of four movements. Over the course of these movements, the relaxed, steady bass work by Silva binds together the energetic performances of the other musicians. The drums and the piano on the one hand and the sax and the trombone on the other maneuver around each other in benevolent aerobatic dog-fights. In 'Space Spy' Dave Burrell provides a suspenseful piano tune that gives the track a tense feel appropriate to it's title: that of a Free Jazz afro-futurist espionage thriller. The third track ('Exploration') is the 'Free-est' of all. It is thoroughly informed by Alan Silva's musical style: spiritually ecstatic, with an interplay of instruments that is as writhing as a mass of Cthulhoid tentacles. Archie Shepp appears on the fourth and final track of 'New Africa', where a self-confident (but never swaggering) swing provides the two musicians with a theater stage on which to perform their powerful art.

I'm also very fond of the second part of this double LP, the album "One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Aco Dei De Madrugada)". It was recorded after 'Le Festival Actuel'. This album presents two songs which are interpretations of Brazilian traditionals: "Aco Dei De Madrugada" and "Ponte Lo"; and two originals: "Osmosis" and "Tiny Temper". On this recording, Moncur was assisted by French bass player Beb Guérin, Brazilian pianist Fernando Martins and Brazilian drummer Nelson Serra De Castro. More laid-back than 'New Africa', the Latin influence gives his music an immensely graceful swing. Enjoy!

_ Text: Documents, By Valter

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, June 3, 2014


On The Trail Of Old Albums
Label: Verve Records – MG V-8238
Format: Vinyl, LP; Country: US - Released: 1957
Style: Free Jazz, Post Bop
Recorded live at Newport Jazz Festival on July 6, 1957 (tracks A1 to A3) and July 5, 1957 (tracks B1 to B3).
Liner Note By – Bill Simon
Photographer By – Burt Goldblatt

Jazz on a Summer’s day, the audience is cool,  Newport Rhode Island sounds a great place to have been, Freebody Park.

Cecil Taylor Quartet is almost easy-listening, with the rhythm section holding down the base, Steve Lacy’s straight horn carrying melody, while Taylor begins to disassemble the piano convention. At times, it sounds like Taylor is playing a different number to the rest of the band. Perhaps that’s the thing.
The short-lived Gigi Gryce Jazz Laboratory quintet was formed to extend and seek out new directions for bebop. It’s all in the American pronunciation:  I get Ceecil Taylor, now I learn it’s G.G. Gryce, not Gigi.  This was apparently the only live recording of the Jazz Laboratory.

Cecil Taylor Quartet:
CECIL TAYLOR (piano); STEVE LACY (soprano saxophone); BUELL NEIDLINGER (bass); DENIS CHARLES (drums)
A1 - Johnny Come Lately . . . 7:13
A2 - Nona's Blues . . . 7:40
A3 - Tune 2 . . . 10:22

Gigi Gryce-Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory Quintet:
GIGI GRYCE (alto saxophone); DONALD BYRD (trumpet); HANK JONES (piano); WENDELL MARSHALL (bass); OSIE JOHNSON (drums)
B1 - Splittin' (Ray's Way) . . . 8:32
B2 - Batland . . . 7:21
B3 - Love For Sale . . . 7:34

The young pianist Cecil Taylor and saxophonist Gigi Gryce

At first combining a set by Cecil Taylor with another by the Gigi Gryce-Donald Byrd Jazz Laboratory seems like an odd pairing, but it ends up working rather well. These live recordings, which come from the 1957 Newport Jazz Festival, have stood the test of time rather well. 

It is a fascinating contrast between an original angle on the then popular hard-bop style (Byrd/Gryce) and the revolutionary Taylor's extraordinary evolution beyond it. Steve Lacy plays soprano saxophone throughout Taylor's set, and he foreshadows John Coltrane's sound on the same instrument a few years later. Lacy's unlubricated, slightly sour tone and eventually curiously hopping swing develop the spontaneous possibilities of Billy Strayhorn's Johnny Come Lately against Taylor's relentlessly angular piano figures. The original Nona's Blues is a mid-tempo, nearly-swinging tune for the leader's pounding chords and fragmentary melodic clusters alongside Lacy's loose and exuberant solo. Taylor's evolution explicitly deployed a lot more European contemporary classical elements later, but his jazzy momentum and affection for Thelonious Monk are exhilaratingly up-front here.
The Gryce/Byrd band, though closer to the usual jazz grooves of the day, is enhanced by Gryce's distinctive writing. Pianist Hank Jones plays with gleaming urbanity, the young Donald Byrd with a crackling boppish bounce, though Gryce's Parker-influenced alto lines are a little thin. But it is the mix of styles here, pointing up Cecil Taylor's astonishing independence, that makes the set so attractive.

_ By JOHN FORDHAM, The Guardian

If you find it, buy this album!

PHIL WOODS and GENE QUILL – Phil and Quill with Prestige (LP-1957)

On The Trail Of Old Albums
Label: Prestige – P-7115,  Esquire 32-050
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album; Released: 1957
Style: Bop, Improvisation
Recorded: Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Hackensack, NJ, March 29, 1957.
Composed By – Phil Woods
Engineer – Van Gelder
Liner Notes – Ira Gitler
Supervised By – Bob Weinstock

This album should be part of any jazz collector. These players both show a later bebop style patterned after Parker; In fact, Woods has a real knack for quoting "Bird" licks as part of his individual style. Quill keeps up with Phil in almost all areas, so you get a jam-session/battle of the horns feel throughout this LP.
Highly recommended.

A1 - Creme De Funk . . . 5:09
A2 - Lazy-Like . . . 5:53
A3 - Nothing But Soul . . . 6:47
B1 - A Night At St. Nick's . . . 6:48
B2 - Black Cherry Fritters . . . 5:27
B3 – Altology . . . 6:30

PHIL WOODS – alto saxophone
GENE QUILL – alto saxophone

Prestige original design: – well, what is there to say? Hi Phil, Hi Gene.

This one is another great album from 1957 the jazz zenith, the perfect year. Phil and Quill were both alto men, were both Parkerian so it's not that easy to recognize who's playing for the jazz novice. Anyhow I'll help saying that Woods has a more beautiful, autoritathive sound. He's the "boss" here (the rhythm section is quite good but we don't have the biggest stars here), Quill has a smaller sound and less fantasy I might say. Phil Woods is in splendid shape here blowing a bebop phrease after another (quoting Parker here and there, what a musical delight!) being always interesting. Quill is good too, don't get me wrong, very good. But Woods's the Boss and you can easily hear that. The track list is quite interesting. The opener is a minor blues medium tempo, funky blues. Funky in the jazz sense ... every phrase is in place, the attitude is right, bad, absolutly ok. Funky! Dont' think to James Brown here! "Lazy like" is a major tune again mid tempoed. "Nothing but soul" is a little faster.  "A night at St. Nicks" is a fast bopper thing. Woods delight me here! 100% parkerian!! Great! "Black cherry fritters" is a kind of soul jazz thing even if soul jazz is a sixties trend. They anticipate it here because this is another medium tempo tune with a "soul" theme. With "Altology" we come back to up tempo things. Some breaks here and there.
When you're considering an album like this it's difficult to understand which kind of tunes you're going to find under the titles. If you read the title of a standard ok, you know what you'll going to listen, but when you read "Creme de funk" chances are you don't know what you will find. And then you discover that it's a simple minor blues. So I think it helps to read reviews where every tune is described. Blues, minor blues, anatolls are so commonly contrafacted and titled differently that it helps to know in advance what you' ll find under strange titles. Anyway this is an extremely consistent album. I'll call it essential to own a really complete jazz collection. Buy it with confidence. Moreover it is true, it is recorded very well, the overall sound is clean and warm.  (_By Jazzcat)

If you find it, buy this album!