Sunday, March 29, 2015


Label: Dischi Della Quercia – 2Q 28005
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: Italy / Released: 1978
Style: Free Jazz, Contemporary Jazz, Free Improvisation, Avant-garde
Recorded at: Live al Teatro Lirico di Milano il 22 novembre 1977.
Engineer: Giuseppe Setaro
Cover Photos: Paola Mattioli
Sextett Photo: Laura Rizzi

G r a f f i t i
A1 - Black Out ........................................ 9:54
A2 - Soul Street ....................................... 7:58
B1 - Ballo Popolare Sui Navigli .............. 5:42
B2 - Black Night, Black Light ............... 12:25
C1 – Tastiere .......................................... 12:05
C2 - Mexico City Free ............................. 9:22
D1 - Alle Fonti Del Jazz .......................... 8:15
D2 - La Ballata Del Pover Luisin ............ 8:47

Giorgio Gaslini  piano, electric piano, spinetta
Gianni Bedori  tenore and soprano sax
Gianluigi Trovesi  alto and soprano sax, bass clarinet
Paolo Damiani  double-bass
Gianni Cazzola  drums
Luis Agudo  percussions

In 1960 Gaslini wrote and recorded the music for Michelangelo Antonioni’s masterpiece La Notte. Five years later he made a record called Nuovi Sentimenti (New Feelings), with a band including Don Cherry, Steve Lacy, Gato Barbieri, two bassists and two drummers: an early example of a European musician embracing the avant garde. Since then he has written and recorded music in just about every conceivable format, from solos and duos through a regular quartet that featured the fine Italian tenorist Gianni Bedori, to quintets, sextets, septets, octets and many kinds of  large ensemble; he has composed jazz pieces for his own big band and the Italian Instabile Orchestra, symphonies, choral pieces, ballet scores, and an opera called Colloquio per Malcolm X.

 Giorgio Gaslini
 Gianluigi Trovesi

...However, the most fully realised music is contained on the two albums devoted to a sextet he led in the late ’70s, with Bedori on tenor and soprano saxes, Gianluigi Trovesi on alto and soprano sax and bass clarinet, Paolo Damiani on double bass, Gianni Cazzola on drums and Luis Agudo on percussion. The first of them, dating from 1977, is called Free Actions and sounds today as fresh and compelling as any post-Coltrane jazz that was being played anywhere in the world at the time. Better than that: anyone listening to the brilliantly imaginative solos of Bedori and  Trovesi against an active, hard-swinging ostinato figure during the fifth and final movement of the suite from which the album takes its name might well find themselves thinking of the current Wayne Shorter Quartet, and concluding that the Italians are not shamed by such an exalted comparison, even though they were making their music almost three and a half decades ago.

The second sextet album, Graffiti, was recorded live in Milan the following year and is equally as good. Again it’s a suite, and one of the movements — called “Soul Street” — brilliantly captures the spirit of the Charles Mingus of East Coasting and Jazz Portraits. It’s also in this track that Gaslini’s piano solo demonstrates how well he can blend the free with the funky. Once again Bedori and Trovesi are outstanding throughout, while Damiani’s sinewy bass lines remind me of his British contemporary, the late, lamented Jeff Clyne...

My favorite album for this month. Enjoy!

If you find it, buy this album!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

DAVE HOLLAND / SAM RIVERS – Dave Holland and Sam Rivers, Vol. 1 (LP-1976)

Label: Improvising Artists Inc. – IAI 373843
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1976
Style: Avant-garde Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Big Apple Studio, New York City, February 18, 1976.
Artwork [Jacket], Photography By – Carol Goss
Composed By – Sam Rivers
Producer – Paul Bley
Recorded By, Mixed By – David Baker

A - Waterfall  ........................................................ 17:10
bass – Dave Holland / soprano saxophone – Sam Rivers

B - Cascade  .......................................................... 21:20
bass – Dave Holland / tenor saxophone – Sam Rivers

Intimate improvisational music played with absolute mastery by the incredible Sam Rivers (saxophonist/flutist/composer) and a great virtuoso of the double bass Dave Holland. A profound musical journey - but also just a dialogue between friends. Essential.

The first of two LPs that bring back a daylong duet session by Sam Rivers and bassist Dave Holland consists of two lengthy improvisations featuring Rivers on soprano and tenor; volume two features him playing flute and piano. Rivers' adventurous solos and interplay with the virtuosic Holland make this record of interest to listeners with open ears toward the avant-garde, despite the LP-length playing time.

Please be aware that this music will not immediately mandate foot tapping. Nor was it intended to, at least not during the first listen. It IS the combination of two legendary musicians providing wholly improvised, extended duo performances that never weaken with time. This music was recorded in 1976, and is still fresh. It does not fall into the traps of, I am sorry to say standard, so-called free form music, with its inability to focus. Rather, this musical set brings the listener to and through distinctly formed stream of consciousness improvisations with Sam Rivers playing and soprano then tenor saxes, underpinned by Dave Holland on bass. This, along with Volume two of this collaboration, should be a part of anyone's collection who appreciates interactive music which develops musical forms with structure and clarity; music that never fades.

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

PHIL WOODS QUARTET – New Music By The New Phil Woods Quartet (LP-1974)

Label: Testament Records – T-4402
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1974
Style: Contemporary Jazz, Fusion
Recorded and Mastered At Artisan Sound Recorders, TR&M, 1974.
Mastered By [Tape-To-Disc Mastering] – Bob McLeod
Producer, Recorded By – Pete Robinson
Transferred By [Tape Transfer], Edited By – Pete Robinson, Pete Welding

A1 - Charity ........................................................................... 10:24
         (by – Pete Robinson)
A2 - Cumulus ........................................................................ 10:27
         (by – Pete Robinson)
B1 - Nefertiti And Riot .......................................................... 17:06
         (by [Nefertiti] – W. Shorter / by [Riot] – H. Hancock)
B2 - Yesterdays ....................................................................... 3:57
         (by – J. Kern, O. Harbach)

Phil Woods – saxophone
Pete Robinson – keyboards, synthesizer
Henry Franklin – bass
Brian Moffat – drums, percussion

This LP finds Woods playing in a very modern fusion-y mode than we are used to hearing from him.  With Pete Robinson on keys/synths,  Henry Franklin on bass, and Brian Moffatt on percussion.  Definitely one of his more out recordings.

When Phil Woods returned to the United States after several years in Europe, he formed a quartet with keyboardist Pete Robinson, bassist Henry Franklin and drummer Brian Moffatt that utilized electronics. Ten months of rehearsal resulted in four nights at a club and then little else before the band broke up. This LP, recorded at rehearsals in 1973, was the group's only album. On a pair of Robinson's challenging originals, the standard "Yesterdays" and a medley of Wayne Shorter's "Nefertiti" and Herbie Hancock's "Riot," Woods and Robinson challenge each other. However, the electronics, surprisingly, do sound a pretty good, and the band was only in what should have been the early stages of its development; it sometimes sounds a bit strangely and never really had a chance to mature.

Eh, that was more time and understanding ... who knows? ...

If you find it, buy this album!

SAM RIVERS and DAVE HOLLAND – Vol. 2 (LP-1976)

Label: Improvising Artists Inc. – IAI 373.848
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1977
Style: Avant-garde Jazz, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Big Apple Studio, New York City, February 18, 1976.
Painting [Jacket Cover Drawing] – David Garland
Photography By [Jacket Liner] – Carol Goss
Producer – Paul Bley
Recorded By, Mixed By – David Baker

A - Ripples ............................................................. 23:49
bass – Dave Holland / flute, composed by – Sam Rivers

B – Deluge .............................................................. 23:23
bass – Dave Holland / piano, composed by – Sam Rivers

Sam Rivers / Dave Holland Vol. 2 is an album by American jazz saxophonist Sam Rivers and English double-bassist Dave Holland featuring performances recorded in 1976 and released on the Improvising Artists label. Not Easy Listening, but unique and beautiful music, and as with Volume I, excellently formed.

...In a significant discography now approaching forty titles as a leader across five decades, "Contrasts" stands out as the only recording that left-of-center saxophonist/flautist Sam Rivers led for ECM. Originally released in 1980 on vinyl.
Rivers made his ECM debut on Dave Holland's classic 1973 ECM recording, "Conference of the Birds". In the years between these two recordings, the pair continued to work together in a number of formats, most notably as the duo responsible for Sam Rivers/Dave Holland Vol. 1 (I.A.I., 1976) and Vol. 2 (I.A.I., 1977), and in a trio with drummer Barry Altschul on "Sizzle" (Impulse!, 1976) and "Paragon" (Fluid, 1977). But it was with "Waves" (Tomato, 1979), that the seeds of "Contrasts" were born, as Rivers and Holland were joined by drummer/percussionist Thurman Barker, a similarly avant-reaching member of Chicago's Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM)...

...When Sam Rivers met up with bassist Dave Holland for a set of duets, he decided to record two LPs and play a different instrument on each of the sidelong pieces. While Rivers performs on tenor and soprano during the first volume, the second recording finds him playing "Ripples" on flute and switching to piano for "Deluge"; both performances are over 23 minutes long. Since tenor is easily Rivers's strongest ax, this set is something different, equally successful and very intriguing. The flute piece has several different sections that keep both the musicians and listeners interested, while Rivers's piano feature is quite intense...

Hey, that's Sam & Dave, isn't it?


If you find it, buy this album!

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

MICHAEL MANTLER – No Answer (LP-1974)

Label: WATT Works ‎– WATT/ 2, Virgin – WATT/ 2
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: UK / Released: 1974
Style: Contemporary Jazz
Recorded and Mixed At Blue Rock Studio, 1974.
Design – Paul McDonough
Engineer – Eddie Korvin, Frank Owen
Engineer [Assistant] – Richard Elen
Mixed By – Eddie Korvin
Photography By – Gregory Reeve, Jerry Bauer, Valerie Wilmer
Producer – Michael Mantler

        Number Six
A1 - Part One . . . . . . . . . . 4:55
A2 - Part Two . . . . . . . . . . 4:50
A3 - Part Three . . . . . . . . . 5:45
A4 - Part Four . . . . . . . . . . 2:05
        Number Twelve
B1 - Part One . . . . . . . . . . 7:35
B2 - Part Two . . . . . . . . . . 4:05
B3 - Part Three . . . . . . . . . 2:00
B4 - Part Four . . . . . . . . . . 2:55

Composed By – Michael Mantler
Words By – Samuel Beckett From "How It Is", 1964

Carla Bley – piano, organ, clavinet
Don Cherry – trumpet
Jack Bruce – voice, bass

A Beckett-like "Endgame" atmosphere, a feeling of hopelessness, pervades the work ... a very demanding, exceptionally intelligent production ....

No Answer marks the recorded beginning of Michael Mantler's fascination with the texts of Samuel Beckett as well as a long association with former Cream vocalist/bassist Jack Bruce. Here, with the spare instrumentation of voice, electric bass, keyboards, and trumpet (the late, great Don Cherry in outstanding form), he sets words from How It Is to accompaniment that ranges in style from bleak and spacy to almost funky. Bruce, with his high, plaintive voice, does a superb job here, investing the cynical, bitter text (example: "and the mud yes the dark yes the mud and the dark are true yes nothing to regret there no") with conviction and the right inflection of sorrow. On a couple of pieces, his bass kicks in for a momentary groove that sounds as though it was recalled from the type of Cream session that produced "I'm So Glad," but Mantler doesn't allow such relief to continue for long, antithetical as it would be to the Beckettian world he's conjuring. The songs aren't structured as pop pieces, however; they owe more to contemporary art songs despite the instrumentation, making the affair challenging to the listener expecting a rockish album but relatively easy compared to his earlier work with the Jazz Composer's Orchestra. The contributions by Cherry and Mantler's then-wife, Carla Bley, are crucial to the success of the album, each playing in a stark style that befits the matters at hand. No Answer is an unusually fine melding of theatrical text and music and one of Mantler's best efforts in this genre. Recommended.


hard to believe too yes that I have a voice
yes in me yes when the panting stops yes
not at other times no and that I murmur yes
I yes in the dark yes in the mud yes for
nothing yes I yes but it must be believed yes

and the mud yes the dark yes the mud and
the dark are true yes nothing to regret there no   

so things may change no answer end
no answer I may choke no answer sink
no answer sully the mud no more no answer
the dark no answer trouble the peace no
more no answer the silence no answer die
no answer DIE screams I MAY DIE screams
I SHALL DIE screams good

Instrumentation is sparse and somber, occasionally heavy on Bley's organ drone. Cherry's presence is comparatively brief, but he's his usual compelling, challenging self, the most distinctive trumpet voice around. Bley and Bruce carry the weight with virtuoso performances. ... This is music of great strength, created by a master composer who needs to be heard. Mantler's music demands the support of open, intelligent ears everywhere.

"No Answer" was a bold step into new territory. Jack Bruce, bassist/vocalist from rock group Cream, had proven himself much more than a pop singer on the epic "Escalator Over The Hill", Carla Bley's "chronotransduction", produced by Mantler between 1968 and 1971. On "No Answer" Bruce was given Samuel Beckett's tense/intense texts from "How It Is" to sing, Beckett is celebrated by some commentators for his grim humour. This, however, was never his appeal for Mantler: "I don't care for what people see as the satirical side of Beckett. I don't like the way the plays are produced, for instance. I like to see Beckett's work on a page, printed almost graphically - as a series of events. True, 'Watt' itself is a very funny book, but I never considered putting it to music. I was always so much attracted by the dark side, that was always enough. Enough material for a long time, to stay with that."

Bruce's voice, multi-tracked, soars and dives through Beckett's blackest moods, tellingly set by Mantler. An extraordinary performance. There is also intense keyboard work from Carla Bley, without a trace of the whimsy cultivated in later years, and bubbling, speeding trumpet work from the late, great Don Cherry.

If you find it, buy this album!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

CHICK COREA – Is (LP-1969 / Solid State Records)

Label: Solid State Records – SS 18055
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1969
Style: Free Jazz, Avant-garde Jazz
Recorded at Bell Sound, New York City on May 11/12, 1969.
Art Direction – Frank Gauna
Painting [Cover] – Hans Weingaertner
Mastered At – Bell Sound Studios
Producer – Sonny Lester

A  -  Is ...................................... 29:01
         (by – C. Corea)
B1 - Jamala .............................. 14:14
         (by – D. Holland)
B2 - This .................................... 8:18
         (by – C. Corea)
B3 - It ......................................... 0:28
         (by – C. Corea)

Chick Corea – piano, el. piano
Woody Shaw – trumpet
Bennie Maupin – tenor saxophone
Hubert Laws – piccolo flute
Dave Holland – double bass
Jack DeJohnette – drums
Horace Arnold – percussion

There is nothing better than hearing jazz legends as much younger men; hungry, talented and wanting to make their mark on the world. This album gives you all of that. Corea, Holland, DeJohnette and a very very fierce pre-Headhunters Bennie Maupin, then there are also surprisingly free Woody Shaw and Hubert Laws. Legends one and all.

Although the recording of Chick Corea’s “IS” sessions took place in May of 1969, the rhythm section, which consists of bassist Dave Holland, drummer Jack DeJohnette, and legendary Latin/hard-bop/fusion pianist Chick Corea, found its footing seven months earlier in the electric tone poems of the In A Silent Way sessions under Miles Davis’s leadership.

The “IS” sessions, is a great LP released on Solid State Records, which is a musical example of the exploratory sound of 1969. On IS, Corea, Holland, and DeJohnette largely break into the “new thing” or avant-garde with the help of hard bop players Woody Shaw and Bennie Maupin, flutist Hebert Laws, and percussionist Horace Arnold.

Records begins with “Is” is a 28 minutes of free association, a free jazz opus which symbolizes the experimental attitude that was present in American music and society in the late ’60s.

“Jamala” introduces the free-form style with which begins the second side of the album. The piece, composed by Holland, is over fourteen minutes of avant-garde ramblings, unstated tempos, and dissonant piano chord changes.

“This” breaks into free jazz territory, with Maupin dodging in and out of Corea’s lines on electric piano. It’s not suprising that Corea’s soloing on “This” has the seemingly chaotic but controlled intonations of Herbie Hancock considering they both played in Miles Davis’s free bop quintet on Filles De Kilimanjaro. Over five minutes of “This” is dedicated to showing off the simultaneous improvisation between Holland and Corea.

“It,” a 28 second classical duet between flutist Laws and Corea that is based on an original Corea composition called “Trio for Flute, Bassoon, and Piano.”

This music is 46 years old now. Just realize what has happened during this time in contemporary music - jazz or "classical": The borderline has completely vanished. Listen to 21st century contemporary music ("classical") - it sounds like Chick Corea in 1969.

If you find it, buy this album!

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

FREDDIE HUBBARD – Here To Stay (1962, LP-1985)

Label: Blue Note – BST 84135
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1985
Style: Hard Bop, Improvisation
Recorded on December 27, 1962 at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
Design [Cover] – Reid Miles
Liner Notes – Peter Keepnews
Producer – Alfred Lion
Recorded By [Recording By] – Rudy Van Gelder

This album was scheduled for release as BST 84135 in 1963 but was never issued.
It first appeared as part of a Hubbard double album (BNLA 496-2) in 1976.
It is issued here for the first time with the original Reid Miles cover from 1963.

A1 - Philly Mignon . . . . . . . . . . 5:28
         (by – Freddie Hubbard)
A2 - Father And Son . . . . . . . . . . 6:34
         (by – Cal Massey)
A3 - Body And Soul . . . . . . . . . . 6:25
         (by – Heyman, Eyton, Green, Sour)
B1 - Nostrand And Fulton . . . . . . . . . . 7:07
         (by – Freddie Hubbard)
B2 - Full Moon And Empty Arms . . . . . . . . . . 5:25
         (by – Kaye, Mossman)
B3 - Assunta . . . . . . . . . . 7:05
        (by – Cal Massey)

Freddie Hubbard – trumpet
Wayne Shorter – tenor saxophone
Cedar Walton – piano
Reggie Workman – bass
Philly Joe Jones – drums, percussion

Scheduled for release in 1962 and then effectively shelved until 1986, “Here To Stay” is another of the seminal Blue Note albums that failed to see the light of day at the time of recording. Perhaps this reflects the difficult choices that Albert Lion had to make too often in order to keep a small independent record label afloat.

“Here To Stay” is a fine and early example of Freddie Hubbard, then aged only 24, as a fully formed imaginative voice in jazz. The band - Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone); Cedar Walton (piano); Reggie Workman (bass); Philly Joe Jones (drums) – offers an ideal platform; all these musicians except Philly Joe Jones were working together at the time with Freddie Hubbard in Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers and the understanding they had developed shows. But it is Freddie Hubbard’s trumpet playing that really impresses; no wonder that his inventiveness on the instrument is still so admired today.

“Philly Mignon”, the opening track and a Freddie Hubbard composition is all about virtuoso trumpet licks, played fast, perhaps too fast. The other Freddie Hubbard composition on the album, “Nostrand And Fulton”, however is waltzy and fluid. “Father And Son”, the first of two Cal Massey compositions starts out as lightweight samba based bluesy ballad but then goes through interesting transitions, finally emerging as a loose-limbed good time feel blues. The second Cal Massey composition, “Assunta” has Wayne Shorter sounding very Coltrane-like and seems to be mainly a vehicle for him until Freddie Hubbard interjects with a characteristically fluent solo that changes the pace and direction. “Full Moon And Empty Arms” dates from 1946 and is based on a melody from the third movement of Rachmaninoff's Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor with words and arrangement by Buddy Kaye and Ted Mossman. It was recorded by Frank Sinatra and is not highly regarded. Freddie Hubbard and the band here go some way to rescuing it but without complete success.

The stand out track is a fine version of the standard “Body And Soul”. Comparison with Coleman Hawkins’ classic 1939 tenor sax version of the Johnny Green song or even with John Coltrane’s 1960 version on “Coltrane’s Sound” shows just how far Freddie Hubbard had come with a truly modern appreciation of the song and how to interpret it for trumpet.

“Here To Stay” is a very welcome addition to the Freddie Hubbard catalogue and is highly recommended.

If you find it, buy this album!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

DEXTER GORDON – One Flight Up (LP-1964)

Label: Blue Note – BLP 4176
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album / Country: US / Released: 1964
Style: Contemporary Jazz, Improvisation
Recorded at the Barclay Studios, Paris, France, on June 2, 1964.
Design [Cover] – Reid Miles
Liner Notes – Leonard Feather
Producer, Photography By [Cover Photo] – Francis Wolff
Recorded By – Jacques Lubin

A  -  Tanya . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18:22
         (by – Donald Byrd)
B1 - Coppin' The Haven . . . . . . . . .  11:18
         (by – Kenny Drew)
B2 - Darn That Dream . . . . . . . . . . . . 7:33
         (by – DeLange, Van Heusen)

Dexter Gordon – tenor saxophone
Donald Byrd – trumpet
Kenny Drew – piano
Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen – bass
Art Taylor – drums, percussion

Dexter Gordon is often cited as a major influence on John Coltrane. He was the first to take Charlie Parker's alto sax bebop breakthroughs and understand how to develop them for tenor. Not that he is aiming at the same transcendent themes as Coltrane but rather that his musical understanding is a spur to playing sax in a more open and responsive way than heard before.

This openness and invention is heard at its best on “One Flight Up”. The album is remarkable for a host of reasons. It was recorded in Paris (not New Jersey) by musicians who had established themselves outside of the United States. On its initial release on vinyl, a single 18 minute track (“Tanya”) took up the whole of the first side – this some two years before Bob Dylan’s “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” amazed the pop world by taking up a whole side of the album “Blonde on Blonde”. And “One Flight Up” marks the early and definitive appearance of one of the few European jazz players to make it on a truly international stage – bass player Niels-Henning Orsted Pedersen, unsurprisingly known for short as NHOP.

Dexter had been successful with the 1963 Blue Note release “Our Man In Paris” (with Bud Powell (piano), Pierre Michelot (bass) and Kenny Clarke (drums), recorded at CBS studios Paris, as the title suggests. This in itself is often regarded as one of the great jazz albums in which Dexter’s style fully and freely emerges. Francis Wolff was keen to get more of Dexter’s output on disc and went to Paris to produce the “One Flight Up” sessions.

Leonard Feather’s original album liner notes for “One Flight Up” refer to a round table discussion for “Down Beat” in 1964 in which Dexter Gordon and Kenny Drew (who plays piano on the album) talk about the advantages of being expatriates. Dexter had left the US in 1962 to take up a permanent residency at the Montmatre Club in Copenhagen. There he had recruited NHOP (then aged just 16) as bass player in his trio. Kenny Drew had moved to Paris in 1960, staying on after a six week role in the play “The Connection”. Both point out the freedom that they were able to discover in playing jazz away from the pressures of being back home. The most obvious advantage was the absence of racism – still a major problem for African Americans in the 1960s, as we have pointed out in discussing John Coltrane’s music. Miles Davis had had a similar experience when he had lived for awhile in Paris in 1957, shortly after recording ‘Kind Of Blue”.

He was there to make the soundtrack of Louis Malle’s film noir “Ascenseur Pour L'Echafaud (Lift To The Scaffold)”, joining the Left Bank artistic set (which included Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir) and, by all accounts, having an affair with movie actress Juliette Grecco. (All this is documented in the remarkable book by Boris Vian - "Manual of Saint Germain-Des-Pres"). Miles has remarked on the shock of being for the first time looked upon as a musician and a person about whom his race was not the most important thing. Seven years later, Dexter Gordon experienced the same freedom that could enter his music once that context of racism has been removed: “I felt that I could breathe, and just be more or less a human being, without being white or black….”

But there was a second aspect of the freedom of being in Europe that was equally important; working at the same location with continuity of employment in the same job (Dexter at the Montmatre, Drew with long residencies in Paris) created the space in which artistic expression could flower away from the constant pressure of touring at home. The music of “One Flight Up” fully reflects this newfound freedom.

Formally, this is expressed in the way the open, mainly modal, structures of “Tanya” and “Coppin’ The Haven” allow space for each musician to express himself, unhurried, untroubled by conventions of time and length, able to take just as much room as they wish to get their musical ideas over. The sound and feel is remarkably similar to that achieved on Miles’ “Kind of Blue”; the clarity of Donald Byrd’s trumpet and Dexter Gordon’s sax echoing Miles’ and John Coltrane’s earlier masterpiece.

“Tanya”, a Donald Byrd composition, is built around a heavy asymmetrical beat from Art Taylor and features two counterposed themes, the first modal and free flowing and the second more structured and conventional. The modal theme tends to stoke up tension, the more conventional theme serving as release, capturing that early ‘sixties jazz urban optimism. The overall feel is one of well-being, of being at peace and in harmony with whatever life brings.

As in Lee Morgan’s “The Sidewinder” there is the feeling that for all the lack of restriction on what each soloist will contribute, every note is somehow necessary and that though the piece is indeed 18 minutes long, that length is fully justified. “Coppin’ The Haven” (a Kenny Drew composition) is very similarly structured and executed except that the pace is quicker and the sense of well-being is infused with a sense of urgency. On both tracks the quintet is heard in full. “On Darn That Dream” (a Dexter Gordon composition that did not make it the original release) Donald Byrd is absent.

A key player here is Niels-Herring Orsted Pedersen. Indeed, following his death aged 58 in April 2005, the whole album could be taken not only as a fitting tribute to Dexter Gordon's legacy (he died in 1990) but also to NHOP's legacy. Barely 18 at the time of recording “One Flight Up”, NHOP already displays those hallmarks that would lead to his long and illustrious career in jazz, most notably his long membership of the Oscar Peterson Trio. As John Fordham notes in his obituary for "The Guardian", where most bass players pluck the strings with a single finger (or a single clump of fingers) NHOP has the strength and dexterity to pluck the strings with four fingers individually, much as a guitar player would pick the strings of that instrument. The result is a fluency and an ability to develop bass line runs with rapidity and complexity that is seldom heard on the instrument. This is heard to full effect on “Tanya” and “Coppin’ The Haven” where the bass forms almost a fourth solo instrument at the same time as it also takes up its rhythm duties. Indeed, so strong is the rhythm taken on by bass that Art Taylor’s drumming is freed up to launch into all sort of increasingly complex cross rhythms that build on the feeling of openness as the song progresses.

“Darn That Dream” is a more conventional take on the jazz standard, taken as a late night, after hours piece. Donald Byrd is absent; there is more opportunity for Dexter to show off his lyrical side and excellent sax technique. Richard Cook and Brian Morton note that this track in particular shows the influence of Dexter’s playing on John Coltrane’s harmonic development at this time.

Overall, this a great album, catching five fine musicians at a moment in their careers when the pressure was off and the barriers to creative expression had been lowered. Over fifty years later that discovery they found in this music still shines through.

If you find it, buy this album!

ANDREW HILL (Sextet) – Point Of Departure (LP-1964)

Label: Blue Note – BLP 4167
Format: Vinyl, LP, Album  / Country: US / Released: 1964
Style: Post Bop, Free Improvisation
Recorded at Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, March 21, 1964.
Design [Cover], Photography By [Cover Photo] – Reid Miles
Liner Notes – Nat Hentoff
Recorded By – Rudy Van Gelder

A1 - Refuge . . . . . . . . . . 12:18
A2 - New Monastery . . . . . . . . . . 7:05
B1 - Spectrum . . . . . . . . . . 9:48
B2 - Flight 19 . . . . . . . . . . 4:15
B3 - Dedication . . . . . . . . . . 6:45

Andrew Hill – piano, composed
Eric Dolphy – alto saxophone, flute, bass clarinet
Joe Henderson – tenor saxophone
Kenny Dorham – trumpet
Richard Davis – double bass
Anthony Williams – drums, percussion

Pianist and composer Andrew Hill is perhaps known more for this date than any other in his catalogue -- and with good reason. Hill's complex compositions straddled many lines in the early to mid-1960s and crossed over many. Point of Departure, with its all-star lineup (even then), took jazz and wrote a new book on it, excluding nothing. With Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson on saxophones (Dolphy also played clarinet, bass clarinet, and flute), Richard Davis on bass, Tony Williams on drums, and Kenny Dorham on trumpet, this was a cast created for a jazz fire dance. From the opening moments of "Refuge," with its complex minor mode intro that moves headlong via Hill's large, open chords that flat sevenths, ninths, and even 11ths in their striding to move through the mode, into a wellspring of angular hard bop and minor-key blues. Hill's solo is first and it cooks along in the upper middle register, almost all right hand ministrations, creating with his left a virtual counterpoint for Davis and a skittering wash of notes for Williams. The horn solos in are all from the hard bop book, but Dolphy cuts his close to the bone with an edgy tone. "New Monastery," which some mistake for an avant-garde tune, is actually a rewrite of bop minimalism extended by a diminished minor mode and an intervallic sequence that, while clipped, moves very quickly. Dorham solos to connect the dots of the knotty frontline melody and, in his wake, leaves the space open for Dolphy, who blows edgy, blue, and true into the center, as Hill jumps to create a maelstrom by vamping with augmented and suspended chords. Hill chills it out with gorgeous legato phrasing and a left-hand ostinato that cuts through the murk in the harmony. When Henderson takes his break, he just glides into the chromatically elegant space created by Hill, and it's suddenly a new tune. This LP is full of moments like this. In Hill's compositional world, everything is up for grabs. It just has to be taken a piece at a time, and not by leaving your fingerprints all over everything. In "Dedication," where he takes the piano solo further out melodically than on the rest of the album combined, he does so gradually. You cannot remember his starting point, only that there has been a transformation. This is a stellar date, essential for any representative jazz collection, and a record that, in the 21st century, still points the way to the future for jazz.
_ Review by Thom Jurek

In 1964, the term avant-garde could have been applied to any number of different musical angles in jazz. The free experiments of John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, with their pure emotional howling set within very limited contextual framework, are perhaps the most notorious. But there was another avenue that retained a significant structural environment with greater emphasis on composition,even if those compositions were themselves quite a stretch. Hill's third recording as a leader, the diabolically brilliant Point of Departure, may be the apex of this school.
This album includes some of the fiercest, high density writing of the era, with each track featuring tight, byzantine written statements and full-throated blending of timbres. The music includes dissonant harmonies, often employing multiple melodic ideas, and often played very fast. It would be easy to imagine the musicians scratching their heads on the first run through, struggling with music that reached for new levels of complexity. Nevertheless, and despite the very complicated, wrought compositions, the band plays rather loosely. They're all there, but a perfect precision performance does not appear to have been Hill's core demand. Instead, people come in and out slightly ahead or behind the beats, and even when they're harmonizing, cacophonous filigrees abound.
On top of all that—and that's already a lot—Point of Departure features extraordinary improvising. Eric Dolphy—on alto sax, flute and his trademark bass clarinet—pursues pathways that make perfect sense within the music, but still sound like they've arrived from another planet. Joe Henderson's tenor work is right out there with Dolphy, and Kenny Dorham's trumpet adds a bright brass blare over all of it. Hill's piano is all over the map, and he plays the way he writes: inventive, unpredictable, and fearless. Notably, although the improvising is very aggressive and forward-looking, everyone still keeps his statements within the context of the music. Nothing on this record ever veers off into free territory...
A musical masterpiece.

(_ By Greg Simmons)

If you find it, buy this album!