An unlikely, but amazing meeting of the avant jazz minds – a classic set that has LA trumpeter Bobby Bradford coming into play with the UK Spontaneous Music Ensemble, led by drummer John Stevens! The material was recorded, almost spontaneously, on a holiday trip Bradford made to London in 1971 – but the record's become an enduring classic, thanks to the creative energy of the players involved, and the dynamic quality of the improvisations in the studio! Bradford's trumpet sounds quite different here than in his better-known work of the time with reedman John Carter – much more outside and forceful, really set loose in the company of Stevens' group – which, in this incarnation, includes Trevor Watts on alto and soprano sax, Bob Norden on trombone, Ron Herman on bass, and Julie Tippetts on guitar and a bit of voice. Titles include "His Majesty Louis", "Bridget's Mother", and "Room 408". LP, Vinyl record album
Keith Jarrett —
Shades ... LP ABC/Impulse, 1976. Near Mint- ...
A lost gem from Keith's "with horns" period – a quintet session from the mid 70s, recorded with a group that features Dewey Redman on tenor, plus Charlie Haden on bass, Paul Motian on drums and percussion, and Guilherme Franco on additional percussion. The feel is a bit straighter than Jarrett's excellent Death & The Flower set – as the tunes have a highly rhythmic component, and make good use of the extra percussion to create a flowing, organic groove. There's still a nice loose feel overall, though – almost a take on the loft jazz sound, especially at the moments when Jarrett goes a bit outside on piano. Titles include "Shades Of Jazz", "Southern Smiles", "Rose Petals", and "Diatribe". LP, Vinyl record album
One of Don Pullen's best-known albums, and for good reason too – a well-recorded document of a Montreux performance that helped put Don's piano talents in the spotlight for the rest of the 70s! The record's got a sense of freedom that's quite unusual for Atlantic Records at the time – as each side features one long track, played at a level that's very spontaneous, and often quite outside – at least at some points. Side one features an extended version of Muhal Richard Abrams' "Richard's Tune", done with a trio that features electric bass by Jeff Berlin and drums by Steve Jordan – and side two features the even more beautiful Pullen original, "Dialogue Between Malcolm & Betty" – which adds in some great Latin percussion to the trio! LP, Vinyl record album
(Cover has light wear, a gold promo stamp and three small cutout holes in one corner.)
An overlooked killer from Archie Shepp – a set that almost recalls some of the spiritual moments of his later Impulse work, and which definitely has him moving past some of the straighter sounds of this period in his career! Things are never too outside or free, but there's a balance with straightness that's really great – so that when the rhythms are gentle, Archie might really take off in an edgey solo – or when the grooves have more force, he might hang inside with a soulful core energy, holding the whole group together. There's some great use of electric bass on the date – played by Saheb Sarbib – and other players include Charles McGhee on trumpet, Ken Warner on piano, and Marvin Smitty Smith on drums. Players vocalize a bit at times – in an older Shepp way – and titles include "Down Home New York", "May 16th", "Down Home New York", "Straight Street", and "The 4th World". LP, Vinyl record album
A magical set of solo piano work by Horace Tapscott – one of the few players who can hold our ear so strongly in such a setting! The album features original tunes by Tapscott, Arthur Blythe, and Louis Spears – spun out in a soulfully elliptical style that manages to be exploratory without ever needing to go too far outside. As with others in this series, the recording quality is excellent – and really resonates with the strength of the piano work! Titles include "A Dress For Renee", "Shades Of Soweto", "Whit", "The Hero's Last Dance", and "Toward The Sunset". LP, Vinyl record album
Beautiful work from Michael White – one of the few musicians who can actually make us love the sound of the violin in jazz! White's working here in a style that's very much in line with some of the post-Coltrane spiritual soul jazz in Impulse in the early 70s – an approach that's free-thinking, yet never as far outside as some of the avant work on the label during the 60s. Instead, there's a gentle, almost contemplative groove here – one that has echoes of some of Alice Coltrane's more meditative recordings, yet which also breaks out with some of the more modal jazz of Michael White's roots. Players on the album include Prince Lasha on reeds, Ed Kelly on piano, Cecil McBee on bass, and Kenneth Nash on percussion – and the album's filled with organic textures and beautifully flowing grooves! Titles include the beautiful "Land Of Spirit & Light" suite in three parts, plus "Fatima's Garden", "Fiesta Dominical", "O Ancient One" and "Lament (Mankind)". LP, Vinyl record album
(Black label ABC/Impulse pressing. Cover has a small cutout hole.)
Pharoah Sanders —
Karma ... LP Impulse, 1969. Very Good- Gatefold ...
Just Sold Out!
Quite possibly the best-remembered album from Pharoah Sanders' legendary run at Impulse Records – a set that crossed over big, and sold to countless folks who might not have bought a jazz album this hip otherwise! The record was Sanders' first in the wake of Coltrane's passing – and it's a beautiful extended suite of tracks that flows with a sense of grace, power, and majesty that's simply breathtaking – a new level of expression in spiritual jazz – and virtually the blueprint for an entire generation to come! The album features the classic track "The Creator Has a Master Plan" – spanning a tremendous amount of space and time – and featuring Leon Thomas' classic vocals on the lyrics! Thomas also returns on the cut "Colors", which is a bit more outside, and quite free overall – and other players on the date include Lonnie Liston Smith on piano, James Spaulding on flute, Julius Watkins on French horn, Ron Carter and Richard Davis on bass, and Freddie Waits and Billy Hart on drums. LP, Vinyl record album
One of the best non-Saturn Sun Ra albums of the 60s – material recorded live on a tour of New York colleges in 1966, and very much in a spirit that captures the Arkestra at their best! Longer tracks are juxtaposed nicely with shorter ones – in a way that has the group running very outside one minute, yet stepping soulfully back to the center the next – never schizophrenicly, but in a mode that really displays the full range of energy pulsing in the group. Interesting instrumentation on the set includes Ra on clavoline, plus Carl Nimrod on the beautiful-sounding "sun horn" – and other players include Marshall Allen on alto, John Gilmore on tenor, Pat Patrick on baritone, and James Jacson on log drum and flute. Titles include "Dancing Shadows", "Next Stop Mars", "Outerspaceways", "Shadow World", and "Sun Ra and His Band From Outer Space". LP, Vinyl record album
(Stereo ESP pressing with the negative portrait labels. Cover has some wear and a small split on the bottom seam.)
Some of the most outside work ever recorded by Chick Corea – a great session from the post-Circle trio that included Barry Altschul on percussion and Dave Holland on bass! The sound here is in a vast space of dark corners, sharp edges, and some slightly warmer moments – similar to some of Chick's other work as a leader before this album, but a bit more stark overall. Although listed with writing credits, most titles have a strongly improvised feel – quite free, especially the piano parts! Titles include "Ballad For Tillie", "Nefertitti", "Vedana", "Thanatos", and "Games". LP, Vinyl record album
Wonderful duets between pianist Don Pullen and percussionist Famoudou Don Moye – a record that's a lot more outside than most of Pullen's other sides from the time! The overall sound is quite free and improvised – wild lines on piano, and a bit of organ, from Pullen – and some very earthy percussion from Moye, plus some drums that get a bit more bombastic. After the initial frenzy of the tune "Conversation", the album gets a bit more introspective in more familiar Pullen territory on titles like "Communication" and "Milano Strut" – the latter of which features Don on organ, almost in slow-grooving funky mode. Things end on a pretty raucous note, though – going strongly outside again on the track "Curve Eleven". LP, Vinyl record album
Never-heard music from the legendary Sun Ra Arkesta – and a set that's every bit as great as Ra's self-released albums on Saturn Records in the 70s! The performance is a well-recorded date from France in the early 70s – and the Arkestra are at their richest, most expressive – often working with a strong spiritual vein that really sets this period apart from other periods of their work! There's still plenty of outside moments – both free reed solos, and some especially incredible mini-moog electronics from Ra himself – but the whole performance also has this cohesive sensibility that really expresses his vast, cosmic vision with great power. The group features John Gilmore on tenor, James Jacson on bassoon and flute, Danny Davis on alto and flute, Marshall Allen on alto and flute, Kwame Hadi and Akh Tal Ebah on trumpet, June Tyson on vocals, and the very cool Space Ethnic Voices trio on added vocals. Comes with full notes on the session – and titles include "Lights On A Satellite", "Enlightenment", "Love In Outer Space", and the especially mindblowing "Discipline 27-11/What Planet Is This". LP, Vinyl record album
(Includes insert! Top cover seam has a tiny split in the middle, but the rest is great.)
The title's no mistake, as the album was really one of Mal Waldron's first really outside sessions – a real embrace of the free jazz modes coming out of the European scene of the 60s, but in a way that's slightly different than most! As Waldron states in the liner notes, his vision here is free, but not total chaos – an approach to music that's much more unfettered than before, yet still somewhat rhythmically structured – so that the tunes themselves roll out with a great deal of drive and energy, almost modal at points, but a bit fuller overall. The rhythm section here is a great part of the success of the album – with Clarence Becton on drums and the amazing Isla Eckinger on bass – a player whose pulsating approach is a perfect foil for Waldron's bold work on piano. There's actually a surprising amount of groove-driven numbers here – hardly the free jazz of the FMP scene, and more in the mode of some of the most unfettered expressions going down at MPS at the time. Titles include "Rat Now", "Balladina", "1 3 234", "Rock My Soul", and "Boo". LP, Vinyl record album
(Heavy German pressing – with book! Cover has some light wear.)
A great set by one of the lesser-known sax quartets of the 80s – an ensemble that featured Bobby Watson and Ed Jackson on alto sax, Rich Rothenberg on tenor, and Jim Hartog on baritone – all blowing in a mix of modern and soulful styles, very much in the spirit of the more famous World Sax Quartet. The overall approach here is a bit looser, and freer – but still a good mix of inside and outside playing, in a style that shows that the group was taking seriously the full range of the jazz group, including rhythm, when playing with all saxes. Titles include "KCQ", "Hotel De Funk", "Lafiya", and "TPT". LP, Vinyl record album
Sublime work from pianist George Wallington – and one of his best albums ever! The set's also one of the few he ever recorded as a leader outside the trio format, and has him working with a very hip quintet that features Phil Woods, Donald Byrd, Teddy Kotick, and Art Taylor – all players that help push the record with a tremendous amount of hardbop and modern jazz energy! Byrd and Woods are at their best youthful prime on the set – and the longish tracks really give both artists room to stretch out and show off their talents! Titles include "Foster Dulles", "Together We Wail", "Our Delight", and "But George". LP, Vinyl record album