A fantastic collection of work from the overlooked Ego
label – four rare albums, originally issued only overseas! First up is Dwellers On The High Plateau, by pianist Vince Benedetti – soaring, spiritual soul jazz! The set's built around the piano and compositions of Vince Benedetti – but it really kicks from some great rhythmic accompaniment from Billy Brooks on drums and Eric Peters on bass, both of whom spin out these warm, long, flowing grooves that seem to get more out of Benedetti's work than we've heard on other records. The album also features some great work on soprano and tenor sax from Andy Scherrer – blowing snakey lines that cut through the rhythms with a very nice edge. Titles include "Dwellers On The High Plateau", "Gone", "The Black Notes", and "The Call". Next up is The Last Call – one of the most obscure early albums from reedman Dave Liebman – a set that was recorded in the US, but only issued overseas! The album features Liebman in two different modes – the first a relatively free, surprisingly spiritual setting – as Dave blows tenor on two long tracks, with just the drums of Jeff Williams behind him. Other material is a bit more structured, with those angular lines that Liebman brought to some of his more famous work – a real precursor for a generation of saxophonists who were inspired by these sounds. On these cuts, Liebman plays tenor and soprano sax – and works with Mark Isham on trumpet, Michael Formanek on bass, and Mike Barsimento on drums. The piano-less group has a wonderful sound – lots of soundshaping between Liebman and Isham especially – and titles on the album include "Wind Blues", "The Last Call/
First Visit", "Your Lady", "Thoughts Of Loss", and "Leprechaun". Next is Home Again, by the group changes – a combo that features very strong contributions from trumpeter Uli Beckerhoff, saxophonist Wolfgang Engstfeld, pianist Ed Kroger, bassist Peter Bockius, and drummer Peter Weiss! Like most of the best on the Ego
label, there's a strong rhythm section here that really lets the soloists open up and do their thing – never going too far out at all, but crafting these warmly soulful lines, with a slight spiritual undercurrent – stretching out with a rich feeling, but a sound that's never forced or overdone. Titles include "Home Again", "Trees", "Samba Du Commerce", and "Blues For Ed". Changes follow again, with the album Some More Changes – a record with a sound that really represents the strongest modes of soulful jazz that developed in the 70s! These players all clearly have a knowledge of outside territory, but choose to remain closer in – yet always point towards the beyond with both their solos, and their wonderfully strong writing in the set – a bit like some of the best work on Muse Records in the 70s, such as albums by Woody Shaw or Kenny Barron! There's definitely a similar vibe to those records here – especially in the sense of cohesion that comes from the lineup – Uli Beckerhoff on trumpet, Wolfgang Engstfeld on soprano sax and tenor, Ed Kroger on piano, Detlef Beier on bass, and Peter Weiss on drums. All tracks are originals – and titles include "Kenny Make It", "Yaiza", "Akiko", "Hautkontakt", and "Last Chance".