Stanley Turrentine - Joyride (Blue Note Records / RVG
Stanley Turrentine-tenor sax
Ernie Royal, Snooky Young-trumpets
Clark Terry- trumpet, flugelhorn
J.J Johnson, Jimmy Cleveland, Henry Coker-trombones
Phil woods-alto sax, clarinet
Jerry Dogion-alto sax, clarinet, piccolo flute, alto flute
Budd Johnson-tenor sax, soprano sax, clarinet, bass clarinet.
Bob Ashton-tenor sax, clarinet
Danny Bank-baritone sax, clarinet, alto flute
Orchestra arranged/conducted by Oliver Nelson
The better jazz musicians would often, given the
chance and lifespan, evolve artistically. Stanley Turrentine was part of a
small group which came up in the late 50s and early 60s. They did
not allow themselves to be pigeon holed into one label specific style and its
set rules. They drew inspiration from diverse sources often incorporating them
all in tandem. This loose knit group would all work together over the span of
many classic albums. The familiarity allowed for more complexity in both
playing and composition. The familiarity also served as both a safety net and
an inspiration. To not have to worry about fellow musicians being able to
follow the charts and concepts was a freedom.
One tenor man who had both tone and chops from the very start
and an eye towards the progressive possibilities of jazz was Stanley
Turrentine. While perhaps subtler than some other horn mens sonic calling
cards, Stanleys tone is instantly recognizable. In later years he would
be nic-named The Sugar Man for his sweet, blue tone. The tone and
playing was steady throughout, but his body of work is of two worlds.
Stanley Turrentine made his record debut on Dizzy Reeces
album Comin on! (1961 Blue Note Records). A forward thinking
hard-bop date. This year also saw him add his voice to Jimmy Smiths
Back at the Chicken Shack (Blue Note Records) and Jimmy
Smiths other album, recorded at the same time Midnight
Special. Both sessions feature future collaborator Kenny Burrell on
guitar. Jimmy Smith single handedly invented the way modern organ was used in
jazz. While his albums were ground breaking in what he did with his instrument,
they were still rooted in the blues-bop idiom. Around this time alto-saxist and
hard-bop conceptualizer Lou Donaldson would begin incorporating organ into his
small ensembles too (usually Dr. Lonnie Smith or John Patton). This music
slowly morphed into the soul-jazz, much treasured by sample savvy turnbulists
today. A new genre of jazz and one which has proved its worth by the
timelessness of the many recordings still discovered and treasured by newcomers
to jazz every year. Many practitioners of soul-jazz would incorporate the idea
of the groove as a building block for extended pieces. The intensity of
soul-blues with the complexity of third stream.
Stanley Turrentine and Kenny Burrell were two of the artists who
used this learned lesson memorably. The first albums under his own name were
usually stripped down ensembles which allowed his horn to be highlighted.
Thats Where It is At (1962 Blue Note Records) was a trio
recording. What is interesting about his small ensemble playing is that he does
not crowd the spaces with overly complicated or long solos. Despite what else
was going on at the time with his peers, Stanley was almost a throw back to a
generation before when a soloist made their statement then got out. The less is
more approach is very effective in these settings. This same year also saw him
release Never Let Me Go which featured his wife Shirley Scott
taking the organ seat. Whether a ballad or blues his tone is a study in subtle
Around this time some really forward thinking albums were being
recorded. For lack of a better term, it was new third stream. Third
stream as envisioned by artists who had, had exposure to Western Classical and
ethno-world music compositional and performance theories. It never attained
status as any type of a movement. One major factor in this was that the small
group of artists which tried their hands at it all seem to have made only an
album or two in this un-named style before exploring different artistic
avenues. The small part of these artists catalog containing such an album
gave the appearance of, at best, of a successful experiment, as opposed to any
possible new direction.
Stanley Turrentine did the album Hustlin (1964 Blue
Note), which while still in the soul-groove organ ensemble mode, added Kenny
Burrell on guitar to further the sonic textures. The use of more instruments
and larger sound attained not through solos but chamber-like arrangements had
started. Several key albums and people were crucial to this development:
John Coltrane had The Africa Brass Sessions (1961
Impulse!) which was his classic quartet augmented by a thirteen piece orchestra
made up of reeds and brass. The music was arranged by McCoy Tyner and Eric
Dolphy, with Eric Dolphy also serving as conductor.
Oliver Nelson was a multi instrumentalist and top notch
arranger. Despite his importance in helping further make jazz an art as opposed
to an entertainment, he will probably be best known as the man who composed the
theme song for the television show The Six Million Dollar Man. He
was part of the second great wave of musician/arrangers which also included
pianist/arranger Duke Pearson.
Unlike those who came before them, they were not rigid in their
instrument combinations and sought progressive charts for the band to play
regardless of whether there would be solos. They were both also willing to do
complex arrangements for far smaller ensembles than their predecessors. Oliver
Nelsons Blues and Abstract Truth (1961 Impulse!) was a septet
date featuring the unlikely meeting of Eric Dolphy and Bill Evans, which best
illustrates this. Working along the same line Duke Pearson did Grant
Greens Idle Moments (Blue Note) which was a septet date
mixing vibes, tenor and guitar and Donald Byrds A New
Perspective (Blue Note) which featured wordless vocals by an octet and
Kenny Burrell and Herbie Hancock.
Kenny Burrell and Herbie Hancock would be important allies, both
doing other projects ambitious in scope and execution while also keeping one
foot in the blues, well-spring to some extant of all jazz. After
Joyride (1965 Blue Note) Stanley would again revisit soul-jazz with
Kenny Burrell on his album Midnight Blue (1967 Blue Note) while also
recording RoughN Tumble (Blue Note) with a septet (Duke
Pearson Little Big-Band). Herbie Hancock would record Speak Like a
Child (Blue Note) which was a sextet date inspired by Gil Evans and Thad
Jones who also appeared on the album.
This album, Joyride was a part of Blue Notes Rudy Van Gelder
series. Classic and sometimes obscure albums remastered and cleaned up by the
original engineer using modern technology while not loosing or compromising the
distinctive sound which made these albums classics. The sound on this recording
is pristine. It comes with original liner notes and A New Look
which are notes on the album from todays perspective often
containing recollections and facts only recently come to light.
Commercial considerations of jazz albums featuring
strings/orchestra often reduced many albums whose concept was good into
sounding like dated elevator music. The arrangements throughout this album are
the perfect blend of bluesy accessibility and aural art. While not comfortably
falling into big-band or third stream slot, this albums influences are
present, but not enough so to turn off anyone not a fan of either genre.
Although only the quintet is heard to solo, the tightly played,
intricate back up is of notice in its own right. The jazz orchestra ensembles
that have always seemed to work the best are the ones where all the players are
also leaders or arrangers in their own right. Like John Coltranes
Africa Brass Sessions and Thelonious Monks Thelonious
Monk Orchestra at Town Hall (1959 Riverside) this albums orchestra
is made up of multi-generational mix of such players. Most likely one of the
reasons this would make for a better orchestra is that each player can envision
the piece as a whole as opposed to just their parts. J.J Johnson, one of
Third-Stream genre creators is present here on trombone. Clark Terry who played
with both Duke Ellington and Count Basie can also be heard here. Found within
this orchestra too is Thad Jones, musician and key arranger along with the
Two Franks (Foster and Wess) for the Count Basie New Testament
band. He would spend decades with a Monday night residency at the Village
Vangard with his own band The Thad Jones/Mel Lewis big band, responsible for
bringing the big band concept into the modern age. He would also go on to play
and inspire similar projects to this one.
There are no weak links in the quintet. Herbie Hancock was newly
joined to Miles Davis classic free-bop group
(Davis/Short/Carter/Hancock/Williams) creating less accessible music than can
be found here and which must be termed high art. One month after recording this
he would record his own Maiden Voyage (Blue Note) which follows the
road he was already traveling with Miles group. The comparison between
those recordings and what he does here makes for an interesting exercise in
contrast. This is the blues, kissed by early R&B, but where other pianists
would comp during certain passages, Herbie lets his cerebral side take over. An
urbane conception of the blues.
Kenny Burrell had already worked on other ambitious projects
beyond the soulful or smooth wanderings guitar was usually regulated to, and
here too, he is a natural fit.
Stanleys tone and playing throughout is logical, beautiful
and tasty. He always managed to avoid sounding like a clone of what was
happening big at the time. While not a jazz underdog in the same sense as Hank
Mobley, the simplicity of his works, beauty sometimes makes people forget about
his body of work in favor of the more adventurous choices.
The album is made up or original songs and a few covers. There
are two bonus tracks too. I enjoyed all the tracks, but two stand out tracks
for me are:
I Wonder Where Our Love Has Gone (track # 2) A Buddy
Johnson penned tune. The song starts off with a rich brass sound, using layered
voicing akin to classic Gil Evans style arrangements. Initially the piano
softly tinkles, sounding almost harp-like. The lead tenor statements are an
exquisite cry of romantic anguish. Over-all the orchestra posses a beauty which
differs from lush-flutterings of Duke Ellington or the more earthen blues base
of Count Basie.
The cover of Lou Donaldsons Gravy Train is my
other favorite. Here Herbie Hancock can be found laying down some of his most
straight ahead-bluesy runs ever. The trio of Stanley, Herbie and Kenny
prominently play over the orchestra. It offers a glimpse of what the Count
Basie band might have sounded like if they had been formed some fifty years
later. It also shows that the blues can be, in its own way, joyous.
There are good jazz albums and then there are great jazz
albums. For me the criteria of the second category is simple. With repeated
listenings do you discover new things which surprise and delight? Here, yes,
here, always. This a great album and one which I highly recommend.
Elmo Hope: Quintet. Blue Note Records (Connoisseur
Elmo Hope (piano)
Percy Heath (acoustic bass)
Philly Joe Jones (drums).
Frank Foster, Harold Land (tenor saxophone)
Stu Williamson, Freeman Lee (trumpet)
Leroy Vinnegar, Percy Heath (double bass)
Frank Butler, Philly Joe Jones, Art Blakey (drums)
Recording information: 1953 - 1957.
Although he would later claim to largely be self taught, Elmo
Hope (1923-1967) began studying piano at the age of seven, often winning
awards. He and childhood friend Bud Powell would frequently woodshed together,
and indeed in their percussive attacks and runs there is sometimes a
In shades of Brahms in Hamburg a centaury earlier, Elmo gained
live experience playing behind USO taxi dancers.
From 1948-1953 Elmo played with The Joe Morris Band. Joe is best
remembered as a trumpeter for Lionel Hampton and not for his longer time spent
fronting his own R&B flavored ensembles. It was with Joe that Elmo made his
first appearance on a record. A 1953 session which also included Johnny
Griffin, Percy Heath and Philly Joe Jones.
It was from this first encounter that Philly Joe Jones became
one of the earliest of Elmos boosters. The first important date in which
Elmos own musical voice became apparent was on a Lou Donaldson/ Clifford
Brown session (now out, combined with another session to form a Blue Note RVG
titled Clifford Brown Memorial Album). Philly Joe Jones also appeared on this
At this time Blue Note had the practice of putting a potential
rising star in several of someone elses sessions before giving them their
own lead date. In this way, a week later Elmo was leading his own Blue Note
A trio date using both Percy Heath and Philly Joe Jones whom he
had just worked with on the Previous Brown/Donaldson sessions.
His next session as a leader took place a year later, this time
including Art Blakey on drums and a two horn front line of the now obscure
trumpeter Freeman Lee and Frank Foster on tenor sax.
During this time Elmo kept up his visibility by appearing as a
sideman on sessions by players who were coming up just as the crest of the
original bop wave had broken. The list is impressive including time spent with
Sonny Rollins, Jackie McLean and a session featuring the two tenor front line
of John Coltrane and Hank Mobley. Now, a lot of these are albums which are hard
to find and coming as they do at the start of many careers, at best, offer a
glimpse of what was to come.
It was also at this time Elmo began having problems with drugs.
A lot of his peers were too, some would eventually rise above it, others would
become trapped in a cycle of self sabotage. During this period Sonny Rollins
had not yet defeated his own demons, he and Elmo co-authoring the tune
Carvin the Rock (all three takes are on Clifford Brown Memorial Album
sans Sonny) which was in reference to the time Elmo spent in New York prison
Rikers Island on drug charges. The Gene Ammons album The Happy Blues was
supposed to feature him, but due to personal problems he was replaced by Duke
Jordan before the tape started running.
Repeated run- ins with the law and the need to constantly be on
the search for things with which to self medicate cost Elmo his cabaret card,
without which he could not play in any bars or clubs.
With little else to do he ended up touring with Chet Baker on
the West Coast. Not the best way for one to stay clean. Frequent chest ailments
from his physical self abuse made the warm California sun seem a good idea.
He eventually left Chet Baker who would spend several more
decades dying for his jazz sins. He met fellow pianist and his future wife
Berthe while on the West coast.
Elmo tried to work steadily with Sax player Harold Land (He had
shared the front line with Clifford Brown in the Brown/Roach ensemble, but
bicoastal touring got to him. He amicably left the band to be replaced by Sonny
Rollins before a car crash would claim both Clifford and pianist Richie Powell)
He and Land made an album together while also doing several small label
sessions leading his own trio. The trio dates further emphasized Elmos
In general though, the West Coast (social) atmosphere seemed not
to be to Elmos likening. He and Berthe moved back to New York in 1961.
For Elmo, NYC had always been the holy land of Jazz much as Paris is to many
Upon his return he cut some sides with hard bop trumpeter Blue
Mitchell. With all that was going on in the jazz world at this time, the album
seems to have only made a ripple. Elmo still could not regain his cabaret card,
a hindrance for him to parley his homecoming. He tried his hand at arranging
In the early sixties Elmo seemed to be trying to expand the
scope of what he was doing and what the public saw. He cut a piano duet album
with his wife. He did some more small label work which was not released until
after his death, one of which had the tacky title of Sounds from
Rikers Island following yet another narcotics conviction.
Eventually his output now down to a trickle, stopped completely.
1967 saw him hospitalized for pneumonia and dying from heart failure.
This album is part of The Blue Note Connoisseur series. It is in
a limited run and I can attest to Blue Notes seriousness about that. The
liner notes are by Ira Glitter, one of the few jazz writers who transcended
mere criticism and showed that jazz writing could be an art unto itself.
Sonically the album sounds very good. It has been remastered
using the 24 bit K technology. There is one track where the sound drops off for
a second, but they actually warn about that in liner notes. This album contains
a good overview of Elmos art and prowess. There are a few dates he did as
sideman one could find (The Clifford Brown Memorial Album and Sonny Rollins
Moving Out), but other than that all which remains are small label dates hard
to find and of questionable production and performance value.
In his life-time, Elmo did have problems some of his own making.
He left behind a small body of work, but one which is well worth exploring. As
is often the case, his reputation has suffered from people merely parroting
what had been said about him, a lesser Bud Powell.
At first glimpse Elmo is very much cut from the (Bud) Powell
cloth. Percussive attacks aside, they are very different. While Powells
trio recordings often had great interplay amongst the band (which sometimes
featured Philly Joe Jones), there were never those moments of wordless
telepathy or cerebral syncopation one could encounter on a Bill Evans trio date
or Thelonious Monk with one of his stripped down ensembles.
On an emotional level, Elmo Hope succeeds far better with a trio
than Bud Powell. The trio pieces contained within this album sound like a group
and not a pianist backed by two. As much as Elmo had a bad reputation, a
cursory reading of many of his peers recording dates, tour diaries et all
reveal similar patterns.
In his later years, I do not think it was a matter of Elmo
standing still stylistically. His was the very common curse of being around
when jazz was in a rapid, great and constant state of flux. Many of those not
in the immediate vanguard found themselves left behind.
I did not find the trio better than the group parts of this
collection. Both showed different aspects of Elmos playing and
compositions. I think too, Elmo fares better in the quintet settings than some
pianists of bigger name. Often, when Bud Powell played with horns,
despite the quality of idea and execution, you get the sense of waiting. Bud
waiting to solo, the others waiting to rejoin the song.
Despite being several sessions, the CD has a unified feel, not a
cherry picked sampler compilations often convey. The tracks are presented in
the album order, with the alternate takes coming after. A far better way to do
it than having to listen to several versions of a piece back to back.
Throughout the entire the CD, each band is fantastic. The two
trumpeters, I am not overly familiar with, but they come across as more than
competent. They are of the post-big band style not trying for the daredevil
flights of Harry Sweets Edison or Roy Eldridge. Yet they also avoid
the trap of sounding like clones of what was then just coming out. Tasteful and
with verve, never sounding like just journey men players on a date, I was
Frank Foster is one of The Two Franks who played
with and did arranging for Count Basies Band (the new testament line up)
(the other Frank being Frank Wess). While his playing and arranging has always
swung, there too is an under-riding intelligence and sophistication to it. A
sort of approachable intellectualism drenched in a bluesy tone.
Philly Joe Jones must have played at one time with every
important piano trio (including Bill Evans, Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk the
holy trinity of eighty-eight keys). He always played with an adaptable sympathy
tailored to whom-ever he was with without sacrificing that Philly Joe snap. In
my vast jazz library, Art Blakey I have in all kinds of line ups both as leader
and sideman. This is one of few dates where, not once does he fall
back on any of his pet-licks, the slowly rolling thunder. I enjoyed the
subtlety which sometimes he sacrificed for raw power.
It makes no sense to dwell on an artists faults. No matter
how far their fall from grace, if they left behind a body of work wherein lies
beauty and inspiration, that is where we should turn our gaze.
Maxwell will return with more adventures in sound
The New King, Already Dead.
The second world war and some union strikes helped further the
evolution of jazz, circumstances combining to mid-wife the first modern era of
jazz. Members of many big bands were being conscripted, those left behind found
the logistics of keeping a big band on the road when everybody was tensely
tightening their belts difficult. Smaller ensembles began playing clubs in
cities where big bands had played the dance halls and ballrooms.
The small club jam sessions had always appealed to jazz
musicians as a refuge from the sometimes overly-show biz manner in which they
often had to conduct themselves to please an audience.
Towards the end of the war, musicians who had been over seas
returned with stories of admiration from a jazz crazy and desegregated Europe.
New York with its club lined streets very quickly became a sort of Mecca for a
new breed of musician, who like Beethoven some one hundred years (or so)
earlier now demanded to be treated as an artist and not merely an entertainer.
At the forefront of this movement were two musicians whose paths
kept crossing and who had shared a similar pedigree, Charlie Bird
Parker (1920-1955) and John Birks Dizzy Gillespie (1917-1993).
Dizzy had worked in Cab Calloways big band while Bird was with Jay
It was while on tour with McShann that Bird got a chance to go
to New York and sit in at the after hours club jams which were also attended by
Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) and future partner Dizzy. Dizzy was getting fed up
with the constraints put on him in big band situations, Cab Calloway famously
referring to Dizzys music as Chinese Music.
Bird too, was chaffing under the restrictions of having to
provide entertainment and not create art. They both worked together in Billy
Ecksteins big band (1914-1993) where Dizzy was allowed to do some of the
arranging for the horn section. They started using more unique voicing in
unison. They would further the experiments at Mintons Playhouse (Harlem)
where Thelonious Monk was often the house pianist carefully watched by his
artistic Gemini Bud Powell (1924-1966).
1945-46 Dizzy and Bird worked together in their own small
ensembles teaching some other musicians on the 52nd street scene about their
new theories and the artistic possibilities. In this initial flush of activity
and excitement many modern standards were written, Hot House,
A night In Tunisia et al.
A tour of the West coast showed them the bitter reality,
although what they were creating excited other musicians and some of the
bohemians in the know, the general public was not ready for something so new.
The two personality types whose friction helped create art when combined with
all sorts of outside pressure drove Bird and Dizzy apart. Both would go on to
do other things, sometimes reuniting for a show but the collective creative
aspect to what they did was now gone.
Bird was king, Bird inspired many musicians, not all of them
horn players. He brought an extended freedom to the jazz solo, more depth and
technical possibilities. Hearing the recordings now, it is easy to forget how
shocking it was to a lot of people. Alien.
After Bird died there were many alto players being dubbed the
new Bird. While a lot of these cats had chops and in many cases
have given us compelling bodies of work, the point was missed. The
new Bird would have to not play Cherokee as fast as Bird had, he
would have to bring something completely new to the table, alien.
It took the birth of several new genres of jazz to be created
(third stream, cool, hard-bop, modal) before the next true king would emerge.
The very thing that makes him heir apparent is what has kept his
name from becoming more recognized, we still have not caught up to his work. It
remains, some thirty years after the fact, modern, not easily palatable, alien.
Eric Dolphy (1928-1964) came out of the Central Ave, Los Angles
scene which also gave us Sonny Criss (1927-1977) and Charles Mingus
(1922-1979). He studied at Los Angeles City College and early on cut his teeth
in the Roy Porter big band.
In 1958 his initial notice was garnered from a stint in Chico
Hamiltons (1921- ) band, which also allowed him to finally tour. After
only a year of that, Eric moved to New York and joined Charles Minguss
The philosophy and mission of The Jazz Workshop was to mix the
complexity of western classical tradition with the emotions and earthy
spontaneity of jazz. Because of Charles Minguss mercurial temperament the
line-up for the workshop would ever be in flux, but from their initial union in
1959 right up until the time of Eric Dolphys death in 1964 they would
often work together.
While doing his first stint with Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy
would also work on the seminal double quartet chamber piece Free
Jazz (Atlantic) by Ornette Coleman (1930- ).
The other, some would say most, important partnership which came
about around this time was with John Coltrane and his classic quartet 1961-65
(McCoy Tyner, Elvin Jones, Jimmy Garrison). For contractual reasons appearing
under the name George Lane, he appeared with an expanded line up on their last
album for Atlantic Records Ole Coltrane (1961) which also featured Freddie
Hubbard and Art Davis whom Eric would encounter in other settings many more
The sweeping epic of the title track uses a two-bass drone
figure which was a precursor to an embracing of non-jazz influences which would
soon appear side by side to the colors already on the bands palette.
After this, the Impulse label, new and willing to take artistic
risks signed Coltrane. The first session was The Africa Brass Session (1961)
which featured the dark burnished sound of an all brass orchestra. The large
ensemble pieces were arranged by McCoy Tyner and Eric Dolphy, with Eric
conducting as well. Future front line partner for the immortal Live at the Five
Spot recordings, Booker Little (1938-1961) was also in the orchestra.
From this moment on, the Impulse labels calling card would be
music which was cutting edge, sometimes well ahead of the curve. In the sixties
their roster of artists was the whos who of the sonic vanguard.
John Coltranes next project featured Eric even more
prominently, a live recording of his bands Village Vanguard engagement.
Originally only one set of this 1961 residency was going to be recorded. The
engineers had the foresight to realize something important was going on and
taped every set for all four nights. Like The Africa Brass Sessions an expanded
line-up was featured. Aside from Eric Dolphy who appeared on alto saxophone and
bass clarinet there would be an extra bassist, Gavin Bushell on contra-bassoon
and oboe, Ahmed-Abdul Malik on oud and for some numbers drummer Roy Haynes who
sometimes sat in for Elvin.
Again, as in the past, reviews were hostile to something so new.
This music not only embraced free-jazz but also different ethnic music such as
Indian Ragas and the trance-like aspect of Balinese Gamelan.
Down Beat magazine accused them of anti-jazz. So
much negativity was made of this new music that Coltrane fired back in a series
of letters and articles. The critical hostility was too much and by 1962 Eric
had left the group.
He would forge on ahead in the direction they had started,
whereas it would take a more conservative album or two before John
Coltrane would venture out again.
Eric Dolphy came onto the scene fully formed. From his earliest
appearances with both Mingus and Coltrane, there is that voice instantly
recognizable. His was an amazing fecundity of ideas always carried out with a
technical precision which never wavered no matter how fast the ideas came.
Another impressive aspect of Erics playing was that no matter which of
the many instruments he was playing, he was equally at home. Going from alto
sax to bass clarinet nothing was sacrificed.
Listening to his playing there is a cathartic release to be had
when one initially encounters his speaking in tongues bursts. With repeated
listening to Eric Dolphys solos one begins to realize, impressive
dexterity aside, there are whole other onion-like layers to what is going on.
What at first may appear as mere enthusiastic discordance, upon
repeated listening reveal themselves to be complex patterns, patterns which
embrace both modern classical and the vernacular folk idioms much in the same
way as Gustav Mahler, Igor Stravinsky and Bela Bartok had in some of their
greatest pieces. This heady mélange would mix with the spontaneity of
The famed America choreographer George Balanchine (1904-1983)
said that Jazz was the sound of surprise.
Unlike a lot of art which at some point had been cutting edge,
Erics body of work did not derive the majority of its power from the
shock of the new. It has all aged well and still manages to offer up enigmatic
pleasure. Although his career was brief, he managed to be on two of the most
important live documents of jazz, Charles Mingus Mingus At Antibes
(1961) and the aforementioned Coltrane Vanguard dates. Those recordings are a
revelation, but not the place for a newcomer to his work to start. The best
place is with his first and only Blue Note date.
Blue Note Records had always had the practice of allowing for
paid rehearsals. This made for the potential of more complex music since the
musicians did not have to worry about feeling their way through a non standard
while laying down tape. In general, it was not unusual for the same artist to
show up on each others dates, but a smaller group began to crystallize within
an already established stable of artists. A new type of jazz was being born.
They were creating a new type of jazz which embraced the discordance of free
jazz, modal jazz, modernist classical tinged with what would become known as
world music. Unlike Bop, earlier there was no one main rallying
figure and the genre never really got a name that stuck. Indeed, all its main
practitioners are usually lumped into one of the preexisting genres.
Out To Lunch (1964) featured musicians who knew each other and
were all working if not directly, then in sympathy with one another to bring
about a further complexity to jazz.
Bobby Hutcherson (1941-) and Eric had both been on Andrew
Hills Point Of Departure (1964). He now appeared on this date, which was
cut from a similar cloth. Before him, in jazz, vibraphonists had but two models
for their playing the swinging attack of Lionel Hampton or the chamber jazz of
Milt Jackson. Bobby brought an avante-cerebral approach to his instrument
unknown until this point.
Freddie Hubbard (1938-) had worked with Eric on John
Coltranes Ole Coltrane album. Too often he is just considered a hard-bop
trumpeter who was used as a straight man in seemingly free-jazz
sessions. This is misleading. He had an aggressive varied attack and also has
been on too many important modernist sessions to just be a type of sonic prop.
On this date he meshes perfectly with what is going on where as someone who was
more blatantly free would only have served to distract.
Richard Davis (1930-) would work with Coltrane as he went
further out in his artistic vision. His lines are supple and clear providing
the perfect terrain for which the ensemble can soar over.
Tony Williams (1945-1987) was initially discovered by Jackie
McLean in Boston. He would be one of the key ingredients to Miles Daviss
second great group (1965-1968). He performed and recorded on some of modern
jazzs most important works while still in his teens. He is one of the
greatest jazz drummers and here he adds more than just a complex percussive
depth to the recordings.
Out To Lunch has been issued as a RVG edition, which
stands for Rudy Van Gelder. He was Blue Notes original producer and over
the past decade Blue Note has had him go back using modern cutting edge
technology and remaster some of his classic recordings, always to great effect.
The sonics on RVGs are for the most part pristine and always noticeably
better than a standard Blue Note CD release (of older recordings).
Each track averages about eight minutes long. While not a theme
or concept album there is a definite unified feel to it.
One of my favorite tracks is Hat and Beard.
As opposed to the innovators of the earlier generation, there
was no desire or need to show their theories through the vehicle of standards.
Pianist/composer Andrew Hill only recorded his own compositions. Occasionally
would be a cover by someone of a Thelonious Monk tune, but that was almost a
pledge of allegiance to what could be said to be the well spring of musical
outsider artist. Andrew Hills Point of Departure albums second
track is titled New Monastery in a veiled reference to
Theloniouss last name, Monk. Erics Hat and Beard,
another Monk reference. This track conveys the elliptical rhythms Thelonious
himself was so found of employing. It manages to be both playful and deep.
All RVG Blue Notes reproduce the original liner notes followed
by A new look at
which are new notes discussing the album and
its importance with the hindsight of time. Here, the original notes were
written by Eric himself. He ends with humbly stating that he was moving to
Europe where there was more respect and desire for this new thing which he was
creating. Sadly, before this album would even hit the shelves Eric would be
dead in Berlin due to a mishap involving his diabetes. What would happen to the
small group trying to birth a new art? Some others would die (Booker Little,
Albert Ayer). Many more would move to Europe where there was a greater
understanding to what they were trying to do (Archie Shepp, Mal Waldron, Steve
Lacey, Randy Weston) Others would forge ahead fulfilling their artistic promise
but seemingly also embracing a semi-reclusive existence (Cecil Taylor, Andrew
Hill, Ornette Coleman)
The new king is already dead. He left behind his aural treasure.
I can give you the words for power, release, thunder, but really one must hear
it for themselves to truly treasure it.
Maxwell will return with further adventures in sound
Eric Dolphy/Out To Lunch (Blue Note RVG Edition)
Eric Dolphy-alto sax, bass clarinet
Page one of Max's Jazz reviews
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