Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Charles Tolliver - Mosaic Select 20 (Mosaic, 2006)

This is a wonderful re-issue of two live albums by Tolliver's Music Inc., a collective band that originally appeared on his own record label, Strata East. Recorded live in the club Slugs in New York City and in Tokyo, Japan, the music is very high quality post bop, sometimes dipping into free territory and at other times into the jazz tradition, but always played with deep commitment and passion. The core of the group is Tolliver on trumpet and Stanley Cowell and piano; with Cecil McBee on bass and Jimmy Hopps on drums during the selections from Slugs, and Clint Houston on bass and Clifford Barbaro on drums during the performances from Tokyo. The music here is potent and virile, like "Our Second Father," which is a strong John Coltrane tribute of deep modal jazz. Cowell gets a rippling piano solo backed by propulsive bass and drums. This performance is a real highlight, the band is truly inspired and going for it, especially Tolliver who is strong and sharp throughout. Other lengthy performances include the blasting "Secret Father" with its strong and supple performance and ripe piano trio section. "Orientale" has a somber opening, before opening into a suite like performance which includes a powerfully mournful sounding bowed bass solo. While most of the music found on this collection are original compositions, there is an excellent arrangement of Thelonious Monk's classic "'Round Midnight" which builds to a fine charging trumpet climax from Tolliver. It's great that this excellent music is being reissued because it sheds much needed light on some excellent musicians. The 1970's are often seen as a down time in jazz, but as can be heard here, but scratching just beneath the surface, there is much joy to be found.

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