Tuesday, January 08, 2013

The Group - Live (NoBusiness Records, 2012)

Part of the magic of jazz in New York City is groups of musicians coming together for brief engagements and then moving off into other groups and configurations, leaving fond memories but little recorded evidence of their existence. The Group was a very talented amalgam of musicians, veterans of the free jazz and loft scenes: Ahmed Abdullah on trumpet and flugelhorn, Marion Brown on alto saxophone, Billy Bang on violin, Sirone and Fred Hopkins on bass and Andrew Cyrille on drums. This previously unissued concert was recorded at the Jazz Center of New York in September 1986. The musicians stretch out on long performances of originals and a fascinating cover of Charles Mingus’s “Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.” “Joann's Green Satin Dress” opens the concert will a well played medium-uptempo free-bop performance, the music is exciting and serious, but quite accessible. The Mingus composition is taken apart at length, and it takes a lot of stamina and patience to play at a slower pace for extended period of time, but the song works really well as each member of the band touches on the melody and makes it their own. “La Placita” has a jaunty Latin or Caribbean vibe to it, reinforced by Marion Brown’s wonderful opening solo, seemingly adrift on currents of air, backed by hand percussion and drums. Over twenty-five minutes in length, “Amanpondo” takes the music even further out, playing free but with a great degree of lyrical content. The musicians are very comfortable with each other and this brings out the joy in the music. Read the liner notes. The Group - Live - NoBusiness Records.

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