Sunday, August 16, 2009

Pendulum - Mosaic Select 32 (Mosaic, 2008)

This band had an interesting history. An ad hoc group of players that had played together in various other groups, they came together for a one week run at the Village Vanguard in New York City, two nights of which were taped for an album on the Artists House that while widely praised, quickly fell out of print. Re-issue label Mosaic acquired the master tapes from both nights, re-mastered them and produced this excellent three disc set. Consisting of Dave Liebman on tenor and soprano saxophones, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Richie Beirach on piano, Frank Tusa on bass and Al Foster on drums, this band was near the state of the art of modern hard bop for 1978, when this music was recorded. This set is a mix of jazz standards and originals, taken at great length with excellent ensemble playing and soloing. Brecker (whom I had mistakenly considered a lightweight for some reason) lifts the music off explosively on "Pendulum." The highlight of the entire set for me was an incredible and long take on Thelonious Monk's "Well, You Needn't" which has wave after wave of extraordinary solos spinning off of Monk's familiar melody. John Coltrane's "Impressions," taken on tenor, and Wayne Shorter's "Footprints," taken on soprano, are features for Leibman, who proves himself to be a worthy successor to those two men with excellent and logically developed solos. This was a great save on Mosaic's part, rescuing some extraordinary music from obscurity and making it available in an excellent package with a nice liner essay.
Mosaic Select 32 -

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