Saturday, January 14, 2012

Jazz and Blues: Sam Rivers, Eric Dolphy and Booker Little, Howlin' Wolf

Sam Rivers - Hues (Impulse, 1973; Stardust, 2011) Re-issued for downloading and streaming shortly before he passed on last year, this is another excellent example of Rivers spontaneous creativity in a trio setting. Recorded live in different spots around the globe with a couple of different rhythm sections, each of the compositions and improvisations on this album, all named after colors, have a short, pointed blast of energy to them. The performances are all brief and sharp with Rivers switching between saxophones, flue and piano with great agility. Hues -

Eric Dolphy and Booker Little Quintet - At the Five Spot Complete Edition (Essential Jazz Classics) Collecting all of the music recorded on July 16, 1961 by the extraordinary quintet consisting of Eric Dolphy on alto saxophone, bass clarinet and flute, Booker Little on trumpet, Mal Waldron on piano, Richard Davis on bass and Ed Blackwell on drums; this shows all of these formidable musicians, (two of them fated to pass away much too young) at the peak of their powers. All of these recordings except for Dolphy’s extraordinary solo bass clarinet excursion on the standard “God Bless the Child” are over ten minutes in length. Primarily consisting of original music that is still startling in its beauty and potency over fifty years later, this is a well presented collection of vitally important music that contains the liner notes to the original LP’s that the music was presented upon, and interestingly a collection of critical responses that places the music in the context of the jazz continuum as well as the progressive music of the era. At the Five Spot Complete Edition -

Howlin’ Wolf - The Real Folk Blues (Chess Records, 1966) The great bluesman Howlin’ Wolf recorded primarily single 45 rpm records for Chess Records in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, and some of his better known singles were released on this influential LP during the height of the “blues revival” in the mid 1960’s. It’s easy to see how he was such an influential figure, with his imposing figure and commanding voice. Wolf makes no bones about his stature with the swaggering songs like “Built for Comfort” and the jaunty “300 Pounds of Heavenly Joy.” He could develop serious material, with his gravelly voice growling through “The Natchez Burning” and “Poor Boy.” There are a great many compilations of Howlin’s Wolf’s material for Chess Records, but this is a fine albeit brief introduction to his music. Real Folk Blues / More Real Folk Blues -

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