Thursday, May 23, 2019

Sam Rivers Trio - Emanation (NoBusiness, 2019)

NoBusiness Records is inaugurating a series of releases by the great multi-instrumentalist and composer Sam Rivers with this album, recorded on June 3, 1971 at the Jazz Workshop in Boston. Rivers cycles through his full complement of instruments: tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and piano in the company of Cecil McBee on bass and Norman Connors on drums. They play one seventy-six minute collective improvisation that is split into two parts on the title track “Emanation” with Rivers beginning on tenor saxophone, at first unaccompanied but soon joined by the rhythm team in fast and free interplay. The music is strident and exciting with the leader playing his instrument in a coarse and powerful manner, while still allowing shorter and more melodic sections to shine through, supported by Connors crashing drumming and McBee's subtle bass playing which create an excellent atmosphere for collective improvisation. McBee is featured in a lengthy and well articulated bass solo showing fluid and graceful technique, with Rivers returning on flute, skipping in a nimble fashion across the surface of the music of deft cymbal play and taut bass. This section of the album is played in a lighter and more delicate manner with the exquisite flute and bass (bowed and plucked) at times met by heavy handed drumming. Rivers moves to piano, creating music that is influenced by the Cecil Taylor Unit, whom he was a member of from 1969-71. His piano is rich and colorful, flowing with ideas and drama and creating a space for dynamic group improvisation as Connors adds bells to further the texture with McBee's swirling bowed bass bringing the initial track to a beautiful conclusion. “Emanation Part 2” Opens with Rivers on soprano saxophone, showing a wonderful exotic tinged tone as the bass and percussion fold into the music. They establish a tight connection and then lift off into a very fast paced performance, with McBee's bass as the anchor and Rivers and Connors shifting their volume and speed around it, even developing some interesting funky motifs at times, creating one of their longest sections at over twenty minutes. Rivers shifts back to flute, with the group at a medium tempo, soon building to a quick and nimble swirling improvisation that is very impressive to hear, with shimmering cymbals and fleet fingered bass supporting his excellent flute playing. He incorporates a slide whistle or a piccolo along with loud vocalizations, taking the music in an entirely new and unexpected direction, before returning once again to piano. Wide ranging chords and open ended notes create a wide soundstage for the final section of the performance, adding thundering chords and vocal screams and bellows from all three members of the group as they conclude this remarkable performance. Emanation - NoBusiness Records

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