Friday, June 26, 2020

New York Contemporary Five - Consequences Revisited (ezz-thetics, 2020)

This is an excellent disc serves an important historical purpose, bringing together two sessions by The New York Contemporary Five, an admirable and unheralded unit that pushed the boundaries of the "new thing" in jazz in the early to mid 1960's with some of the freshest talent of the era. The first half of this collection is called Consequences Revisited and it was recorded in August of 1963 in New York City, with Archie Shepp on tenor saxophone, Don Cherry on pocket trumpet, John Tchicai on alto saxophone, Don Moore on bass and J.C. Moses on drums. "Sound Barrier" has raw and thrilling tenor saxophone and boiling drums, with Cherry's punchy trumpet building and intriguing statement. The music is kept at a hot uptempo throughout sounding unique and original, especially Archie Shepp, who sounds genuinely alive. A choppy rhythm introduces "We Wo" giving the music a free nature that makes the most use of the band's talented front line. Shepp responds with an emotional growling tenor solo, while John Tchicai's tart alto saxophone and Cherry's potent flight add further texture and depth to the music, leading to an excellent bass solo framed by shimmering cymbals. "Consequences" has a fast, fleet opening, very much like the Ornette Coleman music of the period, and Cherry makes the most of his tune with an explosive trumpet solo played at a super fast tempo. Shepp throws in a pop song quote and then dives in enthusiastically, with raw squalls of tenor. Tchicai's alto has a snake charmer's allure with a hint of Eric Dolphy, encouraged by agile bass and drum work. Shepp's "Rufus" has a complex full band theme, with very interesting rhythms, including thick bass woven through the drumming. The horns get plenty of of room to improvise in space, developing some very impressive solo sections with the less frenetic tempo. Part two of the disc, Archie Shepp and the New York Contemporary Five were recorded in Newark in March of 1964 with Shepp on tenor saxophone, Don Cherry on pocket cornet on the final track, Ted Curson on trumpet on two tracks, John Tchicai on alto saxophone, Ronnie Boykins on bass and Sunny Murray on drums. On tracks like Shepp's "Like a Blessed Baby Lamb" and "Where Poppies Bloom (Where Poppies Blow) you really see the that difference between the saxophonists is really one of the most fascinating aspects of this disc, with Shepp's large brash tone based in the blues and Tchicai who plays in a more angular and slashing manner. When they exchange solo sections it is a fascinating dichotomy, much like changes brought by the muscular trumpet of of Curson and the punchy, witty small brass of Cherry. This is a very distinguished compilation that shows the development of the jazz avant-garde at a time when it was evolving at lightning speed. Pulling from the music of the past and opening it up to the innovations of their present time ,while looking to the future allowed this group to expand the boundaries of jazz. Consequences Revisited - Squidco

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