Sunday, June 28, 2020

Sam Rivers - Archive Series Volume 3: Ricochet (NoBusiness Records, 2020)

Recorded live on January 12, 1978 at the Keystone Korner in San Francisco, the most recent addition to the NoBusiness Records Sam Rivers archive is a brash and exciting recording of the Rivers trio at its peak. The leader plays tenor and soprano saxophones, flute and piano with Dave Holland on bass and cello and Barry Altschul on drums. Sam Rivers opens the performance on soprano saxophone along side thick bass cymbals, as fast swirling bounding bass links everything together. Warp speed jazz, fast and free, with taut saxophone, nimble bass and slashing percussion is very exciting. Holland witches to cello, playing stoic lines of sound, yearning and branching out back to bass. There is inherent freedom in the music played here, and following an epic bass solo, Rivers moves to piano, playing with a melodic glide that meshes with cymbals yoked together with elastic bass before moving further afield. The music becomes more free, approaching Cecil Taylor territory, fiery percussive piano, deftly mixing melody and freedom. Holland plays cello amid spare piano and percussion, then Rivers gracefully moves to tenor saxophone. Strong shrill peaks of tenor against long arcs of cello are some of the most thrilling moments on this disc, stretching out for a potent segment of improvisation. Altschul takes a lengthy drum solo, one that is expertly played, and Sam Rivers states his approval with a defiant howl and takes up his flute for the final section. A piercing blast clears the air and then he soars in collective improvisation with the bass and drums at a torrential pace. He plays the flute with such speed and facility but still in a graceful and appealing manner then trades short and witty passages with his band mates. The music is one continuous improvisation and it is a testament to the group that their energy and inventiveness never flags through the near hour long playing time. This was one of the best bands of their era, and its great that their music is finally getting its due. Archive Series Volume 3: Ricochet NoBusiness Records

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