Saturday, January 02, 2021

Various Artists - Spiritual Jazz 12: Impulse! (Jazzman Records, 2020)

For the twelfth entry into the Spiritual Jazz series, they finally gain permission to use the music of Impulse Records, home to some of the musicians that would come to be most clearly identified with the sub-genre. This is a two CD or LP set, well packaged with generous liner notes and photographs, the selections are an interesting mix of the familiar and the obscure, making for a consistently interesting experience. Leading off with one of the most spiritual of all tracks, John Coltrane’s “Acknowledgment,” the first part of the A Love Supreme suite, his submission to a higher power through chant and powerful saxophone playing. Coltrane’s sidemen are also well represented, with two tracks from Elvin Jones, “Fantazm” and “Half and Half” which show his percussive prowess in a piano trio and a progressive sextet format with underground legends Prince Lasha and Sonny Simmons. Two of McCoy Tyner’s earliest solo recordings are added, including “Three Flowers” with John Gilmore on tenor saxophone. Yusef Lateef takes to the exotic argol reed instrument on a track from his Live at Pep’s LP, channeling the music of the East and Africa in a fascinating performance. Alice Coltrane anchors the second disc, with “Turiya and Ramakrishna” which is deep piano jazz with Ron Carter on bass and Ben Riley on drums. She truly heads for the cosmos with beautiful harp playing alongside Pharoah Sanders and Rashied Ali on “Journey in Satchidanada.” Pharaoh himself is well represented with “Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah-Hum-Allah” with Sanders raw saxophone locking in with the yodeling vocals of Leon Thomas. “Thembi” is equally beautiful, as Sanders moves between tenor and soprano saxophone amid a bed of ever shifting percussion. Saxophonist Marion Brown began playing fire music, but by the time he recorded “Maimoun” he was playing the spacious and thoughtful music that he would explore for remainder of his career. Overall, this is a very enjoyable and listenable composition to hear. The music is chosen and programmed well, and just hints at the depth of the Impulse records catalogue. Spiritual Jazz: Impulse - amazon.com

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