Thursday, October 14, 2021

John Coltrane - A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle (Impulse Records, 2021)

1965 may have been the most incandescent year for John Coltrane, beginning with the release of what would become a cultural touchstone, the album A Love Supreme, and by the end, the dissolution of his classic quartet, as he decided to devote himself fully to free and spiritual jazz. October of that year was particularly fertile, yielding the OM album, and the posthumously released Live in Seattle. On October 2 Seattle saxophonist and educator Joe Brazil recorded this expanded group, John Coltrane Pharoah Sanders and Carlos Ward on saxophones, McCoy Tyner on piano, Elvin Jones on drums, and Jimmy Garrison and Donald (Rafael) Garrett on basses at the Penthouse club. The group is called to order around the anchoring basses on “A Love Supreme, Pt. 1 – Acknowledgement“ with the majestic saxophone melody entering as the band begins to fill out the available space, swelling up as the volume and tempo increase. The basses and extensive rhythm are the connective tissue that hold things together and allow the group to explore beyond the original suite on the improvisational interludes played between the movements. Drums and percussion met with plucked and bowed bass in an intricate mesh, developing a seething conglomeration of musical ideas on “A Love Supreme, Pt. II – Resolution.” Coltrane soars back in with some of his most powerful playing of the set, meeting Jones at his most potent as Tyner provides grounding chords underneath. Room is made for a different sounding horn, probably Ward, playing with Dolphy like accents and contributing well to the crushing improvisation. After an interlude segment of beautiful solo drumming, there are very interesting solo segments on “A Love Supreme, Pt. III – Pursuance” where Pharoah Sanders gets a chance to shine, overblowing white hot while Jones roils underneath and Tyner struggles to be heard. But when Pharoah steps aside Tyner lays down a gauntlet of his own, maintaining the very fast pace, but employing the length of his instrument to produce a lush sound along side Jones motoring percussion. After a final interlude, the whole group comes together for the prayerful “A Love Supreme, Pt. IV – Psalm” which brings the entire performance to a beautiful and graceful conclusion. This is only the second known recorded live version of the A Love Supreme suite, but beyond that rarity is the quality of the music, with the musicians using this incredible material as springboards for daring improvisations both solo and collective. Considering that the source is a fifty five year old audience recording, the sound is quite good within reason, and should not dissuade anyone from checking out this historic session. A Love Supreme: Live in Seattle - amazon.com

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Monday, October 11, 2021

Abbey Rader and John McMinn - Two as One (ABRAY Productions, 2021)

This is an exciting and very well played modern jazz album with the duo of Abbey Rader on drums and percussion and John McMinn on tenor saxophone, piano and percussion. This album was fully improvised and recorded in Miami in of 2021. "Rejoiceful Reunion" opens the album with raw saxophone and bounding drums, both strong and potent, pushing boundaries fearlessly dark toned saxophone and crisp cymbal play. Spaciousness with cymbals and probing saxophone is the key to "Inner Vision" as the music picks up and stretches out with graceful interplay between the two musicians. Caustic overblown saxophone keeps the tension high, then ratchets back down carefully for concluding section. "Diss & Dass" has McGinn moving to the piano using chords that repeat along side shimmering percussion. The dark cords produce a fantasia of sound with percussion rumbling underneath, and two instruments mesh in a tumult of cascading sounds, each percussive in their own way, dynamic music chords and brushes, to the end. Rolling drums and majestic saxophone set the tome for "To the Masters Before" developing swirling patterns of both saxophone and drums which lead to deeper strata of improvisation as they play. "Defending the Gate" is a fascinating song, with unique sweeping harp like piano, giving the music an Alice Coltrane kind of vibe paired with shaken percussion and bells which deepen the spiritual jazz effect. Unaccompanied drums run deep and powerful on "Rhythm of My Birth" soon joined by strident saxophone in a freewheeling exploration of sound. Ripe collective improvisation between the two instruments takes place burrowing deeply into their potential. "Repentance" is the centerpiece of the album, with deeply emotional saxophone playing long tones over drums. The long track unfolds episodically, with rolling loose percussion supporting the burly saxophone playing, which builds into sections of overblowing, then the two lock into a fast mutually supportive improvisation that drives forward relentlessly. An epic drum solo, heavy stuff, finally leading to a tempestuous improvisation and the finish. Rader and McMinn have been playing together for thirty years before the pandemic brought that to a halt in 2020. They re-emerged the following year with this excellent album that shows them at the top of their game. Two as One - bandcamp.com

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Thursday, October 07, 2021

Jon Lundbom and Byran Murray - Beats by Balto Vol. 2 (Chant Records, 2021)

Beats by Balto represents the fun side of experimental jazz with hip-hop quality beats and grooves provided by Bryan Murray under his Balto Exclamationpoint guise while the music comes from Murray and Jon Irabagon on saxophones, Jon Lundbom and Nick Mellevoi on guitar, Moppa Elliott on bass, Sam Kulik on trombone, Matt Kanelos and Richard Mikel on bass. This is a deep collaboration between custom built compositions by Lundbom met by well developed and deployed beats from Balto. The beats give what is already excellent music a new dimension, the ability to slip linearity, loop back, repeat and allow for techniques that are unavailable when playing with regular time. Horns playing together or soloing separately are able to develop interesting textures that the other instruments and beats can meet to produce spontaneous and organic performances. The sound of Lundbom and Mellevoi is strong but accessible, performing guitar solos that are powerful but not overly flamboyant, building a crunchy and searing sounds that lend much of the texture and melody to these performances. Irabagon and Murray are also able to offer searing saxophone solos across the entire saxophone family, sounding stark and potent, with Kilik’s trombone riding in to offering a countering sound that cuts through the accompaniment to add further texture and polish to this already exciting and unpredictable music. While the first volume was created by sending the tracks back and forth to record live performances of the new music, improvised solos, and accompaniment between busy musicians, this album unfolded quite differently. With 2020 forcing musicians off the road into quarantine, Lundbom and Murray were able to take their time and invite their colleagues and longtime musical friends, to create a deep and creative album. This group creates an unusual amalgam of experiential jazz, with beats and rhythms that was very successful. Each of the musicians has a relentlessly inquisitive nature, and by combining their efforts with inquisitive compositions and techniques they create riveting and very successful results. (Nov. 7 on Chant Records)

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Tuesday, October 05, 2021

Chick Corea Akoustic Band - Live (Concord Jazz, 2021)

The first posthumous release from pianist Chick Corea's representatives is a very good two disc album from his Akoustic Band, recorded live at the SPC Music Hall in Florida a few years before his unexpected death. The Akoustic Band featuring John Patitucci on bass and Dave Weckl on drums, had been a long running concern, with the trio having played together for decades and that camaraderie really comes through on this recording as they are able to compliment one another, anticipate each others ideas and react fluently to changing circumstances. The setlist is a generous one, including original compositions and jazz standards played at length with excellent band interplay and considerable solo space. The album opener is "Morning Sprite" which is a fast past and complex performance that really demonstrates the band's ability to both create at high speed and to throttle the tempo spontaneously when necessary. Duke Ellington's "In a Sentimental Mood" is a ballad that is played with admirable restraint, developing lush piano, elastic bass and soft drumming. The group touches base with Corea's Spanish roots on "Rhumba Flamenco" combining these two musics, the danceable rhumba and the complex flamenco to an improvised section that becomes more rapid and complicated, building from composite parts to a fine performance. "You and the Night and the Music" starts out with a boiling fast trio improvisation, with all three musicians locked in tight, leading to well articulated bass and drum solos both framed by piano, and finally to a fine bowed bass conclusion. The band really deconstructs Thelonious Monk's "Monk's Mood" taking it apart thoroughly to see how the genius put it together and using the component parts as launching points for an interesting improvised performance all their own. This album worked quite well, clearly proving that thirty years of familiarity in no way bred contempt, but rather an even stronger urge to explore the jazz idiom and search out the mysteries held within. Live - amazon.com

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Sunday, October 03, 2021

The Cookers - Look Out (Gearbox Recordings, 2021)

The Cookers are a confederation of veteran musicians, five who came up in the post bop crucible of the 1960’s: Billy Harper on tenor saxophone, Cecil McBee on bass, George Cables on piano, Billy Hart on drums and Eddie Henderson on trumpet. Rounding out the group is a musician from a generation later, Donald Harrison on alto saxophone. Although this is their first album in five years, it’s their sixth overall with strong compositions brought in by several members, arranged in most cases by producer David Weiss who is a fine trumpeter in his own right. Two of Billy Harper’s compositions are given lengthy airings, “Destiny Is Yours” and “Somalia” which is introduced with wordless vocalizing before heading to a strong uptempo performance with the saxophones and trumpet pushing hard and the rhythm section stoking the group’s engine in excellent fashion. George Cables contributed three tracks to this album including the deeply swinging track “The Mystery Of Monifa Brown” which is the lengthy album opener, providing a strong theme and launching pad for powerful riffing and extended soloing. This album worked very well, in fact I think it may be their finest to date. The ensemble playing is crisp, rhythm section sections swings admirably, and the solos are well built and concise. There's no sense of the music being time-locked to the hard/post bop era however, it sounds like up to date modern mainstream jazz played by a group of true professionals. Look Out - amazon.com

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