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Blues For Peace

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Free Jazz Reviews

Avant Garde Jazz Reviews

Swing Jazz | Hard Bop Jazz

Spiritual Unity ~ Albert Ayler
I listened to this music on LP around 10-11 years ago, and I thought it was wild and crazy. When listening to the CD now, after years of listening to Coltrane, Ayler, Dolphy Coleman and such, I was amazed at how structured and melodic this music is. Navarro was an amazing trumpet player, who had a great sound. But what impresses me most is his clear thinking and sensible phrases - he is so confident and always knows were he is going musically.

The tracks are all good, I especially liked "Dance of the infidels", Jahbero, The skunk, Double Talk and Boperation. The rest of the musicians are great too - Sonny Rollins, Bud Powell, Ernie Henry, and Others (Charlie Parker and Tristano play on only one track each). But It's mostly Navarro and it's great. It is an immense loss that this musician died at 27 (1950), and missed so many years of musical creativity.

Out There ~ Eric Dolphy
No one has ever played quite like Eric Dolphy. People tried to find out if he played "free" (what's the opposite ?) but he always played HIMSELF beautifully! This is a marvelous and groundbreaking CD recorded in 1960 with Ron Carter on CELLO, George Duvivier on bass and the great Roy Haynes on drums. Dolphy plays his arsenal of wind instruments - including the alto, bass clarinet, flute and b-flat clarinet.

The sound is completely original and it must have sounded strange to many in 1960. Dolphy's solo on the first track is mind-blowing. Where did he get his ideas and sound from? This is like a mix of Parker the man and a real bird - just great ! The playing throughout is just as great. The CD moves from hard driving to introspective moments with complete ease. This makes the time listening to the CD seem to pass quickly (it is not too long anyway) and everything seems fresh. The fresh and original spirit of this CD is outstanding - for anyone really into pure music !

Four for Trane ~ Archie Schepp
It's easy to understand why someone would want to play exactly like Charlie Parker, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, etc. However, these musicians became who they were not by trying to sound like others, but by following their own path. This CD, the first by Archie Schepp as a leader, shows him to be a musician who follows his own path and creating great music in the process.

The music here is not that far out. There are obvious similarities to bebop - in the phrasing, the rhythms - and some fast unison playing! The differences are important - there is no reliance on chords, the arrangements are more sophisticated. The approach to sound is different.

Schepp's style of soloing was already developed by that time (1964) - he had a way of talking with his horn - not preaching - but talking like a man telling about an adventure he had or even explaining his view on some issue. His notes are bent as a rule - he avoids playing un-bent notes. Unlike Ayler or Pharoah Sanders - Schepp's playing is less energy-oriented and more reflective, like a man enjoying a friendly discussion (or a heated one).

The other musicians here are fantastic - Roswell Rudd on trombone, John Tchicai on Alto, Allan Shorter on trumpet, Reggie Workman on bass and Charles Moffett on drums. To me it seems they all support Schepp and help in making his debut a success.

Cosmic Tones for Mental Therapy ~ Sun Ra
Sun Ra was in tune with cosmic energies, and was influenced by heliocentric sound waves. Whether or not this is taken literally, I have no doubt, after listening to this cd, that Sun Ra heard things his own way, and succeeded in transmitting what he heard to his Arkestra.

The music here is simultaneously primitive and ultra modern. John Gilmore's solo on the third track, for example, reminds me a lot of Ethiopian music, and even Sudanese music. The liner notes say it is the call of a Muezin. The rhythms move from sounding African to sounding solar, with surprising fluency. Some of the interplay between the horns, on a few tracks, are so creative and effective, their effect is hard to describe.

The influence of Ra's music on many things such as energy music, the AACM (the way he uses space and silence), and on other styles, outside of jazz. All this while defying commercialism, staying true to his artistic vision, and maintaining wonderful orchestras for so many years.

The Flam ~ Frank Lowe
Lowe's harsh/gentle saxophone playing is a constant search for the possibilities of expression - from the harshest coarse growls to soft, quiet tones. He uses these extreme modes of expression in a way I have not heard before - a soft descending phrase followed by a coarse scream which is followed by other sounds, each different and fresh. In this he is different than musicians such as Coltrane, Ayler, or Charles Gayle - who tend to build their sound gradually, achieving the maximum effect before changing direction.

The other musicians add their fair share of creative moments to the CD - Joseph Bowie makes the trombone sound a million ways, and Alex Blake plays everything from abstract to finger slapped funk. Leo Smith is always interesting and Charles Bobo Shaw plays what to me is perfect and ego-less support for the group. The influence of the AACM movement is evident too.

But it is mostly Frank Lowe, who, based on the music here, deserves to be mentioned as a member of the top crop of creative jazzmen who have entered the scene in the 60's - Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Sam Rivers, Anthony Braxton etc...

Deaf Dumb Blind ~ Pharaoh Sanders
This CD, made in 1970 by Sanders and a fantastic group of musicians, is one of the best attempts by Afro-American musicians to experiment with African rhythms and sounds. The first track, Deaf Dumb and Blind (with the Arabic translation) starts off with deep African drumming and rhythmic playing. There is barely a trace of "the Louis Armstrong" heritage - it goes all the way back to African tribal drumming. When Sanders' saxophone comes in - it reminds me of an elephant's scream, or a lion's roar. This should not be new to anyone who heard Sanders before.

What's outstanding about this performance is its oneness, the fact that it does not force itself but takes you along on the African spiritual journey. The musicians are all great - including Woody Shaw on trumpet, Gary Bartz on saxophone, and Sonny Liston Smith on keyboards. The overall effect is amazing even in Sanders' usual high standards.

Point of Departure ~ Andrew Hill
Among jazz musicians, the emphasis on creativity and originality. A jazz musician who simply learns the different styles and assembles enough licks to build "improvised" solos may sound good, but gets no respect. All of the musicians on this CD are capable of playing creative and original jazz. From the more "traditional" Durham to the always-modern Dolphy, they are all willing to experiment and create. Andrew Hill is a musician who is never willing to just "go through the motions" of playing jazz. Ditto for Joe Henderson and Tony Williams...
This CD is true to its name... it is a departure from tradition, on the verge of new discoveries, new possibilities concerning new "Song Structures", modes, chord changes and voicing of the instruments - all different yet connected to what existed before them...

Free Jazz ~ Ornette Coleman
This magnificent CD contains music made by some of the best minds in Jazz: Ornette Coleman, Eric Dolphy, Freddy Hubbard, Charlie Haden, Ed Blackwell, Scott La Faro, Billy Higgins and Don Cherry. The music is actually composed - though not in the traditional sense of the word. The order of the soloists is clear. The bridge is repeated between every solo, the rhythm is coherent. There is an emotional continuity throughout the CD.

What makes the music here so special is the interplay between the musicians, the way each of them supports and adds behinds each solo. When you hear Dolphy's Bass Clarinet laughing in the background it has to make you smile. The joy that the musicians must have felt while recording the music is heard beautifully. The drums and bass (each doubled) participate in the celebration in a way that should be studied by every modern composer - they are equal members while being fully aware of each instrument's strength and limitations.

Jazz Reviews - Three eras of jazz reviews: swing, bop and hard bop and avant-garde by Israeli jazz musician Nadav Haber.

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