Thursday, November 17, 2016

Compost - 1973 - Life Is Round

Life Is Round

01. Seventh Period 8:07
02. Moonsong 4:27
03. Compost Festival 5:19
04. The Ripper 3:53
05. Buzzard Feathers 6:22
06. Changing Streams 5:16
07. Mon Cherry Popsicool 5:28
08. Restless Wave 4:19
09. Life Is Round 3:31

Bass – Jack Gregg
Drums – Bob Moses (tracks: A1, A3, B2, B3, B5), Jack DeJohnette (tracks: A2, B1, B4), Jumma Santos (tracks: A4)
Guitar – Ed Finney (tracks: B3 to B5), Roland Prince (tracks: A1 to B2)
Organ, Clavinet – Bob Moses (tracks: A2, B1, B4)
Organ, Clavinet, Piano – Jack DeJohnette (tracks: A1, A3, A4, B2, B3, B5)
Percussion, Congas – Jumma Santos
Saxophone, Flute – Harold Vick
Vibraphone – Bob Moses (tracks: A4)

In the early seventies, Compost was Jack DeJohnette's band project. Jack DeJohnette, of course, of Miles Davis fame and later, one of the members of Keith Jarrett's acoustic trio. With Miles, DeJohnette was part of the "revolution" the trumpeter launched with his seminal album, Bitches Brew. The Keith Jarrett Trio, on the other hand, was at once a restorative project - it was here that the standards wave of the 80s and 90s really started - and progressive in the way that acoustic trio (piano, bass, drums) influenced all the trios that came later, until today.

Also as a drummer, not just as a sideman, DeJohnette has proved to be one of modern Jazz's most influential exponents. However, as much as he has been part of modern Jazz's most important contributions, the projects where he was in charge have been  consistently nice, but never essential records. In this aspect her resembles another Miles Davis alumnus, Ron Carter (who, at the end of the day, is my acoustic bass hero number One).

The music of Compost can be roughly categorized as electric Jazz. If one compares Compost's third and last studio album, Life Is Round from 1973 with some of DeJohnette's other combatants from his Miles Davis years, who were by 1973 all involved in their own band projects - Chick Corea and Return to Forever, John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Joe Zawinul and Wayne Shorter with Weather Report, or Miles himself, just to name the most influential ones - Compost seems harmless, almost mainstream. Perhaps it is.

However, now, forty years down the road, a music aficionado wouldn't care too much about the trench battles of those years.
And from that point of view, Life Is Round fares rather well. Not so much because the compositions or the sound are unique, but because this is band is hot: Bob Moses with some great work on the electric keyboards, Roland Prince, guitar, Ed Finney, Jack Gregg, bass, Harold Vick, sax, who sounds great in this context, Jeanne Lee, vocals (on two tracks), Jumma Santos, percussion, and Lou Courtney, vocals and production.

The band visits several areas - Funk, Rock, Jazz, Caribbean. Towards the end, on Restless Wave, they evoke Jimi Hendrix and the final title track, even echoes of Free Jazz can be heard.

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