Frank Wright — Sax (Tenor)
Bobby Few — Piano
Alan Silva — Bass
Muhammad Ali — Drums
Recorded June 1st, 1974, Moers Festival.
One of the great free jazz tenor saxophonists, Frank Wright was a high-energy player with a large tone and a style that made him often sound possessed. On this previously unissued ESP set, he is joined by pianist Bobby Few (who during the latter part of the set hints at his roots in more mainstream jazz), the virtuosic bassist Alan Silva and the powerful drummer Muhammad Ali at the 1974 Moers Jazz Festival. The two selections are continuous, never run out of intensity, and feature some intense playing, particularly from Wright and Ali. Free jazz collectors will definitely want this powerful performance
The late Frank Wright focused on one aspect of Albert Ayler's work and attempted to run with it, but energy alone, however, as Ayler understood, was not a foundation strong enough to build the kind of music that holds attention. Unity, a previously unissued release which documents a live performance by Wright's quartet at the Moers festival on June 1, 1974, is an apt case in point. This music seems to lose all sense of direction early on, resulting in a sprawling mess lacking the rigour which makes the music of the likes of Fred Anderson or Kidd Jordan, say, so compelling.
A few bars into his extended solo on "Unity Part 1, Wright is all over the proceedings, spewing out streams of notes without rhyme or reason and seemingly oblivious to the contributions of his bandmates. The results are as much a product of crude machismo as any higher concerns, and Wright's apparently spiritual approach to making music seems only like so much hyperbole.
The quality of the recording renders Alan Silva's bass inaudible for long passages. When he can be heard soloing, he at least alleviates the need to try and concentrate on what is essentially four voices engaging in a simultaneous primal scream. Pianist Bobby Few's work does provide some leavening in the bleak proceedings, and his solo on "Unity Part 1 is a model of light and shade in comparison to everything else, although when Wright marks its end by tootling on either harmonica or melodica, the music enters a realm of absurdity.
"Unity Part 2 opens with Wright imposing his will on what might have been a soprano sax. His efforts start at point A and falter badly long before he reaches point B, making the business of figuring out exactly what instrument it is just too much effort. The form of this part, such as it is, differs slightly from part one in the sense that some collective screaming gets a look in before Few puts in a spot of keyboard pounding that evokes visions of the crudest hoedown. Given the broader context this takes place in, I wouldn't want to hazard a guess as to whether or not it was an attempt at humour.
There was undoubtedly some kind of atmosphere shared between band and audience on this occasion, but unfortunately none of it has been preserved on Unity, any more than the fact that these musicians proved and have proven themselves capable of a whole lot more than the one trick on offer here.
01. After Love, Part 1 : « Questions and Answers » 21:47
02. After Love, Part 2 : « Random » 7:06
03. My March 22:03
Recorded 1970 in Paris.
Roscoe Mitchell – Reeds
Alan Silva – Cello, Electric Cello, Violin
Dave Burrell – Piano
Ron Miller – Double Bass (1, 2), Mandolin
Michel Gladieux – Double Bass (3)
Bertrand Gauthier – Drums (1, 2)
Don Moye – Drums (3)
Pianist and composer Dave Burrell's After Love was the seventh release on the French America Records imprint, a label dedicated to recording the works of American expatriates in Europe. A vanguard label from the outset, it documented the work of players like the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Anthony Braxton, Archie Shepp, Steve Lacy, and many others. After Love is made up of the title track -- a long 30-minute-composition in two parts -- and "March." The band is a compelling and provocative one. While Roscoe Mitchell is featured on reeds, there are two bass players -- Ron Miller (who also plays mandolin) and Michel Gladieux. Alan Silva, normally a bassist, plays cello, (electric and acoustic) and violin. Don Moye and Bertrand Gauthier make separate appearances on drums. What is immediately striking is the lack of the piano's sonic presence on the session. It's here everywhere, but Burrell is going for something else on "After Love," and that is textural and harmonic interaction of the various stringed instruments as they encounter and dialogue with each other. The drums are almost a constant thrumming beat. Incessant, varying little in dynamic and not at all in tempo throughout part one's nearly 22 minutes. Mitchell interacts with the strings as does Burrell, but the key improvisational and chromatic interplay is elsewhere. It's a breathtaking piece. Part two is moodier, introduced by Burrell and Mitchell with Silva's bowed droning cello offering the point of engagement. This section crawls and creeps to a softly whispered conclusion. "My March" is almost a mirror image of the title track. Rhythm doesn't even enter into the piece until nearly halfway through its 22 minutes. The slow tonal unraveling of the first half gives way to a an easy march, adorned by nearly breezy flutes, popping basslines, and spacious piano interludes. This is a fine offering showcasing where elements of formal 20th century composition meet the new jazz head-on and become something else altogether.
Pianist Dave Burrell has not received the acclaim he deserves despite actively pursuing his muse for over 40 years. Coming to prominence with the second wave of avant gardists, Burrell plays in a style that accommodates not only the New Thing but takes in the entire history of jazz going back to Jelly Roll Morton. He was the pianist of choice for Archie Shepp through most of the '70s and David Murray in the '80s-90s. The two discs at hand bracket his career and provide ample opportunity to hear this distinctive musician.
After Love is from the legendary Parisian sessions of 1969-1970 that provided recording opportunities for many members of the American avant-garde (Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton a/o) who had temporarily settled in that more inviting city. Burrell produced three albums at this time of which After Love is arguably the best. The set consisted of three tracks: the title track (in two movements) and "My March . Part 1 opens with pulsating basses (Ron Miller and Michel Gladieux) and drums (Don Moye and Bernard Gauthier). Soon Roscoe Mitchell enters spitting tart sopranino sax lines, followed by Alan Silva, squeezing out sparks on his electric cello (he also plays violin and acoustic cello) and Burrell's rippling piano lines. All six musicians weave a dense fabric from which the various front line instruments emerge and recede. This is a distinctly African group concept: all instruments being equal with the hypnotic rhythm carrying the music along.
The second section is primarily a ballad featuring Burrell, Mitchell on baritone sax and Silva on acoustic cello. Dark and moody, it's a satisfying counterpoint to part one. "My March opens with unaccompanied solos by Burrell, Mitchell and Silva before Moye starts a march rhythm and everyone follows in free jazz formation. Part of the reissue series of recordings from the French America label, this CD cleans up the sound from the original's horrible French pressing c. 1970 and holds up 40 years later as one of the best recordings of the free jazz diasporic period.
Consequences brings the Dave Burrell story up to date. The disc almost seems like a homage to the Parisian era of 1969-70. Being comprised of five improvised duets with drummer Billy Martin (of Medeski, Martin & Wood), recorded live in Philadelphia in 2005, Burrell takes off right from the git-go with his characteristic dense chords and sweeping glissandi up and down the keyboard (no one does this quite like Burrell).
Martin is a resourceful partner, initially shadowing Burrell, providing him with an all-over barrage in which Burrell seems completely at home. Each of the five pieces have their own distinct character. Martin's extended kit gives Burrell a wide array of options. Perhaps the only regret is that Burrell couldn't coax Martin into playing his signature tune "A.M. Rag . That would have made it a complete concert. But as it stands Consequences shows Burrell's creativity still flowing freely.
02. Fondamental Blues One
03. Who Got The Keys?
04. We Have Found The Keys!
Bass – Alan Silva
Piano – Bobby Few
Tenor Saxophone – Frank Wright
1 recorded in Massy, January 1975.
2 recorded in Reims, November 1975.
3,4 recorded in Paris, April 1975.
Fans of Joseph Jarman and Famoudou Don Moye's Egwu-Anwu and Marion Brown's Duets albums, who want something with just a bit more edge (Wright seems to be chaneling Albert Ayler on his appearances during these sessions), will find plenty to love about these albums.
Center Of The World / Alan Silva 1974 Inner Song. Volume 5
01. East Side Snaps
03. Kedo, Kedo
04. Danse of the 21st Century
05. Inner Song
Cello, Bass, Voice, Composed By – Alan Silva
Recorded live at the Rue de Prony, septembre 1974
For those unfamiliar with the label, Center of The World was a label set up by Silva, with fellow bandmembers Frank Wright, Bobby Few and Muhammad Ali. A 'kitchen-table' type endeavour to propagate the music of the group and its members, they released only 5 titles - this being the final one. Later, with the aid of Frenchman Sébastien Bernard, Sun Records was founded, with participation of the same musicians. Sun was more of a 'proper label' - although still tiny with limited distribution - and went on to release some 2 dozen-odd titles.
I like Alan Silva for all sorts of wholly inappropriate reasons - for having switched instruments mid career, for his great sherpa hats, for his extraordinarily diverse volume of work, for having put out his own *hand crafted* box sets, for making the synth sound good in an improv context, for his snaggle-toothed smile, and for having the sheer balls to put together a mental record like Lunar Surface as a debut in 1969.
The triple LP Seasons (1970) that followed it was monstrously good - without in any way recusing insanity - and the spirit of exploration of both the times, and the man's own path.
By the time he released this record under his own name in 1974 - the 4th, after the above mentioned 2 on BYG and Skillfulness on ESP - he had performed and recorded with Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler, Sun Ra, Archie Shepp, Sunny Murray and Bill Dixon.
The pioneering two-bass work with Henry Grimes on Taylor's Conquistador! and Unit Structures records was already nearly a decade old.
On this, there's a whole panoply of textures and techniques. If you're not immediately taken with the opening track of the record , stay with it for a bit: - the free arco playing of Untimeliness is compelling.
Throughout, Silva plays with a free-swinging passion and commitment and with a really solid intonation - even offering up some groove-rock motifs for a passage on Side 2
The cover credits him with 'voice' - this is pretty much limited to singing along with his own bass lines and a bit of vocal expostulation. Those fearing an 'art-song extravaganza' may rest assured - not on this one..
Uncredited on the sleeve, is the piano that appears on the opening track, and a splash of organ (presaging things to come in later years!) on the last tune - an impressionistic wash of spectral soundforms. Over a swirling pedal-point, all seems to build up to a 'hot cello solo', with a voice-chant and long sustained tones thrown in.
Center Of The World / Muhammad Ali Duo Frank Wright 1974 Adieu Little Man. Volume 4
01. Adieu Little Man, Part 1
02. Adieu Little Man, Part 2
Percussion – Muhammad Ali
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Frank Wright
Producer – Alan Silva
Recorded live at the American Center in Paris, April 1974.
Here's a reed/drum duo, in the tradition of John Coltrane and Rashied Ali (Muhammad's brother), tearing the roof off the sucka! If you like energy music, and loved Interstellar Space, you'll love this. Muhammad Ali didn't get a lot of recording opportunities during his career; his brother, who was also under-recorded, fared somewhat better. Those sessions on which Muhammad did appear quickly went out of print, with few being revived on CD (perhaps among the more noteworthy of those reissues was his appearance on three of the tracks on Alan Shorter's debut as a leader, Orgasm).
Loose, exploratory, with an unfinished quality (is it live? There seems to be a crowd near the start of side two). Ali--not such a technician as his brother Rashied, perhaps, but plenty interesting enough--holds centre stage. In fact, it feels more like a solo drum record with Wright's tenor (and smidge of bass clarinet) joining in when the music needs it. I assume it's also Muhammad with the off-mic shouts which hint at a ritualistic or oddly gospelly quality (same thing, I know). Long stretches with few notes and lots of space, but when it picks things up it can get pretty fierce (half way through side two is maybe the best example).
Center Of The World / Bobby Few 1973 More Or Less Few. Volume 3
01. More Or Less Few4:45
02. Few's Blues4:10
04. I'll Never Be The Same Again2:17
05. Chasing The Piano21:00
Bass – Alan Silva
Drums – Muhammad Ali
Piano – Bobby Few
Third release on the Center of the World label with an alternate cover to the brown cover with die-cut center hole that is credited to Bobby Few. This LP is credited to "Center of the World" (not Few) as is the custom on other COTW releases.
Recorded November 1, 1973 à Paris
Bobby Few was one of Cleveland’s leading jazz pianists in the 1950s and ‘60s, and later, Bobby Few became one of the most respected and busiest pianists in Europe. After moving to Paris in the late 1960s, Few has performed on more than 50 jazz albums.
The son of the maitre d’ at The Country Club in Pepper Pike, Few grew up on East 84th Street between Quincy and Central. He recalled, "I was very fond of baseball, but my mother was more interested in getting me started in music. I wanted to play flute but she wanted me to play piano. They bought a piano. There was an old Polish family that lived on the street that had a piano and my father and my uncle had to roll the piano down the street to bring it into the house. It was really a spectacle."
Few studied classical music for 12 years. At his first recital, he played Chopin’s "Polonaise." "Everyone would always pass by our house and hear me playing the piano," said Few, "and they would stop outside for a while and just listen. The kids were outside playing baseball, but I had to stay in and play the piano. And now, I’m glad I did!"
While studying classical music, the young musician was also exposed to jazz. "My dad had these Jazz at the Philharmonic records with Illinois Jacquet and Ella Fitzgerald. I began to listen to those records. Also he had a lot of Art Tatum and Erroll Garner and I became influenced by them and decided to learn how to play boogie-woogie. I would go to my classical music lessons and while the teacher was preparing herself, I would play boogie-woogie and she would tell me, ‘No, no! Don’t play that stuff! You must play the classical music first!’"
Bobby got an opportunity in his own neighborhood to hear some live jazz piano by perhaps the all-time greatest jazz pianist. "I remember, as a little kid, hearing Art Tatum on Cedar Avenue at a little tavern ( Val’s in the Alley) at 86th and Cedar. I just sat on the steps there and was amazed! That really influenced me to continue in the path of jazz."
Few began listening to records of other jazz pianists. He bought more records by Garner. "I loved his music," said Few, "because I had been studying Claude Debussy and Erroll was so ‘Water Music.’ I just seemed to take to that flavor of water-type-flowing music. He really started me on the way, playing in that style." That style remained an important part of Few’s playing.
He was also influenced by the harmonic explorations of Thelonious Monk and recalled, "People were actually calling me ‘Thelonious Monk, Junior’ because I was trying to copy his licks and the things that he would do. I hadn’t quite found my own style yet. I was searching for a style."
Few never played in school bands, but he did play jazz concerts at Rawlings Junior High School and later at East Tech High School.
In 1950, Cleveland’s East Tech was an almost all-white school. Teenager Few was involved in a bitter protest demonstration that finally opened the school to blacks. "We had a club called ‘The Young Nobles,’" said Few, "and we were responsible for East Tech to be integrated. We blocked the school for almost the whole week. Even the principal and the teachers couldn’t get in and the police took us away many days. We just kept coming back and blocking the entrance. Finally, they decided, ‘Well, we better let them in.’ But, at the same time, they moved all the equipment out and all the whites left and went to another school."
While he was at East Tech, Few tried to listen to as much jazz as possible. He saw and heard Charlie Parker in Cleveland. "I met him at the Loop Lounge down on Prospect. I was young, 16 or 17, and I walked in the door. He was playing with a pianist named Jimmy Saunders. Few remembered speaking with Parker. "He was very encouraging to me. He told me to continue to stick to the music and if I wanted to do my own songs, to continue to try to do that."
Few started playing with a group that included Cleveland’s top saxophonist of the period, Joe Alexander, trumpeters Bill Hardman and Carl Fields, bassist Richard Mitchell, drummer Lawrence "Jacktown" Jackson, and singer Gene Jordan.
"We were playing places like Smitty’s Tavern, Tia Juana, the Mirror Show Bar, Club 100, the Safari Club, the Alhambra Tavern – all the clubs that are not existing now. At that time, Cleveland was booming with jazz."
Few played in Cleveland for 20 years. He formed a trio called the East Jazz Trio with drummer Raymond Farris and bassist Cevera Jeffries, the older brother of Dewey Jeffries. It was perhaps the most popular jazz group in Cleveland at the time.
Eventually, an old childhood friend, Albert Ayler, persuaded Few to go to New York. "I moved there and suffered for about seven years, but the suffering was well worth it because I earned my stripes that way." In New York, Few played with Jackie McLean, Roland Kirk, and Brook Benton. In 1962, he toured Jamaica and Europe with Booker Ervin, Few’s cousin Bob Cunningham, and LeRoy Williams.
In 1969, Few decided to go to Europe. "I was playing with a tenor saxophonist named Frank Wright; drummer Muhammad Ali; bassist Alan Silva; and Arthur Jones, a saxophonist from Cleveland; and we decided we needed to move. We said, ‘What about Paris?’ Everybody said, ‘That sounds exciting.’ So we took our resources, packed our bags and left, and never came back."
It was a period of protest, not only in the United States, but in France. "When we got there, there was a revolution of students and Paris was really on fire. Automobiles were on fire and there was tear gas in the streets. They were fighting for better schooling and money. We were walking down the street and all these policemen were running after the students, so we ran into a club, and the guy locked the door behind us. We found out it was the leading jazz club of Paris, called the Cat and Fish. The owner asked us, ‘Who are you guys?’ We said we came in from New York. He asked us, ‘Would you like to play in the club?’ We said, ‘Yeah, when can we start?’ He said, ‘What about tomorrow night?’ We said, ‘Yeah!’
"And from that point on, we began to be recognized as something new and fresh there." They wanted to do more. "We rented a van." said Few, "and started going around to major festivals in Belgium, Holland and Spain, and just kind of sat in on the festivals. The next thing we knew, the organizers were hollering for us to do the next festival."
Few had been playing in Europe for more than a decade when he met master avant garde soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy. "Lacy heard me playing in Belgium and wanted to know, ‘Who was that pianist?’ Lacy was thinking about going back to New York, but when he heard me, he decided to stay. He asked me would I like to play with him. I said, ‘Sure would!’ So, I started playing with Lacy in 1982."
With Few at the piano, the Steve Lacy Sextet became a pioneering force in Paris. The group made its only appearance in Cleveland in July of 1986, playing a Northeast Ohio Jazz Society concert at Case Western Reserve University. Few remained with the Lacy Sextet for ten years, until 1992.
While best known for his work with Lacy, Few also continued performing with his own group as a soloist and with various other groups. He made dozens of records in addition to 1960s albums with Ayler. "I have 54 albums to my credit now. I recorded with Archie Shepp, Booker Ervin, I recorded with Albert. I recorded many under my name. We formed our own record production company called ‘ Center of the World,’ and we produced our own records with Frank Wright, Mu hammad Ali, Alan Silva and Noah Howard."
"I began by playing basically what they call ‘free jazz,’ which is musical improvisation or black classical music, but now, I am more into mainstream, playing basically my compositions, my own songs. So far, I have more than 500 songs that I have written, many of them with words, and I have been able to several albums under my name with my music."
"I’ve also started singing. I’m not really a singer, but I sing anyway and it works. My songs are being recognized over there more and more so that people don’t always come and say, ‘Hey, can you play "Misty?" Instead they say, ‘Hey, Bobby, can you play that song of yours?’ I say, ‘Sure,’ and I do it."
Few always tried to target his music to his audience. "In Europe, there are certain festivals where you can really just go as you like musically and there are some clubs where you have to play your music in a fashionable beat or in a funky manner and be more commercial, but there is more opportunity in the festivals, live concerts, and radio shows to do what you really want. You can play your theme and then, go to the Moon and Jupiter. They don’t care. They love it! The more far-out you get, the more they become enthusiastic."
Center Of The World / Frank Wright Quartet 1973 Volume 2 / Last Polka In Nancy?
01 Winter Echoes
02 Guanna Dance, part 1
03 Guanna Dance, part 2
04 Thinking of Monk
05 Doing the Polka
06 Two Birds with One Stone (bonus track)
1-5 : Live in Nancy Festival Jazz Pulsations, 10th october 1973.
6 : Live in Detmold Neue Anta, 1978
Frank Wright : tenor saxophone, bass clarinet
Bobby Few : piano
Alan Silva : bass
Muhammad Ali : drums
The second volume in the excellent Fractal live retrospective of the Frank Wright Quartet comes to us from Nancy in 1973. Pianist Bobby Few, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Muhammad Ali (no, it's not) with Wright blowing the living hell out of his saxophones and clarinet, are a picture of free jazz as it permeated the European landscape at the time. This is a freewheeling exorcism of a set with spar but well placed dynamic sequences that accent all the textures possible when the boundaries to expression are gone. Silva uses a bow as much as he plays pizzicato; Few uses his keen sense of harmonic balance to open the upper register of the instrument while playing huge ninth and even 11th chords like a bell, ringing in the tone fields for Wright who bleats, squawks, screeches, screams, and moans through his horn, playing ostinato blues lines through his horn like Albert Ayler (check "Guana Dance, Pt. 2" by Silva especially). His notes are harsh, bitten off and bloodied curdles of the human voice as it attempts to express what it can never state in words. The compositions, if they can be called that, are by Few and Silva, and as open mode pieces; they work as such, especially on the level of timbral sonance and microtonal systemic work. Wright is no match for Few's sharp, elegant range on his instrument, and so he uses force as counterpoint, while Silva and Ali engage in the dance of shimmering tempos. There aren't many recordings like this out there, and this one is as essential and as blessed by demonic inspiration as Vol. 1 is.
Center Of The World 1972 Center Of The World. Volume I
01. Center Of The World, Part I19:51
02. Center Of The World, Part II19:45
03. No End17:33
04. Church Number 913:11
Bass – Alan Silva
Drums – Muhammad Ali
Piano – Bobby Few
Tenor Saxophone, Bass Clarinet – Frank Wright
Live in Rotterdam Doelen, March 26, 1972.
Tracks 3 & 4 are bonus tracks. Live in Detmold, Neue Anta, 1978.
Originally recorded in 1972 in Rotterdam, this Frank Wright date stands as one of the unsung classics of the free jazz era. For years sought out by collectors at outrageous prices, the folks at Fractal have done us all a favor and reissued the original album on CD with two previously unreleased performances from a reunion date in 1978. Featuring Wright on tenor and bass clarinet, pianist Bobby Few, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Muhammad Ali (no, not that one), the music captured here is one vast exploratory landscape where anything went and the intensity is blistering. While Wright is the leader of the ensemble and was capable of blowing the hell out of his horn, the true star on these sessions is Few, who joined Steve Lacy's Sextet upon departure from this group. Few doesn't support Wright -- he drives him, pushes him to the limit and causes Silva to seek refuge in Ali's drums. There are vast tonal expanses being explored here, and it's only Few who can map them, from both outside and inside the piano. His use of right-hand arpeggios is stunning considering the size of the chords he's laying out with the left. Far more lyrical than Cecil Taylor, Few pushes the range of Wright's instruments to the very limit of his abilities to play them and then extends them a bit. The title track is almost 40 minutes long and stands as a free jazz endurance test. Wright astonishes for many reasons, not the least of which is his ability to blow at the intensity he does for the entire gig. The 1978 show is more laid-back, and the band makes use of ostinato and other kinds of repetition to create the myth of a tune á la Albert Ayler, especially in "No End." Here Wright plays the insistent "call-to-prayer-and-revelation" honk that Ayler loved so much, and Few works with Silva (who is badly recorded on these two tracks) to bring up an entire battery of responses that shift meter, tone, and, because of the consistency of the phrasing, intervallic shifts and staggers. Throughout, Ali plays his best Elvin Jones, and pulls it off; his are the sticks that usher in the speed of this freight train of movement and fluidity, and he dances the kit with propulsion and true grit. Whatever you do, get this.
The Celestrial Communication Orchestra conducted by Alan Silva 1989 My Country
01. My Country64:15
Bass - Bob Reid , Kent Carter
Drums, Percussion - Jerome Cooper , Noel McGhee
Flute, Saxophone [Alto] - Becky Friend , Robin Kenyatta , Ronme Beer
Flute, Saxophone [Baritone] - Jouck Minor
Flute, Saxophone [Tenor] - Hugh Levick , Lubomir Tamaskovic
Piano - David Horowitz
Piano, Organ, Celesta, Percussion - Francois Tusques
Saxophone [Alto, Soprano] - Anthony Braxton
Saxophone [Soprano] - Steve Lacy
Trumpet - Ambrose Jackson , Oche Ray Stephens
Trumpet, French Horn - Bernard Vitet
Vibraphone - Robert Wood
Violin, Sarangi, Musical Bow, Music By - Alan Silva
Recorded live at the "Festival de Musique Contemporaine de Royan", January 1971.
The Celestial Real Communications Orchestra is a freelance jazzy orchestra formed in France in 1969 by Alan Silva, avant-garde musician from the British Bermuda Archipelago. This work, including Silva, is composed of a large orchestra by a total of 20 people, but each time there is a change of members, there are 16 people or 22 people. Even if you look at Personnel, there are members like Anthony Braxton and Steve Lacy, but most of them are composed of anonymous free jazzmen. Alan Silva of the leader is a talent who can freely play any instruments such as bass, double bass, keyboard, etc. besides the violin to be shown in this work and the Indian folk instrument Sarangi, but the best main It will be a position as a band leader led by this orchestra.
This work is a live recording performed in Royan, a rural town in western France in 1971. The 64-minute nonstop performance is exactly a music drama, a big epic. Repeating manic depression as if man's complicated emotions are revealed is the most problematic work of John Coltrane " Ascension"There is not much to express chaos, like the one. From Coltrane, Ornette Coleman, Pharaoh Sanders, Albert Eyler to AAOC, in the late sixties, free jazz overturned the common sense of existing jazz, and developed with a political color to a great movement , It may be said that the end point of such tide flow was periodically and geographically it was this Celestial Communications Orchestra.
Alan Silva And The Celestrial Communication Orchestra 1982 Desert Mirage
101. Desert Mirage 20:06
102. A D N 08:20
103. After Coda 09:40
201. February The Third (1st Part) 14:41
202. February The Third (2nd Part) 09:29
203. Procession 10:57
Alan Silva: conductor
Pierre Faure: flute
Carl Schlosser: flute, piccolo
Aldridge Hansberry: flute ,alto flute
Karo: alto clarinet
Denis Colin: bass clarinet
Jean Querlier: oboe, cor anglais
Bruno Girard: violin
Pascal Morrow: violin
Didier Petit: cello
Itaru Oki: trumpet, bugle
Jeff Beer: trumpet
Serge Adam: trumpet
Bernard Vitet: trumpet
Michael Zwerin: tuba
Doménico Criseo: tuba
Francois Cotinau: tenor saxophone
Georges Gaumont: tenor saxophone
Arthur Doyle: tenor saxophone
Philippe Sellam: alto saxophone
Sébastien Franck: alto saxophone
Henri Grinberg: soprano saxophone
Antoine Mizrah: electric bass
Rosine Feferman: bass
Francis Gorge: guitar
Francois Leymarie: electric bass
Jacques Marugg: vibraphone, marimba
Adrien Bitan: vibraphone
Ron Pittner: drums
Bernard Drouillet: drums
Gilles Premel: percussion
Recorded on June 25,26 & 27, 1982 at Aquarium Studio, Paris.
On this and the previous Alan Silva post, he is not playing himself but it's "his" music nonetheless.
These sprawling vistas - like flying and/or floating over vast sky- and landscapes. Immersed but somehow not attached.
On this LP the music has sometimes a dreamlike quality (see/hear "Desert Mirage") and au contraire to his LPs on BYG the music here has a more "structured" sound. Not that I would dislike "unstructured" sounds from Alan Silva or per se...
Alan Silva And The Celestrial Communications Orchestra 1979 The Shout (Portrait For A Small Woman)
01. Golden Flower9:58
02. The Shout5:38
03. La Viola Pastel2:57
Alto Saxophone – Georges Menousek
Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Jo Maka
Baritone Saxophone, Clarinet [Contrabass, Octocontralto] – Jouk Minor
Bass – Pierre Jacquet
Bass Saxophone [Uncredited] – Luc Le Masne
Cello – Helene Bass
Conductor, Composed By, Arranged By – Alan Silva
Drums – Michael Coffi, Muhammad Ali
Flute – Pierre Faure
Percussion – Armand Assouline
Soprano Saxophone – Georges Gaumont
Tenor Saxophone, Oboe – Francois Cotinaud
Trombone – Adolf Winkler, Michael Zwerin
Trumpet – Bernard Vitet, Itaru Oki, Pierre Sauvageot, Robert Garrison
Violin – Bruno Girard, Catherine Lienhardt, Jacques Dolias
Recorded November 1978 at Studio Davot, Paris, France.
Ten years after his legendary debut ("excellent" or "unacceptably chaotic cacophony", depending on the listener's taste) Alan Silva released his third studio album (and first studio recording in ten years) entitled "The Shout (Portrait for a Small Woman)".
At that time, Silva was working as a teacher in the Institute for Art, Culture, and Perception in Paris, and the material comes mostly from his teaching work. He doesn't play any instruments on "The Shout", but instead leads a 21-piece orchestra that is a combination of Silva's "Celestrial Communications Orchestra" plus his students. Silva wrote and arranged all the music and he conducts the orchestra as well.
Musically, this album is not similar to his debut, at least not from the first spin. Seven well structured, completely pre-composed tunes, all under 10 minutes long, are rooted in Ellingtonian tradition and post-bop. But during the listening one can easily hear Silva's background as a late 60s unorthodox experimentalist. All the arrangements contain that non-conformist, even chaotic element, coming from his debut, just here it is presented in a the form of modern European classical composition.
Among the orchestra members, I found just a few known names (at least for me); trumpeters Itaru Oki and Bernard Vitet, and drummer Muhammad Ali are among them, but in all, this collective sounds very professional and inspired playing quite complex compositions.
Much more accessible than the early Silva works, this album still contains lot of his extravaganza, so it could be easily recommended as an entry point. At the same time, it's a great (if obscure) addition to Silva's quite limited collection of releases.
Alan Silva And The Celestrial Communication Orchestra 1970 Seasons
01. Seasons Part 1
02. Seasons Part 2
Alto Saxophone, Clarinet [Clarinets] – Michel Portal
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Robin Kenyatta
Cello – Kent Carter
Cello, Celesta – Irene Aebi
Drums, Percussion – Don Move
Drums, Percussion, Performer [Bronte] – Jerome Cooper
Bass, Violin, Sarangi – Alan Silva
Piano – Dave Burrell, Joachim Kuhn
Saxophone [Saxophones], Flute [Flutes], Oboe – Roscoe Mitchell
Saxophone [Saxophones], Flute, Bassoon – Joseph Jarman
Soprano Saxophone – Steve Lacy
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Ronnie Beer
Timpani, Percussion – Oliver Johnson
Trumpet – Alan Shorter
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Lester Bowie
Trumpet, French Horn – Bernard Vitet
Viola [Electric] – Jouk Minor
Violin [Electric] – Dieter Gewissler
Recorded live at Studio 104, Maison de L'O.R.T.F. Paris, December 29, 1970.
Alan Silva has pulled together all the guys who were recording for BYG at the time and has put on a live performance of what was probably his crowning achievement, a piece called “Seasons”. This is an incredibly avant-garde piece, but an unusually good one. As there is a lot of players on here, the freeform sound is always full and solid, and never does that really uncomfortable thing were one instrument just goes-it-alone for twenty minutes and becomes a real headache. Unlike a lot of freeform work this is not musical masturbation. This is a very orchestral sounding piece that is much more contemporary free classical as opposed to free jazz. It’s an amazing thing to sit through, but there are some major downsides. There are six sides to this album, and they are long sides too, approximately twenty five minutes a side. So to listen to this piece you are going to have to commit yourself for roughly two and a half hours. Now I love to sit down and listen to music for long stretches, but I like to vary the stuff I’m listening to. I mean, two and a half hours of one artist, on top of which it's two and a half hours of one piece, well to be honest that is just not going to be something I want to put myself through that often. So you see what I mean by being really impractical.
However, this is one of the most beautifully packaged albums I’ve got. I love the BYG covers anyway, but it’s just really nice the way they’ve got it as a triple vinyl fold-out. Plus it’s all that 180 gram vinyl, so it’s a seriously solid package. Get Back have done an amazing job with all these BYG reissues, and they’re all great value too. Unfortunately the stuff that was recorded for BYG was just a little too free for my tastes, and even though I will probably never listen to this album again, I’m glad, in all it’s solid glory, it’s sitting in my collection.
An immense soundscape, originally released on triple LP, with well over two hours of engaging avant garde music. In contrast to the impenetrable cloud of noise that Silva's Luna Surface is, Seasons leaves much more spaces for the individual musicians, so that what evolves here is a rich, varied and engaging texture that often feels more akin to contemporary classical than jazz; except of course when all hell breaks loose and the unrestrained free improvisations are unleashed upon the listener. It's a majestic, thrilling, and above all intense experience that has been referred to as a "radical bombardment" of sounds.
Don't let the miserable packaging of the reissue on CD deter you from purchasing this remarkable gargantuan effort by bassist and composer Alan Silva, for which the term "masterpiece" is not too far a stretch. The original three-LP set has been compacted to two full-length CDs. Unfortunately, there are no liner notes, and you may need a magnifying glass to decipher the list of more than 20 participating musicians, who read like a who's who of avant-garde jazz at the time this was recorded. As there are no individual tracks and the "composition" is more than two hours long, there is also reproduced from the LP a detailed time log listing the instruments at any particular moment. Unfortunately, the log is virtually useless as it corresponds to the six sides of the original LPs. That aside, this is a magnificent, rambling, chaotic, lavish, and often meandering spectacle that should be heard in one sitting to be completely appreciated. It takes the concept of "sheets of sound" to the next level. Even with its deficiencies, it is a spectacular presentation, with snippets of melodies (or more precisely, riffs) interspersed among the soloists, who include Silva, Steve Lacy, Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, Robin Kenyatta, Michel Portal, and Joachim Kühn, to cite the more recognizable names. The results are absolutely thrilling, if not always inspiring, and there are many high points. While individual improvisers are difficult to identify, the level of improvisation remains consistently at the highest levels. It is wild and free, and the listener receptive to free improvisation is likely to be held in rapturous attention. Destined to be a classic of its genre, Seasons offers a full-scale radical bombardment from many perspectives, resulting in a smorgasbord of delights. While listening to so much at once is a challenge, the patient listener willing to put in the effort should be fulfilled and rewarded amply.
Flute, Vocals – Becky Friend
Percussion – Lawrence Cooke (tracks: B)
Piano – Dave Burrell (tracks: B)
Piano, Organ – Mike Ephron (tracks: B)
Vibraphone – Karl Berger
Violin, Cello, Piano – Alan Silva
Alan Silva is probably best known as a bassist, having appeared on several seminal albums of free jazz with Sunny Murray, Albert Ayler, and Cecil Taylor, but for his own solo outing on ESP-Disk, released in 1970 but recorded before Silva went to Europe in 1968, he's featured on piano, violin, and cello. As well as Silva's ecstatic swoops, "Skillfullness" features passionate and sensuous flute work from Becky Friend and hypnotic vibraphone playing from Karl Berger, and gives the lie to the idea that free jazz in New York in 1968 was all about blowing the wall down. "Solestrial" is a more ambitious affair, featuring a larger ensemble including Dave Burrell, Mike Ephron, Lawrence Cooke, and two other musicians simply (and mysteriously) credited as Mario and Barry, and is the first appearance in Silva's discography of the conduction techniques he went on to perfect with the many subsequent incarnations of his Celestrial Communication Orchestra. Using a conducting technique derived in part from his studies with Sun Ra, Silva was able to summon extraordinary solo performances from his musicians (Burrell is outstanding here) without losing sight of the work's overall architecture. "My work was based on John Coltrane's Ascension," Silva has commented elsewhere. "The first ten minutes of Ascension, before the solos start, were revolutionary. I always thought if Coltrane had gone on with just the collective improvisation he'd have got it. So I felt he left that to me to do!"
Alan Silva And His Celestrial Communication Orchestra 1969 Luna Surface
01. From The Luna Surface Part 114:10
02. From The Luna Surface Part 214:10
Bass – Beb Guerin, Malachi Favors
Drums – Claude Delcloo
Piano – Dave Burrell
Soprano Saxophone – Archie Shepp
Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone – Anthony Braxton
Tenor Saxophone – Kenneth Terroade
Trombone – Grachan Moncur III
Trumpet, French Horn – Bernard Vitet
Violin, Composed By, Arranged By – Alan Silva
Violin, Viola – Leroy Jenkins
Silva was born a British subject to an Azorean/Portuguese mother, Irene da Silva, and a black Bermudian father known only as "Ruby". He emigrated to the United States at the age of five with his mother, eventually acquiring U.S. citizenship by the age of 18 or 19. He adopted the stage name of Alan Silva in his twenties.
Silva was quoted in a Bermudan newspaper in 1988 as saying that although he left the island at a young age, he always considered himself Bermudian. He was raised in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City, where he first began studying the trumpet, and moved on to study the upright bass.
Silva is known as one of the most inventive bass players in jazz and has performed with many in the world of avant-garde jazz, including Cecil Taylor, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Sunny Murray, and Archie Shepp.
Silva performed in 1964's October Revolution as a pioneer in the free jazz movement, and for Ayler's Live in Greenwich Village album. He has lived mainly in Paris since the early 1970s, where he formed the Celestrial Communication Orchestra, a group dedicated to the performance of free jazz with various instrumental combinations. In the 1990s he picked up the electronic keyboard, declaring that his bass playing no longer surprised him. He has also used the electric violin and electric sarangi on his recordings.
In the 1980s Silva opened a music school in Central Paris, introducing the concept of a Jazz Conservatory patterned after France's traditional conservatories devoted to European classical music epoch
Even though I'm now 49 years old old I haven't given up my quest of finding music that truly pushes the extreme. Every time I think I have heard it all something always shows up that completely tears my head off & humbles me. I once thought the Nihilist Spasm Band was about as far out as you could get, then of course somebody played me a copy of Harry Chapin's "Sniper" album and it was back to the drawing board. Well my latest entry in the "Most Fucked Up Album Of All Time" stakes is this 1969 outing by Alan Silva And His Celestrial Communication Orchestra. This album really has hair on it.
Silva is best known as being Albert Ayler's bassist and the author of the skull crushing "Skillfulness" album for ESP-Disk. He also put together this mammoth ensemble with the intention of updating John Coltrane's "OM" and "Ascension" & Ornette Coleman's "Free Jazz." After hearing "Luna Surface" I would have to say he was successful. Silva is the director of a supergroup that features Archie Shepp, Anthony Braxton, Dave Burrell, Malachi Favors and other "heavy" friends. What is basically on offer here is a 30 minute non-stop free jazz cluster-bomb. It makes The Stooges "L.A. Blues" sound like Boots "Fucking" Randolph and his Yakety "Fucking" sax.
These guys mean business, and sheer power of the playing of everyone involved is astounding. I haven't heard this many elephant honks since my fifth grade field trip to the Havana Zoo. Holy Toledo!
A friend of mine and I rang in the New Year with this album while watching Mariah Carey on Dick Clark's New Year's Rocking Eve (or whatever the fuck it's called.) I then went out and shot 100 jumpshots on the basketball court down the street in 20 degree temperatures. This album can do crazy things to you.
01. John ColtraneNature Boy7:58
02. Albert AylerHoly Ghost
03. Grachan Moncur IIIBlue Free
04. Archie SheppHambone11:48
05. Charles TolliverBrilliant Corners9:50
01. John ColtraneNature Boy7:58
02. Archie SheppHambone11:48
03. Charles TolliverBrilliant Corners9:50
04. Charles TolliverPlight13:06
05. Grachan Moncur IIIBlue Free6:48
06. Grachan Moncur IIIThe Intellect24:04
Alto Saxophone – James Spaulding (tracks: 3, 4)
Art Direction – Dan Serrano, Hollis King
Bass – Cecil McBee (tracks: 3 to 6)
Drums – Beaver Harris (tracks: 5, 6), Billy Higgins (tracks: 3, 4)
Trombone, Written-By – Grachan Moncur III (tracks: 5, 6)
Trumpet – Charles Tolliver (tracks: 3, 4)
Vibraphone [Vibes] – Bobby Hutcherson (tracks: 3 to 6)
Recorded live at The Village Gate, New York City on March 28, 1965. Originally released in 1968 on Impulse!
Tracks 4 & 6 are bonus tracks that did not appear on the original LP. Albert Ayler's 'Holy Ghost' was left off this reissue due to length.(But included in th download taken from Albert Ayler – Live In Greenwich Village - The Complete Impulse Recordings)
Liner Notes: The New Wave in Jazz, by LeRoi Jones and Steve Young
The Black Arts Parade Toward the Black Arts Repertory Theater/School
125th Street, New York, 1965
On March 28, 1965, a concert benefiting the Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School was held at New York’s Village Gate. Featuring John Coltrane, Archie Shepp, Sun Ra (he played but his music didn’t make the album) and Albert Ayler – artists described by Black Arts Music Coordinator Steve Young as “The Beautiful Warriors” and “magicians of the soul”– the performance was recorded and subsequently released on Impulse Records as The New Wave in Jazz.
This recording is significant for its brilliant “free jazz” performances, but also for Amiri Baraka’s (known as LeRoi Jones at the time) liner notes’ connection of music and politics. It is a reminder of the historic, turbulent times in which this music was created. The Selma to Montgomery marches took place in March, 1965. Malcolm X was assassinated in February. The war in Vietnam was dramatically escalating. And, jazz music was continuing to evolve, the most obvious example being the December, 1964 recording of Coltrane’s A Love Supreme, which was released in February, a mere ten months after Louis Armstrong’s “Hello Dolly” rode the top of the Billboard charts.
In the midst of (and in reaction to) events like these came The Black Arts Movement. Founded in 1965 by Baraka, this movement called for, according to the African American History site BlackPost.org, “the creation of poetry, novels, visual arts, and theater to reflect pride in black history and culture” with the goal to “awaken black consciousness and achieve liberation.” Baraka and other “cultural nationalists” viewed jazz “as a distinctly black art form that was more politically appealing than soul, gospel, rhythm and blues, and other genres of black music.”
In Baraka’s poetic, politically exuberant album liner notes (Young contributes an essay as well), read how he describes the introduction of these artists to those unfamiliar with them as “the touch stone of the new world,” and how their work “transcends any emotional state (human realization) the white man knows.”
I have been writing in many places about this new black music. I have made theories, sought histories, tried to explain. But the music itself is not about any of those things. What do our words have to do with flowers? A rose is not sweet because we explain it so. We cd say anything, and no rose wd answer.
TRANE is now a scope of feeling. A more fixed traveler, whose wildest onslaughts are gorgeous artifacts not even deaf people shd miss.
The sway of Nature Boy is lyric, when Trane sounds like what a search could sound like, we can understand that it is now not essentially a search for what to believe in. The Peace of the Cosmos is infinite motion.
ALBERT AYLER thinks that everything is everything. All the peace. All the motion. That he is a vessel from which energy is issued, issues. He things (or maybe he doesn’t think) that he is not even here. Not even here enough to be talked about as Albert, except we are biological egos (we Think). Separate. Sometimes unfelling of each other (thing) but Music joins us. Feeling. Art. What ever produces a common correspondence for existence.
Do you understand why this is a beautiful album?
Trane is a mature swan whose wing span was a whole new world. But he also showed us how to murder the popular song. To do away w/ weak Western forms. He is a beautiful philosopher. You would say to him, listening to his own projection of mysticism, “That’s the way it was told to me.”
Albert Ayler has heard Trane and Ornette Coleman and has still taken the music another way. People should be referred to Spirits, Bells, Spiritual Unity, My Name is Albert Ayler.
Albert Ayler is a master of staggering dimension, now, and it disturbs me to think that it might take a long time for a lot of people to find it out. (Except they knew it all the time, like that other shit you can’t explain.)
Trane is oriental (Eastern) on Nature Boy. A peace idiom, and time, placement of himself. When he speaks of God, you realize it is an Eastern God. Allah, perhaps.
Albert Ayler is the atomic age. Sun-Ra, who was supposed to be heard on this album, but was not because of the missionary’s vagaries, is the Space Age. These two ages are co-existent, but all are. Trane the age of bright (mystical) understanding. Archie Shepp, the age of cities, an urbane traveler with good senses (heart, ear).
This album will be for many people their initial hearing of most of these musicians. It shd be, for such ears, the touch stone of the new world. There is so much here.
But the album is also heavy evidence that something is really happening. Now. Has been happening, though generally ignored and/or reviled by middlebrow critics (usually white) who have no understanding of the emotional context this music comes to life in.
This is some of the music of contemporary black culture. The people who make this music are intellectuals or mystics or both. The black rhythm energy blues feeling (sensibility) is projected into the area of reflection, intentionally. As Expression…where each term is (equally) co-respondent.
Projection over sustained periods (more time given, and time proposes a history for expression, hence it becomes reflective projection.
Arbitrariness of Form (variety in nature)
Intention of performance as a Learning experience
These are categories which make reflection separate from expression; as Pure Expression and Pure Reflection (if such categories are more than theoretically existent. Expression does not set out to instruct (but it does anyway…if the objects of this mind-energy are so placed that they do receive). Reflection intends to change, is a formal learning situation. But getting hit in the head with a stick can do you as much good as meditating.
In order for the non-white world to assume control, it must transcend the technology that has enslaved it. But the expression and instinctive (natural) reflection that characterizes black art and culture, listen to these players, transcends any emotional slate (human realization) the white man knows. I sd elsewhere, “Feeling Predicts Intelligence”.
That is the spirit, the World Explanation, available in Black Lives, Culture, Art, speaks of a world more beautiful than the white man knows.
All that is to make clear what we are speaking of. And that the music you hear (?) is an invention of Black Lives. (No matter the alien “harmonies” of Ayler’s cellist presents…a kind of intrepid “Classicism” that wants to represent Europe as “hip”).
Grachan Moncur represents, along with Chas. Tolliver’s group, the cool aspect of the new generation. The post-milesian cool. The vibist, Bobby Hutcherson makes this stance thoughtful and challenging, as does, say, a drummer like Tony Williams or bassist Cecil McBee, who can stretch out even further.
These musicians change what is given and hopefully understood. What the normal feeling of adventure is. You thing hard-bop to cool soft bop. But there is a persistent will to be original that sheds these labels effortlessly. Some of the musicians in the Tolliver/Moncur groups have played together many times on those hip Blue-Note records with Jackie McLean or Andrew Hill or Wayne Shorter, &c. These are men (Jackie, the perennial strongman) who show you the music is changing before yr very ears.
These, and the others I mentioned before, names names, to conjure with, no one shd forget. Ok, speak of them as personalities if you want to. Sonny Murray is a ghost, listen to him thrash and moan with Holy Ghost. Listen to Louis Worrell, Charles Tyler, Don Ayler, closely because they are newer and might be telling you something you never bargained for. Listen to Trane, Ornette, Sun-Ra, Milford Graves, Tchikai, Brown. Listen to everybody beautiful. You on this record poets of The Black Nation.
New Black Music is this: Find the self, then kill it.
Director, The Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School
It’s not about notes anymore. It’s about feelings!
It is through the Black Man’s Music that the record of his Spiritual strivings are recorded for, from the time he was the first introduced into this country as a slave he was allowed little more Freedom than the freedom of his Music. Into his Music he poured all the energy that was elsewhere blocked, that elsewhere found no outlet through which his Spirit could express itself. But his Music was about more than that. It was about those unconscious cultural remnants he brought with him from the East, about the way he lived in the West, about where his Mind and Spirit wanted to be, where they had been and where they were going. As LeRoi Jones has written, the social and historical record of where he was at any given moment during his life in America (in terms of his feeling, his conscious and unconscious social and cultural allegiances) can be found in his Music; Blues, R&B, Gospel, Jazz.
The creators of the New Music have reached deep into their psyches, deep into their cultural origins to find a language of sound that conveys this sense of the world as feeling, as knowledge found through a logic of the emotions. From the earthy chants an calls of John Coltrane, the cry of Archie Shepp, the subtle melodies of Grachan Moncur and Charles Tolliver, to the satiric and frenzied with chasing of Albert Ayler comes an apocalyptic message from the heart of the world. A sense of someone or something walking around in the back room, waiting, for us, for you, for the rise and fall of civilizations. It is not too much to expect that these musicians as artists are also priests and prophets of things to come.
This recording presents a selection of some of the more significant voices in the New Music. Stylistically the approach of these musicians may differ yet they all seem to converge on that mystical hub around which the New Music revolves. Developmentally it provides a brief survey of the New Music from the more tonal chord structured music of John Coltrane to the “Free” Playing of Albert Ayler. The Music itself is taken from a benefit concert presented at the Village Gate in March 1965 by The Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School in co-operation with avant-garde musicians, Impulse Records and Art D’Lugoff owner of the Gate. The Black Arts, situated in Harlem, is a school and theatre designed as a place where the most visionary talents of black culture may find expression and where the community and especially the younger generation may come to learn and develop their own creative gifts under the instruction of accomplished artists.
Here then is the music of a new breed of musicians. We might call them “The Beautiful Warriors” or witch doctors and ju ju men…astroscientists, and magicians of the soul. When they play they perform an exorcism on the soul, the mind. If you’re not ready for the lands of Dada-Surreal a la Harlem, South Philly and dark Georgia nights after sundown, night-time Mau Mau attacks, shadowy figures out of flying saucers and music of the spheres, you might not survive the experience of listening to John Coltrane, Archie Shepp or Albert Ayler. These men are dangerous and someday they may murder, send the weaker hearts and corrupt consciences leaping through windows or screaming through their destroyed dream worlds. But this music, even though it speaks of horrible and frightening things, speaks at the same time so perfectly about the heart and to the heart. This music, at the same time it contains pain and anger and hope, contains a vision of a better world yet beyond the present and is some of the most beautiful ever to come out of men’s souls or out of that form of expression called Jazz.
STEVE YOUNG Music-Art Co-ordinator, The Black Arts Repertory Theatre/School
"The New Wave in Jazz" is not an Impulse compilation as the album cover may have you think. It's actually a live concert from 1965 featuring four Impulse groups. The Classic Coltrane Quartet contributes an outstanding live version of "Nature Boy," and Archie Shepp contributes a septet version of "Hambone." But the album's real treats are two tracks each from Charles Tolliver and Grachan Moncur III. Both of these artists were fantastic, under-recorded players best known to this point for a few appeaerences on Blue Note -- Tolliver most notably appeared with Jackie McLean, while Moncur, in addition to appearing with McLean, recorded two excellent albums as a leader. On "The New Wave in Jazz," Tolliver, with the awesome band of Bobby Hutcherson, James Spaulding, Cecil McBee and Billy Higgins, plays Monk's "Brilliant Corners" brilliantly, and his own "Plight." Moncur's group also features Hutch and McBee with Beaver Harris added on drums, and they tackle two of Grachan's compositions, "Blue Free" and the indefatigable "The Intellect." It's too bad Tolliver and Moncur couldn't have each recorded an album with these lineups, but at least you can get this.
This is a fantastic album, though it is incomplete. According to Amiri Baraka, who was instrumental in getting Impulse to produce this album, Sun Ra's performance was left off the LP without explanation. In addition, Baraka wrote the original liner notes which don't seem to be included in the CD version. Ah well, great music but an incomplete package...what else would a musigeek complain about?
This is great stuff, strong unadulterated pure avant-garde stuff. This can be off putting, unless you're coming from the second viennese school or other polytonal/duodecaphonic music, but once it gets you, you are hooked, and you will feel truly sorry for those who don't hear it. I love this album.
Grachan Moncur III & The Jazz Composer's Orchestra 1974 Echoes of Prayer
01. Band 1 i. Prologue ii. Reverend King's Wings I iii. Medgar's Menace I iv. Drum Transition v. Garvey's Ghost (Space Station)
02. Band 2 i. Angela's Angel I ii. Drum Transition
03. Band 3 i. Right On I ii. Angela's Angel II iii.Right On II iv. Reverend King's Wings II v. Medgar's Menace II vi. Drum Transition vii. African Percussion Ensemble
04. Band 4 i. Right On III ii. Angela's Angel III (Jamboree) iii. Drum Transition iv. Amen Cadence v. Epilogue: Excuse Me, Mr Justice
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Carlos Ward
Bass – Cecil McBee, Charlie Haden
Bass Trombone – Jack Jeffers
Clarinet – Perry Robinson
Congas, Percussion [Talking Drum] – Titos Sompa
Drums – Beaver Harris
Flute – Keith Marks (tracks: A1(ii)), Pat Patrick
Guitar – Mark Elf
Percussion – Coster Massamba, Frederick Simpson
Percussion [Cowbell, Shekere] – Malonga Quasquelourd
Percussion [Maracas, Hair Drum] – Jakuba Abiona
Piano – Carla Bley
Trombone – Janice Robinson
Trombone, Voice, Composed By – Grachan Moncur III
Trumpet – Hannibal Marvin Peterson, Stafford Osborne
Viola – Toni Marcus
Violin – Leroy Jenkins, Ngoma
Voice – Jeanne Lee, Mervine Grady
Recorded April 11, 1974 at Blue Rock Studio, New York City
In the early 1970s, avant garde jazz did a similar thing as rock music and sought to reinvent itself though pieces for increasingly large ensembles. The results were sometimes impressive, but more often slightly embarrassing.
Echoes of Prayer is an ambitious free jazz symphony composed by Moncur for Carla Bley's Jazz Composers Orchestra. Moncur has always been a proficient composer, but up to this point his pieces had mostly been for much smaller ensembles. While he was familiar with the textures that result from simultaneous group improvisation through his work with Alan Silva, Dave Burrell and Archie Shepp, composing a multi-layered texture like this was in some ways a first.
The result is perhaps a bit overwhelming on the first listen, more than Burrell's and Silva's walls of noise actually, because there seems to be so much going on at every corner of this music, which is really more like a collage of pieces glued together. There is definitely some good stuff in this, even though it may take a while to find it as the arrangements are big and the music is not really accessible. If it has a weakness, it's probably that sometimes the score seems to be uncertain about where it's heading and if it's really coherent; fortunately these sections are usually followed by other section with a very strong sense of direction and coherence.
Definitely Moncur's most abstract work, miles away from his 1960s records. Complex, but still very rewarding.
Grachan Moncur III 1970 Aco Dei De Madrugada (One Morning I Waked Up Very Early)
01. Aco Dei De Madrugada7:02
02. Ponte IO6:46
04. Tiny Temper5:28
Bass – Beb Guérin
Drums – Nelson Serra de Castro
Piano, Voice – Fernando Martins
Trombone – Grachan Moncur III
Recorded September 10th and November 4th, 1969, Studio Saravah, Paris.
In 1969 Grachan Moncur III - jazz trombonist and composer - recorded two albums for the legendary French free jazz record label BYG: "New Africa" and "One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Aco Dei De Madrugada)".
Moncur had come to France via Algiers, where he had played at the First Pan-African Cultural Festival. This Festival, which focused on Black African ethnic identity politics, had been held in Algeria from the 21st of July to the 1st of August 1969 by the new-fled Organization of African Unity. Moncur had come to the Festival together with Archie Shepp, with whom he had been playing since 1967 (i.a. on 'Life At The Donaueschingen Music Festival' and 'The Way Ahead') and with whom he would remain closely associated in further years (on 'Things Have Got To Change' and 'Kwanza'). Besides Moncur, Shepp brought with him cornet player Clifton Thornton, pianist Dave Burrell, bass player Alan Silva, and avant drummer Sunny Murray.
At the Festival, the whole group was invited to record in Paris by BYG Actuel's Jean Georgakarakos and Jean-Luc Young, and record they did: in a very short time span, working in ever-changing constellations, they created scores of beautiful free jazz records. "New Africa" was recorded on august 11th 1969, only ten days after the end of the Festival; "One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Aco Dei De Madrugada)" was recorded only a little later, on september 10th and november 4th 1969.
But the jazz corpus created by those invited to record by BYG Actuel - though one of the most enticing on record - was marred by greed: to this day, BYG's mainmen Bisceglia, Young and Georgakarakos have apparently not paid any royalties to the artists involved. The financial problems this created for Moncur initiated a downward spiral, which was worsened by health problems. The result was that Moncur was able to record only rarely after the early 1970's, apparently became quite depressed, and didn't even merit a personal entry in the 7th (2004) edition of "The Pinguin Guide To Jazz On CD".
It is ironic that where a Festival (the First Pan-African Cultural Festival) provided the main impetus for BYG Records, another festival proved to be it's undoing. BYG Records organized a festival together with the countercultural magazine Actuel called 'Le Festival Actuel'. It was planned to take place from October 24th to 27th 1969 in Paris. However, the French authorities denied the organizers the necessary permits, fearing that either a Woodstock-like chaos or a repetition of the may 1968 student riots might ensue. This forced the organizers to move the entire Festival at a very late stage to Belgium, to a place called Amougies (or Amengijs in Flemish) which is near the French-Belgium border. The Festival had a very ambitious line-up, featuring Pink Floyd, Captain Beefheart, Soft Machine and Ten Years After. Also, much of BYG Records roster of Free Jazz performers participated; Grachan Moncur III appeared on Saturday night, together with Don Cherry, saxophonist Arthur Jones and pianist Joachim Kurt Kuhn. Frank Zappa was master of ceremonies at the Festival. Though an audience of 15-20,000 attended the Festival, the financial strain it caused was too much of a burden for BYG Records, which finally went bankrupt in the early seventies.
Bisceglia went on to become a Jazz photographer; Jean Georgakarakos founded Celluloid Records; and Jean-Luc Young founded the record label Charly Records in France in 1974 and moved operations to England in 1975. Living up to his reputation for shady deals, Young ran into legal trouble due to copyright infringement in 2000 while still working for Charly Records.
The trombone - Moncur's instrument - has held a particular fascination for me ever since I saw drone metal band Earth perform live, Steve Moore - who has roots in Free Jazz - providing beautiful trombone gravitas to Earth's haunted Americana. But Moncur's trombone playing is light years removed from Moore's drones: his style is firmly rooted in Jazz tradition.
Moncur's music is not Free Jazz of the chaotic and noisy, Merzbow kind; and it is also devoid of the cheap quasi-mystical exoticism which can spoil Indian/Jazz-fusion-type Free Jazz. Notwithstanding the influence of Shepp's ethnopolitical protest music, both albums present a rather lyrical style of Free Jazz, elegant rather than intransigent, poetic rather than acerbic, a mélange rather than a hotchpotch. Moncur comes across as a good-natured progressive who chooses to explore both the heartlands and the borders of the Jazz tradition, rather than as a revolutionary firebrand who aims to scorch the earth of that tradition.
But that does not mean that Moncur's music lacks passion - on the contrary!
'New Africa' features Roscoe Mitchell (alto sax), Dave Burrell (piano), Alan Silva (bass) and Andrew Cyrille (drums). It opens with the eponymous seventeen-and-a-half minute suite, which consists of four movements. Over the course of these movements, the relaxed, steady bass work by Silva binds together the energetic performances of the other musicians. The drums and the piano on the one hand and the sax and the trombone on the other maneuver around each other in benevolent aerobatic dog-fights. In 'Space Spy' Dave Burrell provides a suspenseful piano tune that gives the track a tense feel appropriate to it's title: that of a Free Jazz afro-futurist espionage thriller. The third track ('Exploration') is the 'Free-est' of all. It is thoroughly informed by Alan Silva's musical style: spiritually ecstatic, with an interplay of instruments that is as writhing as a mass of Cthulhoid tentacles. Archie Shepp appears on the fourth and final track of 'New Africa', where a self-confident (but never swaggering) swing provides the two musicians with a theater stage on which to perform their powerful art.
I'm also very fond of the second part of this double LP, the album "One Morning I Woke Up Very Early (Aco Dei De Madrugada)". It was recorded after 'Le Festival Actuel'. This album presents two songs which are interpretations of Brazilian traditionals: "Aco Dei De Madrugada" and "Ponte Lo"; and two originals: "Osmosis" and "Tiny Temper". On this recording, Moncur was assisted by French bass player Beb Guérin, Brazilian pianist Fernando Martins and Brazilian drummer Nelson Serra De Castro. More laid-back than 'New Africa', the Latin influence gives his music an immensely graceful swing. - Enjoy!