Thursday, February 9, 2017

Elvin Jones - 1975 - New Agenda

Elvin Jones 
New Agenda

01 Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat
02 Naima
03 Haresah
04 Anti-Calypso
05 Stefanie
06 My Lover
07 Agenda

Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Dave Williams
Guitar - Roland Prince
Percussion - Candido (5,7) , Frank Ippolito (1,2,4,5,7) , Guillermo Franco (3,4)
Piano - Gene Perla (5,7) , Kenny Barron (1)
Reeds - Azar Lawrence (3,4) , Frank Foster (1,2,5) , Steve Grossman
Saxophone - Joe Farrell (5,7)

Regarded as one of the world's greatest drummers, with his alternately thunderous and light-skipping percussive styles, Elvin Jones will always be remembered as Coltrane's drummer from the 1960-66 period, but also has an interesting output as a leader in his own right.

His Impulse and Blue Note albums straddled both avant-garde and post-bop influences, always allowing plenty of space for his collaborators, and by the 1970s, albums like Merry Go Round were beginning to annoy purists like l'il Scotty Yanow in their eclectic grab-bag that began to explore influences like latin and brazilian styles.

He continued to explore all corners of jazz in when he moved across to Vanguard Records in 1975, in a group of albums that I'm going to present in a series of posts.

"New Agenda" was his first release for the new company in 1975. There's a pretty heavyweight reeds section behind him here - mainstay Steve Grossman with help on different tracks from Azar Lawrence, Joe Farrell and Frank Foster. That's how many winds players you need to compete with Jones' snare drum.

As if the power of his kit wasn't enough, on this album he brings in three percussionists - Candido, Guillermo Franco and Frank Ippolito, but this doesn't result in the bombastic chaos you might expect - rather, Jones works with them in a cohesive unit, often exploring subtle cymbal work to complete the percussive textures; and really letting them have their heads on the closer "Agenda".

No review for this album on AMG, presumably because it contains the dreaded, jazz-destroying electric piano, adroitly handled here by Kenny Barron on the opening soul-jazzer "Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat" ; and by Gene Perla on the aforementioned "Agenda" and "Stefanie" (penned by producer Ed Bland and later recorded by James Moody, see file within his discography here ). Anyway, Barron's presence gets this added to the Kenny on electric piano discography.

The pianoless tracks are anchored harmonically by guitarist Roland Prince, a veteran of many fine early 70s albums like Buddy Terry's "Awareness", Larry Willis' "Inner Crisis"; Shirley Scott's "Lean On Me"; Roy Haynes' "Senyah", Pete Yellin's "It's the Right Thing" and Compost's "Life Is Round". Here he's got a restrained style that on tracks like "Haresah" that almost mimics the tonality of Barron's and Perla's rhodes on other tracks.

Hope you enjoy this one!

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