Thursday, February 9, 2017

Elvin Jones - 1976 - Main Force

Elvin Jones 
Main Force

01. Salty Iron
02. Sweet Mama
03. Mini Modes
04. Philomene
05. Song Of Rejoicing After Returning From A Hunt

Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Dave Williams
Guitar - Ryo Kawasaki
Keyboards - Albert Dailey
Percussion - Angel Allende (3-5), Dave Johnson (1-2)
Reeds - Dave Liebman (1-2) , Frank Foster (3-5) , Pat LaBarbera , Steve Grossman (2-5)

A year along from "New Agenda", Elvin Jones and his group are in a jamming mode, working over looser structures with improvisational groupings amongst the reeds and percussion, with plenty of solo space as well. "The Main Force" is a more african-focused event with early fusion touches, ripped freshly from vinyl and presented here today in WAV and MP3.
Sometimes it sounds like they're all auditioning for Miles Davis' mid-70s live band, none so more than guitarist Ryo Kawasaki, who's coming off Gil Evans' "Music of Jimi Hendrix" and "There Comes a Time" albums, and here keeps his foot planted firmly on the wah-wah pedal, still a year away from smoothing things out considerably on his solo album "Juice". Kawasaki's track "Salty Iron" opens the album.

There are no less than four reeds players here; with Frank Foster and Steve Grossman joined this time round by Dave Liebman (who along with Grossman, of course, had successfully auditioned for the Davis band), and Pat La Barbara, who'd been working with Buddy Rich for the previous decade on albums like "Roar of '74" and "Stick It". La Barbara would continue as a central player for Jones for several years after this.

The woodwinds wind around each other in afro-style coils pushing eastwards on the sprawling fifteen-minute jam "Song of Rejoicing after returning from a hunt", which closes the album. The track is adapted by Jones from the djoboko rhythm of the Ba-Benzele pygmies; and arranged by Gene Perla. Perla doesn't play on this album, but would go on to form Stone Alliance the next year with Grossman and Liebman.

Or, as Todd Barkan writes in his hysterical liner notes :

"Here we are taken on a liferaft shooting the rapids of Elvin's bloodstream. A stream of consciousness hurtling us through lush, green river valleys into dens, electric jungles, and out onto sun-yellowed plains - flowing all the way back to the blood of his African ancestors."

I'll take two of whatever Todd's on, then chase them with a few margaritas.

Elvin Jones gets to break out with his signature thunder rolls on Gene Perla's "Sweet Mama", built around some wild impro from bassist Dave Williams. Williams had played on the first Blackbyrds album and Kenny Barron's "Peruvian Blue", then worked again with Elvin Jones the next year on Hadley Caliman's "Celebration". His composition here is "Mini Modes" - see the preview at the top of the post.

Producer Ed Bland contributes the modal "Philomene", and the man holding down the rhodes (and occasional piano) is Albert Dailey, fresh off Azar Lawrence's "Summer Solstice" and soon to record on Reggie Workman's "Conversation".

Jones confines himself to one percussionist at a time on this album. Angel Allende had built up an impressive track record in the years preceding this album - Mongo Santamaria's "Mongo '70"; Idris Muhammad's "Black Rhythm Revolution" and "Peace & Rhythm"; Lonnie Liston Smith's "Visions of a New World"; and Sonny Fortune's "Awakening"; "Long Before Our Mothers Cried" and "Waves Of Dreams". Allende gets a good workout with Jones on the aforementioned "Song of Rejoicing ... ".

The other percussionist, and the other Dave, is Dave Johnson. Imagine naming your child 'Dave Johnson', destined to be lost amongst forty-eight other 'Dave Johnsons' at the All Music Guide. Child abuse, pure and simple. Sensibly, this particular Dave took on the name Mguanda in the early 1970s, and appeared on both Bayete's classic "Worlds Around the Sun" and Horacee Arnold's "Tales of the Exonerated Flea".

Hope you all enjoy this further slice of Elvin.

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