Thursday, February 16, 2017

Elvin Jones Jazz Machine - 1978 - Remembrance

Elvin Jones Jazz Machine

01. Giraffe 7:54
02. Section 8 4:25
03. Little Lady 6:27
04. Familiar Ground 3:32
05. Kalima 8:30
06. Beatrice 6:41
07. Remembrance 7:07

Bass – Andy McCloud III
Drums – Elvin Jones
Guitar – Roland Prince
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Michael Stuart, Pat LaBarbera

Recorded February 3, 4 and 5, 1978 at Tonstudio Zuckerfabrik, Stuttgart, Germany

“Elvin is the beat of life itself…When I hear Elvin’s music I hear the future.” So said guitarist Carlos Santana in 2004 when he heard that drummer Elvin Jones had died. The rock star’s comments signal Jones’ importance. Born in Pontiac, Michigan in 1927, Jones’ playing lifted the drum set out of the rhythm section and into the frontline. He could control the pulse of a band while at the same time pepper the music with melodic accents, creating solos that were both strong and sensitive. For his MPS recording in February, 1978, he brought along his “Elvin Jones Jazz Machine” a quintet with the somewhat unusual lineup of two saxophones, guitar, bass, and drums. The band continued to be one of the most popular in jazz on into and through the 1990’s. The youngest of the three Jones brothers, trumpeter Thad and pianist Hank being the other two, Elvin rose to fame as the drummer for the seminal John Coltrane Quartet. For five years Jones played with the saxophone giant, creating music that revolutionized jazz. He left the band after Coltrane added a second drummer and the music took a new direction. For a time Elvin worked with a number of jazz greats, and then formed his own “Jazz Machine”. The German record producer and writer Joachim-Ernst Berendt commented that “There are many drummers today whose hands are faster than their heads. With Elvin, head and hand, body and soul are a single entity.”

This is a little known album by legendary American drummer Elvin Jones and his quintet called Jazz Machine, which included saxophonists Pat LaBarbera and Michael Stuart, guitarist Roland Prince and bassist Andy McCloud III. The album was recorded in Germany for the MPS label and produced by Joachim Berendt. It presents seven tracks, six of which are original compositions by the quintet members (four by LaBarbera and one each by Stuart and McCloud) and one comes from outside the quintet.

The music is modern Jazz, quite straightforward but excellently played by these gifted musicians. The double saxophone front line offers plenty of fine soloing, interchangeably with the guitar solos, and the rhythm section works like clockwork, which is hardly surprising with Jones at the helm.

Overall this is a solid mainstream offering, with excellent original compositions and a good modern Jazz feel, which should make all Jazz listeners happy. LaBarbera is obviously a very gifted composer and saxophonist and his contributions here are truly exemplary. His solos often move into a much more ambitious territory, touching upon Free Jazz.