Monday, July 31, 2017

Julius Hemphill - 1975 - Coon Bid'ness

Julius Hemphill
Coon Bid'ness

01. Reflections 2:30
02. Lyric 7:24
03. Skin 1 10:07
04. Skin 2 2:28
05. The Hard Blues 20:07

Alto Saxophone – Black Arthur Blythe (tracks: A1 to A4)
Alto Saxophone, Composed By – Julius Hemphill
Baritone Saxophone – Hamiet Bluiett
Cello – Abdul Wadud
Congas – Daniel Ben Zebulon (tracks: A1 to A4)
Drums – Barry Altschul (tracks: A1 to A4)

The Hard Blues:
Drums – Philip Wilson
Engineer – Oliver Sain
Producer – Julius Hemphill
Trumpet – Baikida E. J. Carroll

Side A recorded on January 29,1975 at C.I. Studios, New York City.
Side B recorded in February 1972 at Archway Studios, St. Louis, Missouri.

Takes a little bit to get going, but once it does, you're dealing with some furiously playful avant-garde jazz. On side one, Hemphill fronts a sextet that includes Arthur Blythe (playing alto sax but only in the left channel, Hemphill's alto is in the center), Hamiet Bluiett on baritone sax, ABdul Wadud on cello, Barry Altschul on drums and Daneil Ben Zebulon on congas. Together, they can make quite a racket. "Reflections" and "Lyric" start the LP off with some loosely intertwined saxophones. There's no rhythm, and it's hard to tell how much was composed and how little direction was given beforehand, but it holds my interest alright. They feel a little like a warm-up for the last 3/4 of the record, which feature some flat out amazing ensemble performances. "Skin 1" and "Skin 2" are both incredible compositions. The low-end is taken up entirely by Wadud's cello, which is both bowed and plucked throughout and lays down a sick groove with Altschul in the beginning (someone should sample it if they haven't already) and the heads are like off-kilter dissonant saxophone harmonies that bring to mind Zappa with a pinch of RIO blended with jazz. There's lots of collective improv and total freedom and all that good stuff, and then side two is taken up by "The Hard Blues" (apt title), a recording from 1972. The lineup is different (Hemphill, Wadud, and Bluiett remain, Philip Wilson replaces Altschul on drums and Baikida E J Carroll plays trumpet) but it's just as impressive as the other group. It's a slow but exciting take on the blues, with more awesome repeated cello 'riffs' and individual solos taking place, unfortunately the recording quality is quite poor. Excellent stuff, comes highly recommended for anyone interested in avant-garde jazz.

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