Monday, January 8, 2018

Byard Lancaster - 1977 - Exodus

Byard Lancaster

01. Something Children Can Do 4:21
02. Mr. P.C. 7:51
03. All Of My Life 5:43
04. Exodus 13:15
05. Philly Jazz 6:03

Bass – Skip Parnell
Flute [Wooden], Percussion – Harold E. Smith
Voice, Piano, Flute [Wooden], Bells, Soprano Saxophone, Alto Saxophone, Alto Saxophone [Electric], Tenor Saxophone, Written-By – Byard Lancaster

Recorded at the first annual WXPN Jazz Awards Concert in Philadelphia on April 16, 1977, except 'Exodus' recorded at the WXPN-FM Studios in Philadelphia on May 4, 1977.

Lancaster made his mark playing with Sun Ra and McCoy Tyner, along with such free jazz luminaries as Bill Dixon, Sunny Murray, and Marzette Watts. He was a longtime staple of the Philadelphia jazz scene, forming Sounds of Liberation with Khan Jamal. The influences of Albert Ayler and especially John Coltrane loomed large on his saxophone playing, but he also had a passion for funk, soul, and straight ahead jazz. His personal motto and business card imprint: “From a Love Supreme to the Sex Machine.”

Recorded at the first annual WXPN Jazz Awards concert in Philly in 1977, Exodus is a brilliant showcase for Byard Lancaster’s soulful and keening tone, his skill as a bandleader, and his adventurous abilities as an arranger and composer. It’s focused, fiery, and frequently playful. The album opens with “Something Children Can Do,” which Lancaster describes as “a piece that should express to everyone that music can be fun. Wood flutes, bells, and things. The essence is of the spirit. Join in and produce music. Hum along if you care to.”

The blazing cover of John Coltrane’s “Mr. P.C.” sees Lancaster and Co. paying tribute to the tradition and putting their own stamp upon a classic tune. Lancaster says: “Respecting the Prophets, Seers, Dreamers, Workers, Warriors, and Poets that have gone before us.” The album closes with “Philly Jazz,” an homage to the city and namesake of the record label, and “brings into the open a World Renaissance in Jazz Music. The sound, pitch, and warmth shall increase daily.” The piece begins as a solo sax recital, but then Parnell and Smith sift into the mix and build the tune to a remarkably intense crescendo. You might hear echoes of Albert Ayler, but the execution is pure Byard.

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