Monday, January 8, 2018

Jimmy Page - 1981 - Death Wish II

Jimmy Page 
1981 
Death Wish II


01. Who's To Blame
02. The Chase
03. City Sirens
04. Jam Sandwich
05. Carole's Theme
06. The Release
07. Hotel Rats And Photostats
08. A Shadow In The City
09. Jill's Theme
10. Prelude
11. Big Band, Sax, And Violence
12. Hypnotizing Ways (Oh Mamma)

Guitar, Bass, Synthesizer – Jimmy Page
Bass – Dave Paton
Drums – Dave Mattacks
Piano, Synthesizer – Dave Lawson, David Sinclair Whittaker, Gordon Edwards
Vocals – Chris Farlowe, Gordon Edwards


The death of drummer John Bonham in September 1980 didn’t just spell the end of Led Zeppelin. For a time, the surviving members of the band disappeared completely from the spotlight.
Guitarist Jimmy Page would be the first to release new material, though not in the fleeting 1981 XYZ supergroup with Yes members Chris Squire and Alan White (which never released an album), but in a last-minute soundtrack composition for Death Wish II, which was released Feb. 15, 1982.
The genesis for the project came about when the movie's director, Michael Winner, who happened to be Page’s next-door neighbor, rang up the guitarist and pitched the idea to him.

“I’d lived next door to Jimmy for many years, I’d never seen him, never spoken to him,” Winner told Uncut, acknowledging Page was “in a down period” at the time. “We did a deal, which was very sensible of [Led Zeppelin manager] Peter Grant, because what he wanted to do was restore Jimmy back to creativity. A very sensible thing to do, it didn’t matter whether he was paid a lot or not. I think this was a very wise decision, he did a deal to get Jimmy back into action.”
Page was given only a few weeks to put the music together, and immediately hunkered down. “He saw the film, we spotted where the music was to go and then he said to me, 'I don’t want you anywhere near me, I’m going to do it all on my own,'” recalled Winner. Doing a soundtrack to the sequel of a 1974 movie starring Charles Bronson as a vigilante seeking street justice for the murder of his wife and assault on his daughter gave Page the opportunity to explore avenues he wasn't able to in Led Zeppelin. He also needed to put a band together.

“I had a chance to go in the studio and do some really experimental stuff -- well, it was experimental to me,” Page told Chris Cornell in a 2015 interview. “It involved guitar synthesizer, and I was able to work with an orchestra and some very, very fine musicians. There was a drummer, Dave Mattacks, who played with Fairport Convention. The bass player, David Paton, was phenomenal; he was from the Bay City Rollers, just a fantastic bass player. It gave me a chance to really work to the visual thing – that’s why I did it.”
The instrumental pieces, which make up the bulk of Death Wish II, had Page laying down some truly sinister sounding material, most notably the menacing, nearly six-minute “The Chase.” Working with an orchestra led to some interesting moments too; “Hotel Rats and Photostats” could easily be confused with a Bernard Herrmann outtake from Psycho or Cape Fear. There’s also some fun, almost funky moments on “Jam Sandwich” and the downright jaunty “Big Band, Sax and Violence,” both of which blatantly hint at the Isley Brothers classic “It’s Your Thing.”
Three tracks featured vocals, for which Page tapped English blues singer Chris Farlowe. Those songs -- “Who’s to Blame” and “Hypnotizing Ways (Oh Mamma)” -- bookend the album, respectively. Neither track is particularly memorable; “City Sirens,” with ex-Pretty Things singer Gordon Edwards at the mic, wasn't either, but the three of them give some insight as to where Page’s playing would head in a full-band setting, which surfaced three years later with the release of the Firm’s first album.
Winner was delighted with the finished product, telling Uncut, “It was absolutely magical. Not only was it a great score, but filming is done to a 24th for a second, there are 24 frames of film go through every second … and everything hit the button totally! It was one of the most professional scores – well, I’ve never seen a more professional score in my life.”
The director liked it so much, he repurposed the music for the 1985 sequel, Death Wish III, completely by accident. Winner had put Page’s Death Wish II soundtrack as a placeholder for the next film, and it happened to line up. “I got this phone call [from Winner],” Page said. “’An extraordinary thing just happened darling, and I’d like to use your music on Death Wish III.’ I said, ‘But it was all tailor made for Death Wish II.” He said, “I know, but I put it on and it worked perfectly. So I’m on Death Wish II and some of Death Wish III as well, by default.”
Not that is was expected to, but the soundtrack to Death Wish II didn’t light up the charts, ultimately becoming a footnote in Page’s discography. The album itself soon became a discounted record-store cut-out, and a late-‘90s release on CD quickly went out of print. 

I don't think there's ever been such a unique movie score in the annals of film. The superb mixture of Charles Bronson exacting revenge on punks in L.A. who assaulted his family, accompanied by the wild shrills, screeches, stingers, and riffs of guitar legend Jimmy Page is unprecedented. Somehow, for action movie and Bronson fans, this score has just never been topped...or tried again, for that matter. (Okay, so the GHOST OF MARS teaming of Anthrax and John Carpenter was a similar attempt, and a good one, but not quite as cool and unique as the unexpected DW II match!)

Long sought after by die-hard fans and hard to score, this soundtrack has a variety of haunting tunes that always deliver powerful emotion. It's ashame this gem is so hard to find and so expensive, but like a rare artifact sought after by Indiana Jones, it's most definitely worth having if you're into DEATH WISH II or Charles Bronson.

They don't make movies like this one anymore, there are few leading men like Bronson any more playing these types of roles well, and there definitely aren't music scores this unique, interesting, and challenging coming down the pike too often.

Byard Lancaster - 1977 - Exodus

Byard Lancaster
1977 
Exodus


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.

Byard Lancaster - 1974 - Funny Funky Rib Crib

Byard Lancaster 
1974 
Funny Funky Rib Crib



01. Just Test 3:09
02. Work And Pray 6:30
03. Rib Crib I 9:41
04. Rib Crib II 9:06
05. Loving Kindness 3:40
06. Dogtown 7:23
07. Us 4:11


Acoustic Guitar, Guitar [Electric] – Francois Nyombo
Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Eric Denfert
Bass [Fender] – Zizi Japhet
Bass [Fender], Drums – Sylvain Marc
Flute, Piano, Saxophone [Alto, Baritone, Soprano], Vocals – Byard Lancaster
Drums – Frank Raholison, Steve McCall
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Francois Tusques
Piano, Tenor Saxophone – Del Rabenja
Trombone – Joseph Traindl
Trumpet – Clint Jackson

Recorded during 1974 in France


Originally released in 1974 via Jef Gilson's Palm Recordings, Funny Funky Rib Grib may be something of an obscurity, but it's most deserving of its reissuing by Dutch label Kindred Spirits. You'd have a job categorising this one. While ostensibly it's a jazz record, Lancaster and his ensemble are hardly ones to fixate on a single genre, and so in addition to encountering the straight up swing and flailing funk of 'Dogtown' there's a quality to 'Loving Kindness' that's at once suggestive of George Gershwin and old-time spirituals. Also, there are some truly mindblowing guitar licks on 'Work And Pray' - a real technical tour de force accompanying a contrapuntally languid, bluesy vocal.

A collaboration of many great jazz artists such as cult pianist Francois Tusques (Le Nouveau Jazz), African guitarist Francois Nyombo (Lafayette Afro Rock Band) + Jef Gilson disciples Del Rabenja, Sylvain Marc and Zizi Japhet.

Born and raised in Germantown, Philidelphia, Byard Lancaster played piano until age five, when his mother bought him his first alto saxophone: he wanted to play saxophone originally, because there was this junkie across the street who sat on his porch high and played every day.

During his childhood, Byards uncle had a music club, which the young Lancaster used to frequent regularly. His ears were immersed in R&B and dance-floor jazz (live & recorded) from his earliest memory. Living in Philly also meant Byard was heavily exposed to the music and philosophy of John Coltrane. Which inspired him to listen to Coltrane as much as he could and played with him on a few occasions – introducing him to Pharoah Sanders with whom he formed band in New York during the early 60s.

When Byard met Jef Gilson in Paris at the beginning of the 70s, he had already recorded and played with Sunny Murray, Bill Dixon, Sun Ra or Larry Young and recorded one album as a leader for Atlantic with his friends Eric Gravatt and Sonny Sharrock. This relationship though, helped him like no other before in shaping his musical ideas. 9 Albums were created during his stay in Paris, among others the beautiful Funny Funky Rib Crib, which is now reissued on Kindred Spirits. This album is the most accomplished of all of them � his major influences (Gospel, Coltrane, Funk, etc.) are fused into one highly emotional and danceable idiom.

Byard Lancaster most definitely established himself as one of the leading figures in the Free Jazz movement, which happily surprised many of his fans with more funky orientated grooves on the Funny Funky Rib Crib.

Byard Lancaster / Sylvain Marc / Steve McCall - 1974 - Us

Byard Lancaster / Sylvain Marc / Steve McCall 
1974 
Us


01. McCall All
02. John III
03. US

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Byard Lancaster
Bass [Fender] – Sylvain Marc
Drums – Steve McCall


The Sounds Of Liberation - 1972 - New Horizons

The Sounds Of Liberation 
1972 
New Horizons


01. Happy Tuesday 19:17
02. New Horizons 5:25
03. Billie I 2:45
04. We'll Tell You Later 10:45
05. New Horizons 8:40
06. New Life 2:45


Alto Saxophone – Byard Lancaster
Bass – Billy Mills
Congas – Rashid Salim
Drums – Dwight James
Guitar – Monnette Sudler
Percussion – Omar Hill
Vibraphone – Khan Jamal


Recorded March, 1972
Limited edition of 300 copies.


In the years following saxophonist John Coltrane's death and the related dearth of opportunities to perform and record the New Music stateside, a significant body of musicians relocated to Europe, to ply their art in a more receptive atmosphere. Reedman Byard Lancaster was one of the second wave of American free jazz musicians to relocate to Paris in the late 1960s, recording and gigging as part of drummer Sunny Murray's Acoustical Swing Unit and leading his own ensembles with musicians like pianist Francois Tusques, conguero Keino Speller and Congolese guitarist Francois Nyombo. But Lancaster always maintained a connection to his hometown of Philadelphia, as well as a staunch commitment to playing music that was both avant-garde and decidedly "for the people"—hence his oft-repeated tagline "From A Love Supreme to the Sex Machine."

Lancaster and vibraphonist Khan Jamal were the artists primarily represented on the Philly free-soul label Dogtown, which released three titles before disappearing into the record collecting ether. The Sounds of Liberation was a collective ostensibly creditable to both Jamal and Lancaster; joining the proceedings are bassist Billy Mills, guitarist Monnette Sudler, drummer Dwight James and percussionists Rashid Salim and Omar Hill. Sudler, Mills and James also appeared on Jamal's excellent psychedelic free-funk fantasia, Drum Dance to the Motherland (Dogtown, 1972, reissued on Eremite). Sounds of Liberation's sole LP, New Horizons, is the rarest of the Dogtown series; the only copies to appear for sale in recent years were a battered vinyl with no cover and a worn cover minus the wax, so this reissue is lent an extra sense of gravitas. The band appeared on the scene long enough to play opposite Kool and the Gang at the 1974 Miss Black America pageant, before petering out by the late 1970s.

Lancaster's alternately syrupy and feral alto saxophone is at its best when supported by a tight ensemble situation, composed or otherwise—even while lifted up by Murray's multi-directional sound carpet, his playing in the more structured units of pianist Burton Greene and trumpeter Bill Dixon is utterly sublime. The Sounds of Liberation is a decidedly loose outfit, but reliant on massive and relentless vamps that at their most open offer the kind of support that gives compulsion to the squall. Abraham Howard, Jr.'s "Happy Tuesday" opens the set, a 20-minute scorcher that encapsulates what this group is all about. Following a lilting and intense conga solo from Salim, the rhythm section erupts in a variety of shades—electric bass, drums and chekere holding down a knotty foot-tap as Sudler colors the scene with flinty electric murk. Digging into the horn's bowels and coming up with shrill, barking tongue-speak as though captivated by the Holy Spirit, it's hard to imagine Lancaster's approach being the stuff of a funk ensemble, but that's where the Sounds of Liberation come into play.

A multiplicity of rhythms cascade and bounce off one another, shaken, pounded, thrown and snaking their way through the airwaves. Bass, guitar and three percussionists give this music a hell of a lot of drive. Jamal follows suit with glassy, rattling architecture; his solo is short, but shifts moods from vibrato-heavy plasticity to jet-setting funk, to blinding Afro-psychedelic waterfalls. Sudler rises from the deep with Sonny Sharrock-like droning strums and mild, cottony feedback before settling into plaintive, wiry blues that stop the ear with sheer poetics. Alto and vibes return with the front line wailing its way out over a vamp, which has held fast throughout.

It's hard to believe that the original side as programmed could follow such a tour-de-force with anything, but it does in the smooth, up-tempo "New Horizons II." The tune's arrangement could easily fit as a plugged-in variant on the vibraphonist Bobby Hutcherson-saxophonist Harold Land aesthetic. Where works like Drum Dance to the Motherland or Lancaster's Live at Macalester College (Dogtown, 1972, also reissued by Porter) are charmingly rough-hewn, the Sounds of Liberation exhibit an undeniable slickness, which isn't a bad thing. Warm vibraphone and saccharine alto, coupled with a just-left-of-hyperactive backbeat collectively make for an uplifting slice of soul jazz (though the rhythm breakdown midway through is a little abrupt and bent). It's easy to imagine tunes like "Billie One" and "New Life" being the two sides of a 45rpm single—each is under three minutes and features hard-funk drums backing concise solos by Sudler and Jamal, with a particularly nice drum break on the latter.

A longer and slightly rawer take of "New Horizons," here appended "I" (Dogtown releases were nothing if not inconsistent in their credits), is preceded by the lone free-form piece on the date, "We'll Tell You Later," which provides an example of the more unhinged side of these musicians' art. A slashing drum workout opens the piece, but it's Lancaster's unaccompanied saxophone that offers the most intrigue—his lines jump from piquant bubbling and soft caresses to fiery Albert Ayler-esque screams in a few measures. Sudler pecks at Lancaster by sliding grungy shards around his blasts, as bass and percussion fold in to create a dense, otherworldly lather. A shouted count-off comes from nowhere, and the group launches into a damaged funk-rock jam with Lancaster's R&B honking out front. Clearly, New Horizons wouldn't have been a Dogtown release without some level of indescribable weirdness. The holy grail(s) of record collecting rarely live up to the hype that surrounds their existence, but the Sounds of Liberation go well beyond anything that could have been hoped for. This is an absolutely wonderful slice of border-trouncing improvised music from the Philly jazz heyday.

The Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble - 1972 - Drum Dance to the Motherland

The Khan Jamal Creative Arts Ensemble
1972 
Drum Dance to the Motherland



01. Cosmic Echoes (07:48)
02. Drum Dance (12:40)
03. Inner Peace (15:51)
04. Breath of Life (06:47)

Jamal vibraphone, marimba, clarinet
Alex Ellison drums, African percussion
Mario Falana sound effects
Dwight James drums, glockenspiel, clarinet
Billy Mills fender bass, double bass
Monnette Sudler guitar, percussion

06 or 07 October 1972, Catacombs Club, Philadelphia PA


There's not another record on the planet that sounds even remotely like vibraphonist khan jamal's eccentric, one-of-a-kind masterpiece, drumdance to the motherland. in its improbable fusion of free jazz expressionism, black psychedelia, & full-on dub-like production techniques, drumdance remains a bracingly powerful outsider statement thirty-four years after it was recorded live at the catacombs club in philadelphia in 1972. comparisons to sun ra, king tubby, phil cohran & byg/actuel merely hint at the cosmic otherness conjured by the band & by recording engineer mario falana's real-time "enhancements." The original edition of three hundred copies, issued by jamal in 1973 on the local philadelphia label dogtown, was barely distributed outside the city's limits. since then drumdance has assumed a mythic status among the very few aficionados, e-bay mutants, & heads who know of it at all. hallelujah that it can finally be heard outside their murky inner-sanctums! reissue artwork by the legendary dr. e pelikan chalto.


Jesus. Forget what you know. Every now and then, a record comes along that sneaks up on you and punches you in the back in the head so hard, it sends you reeling for days. This is one of them. Recorded live in 1972, this holy grail private press album by vibraphonist Khan Jamal probably qualifies as a "jazz" record, but not as this world knows it, as it sounds like it was recorded in a spaceship, an echo chamber, and a cave all at once, which makes it virtually impossible to put a timestamp on. The dubbed-out percussion intro of "Cosmic Echoes" sounds like Sun Ra overseeing an Aggrovators session, yet strangely contemporary, and it only gets more inspired and unfathomable from there. The extended free jazz shocks (complete with recording engineer's mystery effects!) and cosmic black psychedelia dreamed up by this underground Philly collective explores outsider worlds that Actuel never knew existed, and emits a kind of smoke ESP-Disk never had a whiff of. Drumdance to the Motherland will render a majority of your record collection somewhat useless, but you're going to want to take that gamble. Utterly unique and essential document from way left of center.

Monnette Sudler Sextet - 1978 - Brighter Days For You

Monnette Sudler Sextet 
1978 
Brighter Days For You


01. Brighter Days For You 6:59
02. To Be Exposed 5:16
03. Natural Accurrance 5:47
04. Rightousness 1:37
05. Congo 9:03
06. Moments Of Love 3:25
07. Family 4:23

Bass – Tyrone Brown
Congas, Percussion – William "Duke" Wilson*
Drums – Newman Baker
Guitar – Monnette Sudler
Marimba – Khan Jamal
Piano – Oliver Collins

Recorded November 7, 1977 at C.I. Recording Inc. New York, USA.



“ Miss Sudler is an extremely gifted lady, who heads a sextet worth of her talents. I haven’t for a long time enjoyed an album of this kind that has so much genuine variety…Well worth investigating .” (Jazz Journal)

“ Accomplished single stringing, clean and clear, from guitarist Monnette Sudler …” (Black Music & Jazz Review)

Monnette Sudler Quartet - 1978 - Live In Europe

Monnette Sudler Quartet 
1978
Live In Europe


01. Congo 13:35
02. Fire And Air 7:15
03. Libra Rising 22:00

Bass – Kenny Kellem
Drums – Newman T. Baker
Guitar – Monnette Sudler
Piano – Oliver Collins

Recorded June 8, 1978 at Montmatre, Copenhagen.



Guitarist Monnette Sudler’s third release on SteepleChase was recorded during her first European tour with her own band in the spring of 1978.

“… so far her best recording. Her musical and instrumental expression has gained much wider dimension …the 22-minute long Libra Rising is the best memento of her latest appearance at Montmartre …” (J. Sigumfeldt, Information)

Monnette Sudler Quartet / Quintet - 1977 - Time For A Change

Monnette Sudler Quartet / Quintet 
1977
Time For A Change



01. Easy Walker 9:18
02. Time For A Change 5:41
03. Malik Yaumi Din (Owner Of The Last Day) 5:22
04. Let Us Love 9:11
05. A Love Song 4:40
06. Three In One 7:55

Bass – Gerald Benson
Congas, Bongos, Percussion – William Duke Wilson (tracks: A1, A3, B3)
Drums – Newman Baker
Guitar, Vocals – Monnette Sudler
Piano – Oliver Collins

Recorded November 7, 1976


This is the highly acclaimed debut album by guitarist Monnette Sudler (b. June 5, 1952 in Philadelphia). Monnette started play guitar at the age of 15, attended Berlkee School of Music in Boston in 1970 and in the same year she started play professionally.

“… Her initial effort has a distinct quality that marks her as a gifted leader and an unusually talented guitarist …” (Cadence)

“… Time For A Change should place Monnette Sudler in the forefront of new jazz guitarists …” (Audio)

Cullen Knight - 1978 -Looking Up

Cullen Knight
1978
Looking Up


01. Once You Get It 7:38
02. Once You Fall In Love 7:21
03. A'Keem (Brothers) 5:30
04. Looking Up 8:34
05. Pshalom 5:05
06. Here Comes Billy

Bass – Charles Fanbrough
Drums – Newman Baker
Drums, Percussion [Latin] – Bobby Durham
Electric Piano – Jimmy Hatton, Kenny Barron, Kenny Davis
Guitar – Gerald Smith, Monnette Sudler
Percussion [Latin] – Ed Watkins
Tenor Saxophone – Bootsie Barnes
Trombone – Fred Joiner
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Cullen Knight


For those that know, this is an amazing jazz album, with latin and african flourishes. The album is all original tunes from Cullen Knight, and Leon Mitchell. Personnel on the album is: Cullen Knight, trumpet/fluegel horn; Kenny Barron, Electric Piano; Monnette Sudler, guitar; Charles Fanbrough, Bass; Bobby Durham, Drums/Latin Percussion; Bootsie Barns, tenor; Fred Joiner, Trombone; Jimmy Batton, Electric Piano; Gerald Smith, Guitar; Kenny Davis, Electric Bass; Newman Baker, drums; Ed Watkins, Latin percussions; Leon Mitchell, Composer 

Aside from the ground breaking cover art (for 1978) the music is beautifully produced and a great addition to any jazz collection. 

Byard Lancaster - 1979 - Personal Testimony

Byard Lancaster
1979 
Personal Testimony


Then - 1979
01. Miss Nikki 4:36
02. In Lovingkindness 5:20
03. Dogtown 3:05
04. Hoodoo 4:33
05. Brotherman 3:48
06. What A Friend We Have In Jesus 1:44
07. Marianne And Alicia 2:06
08. Brian 2:12
09. Mind Exercise 2:44
Now - 2007
10. Prayer Cry 3:50
11. Tribalize Lancaster 3:10
12. Afro - Ville 5:19
13. Free Mumia 4:07
14. Global Key 6:58
15. Loving You 5:04


Recorded At – Morningstar Studios


Originally circulated on Byard Lancaster’s Concert Artists label in an extremely finite pressing, this 1979 solo manifesto is among the rarer Philly ‘free jazz’ artifacts. Filing it under that loose genre heading feels slightly suspect as jazz is only one of the stylistic kegs tapped in its creation. Lancaster folds in African, Asian and Native American elements as well as healthy of blues and soul. The Porter records reissue adds six tracks to the original vinyl nine, the new pieces having been cut in 2007 and sitting well with their antecedents. Lancaster hedges a bit on the album’s solo credentials, regularly employing overdubbing to couple and layer instruments from his arsenal. The plaintive “Miss Nikki” sounds more like a Terry Callier song with its cascading piano chords and soulfully sung entreaties. “In Lovingkindness” and “Dogtown” are the first of several flute numbers, the former piece adopting a meditative cast through twining trills while the latter aims for velocity and vigor via aerial acrobatics nearly on par with those of Rashaan Roland Kirk.

Accentuating the personal parameters of the project, each piece carries a postscript providing brief clues to its import and origins. “Brotherman” blends breathy bass clarinets. “Hoodoo” for alto and “What Friend We Have in Jesus” for soprano draw immediate comparisons to Joe McPhee in their spiritual mellifluousness. The two reeds voice in tandem on the lush ballad “Marianne and Alicia” while “Mind Exercise” pares back down to alto in a barrage of harsh upper register shrieks. Fast forwarding nearly two decades, the ’07 pieces find Lancaster expanding his palette and engaging in a curious avuncular commentary. “Prayer Cry” and “Tribalize Lancaster” play to the directives of their titles, mixing playful vocal effects, chanting and piquant flute with what Lancaster terms “percussion spiriting”. The first even weaves in sampled African tribal field recordings to explicate its case.

“Afro-Ville” and “Free Mumia” bring the afrocentric funk through further convergences of jousting flutes and recitations. Keyboard explorations power “Global Key” and “Loving You”, the former moving from modest beginnings to a full-scale piano and percussion avalanche while the latter threads in pliant flute. Heard as a chapbook of snapshots and musings, the disc delivers a great deal of listening pleasure. Lancaster isn’t preoccupied with chops and instead directs his energies toward sketching aural moods and pictures with digressions intact. Through the conveyance of such intensely personal cartography the veracity of the project’s title holds fast.

J. R. Mitchell / Byard Lancaster Unit - 1972 - Live At Macalester College

J. R. Mitchell / Byard Lancaster Unit 
1972 
Live At Macalester College 


01. 1324 16:30
02. Last Summer 3:15
03. War-Lord 6:30
04. Live At Macalester College 72 10:30



Acoustic Bass – Calvin Hill (tracks: A1)
Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute – William Byard Lancaster
Congas, Percussion – Lester Lumley (tracks: A1)
Drums – J. R. Mitchell
Electric Bass – Paul Morrison (tracks: A1)
Electric Bass [Ampeg Bass] – Jerome Hunter (tracks: A2, B1, B2)
Piano – Sid Simmons (tracks: A2, B1, B2)

A1 was recorded in 1970 at Boston, Massachusetts.
A2, B1, B2 were recorded in 1972 at MacAlester College, St. Paul, Minnesota.


Winter Park, FL's Porter Records is the imprint that reintroduced America to Finnish jazz great Heikki Sarmanto. The label does it again with this gorgeous deluxe reissue of Byard Lancaster's long-gone classic Live at Macalester College, which was originally released on his tiny Dogtown label in 1972. This set is making its first appearance CD and contains an extra 25 minutes of music recorded in Boston in 1973 by the J.R. Mitchell Experimental Unit. The late Mitchell was a drummer and educator at various institutions, including Temple University. He and Lancaster had been close friends and collaborators since the 1950s; he is the drummer on all the music here. This is an incredible document of post-Coltrane free jazz that contains music from three performances with three different bands over three years. The opener, "1324," was recorded in Boston in 1970; it features Lancaster on soprano sax and trumpet (!), Mitchell, upright bassistCalvin Hill, electric bassist Paul Morrison, and conguero Lester Lumley. It's a 16-minute workout where Lancaster uses the same visionary improvisational abilities he displayed with Sunny Murray in 1966, but developed to an instinctual level. His soloing is pure snaky delight, moving through Near and Far Eastern scales, modal jazz, and free blowing. Mitchell's drumming flows like lava, offering harsh rim-shot accents, rolling tom-toms, and chant-like bass drum steadiness, allowing Lancaster and both bassists an open center for interplay.

The Macalster College performance from 1971 features Lancaster and Mitchell with pianist Sid Simmons and bassist Jerome Hunter; the gig comprises the next three selections. Given the concert setting, the recording quality isn't quite pristine, but it's fine. The set begins with the brief and haunting ballad "Last Summer," with Lancaster playing flute amid bowed basslines and taut, whispering snare drums. Simmons uses a painterly approach on the fringes. This is message music, where an expressionistic spirituality is articulated modally as the deep-listening collective comes to a multivalent thought. This breaks loose when Mitchell's drum solo introduces "War World," a six-plus-minute improvisation. Mitchell's playing here is dynamite: he charges the kit and then tames it, making it dance before the rest of the band enters. Lancaster's tenor jumps in like a frenetic opponent -- he pushes against those crystalline yet ever-insistent flurries of snare, cymbals, and double toms. Hunter doesn't enter until two-thirds of the way through (little to no piano here) when the battle between sax and drums is at critical mass. The deep bowed textures of his bass add warmth and depth to the fury; he is the bridge, finding a locking step where the trio becomes one. The set ends with the ten-minute "Live at Macalester," a wildly swinging modal number that weaves free improv to Eastern harmonies and soul-jazz. Check Simmons' beautiful large chords against that bowed upright and the interplay between saxophone and drums. It's a knockout. The bonus material has Hill in the bass chair, with an unknown pianist and two other saxophonists and an electric guitarist -- all unknown. These two cuts, "World in Me" and "Thought," are among the most compelling live statements in Lancaster's catalog. In both the former and the latter, the attention to detail in the composed frames is simply stunning, as is the taut yet dramatic way they move toward group improv, both as musical communication and inspiration. This release includes a terrific liner essay by Lancaster and rare photos as well. This is a triumphant date; thanks to Porter for unearthing such gems and resurrecting them on CD.