Thursday, February 9, 2017

Elvin Jones - 1976 - Summit Meeting

Elvin Jones
Summit Meeting

01. Tee Pee Music
02. Blues for Clark
03. Moody Magic
04. Summit Song
05. Jones

Elvin Jones - drums
Clark Terry - trumpet and flugelhorn
James Moody - tenor sax
Bunky Green - alto sax
Roland Prince - guitar
Albert Dailey - electric piano, piano
Angel Allende - percussion
David Williams - bass

This comes the year after "New Agenda" in Jones' Vanguard chronology, recorded a few months after "The Main Force"; and the year before "Time Capsule".

As the title suggests, this is more of a group album, and is listed in some places as such. It's generally a little more straight-ahead that the albums that preceded it and followed it - Jones is deferring to trumpeter Clark Terry and saxaphonist James Moody, neither of whom he had played with before.

The fusion touches of "The Main Force" are nowhere to be seen - guitarist Roland Prince has a more laid-back, supportive role than Ryo Kawasaki from the former album. Keyboards are provided by Albert Dailey - his rhodes work is as solid as ever - not working with the onboard FX, but more working in a blues-based piano style, while still mindful of the electric instrument's tonality.

Mostly, the tracks are a showcase for solos by Moody, Terry and altoist Bunky Green, who would come to the fore in "Time Capsule" the year after. Producer Ed Bland's composition "Moody Magic" is the closest track to the more organised and composed structures that would follow on that album. The other standout for me here is Bunky Green's "Blues for Clark", with great solos by Dailey, Terry and Green. Check previews of both of these tracks at the top of the post.

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.

Elvin Jones - 1975 - New Agenda

Elvin Jones 
New Agenda

01 Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat
02 Naima
03 Haresah
04 Anti-Calypso
05 Stefanie
06 My Lover
07 Agenda

Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Dave Williams
Guitar - Roland Prince
Percussion - Candido (5,7) , Frank Ippolito (1,2,4,5,7) , Guillermo Franco (3,4)
Piano - Gene Perla (5,7) , Kenny Barron (1)
Reeds - Azar Lawrence (3,4) , Frank Foster (1,2,5) , Steve Grossman
Saxophone - Joe Farrell (5,7)

Regarded as one of the world's greatest drummers, with his alternately thunderous and light-skipping percussive styles, Elvin Jones will always be remembered as Coltrane's drummer from the 1960-66 period, but also has an interesting output as a leader in his own right.

His Impulse and Blue Note albums straddled both avant-garde and post-bop influences, always allowing plenty of space for his collaborators, and by the 1970s, albums like Merry Go Round were beginning to annoy purists like l'il Scotty Yanow in their eclectic grab-bag that began to explore influences like latin and brazilian styles.

He continued to explore all corners of jazz in when he moved across to Vanguard Records in 1975, in a group of albums that I'm going to present in a series of posts.

"New Agenda" was his first release for the new company in 1975. There's a pretty heavyweight reeds section behind him here - mainstay Steve Grossman with help on different tracks from Azar Lawrence, Joe Farrell and Frank Foster. That's how many winds players you need to compete with Jones' snare drum.

As if the power of his kit wasn't enough, on this album he brings in three percussionists - Candido, Guillermo Franco and Frank Ippolito, but this doesn't result in the bombastic chaos you might expect - rather, Jones works with them in a cohesive unit, often exploring subtle cymbal work to complete the percussive textures; and really letting them have their heads on the closer "Agenda".

No review for this album on AMG, presumably because it contains the dreaded, jazz-destroying electric piano, adroitly handled here by Kenny Barron on the opening soul-jazzer "Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat" ; and by Gene Perla on the aforementioned "Agenda" and "Stefanie" (penned by producer Ed Bland and later recorded by James Moody, see file within his discography here ). Anyway, Barron's presence gets this added to the Kenny on electric piano discography.

The pianoless tracks are anchored harmonically by guitarist Roland Prince, a veteran of many fine early 70s albums like Buddy Terry's "Awareness", Larry Willis' "Inner Crisis"; Shirley Scott's "Lean On Me"; Roy Haynes' "Senyah", Pete Yellin's "It's the Right Thing" and Compost's "Life Is Round". Here he's got a restrained style that on tracks like "Haresah" that almost mimics the tonality of Barron's and Perla's rhodes on other tracks.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Cedar Walton - 1976 - Beyond Mobius

Cedar Walton 
Beyond Mobius

01. Bad Luck 4:24
02. Low Rider 6:24
03. Beyond Mobius 5:20
04. Jive Talkin' 4:35
05. Canadian Sunset 5:22
06. The Girl With Discotheque Eyes 7:24
07. Lonely Cathedral 6:20

Bass – Gordon Edwards
Drums – Charles Collins (tracks: A1, A2, A4, B1), Jimmie Young (tracks: A3, B2, B3)
Guitar [Solo, Rhythm] – Eric Gale
Keyboards, Synthesizer – Cedar Walton
Rhythm Guitar – Cornell Dupree
Saxophone [Solos] – Eddie Harris
Soloist [Trumpet, Flugelhorn] – Blue Mitchell
Strings – David Moore, Harry Cykman, Morris Sutow, Norman Carr
Tenor Saxophone – George Marge
Trombone – Alan Raph, Wayne Andre
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Burt Collins, Jon Faddis
Voice – Adrienne Albert, Alan Abrahams, Maeretha Stewart, Mike Lipskin, Yolanda McCullough

Beyond Mobius is a great electric set from Cedar Walton – and a set that moves beyond his previous Mobius album, in case you couldn't guess from the title! The style here is a bit more tightly arranged – with some backup vocals on a few cuts, which underscore the core jazzy elements from Walton on a range of keyboards and synth, Eddie Harris on tenor, and Blue Mitchell on trumpet – all grooved together with some tight guitar lines from Eric Gale and Cornell Dupree! Keyboards definitely get some great solo time in the spotlight, but the overall sound is quite strong too – a nice instrumental funk approach, save for the added chorus vocals in a few spots. Titles include the moogy "Beyond Mobius", a cover of "Low Rider", and the tracks "Jive Talkin", "The Girl With The Discotheque Eyes", and "Lonely Cathedr

Cedar Walton - 1975 - Mobius

Cedar Walton 

01. Blue Trane
02. Soho
03. Off Minor
04. The Maestro
05. Road Island Red

Alto Saxophone, Baritone Saxophone – Charles Davis
Arranged By, Keyboards, Synthesizer – Cedar Walton
Bass – Gordon Edwards
Drums – Steve Gadd
Engineer – Bob Simpson
Guitar – Ryo Kawasaki
Percussion – Omar Clay, Ray Mantilla
Tenor Saxophone, Soloist – Frank Foster
Trombone – Wayne Andre
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Roy Burrowes
Vocals – Adrienne Albert, Lani Groves

Born in 1934, Cedar Walton grew up in Dallas, Texas before moving to New York. He became a giant in the jazz world through his explosive style on an array of keyboard instruments.
He played on a recording of John Coltrane's classic 'Giant Steps', opening his account at RCA Records with a rendition of 'Blue Trane' (Blue Train), his two mid 70s albums for the label 'Mobius' and 'Beyond Mobius' appearing here on CD for the first time.
As Cedar journeyed through the decades his love of jazz and virtuosity on all variety of keyboards kept him on the forefront of change, the time of these albums being the heyday of the jazz fusion era. It was the work he did here that brought the funk to his music through an ensemble of musicians calling themselves Mobius, going to infinity and beyond having also recorded at Muse then after RCA making two albums for Columbia.

An unusual electric album from the 70s – quite a surprise, given the mostly-acoustic sound of most of Cedar's other records! The album's a killer, though – and has this fresh, full take on funky jazz for the time – not the usual CTI copycat mode, and instead this compelling hybrid of elements that includes lots of Fender Rhodes from Walton, sweet guitar likes from Ryo Kawasaki, and lots of rootsy percussion from Ray Mantilla and Omar Clay – two players who really make the album nice and earthy at the bottom. The rest of the group is wonderful, too – and includes tenor from Frank Foster, alto and baritone from Charles Davis, and trumpet from Roy Burrowes – all fresh players who open up a big can of soul for the set – on titles that include a classic break version of "Off Minor", plus "Blue Trane", "Soho", and "Road Island Red".