Friday, May 26, 2017

Abdul Rahim Ibrahim - 1977 - Al Rahman! Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son

Abdul Rahim Ibrahim 
Al Rahman! Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son

01. Balancez Calinda 4:23
02. Eroniffa's Brown Bird 4:25
03. The Watcher 6:35
04. Casbah 4:45
05. Tropic Sons 3:03
06. Al Rahman 15:17

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Paul Batiste
Bass – Curtis Robertson
Congas, Timbales, Percussion [African & Brazillian] – Khalid Abdullah
Drums, Drums [Traps] – Howard King
Lead Vocals, Piano, Synthesizer, Written-By – Abdul Rahim Ibrahim
Tenor Saxophone – George Harper
Vocals – Kweili

LIner Notes CD Reissue:
Artist appears as "Abdul Rahim Ibrahim formerly Doug Carn" on release.

"Suratal Ihklas" includes text from the Holy Quran, Sura CXII.
"Al Rahman!" includes text from the Holy Quran, Sura LV.

The 'Lost' album from cult pianist Doug Carn of Black Jazz fame. Mystic soul-jazz songs with disco twists under the common influences of Earth Wind & Fire and John Coltrane. Doug Carn is the most famous artist of Black Jazz records, the cult record label of the 70s. He recorded four albums for Black Jazz which are considered by many jazz lovers as 70s soul jazz classics. In the mid seventies, Doug Carn left the Black Jazz label, got divorced and converted to Islam. He changed his name to Abdul Rahim Ibrahim, and cut this nice record of spacey soul tracks, most of which feature vocals by Doug and the Jean Carn-esque Kweili. At its best, the set has a nice spiritual groove with spacey keyboards, and a vocal approach that sounds a bit like Jon Lucien or Roy Ayers.

Tracks include the spiritual jazz classics Al Rahman, a fifteen minute prayer. As the original liner notes said: Part of the purpose of this album is to show the members of the funk-pop-rock and Jazz-Afro-Cuban-Latin and the Traditional-Blues-Gospel oriented subcultures in western societies that the Arabic language and Islamic Din are not necessarily alien to them. And more specifically, to show that the syllablistic expression of the be-bop language and the evolved musical ideas of the great innovators John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner are equally Arabic in nature, as Jazz itself is a word of Arabic Origin.

Reminded me a little of Lonnie Liston Smith. This album is a nice mix of ballad, and a soul funk fusiony feeling, mostly in English, occasionally in Arabic! On first listen it may occasionally seem quirky beyond palatability though the second time I went through this CD I suddenly found myself liking it a lot more.

Expressive soul/funk/disco with a sense of expirimentation in the melding of music, religious idea and black 70s jazz culture. This album came out in 1977 and it definitely has a feeling of the times. Since I mentioned Lonnie Liston Smith earlier (they seem to be in a comparable category), I'd also like to recommend "Renaissance" (by Smith) if you can find it - it truly soars. Doug Carn's "Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son" is worth exploring in its own right though. It has a unique feeling that may (or may not) be best described by quoting from the original liner notes on the music:

"Part of the purpose of this album is to show the members of the funk-pop-rock and jazz-afro-cuban-latin and the traditional-blues-gospel oriented subcultures in western societies, that the Arabic language and Islamic Din are not necessarily alien to them. And more specifically, to show that the syllabilistic expression of the be-bop language and the evolved musical ideas of the great innovators John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner are equally Arabic in nature, as Jazz itself is a word of Arabic Origin....

To some Sheiks of Quran and Islamic Jurist, the preceding paragraph is pure heresy. However with all due respect, this album is not for them... Part of the problem lies in the fact that the intelligence arms of certain rival military and religious groups in centuries past saw fit to inject many false ideas into the hadiths (traditions of Muhammad P.B.U.H.) as an effective means of countering the threat Islam posed to their own ideas and to gain control over the territory held by the Muslims, i.e. The Fertile Crescent. Another aspect of the problem is a matter of Education - as most of us do not accept music for what it really is... The basic component of music is sound. And sound is but the audible vibrations of matter. In addition, all sound vibrations produce notes. Notes in reality are any phenomina indicating or producing pitch, frequency, wave length, wave form, modulation and duration, etc..

When these phenomina are duplicated or mathematically considered in any way, they produce harmony and rhythm. Therefore, any sound can be considered music just as any music can be considered likeable or dis-likeable. The smashing of atoms, street noise, spoken languages, the chirping of birds, the blowing winds, and rock and roll are all forms of music - music that is variously organized or dis-organized in different ways...

Therefore I hope that this album will help man to transcend the "misconceptions" that causes a Priest to chant Holy Scriptures in a perfect oriental scale (mode), and then turn around and say that music is evil, and that what he himself is creating is not equally music...

But most of all I hope that this album will help us to transcend the intellectual and spiritual barriers that have placed all music that is pleasurable, listenable, fashionable and danceable within the confines of pimp culture."

Doug & Jean Carn - 1976 - Higher Ground

Doug & Jean Carn 
Higher Ground

01. Western Sunrise
02. The Messenger
03. Revelation
04. Infant Eyes
05. Higher Ground
06. Naima
07. Little B's Poem
08. Blue And Green
09. Mighty Mighty

Acoustic Bass – Gerald Brown
Congas, Bongos, Percussion – Big Black
Drums – Harold Mason
Electric Bass [Fender] – Darrell Clayborn
Guitar – Calvin Keys, Nathan Page
Keyboards, Vocals – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Ronnie Laws
Trombone – Thurman Green
Vocals – Jean Carn, John Conner, Joyce Green

When the 1980s acid-jazz movement showed how early jazz-funk could so successfully be hitched to later dancefloor sounds that even pop DJs noticed, the cult crossover hits of pianist/composer Doug Carn and vocalist Jean Carne (she adopted the "e") were dug out of vinyl collections. Between 1972 and 1973 in LA, the gifted married couple had collaborated on a brilliant series of albums for the Black Jazz label, infusing the musical and spiritual agenda of cutting-edge jazz with seductive soul/R&B hooks. But they soon split, and the vocally dazzling Jean became a Philly R&B star, disco diva, and eventually revered sample-source for hip-hop artists.

Forty years after the Black Jazz period, the long-estranged couple are recounting that absorbing story with every appearance of cordiality and plenty of their old skilfulness and spirit. Their life story obliged the backing band to shift abruptly from a hybrid free-jazz/funk vibe to a Motown groove or a four-to-the-floor disco beat, which brought the occasional lapse of tightness. But Carn's sparing solos and supportive, arranger's chordwork on the Fender Rhodes, and Carne's octave leaps, unfussy scat, soul-power and cool theatricality took care of almost everything. Carne entered after a smoky instrumental opener, and saxophonist Stacy Dillard shadowed her closely – from her solemn proclamations to rhythm – wrenching improvisations on John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

Many fans were there for the Motown and disco songs (the silence when she asked if anyone knew their iconic 1972 Infant Eyes album was an indication of that), and the second half of the set cruised through hits like Was That All It Was, Free Love and Don't Let It Go to Your Head. Carn and Carne know everything about transforming such materials, though. His keyboard quirks, and her beseeching soul tones, lithe-at-65 dancefloor strutting and devious phrasing – she dances up to resolving notes by the most unexpected routes – banish almost every hint of the formulaic.

On Higher Ground, Doug and Jean Karn apply fantastic vocals to jazz that flies like be-bop, has the openness of modes, and uses a nice balance of electric and acoustic instruments. Bass and some piano provide a lot of the backbone, but an funk organ solo chimes into the middle of the title track.

There are unique juxtapositions of 60s and 70s, old and new, organic and synthetic. If you can picture Miles' 60s band playing some of his 70s interludes, you're getting warm, Listen to the spacey keyboards on the cover of Coltrane's "Niama."

Maybe they call this stuff Spirit Jazz due to its mainly angelic nuance--the music swings hard, but maintains a lightness, never overpowering the strong but gentle female vocals. The tracks are airy, but have tons of substance.

You gotta check this out.

Doug Carn - 1974 - Adam's Apple

Doug Carn 
Adam's Apple

01. Chant 4:59
02. Higher Ground 5:03
03. Sweet Season 3:56
04. Sanctuary 7:31
05. Mighty Mighty 5:59
06. The Messenger 4:12
07. Adam's Apple 3:32
08. To A Wild Rose 3:34
09. Western Sunrise 5:03

Acoustic Bass – Gerald Brown
Bass [Fender] – Darrel Clayborn
Congas, Bongos, Percussion – Big Black
Drums – Harold Mason
Guitar – Calvin Keys, Nathan Page
Leader, Keyboards, Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer [Moog] – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Ronnie Laws
Trombone – Thurman Green
Vocals – Doug Carn, John Conner, Joyce Greene

The last album in a legendary run of music from keyboardist Doug Carn – his final album for the Black Jazz label, and a set that pushes even farther than his previous efforts! Jean Carn isn't in the group this time around, but the set does feature a totally great twin-vocal approach – with singing by Joyce Green and John Conner, blending their voices together in a style that's right up there with the most righteous 70s jazz experiments by Horace Silver or Billy Gault! This vocal balance really brings a new sort of power to Carn's music – furthering the righteous spirit of earlier years with a hell of a lot of energy – also aided by great instrumental work from Ronnie Laws on tenor and soprano sax, Thurman Green on trombone, Calvin Keys and Nathan Page on guitars, and Big Black on percussion. 

Doug Carn’s fourth and final album for Black Jazz ‘Adams Apple’ from 1974 is a much funkier and upbeat record. It still retains the deep spiritual jazz theme but is expressed more joyously with ‘Chant’, ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Sweet Season’ being the most uptempo tracks. His organ playing is more evident throughout especially on the instrumental ‘The Messenger’.

There is an early Earth Wind and Fire influence (he played with them) and a frantic cover of ‘Mighty Mighty’. ‘Western Sunrise’ is a beautiful track to close the set on. Joyce Greene and John Conner replace Jean as the vocalist, and the band includes Ronnie Laws, Calvin Keys and Big Black.

Doug Carn - 1973 - Revelation

Doug Carn

01. God Is One 1:42
02. Power And Glory 7:57
03. Revelation 3:43
04. Naima 4:28
05. Fatherhood 4:15
06. Contemplation 4:08
07. Feel Free 9:20
08. Time Is Running Out 3:55
09. Jihad 7:24

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Rene McClean
Bass – Walter Booker
Drums – Ira Williams
Guitar – Nathan Page
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer – Doug Carn
Trumpet [Bass] – Earl McIntyre
Trumpet, Horn [Alto] – Olu Dara
Vocals – Jean Carn, Olu Dara, Rene McClean

The Black Jazz recordings of Doug Carn are always a revelation – some of the most powerful, progressive work on the American underground of the early 70s – music that got Carn into way more record collections than you might expect! The sound here is a perfect summation of Doug's early genius – his own work on organ and keyboards, never overdone and mixed perfectly with a righteous array of acoustic sounds from Rene McLean on alto and tenor and Olu Dara on trumpet – both players who soar to the skies on waves of energy begun by Carn! Wife Jean Carn sings on a number of tracks – with this heavenly style that's mighty righteous – every bit as soulful as her later work at Philly International, but in a very different way.

In the 1960's there began what can only be described as a spiritual revolution among jazz musicians. Spearheaded by the likes of Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Pharoah Saunders, etc. jazz became a means for social change and a vehicle for spiritual elightenment.

"Revelation" by Doug Carn was a lost masterpiece of this era. Apart from the top rate songwriting and musicianship, this recording demonstrates and evokes in the listener a joy and an elevation of the spirit and heart that is sadly lacking on most music.

Jazz musicians and audiences would do well to remember that this music means a triumph of the spirit and dignity of the human being over opression and despair. This cannot be accomplished by that trumpet player whose docility is being exploited by that large classical music venue in New York City; or the hoards of bebop nazis who think that the development of jazz ended in 1964.
Dawoud Kringle

Doug Carn - 1972 - Spirit of the New Land

Doug Carn
Spirit of the New Land

01. Dwell Like A Ghost 1:35
02. My Spirit 10:00
03. Arise And Shine 9:40
04. Blue In Green 5:24
05. Trance Dance 8:39
06. Search For The New Land 11:56
07. New Moon 5:25

Drums – Al Mouzon
Flugelhorn – Charles Tolliver
Leader, Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Lyrics By – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Flute [Reed] – George Harper
Trombone – Garnett Brown
Tuba – Earl McIntyre
Vocals – Jean Carne

Pianist Doug Carn's second BJ record, Spirit of the New Land, poignantly reflected the state of affairs in black America through explicit lyrics sung by his wife Jean and through the expert musicians' responses to life-altering societal developments in a hopeful time when the slogan Black Power carried real meaningi The album s flush with riveting modern jazz, which often leans toward the spiritually inclined music of the John Coltrane Quartet on the classic album My Favorite Things. With George Harper's flute in gracious agreement, Jean Carn draws beauty out of the Miles Davis ballad "Blue in Green.

First known to the Jazz world as the man who made lyric adaptations for famous instrumental Jazz tunes (such as John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, or Horace Silver's _Peace_; in fact, this album features a vocal version of the Miles Davis classic, Blue in Green), Doug Carn released several albums under his own name in the early seventies on the Black Jazz Records label, one of which is Spirit of the New Land. 
Carn plays Jazz organ and the Fender-Rhodes e-piano, and also acoustic piano in a rather McCoy-Tyner-ish way. The record is a document of the lively Jazz scene in the US in the early seventies. The revolutionary developments from the sixties found their way into a lot of the albums recorded then. Think of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi albums, or Norman Connor's early albums for Buddha Records, and you get an idea of the kind of Jazz on this record. It's part post-Hard Bop, part Free Jazz, part the expression of a universal concern articulately manifested in the Civil rights movement. Those who were seriously involved were searching for new ways of expression. Thus, as far as the aspects of awareness were concerned, Jazz and Soul music were tangent to each other. Jean Carn, Doug's wife, who would have a solo career as a Soul singer later in the seventies, here sings in an uncompromising Jazz environment. Her vocal contributions are more part of the tunes' arrangements rather than the more familiar way where a singer is backed by a band. This is serious music featuring interesting arrangements and solo contributions from these musicians: Doug Carn, keyboards; Jean Carn, vocals; George Harper, soprano sax. , bass clarinet, flute; Charles Tolliver, flugelhorn; Garnett Brown, trombone, Earl Mc Intire, tuba; Henry Franklin, bass; Alphonze Mouzon, drums.

Doug Carn - 1971 - Infant Eyes

Doug Carn
Infant Eyes

01. Welcome 1:15
02. Little B's Poem 3:50
03. Moon Child 7:56
04. Infant Eyes 9:50
05. Passion Dance 5:58
06. Acknowledgement 8:45
07. Peace 4:30

Bass – Henry Franklin
Drums – Michael Carvin
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – George Harper
Trombone, Valve Trombone – Al Hall, Jr.*
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Bob Frazier
Vocals – Jean Carn

Keyboards, oboe, reeds, vocals, composer. Though a versatile musician and expressive pianist, Carn attained more notoriety in 70s for writing lyrics to classic jazz anthems. Carn began keyboard lessons as a child and was soon playing piano and organ, plus alto sax. He studied oboe and composition at Jacksonville University from 1965 to 1967, then finished his education at Georgia State College in 1969. He worked briefly with Lou Donaldson, Stanley Turrentine and Irene Reid, then became popular in mid-'70s with albums for Black Jazz label. He penned lyrics for such songs as "Infant Eyes," "Adams Apple" and "Revelation." His wife at the time, Jean Carn later became R&B star as single act; she changed name spelling to Carne. Carn eventually did two albums with Earth, Wind And Fire but was not as successful working with them as Ramsey Lewis.

Although he recorded a 1969 album in a trio setting for Savoy (which I’ve never heard), Doug Carn is of course most famous for his relationship with the independent Black Jazz label. His albums on that imprint may be single-handedly responsible for the label’s canonical status in Afrocentric spiritual jazz. They are remarkable for many reasons, not least of which is the presence of innovative lyrics sung by his then-wife Jean Carn, who not unlike Abbey Lincoln used her voice as part of the ensemble arrangements rather than as a vocalist with a backup band. The communal family vibe is accentuated by the beautiful album cover photography and the opening tune Little B’s Poem; together with the cover photo, I feel like I knew their daughter and wonder where she is now and how she feels about all the musical attention today. While the following albums from the Doug and Jean Carn would push further with original material, this first album is noteworthy for it’s reworking of compositions by jazz heavyweights that they admired – Bobby Hutcherson, Horace Silver, Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Wayne Shorter. In particular, adding lyrics to that material and making the compositions into something else is the big achievement here.

I have a repress vinyl of this that sounds pretty good and began to mess around with a digital rip of it, but am unsure whether or not to keep working on it. This CD pressing from 1997 sounds okay but the second side (of the original LP) suffers from nasty wow and flutter from whatever source tape they used. This was the first appearance of this album on CD and I am not sure if there has been any other remastered versions since, but I kind of doubt it. In fact last year somebody claiming to have a set of Black Jazz master tapes was selling the whole bundle on Craig’s List for a hefty sum; the auction was dubious as they were comprised of 1/2? reels, which even for a studio on a budget in the early 70s would have been a substandard format, and claimed to come with full reproduction rights. Most likely the reels were production copies or just plain counterfeit, the listing was not online long before it was either met with an offer or taken down. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that we’ll be seeing a new series of reissues mastered from 1/2-inch tape.. Unfortunately a few of the other extant Doug Carn reissues have the same wow-and-flutter problem. Badly stored tapes, damaged playback equipment, sloppy transferring, or all of the above, it doesn’t really matter – the end result is that this precious, important music hasn’t received the treatment that it merits. But the most important thing is that it is still available and people can hear it. Since the reissued vinyls were most certainly just the CD master with an R$AA equalization curve applied, there isn’t much point in having both versions except for purely fetishistic reasons. Unless I can manage to get my hands on original vinyl pressings, they are however all we’ve got..

The liner notes by Doug Carn are a treasure. Written just for the reissue, they have a remarkable amount of detailed recollections for being composed more than thirty years after the recordings, showing just what a special time this was for everyone involved. While this is not my favorite of the Carn albums on Black Jazz, it is unique and on its own it is a great record. The title cut, which according to the notes was the first fruits of Doug’s experience with writing lyrics to other peoples’ music, stands out as the most fully realized work here.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1977 - New Tolliver

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc.
New Tolliver

01. Earl's World        12:46
02. Impact              05:38
03. Compassion          11:00
04. Truth               09:48

Charles Tolliver, trumpet
Nathan Page, guitar
Steve Novosel, bass
Alvin Queen, drums

Recorded November, 1977 in Paris.

Originally only released in Japan, Released in the USA in 1980 under the name Compassion by Strata-East

I cannot tell you how I stumbled on to this powerful recording, I can only tell you how happy I am that I did.
After you've had your fill of Miles, Coltrane, Mingus, and what have you, one must remember that there was so much more, everywhere…and how exhilarating it can be to find yet someone else who speaks to you.

This late 70's release has no essence of disco or funk, as so many jazzers tried to tap into that mainstream market of the time, instead what you get are 4 tunes of powerful straight ahead jazz.
The drums are forward in the mix, and a wonderful guitar plays underneath and over the whole thing, Tolliver weaves in and out perfectly, all making for some fantastic straight ahead, reflective and swinging with some attitude.
Dipping into some more Tolliver recordings I've convinced myself there is no heavier recording that he released than this, New Tolliver.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc & Orchestra - 1976 - Impact

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc & Orchestra 

01. Impact 7:58
02. Mother Wit 8:21
03. Grand Max 6:22
04. Plight 9:47
05. Lynnsome 7:18
06. Mournin' Variations 8:13

Charles Tolliver Trumpet, Arranger, Conductor, Flugelhorn
James Spaulding Flute, Piccolo, Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Charles McPherson Sax (Alto)
George Coleman Sax (Tenor)
Harold Vick Flute, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
Charles Davis Sax (Baritone)
Jon Faddis Trumpet
Virgil Jones Trumpet
Jimmy Owens Trumpet
Larry Greenwich Trumpet
Richard Gene Williams Trumpet
Kiane Zawadi Trombone
John Gordon Trombone
Jack Jeffers Trombone
Garnett Brown Trombone
Stanley Cowell Piano
Winston Collymore Violin
Noel Pointer Violin
Julius Miller Viola
Ashley Richardson Viola
Gayle Dixon Strings
Noel DaCosta Strings
Clint Houston Bass
Cecil McBee Bass
Reggie Workman Bass
Clifford Barbaro Drums
Billy Parker Percussion
Big Black Percussion, Conga
Warren Smith Percussion, Chimes

Recording: Strata East Records Jan 17, 1975

Review by Al Campbell
Trumpeter/flügelhornist Charles Tolliver often straddled the line between the lyricism of  hard bop and the adventurous nature of the avant-garde. Released in 1975, Impact contained a stimulating progressive edge within an energetic large band (14 horns, eight strings, and rhythm section) format. Tolliver's arrangements are consistently bright and build momentum, while the soloists are given sufficient room to maneuver through the multiple textures. Featured soloists in the remarkable reed section include Charles McPherson, James Spaulding, George Coleman, and Harold Vick. 

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1974 - Live In Tokyo

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc.
Live In Tokyo

01. Drought 12:06
02. Stretch 10:35
03. Truth 6:56
04. Effi 10:31
05. 'Round Midnight 8:40

Charles Tolliver - trumpet
Stanley Cowell - piano
Clint Houston - bass
Clifford Barbaro - drums

Recorded: 07 December 1973 at Yubinchokin Hall Tokyo, Japan. In association with Takafumi Ohkuma and Kuniya Inaoka of Trio Records.

Quite a few incredible Jazz trumpet players get lost in the mix, overshadowed by big names like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Freddy Hubbard.  Even people who used to be legends seem to be being forgotten by a new generation of Jazz fans.  I can't tell you how many people I talk to that don't know who Roy Eldridge is: blasphemy, really.  But who's to blame for this?  Record companies seem to be more interested in repackaging already-available albums that sell well. 

This brings me to Charles Tolliver.  In the company of other trumpet players like Donald Byrd, Booker Little, Blue Mitchell,Woody Shaw and Kenny Dorham, that are less talked about in conversations of greatness, Charles Tolliver's entire discography is extremely hard to get a hold of.  I failed in my first 5 attempts to purchase one of his records on the internet.  At last, Live in Tokyo showed up at my doorstep. 

The quartet, Music Inc., plays five long songs on this set.  What this does is allow for more of the moments of cohesive brilliance.  I'm especially appreciative of when the others back off and let bassist Clint Houston take center stage.  "Stretch" and "Effi" are my favorite songs because of this.  The first piece, "Drought", is charged with energy but drummer Clifford Barbaro gets a bit too heavy on the cymbal work for my taste.  It drowns out the others a bit. 

Once you hear Music Inc. though, it's easy to see why they were one of the most popular Jazz bands at the time, even if you foolishly only noticed the clinic that Charles Tolliver puts on.