Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Marion Brown - 1975 - Vista

Marion Brown 

01. Maimoun 7:31
02. Visions 5:40
03. Vista 7:47
04. Moment Of Truth 4:35
05. Bismillahi 'Rrahmani 'Rrahim 6:00
06. Djinji 9:45

Recorded February 18-19, 1975 at Generation Sound Studios, New York City.

Alto Saxophone, Wind Chimes – Marion Brown
Bass – Reggie Workman
Celesta [Celestes], Gong – Harold Budd
Drums, Cymbal – Jimmy Hopps
Drums, Drum [Slit Drum] – Ed Blackwell
Piano, Celesta [Celestes], Electric Piano [Rmi] – Bill Braynon
Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – Anthony Davis
Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Mbira – Stanley Cowell
Tambourine, Congas, Finger Cymbals – Jose Goico
Vocals, Bells – Allen Murphy

Altoist Marion Brown, one of the potentially great high-energy saxophonists to emerge in the mid-'60s (he was on John Coltrane's famous Ascension record), has had somewhat of a directionless career. This disc certainly boasts an impressive backup crew (including both Anthony Davis and Stanley Cowell on keyboards along with bassist Reggie Workman and some appearances by drummer Ed Blackwell) but does not seem to know what it wants to be. The solos are relatively short, there is a poppish vocal by Allen Murphy on a Stevie Wonder tune and little that is all that memorable actually occurs. Better to acquire Marion Brown's earlier recordings.

Marion Brown & Leo Smith - 1975 - Creative Improvisation Ensemble

Marion Brown & Leo Smith 
Creative Improvisation Ensemble

01. Centering 1:12
02. Njung-Lumumba Malcolm 18:05
03. And Then They Danced 16:05
04. Rhythmus #1 3:30

Recorded May 12, 1970 in Paris, France.

Alto Saxophone, Percussion – Marion Brown
Trumpet, Percussion – Wadada Leo Smith

Marion Brown - 1974 - Sweet Earth Flying

Marion Brown 
Sweet Earth Flying

01. Sweet Earth Flying Part 1 3:38
02. Sweet Earth Flying Part 3 5:55
03. Sweet Earth Flying Part 4: Prince Willie 5:55
04. Sweet Earth Flying Part 5 5:06
05. Eleven Light City Part 1 7:16
06. Eleven Light City Part 2 2:08
07. Eleven Light City Part 3 5:50
08. Eleven Light City Part 4 3:04

Recorded May 6-7, 1974 at Intermedia Sound Studios, Boston, Massachusetts, USA. Sweet Earth Flying Part 2 still unissued.

Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Marion Brown
Bass – James Jefferson
Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall
Organ, Electric Piano, Piano – Muhal Richard Abrams, Paul Bley
Percussion – Bill Hasson

The second installment of his "Georgia" trilogy, Sweet Earth Flying is arguably Marion Brown's finest work and certainly one of the underappreciated treasures of '70s jazz. Again, the words and ideas of poet Jean Toomer underlie Brown's conception (hence the album's title), though this time (unlike the appearance of Karintha on Geechee Recollections) none of Toomer's actually poetry is utilized. Instead, he calls into service the remarkable keyboard paring of Muhal Richard Abrams and Paul Bley, an inspiration that pays off in spades. The two pianists alternate acoustic and electric keyboards, bringing a slight tinge of the propulsiveness of Miles Davis' late-'60s bands, but with a grace, soul, and sense of freedom rarely achieved by Corea and Jarrett. In fact, Abrams' feature on Part Five of the title suite is one of the single most beautiful and cogent statements he ever created. Brown's sound on both soprano and alto has a unique quality; he tends to sound tentative and innocently hesitant when first entering, only to gather strength as he goes, reaching utter conviction along the way. Special mention must be made of vocalist Bill Hasson. He's featured on only one piece, but his deep-voiced recitation in a language of his own construction (drawing from West Africa, Brazil, the Caribbean, and North American down-home English) is a very special treat indeed. Very highly recommended to open-eared jazz fans of all tastes.

Marion Brown - 1973 - Geechee Recollections

Marion Brown 
Geechee Recollections

01. Once Upon A Time (A Children's Tale) 6:27
02. Karintha 9:27
03. Buttermilk Bottom 6:44
04. Introduction 1:19
05. Tokalokaloka Part One 7:02
06. Tokalokaloka Part Two 9:41
07. Tokalokaloka Part Three 1:49
08. Ending 1:18

Alto Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Clarinet, Percussion – Marion Brown
Bass, Cello – James Jefferson (tracks: A2)
Brass, Strings, Percussion – Leo Smith
Congas, Instruments [Miscellaneous] – Jumma Santos
Drums, Percussion – Steve McCall
Mbira [Thumb Piano], Autoharp, Percussion [Axatse] – William Malone
Narrator – Bill Hasson (tracks: A2)
Percussion – Bill Hasson, James Jefferson
Percussion [Soge, Kidi, Kaganu, Axatse, Gankogui, Toke, Apentemba, Apenten, Dawure, Nnawunta, Donne], Idiophone [Gyilla] – A. Kobena Adzenyah

Recorded June 4-5, 1973 at Intermedia Sound Studios, Boston, Massachusetts, USA.

Geechee Recollections was the first in a trilogy of recordings by saxophonist Marion Brown that both honored the work of poet Jean Toomer and revisited his upbringing in Georgia. Together, they form arguably the most beautiful and satisfying output of Brown's lengthy career. The music, while remaining experimental, is grounded in Southern folk themes and blues, epitomized on tracks like the funky "Buttermilk Bottom" here. A Toomer poem, Karintha is given a striking reading by Bill Hasson and, throughout the recording, Brown receives excellent support by a strong ensemble including trumpeter Leo Smith and the great drummer Steve McCall. Brown, with his marvelously limpid tone on alto, is a joy to hear and seems more at home and relaxed here than on some of his more strident early records. Recommended.

Marion Brown - 1970 - Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun

Marion Brown 
Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun

01. Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun 17:00
02. Djinji's Corner 18:04

Marion Brown alto saxophone, zomari, percussion
Anthony Braxton alto and soprano saxophones, clarinet, contrabass clarinet, chinese musette, flute, percussion
Bennie Maupin tenor saxophone, alto flute, bass clarinet, acorn, bells, wooden flute, percussion
Chick Corea piano, bells, gong, percussion
Andrew Cyrille percussion
Jeanne Lee voice, percussion
Jack Gregg bass, percussion
Gayle Palmoré voice, piano, percussion
William Green top o’lin, percussion
Billy Malone african drum
Larry Curtis percussion

Recorded August 10, 1970 at Sound Ideas Studio, New York City

A subtle congregation of clicks, pops, breaths, and whistles eases us into this challenging yet rewarding recording from a rather mobile group of musicians, many of whom—Lee, Braxton, Corea, Maupin, and, of course, Brown himself—are now household names in the avant-garde circuit. Over a brief 35 minutes we are treated to a highly refined sort of music-making that jumps, flies, and slithers its way through a complex forest of sounds. The arrangements are heavy on reeds and percussion, with star turns from one severely abused piano and a smattering of aphasic human voices who seem bent on reducing all communication to wit and circumstance. The music is indeterminate and uncompromising and unleashes its full torrent only in the second movement, “Djinji’s Corner.” Slide whistles, snares, and bass all join in the cacophony as a voice intones, “Listen to me. Can you hear?”—at last giving us some vocabulary to latch on to as we suffocate under a voracious avalanche.

Though not an album for the faint of heart, Afternoon is indicative of the brave decisions ECM was already making on its fourth release, and on it one can finally begin to hear inklings of the space for which ECM would soon come to be known. It is also meticulously recorded. Every detail comes through (for example, when a percussionist picks up bell and rings it, we clearly hear it being placed back down on a cloth-dampened surface). Describing the sound of this album is, I imagine, as difficult as it was to lay it down in the studio. The sheer range of implied space is unfailingly impressive, made all the more so for its utterly organic textures. An absolute masterpiece of free jazz and well worth the chance for the adventurous listener.

Marion Brown - 1969 - Porto Novo

Marion Brown 
Porto Novo

01. Similar Limits 6:25
02. Sound Structure 6:10
03. Improvisation 5:50
04. QBIC 6:32
05. Porto Novo 11:55

Recorded December 14, 1967 in Soest, The Netherlands.

Alto Saxophone – Marion Brown
Bass – Maarten van Regteren Altena
Drums – Han Bennink

This was one of altoist Marion Brown's best recordings. Although a very adventurous improviser, Brown usually brought lyricism and a thoughtful (if unpredictable) approach to his music. Accompanied by bassist Maarten van Regteben Altena and drummer Han Bennink for this stimulating session (recorded in Holland), Brown stretches out on five of his compositions and is heard at the peak of his creative powers.

While it may be overshadowed by the other Arista releases, Marion Brown’s Porto Novo is an excellent record, one which is nearly as appealing in its own way as the spectacular Ayler Vibrations. For while Brown was hardly one of the giants of the Sixties, his was and is a strongly individual voice, usually heard in tantalizingly small doses as a soloist, as on Coltrane’s Ascension or Shepp’s Fire Music, or even on some of his own records, like Afternoon of a Georgia Faun (ECM) and Why Not? (ESP). In view of Brown’s willingness to stand out of the spotlight, his forthright blowing on Porto Novo may surprise those who didn’t hear the original release of this material on Polydor. He certainly has the ability to fit, chameleon-like, into a variety of situations unlike some stronger voices who tend to play pretty much the same way regardless of the setting.

The Porto Novo session actually left Brown no choice but to come up front and display his individual strengths to their fullest; not only because it is a trio date, but also because of the constant conceptual tension between Brown and Han Bennink who is caught fascinatingly midway between the derivative bebopper of Dolphy’s Last Date (1964) and the fully-armed genius of Topography of the Lungs (1970).
The differences of style can be stated geographically. Bennink is a European drummer who has constructed, amazingly, an approach to percussion as convincing as any contemporary American stylist, but from his own sources. Brown, of course, is from Atlanta, Ga., and demonstrates a deep sense of his own roots in his playing. The contrasting approaches work together in interesting ways: a final balance is achieved even though at times the juxtaposition seems to underline the differences between the two men. Bassist Altena responds to the impulses from both sides and helps hold together a session that comes off beautifully for all the divergent ideas.

Porto Novo is probably the most far reaching statement of Brown the altoist. All the aspects of his individual personality are revealed – what possibly impresses the most is the way Brown can move subtly from one kind of feeling to another yet hold it all together.
The title track, for example, is both an exposition of the high humor of “Homecoming” from Why Hot? and the evocation of the natural world of which Georgia Faun is the ultimate statement. If you have enjoyed any of Brown’s playing on other records, you will want this.
Richard Baker, 1975

Well blow me down! Han Bennink is for sure one of the most creative drummers that jazz music has ever heard. This recording is centered more on the Brown/Bennink combination, and that works as good as the Cherry/Blackwell combination on Mu. I find a strong similarity between these recordings as Brown could appreciate retreating in order to let the other player speak in his own tongue, both Brown and Cherry had this special gift of staying silent without making it look like lack of inspiration. Brown had a very special, dizzying yet melodic way of knotting notes and lines in quite unexpected ways (his Solo Saxophone recording is also a very welcome addition), and on Improvisation he has no difficulty in showing his more frenetic, discordant improvisation procedure. The duet between Brown and Leo Smith on And Then They Danced is also noteworthy, and while the bass player did not shine at the level of Bennink (hell, how many can really keep up with such a machine gun?) and Brown, it is every bit as original as Quartet, Juba-Lee, Why Not, Sweet Earth Flying, Solo at Yale and Afternoon Of A Georgia Faun. Definitely recommended!

Marion Brown - 1969 - Marion Brown In Sommerhausen

Marion Brown
Marion Brown In Sommerhausen

01. Dance No.1 10:47
02. Exhibit B 3:35
03. The Sound Of A Song 8:16
04. Malipieros Midnight Theatre 8:10
05. Il Ne Chant Pas 6:00
06. Dance No.2 8:50

Marion Brown , alto saxophone
Daniel Laloux, bass, percussion
Steve McCall, drums, percussion
Ambrose Jackson,  trumpet, percussion
Gunter Hampel, vibraphone, bass clarinet, percussion
Jeanne Lee, voice, percussion

Recorded live at Bayerisches Staatskonservatorium der Musik, Würzburg, Germany, May 17th 1969.

Live in Würzburg. The first track is groovy and fun drum jamming, the second track is probably the most annoying piece of music I've ever heard, consisting of a single torturing sax making stupid noise for 3 minutes. At least it's not a repetitive album... Side A closes with a cool mellow piece with nice bells and smooth sax, but with very silly "vocals", some guy hums and goes "aa-aaa".

Side B I like a lot more. Jeanne Lee's psychotic "I SAW YOU DO THAT!"-shouts, whisperings and other occasional noises are hilarious. "Il Ne Chant Pas" is like a French Foreign Legion military march band on acid. I'm not sure if that's a trumpet or a sax making some freaky noise is the back, but it's mad as hell. The last track is, as you could guess, a continuation of the first, tying the madness between them to a nice knot.


Marion Brown - 1969 - Le Temps Fou

Marion Brown 
Le Temps Fou

01. Le Temps Fou 5:24
02. Cascatelles (Phillips) 5:31
03. Song For Serge And Helle 6:39
04. Boat Rock 4:59
05. Ye Ye 6:08
06. En Arricre 11:31

recorded September 1968, Studio Davout, Paris

Ambrose Jackson, trumpet, percussion;
Marion Brown, alto saxophone, bells;
Gunter Hampel, vibraphone, bass clarinet, percussion;
Barre Phillips, bass, percussion;
Steve McCall, drums;
Alain Corneau, percussion on 6

"Crazy Times". Beautiful record, soundtrack for a film by Marcel Camus. Apparently no reissues since its 1969 release on French Polydor

Marion Brown - 1968 - Why Not

Marion Brown -
Why Not

01. La Sorella 11:30
02. Fortunato 08:36
03. Why Not 06:59
04. Homecoming 10:17

Recorded October 23, 1966 in New York City.

Marion Brown (as)
Stanley Cowell (p)
Norris "Sirone" Jones (b)
Rashied Ali (d)

Issued in 1968, Why Not? is Marion Brown's second outing for the ESP label as a leader. The saxophonist also guested on a Burton Greene date earlier that same year. Featuring pianist Stanley Cowell, Coltrane alumnus Rashied Ali (Coltrane had been dead less than a year at this time), and bassist Norris Sirone Jones, Brown reveals his great strengths as a composer and bandleader, which are matched by his abilities as a soloist. The opener, "La Sorella," features a gorgeous opening solo by Cowell. Using large and intricate chorded modal phrases, Cowell creates a virtual chromatic field for the rest of the rhythm section -- Jones, in particular, responds in kind with scintillating three-string figures that add a deeper series of conical figures for ballast. Brown enters just behind Ali in full cry on the alto. Using a Coltrane-esque song figure to respond to Cowell's stunningly beautiful foundation, Brown blows lean but long lines before a long solo by Jones cuts them all quiet. When the band enters, they are in prelude form, with spun-out piano lines ever in anticipation and Brown calling something out of the ether that never quite materializes, which is fine because on "Fortunata" it does: a ballad that develops into something wholly other without changing tempo. This is jazz as expressionism; it doesn't need to be "free" because it has been untethered from the opening bars. Brown's solo here lilts on the branches of Cowell's arresting, nearly Debussian chromatic figures that extend harmonic ranges almost without end. By the time the band gets to the title track, a free workout in a dizzying tempo, the listener is grounded enough in Brown's composed lyricism so as not to be surprised at all when the fury of the tempo is elongated by the temperance in tension the band creates. Finally, on "Homecoming," where the ballad begins to show its face once more, each member steps in to underline and deconstruct it by using contrapuntal lyricism as a contrast. Even Ali, one of the great powerhouse drummers, dances rather than sprints around the band, even in his lengthy solo. This is a phenomenal album, a place where Marion Brown got to reveal early on why he was such a formidable force: He understood the inherent importance of musical traditions and he also understood how imperative it was to them and to jazz to extend them in a manner that left their roots clearly visible.

Originally released in 1968, Why Not? is one of three ESP-Disk’ recordings on which alto-sax player Marion Brown appears. His first for ESP was recorded in 1965, the same year he worked with John Coltrane on Ascension. With the late bassist Norris “Sirone” Jones, pianist Stanley Cowell, and the late drummer Rashied Ali, Brown creates music that juxtaposes elegant fluidity with a determined starkness.

Starting with “La Sorrella,” Brown floods his alto with a pure tonality that pervades the melodics of the remaining music. The piano sounds harp-like as it progresses in and out of chordal arrays; Sirone’s pizzicatos are soft, climbing and repetitive; and Ali maintains a predominately cymbal-ticking pulse.

The ballad, “Fortunato,” features a glowing interlude from the piano that weaves webs of heavenly phrasing, as Ali brushes and accents the skins in the background. The alto sings beautifully, seeming out of context with vanguard jazz; but given the recording date of the album, this music can now be understood as predicting a timeless future.

The last half of the record takes off in quick tempos. Brown energizes the title track with arpeggios that stay in mid-register, but launch easily into the high. Sirone moves through fast-paced pizzicatos; Ali demonstrates his smart stick work within a channel of exploration. A drum roll begins the last track, “Homecoming,” with a strangely slow entrance to the alto’s repeated pronouncement of a march-like theme. The group pursues that theme in multiple directions; the piano, at first, engaging the keyboard in incessant chord phrasings, some bordering on stride. The alto’s trumpet-like, staccato playing hints once at the tune, “Three Blind Mice.” Ali drives the drum set with a continuous variegated sound to usher in the reprise of the theme. The quartet closes with one swift tight swipe at brightness.

Excellent, if occasionally inconsistent, free jazz
This is a quartet recording for the ESP label with alto player Marion Brown accompanied by rhythm section consisting of Stanley Cowell on piano, Norris Jones on bass and Rashied Ali on drums.

The opening tune is an extended, open improvisations section. It is more cohesive than most free jazz that was being recorded at the time, but much less structured than most of the post-bop of the time. It reminds me of the first 30 seconds of A Love Supreme, but stretched out into almost 10 minutes. The whole thing feels like it's leading up to something, and finally in the last two minutes of the piece, the tune turns into an odd dance-like melody. It's an interesting effect, but to me this track felt like eating a sandwich that was 90% lettuce and 10% meat. "Fortunato" begins with a mournful melody, that quickly breaks into loose improv, beginning with an impressionistic, harmonically rich piano solo, punctuated with Ali's busy brushwork on the drums. When Brown joins in the improv he adds a melodic element to the already interesting harmonic landscape. Again, the Coltrane influence is strong. A problem I had with both of the first two tunes is that they both stop right in the middle for bass solos that really felt unnecessary and slowed down the motion of the music.

The title track is an exciting bit of improvisation on a loose theme that the band pounds out. It works well because of Rashied Ali's energetic playing. It gives all the soloists a very wide canvas on which to play, but it injects the whole thing with a sense of energy that the soloists find it easy to match. "Homecoming" has a definite feeling of being based on some kind of dance theme, but it sounds as if the dancers are drunk. It's a very cool effect. What's even cooler is when Cowell bursts into his piano solo with what sounds like a disjointed, perverted version of ragtime. Fantastic. The solo moves further into abstract territory but keeps coming returning, or at least hinting, at that ragtime feel. Definitely an album highlight.

By 1968 free jazz was in full swing, and Marion Brown had already proven to be comfortable playing in very chaotic free situations. This album finds him taking a step back from the chaotic, dissonant version of free playing, that was popular at the time, and playing a slightly more structured, more subtle, (and in my opinion, more mature) version of free jazz. At times the music seems to lack direction slightly, and there are several instances where bass solos bring the energy of the music to a screeching halt, however there are a lot of strong moments on here too. The band sounds the most strongly influenced by Coltrane (especially Ali, who worked extensively with Coltrane), though there are also hints of Dolphy, McLean, and Coleman in the music. It's definitely worth a listen.

Marion Brown & Gunter Hampel - 1968 - Gesprachsfetzen

Marion Brown & Gunter Hampel -

01. Exhibit A                                               
02. Gesprächsfetzen                                     
03. Babudah                                             
04. Tomorrow Is The Beginning Of The End Of Yesterday       
05. Aba

Marion Brown, alto saxophone
Gunter Hampel, vibraphone, bass clarinet
Ambrose Jackson, trumpet
Buschi Niebergall, bass
Steve McCall, drums

Recorded live at Modernes Theater München,
Munich, Germany, September 20, 1968.

It's probably known that since his last recorded gig, Gemini (play Sun Ra Live in Concert) on Birth Records, a 1993 duo with Gunter Hampel in West Germany), serious illnesses—diabetes that led to the loss of a leg followed by additional surgery for a brain tumor—has confined Marion Brown to a nursing facility in Florida. But other things about this arguably underrated alto saxophonist—who played on Coltrane's incomparable Ascension and was an important figure during the New York Loft Scene and the free jazz movement in Europe—might not be so well known. That, for example, this grandson of an escaped slave from Georgia's Sea Islands, a Gullah from the African Congo, who in turn was raised on the outskirts of Atlanta achieved various academic distinctions: graduation as music major—and frat man—from Clark College; attendance at Howard University law school and a Master's Degree in Ethnomusicology at Wesleyan, where he subsequently taught, as well as at the equally prestigious Brown University, what was then called "Afro-American Studies."

And more: Brown studied and recorded on classical guitar; was a painter who has even sold his works; wrote a set of memoirs (entitled Recollections) and was featured in a French film directed by Marcel Camus (for which he recorded the soundtrack with his late '60s sextet with Gunter Hampel, Ambrose Jackson, Barre Phillips, Steve McCall and Alain Corneau).

Other sorts of roots-revealing information frame a backdrop for, despite hard times, a promised return. After his earliest gig—in an R&B band (Lord Terry & His Star Dust)—Brown's musical encounters are a veritable history of America's classical music: from formal training under Wayman A. Carver (whom he reports "taught me at Clark, played alto in Chick Webb's band and took the first flute solo on record!") to a meeting with Johnny Hodges, who magically Brown relates, "reached inside his pocket and gave me a box of reeds and said—'Young man, you've got the most beautiful tone I ever heard!'"

His encounters with such seminal figures continued with Ornette Coleman, who went inside his bedroom and came back with his white horn when Brown told him he didn't have a horn to play; Archie Shepp, with whom Brown recorded Three For Shepp (Impulse, 1966) and admits, "If it wasn't for him, I'd never be a recording artist" and Sun Ra, in whose Arkestra Brown played when it was housed on 2nd Avenue & E. 3rd Street and who "called (me) aside and told me not to play like Charlie Parker."

But any discussion of Brown's musical journeys also necessitates geographic parameters: a move to Harlem from the South with his mother as a teenager; his return to NYC after military service in a band that was stationed in Japan; 12 years spent in Europe as an expatriate; another return to America with settlement in New Haven with his wife and son, before of course returning to the South, a move, alas, associated with his current medical predicament.

One can only smile at this foot of that ladder of let's call it the spiritual bar originally raised high by Ornette and Albert Ayler in the '60s in the recently released tribute to Brown by His Name Is Alive (Sweet Earth Flower, High Two), selected as one of 2007's Best Tribute Releases by this publication, as Brown himself extended those rungs. With its rock inspired vibe, the mode-like, unwavering dirge-like meditative mood sustained throughout the eight tracks by the players of this remarkable ensemble performance of Brown's compositions unapologetically impacted this listener with a Spoonerism: mood + modal = moodal music.

Yet since Brown remains hopeful about returning to the musical scene, so, too, then must we. A chanting Buddhist ("You know who converted me? Buster Williams!"), Brown's promised return came with these words: "They know me here... I practice in my room... And might even write a symphony."

Reflecting both about his contribution to free jazz, as well as its place in musical history, after crediting the poet Amiri Baraka ("A beautiful cat!") and writers AB Spellman ("and he can write!") and Frank Kofsky ("He was intelligent and very deep and concerned about jazz music") with intellectual growth, Brown offers these thoughts: "People make names to sell their product... I can play any form. Even Western classical music ...I just held on until they caught up! I'm just a music freak and a music lover."                                                   

Marion Brown - 1967 - Three For Shepp

Marion Brown
Three For Shepp

01. New Blue 4:52
02. Fortunato 8:51
03. The Shadow Knows 3:02
04. Spooks 4:30
05. West India 6:15
06. Delicado 6:41

Recorded December 1, 1966 in New York City.

Alto Saxophone – Marion Brown
Bass – Norris Jones
Drums – Beaver Harris (tracks: B1 to B3), Bobby Capp (tracks: A1 to A3)
Piano – Dave Burrell (tracks: A1 to A3), Stanley Cowell (tracks: B1 to B3)
Trombone – Grachan Moncur III

Marion Brown's Three for Shepp is the image-in-the-mirror companion to Archie Shepp's Four for Trane recorded the year before. The program is equally divided between Brown's originals, which occupy the first half of the album, and Shepp tunes that take up the latter half. What is immediately striking is how similar in tone, color, and texture the two men were when it came to composition. Brown arms himself here with crack bands for these recordings. Pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Bobby Capp accompany trombonist Grachan Moncur III and Norris Sirone Jones on bass on Brown's own material and Stanley Cowell and Beaver Harris sub in the piano and drum chairs on Shepp's. Brown's "New Blue" is a slow modal study in blues from the post-modal school. In fact, given the airiness and strange intervals played by Brown and Moncur, it is a new kind of modal blues. "Fortunato" is the vanguard take on post-bop swing. It honks, squeaks, and turns itself around to meet knotty changes from Burrell playing in the middle register. Of the Shepp material, "Spooks" is a kind of political statement that swings like mad. Using an early swing rhythm, 8/12, Cowell vamps his ass off on a three-chord figure and the band careens from New Orleans to minstrel-show stomp to blues to bebop, with Moncur playing a solo that could stop a clock. "West India" is a reverential, shimmering blues number, cooled out from edginess or striated distended harmonics. Despite the title, its simple structure uses both West Indian and almost Caribbean rhythms and melody lines -- calypso anyone? -- and then marries them to an African modal structure for the ultimate celebratory effect. "Delicado" is anything but. It's an out, machine-driven post-hard bop number with Cowell and Brown driving the band into a frenzied free for all, fed in amazing time by Harris. This is a classic Impulse! recording of the period by an overlooked master.