hutcherson_1968

Total Eclipse: Bobby Hutcherson in 1968

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

Total Eclipse, 1968

Total Eclipse, 1968

Recorded in July of 1968, Total Eclipse sounds leaner when compared to Patterns even though both feature a quintet. This pared-down feel may be attributed to the pianist on the date, Chick Corea. Less prone to embellishments than his Patterns counterpart, Corea embodies a wholly modern approach to piano. A contemporary of Herbie Hancock, the two share a similar tact on keyboard when comping behind soloists as well as a later fascination with fusion and electronics. Corea’s contribution can be felt throughout this 1968 session.

The album starts out with an upbeat track entitled Herzog. With Hutcherson’s main collaborator, Harold Land, firmly planted in the tenor seat a theme is established and Corea takes the lead with a brisk-paced solo. Hutcherson punctuates throughout until he takes a solo which matches Corea’s in speed and invention. Joe Chambers and Reggie Johnson shore up any loose ends while keeping perfect time on drums and double bass respectively. Harold Land then takes over for Hutcherson and wails on his outing. A perfect foil for Corea, Land is also uniquely modern in his approach to tenor. At times he plays with outside leanings but never moves above middle register — a straight arrow for tenor in 1968.

Harold Land

Harold Land

Up next is the title track, Total Eclipse, which slows down the quintet’s pace to a contemplative mood. The slower time signature offers Land more space to explore which comes as a benefit to the listener. Here is where Land excels and shines with a signature solo — breezy, earthy and tasteful. Corea also takes advantage of the space and comps beautifully behind Land, punctuating his lines yet staying out of the tenor giant’s gait. Clocking in at just shy of 9 minutes, Total Eclipse has enough space for every lead voice and Hutcherson moves forward with a gentlemanly approach to his solo. Much more concise than Land’s, Hutcherson bows out quickly to allow Corea more time to feel his way around. And just like Land, Corea shines in this hushed environment. With the bottom end firmly planted by Johnson and Chambers, Corea is granted access to investigate the terrain with an abstract solo.

Matrix, the following track and penned by Corea, picks things up again and pushes Land out in front with a rough and tumble solo. We hear Land approaching the top of his register which adds to the intensity of the track. While Chambers bubbles and churns underneath, Hutcherson takes an extended solo displaying his quick dexterity on the unwieldy instrument. After a somewhat free outing Hutcherson allows Corea to venture in and take the reins. After a short burst of energy on the keyboard, the quintet returns to the theme and closes it out.

Chick Corea

Chick Corea

A seeming roller coaster of emotions, the session takes another turn down a melancholy avenue with the following track, Same Shame. At nearly 9-1/2 minutes, this track unfolds slowly allowing each member ample time in the spotlight. After Hutcherson’s mid-tempo solo, Land slows things down at the beginning of his outing but Corea and Chamber’s edgy comping styles push the tenor player to more agitated activity. Corea again takes full advantage of the allotted space and lays down a brilliant solo. The languid lines of the theme fold back in on itself and ends the dreamy track.

The real standout of this session anchors the album in truly modern panache, the final track, Pompeian, features a sweet and sour approach — a compositional style used on sessions past by Hutcherson’s former session leader, Jackie McLean. A straight-forward theme carried throughout the composition is repeated by the quintet which is then dissected by abstract interludes used as a means to jointly solo. Land is at home on flute which flutters throughout the stormy turbulence. Chambers finds himself in familiar territory which harkens back a few years to albums like 1965’s Components. Either an apparition of Hutcherson’s former days in the avant-garde or a foreshadowing of things to come — it’s hard to say. Whatever it is it’s amazing and it totally engulfs the listener. One does not have long to wait for what comes next in this auditory game of cat and mouse. Pompeian is a somewhat unorthodox end to what some say is a transitional album — one is at a loss for what exactly may come next in Hutcherson’s outstanding catalog.

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Patterns: Bobby Hutcherson in 1968

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

Patterns, 1968

Patterns, 1968

An artist whose musical prowess can still be felt in today’s youth-centric jazz scene, Bobby Hutcherson cut his teeth in the service of such legends as Eric Dolphy, Archie Shepp and Jackie McLean. His choice of instruments, the vibraphone, may have kept him out of the limelight — earning him favorable reviews but never achieving super stardom on the international scene. Hutcherson’s notoriety had as much to do with his recordings as sideman as his sessions as leader. When Hutcherson did take helm of a session modern jazz listeners were sure to enjoy the transcendent mix of cerebral compositions and angular interplay. His playing was different from his contemporaries on the instrument, more lyrical and mellower perhaps — at least in the post-avant-garde years. In the early to mid-60s, however, one could hear his percussive accents beaten out blacksmith-style.

James Spaulding

James Spaulding

The late 60s witnessed the emergence of another side of Hutcherson, still brimming with creativity, although, without the blunt-nosed abandon of his younger days. He also maintained the company of forward-thinking musicians, all of whom were virtuosos in their own right. An outstanding recording exemplifying this matured approach is Patterns from 1968 on the Blue Note Records label. It begins on a mysterious note with the track Effi — Stanley Cowell’s composition dedicated to his wife. With the feel of traversing through a dark, dense forest, Effi captivates the listener and moves him to another place altogether. James Spaulding’s flute solo weaves a fine tapestry — one with all the filigree to be expected, yet, all the while holding the listener in a somber state of mind. Effi, and more specifically Spaulding and Hutcherson’s interplay, reminds one of all the beauty in this world in spite of its dark corners.

A Time to Go, composed by Spaulding as a tribute to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., is perhaps the most melancholy track Hutcherson ever cut as a leader, with the possible exception of Bouquet from his 1966 outing on Happenings, also on Blue Note. More a vehicle for Spaulding’s extended flute solo, A Time To Go offers up reflection, heavy with emotion. Spaulding’s high notes are tightly crisp and his buoyant ideas are kept modern and succinct, never overtly saccharine.

In stark contrast, the title track brings with it a sense of lilting intensity. On Patterns, Spaulding dishes out some of his best, and sadly underrated, alto work alongside Hutcherson’s bright vibes. Both race toward their respective ends in quick and sure-footed solos. Heated interplay is key to this track and its non-stop action doesn’t disappoint.

Bobby Hutcherson

Bobby Hutcherson

Irina, which pulls a drowsy cover over this session, resonates with the same sense of loss found in A Time To Go. Stanley Cowell’s delicate solo work on piano is pushed to the forefront. It’s a classic Hutcherson ballad, much in the same vein as When You Are Near on Happenings or Summer Nights on Stick Up! — both from 1966.

On the last track, Nocturnal, drummer/composer Joe Chambers makes use of Reggie Workman on double bass as pure foundation. Workman, a jazz veteran at this point, lays down a deep groove on which Hutcherson and Spaulding effortlessly skate across — pushing and pulling the composition in many directions. Spaulding’s alto emerges out of Hutcherson’s driving solo and soars upward and out, breaking through the cacophony laid down by the outside-minded Chambers on the kit. Nocturnal proves to be focused and wild all at once, a brilliant piece of jazz and an ideal end to a truly unique and personal listening experience.

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Jazz Remembered

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

Back in 2000 I was given the opportunity to head up art direction for Deer Mountain Records, a Houston-based startup jazz label. Houston’s own Paul English was artistic director and principal performer and I was freelancing full time, trying to find as many jazz-related design gigs as possible. These were great days, when live jazz performances were still a cause for celebration at the historic Warwick Hotel in Houston’s Museum District — a sophisticated venue for equally-sophisticated music. Jazz aficionados and novices alike would gather and hang on every note of Paul’s masterful improvisations and Brennan Nase’s intimate double bass solos.

After sitting down with Paul and his business partners I knew what was expected of me and soon my days (and nights) would be consumed with branding Deer Mountain Records. Most projects kept me in Houston, chasing down Paul and his collective group of artists with my friend and photographer, Ignacio Gonzalez, at different local venues. Other projects would take me on the road. One such project took me down the Texas Gulf Coast to direct a photo shoot at the Corpus Christi Jazz Festival, where chance would have me meet two sax greats. Paul was booked to play at the festival with his group, but he also planned on cutting some live material with Dave Liebman and Ed Calle at a hole-in-the-wall studio nearby. Liebman and Calle were performing at the festival with their own traveling bands. My wife and I were tasked with offering a ride to Ed Calle to and from the festival, giving us a chance to talk about music and life on the road with a giant on the international jazz scene. Once at the studio I finally met Dave Liebman, a true living legend and a gentleman. Being a longtime fan and having listened to Liebman grace Miles Davis’ electric recordings, among others, I felt as if I already knew him. Being in that studio was a rare chance to witness what it takes to cut a world-class jazz performance — a chance to see virtuosos with amazing chops warm up, get loose and get to know each other musically. Incredible blowing like I’ve never witnessed before — Liebman, Calle and Houston’s Dennis Dotson on trumpet. Dennis, who held his own magnificently, stole the show with jaw-dropping solos. Bright, brassy and note-perfect passages immediately eliciting comparisons to Hubbard’s finer moments by everybody in the engineering booth. And as we worked around performers and studio equipment to achieve each perfectly-framed shot, Ignacio and I couldn’t help but smile with the knowledge of how special this all was.

The night was capped off with a brisk walk down the street and a late dinner at a local dive, offering up even more conversation, laughter and camaraderie. And photos throughout all of this, capturing and preserving great memories for one art director’s all-too-quick brush with greatness.


All photography by Ignacio Gonzalez. Please visit the Jazz Sherpa store and support jazz wherever you are.

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David Sylvian and ECM Brass

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

David Sylvian, former frontman for the highly influential post-punk band Japan (1977-1983), surprisingly held certain jazz artists in high regard. Upon starting his solo career, Sylvian brought with him his unique vocal talents, strong songwriting abilities and his unrelenting interest in experimentation. His new solo direction offered textures and moods strikingly different from those of his former band.

Brilliant Trees, 1984

Brilliant Trees, 1984

On his first few albums he tapped the virtuosity of some well-known musicians from the ECM label. Sylvian’s output displayed some similarities to the subdued ECM aesthetic. It was oftentimes quiet, dark and very personal. His tastes in composition and arranging also displayed many similarities to the Munich-based label. Mixed use of acoustic and electronic instruments to create a unique soundscape was standard at ECM. It was Sylvian’s own velvety voice which kept his music instantly recognizable and undeniably his own. His use of brass in some of his early albums helped to establish and reinforce his maturity as a composer and major artist in his own right.

In 1984’s Brilliant Trees Sylvian begins the process by adding the distinguished trumpets of Jon Hassell and Kenny Wheeler to the mix. From the buoyant opener Pulling Punches with its slap bass fills, there is a concerted effort to use brass for coloring. The moodier Ink in the Well uses trumpet to an even greater effect, allowing a freer interplay with the leader.

Alchemy, 1986

Alchemy – An Index of Possibilities, 1985

On Weathered Wall we hear trumpet played with effects. Along with a mix of drums, keyboard, tape and the leader’s vocals this track displays a hallmark — a truly unique sound to Sylvian. Effects-laden trumpet is again heard on the heavy-synth Backwaters and the longer title track.

By 1985 Sylvian had already changed his colors, reaching for something totally different. His album Alchemy – An Index of Possibilities again employed the trumpet talents of Jon Hassell and Kenny Wheeler. Comprised of three long tracks we hear Sylvian laying down a clear foundation for Eno-esque atmospherics, something he would return to in later years.

On 1986’s double album Gone to Earth we hear vintage ECM-style musings of Kenny Wheeler on the second track Laughter and Forgetting. A trumpet solo on Wave is played competently with effects in what has already become a Sylvian staple. Ten of the 17 tracks are dedicated to instrumentals where long compositions take on an ambient air.

Secrets of the Beehive, 1987

Secrets of the Beehive, 1987

1987 produced what is sometimes referred to as Sylvian’s greatest and most personal achievement, Secrets of the Beehive. On this mostly acoustic album we hear the trumpet of Mark Isham. His horn sounds like a rising phoenix on the excellent track Orpheus. Although we hear Isham’s solo trumpet only briefly on this album it’s effect is lasting and adds to the well-rounded arrangements supplied by the critically-acclaimed composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. There is a muted appearance by Isham on the lazy Let the Happiness In. His trumpet meanders slowly down a path with the leader’s vocals creating a relaxed environment.

Although Kenny Wheeler appears on 1999’s Dead Bees on a Cake, the 80s witnessed most of Sylvian’s arrangements for brass. His most recent albums explore a more minimalistic and clinical approach, quite opposite of his earlier recordings. Sylvian’s early sound displayed an uncanny similarity to the ECM aesthetic. The addition of brass in these pioneering, early-career sessions cement Sylvian’s compositions in this world — one distinctly made by human endeavor.


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Keepers of the ECM Flame

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

The sounds contained in certain ECM recordings are evocative of the stark, oftentimes abstract, artwork that grace their covers. At the core there is a consistent sound that binds most vintage ECM recordings. It’s one of reflection and meditation rooted in a northern European melancholy. Major players, Ralph Towner, Eberhard Weber and John Surman are the keepers of that flame. For decades these jazz veterans have established and exercised the ECM sound. They’ve managed to create a musical brand unique to their own personal pursuits all the while unifying a label’s output.

Solo Concert, 1979

Solo Concert, 1979

Stepping out of his longtime association with the genre-bending group, Oregon, guitarist Ralph Towner began his long-time association with ECM in 1973. Along with his technical prowess Towner brought with him an established artistic direction and personal sound which meshed naturally with his new label mates. Towner outputted several solo albums which showcase his virtuosity on classical guitar as well as his uncanny talent for writing. With a multitude of introspective compositions in both solo and group settings, Towner cements himself as a pillar of the ECM sound. Some standout sessions are 1978’s Batik with legendary bassist Eddie Gomez, 1979’s Solo Concert with its excellent covers of John Abercrombie’s Timeless and the Bill Evans-associated Nardis, 1989’s City of Eyes and 1995’s Lost and Found. Towner continues his visionary association with the label to this day.

Yellow Fields, 1975

Yellow Fields, 1975

German bassist, Eberhard Weber, brings a wholly-unique approach to the label. Weber’s background in mainstream jazz changed dramatically with his appearance on ECM in 1973 with his classic recording, The Colours of Chloe. Weber is a true virtuoso in every sense of the word, pushing the envelope on his own instrument and venturing into new sonic territory. He took initiative to re-construct his own instrument to suit his personal playing style, adding one then two strings to his double bass. The resulting effect is near magical — long, fluid lines seemed to dance off the fingerboard giving them a life of their own. His standout recordings usually include his working group Colours. 1975’s excellent Yellow Fields catches the bassist with feet in both reflective and faster-paced settings. On 1976’s The Following Morning Weber’s bass proves to be a subtle beacon in the gray mist that is the 10-minute T. On A White Horse. His playing here is indicative of what he brought to the label — a floating, elevated and cerebral sound that relies as much on space as it does technical virtuosity.

Upon Reflection, 1979

Upon Reflection, 1979

Last, but certainly not least, is English clarinetist John Surman. Having had experience outside the jazz mainstream before joining the label in 1979, Surman brings a sense of restless exploration. His recordings define the ECM sound in yet another light — one of experimentation and wanderlust. Surman’s playing is akin to that of a medieval minstrel, with storytelling at its core. Armed with soprano, baritone and bass clarinets Surman makes use of overdubs and synthesizers to round out most of his solo efforts. Although he also shines in group settings its his one-man shows that showcase his unique compositional style and depth of playing. Titles such as 1979’s Upon Reflection, 1984’s Withholding Pattern and 1996’s A Biography of the Rev. Absalom Dawe expose his inventive soloing and tasteful use of electronics. Surman’s style lends itself to other genres as well, having ventured into classical territory. Works by Elizabethan lutist John Dowland are among some of his more popular achievements on ECM, offering proof of his flexibility and range as an elite instrumentalist.

One may find the only obstacle in truly appreciating the recordings by these modern masters is a lack of time. Time to focus on nuances, time for introspection and time for further investigation.


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Big Band Horsepower: Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

Fuel-injected and testosterone-drenched are not descriptions usually associated with big band music. Enter Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson. These prominent big bands of the late 60s and 70s throw convention and easy listening out the window. Each band had a fearless leader who was a virtuoso on his respective instrument.

Big Swing Face, 1966

Big Swing Face, 1967

Buddy Rich, known the world over as the best drummer of all time, heads up his band from the rear with fireworks and showmanship. On several live sessions you can hear Rich shouting orders like a gunnery sergeant. He was notoriously hard on his players and it paid off in spades — leaving behind numerous recordings, most on the Pacific Jazz label, teaming with hard-driving, turn-on-a-dime tracks. Rich usually supplied a mix of compositions, both contemporary and jazz standards, on his albums. Some tracks dipped in to the WWI-era swing bag. However, it’s Rich’s contemporary tracks that really offer his band’s full pyrotechnic potential. A favorite of mine is the album Big Swing Face from 1967 on Pacific Jazz. On this release we can hear some true modern gems like Mexicali Nose and Willowcrest. The band roars in focused unison while Rich lays down superhuman drum solos. On 1969’s Keep The Customer Satisfied Rich pays tribute to the score from the film Midnight Cowboy with a lengthy medley that just about brings down the house. To have seen this band live would have been an opportunity to witness perfection.

M.F. Horn, 1970

M.F. Horn, 1970

Maynard Ferguson, oppositely, lead from the front on both trumpet and trombone. He was best known for his “stratospheric” playing on trumpet having had the ability to hit a triple C in his trademark upper register. Ferguson was also known to dance on stage — achieving his usual euphoria by his band’s infectious swing. By 1970 he honed his players into a contemporary sound machine with the uncanny ability to play anything and everything. He sometimes covered pop themes such as the title track from 1974’s Chameleon or Gonna Fly Now (Theme from Rocky) on 1977’s Conquistador without reservation. He made the Theme from Shaft on 1972’s M.F. Horn Two swing like nobody’s business. Some of his staples have aged very well including the moody Eli’s Comin’ and the 10-minute epic Macarthur Park both from the excellent 1970 release M.F. Horn. Ferguson proved to be a genius at arranging — making familiar tunes wholly original and relevant. If anything, Ferguson breathed new life into big band orchestrations with his unabashed enthusiasm, bold strokes and crowd-pleasing material.

Next time you need a soundtrack to a formula one grand prix or a jumpstart to your day try spinning some Rich or Ferguson — seat belts are optional.


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Jazz and the Hunt

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

Never say never, or so I quickly learned one humid, summer afternoon at a used book store in southwest Houston.

Something In The Wind, 1969

Something In The Wind, 1969

I seldom get the opportunity to thumb through used record bins these days, so stumbling upon a collector’s item would almost seem out of the question. Defying all odds, I discovered something priceless — a worn-out LP copy of a 1969 The Winter Consort release, Something In The Wind. I know what you’re thinking — a dime a dozen. Well, this one was different. It was priced at only a dollar, hiding between tattered releases by Wendy (Walter) Carlos and Tony Orlando in a neglected clearance bin. Right off I was drawn to the brilliant green photo of Paul Winter on the cover, proudly standing in a forest, dwarfed by giant trees. Not unlike something out of the Jethro Tull catalog. Turning it over I noticed some scribbling on the back cover. I immediately jumped to conclusions, wondering why people are so careless with their music. Upon closer inspection I noticed it was a collection of autographs — each band member having signed their name and some including their respective instrument. Included in this group was the remarkable, and long-deceased, sitarist Collin Walcott. The wheels in my head were spinning out of control. How did this end up here of all places and in my hands? I felt as if I just found the Holy Grail tucked away in a dumpster behind a Taco Bell. All this for a dollar? That’s all I needed, off I went. I think I skipped to the registered to purchase this small piece of jazz memorabilia.

Driving home with my treasure safely out of harm’s way, I wondered how many more gems might still be out there — wasting away in written-off clearance bins or dusty attics. There’s no telling, but one thing’s for certain — you don’t have a snowball’s chance in Hades of finding one without getting out there and looking under some rocks. Happy hunting!

Something In The Wind, 1969 (signed back cover)

Something In The Wind, 1969 (signed back cover)


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Album of the Year (1958): Porgy and Bess

By JUSTIN SCOVILLE, Guest Contributor

Wow, I have had a tough time with this one. Although 1959 was certainly a watershed year for Jazz, 1958 wasn’t too shabby either. A Great Day in Harlem, the famous photo taken by Art Kane, was captured in 1958. (And yes, this photo is hanging in my living room). Many pivotal albums were released in 1958, including these personal favorites:

  • Deeds, Not Words Max Roach’s innovative piano-less group that featured Ray Draper on tuba and a stunning, 20 year old Booker Little on trumpet. My mom bought this for me when I was a teenager and that was the start of my fascination with Booker.
  • Somethin’ Else Miles Davis’, er, Cannonball Adderley’s sublime Blue Note album which offers the definitive, most swinging-est versions of Autumn Leaves and Love For Sale.
  • Moanin’ If you had to choose one Jazz Messenger’s album that encapsulated all of Art Blakey’s mission as a musician, this wouldn’t be a bad choice.
  • Cool Struttin Man, Sonny Clark swung hard. Love that guy. He was out of the Bud Powell school with a lighter touch and infused his solos with blues and wit.
  • Looking Ahead One of Cecil Taylor’s first forays into the New Thing.
  • Milestones An absolute classic. Trane, Miles, and Cannonball as a front line… Wow. The title track foreshadows Modal Miles.
  • Everybody Digs Bill Evans: Keepnews Collection Recorded in 1958 but released in early 1959, this album saw Evans conceptualizing his modal approach in the hypnotic Peace Piece.

Anyways, my choice for 1958 is Porgy & Bess, Miles Davis’s second of three collaborations with Gil Evans in a large ensemble setting. (I’m cheating on this one… Porgy and Bess was actually released in 1959 but recorded in 1958. The field for 1959 is too crowded).

Miles Ahead (1957) augmented the Birth of the Cool’s nonet into a full-blown big band, allowing Miles to pontificate against an obtuse instrumental backdrop. 

Sketches of Spain (1960) was, at the time of its release, a radical departure from jazz convention and stirred up controversy about what was and wasn’t jazz.

Porgy and Bess falls in the middle of Miles Ahead and Sketches of Spain chronologically and musically. Gershwin’s conglomeration of the American Folk tradition and European Classical harmony made a perfect musical playground for Evans. His complex yet melodic voicings, brought to life by a top-notch group, laid the foundation for Miles to advance his pioneering style away from Bebop and into the Unknown. Evans also captures the drama of the opera in his adaptation, along with Miles as the lead soloist. Both Evans and Davis were fascinated with the nascent modal innovations of George Russell, and although Milestones captured some of what was to come in Kind of Blue, I feel like Porgy and Bess is the first full realization of the modal approach in Jazz.

Porgy and Bess, 1959

Porgy and Bess, 1959

Buzzard Song, Summertime, and It Ain’t Necessarily So are clear historical favorites from this album. For me, from a strictly musical standpoint, Gone and Prayer are the standout tracks. Gone opens with ragged but spirited ensemble passages sandwiched between brilliant drum fills from Philly Joe Jones. The centerpiece of the song is Miles blowing chorus after chorus over a minor mode with Philly Joe and Paul Chambers. The absence of a chordal instrument doesn’t hinder Miles at all; instead, he sheds his old Bebop skin and emerges a new man. Prayer builds from a mournful blues statement from Miles into a wailing climax. (I always love how Cannonball plays during the crescendo; his levels are so high he must have freaked out the recording engineers). Prayer is a radical departure from the Head-Solo-Head structure of most jazz songs from then and now, with the ensemble building organically together with Miles’s melodic improvisations.

Porgy and Bess is a beautiful masterpiece and a lasting monument to Gil and Miles, whose musical partnership would span several decades, not to mention genres, of Jazz.


Justin Scoville is a Denver-based trumpeter and jazz blogger. Follow Justin at his blog, The Jazz Daddy. Please visit the Jazz Sherpa Store and support jazz wherever you are.

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Grant Green and the Funky Drummer

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

A favorite at Jazz Sherpa, Idris Muhammad (aka Leo Morris) sadly passed away on July 29th. Deemed as the original funky drummer, Muhammad played a pivotal role on several Blue Note sides throughout the late 60s and early 70s. His unique and immediately recognizable sound propelled Blue Note Records into the world of jazz funk and inspired legions of followers along the way. The drummer usually found himself teamed up with the label’s heavy hitters of the day, Lou Donaldson and Grant Green were among his esteemed recording partners.

Carryin' On, 1969

Carryin’ On, 1969

His infectious backbeat graced one certain standout 1969 Grant Green recording, Carryin’ On. Muhammad laid down a solid foundation for Green’s airy, explorative lines which focused on the lighter side of the guitarist’s funk repertoire. This was a standout session for Green because it marked the beginning of a new direction in his recording career. He intentionally moved into a more economically-viable vein within the label, for obvious reasons. However, unlike some of his peers, he excelled at this new sub-genre and went on to record several inspired studio and live sessions, including the excellent Live at Club Mozambique in 1971. The year 1969 marked a rebirth of sorts for the jazz guitarist and the beginning of a fertile partnership with Muhammad firmly planted behind the drum kit — a match made in heaven.


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Art Blakey’s Hardest Hard Bop

By CARL GLATZEL, Editor

This isn’t just jazz, it’s war. On February 10, 1964 Art Blakey enlisted the aid of a special ops unit for his trailblazing mission — Free For All. This edition of the Jazz Messengers was the quintessential hard bop lineup and the perfect team for the job. The frontline was a heavily-armed triple threat consisting of Freddie Hubbard on trumpet, Wayne Shorter on tenor sax and Curtis Fuller on trombone. Cedar Walton on piano, Reggie Workman on bass and Art Blakey on drums brought up the rear and had the near impossible task of grounding this tour de force. Blakey was a well-known beast on the skins — infamously destroying drum kits on stage — and was relentless on the Shorter-penned title track, which opens the album. There’s no slow build here, it’s an all-out assault from the word go. Blakey pounds away with everything at his disposal while the frontline crashes through the gate as if charging a bunker amid heavy shelling. With Blakey’s detonations blasting all around, each horn takes an extended solo while weaving through their fearless leader’s tumult. After a glorious 11-minute show of bravado from all parties the finale ends with a classic example of Blakey’s pure adrenal rush on the kit — a thunderous roar followed by a single hit on the hi-hat and then peaceful silence. An outright classic and well worth the price of admission.

Free For All, 1964

Free For All, 1964

By this outing, Shorter was at the very top of his creative game and shortly after he would be on his way to joining the fabled Miles Davis Quintet as its principal composer. On this album we have two great works by Shorter — displaying his versatile style in all its glory. The second track, Hammer Head, another Shorter original, is cooler than the bombastic opener and moves with a well-defined swagger. This is classic Blakey material where his famous press rolls and shouts introduce soloists who take the floor with commanding flair.

The third track, The Core, is a Hubbard original and another cooker. This piece is a great example of Hubbard’s writing ability and another great showcase for the raw power behind this seamless unit. I’ve always been of mind that Hubbard played to his full creative potential as a sideman at Blue Note rather than session leader. His outings on both the Atlantic and CTI labels in the late 60s and early 70s have always been go-to listening to these ears.

The last track, a Clare Fischer composition, will throw you for a loop. Suddenly, and most dramatically, a truce is called and Pensativa is the white flag. This laid-back bossa tune would be right at home on a Hank Mobley album of the same period. It clocks in at just under 8 and a half minutes and is a sheer joy to listen to. We finally hear the bright, clarion call of Hubbard’s pristine trumpet and Blakey’s effortless timekeeping. Pensativa balances out this amazing album to create a truly unique recording — one which rewards fans with new insights upon repeated listenings.


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