Thursday, January 18, 2007

Jackie McLean... Albert Ayler... Jimmy Lyons... Sonny Rollins... Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer...

Out of the traps a little late this week – due to illness... plus ça change, etc...

So: coincidentally, as I pulled them out of the box – five saxophone players from varying positions on the jazz map (plus Bob Brookmeyer and his valve trombone). First off: Jackie McLean, who came out of the end of bebop in the fifties, under Bird's shadow but whose tenure in mid decade with Mingus provoked him to explore other directions:

'Jackie McLean was for the first part of his career a superior post-Parker bopper... a cut above most others but ultimately inconsequential compared with the innovators of the time. It was only when he joined Mingus in 1956 that the real Jackie McLean came into being.' (From here... )

One of those players in the Blue Note fold who kept 'in' while venturing 'out,' also influenced by Ornette's innovations:

'...Ornette Coleman was to become almost as significant a model for him as Parker had been.'
(From John Fordham's obituary here... ).

This is 'Saturday and Sunday' from 'One Step Beyond,' which was the first of three albums he would make with this lineup. This track seems to display the influences mentioned above – the compositional from Mingus, in this stop/start theme that eventually ends up in an uppish tempo and some of the alto line – and 'vocalised' sound – from Ornette. Hutcherson's vibes provide an interesting opened-out harmonic respite from piano – a symbol of McLean's music at this time, perhaps, in not totally shedding a chordal instrument underneath but utilising the more sonically ambiguous vibrophone? In/out? One speculates... McLean's alto displays his unique sound to advantage – the phrase 'blues-drenched' seems to be an accurate description... Moncur is earthy and good-humoured, in contrast to Hutcherson's cooler, more cerebral vibes – or is it just the somewhat constricted timbral area of the instrument anyway? Williams is tremendous here, playing all sorts of games with the beat and taking a brilliant solo backed by Khan's bass.

Bagpipes, anyone? Albert Ayler, skirling away through 'Masonic Inborn Part One,' from his late album 'Music is the Healing Force of the Univers.' Bobby Few's piano swirls across the murky river of sound underneath, swelled by the two basses and Ali's drumming into a torrent that frequently threatens to overflow its banks in glorious fashion. This album has always polarised critical opinion – initially derided, it has picked up some support over the years. Ayler's wheezing, croaking bagpipes are a wonder sound to behear.

Jimmy Lyons is always linked to Cecil Taylor by the fact that he spent so many years playing in the pianist's various bands. But he made a few sessions under his own name – this one in a line-up with John Lindbergh and Sunny Murray. 'Tortuga,' then, from the album 'Jump Up.' Listening to Lyons, I sometimes get a hint of how Charlie Parker may have played if he had lived – and proceeded to continue musically questing rather than, say, easing back and living on his (considerable, let it be said and justly deserved) reputation. There is a laid back eloquence to his playing here... Murray is busy as ever, and Lindberg acts mainly in an anchor role... Lyons translation and adaption of bop alto sax out of Bird, on this outing without the firestorms of Taylor's piano, seems not so far away from players like McLean, despite its more ostensible freedoms...

Sonny Rollins in 1954... his playing pretty much already in place as a bedrock for future developments... some solid blowing from the tenor saxist and Dorham is fleet and boppy. ElmoHope, one of the mystery men of the music, (see this article here that speculates as to why he never attained higher status and visibility) takes a stomping piano solo. Blakey and Heath power it all along...

Shrine Auditorium, West Coast, 1954...Stan Getz introduces Duke's tune 'It don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing' with a musician's joke. He takes the first solo – this is Straight Ahead Stan rather than Cool School Getz... Brookmeyer interjects occasionally to keep it rolling and then makes his own deft, pithy contribution. John Williams solos neatly before a short contrapuntal episode and back to the theme. Swinging...

In the Videodrome...

Stan Getz takes the slow boat...

... Charles Mingus in Europe... (not sure if this was posted before, but what the hell... )

... Mance Lipscomb sings 'Ella Speed'...

... and slides through 'Jack O' Diamonds...

... Bo Diddley sings about himself...

and the mighty RL Burnside at Nicks...

Jackie McLean
(Jackie McLean (as); Grachan Moncur 111 (trb); Bobbie Hutcherson (vib); Eddie Khan (b); Tony Williams (d) ).
Saturday and Sunday


Albert Ayler
(Personnel for album: Albert Ayler (ts, bagpipes, vocals); Bobby Few (p); Henry Vestine (g); Bill Folwell, Stafford James (b); Muhammad Ali (d); Mary Maria (v) ).
Masonic Inborn Part One


Jimmy Lyons
(Jimmy Lyons (as); John Lindbergh (b); Sunny Murray (d) ).


Sonny Rollins
(Sonny Rollins (ts); Kenny Dorham (t); Elmo Hope (p); Percy Heath (b); Art Blakey (d) ).
Moving Out


Stan Getz/Bob Brookmeyer
(Stan Getz (ts); Bob Brookmeyer (vtrom); John Williams (p); Bill Anthony (b); Art Madigan (d) ).
It don't mean a thing (if it ain't got that swing)



godoggo said...

Interesting to hear Lyons playing over a vamp. I've never heard him in anything but a free constext, although his bop background is always apparent.

godoggo said...

...and I really like the piano playing on the Ayler. I've heard the name before...

Rod... said...

Bobby Few is maybe better known over here as he moved to Europe way back... played a lot with Steve Lacy, I think.

Hayden Jackson said...

Thanks for the Mingus link. Any chance of posting any mp3's from Mingus' The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady? Thanks for the website. Keep up the great work!