Sunday, May 20, 2007

Bill Dixon... Archie Shepp... Bill Evans/Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh... David S. Ware... Lennie Tristano/Lee Konitz... Lennie Tristano/Charlie Parker

Bill Dixon co-led a band from 1961 to 1963 with Archie Shepp but they had gone their separate ways by 1964 when this album was recorded, each having a side to feature their now separate talents. The first track is Dixon and his 7 Tette, playing the previously unreleased 'Alternate take Section III, “F” ' from 'Winter Song.' Counted in with traditional manner- 'One two, one two three four.' Borrow leads off briefly, followed by McIntyre on oboe. McRae keeps it busy behind him. Dixon solos in spartan fashion (According to the sleeve notes for the CD, he had been having embouchure problems not so long before). Similarities to the spurting asymmetries of Don Cherry, perhaps... Howard Johnson essays a gruff baritone section followed by a two bass lead out that terminates when someone (Dixon?) says, 'We've got to do that again.' Work in progress, recorded a few months before the famous October Revolution...

Archie Shepp and the New York Contemporary Five, playing the leader's composition 'Like a Blessed Baby Lamb.' Oddly enough, the drummer, Sunny Murray, sounds almost conservative by comparison to Howard McRae on the previous track. Shepp growls in after the theme, spindly phrasing with mucho cymbals behind from Murray. Cherry takes over with Murray a little more in evidence on his snare, throwing in a sporadic roll. Oceans of space for the pocket trumpet to sail through. Tchicai next, angular, worrying and fluttering at phrases, joined by spiky accents from the other horns. Boykins on more or less straight walking throughout holds it all together. An odd theme, like a cross between Ornette laced with a stabbing phrase straight out of Monk...

Run forward – to 1977. Bill Evans had recorded with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh before – a live session in 1959, under Konitz's leadership. This later studio bash sees everyone on fine form. Evans sounds more extrovert than usual and the date has an easy-going feel to it throughout. Modern jazz at the highest level...

David S Ware on 'Sweet Georgia Bright.' His bleary tenor states the theme and you hear Sonny Rollins somewhere in the background – whom he practised with as a young apprentice. Ware is a consummate original though, let us be clear on that. Fireball trails of notes spin off as the rhythm stops and starts under him, Shipp uncharacteristically reticent – sparse chords on the comp. Parker fires off a fast line, followed by Shipp suddenly opening up with a dancing ripple alongside him. An interesting exercise from the cream of the contemporary free jazz lineage in a more orthodox setting. The album title – which could be miscontrued as suggesting 'Surrendered' to the orthodoxies of the market place - is more likely referring to Ware's spirituality... which is reflected in the sense of ego surrendering to the music, perhaps... I like his playing very much – just bought a couple more CD's in fact which I will extract the odd morsel from at some point... so much music, so little time...

Another taste of Konitz – playing with his mentor, Lennie Tristano. Drumming is quite stroppy, going against the usual accepted wisdoms that the pianist required time to be kept neatly and no fancy stuff. Tristano marks out the changes as Konitz dances elegantly over the top. One of the true greats still blowing strong – a survivor who was always determined to mark out his own track apart from the gravity pull of Bird. Tristano takes a restrained solo. Towards the end he suddenly breaks out to play a contrapuntal line that moves up alongside Konitz. Stunning... A live date – I think this is from 1955, the gloriously named 'Sing-Song Room, Confucius Restaurant' in New York being the venue. Bass and drums then would be Gene Ramey and Art Taylor, which makes sense. Tristano once said : 'Vitality arises from an emotion that is free.' (Quoted from here...). Quite...

To end: the immortal Bird, in an impromptu session with Tristano. Kenny Clarke is listed as the drummer but apparently he played a phone book with brushes - as you can hear. This was a private recording – as you can hear! Hissy, rough – but it is like suddenly stepping into a tunnel that connects back over the years to the glory days of bop. Bird is superb, Tristano here just content to lay out the chords behind. Possibly a practice session? The Tristano discography lists it as 1951, but it possibly was recorded earlier in 1947, according to this review of the album containing this track by Greg Thomas here...

In the Videodrome...

Sonny Rollins and Don Cherry here...

the Great Clifford – on T.V....

... have we done this before? Trane on My Favourite etc...

...some Miles

... and some more Coltrane...

Bill Dixon
Bill Dixon (t) George Borrow (ts) Ken McKintyre (as, ob) Howard Johnson (tuba, bs) Dave Izenson, Hal Dodson (b) Howard McRae (d)
Alternate take Section III 'F' from 'Winter Song.'

Archie Shepp
Archie Shepp (ts) Don Cherry (pc) John Tchicai (as) Ronnie Boykins (b) Sunny Murray (d)
Like a Blessed Baby Lamb


Bill Evans/Lee Konitz/Warne Marsh
Bill Evans (p) Lee Konitz (as) Warne Marshe (ts) Eddie Gomez (b) Eliot Zigmund (d)


David S. Ware (ts) Matthew Shipp (p) William Parker (b) Guillermo Brown (d)
Sweet Georgia Bright


Lennie Tristano (p) Lee Konitz (as) Gene Ramey (b) Art Taylor (d)
All the things you are


Charlie Parker (as) Lennie Tristano (p) Kenny Clarke (d)
All of Me


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