Friday, October 12, 2007

Oliver Nelson... Milt Jackson/Thelonious Monk... Zoot Sims/Joe Pass... Albert Ayler

Oliver Nelson recorded 'Afro-American Sketches' in 1962 – a forgotten masterpiece. 'There's a yearnin''is a slow sonorous sway in 3/2, scored for an unusual orchestral combination that combines strings and french horns and tuba with the more conventional sections. Nelson states the theme on alto, his tone immediately identifiable – broad and ripe – as the ensemble wrap round him like dark velvet. Jerry Dodgion's flute pipes in a couple of times to answer the sax. This is flat out gorgeous and sad... blue beauty...

Milt Jackson recorded early on with Thelonious Monk and was one of the great interpreters of the pianist's music. Jackson's melodic and rhythmic sense never seemed to desert him throughout his career in whatever circumstances – witness (ho ho) his playing on 'Evidence,' one of those dark, sardonic Monk themes, hardly a melody but instantly recognisable in the unpredictable rhythmically displaced stabs of the notes. Monk chases Jackson with his more outre comping but the vibist is up to the challenge. The piano essays some sparklingly dissonant crunches...

Zoot Sims met up with Joe Pass in 1982 to record a laid-back duo session roduced by Norman Granz. Zoot was no ground-breaker, perhaps, but a remarkably consistent improviser throughout his career. This is the title track from the album 'Blues for Two,' a relaxed tenor bounce over Pass's comping and walking lines and melodic fragments – some technique this guy had for playing back and fore ground simultaneously. As displayed in his solo... Swinging and subtle.

Albert Ayler had a similar broad vibrato to Oliver Nelson – except he cranked it up further – way past Sidney Bechet, even – to produce an even more heavily vocalised sound on tenor. This is Albert in his pomp – recorded live in 1964 with Sunny Murray and Gary Peacock, a squalling ride through 'Wizard.' Some superior free jazz here – and they said this man could not play? Weird... Peacock takes a good solo and Murray's cymbal work ably supports.

In the Videodrome...

Zoot plays 'My Old Flame'...

Joe Pass delivers a masterclass...

Oliver Nelson big band with Gato...

Oliver Nelson
Oliver Nelson (as) Ernie Royal, Joe Newman, Joe Wilder, Jerry Kail (t) Urbie Green, Britt Woodman, Paul Faulise (tr) Bob Ashton (ts, fl, cl) Jerry Dodgion (as, fl) Julius Watkins, Ray Alonge, Jim Buffington (fr h) Charles McCracken, Peter Makis (c) Don Butterfield (tba) Art Davis (d) Ray Barretto (perc)
There's A Yearnin'


Zoot Sims (ts) Joe Pass (g)
Blues for Two


Thelonious Monk/Milt Jackson
Thelonious Monk (p) Milt Jackson (vib) John Simmons (b) Shadow Wilson (d)


Albert Ayler
Albert Ayler (ts) Gary Peacock (b) Sonny Murray (d)



godoggo said...

Well I made this observation on another blog recently, so I'll make it here too. I think Ayler played with a pretty standard gospel sax tone. I've heard very Ayler-like sax (minus honking) coming out of local Black churches (never went inside, though; White, Jewish, irreligious, wouldn't have felt comfortable - so I'm no George Gershwin).

Rod... said...

I would say you're right about Ayler...