Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Booker Little/Booker Ervin... Cecil Taylor... Lee Morgan... John Coltrane

Bookends – Booker Little, with Booker Ervin beside him in the frontline on a 1960 session, originally issued under the leadership of Teddy Charles. Recorded at the Museum of Modern Art, some fiery blowing here. The track: 'Scoochie.' Ushered in by a sharp burst of drums from Eddie Shaughnessy, who drives the band on throughout. Booker Little takes the first solo, twisting a sure-footed elegance into his lines. Ervin leaps in directly just as he finishes, full-throated tenor spurred on by the drummer's interjections. Mal Waldron follows, utilising his trademark phrase-worrying to good effect. Teddy Charles adds splashes of vibes throughout but takes no solo unfortunately...

I always check 'Destination Out' before I post – apart from it being a great jazz blog, on several occasions a weird synchronicity has come into play and a track that I have prepared for upload has already been featured by them in the same week. This particular selection is an example – I sidelined it a couple of years back for that reason. But: just been over there and we are ok and I figure two years is not a clash in the making. So...

There are times during this performance of 'Winged Serpent' when one fears for the piano's health as Cecil Taylor smashes out vast clustered eruptions with the ferocity of a lambeg drummer on an Orange parade in Belfast. This is the pianist leading an 11 piece ensemble mixed between American and European participants – his 'Orchestra of Two Continents,' recorded in 1984. Held together by fragments of melody, the soloists emerge from the boiling maelstrom thrown up by two drummers and the ever-dominant Taylor piano which chases and harries the front line towards a higher glory. Then Cecil solos – a wild violence perpetrated on the piano, as mentioned above. The ensemble assemble again, taking up the minimal theme, before suddenly dropping into a slow fall. Exhilarating...

Lee Morgan in 1957 on a classic Blue Note date – also noted for tenor player George Coleman's debut recording. 'City Lights,' the title track – opening on see-saw bowed bass and horns before moving effortlessly into a kicking hard bop swing. Coleman out the gate first, then Curtis Fuller, a little four square perhaps but his usual pleasing gruffness. Then Morgan, sounding older than his years, superb trumpet. Ray Bryant takes some bluesy lines before Paul Chambers displays his arco technique. Morgan returns to trade with Art Taylor. Shortish solos all round give this track a compressed and pithy texture.

One for Obama... I don't comment on the politics of other countries and, as an ageing anarchist, my experience in life has led me to mistrust all politicians, whatever the angle they come from. But it would be churlish not to wish the U.S.A. well on this deeply historic Inauguration Day. As we sink further into the mire here in the U.K., in the spirit of a wider sense of hope I offer this late track by the mighty John Coltrane. Recorded at Temple University in 1966 (for radio – there is an annoying bit where the commentator comes in), this is 'Naima.' The theme is barely hinted at before the roller-coaster ride begins. Looking at the tracks uploaded here and the collective intelligence, fire and beauty on display - if only politics was as uplifting as music...

Teddy Charles (vibes); Mal Waldron (p); Booker Little (tpt); Booker Ervin (ts); Addison Farmer (b); Eddie Shaughnessy (dr)


Cecil Taylor
Enrico Rava, Tomasz Stanko (t) Jimmy Lyons (as) Frank Wright, John Tchicai (ts) Gunter Hampel (bs, b-cl) Karen Borca (bss) Cecil Taylor (p) William Parker (b) Raschied Bakr, Andre Martinez (d)
Winged Serpent


Lee Morgan
Lee Morgan (t) George Coleman (ts) Curtis Fuller (tr) Ray Bryant (p) Paul Chambers (b) Art Taylor (d)
City Lights


John Coltrane, Pharoah Sanders (ts) Alice Coltrane (p) prob. Sonny Johnson or Jimmy Garrison (b) Rashied Ali dr unknown perc

Buy – you might have to hunt for this...

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