A belated happy new year to everyone... and three trios plus an organ and tenor combo to greet 2010...
Evan Parker Trio and 'Geometry.' Starts off busy, fragments of saxophone and bass running round each other as the drums lay out a broad sweep underneath to carry them. Dropping back to solo drums, intricate use of space and silence, a sparseness that builds back into more layered and complicated rhythms then eases again into pointillist dabs of sound at the high end of the range, spliced with sudden runs into the lower sax register. Parker coming from small pieces of sound to build a knottier line, disrupted by sudden register leaps, his trademark illusion of playing several lines at once. Fast clattering from Lytton, cymbals occasionally lashing through like sabres, who falls out to leave Parker strafed by Guy's prodding and speedy pattering. Sometimes hard to distinguish who is playing what in an area where rhythm, melody and sound disrupt conventional boundaries. Going to the end on some throaty blowing and quick-walking bass, Lytton sure-footedly booting it along. Three as one, post-Euclidean definitely...
Another trio... Jimmy Giuffre with Bob Brookmeyer and Jim Hall, their version of 'Blue Monk, from 1958 and the album 'Western Suite.' Jumping across time and genres, shadowing the 'archetypal' nature of the original, they come in on an easy swing propelled by Hall's guitar in a chugging straight four that echoes the likes of Freddy Green. This timeless feel reinforced by Guiffre on clarinet, blending with the trombone as a two thirds approximation of the classic New Orleans front line. Giuffre solos first, chalameau register with the odd piping move into higher registers, occasional trombone shadowing. Brookmeyer solos after the leader, in turn swathed in Giuffre's woody obbligatos. Hall chordally thunks out a couple of choruses with ghostly support from trombone and clarinet before spreading out melodically but staying within basic bluesy parameters. A masterly minimal and original look at one of Monk's greatest tunes that takes it back to its roots without being preciously retro. This trio manage to create a large airy space to move through – while generating a full sound that belies the numbers. Hall is the backbone for this strategy – his deep moving notes offer the illusion of a bass while his chord work fills out the middle. Giuffre dropped the drums in his ground-breaking trios of the fifties, probably because his own visions of freedom in jazz would have been shackled by most conventional modern jazz drummers of the time... I always see a link between him and Ornette Coleman, not least their Texan connection...
... which leads to: Ornette and his 1965 trio on tour in Europe, recorded at the Tivolis Koncertsal, Copenhagen, Denmark, November 30, 1965. One of my favourite lineups, Izenzon on bass and Charles Moffett on drums to support the leader, on fine form that year. This is 'Clergyman's Dream,' one of those odd yet memorable Coleman tunes, combining a brief slow slurred section with a sprightly answering. Ornette takes an exhilarating solo, bluesy combined with unfettered freedoms - themselves grounded in the logics of the blues? Izenzon plays fairly solid four throughout then moves outwards in his own solo – fast runs and pauses that indicate his thought processes, subtly backed by faintly hissing cymbals. Moffett up next for a swinging section that combines those old jazz virtues with a new linearity and melodic sense, new in the sense that although his antecedents – Max Roach and Kenny Clarke to name two who explored the extended rhythmic melodic possibilities given by bop but one could go further back to Warren 'Baby' Dodds for the sake of inclusion – had done similar, they were still playing in the main across set chorus structures. Moffett has the wide open spaces in front of him to explore... and does. Ornette returns and the track goes into some intriguing stretching and contracting as the rhythm breaks up. Back into the theme for the last minute of so ending on a rapid run through. Cue applause and rightly so...
Going out on some Gene Ammons and Richard 'Groove' Holmes from a live recording at the Black Orchid Lounge in Chicago in 1961... I've mentioned before when putting up a couple of tracks from the album that I bought this when I was a teenager and have that obsessive fondness for it still, remembering how it was when young, with little money and no great range of stuff to buy anyway in the jazz racks of the local shops, so that each album became a small treasure. This is a joyful bounce through 'Exactly like you,' 'meat and potatoes' jazz I called it before, the classic organ and tenor combo. Swinging, soulful, social music – yet with some bite to it, due to the skills involved. Ammons solo combines big-hearted r and b rawness with some hurtling bebop flurries later in, Holmes ice cool organ, like the joys of a menthol cigarette in more innocent days. Some trading between the constituents at the end to keep the crowd happy – the applause sounds as if they succeeded. The whimsical thought just occurred to me that Groove Holmes sounds like a hip building company specialising in real estate for bohemians...
Evan Parker (ts) Barry Guy (b) Paul Lytton (d)
Jimmy Guiffre (cl) Bob Brookmeyer (v-tr) Jim Hall (g)
Ornette Coleman (as, tp, vln) David Izenzon (b) Charles Moffett (d)
Gene Ammons (ts) Richard Holmes (org) Gene Edwards (g) Leroy Henderson (d)
Exactly like you