World of Jazz 149

PLAYLIST

  1. Dafnis Prieto Sextet – Back and Forth – Triangles and Circles
  2. The Joe Daley Trio – Ballad – At Newport ’63
  3. Alvin Batiste – Bat’s Blues – Late
  4. Pepper Adams – Claudette’s Way – Conjuration-The Fat Tuesday Session
  5. The New Frank Wright Quartet – Eddie’s Back In Town
  6. Elvin Jones – Raynay – The Prime Element
  7. Clifford Jordan – Midnight Waltz -Higher Mountain
  8. Ran Blake – Two Hearts In 3/4 Time – Horace Is Blue: A Silver Noir

NOTES

  1. Triangles and Circles is the sixth album by Dafnis Prieto as a leader, and his sextet’s long-awaited second release. The new recording brightly illuminates the drummer and McArthur Fellow as a composer of considerable depth, with a penchant for complex but infectious melodies that meld the folklore of his Afro-Cuban roots with modern harmonies rich with counterpoint and virtuosic rhythmic concepts. His bandmates, Peter Apfelbaum and Felipe Lamoglia on saxophones, trumpeter Mike Rodriguez, pianist Manuel Valera, and bassist Johannes Weidenmueller are all brilliant soloists but also exemplary team players who, like Prieto, are experts at crafting a musical narrative from Pan-American source material. Recorded on the heels of a one-week run at the Jazz Standard in New York City, the eight album tracks capture the essence of Dafnis’s writing and imagination. The Sextet excels on all fronts, reaching a near-telepathic level of interplay and impeccable interpretation throughout the entire repertoire.
  2. Joe Daley is a little heard of saxophone legend in the history of Chicago Jazz. This trio, featuring Hal Russell (of NRG ENSEMBLE fame) on drums and Chicago’s Occult Bookstore proprietor Russell Thorne on bass, existed for only a handful of years before Daley’s resistance to the free jazz and avant influences being brought into the group by the rhythm section caused the group to dissolve. The tunes here reflect an interest in the coming wave of avant garde developing in mid 60s Chicago with the birth of the AACM and the Art Ensemble. Thorne’s contributions are particularly influenced by his association with John Cage and eastern philosophy. Although this record is titled “Live in Newport 1963” it is actually a studio record that has been adjusted to pretend to be live. On the original LP there were breaks between songs that had an announcer introducing each tune. Any audible applause or sounds were added in the studio to create the live feel. The almost apologetic tone of the announcer (reportedly Daley himself) and the uneven mixing of his vocal level create a strange presentation for an otherwise highly innovative piece of avant garde jazz history.
  3. Alvin Batiste has spent much of his career as an educator so he tends to get overlooked when one thinks of the top jazz clarinetists. He has a conventional and pleasing tone that he utilizes to improvise in an unusual and harmonically advanced style. Most of this CD teams the avant-gardist with a bop-based trio led by Kenny Barron and the clarinetist is constantly bending the material. The well-paced set (only a dumb modal version of “The Saints” is a disappointment) has among its highpoints a slow atmospheric New Orleans blues (“Late”), a relative of Coltrane’s “Giant Steps” (“Imp and Perry”), a Ray Charles lick (“Ray’s Segue”) and the lengthy vamp-filled “Kinshasa.” It’s a strong introduction to the rarely recorded clarinetist.
  4. The great baritonist Pepper Adams is teamed up with the adventurous trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and veteran pianist Hank Jones for this live quintet date. Wheeler, although often associated with the avant-garde, has never had any difficulty playing changes and his strong style clearly inspired Adams. Together they perform three of the baritonist’s originals, Thad Jones “Tis,” Wheeler’s “Old Ballad,” and the standard “Alone Together.”
  5. Frank Wright (9 July 1935 – 17 May 1990) was a free jazz musician known for his frantic style of tenor saxophone. Wright was born in Grenada, Mississippi but grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. There he met Bobby Few and Albert Ayler, both of whom became friends and musical influences on Wright who was originally a bass player: before taking up the saxophone, he played in numerous local R&B bands and also toured with B. B. King and Bobby “Blue” Bland. However it was Ayler’s musical influence that caused him to switch to saxophone; his style is often associated with Ayler’s. In addition to tenor saxophone, he also played the soprano saxophone and bass clarinet. A pioneer of experimental music, he is a widely acclaimed artist among his colleagues in the free jazz movement. Eddies Back In Town was his last release.
  6. This two-LP set consists of a pair of unrelated Elvin Jones Blue Note sessions that had not been previously released. The earlier date features Jones in a septet with the tenors of George Coleman and Joe Farrell along with trumpeter Lee Morgan, while the 1973 album has an 11-piece group that includes a large rhythm section, baritonist Pepper Adams and the tenors of Steve Grossman and Frank Foster. The challenging modal material (an extension of John Coltrane’s music of the early ’60s) and diverse soloists make this two-fer into a rather stimulating listen.
  7. Tenor-saxophonist Clifford Jordan teams up with pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Sam Jones and drummer Billy Higgins for this excellent modern hard bop set which has been reissued on CD by Muse. Of the five compositions (which include an original apiece by Jordan, Walton, Jones and Bill Lee), only Thelonious Monk’s “Blue Monk” and Jordan’s title cut had much life beyond this set but the music is consistently memorable, including the featured track Walton’s “Midnight Waltz.” All of the musicians play up-to-par and Clifford Jordan (who was continually underrated throughout his life) is immediately recognizable as usual.
  8. At first blush, Ran Blake might seem an odd choice to perform tunes written by Horace Silver. But, as this recording shows, Blake’s approach is so encompassing that he can transform the simple blues-drenched melodies of Silver into something darker and more sophisticated. The best pieces are those in which Blake plays alone. His singular vision carefully gets inside a song and gently turns it inside out. Alto saxophonist James Merenda and electric guitarist David “Knife” Fabris, former students at the New England Conservatory of Music where Blake teaches, often seem superfluous. Fabris seems to blend nicely with the pianist’s lines while Merenda sometimes seems intimidated and relegated to a supporting role. Nonetheless, the saxophonist does emerge from the shadows occasionally to show considerable potential. Four of the most interesting tracks are the alternate versions of “Ecaroh” and “Song for My Father,” each of which shows the extraordinary talents of Blake as an interpreter.
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