East Bay View (a blog about several things)

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Sunday, February 12, 2006

Recommended jazz

John Coltrane, One Down, One Up: Live at the Half Note
The best live Coltrane albums are the rediscovered Monk concert at Carnegie('57); at the Village Vanguard ('61, the box is worthwhile); and at Birdland ('63). This is a half-step down, which is still worthwhile. The 27-minute solo on the title track is one of the finest extant examples of Trane on the way out to wherever he ended up, but still near enough to us earthlings to perceive him with senses unaided. In the asteroid belt, maybe.

George Russell and the Living Time Orchestra, The 80th Birthday Concert
Russell was the avant-garde's leading theorist back in the Fifties; as far as I can tell, the influential part of his Lydian Chromatic Concept wasn't any of his particular scales but his conceptualising of "gravity" -- that distances were more important than particular harmonic structures -- which made Davis and Coltrane (the latter of whom saves Russell's classic arrangement of "Manhattan" from Jon Hendricks) that eschewing chord changes would open up endless possibilities for the soloist. Russell ditched the States in '63; in between revolutionising jazz in several Scandanavian nations, he composeded sporadically but probably spent more time refining the Concept. His big band here runs through his major European works, including an excellent "Electronic Sonata" and a definitive "African Game", demonstrating his ideas work dandily on large canvases. Trumpeter Stanton Davis, in particular, keeps things on edge.

Charles Lloyd and Billy Higgins, Which Way Is East
Lithe sax/traps duets -- "Supreme Love Dance", "Civilization" (both alto), "Windy Mountain" (Lloyd's better-known tenor) -- share disc space with muckabouts in ethnic instrumentation. Higgins, not long before his death, sings strongly on "Blues Tinge" but is also affecting when chanting on "My Lord, my Lord".

Also noted: Dianne Reeves's "One for My Baby" at the end of Good Night, and Good Luck is a little awesome.


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