This album has more of a feel as if someone turned on a recorder while they were practicing, than if they were intentionally recording a solo album.
A lot of the time he will find a phrase, play it once, then repeat it down a key, then another, then another, to the lowest he can play it on his horn. Or take the same phrase and repeat it several different times with different emphasis or different techniques. There’s are also a lot of pseudo classical themes that pop up and things that sound like circus music, along with some Jazzy improvisation.
Sands is technically interesting, as someone who plays an instrument, and is curious about other musician’s thought processes or how they practice. I feel like I am being given a look behind the curtain. But, I don’t find it compelling listening, as a Jazz listener.
This is a great album. Everyone is at the top of their game. My favorite section is Ricky Ford’s Tenor solo on “If We Come Close”, I love how he moves easily between free playing and more traditional Jazz phrasing.
Listening to this, perhaps the most amazing thing is that the record got made at all. A large group recording of idiosyncratic jazz with sung-spoken texts based on the poems of a dissident Bulgarian Poet. Yeah, that’s going to sell a lot of copies.
Thank goodness someone at Soul Note had the foresight to green light this transcendental work.
School Days by Steve Lacy, Roswell Rudd, Henry Grimes, and Denis Charles.
Thelonious Monk legendarily once berated someone accompanying him who was not working up to Monk’s standards by saying, “Play that thing or throw it away!” No one here could be accused of not playing. Grimes is especially numinous, with nimble runs up and down the length of his bass’ neck. Outstanding.
Jazz Advance by Cecil Taylor, Denis Charles, Steve Lacy, and Buell Neidlinger.
Continuing my investigation into Cecil Taylor’s early work, with his recorded debut from 1956. More interesting, than compelling, you can hear Taylor is still working out his concepts. And the rest of the band is trying to figure out, “If he’s playing THAT, what do we play?” The forms, at least in terms of time, are largely respected by Taylor, but the content of his solos often strays. Lacy is primarily playing Bebop runs over the changes. And the rhythm section is keeping time and walking the chords.
Cell Walk for Celeste by Cecil Taylor with Buell Neidlinger, Denis Charles, and Archie Shepp.
A year after the “World of Cecil Taylor” sessions and the band is a lot tighter. Shepp has matured and is incorporating Taylor’s right hand melodic expressions and rhythmic motifs into his playing. Unfortunately, Taylor is saddled with a painfully out of tune piano and sits out much of this session. Two of the tracks are Bass/Sax duets. The piano issue is particularly egregious on the relatively straight forward covers of the Mercer/Ellington tune Jumpin’ Punkins with a larger band including Billy Higgins, Clark Terry, Roswell Rudd, Steve Lacy, and Charles Davis. Unless you’re curious what it would sound like to hear Taylor playing honky tonk piano, avoid those two tracks.