Wednesday, December 05, 2007

HurdAudio Rotation: Doctor Badguy

Albert Ayler: New Grass. 1968. Re-released in 2005. Impulse!: A-9175.

Albert Ayler: tenor saxophone, recitation, vocals, whistling
Bill Folwell: electric bass
Burt Collins: trumpet
Joe Newman: trumpet
Garnett Brown: trombone
Seldon Powell: flute, tenor saxophone
Buddy Lucas: baritone saxophone
Bert DeCoteaux: arrangements, conductor
Call Cobbs: electric harpsichord, piano, organ
Bernard Purdie: drums
Rose Marie McCoy: vocal
Mary Maria Parks: vocals

1968 was the same year Albert Ayler recorded Love Cry - possibly one of the most perfect free jazz recordings of all time. New Grass is cut from an entirely different cloth. And to call it flawed would be generous. With Ayler literally begging listeners to give this music a chance right in the first track it still remains a struggle to understand why he invested so much creative energy into this endeavor that he clearly believed in. Perhaps the understanding of how Ayler's abilities to channel a fierce primal improvisational style toward a more progressive and free sound places too much of a filter on this music - making it sound imprisoned and regressive by comparison. I try to imagine what I would think of this sound if I didn't know it was Ayler and doubt it would have come to my attention at all.

William Parker Double Quartet: Alphaville Suite: Music Inspired by the Jean Luc Godard Film. 2007. Rogue Art: ROG-0010.

William Parker: bass
Rob Brown: alto saxophone
Lewis Barnes: trumpet
Hamid Drake: drums
Mazz Swift: violin
Jessica Pavone: viola
Julia Kent: cello
Shiau-Shu Yu: cello
special guest - Leena Conquest: vocals

Conceptually, and in execution, this disc is a complete artistic success. I'll have to see the Godard film that inspired this suite, but anything that inspires a track called "Doctor Badguy" can't be anything less than outstanding. If only more film soundtracks followed this kind of smart, inspired writing and improvisation. If only more film soundtracks had Hamid Drake's drumming peppered throughout the sound along with the conceptual sense of individuality and poetry William Parker brings to this music. It's hard to imagine a visual equal to this accomplishment.

Kenny Dorham: Quiet Kenny. 1959. Re-released in 1992. Prestige/New Jazz Records: OJCCD-250-2.

Kenny Dorham: trumpet
Tommy Flanagan: piano
Paul Chambers: bass
Arthur Taylor: drums

This 1959 session isn't as adventurous as the Trompetta Toccata disc that holds such immediate appeal for these ears. But there is that trumpet tone and improvisational quality in sharp focus that only deepens the fascination with Dorham's sound.
Quiet Kenny is an apt description of the way Dorham's appeal sneaks up on the senses. He's a classic example of substance triumphing over flash.

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