jakibyard

Booker Ervin ‘The Freedom Book’

“A Lunar Tune,” which kicks off this record—the first of tenorist Booker Ervin’s terrific “Book” series—embodies the essence of Booker Ervin’s work as a leader: if you want predictability, you’ve come to the wrong place. This quartet hangs together marvelously, though when I listen closely, I also hear them as a double duo—bassist Richard Davis and drummer Alan Dawson are tightly locked in a rhythmic articulation that dares Ervin and pianist Jaki Byard to prove themselves. Challenge accepted: as both were Mingus veterans, they were no strangers to finding a pathway no matter how uppity the rhythm section was, or creating one if necessary. There are also times such as during “Al’s In” where you’re certain that everybody is in search of the “1”, but deep listening reveals the truth—these guys are messing with us and playing a shell game of “hide the 1”. They know EXACTLY where they are! Though the balance of the record tips towards the energetic and uptempo, versatility is on the menu too. Look no further than “A Day to Mourn” (dedicated to the late President JFK) to hear how deeply and heartfelt this quartet/double duo can execute a ballad. A giant of a record, and a must-own (along with “The Space Book” which believe it or not is even BETTER and more exploratory). This pressing is a 2016 Analogue Productions 200gram stereo reissue of a session originally recorded on this day in 1963. Marvelous

Sam Rivers ‘Fuchsia Swing Song’

Some of my fave jazz records are those that never quite stray specifically into free or “out” playing, but hover right on the edge…sessions where the players experiment with the boundaries of melody, harmony and time while never losing sight of the groove. Enter ‘Fuchsia Swing Song’, a record that oozes hard bop and blues, but morphs them into mutant versions of themselves—recognizable, but different. This was tenor sax/flautist Sam Rivers’ debut for Blue Note, having just come from a brief stint in the sax chair in @milesdavis Second Great Quintet. Miles didn’t find what he was looking for in Rivers and replaced him with Wayne Shorter, but Rivers borrowed a couple of his bandmates from his brief stint with Miles for this session. Joining Rivers is Ron Carter (bass) and Tony Williams (drums) from the SGQ as well as Jaki Byard (piano) to complete his quartet. There’s a lot going on here—the dialogues between the players can move pretty rapidly and it may take a couple of spins for everything (or anything) to sink in. Moments that start out as a toe-tapping, blues-based theme can turn on a dime, the structure blurring as one player deviates from the path and others follow. Tony Williams in particular is fond of implying the beat and then toying with it…his sense of playfulness adds a LOT to the overall vibe as it keeps everyone on their toes. Jaki Byard has a knack for dropping the perfect block chord at just the right time to accentuate a point or change the tone of the conversation, and Williams is right there with him…it’s really impressive. Through all the intricacies, looser moments and flirtations with throwing the rule book out the window, the album still swings pretty hard. Both this and Rivers’ follow-up LP ‘Contours’ are essential records IMO, and great places to start for those looking to dip their toes into edgier jazz waters. This is a 2 X LP 45RPM pressing that sounds FANTASTIC