Thursday, January 21, 2066

The place to report broken links and request stuff!

Howdy people...

October 1, 2016 Update:

Sorry for being absent for a while, part of it was due to a very nice Indian Summer and discovering a new beach about 2 clicks from home. So now that I have worked up a bit of a tan, I am happy to inform you all that I am back, tons of stuff ready to post, And that I finally resolved the situation of my faulty hard drive and got myself a nice new 8  tb server for the house, Spent most time this week transferring from the Data DVD's I had as backup (It takes a while and a shitload of discs to back up 6tb)... Once this is done I will close shop for a little while as far as new posts go and concentrate on reuploading all the dead links, It will be much easier having it all on one drive than to have to sift thru a gazillion backup DVD's... wish me luck and happy music hunting y'all... o yeah! and Shanah Tova to my Jewish friends around the world!

From now on lets use this sticky post for all requests and re-post notices, So that I can keep better track of it, and get stuff done... Thanks a lot!

When notifying about a dead link, please include te link to the actual post, because that would make my work a lot faster (And I mean  A LOT). Thanks in advance to all the dudes and dudettes helping out!

Thanks a lot for all the encouraging messages and anonymous goodies! (I really appreciate it).

Friday, May 26, 2017

Abdul Rahim Ibrahim - 1977 - Al Rahman! Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son

Abdul Rahim Ibrahim 
Al Rahman! Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son

01. Balancez Calinda 4:23
02. Eroniffa's Brown Bird 4:25
03. The Watcher 6:35
04. Casbah 4:45
05. Tropic Sons 3:03
06. Al Rahman 15:17

Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar – Paul Batiste
Bass – Curtis Robertson
Congas, Timbales, Percussion [African & Brazillian] – Khalid Abdullah
Drums, Drums [Traps] – Howard King
Lead Vocals, Piano, Synthesizer, Written-By – Abdul Rahim Ibrahim
Tenor Saxophone – George Harper
Vocals – Kweili

LIner Notes CD Reissue:
Artist appears as "Abdul Rahim Ibrahim formerly Doug Carn" on release.

"Suratal Ihklas" includes text from the Holy Quran, Sura CXII.
"Al Rahman!" includes text from the Holy Quran, Sura LV.

The 'Lost' album from cult pianist Doug Carn of Black Jazz fame. Mystic soul-jazz songs with disco twists under the common influences of Earth Wind & Fire and John Coltrane. Doug Carn is the most famous artist of Black Jazz records, the cult record label of the 70s. He recorded four albums for Black Jazz which are considered by many jazz lovers as 70s soul jazz classics. In the mid seventies, Doug Carn left the Black Jazz label, got divorced and converted to Islam. He changed his name to Abdul Rahim Ibrahim, and cut this nice record of spacey soul tracks, most of which feature vocals by Doug and the Jean Carn-esque Kweili. At its best, the set has a nice spiritual groove with spacey keyboards, and a vocal approach that sounds a bit like Jon Lucien or Roy Ayers.

Tracks include the spiritual jazz classics Al Rahman, a fifteen minute prayer. As the original liner notes said: Part of the purpose of this album is to show the members of the funk-pop-rock and Jazz-Afro-Cuban-Latin and the Traditional-Blues-Gospel oriented subcultures in western societies that the Arabic language and Islamic Din are not necessarily alien to them. And more specifically, to show that the syllablistic expression of the be-bop language and the evolved musical ideas of the great innovators John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner are equally Arabic in nature, as Jazz itself is a word of Arabic Origin.

Reminded me a little of Lonnie Liston Smith. This album is a nice mix of ballad, and a soul funk fusiony feeling, mostly in English, occasionally in Arabic! On first listen it may occasionally seem quirky beyond palatability though the second time I went through this CD I suddenly found myself liking it a lot more.

Expressive soul/funk/disco with a sense of expirimentation in the melding of music, religious idea and black 70s jazz culture. This album came out in 1977 and it definitely has a feeling of the times. Since I mentioned Lonnie Liston Smith earlier (they seem to be in a comparable category), I'd also like to recommend "Renaissance" (by Smith) if you can find it - it truly soars. Doug Carn's "Cry of the Floridian Tropic Son" is worth exploring in its own right though. It has a unique feeling that may (or may not) be best described by quoting from the original liner notes on the music:

"Part of the purpose of this album is to show the members of the funk-pop-rock and jazz-afro-cuban-latin and the traditional-blues-gospel oriented subcultures in western societies, that the Arabic language and Islamic Din are not necessarily alien to them. And more specifically, to show that the syllabilistic expression of the be-bop language and the evolved musical ideas of the great innovators John Coltrane and McCoy Tyner are equally Arabic in nature, as Jazz itself is a word of Arabic Origin....

To some Sheiks of Quran and Islamic Jurist, the preceding paragraph is pure heresy. However with all due respect, this album is not for them... Part of the problem lies in the fact that the intelligence arms of certain rival military and religious groups in centuries past saw fit to inject many false ideas into the hadiths (traditions of Muhammad P.B.U.H.) as an effective means of countering the threat Islam posed to their own ideas and to gain control over the territory held by the Muslims, i.e. The Fertile Crescent. Another aspect of the problem is a matter of Education - as most of us do not accept music for what it really is... The basic component of music is sound. And sound is but the audible vibrations of matter. In addition, all sound vibrations produce notes. Notes in reality are any phenomina indicating or producing pitch, frequency, wave length, wave form, modulation and duration, etc..

When these phenomina are duplicated or mathematically considered in any way, they produce harmony and rhythm. Therefore, any sound can be considered music just as any music can be considered likeable or dis-likeable. The smashing of atoms, street noise, spoken languages, the chirping of birds, the blowing winds, and rock and roll are all forms of music - music that is variously organized or dis-organized in different ways...

Therefore I hope that this album will help man to transcend the "misconceptions" that causes a Priest to chant Holy Scriptures in a perfect oriental scale (mode), and then turn around and say that music is evil, and that what he himself is creating is not equally music...

But most of all I hope that this album will help us to transcend the intellectual and spiritual barriers that have placed all music that is pleasurable, listenable, fashionable and danceable within the confines of pimp culture."

Doug & Jean Carn - 1976 - Higher Ground

Doug & Jean Carn 
Higher Ground

01. Western Sunrise
02. The Messenger
03. Revelation
04. Infant Eyes
05. Higher Ground
06. Naima
07. Little B's Poem
08. Blue And Green
09. Mighty Mighty

Acoustic Bass – Gerald Brown
Congas, Bongos, Percussion – Big Black
Drums – Harold Mason
Electric Bass [Fender] – Darrell Clayborn
Guitar – Calvin Keys, Nathan Page
Keyboards, Vocals – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Ronnie Laws
Trombone – Thurman Green
Vocals – Jean Carn, John Conner, Joyce Green

When the 1980s acid-jazz movement showed how early jazz-funk could so successfully be hitched to later dancefloor sounds that even pop DJs noticed, the cult crossover hits of pianist/composer Doug Carn and vocalist Jean Carne (she adopted the "e") were dug out of vinyl collections. Between 1972 and 1973 in LA, the gifted married couple had collaborated on a brilliant series of albums for the Black Jazz label, infusing the musical and spiritual agenda of cutting-edge jazz with seductive soul/R&B hooks. But they soon split, and the vocally dazzling Jean became a Philly R&B star, disco diva, and eventually revered sample-source for hip-hop artists.

Forty years after the Black Jazz period, the long-estranged couple are recounting that absorbing story with every appearance of cordiality and plenty of their old skilfulness and spirit. Their life story obliged the backing band to shift abruptly from a hybrid free-jazz/funk vibe to a Motown groove or a four-to-the-floor disco beat, which brought the occasional lapse of tightness. But Carn's sparing solos and supportive, arranger's chordwork on the Fender Rhodes, and Carne's octave leaps, unfussy scat, soul-power and cool theatricality took care of almost everything. Carne entered after a smoky instrumental opener, and saxophonist Stacy Dillard shadowed her closely – from her solemn proclamations to rhythm – wrenching improvisations on John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

Many fans were there for the Motown and disco songs (the silence when she asked if anyone knew their iconic 1972 Infant Eyes album was an indication of that), and the second half of the set cruised through hits like Was That All It Was, Free Love and Don't Let It Go to Your Head. Carn and Carne know everything about transforming such materials, though. His keyboard quirks, and her beseeching soul tones, lithe-at-65 dancefloor strutting and devious phrasing – she dances up to resolving notes by the most unexpected routes – banish almost every hint of the formulaic.

On Higher Ground, Doug and Jean Karn apply fantastic vocals to jazz that flies like be-bop, has the openness of modes, and uses a nice balance of electric and acoustic instruments. Bass and some piano provide a lot of the backbone, but an funk organ solo chimes into the middle of the title track.

There are unique juxtapositions of 60s and 70s, old and new, organic and synthetic. If you can picture Miles' 60s band playing some of his 70s interludes, you're getting warm, Listen to the spacey keyboards on the cover of Coltrane's "Niama."

Maybe they call this stuff Spirit Jazz due to its mainly angelic nuance--the music swings hard, but maintains a lightness, never overpowering the strong but gentle female vocals. The tracks are airy, but have tons of substance.

You gotta check this out.

Doug Carn - 1974 - Adam's Apple

Doug Carn 
Adam's Apple

01. Chant 4:59
02. Higher Ground 5:03
03. Sweet Season 3:56
04. Sanctuary 7:31
05. Mighty Mighty 5:59
06. The Messenger 4:12
07. Adam's Apple 3:32
08. To A Wild Rose 3:34
09. Western Sunrise 5:03

Acoustic Bass – Gerald Brown
Bass [Fender] – Darrel Clayborn
Congas, Bongos, Percussion – Big Black
Drums – Harold Mason
Guitar – Calvin Keys, Nathan Page
Leader, Keyboards, Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer [Moog] – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone – Ronnie Laws
Trombone – Thurman Green
Vocals – Doug Carn, John Conner, Joyce Greene

The last album in a legendary run of music from keyboardist Doug Carn – his final album for the Black Jazz label, and a set that pushes even farther than his previous efforts! Jean Carn isn't in the group this time around, but the set does feature a totally great twin-vocal approach – with singing by Joyce Green and John Conner, blending their voices together in a style that's right up there with the most righteous 70s jazz experiments by Horace Silver or Billy Gault! This vocal balance really brings a new sort of power to Carn's music – furthering the righteous spirit of earlier years with a hell of a lot of energy – also aided by great instrumental work from Ronnie Laws on tenor and soprano sax, Thurman Green on trombone, Calvin Keys and Nathan Page on guitars, and Big Black on percussion. 

Doug Carn’s fourth and final album for Black Jazz ‘Adams Apple’ from 1974 is a much funkier and upbeat record. It still retains the deep spiritual jazz theme but is expressed more joyously with ‘Chant’, ‘Higher Ground’ and ‘Sweet Season’ being the most uptempo tracks. His organ playing is more evident throughout especially on the instrumental ‘The Messenger’.

There is an early Earth Wind and Fire influence (he played with them) and a frantic cover of ‘Mighty Mighty’. ‘Western Sunrise’ is a beautiful track to close the set on. Joyce Greene and John Conner replace Jean as the vocalist, and the band includes Ronnie Laws, Calvin Keys and Big Black.

Doug Carn - 1973 - Revelation

Doug Carn

01. God Is One 1:42
02. Power And Glory 7:57
03. Revelation 3:43
04. Naima 4:28
05. Fatherhood 4:15
06. Contemplation 4:08
07. Feel Free 9:20
08. Time Is Running Out 3:55
09. Jihad 7:24

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Rene McClean
Bass – Walter Booker
Drums – Ira Williams
Guitar – Nathan Page
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Synthesizer – Doug Carn
Trumpet [Bass] – Earl McIntyre
Trumpet, Horn [Alto] – Olu Dara
Vocals – Jean Carn, Olu Dara, Rene McClean

The Black Jazz recordings of Doug Carn are always a revelation – some of the most powerful, progressive work on the American underground of the early 70s – music that got Carn into way more record collections than you might expect! The sound here is a perfect summation of Doug's early genius – his own work on organ and keyboards, never overdone and mixed perfectly with a righteous array of acoustic sounds from Rene McLean on alto and tenor and Olu Dara on trumpet – both players who soar to the skies on waves of energy begun by Carn! Wife Jean Carn sings on a number of tracks – with this heavenly style that's mighty righteous – every bit as soulful as her later work at Philly International, but in a very different way.

In the 1960's there began what can only be described as a spiritual revolution among jazz musicians. Spearheaded by the likes of Coltrane, Yusef Lateef, Pharoah Saunders, etc. jazz became a means for social change and a vehicle for spiritual elightenment.

"Revelation" by Doug Carn was a lost masterpiece of this era. Apart from the top rate songwriting and musicianship, this recording demonstrates and evokes in the listener a joy and an elevation of the spirit and heart that is sadly lacking on most music.

Jazz musicians and audiences would do well to remember that this music means a triumph of the spirit and dignity of the human being over opression and despair. This cannot be accomplished by that trumpet player whose docility is being exploited by that large classical music venue in New York City; or the hoards of bebop nazis who think that the development of jazz ended in 1964.
Dawoud Kringle

Doug Carn - 1972 - Spirit of the New Land

Doug Carn
Spirit of the New Land

01. Dwell Like A Ghost 1:35
02. My Spirit 10:00
03. Arise And Shine 9:40
04. Blue In Green 5:24
05. Trance Dance 8:39
06. Search For The New Land 11:56
07. New Moon 5:25

Drums – Al Mouzon
Flugelhorn – Charles Tolliver
Leader, Piano, Electric Piano, Organ, Lyrics By – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Bass Clarinet, Flute, Flute [Reed] – George Harper
Trombone – Garnett Brown
Tuba – Earl McIntyre
Vocals – Jean Carne

Pianist Doug Carn's second BJ record, Spirit of the New Land, poignantly reflected the state of affairs in black America through explicit lyrics sung by his wife Jean and through the expert musicians' responses to life-altering societal developments in a hopeful time when the slogan Black Power carried real meaningi The album s flush with riveting modern jazz, which often leans toward the spiritually inclined music of the John Coltrane Quartet on the classic album My Favorite Things. With George Harper's flute in gracious agreement, Jean Carn draws beauty out of the Miles Davis ballad "Blue in Green.

First known to the Jazz world as the man who made lyric adaptations for famous instrumental Jazz tunes (such as John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, or Horace Silver's _Peace_; in fact, this album features a vocal version of the Miles Davis classic, Blue in Green), Doug Carn released several albums under his own name in the early seventies on the Black Jazz Records label, one of which is Spirit of the New Land. 
Carn plays Jazz organ and the Fender-Rhodes e-piano, and also acoustic piano in a rather McCoy-Tyner-ish way. The record is a document of the lively Jazz scene in the US in the early seventies. The revolutionary developments from the sixties found their way into a lot of the albums recorded then. Think of Herbie Hancock's Mwandishi albums, or Norman Connor's early albums for Buddha Records, and you get an idea of the kind of Jazz on this record. It's part post-Hard Bop, part Free Jazz, part the expression of a universal concern articulately manifested in the Civil rights movement. Those who were seriously involved were searching for new ways of expression. Thus, as far as the aspects of awareness were concerned, Jazz and Soul music were tangent to each other. Jean Carn, Doug's wife, who would have a solo career as a Soul singer later in the seventies, here sings in an uncompromising Jazz environment. Her vocal contributions are more part of the tunes' arrangements rather than the more familiar way where a singer is backed by a band. This is serious music featuring interesting arrangements and solo contributions from these musicians: Doug Carn, keyboards; Jean Carn, vocals; George Harper, soprano sax. , bass clarinet, flute; Charles Tolliver, flugelhorn; Garnett Brown, trombone, Earl Mc Intire, tuba; Henry Franklin, bass; Alphonze Mouzon, drums.

Doug Carn - 1971 - Infant Eyes

Doug Carn
Infant Eyes

01. Welcome 1:15
02. Little B's Poem 3:50
03. Moon Child 7:56
04. Infant Eyes 9:50
05. Passion Dance 5:58
06. Acknowledgement 8:45
07. Peace 4:30

Bass – Henry Franklin
Drums – Michael Carvin
Piano, Electric Piano, Organ – Doug Carn
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – George Harper
Trombone, Valve Trombone – Al Hall, Jr.*
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Bob Frazier
Vocals – Jean Carn

Keyboards, oboe, reeds, vocals, composer. Though a versatile musician and expressive pianist, Carn attained more notoriety in 70s for writing lyrics to classic jazz anthems. Carn began keyboard lessons as a child and was soon playing piano and organ, plus alto sax. He studied oboe and composition at Jacksonville University from 1965 to 1967, then finished his education at Georgia State College in 1969. He worked briefly with Lou Donaldson, Stanley Turrentine and Irene Reid, then became popular in mid-'70s with albums for Black Jazz label. He penned lyrics for such songs as "Infant Eyes," "Adams Apple" and "Revelation." His wife at the time, Jean Carn later became R&B star as single act; she changed name spelling to Carne. Carn eventually did two albums with Earth, Wind And Fire but was not as successful working with them as Ramsey Lewis.

Although he recorded a 1969 album in a trio setting for Savoy (which I’ve never heard), Doug Carn is of course most famous for his relationship with the independent Black Jazz label. His albums on that imprint may be single-handedly responsible for the label’s canonical status in Afrocentric spiritual jazz. They are remarkable for many reasons, not least of which is the presence of innovative lyrics sung by his then-wife Jean Carn, who not unlike Abbey Lincoln used her voice as part of the ensemble arrangements rather than as a vocalist with a backup band. The communal family vibe is accentuated by the beautiful album cover photography and the opening tune Little B’s Poem; together with the cover photo, I feel like I knew their daughter and wonder where she is now and how she feels about all the musical attention today. While the following albums from the Doug and Jean Carn would push further with original material, this first album is noteworthy for it’s reworking of compositions by jazz heavyweights that they admired – Bobby Hutcherson, Horace Silver, Coltrane, McCoy Tyner, and Wayne Shorter. In particular, adding lyrics to that material and making the compositions into something else is the big achievement here.

I have a repress vinyl of this that sounds pretty good and began to mess around with a digital rip of it, but am unsure whether or not to keep working on it. This CD pressing from 1997 sounds okay but the second side (of the original LP) suffers from nasty wow and flutter from whatever source tape they used. This was the first appearance of this album on CD and I am not sure if there has been any other remastered versions since, but I kind of doubt it. In fact last year somebody claiming to have a set of Black Jazz master tapes was selling the whole bundle on Craig’s List for a hefty sum; the auction was dubious as they were comprised of 1/2? reels, which even for a studio on a budget in the early 70s would have been a substandard format, and claimed to come with full reproduction rights. Most likely the reels were production copies or just plain counterfeit, the listing was not online long before it was either met with an offer or taken down. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that we’ll be seeing a new series of reissues mastered from 1/2-inch tape.. Unfortunately a few of the other extant Doug Carn reissues have the same wow-and-flutter problem. Badly stored tapes, damaged playback equipment, sloppy transferring, or all of the above, it doesn’t really matter – the end result is that this precious, important music hasn’t received the treatment that it merits. But the most important thing is that it is still available and people can hear it. Since the reissued vinyls were most certainly just the CD master with an R$AA equalization curve applied, there isn’t much point in having both versions except for purely fetishistic reasons. Unless I can manage to get my hands on original vinyl pressings, they are however all we’ve got..

The liner notes by Doug Carn are a treasure. Written just for the reissue, they have a remarkable amount of detailed recollections for being composed more than thirty years after the recordings, showing just what a special time this was for everyone involved. While this is not my favorite of the Carn albums on Black Jazz, it is unique and on its own it is a great record. The title cut, which according to the notes was the first fruits of Doug’s experience with writing lyrics to other peoples’ music, stands out as the most fully realized work here.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1977 - New Tolliver

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc.
New Tolliver

01. Earl's World        12:46
02. Impact              05:38
03. Compassion          11:00
04. Truth               09:48

Charles Tolliver, trumpet
Nathan Page, guitar
Steve Novosel, bass
Alvin Queen, drums

Recorded November, 1977 in Paris.

Originally only released in Japan, Released in the USA in 1980 under the name Compassion by Strata-East

I cannot tell you how I stumbled on to this powerful recording, I can only tell you how happy I am that I did.
After you've had your fill of Miles, Coltrane, Mingus, and what have you, one must remember that there was so much more, everywhere…and how exhilarating it can be to find yet someone else who speaks to you.

This late 70's release has no essence of disco or funk, as so many jazzers tried to tap into that mainstream market of the time, instead what you get are 4 tunes of powerful straight ahead jazz.
The drums are forward in the mix, and a wonderful guitar plays underneath and over the whole thing, Tolliver weaves in and out perfectly, all making for some fantastic straight ahead, reflective and swinging with some attitude.
Dipping into some more Tolliver recordings I've convinced myself there is no heavier recording that he released than this, New Tolliver.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc & Orchestra - 1976 - Impact

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc & Orchestra 

01. Impact 7:58
02. Mother Wit 8:21
03. Grand Max 6:22
04. Plight 9:47
05. Lynnsome 7:18
06. Mournin' Variations 8:13

Charles Tolliver Trumpet, Arranger, Conductor, Flugelhorn
James Spaulding Flute, Piccolo, Sax (Alto), Sax (Soprano)
Charles McPherson Sax (Alto)
George Coleman Sax (Tenor)
Harold Vick Flute, Sax (Soprano), Sax (Tenor)
Charles Davis Sax (Baritone)
Jon Faddis Trumpet
Virgil Jones Trumpet
Jimmy Owens Trumpet
Larry Greenwich Trumpet
Richard Gene Williams Trumpet
Kiane Zawadi Trombone
John Gordon Trombone
Jack Jeffers Trombone
Garnett Brown Trombone
Stanley Cowell Piano
Winston Collymore Violin
Noel Pointer Violin
Julius Miller Viola
Ashley Richardson Viola
Gayle Dixon Strings
Noel DaCosta Strings
Clint Houston Bass
Cecil McBee Bass
Reggie Workman Bass
Clifford Barbaro Drums
Billy Parker Percussion
Big Black Percussion, Conga
Warren Smith Percussion, Chimes

Recording: Strata East Records Jan 17, 1975

Review by Al Campbell
Trumpeter/flügelhornist Charles Tolliver often straddled the line between the lyricism of  hard bop and the adventurous nature of the avant-garde. Released in 1975, Impact contained a stimulating progressive edge within an energetic large band (14 horns, eight strings, and rhythm section) format. Tolliver's arrangements are consistently bright and build momentum, while the soloists are given sufficient room to maneuver through the multiple textures. Featured soloists in the remarkable reed section include Charles McPherson, James Spaulding, George Coleman, and Harold Vick. 

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1974 - Live In Tokyo

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc.
Live In Tokyo

01. Drought 12:06
02. Stretch 10:35
03. Truth 6:56
04. Effi 10:31
05. 'Round Midnight 8:40

Charles Tolliver - trumpet
Stanley Cowell - piano
Clint Houston - bass
Clifford Barbaro - drums

Recorded: 07 December 1973 at Yubinchokin Hall Tokyo, Japan. In association with Takafumi Ohkuma and Kuniya Inaoka of Trio Records.

Quite a few incredible Jazz trumpet players get lost in the mix, overshadowed by big names like Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Freddy Hubbard.  Even people who used to be legends seem to be being forgotten by a new generation of Jazz fans.  I can't tell you how many people I talk to that don't know who Roy Eldridge is: blasphemy, really.  But who's to blame for this?  Record companies seem to be more interested in repackaging already-available albums that sell well. 

This brings me to Charles Tolliver.  In the company of other trumpet players like Donald Byrd, Booker Little, Blue Mitchell,Woody Shaw and Kenny Dorham, that are less talked about in conversations of greatness, Charles Tolliver's entire discography is extremely hard to get a hold of.  I failed in my first 5 attempts to purchase one of his records on the internet.  At last, Live in Tokyo showed up at my doorstep. 

The quartet, Music Inc., plays five long songs on this set.  What this does is allow for more of the moments of cohesive brilliance.  I'm especially appreciative of when the others back off and let bassist Clint Houston take center stage.  "Stretch" and "Effi" are my favorite songs because of this.  The first piece, "Drought", is charged with energy but drummer Clifford Barbaro gets a bit too heavy on the cymbal work for my taste.  It drowns out the others a bit. 

Once you hear Music Inc. though, it's easy to see why they were one of the most popular Jazz bands at the time, even if you foolishly only noticed the clinic that Charles Tolliver puts on.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1973 - Live At The Loosdrecht Festival

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc.
Live At The Loosdrecht Festival

01. Grand Max 11:06
02. Truth 10:13
03. Prayer For Peace 15:08
04. Our Second Father 15:57
05. Repetition 12:37

Bass – Reggie Workman
Drums – Alvin Queen
Piano – John Hicks
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Producer – Charles Tolliver

Recorded at the Loosdrecht Jazz Festival, Holland (The Netherlands), 9th August 1972 by courtesy of Joop de Roo, N.O.S. Radio, Hilversum.

This concert opens with an eerie 11 minute blitzkrieg.  The savvy European audience isn't afraid though.  "Grand Max" is a tribute to Tolliver's former boss, drumming kingpin Max Roach.  It reminds me somewhat of The Max Roach Trio - Featuring The Legendary Hasaan except at break-neck speed and lead by a trumpet.  Drummer Alvin Green walks a fine line between the styles of Max Roach and Elvin Jones.  It's quite interesting to hear. 

Somehow "Truth" made me think of The Blade Runner for the first few minutes.  Charles Tolliver has nice vibrato in his somber playing.  I can picture a washed-up old cop walking in the rain to this song but the middle third of the song ruins the mood completely. 

I read the title for the third piece and knew there was a good chance I would be in for some typical "spiritual" Jazz with jingling noise.  The jingling is there alright.  It engulfs a pounding bass solo by Reggie Workman for three minutes and then Charles Tolliver joins in on the action.  "Prayer For Peace" becomes something along the lines of an energy charged Joe Henderson tune like "El Barrio" from Inner Urge.  Tolliver certainly uses some of Henderson's tenor sax phrasing. 

For 16 minutes Tolliver's quartet tries to emulate John Coltrane's Elvin Jones/McCoy Tyner/Jimmy Garrisson quartet in tribute to the recently deceased Coltrane.  The only person who seems to be having trouble in their counterpart's role is pianist John Hicks.  The sweat must have been coming out of every pore of his body trying to match Tyner's inhumanly flowing fingers.  As Coltrane's group did too, Tolliver gets into Rock 'n Roll boisterousness.  If you own a copy of Coltrane Live at Birdland and enjoy it you will assuredly love Grand Max. 

After that the last track is redundant, especially since it has little to do with the feel of the rest of the concert.  For simplicity sake consider it a mix of Horace Silver's and Lee Morgan's music.  It's happy.  It's long.  It doesn't fit.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1973 - Live At Slugs Volume II

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. 
Live At Slugs Volume II

01. Spanning 8:30
02. Wilpan's 10:37
03. Our Second Father (Dedicated To The Memory Of John Coltrane) 13:26

Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Jimmy Hopps
Piano – Stanley Cowell
Trumpets – Charles Tolliver

Recorded: May 1, 1970

The second volume of this wonderful concert is my favorite by a hair.  Charles Tolliver's music from the 70s displays the influence that working with Andrew Hill had on him.  Hill's music often has a great groove no matter how odd it gets.  The first and last songs of Volume 1 had longer build-ups.  "Spanning" gets moving more quickly, sounding like a cross of John Coltrane's band from Coltrane Live at Birdland and Yusef Lateef's group from Live at Pep's, especially the more out-there tunes from the Lateef concert.  Jimmy Hopps really, really reminds me of Lateef's drummer, James Black, also comparable to Elvin Jones but so much wackier.  The middle tune from Volume 1 of Live at Slugs' slowed things down.  This disc's center, "Wilpan's", kicks things up a notch with exuberance.  "Our Second Father" is a tribute to John Coltrane which can also be heard on Grand Max.  The Live at Slugs' take is wwwwwwwwwwway more hectic, like they had to go pee.  It's exciting but my opinion is slightly tarnished by the later and more refined version of it.    

Owning both this disc and Live at Slugs', Volume 1 is essential for hardcore Jazz fans.  For similar music from the same period you don't have to look too far.  Another trumpeter named Woody Shaw was making music with a similar energetic and expansive feeling.  Stepping Stones: Live at the Village Vanguard is well worth a listen.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1972 - Live At Slugs Volume I

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. 
Live At Slugs Volume I

01. Drought 9:04
02. Felicite 8:05
03. Orientale 17:32

Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Jimmy Hopps
Piano – Stanley Cowell
Trumpet – Charles Tolliver

Recorded: May 1, 1970

Strata East recordings are quite difficult to acquire, which is unfortunate considering their high quality. Charles Tolliver was one of the great trumpeters to emerge during the late '60s yet has always been vastly underrated. on this quartet set with pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Jimmy Hopps, Tolliver has a real chance to stretch out. The 17-minute "Orientale" is particularly memorable. The music straddles the boundary between advanced hard bop and the avant-garde and rewards repeated listenings.

Charles Tolliver is my all time favourite trumpet player in jazz. He is simply awesome has a full brassy tone and perfect technique yet is almost unheard of except amongst devoted jazz fans. His name crops up on a number of LP's as a sideman but it was with his own ensemble, Music Inc. that he really shines. Music Inc. were group set up by Tolliver and pianist Stanley Cowell to preserve acoustic jazz traditions in the seventies and as a flagship act for their own new label Strata East. The Live at Slugs' date was spread over two volumes. Volume 1 and Volume 2 features per three tracks, each penned by different members of the group.

Where have you gone, Charles Tolliver? There was such promise in the concept of Music Inc., and in Strata East, but evidently the music world's attention was elsewhere and this tremendous live set was probably heard by only a few hundred sets of ears. On the back of the record sleeve, Tolliver undersigned his mission statement: "Music Inc. was created out of the desire to assemble men able to see the necessity for survival of a heritage and an Art in the hopes that the sacrifices and high level of communication between them will eventually reach every soul." And he isn't kidding. You won't find a much higher level of communication than he, Cecil McBee, Stanley Cowell, and Jimmy Hopps engaged in on May 1, 1970 at Slugs' in New York City. This was much more than an attempt to merely 'preserve acoustic jazz' as in the stilted Marsalis vein. This was an attempt to preserve a measure of authenticity while maintaining the notion of forward-thinking, present-tense improvised music. They deserved a greater response than the lukewarm, sparse applause they received that night, and continue to deserve a far more cognizant audience for their efforts.

Through its duration, the music on Live at Slugs' is often riveting and incessantly compelling. Hopps is a great to me in this performans, but the other three players featured here are some of the all-time underrated presences in the jazz pantheon, and they play nothing short of masterfully. Always a presence on his recordings, Tolliver demonstrates tremendous range, flair, and command as a trumpeter and leader. Had he not come along at a time when pure jazz was falling out of favor, I have to believe his name (along with Woody Shaw's) would be every bit as prolific as Freddie Hubbard's or Lee Morgan's; the same holds for the always brilliant and expressive McBee on bass.

Music Inc. / Charles Tolliver - 1972 - Impact Recorded Live at the Domicile

Music Inc / Charles Tolliver 
Impact Recorded Live at the Domicile

01. Impact 7:58
02. Brilliant Circles 15:48
03. Truth 9:06
04. Prayer For Peace 15:56

CD Bonus:
05. Absecretions 11:22
06. Our Second Father 13:43

Bass – Ron Mathewson
Drums – Alvin Queen
Flugelhorn – Charles Tolliver
Piano – Stanley Cowell

Recorded live at the Domicile, Munich, Germany on March 23, 1972.

The sound is very clean and has a warmth,which is sometimes lacking in live recordings and/or through the remastering process. This disc features Charles Tolliver -flugelhorn,Stanley Cowell-piano,Ron Mathewson-bass,and Alvin Queen-drums.

Anyone with more than a passing interest in jazz will know all the above players. All of them have played with both many known and unknown musicians/groups for many years. This particular recording is taken from a live concert in Germany,in 1972. Don't let the date fool you into thinking that this is "old"jazz-not worth hearing. This recording could sit alongside some of the more forward thinking releases on Blue Note Records,or any other labels you might happen to think of. Right now I have to say that I feel it's a shame that music of this caliber is only truly appreciated,by and large,in Europe. For this is some excellent post be-bop played at it's finest.

Both the bassist and drummer hold things together and give these tunes a real grounding,while at the same time they never lose that feeling of swing so important to this type of music. Tolliver's playing is always right on the mark. Never cluttering up his sound with to many notes,he leaves just enough space between the notes so that the music breathes and seems to come alive. Likewise Cowell-his playing,no matter if he's filling in spaces or is soloing,is always of the highest caliber.

After a short introduction of the players,the first track gets off to a rousing start and doesn't really let up. The same could be said for the second track. On the third track the entire group slows way down for some beautiful ensemble playing,which gives way to some fine solo work by Cowell and Tolliver. On this track,like others,Mathewson's bass playing is very sensitive and fits in the pocket very well indeed. The drummer knows when to hold back and just keep things moving along without calling attention to himself. The fourth track has some intense playing alongside some quieter passages. This track really feels like this group has been playing together(whether true or not) for a long while. The weaving of instruments,the ebb and flow of sound,all give this track a real identity. This edition of this album contains two previously unreleased tracks,for an extra twenty-five minutes of music. Track five starts out with a bit of a "soul-jazz" feel to it. It's different than the previous tracks,but gives a broader view of these fine musicians,and is still in the post be-bop mode. Tolliver is in fine form here,as is Cowell. Both play over and around each other,and is a nice change of pace. The last track starts out with all four players,and then gives way to Tolliver's horn. There is a drum solo shortly into this track,and not being a fan of such,I will let the individual listener make up his own mind. Queen is a fine drummer,but it's still a drum solo.

For continuity,it's obvious why the two bonus tracks were not originally released. The first four tracks are "of a piece" and the overall mood is changed somewhat by the inclusion of these two unreleased tracks. On this last track after approximately six minutes,the rest of the group comes in with some very fast intense playing. This track seems to fit in better with the originally released sides-after the drum solo. Queen's intense playing is all over this track,even when Tolliver is soloing. It feels like this might be the final track to be played(and recorded) on this set,because of it's intensity. Indeed,after the track ends the announcer comes on to let people know that the group will be back on the bandstand shortly. This recording is not widely known and that's a real crime. This should be in the library of anyone who enjoys straight ahead jazz.

Music Inc. - 1971 - Music Inc.

Music Inc.
Music Inc.

01. Ruthie's Heart 6:12
02. Brilliant Circles 4:48
03. Abscretions 6:58
04. Household Of Saud 6:38
05. On The Nile 9:48
06. Departure 5:00

Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Jimmy Hopps
Flute – Bobby Brown , Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Heath, Wilbur Brown
Piano – Stanley Cowell
Reeds – Bobby Brown, Clifford Jordan, Jimmy Heath, Wilbur Brown
Trombone – Curtis Fuller, Dick Griffin, Garnett Brown, John Gordon
Trumpet – Charles Tolliver, Danny Moore, Larry Greenwich, Richard Williams, Virgil Jones
Tuba, Saxophone [Baritone] – Howard Johnson

Recorded November 11, 1970.

First formed in the late 1960s, Music Inc. makes their debut in Dizzy's for the Coca-Cola Generations In Jazz Festival. It will be just one of the many iterations the group has seen over the years. 
The story behind this group stretches back to 1969. Tolliver—having established himself as an in-demand sideman on sessions for legends including Jackie McLean, Andrew Hill, and Max Roach—formed a new group called Music Inc. with pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Jimmy Hopps. The group played a series of overseas concerts before bassist Jimmy McBee took over from Novosel.

For the group's first recording, Tolliver fleshed out the core quartet with a full big band that featured trumpeters Richard Williams and Virgil Jones; reedists Jimmy Heath, Clifford Jordan, and Howard Jordan; and trombonists Garnett Brown and Curtis Fuller. The album—released in 1971 by Strata East, a label Tolliver had recently founded with Cowell—boasted hard-hitting, harmonically advanced arrangements from Tolliver.

The quartet went on to record a number of other albums, including live sessions at the infamous (and now-defunct) East Village venue Slugs'. The group continued to tour in various iterations through the 1970s and into the 80s and 90s and featured an ever-changing lineup; members include pianist John Hicks, bassists Reggie Workman and Clint Houston, and drummers Alvin Queen and Clifford Barbaro.

For me this is the pick of all the Charles Tolliver Music Inc LP's.Recorded in the same year as the Slugs' live album it is a very different album.It features a big band composed entirerly of brass backing the usual quartet and a look at some of the names present makes for impressive reading,Clifford Jordan,Curtis Fuller,Richard Williams and Jimmy Heath to name a few.The dynamics of having a big band behind you alters the music massively and it makes for a joyous record that leaps from the speakers as the band highlight and add to the phrases that the quartet play while letting the solos proceed unhindered.All tracks are either Cowell or Tolliver originals with the opener Ruthie's Heart being a real standout and one of y best loved jazz tunes ever.

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc. - 1969 - The Ringer

Charles Tolliver / Music Inc.
The Ringer

01. Plight 7:09
02. On The Nile 12:31
03. The Ringer 5:46
04. Mother Wit 8:46
05. Spur 5:02

Charles Tolliver: trumpet
Stanley Cowell: piano
Steve Novosel: bass
Jimmy Hopps: drums

Recorded at Polydor Studios, London, 2nd June 1969.

Dizzy Gillespie, when asked in a Downbeat magazine interview with Herb Nolan, "what trumpet players do you hear today whom you like", Dizzy's reply, "Charles Tolliver - I like him". Charles Tolliver, entirely self-taught, is a remarkable talent who has gained an outstanding reputation as a trumpetist, bandleader, composer, arranger, and educator. Born in Jacksonville, Florida in 1942, his musical career began at the age of 8 when his beloved grandmother, Lela, presented him with his first instrument, a cornet, and the inspiration to learn.

After a few years of college majoring in pharmacy at Howard University, and formulating his trumpet style, Charles began his professional career with the saxophone giant Jackie Mclean. Making his recording debut with McLean on Blue Note Records in 1964, Charles has since recorded and/or performed with such renowned artists as Roy Haynes, Hank Mobley, Willie Bobo, Horace Silver, McCoy Tyner, Sonny Rollins, Booker Ervin, The Gerald Wilson Orchestra, Oliver Nelson, Andrew Hill, Louis Hayes, Roy Ayers, Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers, and Max Roach.

In 1968 Charles Tolliver was voted as the Downbeat Critic's Choice for the Trumpet category. In 1969 he formed the quartet Music Inc which has become internationally respected for its innovative approach. Charles and his Music Inc, has toured in North and South America, Europe, Scandinavia, and Japan performing at festivals, concerts, radio and television stations.

Charles Tolliver is a brilliant player, capable of handling any tempo or mood. He has perfected an extremely individual and distinctive sound which clearly sets him apart from other trumpet players today. Characterized by a strong sense of tradition, Charles's playing is noted for its brilliance, inventiveness, melodic warmth and even its poignancy. His compositions are inventive, and display masterful writing ability. It is no small wonder that Charles Tolliver has earned the reputation as one of "the" preeminent trumpeters in jazz.

What have the critics said?

"The trumpet is a brass instrument that leans toward a hard sound and staccato phrasing. Yet Tolliver is the quintessance of fluidity.... a trumpeter of such flow, tone, control, lyricism and creativity is, by definition, a major musician."  
Michael Cuscuna
"Tolliver's horn style is possessed of a melodic warmth and compactness of expression shared by few other trumpeters"  
Ray Townley/DOWNBEAT

"...At Ronnie Scott's, in London, last week I heard a trumpet player who played melodic, lyrical music that filled the heart with joy rather than angst and anger."  

"...While having a rich, full sound, Music Inc. Provides a great deal of both energy and contrast and avoids the loud, stupid excesses of some current groups..."   
CODA/Canada's Jazz Magazine

"it's been said that trumpeter Charles Tolliver was singular among young jazz musicians in his determination to keep his art free of the anarchy associated with a lot of the early so-called free jazz. Certainly he's unique among new trumpeters in this regard."  

"of all the trumpeters to come to prominence in the 60's. Charles Tolliver was perhaps the most sensitive to the necessity of swinging.."  

This is the Charles Tolliver record to get, although it may be hard to find. The masterful trumpeter, in a quartet with pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Jimmy Hopps, plays five of his strongest compositions. Highlights include the powerful "On the Nile," "The Ringer," and "Spur," but each of the numbers has its memorable moments. Tolliver is heard at the peak of his creative powers; it is strange that he never received the fame and recognition that he deserved.

Exceptional post-bop showing Tolliver's ability to lead a quartet
Trumpeter Charles Tolliver began his career with some excellent sideman appearances on Blue Note albums in the mid 60's (with the likes of Jackie McLean, Horace Silver, and Andrew Hill), but began recording as a leader of his own quartet in the late 60's. "The Ringer" is his second recording as a leader and was released in 1969 for the British Polydor label. Joining Tolliver in the quartet are pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Jimmy Hopps. The five compositions were all composed by Tolliver.

Tolliver has been called "the Coltrane of the trumpet," and that description seems to fit the music on this record pretty well. The opening track, "Plight" is a fast, modal swinger with a loose vamp-like feel. The quartet definitely seems influenced by the classic Coltrane quartet, especially Cowell who sticks mostly to quartal voicings when comping. Tolliver has no trouble leading the ensemble through extended solos and throughout the album his bright, clear tone is at the forefront of the music. It's hard to find much fault with his playing; his solos are full of deeply melodic lines, but he breaks them up with bursts of dramatic abstraction, using repeated notes and occasionally extended techniques for effect. The rhythm section plays responsively, adding harmonic and rhythmic tension to match Tolliver's ideas, occasionally obscuring, but never moving too far away from the groove of the tune. 

Cowell also delivers some nice solo work, easily slipping in and out of the harmony with clever melodic playing, but also able to build rhythmic tension with excellent chordal playing. As with Tolliver, the rhythm section supports his every move with flexible, but ultimately swinging responses. Though he often sticks to Tyner-esque modal vocings behind Tolliver, he delves into more interesting voicings in "On the Nile," another modal tune, but this time with a Phrygian tinge that adds a darker edge to the tune. 

The title track opens the B side with one of the more memorable tunes on the record. "The Ringer" has a simple, funky melody that relies on the rhythm section's energetic playing to give the tune it's palpable energy. Tolliver manages to bump the energy level up several notches in his exciting and extroverted solo, and Cowell also gives a spirited statement. "Mother Wit" is a slower tune and focuses on Tolliver's lyrical abilities and Cowell's harmonic sophistication more than any of the other tunes. The spacious nature of the tune also allows for some excellent, but subtle bass work from Novosel as the tune moves into a deep medium swing. The closing track "Spur" is a fairly standard 12 bar blues, and though it's the least interesting composition on the album, the band takes a creative harmonic approach and manages to do some pretty interesting things within the context of the blues form.

This record is a great example of late 60's post-bop and the trumpet quartet is a somewhat rare ensemble for the style, which typically features a saxophone in the front line as well. However, Tolliver's compelling playing and the responsive accompaniment of the rhythm section proves that no saxophone is necessary here. This album makes for a great introduction to Tolliver's playing and will leave little doubt in most listeners' minds why Tolliver has been labeled the "Coltrane of the trumpet."

Charles Tolliver And His All Stars – 1968 - Charles Tolliver And His All Stars

Charles Tolliver And His All Stars 
Charles Tolliver And His All Stars

01. Earl's World 4:23
02. Peace With Myself 9:37
03. Right Now 5:47
04. Household Of Saud 6:06
05. Lil's Paradise 7:05
06. Paper Man 6:11

Alto Saxophone – Gary Bartz (tracks: B1 to B3)
Bass – Ron Carter
Drums – Joe Chambers
Piano – Herbie Hancock
Trumpet – Charles Tolliver

Recorded at Town Sound Studios, Englewood, New Jersey 2nd July 1968
Reissued in 1975 as Paper Man

Trumpeter Charles Tolliver is one of those musicians that frequently gets overlooked by writers and listeners. I think of Tolliver's trumpet playing as smack dab in the middle of Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw; he has wonderful vocabulary in his playing, and a lot of passion(Hubbard), but also a very clean articulation and technique, and also logic in his solos(Shaw). Above all, he is a very musical player, and at times, I liken him to saxophonist Wayne Shorter, who improvises like a composer. And Tolliver is a prolific composer. He is also a pioneer in the music business, if you consider that he and Stanley Cowell were some of the first jazz artists to start their own label in the 70's (Strata East).

Whenever people ask me my top 10 favorite jazz albums, Charles Tolliver's Paper Man is always on that list. I first heard it when I was in college, and I'm still not tired of it. It's one of those magical lineups that is in some ways expected, but in this case, produced something extraordinary. Charles Tolliver is well featured and well recorded on trumpet, and all the compositions are from his pen. The one and only Herbie Hancock plays a piano which, for my ears, sounds almost like an upright at times, and perhaps not a well maintained one. Whatever the case, it's relevant for no more than a split second, because Hancock's playing seems extra inspired throughout the session. The great Ron Carter plays some rhythmic and harmonic ideas that are downright shocking. And the amazing Joe Chambers adds a superbly sensitive rhythmic foundation with his supple drumming. 

If you have Paper Man in your collection, I hope the following writing will inspire you to dig it out and listen along. If you don't have it, it's really hard to find. ( It was also released as Charles Tolliver and his All Stars on the Black Lion label.) For some weird reason, this masterpiece is not available on Itunes. What a shame!

The first track, "Earl's World", is a bold opening statement, a combination of heavy and light all at once. The tune is half 12/8 riff, half medium swing. I love tunes that get right to the point, and this one does. And it's a great vehicle for solos. Tolliver comes out with powerful ideas, and his solo is perfectly shaped, driven by the enthusiastic comping of Hancock and Chambers. Hancock's solo begins introspectively, with slick interpolations of 12/8, shifting into some ultra-slick metric modulations.

(One thing you'll notice about this recording is that the piano is one one side of the stereo image, and the bass is on the other. The trumpet and drums seems to be spread evenly. There is great clarity in the recording, and it only adds to the enjoyment of the interplay.)

Track Two, entitled "Peace With Myself", is a colorful waltz. Hancock's comping is extra-creative, and he and Carter share some humorous musical comments. It's amazing how strong the rhythm is on this track, and yet there is a lot of openess in the beat. At times, Chambers seems subdued, but when you realize how subtly musical his playing is, you just sit back and marvel at his tasteful musical reflexes.
Hancock ventures into 20th century impressionism, reminiscent of his work with Miles Davis. Hancock's approach to rhythm is so multi-layered. (Sometimes I almost laugh when I read something like "Jazz Rhythm is primarily eighth notes." Whomever takes that to heart would be highly confused by this Herbie Hancock solo.) Ron Carter brings us down to nothing while Hancock and Chambers sound as if they are faraway ghosts.

"Right Now", the third track, is a composition that originally appeared on a Jackie McLean recording(entitled Right Now.) I also recorded this tune on my third CD for the Steeplechase label back in the 90's. The form is basically a diminished scale line over an almost New Orleans type of syncopated rhythm. The bridge is a release into Bud Powell-like Bebop. This tension and release built into the structure makes it endlessly fun to improvise over. The melody statement in Tolliver's hands has a bold clarion call , like a call-to-arms, or maybe in this case, a call-to-play-some-jazz. Hancock's solo, combined with Carter's disruptively inventive hemiolas, and Chamber's perfectly swinging beat, is a thrill ride. Carter, quite a sober man personally, is almost comical in his comping here; at times, he almost sounds like he's in another room, it's that adventurous. This conflict continues on Tolliver's solo, building into a short but sweet Chambers drum solo. And the battle continues all the way to the vamp out.

"Household of Saud" is a song dedicated to pianist McCoy Tyner, and this fourth track is where Gary Bartz makes this a quintet. This is one of my all-time favorite tracks; the melody is almost a  Tyner lick harmonized in 4ths and made into a composition. It's hard swinging and intense. Tolliver sounds strong. Bartz's solo has a nonchalance about it; he's a master of sounding relaxed over intense rhythm sections.

"Lil's Paradise" is a rather inventive tune, very expansive. It uses long pedal point sections over a relaxed jazz bossa type groove. Again, the musical teamwork is great. Bartz takes a lyrically beautiful solo.

The title track, "Paper Man," is one of those sort of bluesy boogaloo tunes with a catchy riff. It's a great way to end the album. I'm listening to this and again wondering why this album is not widely available. If anybody finds a link or something, please let me know. Meanwhile, here is a link to Mr. Tolliver's website.

Charles Sullivan - 1976 - Re-entry

Charles Sullivan 

01. Re-Entry
02. Body & Soul
03. Carefree
04. Waltz For Cricket
05. Mabe's Way

Alto Saxophone, Tenor Saxophone – Rene Mclean
Bass – Buster Williams
Drums – Billy Hart
Piano – Kenny Barron
Trumpet – Charles Sullivan

Recorded August 17, 1976 at C.I. Studios NYC.

Recorded back in 1976, it's a quintet session with the fabulous Kenny Barron on piano, Buster Williams on bass, Billy Hart on drums, and Rene Mclean on alto and tenor sax. From 1974 up until the present time, Sullivan has made only three albums as a leader "Re-Entry" being the second (and most difficult to locate up until now). Like his other two releases, he displays incredible chops here, particularly on his versions of "Body & Soul", of which there is a second 14 minute alternate take included which is just as gorgeous as the original on "Re-Entry". The other four cuts on this release are all original compositions by Sullivan, and fully display his exceptional writing skills. Have waited a long time for this session to be issued on cd at an affordable price, readily available, and now it is from the WHYNOT label, a division of Candid Records, based out of London. Another solid gold recording from this criminally unknown, brilliant trumpeter who deserves wider recognition. So glad to finally have this on cd - thanks to Candid Records. For an absolutely astounding experience, check out Sullivan's "Genesis" recording, his debut as a leader, and recently released on cd for the first time from the revived Inner City jazz label. Incredible and brilliant work from 1974.

This is an outstanding session of 70s-era jazz. Sullivan has an outstanding group around him, and they are each given room to shine. Like other first-rate jazz of this period, it combines a hard-bop sound with a looseness and freedom (which in this case does not loose focus or touch on fusion). Sullivan has great control and really can fly -- why is he so underrated? The title tune is a great example, and Kenny Barron really shines on piano. They all seem really together and the excellent recording captures it beautifully. Highly recommended.

Charles Sullivan - 1974 - Genesis

Charles Sullivan 

01. Evening Song 8:22
02. Good-Bye Sweet John (In Memory Of John Foster: Pianist) 5:50
03. Field Holler 3:51
04. Now I'll Sleep 4:32
05. Genesis 17:27

Alto Saxophone – Sonny Fortune
Bass – Alex Blake , Anthony Jackson (tracks: A3)
Congas, Percussion – Lawrence Killian
Drums – Alphonse Mouzon (tracks: A3), Billy Hart
Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes] – L. Sharon Freeman (tracks: A3)
Piano – Onaje Allen Gumbs (tracks: A2), Stanley Cowell
Trumpet, Flugelhorn, Composed By, Arranged By, Producer – Charles Sullivan
Vocals – Dee Dee Bridgewater

Recorded at Sound Ideas, N.Y.C. 6/20 6/21 1974.
"Field Holler" recorded at Minot Sound, White Plains, N.Y. 7/24/74.

A most underrated trumpeter, Charles Sullivan has excellent technique, fine tone, a bright, shimmering sound, and is effective in hard bop, free, big band, or bebop contexts. He's simply not gotten the credit he deserves, though he also doesn't have a large legacy of recordings to tout. Sullivan studied at the Manhattan School of Music in the '60s, and worked for off-Broadway productions. He played with Lionel Hampton and Roy Haynes' Hip Ensemble in the late '60s, then toured briefly as Count Basie's lead trumpeter in 1970 and with Lonnie Liston Smith in 1971. He played with Sy Oliver in 1972, and Norman Connors in 1973. Sullivan toured Europe and recorded with Abdullah Ibrahim in 1973 as well, then worked and recorded with Sonny Fortune, Carlos Garnett, Bennie Maupin, Ricky Ford, Eddie Jefferson, and Woody Shaw, as well as cutting his own records, through the remainder of the '70s. Despite all that activity, Sullivan couldn't expand his audience nor gain more recognition. He began heading the band Black Legacy in the late '70s and continued into the '80s. Sullivan currently has no sessions available on CD, but can be heard on reissues by Shaw, Jefferson, Maupin, Fortune, and others.

Charles Sullivan has always been highly regarded by his peers if a bit obscure to the general jazz-listening public. He started playing around New York City in 1966, and worked with a diverse collection of leaders including Sy Oliver, the Collective Black Artists, Lionel Hampton, the Jazz Composer's Workshop, and Count Basie, as well as working the pit bands of several Broadway shows.

This 1976 Strata-East album, was Charles Sullivan first release as a leader using his own material. He is joined by a number of excellent musicians, including Alex Black on bass, Sonny Fortune on alto sax, Dee Dee Bridgewater on vocals, Billy Hart on drums, Stanley Cowell on piano, and others. This is a long overdue release, and one no jazz fan will want to miss.

Trumpeter, flügelhornist, and composer Charles Sullivan -- pegged as a poor man's Lee Morgan or Woody Shaw -- toiled in many mainstream or progressive big bands of the 1970s, languishing in obscurity until breaking through with this, his debut as a leader. Using a spare, warm tone, Sullivan was a cool customer in the firestorm of progressive jazz and fusion of the day, adapting those idioms to his own brand of personalized jazz. Because of his many professional associations, he was able to employ true cream-of-the-crop musicians like pianists Stanley Cowell, Onaje Allan Gumbs, and Sharon Freeman, saxophonist Sonny Fortune, bassist Alex Blake, percussionist Lawrence Killian, and drummer Billy Hart to play his original compositions. Of the five selections, each has its own distinctive flair, taking from different modern jazz elements prevalent to the time frame while not stuck in a rut with any of them. As the very first piece he ever wrote, "Evening Song" is compelling with its Latin beat and modal montuno piano where Sullivan takes an extended solo, with Cowell also featured before the trumpeter returns for more. A solemn duet with Gumbs for the late pianist John Foster on "Goodbye Sweet John" contrasts with the funky fusion tune "Field Holler," with Freeman's stabbing electric Fender Rhodes chord-driven lines, featuring Alphonse Mouzon's powerhouse drumming and the electric bass of Anthony Jackson, with a lyrical and basic Sullivan sounding influenced by James Brown. The remainder of the recording is a twofold message of despair and renewal, as Dee Dee Bridgewater sings beautifully in the paradox song "Now I'll Sleep," about suicide, with the lyric that one might "choose to lose, afraid to love" with Sullivan's horn in way late. "Genesis" is a 17-plus-minute workout that rises from those sullen ashes with an Afro-modal stance similar to Frank Foster's Loud Minority of the same era. Cowell's piano and the impressive tandem of Sullivan and Fortune's fiery alto sax push the ensemble to the limits of African-American progressive jazz expressionism. This recording received a five-star rating in Down Beat magazine, and while there are too few Charles Sullivan recordings in the marketplace, it's well deserving of this accolade as one of the very best post-bop efforts of its decade, and now available on CD.

Charles Davis Featuring Louis Davis With Louis Hayes - 1974 - Ingia!

Charles Davis Featuring Louis Davis With Louis Hayes

01. The Gems Of Mims 10:45
02. Little Miss Jump Up 7:15
03. Linda 11:30
04. Ingia 9:15

Alto Saxophone, Flute – Gerald Hayes
Baritone Saxophone, Producer, Arranged By – Charles Davis
Bass – David Williams
Drums – Louis Hayes
Guitar – Louis Davis
Piano, Electric Piano – Ronnie Mathews
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Andrew "Tex" Allen

Recorded Juy 15, 1974. Minot Sound Studio, White Plains, NY. Published by Ophnell Music. All compositions BMI

Davis was born in Mississippi and raised in Chicago. He graduated from DuSable High School, studied at the Chicago School of Music and was a private student of John Hauser.

In the 1950s he played in the bands of Billie Holiday and Ben Webster, Sun Ra, and Dinah Washington. Performed and recorded with Kenny Dorham with whom he had a musical association that lasted many years.

In the 1960s he performed and recorded with Elvin Jones and Jimmy Garrison, Illinois Jacquet, Freddie Hubbard, Johnny Griffin, Steve Lacy, Ahmad Jamal and worked with Blue Mitchell, Erskine Hawkins, John Coltrane, Clifford Jordan, among others. In 1964 he won Downbeat Magazine's International Jazz Critics Poll for the baritone saxophone. He performed in the musical production of The Philosophy of The Spiritual – A Masque of the Black under the direction of Willie Jones and the auspices of Nadi Qumar. Davis taught at PS 179 in Brooklyn and was musical director of The Turntable, a nightclub owned by Lloyd Price.

In the 1970s he was member of the cooperative group Artistry in Music with Hank Mobley, Cedar Walton, Sam Jones, and Billy Higgins; was the co-leader and composer/arranger for the Baritone Saxophone Retinue, a group featuring six baritone saxophones; made European tours of major jazz festivals and concerts with the Clark Terry Orchestra; and toured the USA with Duke Ellington’s Orchestra under the direction of Mercer Ellington. As musical director of the Home of the Id nightclub, he presented artists such as Gene Ammons, Randy Weston, and Max Roach. As the producer of Monday Night Boat Ride Up The Hudson, he presented, among others, Art Blakey, George Benson, and Etta Jones. Davis made TV appearances with Archie Shepp, Lucky Thompson, Ossie Davis, and Ruby Dee.

In the 1980s he performed and recorded with the Philly Joe Jones Quartet, Dameronia and with Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekaya in the United States, Europe and Africa. Toured Europe with the Savoy Seven Plus 1: A Salute to Benny Goodman. With his own quartet, performed in Rome, at the Bologna Jazz Festival, Jazz in Sardinia Festival, and the La Spezia Festival. Was the musical director of the Syncopation nightclub. Performed in the movie, The Man with Perfect Timing with Abdullah Ibrahim. In 1984 he was named a “BMI Jazz Pioneer.”

In the 1980s he was the musical librarian for Spike Lee's Mo Better Blues; performed at the Jamaica Jazz Festival with Dizzy Reece and returned to perform with Roy Burrowes; was in the Apollo Hall of Fame Band accompanying such stars as Ray Charles, Joe Williams, Nancy Wilson, among others. Toured Holland saluting the music of Kenny Dorham; was the guest artist at the 12th Annual North Carolina Jazz Festival at Duke University. Featured soloist of the Barry Harris Jazz Ensemble and performs in clubs with the Barry Harris/Charles Davis Quartet. Recorded and toured Europe and Japan with the Clifford Jordan Big Band. Was the tenor saxophonist and a major contributor of musical arrangements with Larry Ridley's Jazz Legacy Ensemble which appeared at the Senegal Jazz Festival, performed concerts and conducted clinics, seminars and master classes. This ensemble also appeared in an ongoing concert series at the famed Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture. Was a featured artist at the Amman, Jordan Jazz Festival, arranged by the American Embassy. Was also the featured artist in clubs and concerts in Paris, Toulouse and Hamburg. Appeared at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in an original production of Eduardo Machado's Stevie Wants to Play the Blues] directed by Jim Simpson. Performed in the Three Baritone Saxophone Band with Ronnie Cuber and Gary Smulyan, which toured Italy, appeared at the New Orleans Jazz Festival, the 1998 JVC Jazz & Image Festival at Villa Celimontana in Rome, and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London. Charles was also a featured soloist at the 1998 Chicago Jazz Festival. In June 1999, he performed with Aaron Bell and the Duke Ellington Tribute Orchestra at the Jackie Robinson “Afternoon of Jazz” Festival in Norwalk, CT. Featured artist at the 1999 Jazz & Image Festival at Villa Celimontana in Rome.

Since 2000 he has been the featured artist at the Blue Note in Beirut, Lebanon as well as numerous other clubs in Italy and Spain and at the 2000 Jazz & Image Festival at Villa Celimontana. Performed with his quartet on the “M.S. Dynasty,” a Carnival Lines Cruise ship. Produced and performed in the “Tribute to Stanley Turrentine” concert in Philadelphia. In August 2001, he performed for President Bill Clinton at the “Harlem Welcomes Clinton” celebration. The Barry Harris/Charles Davis Quintet appeared several times at Sweet Basil in New York City. They continue to perform together in various venues including yearly appearances at Birdland. In August 2004, they performed in the 50th Anniversary of the Newport Jazz Festival. He was a featured artist at the 14th Annual Jazz Festival in Badajoz, Spain and was a member of the Walter Booker Quintet. He performed with his quartet at New York's Rubin Museum of Art, performed in the Netherlands and toured Denmark and Israel. In addition to performing and recording with the guitarist Roni Ben-Hur and the El Mollenium Band (featuring the music of Elmo Hope), In 2009 he toured Germany, Austria,Switzerland and Italy with the Charles Davis Allstars: A Tribute to Kenny Dorham and in 2010 this quintet performed in Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia. Charles also performs with the Spirit of Life Ensemble and his own quartet, featuring Tardo Hammer (piano), Lee Hudson (bass) and Jimmy Wormworth (drums) in the United States and Europe.

Davis is a saxophone instructor of private students from The New School, a teacher at the Lucy Moses School and for over 25 years has been an instructor at the Jazzmobile Workshops. He has made eight of his own albums and is featured on over 100 recordings. Some of his CDs as a leader include Blue Gardenia, with Cedar Walton on piano, Peter Washington on bass and Joe Farnsworth on drums, released on Reade Street Records; Land of Dreams, with Tardo Hammer, Lee Hudson and Jimmy Wormworth, released in 2007 on Smalls Records; and Our Man in Copenhagen, released in October 2008, on Fresh Sound Records, with Sam Yahel, Ben Street, and Kresten Osgood on which they play the music of Bent Jaedig. Just released in 2010 is The Charles Davis Allstars: A Tribute to Kenny Dorham with Tom Kirkpatrick on trumpet, Claus Raible on piano, Giorgos Antoniou on bass and Bernd Reiter on drums. This CD was recorded live at the Bird's Eye in Basel, Switzerland.

Charles Davis: Sweet Storyteller by R. J. DeLuke, October 2003.

Theres a difference between the elder statesmen in jazz and the newer firebrands, no matter how talented. One is the formers ability to take their time to tell a story. They've been around life and they're not in a rush. Like Dexter was. And Prez.
Out of that mold is 70-year-old Charles Davis, displaying his rich tenor sax sound and strong baritone sax work on his new CD Blue Gardenia, titled as much for his admiration for Dinah Washington as for his association with Billie Holiday. He played with both, but longer with Washington. Hes not a household name in jazz, but his resume is impressive as is his new music.
Davis is a bopper with a sense of adventure. Hes a smooth storyteller with a sonorous sound influenced by his upbringing in Chicago, a musical hot bed (though he was born in Mississippi). On Blue Gardenia, hes joined by Cedar Walton on piano, bassist Peter Washington and drummer Joe Farnsworth. It's a straight ahead set and a smooth ride.
"It's songs I felt and songs I like. There's more I wanted to do, but we didn't have so much time. But those are some of the ones I liked", says Davis. Its got a taste of blues, bossa and bop, and show Davis great style with melodic improvisation. There are pieces of the great players in his playing, but they've been amalgamated into a personal sound and the world should hear more of Charles Davis.

"The main influence was Lester Young, Charlie Parker, Ben Webster, Coleman Hawkins. Don Byas", he says of his formative days learning the instrument. "Getting out later on, I became friends with John Gilmore, Clifford Jordan. In my neighborhood was John Jenkins and Johnny Griffin. So there was music all around".
He also learned from the singers he worked with. Billie got phrases from Lester Young. Dinah was very clear on her diction. That was always something to listen to, says the soft-spoken sax man.
"I started out on alto. I have played baritone and tenor all along. I was playing baritone with Coltrane. I played tenor with John Gilmore, Clifford Jordan, Johnny Griffin, back in Chicago in the 50s. Ive always played the tenor, he says".
About the CD, Davis says hes very self-critical. "I hear things and I say, I could have done this better. But its like telling a lie, once you do it, it sticks forever. But I enjoyed it, but when you first record something, you think youre the worst sounding individual on the record. Because youre trying to get out all of yourself, and thats an impossibility".
While the recording industry seems to be taking its lumps from musicians in the new millennium, Davis takes things in stride. He says its not a lot different than it ever has been. Musicians arent getting rich, and many arent getting notoriety. But thats not new.
"For the most part, the people I've been involved with seem to be able to come to an amicable agreement about what should be done [on a recording]. There's also an area where an artist should take a suggestion. Some things may be personal, as far as what you want to do, but may not be appropriate at the time. I remember a friend of mine, Eddie Harris, when he put out Exodus, that was one they didn't want. But he got it on there, and that was a hit. Shows you how much they know. Thats happened in a lot of cases, the ones they dont want turn out to be the ones that become most popular".
"Its a language, a dialect, a dialog. You have to learn that. Once you learn the scales, that's one thing. But it's the way the scales are put together in the form of a solo, for improvisation. It's a dialect you have to learn. Some people say you just play, but you don't just play. You have to learn what to say. Lester Young would put it: You have to learn how to tell a story".
Davis began playing in grammar school, then I went to a famous high school in Chicago. DuSable, named after the person that discovered Chicago. John Baptiste Pointe DuSable. We had a tedious bandmaster. A lot of famous musicians came through there. He tutored people like Dinah Washington, Nat Cole, Gene Ammons, Johnny Griffin, Von Freeman. Its a long list.
"The better you got, the more gigs you would come by. I started in high school, playing a few little gigs. People give you $2 or $3. But that was big time then, because you had a gig. The money wasn't the prerequisite then. You play for dances and social events that people have, parties or whatever", he says.
Davis first big break, he says, was getting the call to join Sun Ra, the self-proclaimed being from another planet who combined swinging arrangements with far-out charts from his unique musical mind. "It was great. We sort of had a bebop mystical band. With Pat Patrick, John Gilmore, Julian Priester Arthur Hall, myself, and at one time Richard Evans, a bassist. I still play with the band from time to time".
So big name or not, Davis has played with the greats and blessed their work with his professional approach and sweet style. His tenure with Lady Day came about when she toured through the city, as so many jazz acts did. "That was through a bandmate in Chicago called Al Smith. I periodically played with him from time to time. He got the gig and she came into a place called Budland, at the time. The guy opened it up as Birdland, but Birdland in New York made him change it. She was there for three or four months. It was great. Along with her, was Ben Webster. I was playing in a band that was backing her and Ben was doing feature solos. She was great to work with. She had a heck of a command and stage presence when she came on. She was very professional".

"After Billie Holliday, I went on the road with Clarence Henry. He was a protge of Fats Domino. He had the record out "I Could Sing Like a Frog". It was like rock and roll or whatever you want to call it. I stayed with him a few months. Then I came back and I started working with Dinah Washington. Along with Eddie Chamblee, Julian Priester, Melvin Moore and myself, and later on Jack Wilson and Richard Evans. This was in 1958 or 1959. After the band broke up, I worked for her on a few more occasions".
"After Dinah, I made a trip to California. After six months I had to get out of there. I came back, went from Chicago to New York, then started working with Kenny Dorham. That lasted a few years. Been in New York ever since. I worked with John Coltrane, Illinois Jacquet, Clark Terry, Thad Jones-Mel Lewis. I was in the band when Thad quit. We did about three months in Europe. I worked with Erskine Hawkins".
Today, Davis continues to work steadily in these tough times for musicians. "I'm still gigging around New York. I'll be in Birdland with Barry Harris. I'm going to Japan for a few days and do a concert in Italy after that. I'm hanging in there".
"It's up and down", says Davis with no hint of bitterness or undue concern. "That's the reality of life. I'd like to have gigs in abundance, but I don't have them. You still have to maintain. Keep going. There's always going to be a complaint. If you have 1,000, you want 10,000, and if you have that, you want 50,000. Its always something".
The propensity for record labels to look for the new young lions, often overlooking some of jazzs major contributors in the process, who are still going and still goring, also doesn't phase Davis. "That's nothing new. That always happened. You still have to maintain what your'e doing. You can't let that bother you. At one point, you have to get a name, and when you get a name, its not big enough. That happens to all of us. That's just part of the realities of being a jazz and bebop musician. And for those who don't like it, You can go to the other side (pop) and work all the time".
While his friend and influence saxophonist George Coleman talks of retiring (He's retiring every year. God Bless him if he can do it. There are only two musicians that I knew of that retired. Sid Catlett and Jonah Jones), Davis says that it's not in the cards for him. He'll continue to tote his horn and tell his stories and please audiences wherever he can.
Like Duke Ellington said: Retire to what? "I don't have an eye for retiring right now", he says, adding with a sparkle, "but I could come into a lot of money and live the good life, though".
As for the future of jazz from his spot as a veteran musician, Davis isn't dissuaded. The music has been through tough times and will continue to persevere.
"It was supposed to have been squashed years ago, with the onset of bebop. But as long as you have records of Charlie Parker and Miles Davis and Coltrane and Sonny Rollins, the young kids make new discoveries. The younger kids are into it, so I think it will be around for a long time".
His advice to those who are coming up that will keep the flame?

Now 70, Davis continues to exercise his instrumental voice as soloist; this time out he employs a 50-50 balance between baritone and tenor. The leaders solo saxophone voice stands sweet and melodic, but the session turns uneven in places due to a few slips of pitch control on baritone. Cedar Walton, Peter Washington and Joe Farnsworth do more than their share to make up for it with a hands-down rock-solid foundation for each piece.
On tenor, Davis sends a lovely melodic message that calls upon his vast experience for flavor. Texas Moon recalls time he's spent on the road with Hank Crawford, while Blues for Yahoo moves more in the hard bop direction of New York City. Yahoo is the producers dog, who must have inherited Charlie Parker's uptempo grit. Either that, or he simply reminded Davis of Birds unique soul. Blue Gardenia, a solid straightahead album, swings with tradition and a true, blues-based spirit.