Two droll editions in the truly awesome & vast Rivers n’ Holland back-catalogue. Both excellent LP’s feature the two laureates rushing through improvisational expanse as a duumvirate with no supporting musicians or percussion throughout the entire session.
Yet another superb album from the incredible Sam Rivers. This 1979 recording drafts the exceptional talents of Dave Holland on double-bass, Thurman Barker on drums & George Lewis on trombone serving seven sedulous, versatile & dynamic tracks encompassing cryptographic compositional pieces, roving free-form & Avant-Jazz.
Recently acquired this LP. It’s a one-off, conspicuously odd, very unorthodox number in the Rivers repository, entirely scripted/contrived by Sam (most of it scribed in 1973 but never previously recorded) with eleven participating reed players, yes, nothing but reeds (predominantly saxophones & flutes). I presume the exclusion of any other instruments, particularly bass & drums, was deliberate rather than budgetary? In some ways this album is a continuation from Crystals with some fairly recurrent themes/styles & written compositions for a large/big band assembly of reed players (Winds Of Manhattan, one member being a young Steve Coleman), but I definitely feel that they exist in distinctively disparate dualities. Much of the music on Colours is advanced academic circuitry without forgoing musicality (but definitely straying beyond that criteria also). As with sections of Crystals, Rivers incites differing demeanours of joyful roistering, hard-grooving & more than anything his umbagious, often stern elaborate & polyrhythmic pageantry (also combining/colligating counter emotionals, amicable &/whilst simultaneously threatening/serious). some of the compositions are teaming with changes & sprawling segmentations, there’s masses of content & numerous methodologies of considerable contrast. I think the exclusion of drums & bass certainly makes this less accessible, & perhaps even more Avant-Garde in some respects? Not that this material is incapable of engaging with less stringent/specialist listeners, but I think that this album is really designed for rigorous musos, technophiles & progressive complexity craving freaks (count me in). I definitely would not deem this easy listening & considerable attention is often required. It’s mostly very convoluted & regularly haughty, albeit with moments/inclusions of more mellifluent & traditional formulas, but for the committed listener – plenty of strenuously innovative & aberrant structuring, tonation & compositional complexities are available. Rivers is the only member that performs any solo’s which are brief & infrequent (& excellent obviously). It’s great that Black Saint were willing to invest in such a large scale & unorthodox recording. a difficult & demanding but hugely rewarding work from a sapient pioneer & visionary.
Dominion. We have here the deepest, furthest, lengthiest incision, reaming, projection, or what have you into one (perhaps multiple) of Off-Road Jazz’s facets/sectors ever recorded. Nobody has blazed such an psionic shockingly exigent & ambidextrously adept attempt/voyage/penetration into this vector of the wilderness (whatever vector that is)…NOBODY!
A particularly extraordinary contribution this one. even by Rivers standards which really have an altitude of their very own, this is a momentously distinctive hall-mark who’s permanent crater will forever be a feature of the Freejazz/Jazz landscape. More than 30 other musicians donate their abilities over six tracks…so it’s an orchestra scenario. I normally really abhor these experiences in Jazz & am generally of the dogma that if you need a huge passel of musicians to convey power or dynamic your obviously at an extreme deficiency.