Tag Archives: colours

Sam Rivers-colours LP


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.

Label – Black Saint Records

Rekd – 1983