Sam Rivers – Dimensions & Extensions (1967)

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SAM RIVERS
Dimension & Extensions

Recorded on March 17, 1967 at the Van Gelder Recording Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey.
First issued in 1976 on Blue Note BNLA 453 as part of the double album “Involution” (the second half of which is an Andrew Hill session).
Issued as an individual album with the original cover for the first time in 1986 (BST 84261)
CD Reissue is 1998 Blue Note RVG Remaster

1 Precis 5:18
2 Paean 5:23
3 Effusive Melange 5:49
4 Involution 7:12
5 Afflatus 6:25
6 Helix 5:31

Alto Saxophone, Flute – James Spaulding
Bass – Cecil McBee
Drums – Steve Ellington
Tenor Saxophone, Soprano Saxophone, Flute – Sam Rivers
Trombone – Julian Priester
Trumpet – Donald Byrd

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Producer – Alfred Lion
Recorded By, Remastered By – Rudy Van Gelder
Reissue Producer – Michael Cuscuna

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The Earth lost another musical giant when Sam Rivers passed away this week (Dec 26) at the age of 88 years. The man had a long career in which he put out a ton of music of a very high caliber. I lament that I never saw him perform live, particularly as I had the chance once and somehow missed it — I can’t remember what my reason was, but it better have been a good one. Fortunately I’ve been a fan of his records for a long time, and he sure left us a lot of those.

The first music I heard from him were the albums he recorded for Impulse (in particular, ‘Hues’) which were done right at the time when he was a key figure in the loft music scene happening in New York. But he put out so much and on so many labels (Black Saint, ECM, Mosaic, and quite a few smaller labels) it’s sometimes difficult to know where to start. He had the unlucky fortune of getting on the Blue Note roster right before the label was sold to Liberty, and as the release history listed above should make clear (and the liner notes from Robert Palmer and Bob Blumenthal make much clearer), this particular album had a very odd legacy indeed. It was recorded in 67, assigned a catalog number, and had classic Blue Note album cover artwork done for it — only to sit on the shelves for a decade before ever seeing the light of day. When it finally did, it was issued as part of a double album that also featured Rivers playing with Andrew Hill’s group. It was finally issued under the original title “Dimensiosn & Extensions” in the 1980s.

This is exhilarating stuff and it’s hard to see how it stayed under the radar for so long. Driving bass work from Cecil McBee (a frequent sideman for Rivers) under-girds what is at times a wall of brass and reeds (courtesy of Julian Priester, Donald Byrd, and James Spaulding). Rivers is unique for a lot of reasons, one of them being that for someone associated with ‘free jazz’ he probably owes as much or more to Charlie Parker than to Coltrane. There is both intimacy and a certain swing in most everything he touched, and one line Palmer wrote about this album pretty much nails it: “Never has atonality in jazz writing sounded this warm.” He was equally at ease in small trio settings as he was playing in or leading big ensembles. He recent four albums recorded as Sam Rivers and the Rivbea Orchestra are all excellent and leave it very clear that the man was still in full possession of his creative powers and abilities in writing, arranging and performing top-notch stuff well into his 80s.

Rest easy, Mr. Rivers. You will be missed.

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7 Comments

  1. Love your write-up……I love to learn while I let the sounds take me where they will. Thank you for your efforts in giving this great blog to us here in internet-land.

  2. thanks troods. I hope the season finds you well and your New Year is filled with new sounds 🙂

  3. awesome to the max

  4. I have been listening to Sam Rivers since somewhere around 1976-77 but have never heard this album – and somehow missed news about his passing. Many thanks for both the opportunity at last to hear it and, unfortunately, the news of Sam's death. Listening will be have a new meaning for me.

    -Brian

  5. Thanks for this new JazzMan to explore

  6. o link ???

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