Chico Freeman – The Search (1983) (India Navigation)

 

Chico Freeman – The Search
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | FLAC | Web scans | Jazz
1.52GB (24/192) + 806 MB (24/96) ||
1983 India Navigation IN 1059

I have not posted on this blog in nearly 6 months.  For those of you still hanging around, I hope you are all doing well.  A lot has been happening in the world, and in my personal and professional life, that have kept me away.  But I will try and check in more frequently.

Ramsey Lewis passed away at a dignified age as an elder statesman of jazz since I last posted.  Gal Costa, among the first artists to attract my ears to Brazil, passed away this week suddenly and in a manner that sent the country into a spasm of collective grief.  At least she got to see the country kick the fascist scum Bolsonaro out of office.  I don’t really do “memorial blog posts” any longer but I will probably post about both of those artists in the coming weeks and months.  Meanwhile, I have been listening to a lot of Chico Freeman lately, who is alive and well.

The search for peace in times of war, for stillness in times of agitation – that is the basic sentiment that motivates, opens, sustains, and closes this nonchalantly beautiful record by Freeman (who is from a prolific jazz family that includes his father Von Freeman and brother George).  It builds on a tradition of ‘spiritual jazz’ whose efflorescence was happening when Freeman was just getting started, and brings it into that most un-spiritual of decades, the 1980s.  But there is nothing nostalgic or backward-looking about this record; it could have been made at any time in the last fifty years.  And Freeman is still out there making good music, having recently returned to New York after a long period living in France.

This album was never released on CD and it is very, very good.  It is one of several examples of great work Freeman has done with jazz vocalists — in the year following this album, he also released a collaboration with Bobby McFerrin, titled ‘Tangents’, which is excellent as well. Vocalist Van Eley is better known for her work in musical theater than for jazz sessions (this is her only credit on the resource Discogs); a few years before this she participated in the and this appears to be her one and only album credit, so that is a bit mysterious.

I have a handful of Freeman’s output on India Navigation (not all of them, but getting close) as well as stuff he recorded for other labels.   I’ll make a banal observation about a difference between the worlds of jazz and pop music here:  the ability, or maybe insistence, of artists not to be tied to exclusive contracts is interesting to me (although it can also work the other way around – the unwillingness of major labels to commit to promoting and fostering an artist in the long-term).   Freeman maintained a relationship with the indie label India Navigation that allowed him to continue his warm embrace of the modal and the experimental at the same time he was releasing more commercial recordings on labels like Elektra.  The interested vinyl collector will be happy to know that you can find those releases on Elektra and other labels like Contemporary on the cheap out there at your local record shop — and they are all solid and worth picking up.  . The India Navigation titles will cost you a bit more.

An example of the Freeman’s ease with taking risks can be found as soon as the needle hits the vinyl here, opening with the only the voice of the relatively unknown Van Eley reassuring us that there IS peace, if we look within.  It is one of those sentiments that sounds trite when spoken, but get a good vocalist to SING it on a jazz record and it becomes an invocation, or at least an invitation – Freeman has a message he wants us to hear, something he feels strongly enough about that a purely instrumental jazz record just won’t cut it.  As bold a statement as the opening title cut, things really get moving with the second piece, which heavily features Brazilian percussionist Nana Vasconcelos doing all the things he does, opening the track with one of his trademark musical invocations on the berimbau.  Cecil McBee contributes a pretty traditional jazz balad, Close To You Alone, which is an refreshing grounding back in the element of Earth and the more ordinary varieties of love and loneliness.  Soweto Suite brings back the hard edges and merges Earth and Spirit, a drum solo from Billy Hart near the beginning along with an urgent vibraphone riff as a base, the angular melody of Val and Chico blending voice and saxophone, cascades of piano from Kenny Barron, and the whole structure subjected to a controlled demolition in several places of free-jazz skronk.  Although I don’t hear any musical nods to the rich South African jazz scene, I’m not actually trained in this stuff so maybe someone else can illuminate me if I missed it.  I assume the subject matter is more concerned with the abomination of apartheid.

To the best of my knowledge, this album has never been released on CD or on a digital streaming platform.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

Tracklist
A1 – The Search (10:50)
A2 – Illas (11:40)
B1 – Close To You Alone (07:25)
B2 – Soweto Suite (12:15)

Total length: 42:10

More information: https://www.discogs.com/release/1134622-Chico-Freeman-The-Search

 

 

Published By – Nisha-Ayl Publishing Company
Published By – LeMac Music
Mastered At – Europadisk

Bass – Cecil McBee
Berimbau, Percussion – Nana Vasconcelos
Drums – Billy Hart
Piano – Kenny Barron
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Chico Freeman
Vibraphone, Marimba – Jay Hoggard
Vocals – Val Eley

Design – Tan Ohe
Photography By – Beth Cummins
Producer – Bob Cummins

LINEAGE: 1983 India Navigation IN 1059 pressing; Pro-Ject RM-5SE with Audio Tecnica Signet TK7E cartridge; Speedbox power supply; Pro-Ject Tube Box S2 preamp; Audioquest Black Mamba and Pangea Premier interconnect cables; RME Babyface Pro interface ; Adobe Audition at 32-bit float 192khz; Click Repair with output monitored manually; further clicks and pops removed manually with Adobe Audition 3.0; dithered and resampled using iZotope RX Advanced. Converted to FLAC in either Trader’s Little Helper or dBPoweramp. Tags done with Foobar 2000 and Tag and Rename.


 

p/w = vibes

Eddie Harris – Bad Luck Is All I Have (1975)

Eddie Harris – Bad Luck Is All I Have
Vinyl rip in 24-bit/192 kHz | 300 dpi scans | Jazz, Jazz-funk
1975 Atlantic Records SD 1675, Presswell

This is an under-the-radar album, never released on CD, from the eclectic Eddie Harris, who gets help from Willi Bobo and Bradley Bobo in the rhythm section (as well as Calvin Barnes, who only has a few sessions to his name). Strangely, for a jazz-funk album from the middle 1970’s, there is almost no trap kit drumming on this, instead relying on timbales and other percussion for most of the groove. Some fun trumpet work from Oscar Brashear on this too.  It’s an essential album by any means, but the eclectic Eddie Harris was always worth a listen.  Continue reading

Grant Green – Alive! (1970) Day 10 of FV’s 12 Days of Xmas

Grant Green – Alive!
2019 Blue Note 80 Series BST-84360 – Original Release 1970

Absolute barn-stormer of classic soul-jazz funk with a lineup that can’t be beat. Idris Muhammad is at his funkiest, but the other show-stealer is Ronnie Foster on the organ. Lean and mean stuff, if you dig this then you need to hear the Live at Club Mozambique from this same era, but which wasn’t issued until the 00’s. I=

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Dollar Brand – Mannenburg Is Where It’s Happening (1974) Day 9 of FV’s 12 Days of Xmas

 

Dollar Brand  (Abdullah Ibrahim)
Mannenberg ~ ‘Is Where It’s Happening’
EMI – CDSRK(WL) 786134, The Sun – CDSRK(WL) 786134
Format:CD, Album, Reissue
Country:South Africa
Genre:Jazz, Style:Cape Jazz

I wasn’t planning on posting this record for the 12 Days of Christmas, insofar as there was ever a plan, which there wasn’t, but then who knew we would lose “The Arch”, Desmond Tutu (followed by an unnerving fire that destroyed the South African Parliament… the good news is they apparently saved the library).   But the township of Manenberg – as well as this song named after it here, and the exiled South African artist formerly known as Dollar Brand – were all important to the story of resistance to the Apartheid government.  The song even has quite an extensive Wikipedia entry.   Today we would refer to the original release as an “EP”, featuring only two songs that clock in at under 27 minutes.  One thing that has always struck me about South African / Cape Jazz is just how uplifting it sounds, and this track embodies that pretty well.  One note about the artist’s name: Brand had converted to Islam in the late 60’s but continued to use his former stage name on recordings for quite a few years.

1. Mannenberg 13:36
2. The Pilgrim 13:00

Published By – As-Shams Music
Marketed By – As-Shams Music
Distributed By – EMI Music

 

Alto Saxophone – Morris Goldberg
Alto Saxophone, Flute – Robbie Jansen
Bass – Paul Michaels
Composed By, Arranged By, Photography By – Dollar Brand
Drums – Monty Weber
Piano – Dollar Brand (Abdullah Ibrahim)
Tenor Saxophone, Flute – Basil Coetzee

Mirror 1 || Mirror 2

Mirror 1 || Mirror 2

password: vibes

Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers – The Witch Doctor (1967) (2021 BN Tone Poet) Day 8 of FV’s 12 Days of Xmas

Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – The Witch Doctor
2021 Blue Note Tone Poet | Original release 1967

This is a fantastic 1961 session (not issued until ’67) with Lee Morgan, Wayne Shorter, and Bobby Timmons, but man the drum solos are recorded horribly.  Seems really odd, seeing as it was the drummer’s group… Nice Tone Poet pressing though, in general.  One of my pandemic pleasures has been buying up lots of these Blue Note reissues of titles that have generally been beyond my reach; under Don Was’s stewardship of the catalog, they have been doing a first-rate job at making them available to people who are not willing or able to pay the ‘trophy hunter’ prices of the collectors market.  There are occasional blips and hiccups in quality control — I returned a Paul Chambers release last summer which had very noticeable distortion which, according to a little research, seemed to afflict a whole bunch of copies in that pressing run.  But by and large I have no complaints. Or at least few.

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Pharoah Sanders, Floating Points & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (2021) Day 6 of FV 12 Days of Xmas

Pharoah Sanders, Floating Points & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises (2021, Luaka Bop)

 

Since I mentioned this on Day 5, it seems only natural and right that Day 6 should be this wonderful record from Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and The LSO.  I’m not going to say much of anything about it; I know there were many reviews of this album and I am sure many of them are also wonderful.  The album was conceived and recorded during the pandemic and somehow felt like the album we needed, even if we may not have deserved it.  A proprietor of a local record shop where I live didn’t like it, he complained that it sounded “new age” — a characterization that I think is neither accurate nor fair – and that Pharoah barely plays on it, and is too subdued.  But (as I mentioned yesterday) the mood here is very introspective, and feels like a musical meditation on the passing of time, on the luxury and strangeness of having lived to an old age.  Any new worlds that Pharoah may seek to discover at this point are more subtle than the soaring heights of his youthful work, somewhere in between the planes, teetering suspended between the flesh and the disincarnate.  I have this one on vinyl, but I’m still digesting it, so it’s not the version I’m sharing here.