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Billy Bang: Da Bang! (2013)

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Billy Bang: Da Bang! How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The final recording of the late violinist Billy Bang
Billy Bang
Billy Bang
1947 - 2011
violin
from February 2011, days before his final performance in the TUMfest 11 in Helsinki, is a celebration of his life as musician. Bang chose for this recording compositions of innovative musicians in the history of jazz—Don Cherry
Don Cherry
Don Cherry
1936 - 1995
trumpet
, Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
Ornette Coleman
b.1930
sax, alto
, Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991
trumpet
and Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins
b.1930
saxophone
— that were part of his quintet repertoire for years. His trusty quintet supports his musical ideas and improvisations beautifully, and the album booklet features touching and insightful poems that were recited by poets Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka
Amiri Baraka
1934 - 2014
vocalist
, Quincy Troupe and Steve Dalachinsky
Steve Dalachinsky
Steve Dalachinsky
b.1946
vocalist
in the memorial event that was organized for Bang in New York on September 2011.

Bang was already in the latter phase of the lung cancer illness at the time of the recording but his playing is assured and joyful, as if stressing the healing power of music, even if this power lasts for short, fleeting periods. He is accompanied by a tight, hard swinging ensemble—trombonist Dick Griffin
Dick Griffin
Dick Griffin
b.1939
trombone
, veteran of Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
Rahsaan Roland Kirk
1936 - 1977
reeds
and Sun Ra
Sun Ra
Sun Ra
1914 - 1993
keyboard
bands, and regular members of his quintet—pianist Andrew Bemkey
Andrew Bemkey
Andrew Bemkey
b.1974
piano
, bassist Hilliard Greene
Hilliard Greene
Hilliard Greene
b.1958
bass
.

Bang's imaginative introduction for Cherry's "Guinea," written for the debut recording of the Old And New Dreams quartet is an arresting testimony to his gifts as an improviser. Bang, in this introduction and later through his solo, sings soulfully with his violin. He frets, strums and bows the strings as if he was possessed by a powerful spell, turning at times the violin to a kind of shamanic string-percussion instrument. Bang's "Daydreams," originally performed solo by Bang on Commandment (for the sculpture of Alain Kirilli) (No More Records, 1997), is another vehicle for a dramatic and masterful solo of Bang, along impressive solos of Griffin and Greene. The following covers of Coleman "Law Years," Davis' "All Blues" and Rollins "St. Thomas," are performed in a relaxed, spirited mode. The quintet shines throughout these highly enjoyable versions of these inspiring standards.

A beautiful reminder of Bang the master musician, composer, improviser and a great human being.

Track Listing: Da Bang; Guinea; Daydreams; Law Years; All Blues; St Thomas.

Personnel: Billy Bang: violin; Dick Griffin: trombone; Andrew Bemkey: piano; Hilliard Greene: bass; Newman Taylor-Baker: drums.

Record Label: TUM Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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