Charles Tolliver, who along with Woody Shaw was arguably the last of the trumpet vanguard that defined the instrument's modern approach, often took the road less traveled, forming his own label, Strata-East Records, in the late '60s. This three-CD Mosaic Select release captures Tolliver (along with his familiar musical colleague, pianist Stanley Cowell) in two concert settings from opposite ends of the jazz globe. In light of the fact that these remarkable sessions have been either out of circulation or unreleased, you have to question why they weren't released earlier.
Rarely does a trumpet player subject himself to a quartet setting; it's just too taxing on the body. In early May of 1970 at Slug's Saloon on New York's Lower East Side and a couple years later in Tokyo, Tolliver and his quartet gave it all they had in an adventurous and breathtaking display of advanced hard bop. With a full, fat tone, Tolliver drives and twists with Cowell, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Jimmy Hopps through over an hour and a half of original music at Slug's. The interplay between Tolliver and Cowell is simply a lesson in symbiotic relationships. There was nothing like it at the time: during a period in the music when everyone was "going electric," Tolliver and Cowell were electrifying.
The concert in Japan with bassist Clint Houston and drummer Clifford Barbaro is possibly even more aggressive and adventurous. Added to the original material is a blistering original dedicated to John Coltrane ("Our Second Father"), which stretches out into twenty minutes of pure, intense creativity. All of the music is accessible, even to those faint of heart, and challenging to even cynical souls.
Personnel: Charles Tolliver: trumpet; Stanley Cowell: piano. With (A) Cecil McBee: bass; Jimmy Hopps:
drums. (B) Clint Houston: bass; Clifford Barbaro: drums.