For as much as the post-Ornette lineage of jazz and improvised music has engendered instrumental freedom both sonically and rhythmically, this language has also given a wealthy palette to the composer. With the work of figures like Andrew Hill remaining in the spotlight and Grachan Moncur III's recent return from a lengthy hiatus, it is worth re-examining the idiomatic missing link that Moncur's work offers. As a soloist, Moncur is often seen as the cooler alternative to Roswell Rudd's hot tailgate in the lineage of vanguard trombonists of the '60s. Working in the groups of Jackie McLean and ...read more
By Ken Waxman
Grachan Moncur III had strong associations with the Jazztet, alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, and tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp. An East Coaster, he brought a variety of sophisticated colors to his compositions using different instrumentation than the standard sax/brass/rhythm section of the hard bop combo.
However, the trombonist has had a very low profile in recent years. Moncur recorded frequently in the '60s, including several sessions under his own name, but by steadfastly holding onto his publishing rights, he was soon estranged from the so-called jazz business. When the jazz recession hit, he concentrated on music education in ...read more
It is a crying shame that some of the best jazz musicians have to languish in obscurity. There are many reasons, but a review is not necessarily the place to go into them. Suffice to say that it is a moment worth cherishing when a stalwart comes in from out of the beyond to make his presence felt.
Grachan Moncur III was a forward thinker who made some of the most powerful music of the sixties with compatriots like Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Roscoe Mitchell and Dave Burrell. That trend continued into the next decade with ...read more
Grachan Moncur III Octet Exploration Capri Records 2004
After a lengthy absence, trombonist/composer Grachan Moncur III returns with his first album as a leader since 1977's Shadows (Denon Jazz). The trombonist is best known for his particiation on two Jackie McLean albums, One Step Beyond and Destination Out! , in 1963. On the latter Moncur contributed two of the five tunes and on the former, three of four. In addition to appearing on numerous Blue Note dates as a sideman, Grachan Moncur III also recorded Evolution and Some Other Stuff for the ...read more
"Frankenstein" seems an odd name for a jazz tune, but then why not? The song title--and the song itself--captures the mood of Grachan Moncur III's Exploration. It's an arrangement that features an assertive--to the point of brashness, perhaps--ensemble interplay of a seven horns backed by bass and drums, sans piano or guitar. Two trombones, along with a French horn and baritone sax, ensure the darker tone predominance with--on this particular tune--a stinging, free-ranging alto sax solo by Gary Bartz, followed by Moncur's contained and very centered solo turn on his horn.Grachan Moncur III's horn--for those of you who ...read more
Trombonist and composer Grachan Moncur III made a memorable impact forty years ago with his challenging compositions and austere improvising style. He then maintained a very low profile for decades, teaching, recording only rarely, and encountering dental problems. Now he's made a welcome return to recording with the absolutely stunning CD Exploration.
In the 1960's, Moncur's trombone style was notable for breaking away from the then-prevalent model of J.J. Johnson. Rather than play bebop acrobatics, Moncur played spare lines characterised by his use of space. He still plays that way, but he sounds more relaxed. He plays with ...read more
It's remarkable how time changes the relative position of musical innovation. When trombonist Grachan Moncur III appeared on the scene with a series of Blue Note appearances including his own Evolution and Some Other Stuff , as well as alto saxophonist Jackie McLean's One Step Beyond , Destination...Out! , Hipnosis and About Soul , thankfully reissued recently as a Mosaic Select box, he was firmly entrenched in the emergent musical left. While not exactly the kind of free style that artists including Ornette Coleman were pursuing--his music had too much inherent structure--Moncur's compositions demonstrated new ways to combine open-ended form ...read more