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2 Days in April is full of so many moments of joy and beauty that it is hard to know where to begin. As the title partially suggests, the quartet recorded this two disc set on April 1 and 2 of last year in concerts in Amherst and Cambridge, Massachusetts respectively. The two nights have slightly different tones with the Amherst show being a bit more chaotic than its groove oriented Cambridge counterpart. Eremite deserves props for releasing both shows as it allows listeners to see how the performances of these players vary from one night to another even while in similar settings.
All of the music was composed on the spot and so it is quite notable that the four players move amongst one another with great ease. That said, listeners might want to try splitting the recordings in half not by date but rather by front line and rhythm section. The point is not to deny the validity of the quartet project but rather to highlight the especially tight communication that exists between saxophonists Fred Anderson and "Kidd" Jordan as well as between drummer Hamid Drake and bassist William Parker.
Although Anderson and Jordan were both part of the legendary Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians in Chicago during the 1960s, Ed Hazel says in the linear notes that the two did not meet until the 1980s and that 2 Days in April marks their first recording together. Still they seem as tight as could be here. Both play off of the other sometimes by mimicking the other's sound but changing it just a touch and sometimes through duets where each plays distinct parts. One of the most poignant moments comes on the second track of the first disc where the two saxophonists play for several minutes with Drake and Parker adding only occasional highlights. The sounds vary from playful to ornery but the creativity and blues infected growls that each are know for always shine through. Drake and Parker also show a great deal of skill and imagination in their playing. Drake has long played in groups lead by Anderson and in recent years has developed a special bond with Parker that is immediately apparent on these dates. As the music begins to grow louder and more climatic, the two egg each other on and when it comes times for slow down the two seem to be constantly lending a hand to the other in order to accomplish the desired effect without seeming abrupt.
The group reaches its zenith when all of these elements come together midway through the second disc. Drake and Parker are laying down a solid groove with roots in both rock and funk as Anderson and Jordan creating escalating solos before the music segues to a powerful solo by Drake. Then Parker steps in as naturally as can be and delivers a solo of his own. When that is done, the four reconnoiter and resume playing together for results that are as magnificent as the transitions are natural.
I love jazz because anything is possible; it has few rules and the best jazz breaks those ones. I prefer free improv because it doesn't really have any rules at all.
I was first exposed to jazz in my teens (in the late sixties).
The first jazz record I bought was Filles de Kilimanjaro by Miles Davis, shortly followed by Extrapolation by John McLaughlin.
My advice to new listeners is to listen as widely as possible and not to make snap judgments--stick with it.