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Free-Garde. Free Jazz and Avant-garde were the same evolutionary answer to Bebop that Bebop was to Swing. Both movements represented a loosening of the previous genre’s harmonic constraints, exploring the near accepted and the taboo. To our ears today, the sound of early Ornette Coleman’s (pre- Free Jazz ) Atlantic recordings does not sound so strange. Miles Davis’ great ‘60s quintet went a long way to opening the ears of a jazz listening public. It was these prodromal influences that make the music of Dave Ballou readily listenable and enjoyable.
Amongst Ourselves is Dave Ballou’s maiden voyage as a leader. Producer Nils Winther was so impressed with Ballou’s contribution to Steve LaSpina’s CD When Children Smile (Steeplechase 31419) he wanted to ink him right away. The result of this urgency is Amongst Ourselves, recorded in 1997 and released a year later. For his first date as a leader, Ballou selected the formidable and adaptable rhythm section of bassist Michael Formanek and drummer Jeff Williams. In front with him is tenorist Tony Malaby, who plays an effective id to Ballou’s ego as well as sharing the composing duties on the disc.
This rambunctious, almost out of control music. If Coleman’s Free Jazz and Coltrane’s Live in Japan are free association exercises, then Amongst Ourselves is a tonal Rorschach’s test. The music probes the area where composition and improvisation dissolve into one another without losing impact or meaning. This disc would be of interest to all of those Freebirds and Avant-garde flagbearers. Moldy Figs beware!
Track Listing: All About Joey; Blake?s Vision; Amongst Ourselves; Phone Queen; Boom Boom; The Great Matter; 7.5; Line; J.W.; Bidu; Skud. (Total Time: 62:22)
Personnel: Dave Ballou: Trumpet; Tony Malaby: Tenor Saxophone; Michael Formanek; Jeff Williams: Drums.
I love jazz because it’s what sounds
I was first exposed to jazz in my
parents household and in school
I appreciate many styles of jazz
and shy away from really outside
stuff. I enjoy relating to the
One of the best shows I ever
attended was 1975 Chick Corea’s
Return To Forever tour at an
intimate venue in downtown
The first jazz record I bought was
Herbie Hancock’s Chameleon.
My advice to new listeners is try
several styles before you decide
what jazz is all about!
Listen to music daily and stay open