Among the free set, Albert Ayler tributes have become a sort of rite of passage. It's a fitting setting to elaborate the fundamentally spiritual aspects of the music. Witness Peter Brotzmann's '94 Die Like A Dog Trio, which reminded the world that his musical conception extends far beyond screeches and snarls. Or David Murray's more open-ended '77 Flowers for Albert, which ignited a persistent debate over Murray's seemingly ubiquitous Aylerisms. Both records were defining moments in the respective saxophonist's careers. These things often end up saying a lot. (And that's fitting, given the inspiration.)
Rent Romus steps to the stage with his quartet Lords of Outland to tackle Ayler once more for the world. And it's a remarkable success. Avatar in the Field takes Ayler tunes and some originals, and re-examines them in light of events from the '60s revolution in free jazz. Romus has the range: his voice on the saxophone covers an amazingly wide spectrum of the vocalizations which Ayler used to redefine jazz. Whether rumbling, growling, shreiking, or simply warbling away, Romus does the saxophone right. His Lords quartet (with trombonist Toyoji Tomita cast as the second lead) also fits well together. Toyoji's 'bone offers many a somber echo to the sax cadences, and he also speaks convincingly on his own, with a fine sense of balance. The rhythm section in Lords of the Realm is where we most prominently hear the progress of freee jazz since the '60s. Bassist Bill Noertker settles with drummer Dave Mihaly into some wicked grooves that owe everything to the music of the '70s; yet they also fragment into accents and colors with equal ease. And when the bassist takes the lead, one has the sense that he's got the drummer by the hand.
If you're into spiritual free jazz, check this one out. And if it takes you back to the music of Ayler, even better.
Track Listing: Avatar in the Field; Holy Spirit; Intro to Zion Hill; Zion Hill; Aces for Albert; Vibrations; V/F Bright and Noble; Dancing Flowers; Snow Ghost; Our Prayer.
Personnel: Rent Romus: alto and soprano saxophones, voice, piccolo; Toyoji Tomita: trombone; Bill Noertker: bass, recorder; Dave Mihaly: drums, percussion, odd things.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.