Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for readers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

432

Billy Harper: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 2

By

Sign in to view read count
Tenor saxophonist Billy Harper has been keeping the jazz fires kindled by the ritualistic, incantatory side of the classic John Coltrane Quartet stoked and burning bright for over a quarter-century. Here Harper's working quintet, augmented by a second bassist, presents a program redolent of the processional and the chant. Over it all, Harper's coruscating, brawny tenor strides like a colossus (only Sonny Rollins may have a richer, fuller tone) with a charged intensity matching the roiling, loping, massed rhythms of drums, a pair of basses and the McCoy Tyner-ish tidal waves of pianist Francesca Tanksley. Adding to the incantatory aura of the CD is Amiri Baraka, whose recited prose poem, "Where Dat Stuff Come From?," is heard over the first two, long tracks, "Africa Revisited" (adapted from Coltrane's "Africa") and "Knowledge of Self."

Baraka reshapes the history of jazz and the Middle Passage into a mythic fable, full of praise for heroes and heroines (like the "blue wonderfulness" of Duke Ellington or Louis Armstrong, who people trailed around to see "if he had a gimmick. He did: It was him." Or how Coltrane "had to get Thelonious Monkishly profound.") Baraka reappears on the final track, "Oh...If Only," delivering his "Where Does the Music Come From?," both an affirmation of African musical roots and an acknowledgment of how far the music has come (he tells how Tony Williams played his drum kit in Africa and the people answered: "We hear you all but we do not understand you.")

In between the Baraka tracks are six pieces ranging from "a new kind of blues"; a gripping, pensive ballad dominated by a tenor sax/piano duet; a "Time and Time Again" sporting three meters in stormy cross-currents; Harper singing "Amazing Grace" (quite movingly) and the visceral highlight, "Cast the First Stone?," that Harper says, "has that raw thing that I like in the music," including a repeating four-note kicker that gives that grabbed-by-the-collar-and-shaken feel. Tanksley and trumpeter Keyon Harrold match the fierce intensity of Harper's solos, making the track a perfervid cri de coeur.

Track Listing: Africa Revisited; Knowledge of Self; Another Kind of Thoroughbred; Thoughts and Slow Actions; Time and Time Again; Who Here Can Judge Our Fates?; Amazing Grace; Cast the First Stone? (...If You Yourself Have No Sins); Oh...If Only.

Personnel: Billy Harper: tenor sax, vocal; Amiri Baraka: spoken word; Francesca Tanksley: piano; Aaron Scott: drums, percussion; Keyon Harrold: trumpet, French horn; Charles McNeal: alto sax; Clarence Seay: bass; Louie Spears: bass.

Title: Blueprints of Jazz, Vol. 2 | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Talking House Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read OR CD/LP/Track Review OR
by Geno Thackara
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Reaching Out CD/LP/Track Review Reaching Out
by Mark Corroto
Published: January 18, 2018
Read The Songbook Project CD/LP/Track Review The Songbook Project
by Don Phipps
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Solo a Genova CD/LP/Track Review Solo a Genova
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: January 18, 2018
Read Satoko Fujii Solo CD/LP/Track Review Satoko Fujii Solo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: January 17, 2018
Read when the shade is stretched CD/LP/Track Review when the shade is stretched
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 17, 2018
Read "Chain" CD/LP/Track Review Chain
by John Sharpe
Published: December 1, 2017
Read "Hesitantly Pleasant" CD/LP/Track Review Hesitantly Pleasant
by John Sharpe
Published: November 12, 2017
Read "Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns" CD/LP/Track Review Makes the Heart to Sing: Jazz Hymns
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2017
Read "Standards" CD/LP/Track Review Standards
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 16, 2017
Read "Vit" CD/LP/Track Review Vit
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 7, 2017
Read "Juxtaposition" CD/LP/Track Review Juxtaposition
by David A. Orthmann
Published: March 9, 2017