Home » Jazz Articles » Sam Rivers: Braids

5
Album Review

Sam Rivers: Braids

By

Sign in to view read count
Sam Rivers: Braids
With the fourth issue in its Sam Rivers archival series, the NoBusiness imprint has unearthed a cracking concert recording of a terrific quartet, completed by bassist Dave Holland, drummer Thurman Barker and tubaist Joe Daley. Very few can match Rivers' breadth of experience, which includes not only with leading lights of the 1960s New Thing like Cecil Taylor, Albert Ayler and Bill Dixon, but also stylistic antecedents like Billie Holiday, Miles Davis and Dizzy Gillespie (the last during the late 1980s). What that indicates is an openness affirmed by Rivers' freewheeling anything-goes approach with this band.

This 1979 radio broadcast from Hamburg comes nine months after the same group waxed Waves (Tomato, 1979), Barker's first encounter with Rivers. He was certainly fully assimilated by the time of this date, playing an equal part in the seamless flow. Even so, Holland remains supremely at home in Rivers' music. After some seven years collaboration they enjoy near telepathic communication, changing tack so instantaneously that it can sound prearranged. Similarly, some of the melodic figures that Rivers extemporizes, reworks and reprises are likely the product of years of touring rather than charts.

The first of two selections, "An Evening In Hamburg Part I," might be a mini suite for Rivers' tenor saxophone. It passes through multiple emotional terrains, beginning with a frothing rubato, until Holland starts a swinging vamp and Rivers turns boppish, periodically goosed by Barker's exploding accents. A chamber section follows in which both Daley and Holland elegantly counterpoint Rivers' sinewy lines, before going out, the tuba yodelling rejoinders to the saxophonist's yelping scream in animated interaction. What must number among Rivers' finest tenor outings on record closes with a dirge-like wind down after 18-minutes.

Each member of the group proves adept at hinting at form, even when it's not explicitly present, both through dramatic solo development (both Barker and Holland deliver tremendous unaccompanied spots in "Part II") and through the cohesive arc of ensemble performance.

One splendid example of on-the-fly arrangement surfaces during "Part II" when Rivers embarks on a jaunty flute groove. At first only Daley keeps him company, his tuba dancing nimbly in consort, while Holland and Barker hold back just when you would expect them to slot in behind. They eventually add light accompaniment, Barker seemingly on tambourine initially, until finally Rivers introduces the breezy refrain, which later appeared as "Verve" on Contrasts (ECM, 1980), for a joyous payoff and end to a thoroughly entertaining album.

Track Listing

An Evening in Hamburg - Part One; An Evening in Hamburg - Part Two.

Personnel

Sam Rivers: saxophone, tenor; Dave Holland: bass; Joe Daley: tuba; Thurman Barker: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Sam Rivers: also piano, flute

Album information

Title: Braids | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Post a comment about this album

Tags

More

Freedom
Albare & Co.
Fire Hills
Olie Brice Trio / Octet
Far Horizons
Brian Auger and the Trinity

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.