Home » Jazz Articles » Sam Rivers: Caldera

10
Album Review

Sam Rivers: Caldera

By

Sign in to view read count
Sam Rivers: Caldera
Caldera constitutes an impressive final entry in the Lithuanian NoBusiness imprint's Sam Rivers Archive Project. It showcases the legendary multi-instrumentalist's longstanding trio with bassist Doug Matthews and drummer Anthony Cole, which he established two years after his relocation from New York to Florida in 1991 and which remained active until 2006.

During its existence, the outfit made three albums, of which the pick is Firestorm (Rivbea, 1998). The threesome provided arguably one of the most empathetic settings for Rivers' potent expression since his mid-1970s bands with bassist Dave Holland and drummer Barry Altschul. As a bonus, it also offered Rivers an extended palette as each member doubles, Matthews on bass clarinet and Cole on tenor saxophone and piano, an appealing resource for a prolific composer such as Rivers who had over 400 pieces in his large ensemble book.

Both Cole and Matthews enjoy unaccompanied segments, but characteristically in Rivers' universe, they form integral parts of the performance, as exemplified by the way in which the bassist's bowing segues into a spirited conversation between Rivers' soprano wail and Cole's intertwining tenor, before Matthews dons his bass clarinet for a woodwind trio rendition of Rivers' "Unity."

Although by the time of recording in 2002, Rivers was 80 years old and not breaking new ground, this set is notable for several reasons. Unlike the group's other outings, it contains three lengthy improvised sections, out of which compositions eventually emerge, with original tunes like old favorite "Beatrice" and "Offering" spicing the freewheeling flow with variety and focal points.

Furthermore, by happy coincidence Rivers found two pianos on stage in the New Orleans arts center where this concert was taped. He takes full advantage, opening the show in a volatile keyboard duet with Cole, full of tumultuous clusters, sparkling single note runs, and energetic rhythmic motifs, all accompanied by Matthews' careening double bass. As often the case throughout his career, Rivers tempers the fiery pulsation with a shift to an infectious groove, a gambit he revisits during later improvisations featuring his dancing flute and magisterial tenor saxophone.

Even following his death in 2012, Rivers remains a towering figure. Although a renowned free player, his roots in the jazz canon are impeccable, having played or recorded with Billie Holiday, Dizzy Gillespie, Tadd Dameron, Miles Davis and Cecil Taylor among many others. Consequently his music confidently straddles the inside/outside dichotomy, a borderline which Matthews and Cole also navigate with thrilling ease. Caldera proves a fitting finale to a project which has amply reaffirmed Rivers' stature.

Track Listing

Improvisation I; Bass Solo; Unity; Beatrice; Drum Solo; Improvisation II’ Offering; Improvisation III.

Personnel

Sam Rivers: saxophone, tenor; Doug Mathews: bass, acoustic; Anthony Cole: drums.

Additional Instrumentation

Sam Rivers: tenor saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute, piano, vocals; Doug Mathews: upright bass, electric bass, bass clarinet; Anthony Cole: drums, tenor saxophone, piano.

Album information

Title: Caldera | Year Released: 2022 | 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

In a Funk
The Justin Haynes Jazz Collective
Live In Lisbon
Ben Monder / Tony Malaby / Tom Rainey
Reminiscing at Rudy's
Houston Person

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

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