One of not-for-profit archive label Jazz In Britain's first releases in early 2020then only on vinyl, but in summer 2021 reissued on CDthe Jamaican-born alto saxophonist and composer Joe Harriott's Chronology Live 196869 is also of interest for the spotlight it throws on another player who moved from his homeland to London in the 1950s, the Canadian-born trumpeter and flugelhornist Kenny Wheeler. The duo are found on all seven tracks, the first five of them quintet recordings from 1968, the last two made with the Harry South big band in 1969.
Experimentally inclined, Harriottwho passed in 1973, still the right side of 45 years oldcombined a funky but out there style which inevitably led to comparisons to Ornette Coleman. Wheeler, who has for decades been best known as a balladic and sometimes melancholic player, was during his early years just as fond of burning things up, and he and Harriott make for a compatible frontline on the quintet tracks.
The album opens with two gloriously funky hard bop tunes by Horace Silver, "Psychedelic Sally" and "Down & Out," before ramping up the tempo with Coleman's spikey but still downhome "Chronology." Harriott's "Shadows" follows, a mostly out-of-time noirish almost-ballad, and at seven minutes the longest quintet track on the album. Wheeler's more conventionally written hard boppish "W.S.I.M.C." brings the motor rhythms back. Harriott continues to shine brightly on the two big band tracks, South's Latinesque and up-tempo "Themeology" and George Gershwin's slow and soulful "My Man's Gone Now."
Recording quality on the quintet tracks, made on group bassist's Ron Mathewson's reel-to-reel, is good. The big band tracks, made on the eighteen-piece drummer's Spike Wells' ditto, are muddy on the ensemble passages, but Harriott himself comes over loud and in full effect. Another valuable release from the estimable Jazz In Britain.
Psychedelic Sally; Down & Out; Chronology; Shadows; W.S.I.M.C.; Themeology; My Man's Gone