261

Royce Campbell: Elegy to a Friend

Jim Santella By

Sign in to view read count
Royce Campbell: Elegy to a Friend A versatile guitarist, Royce Campbell is equally at home with straight-ahead jazz and pure blues. When he got this group of Indianapolis jazz artists together in September 1990, it was to explore a different region altogether: jazz's modern mainstream. This allowed the quartet to explore, through original compositions, the more creative aspects of their music. Each musician stretches out considerably, and when they come together, it's with imaginative musical statements. Everybody solos prolifically.

The drummer for this session, Stan Gage, passed away two years after the recording was made but before its initial release; hence the decision to honor his memory with the title. Like the others, he remains fired up during this spirited session.

Don't be fooled by the term Elegy in the album's title. This was recorded when Gage was alive with the passion of modern music. As is the custom with most jazz elegies, this album remains hot and lively; filled with the energy that brought them together in the first place.

Campbell's Trane Track provides a stellar example of the forward leap that this unit had decided to take when they came together for this session. Saxophonist Terrence Cook, on soprano, delivers a fiery sermon that pays homage to the later period of John Coltrane. He's followed by a lengthy and creative bass spotlight in which Ratzo Harris launches spontaneous double stops and spit-fire tremolos.

Campbell, meanwhile, moves his guitar gracefully through the entire session, providing the glue. His fluid approach has always been reliable. With this unit, he's willing to let the others have plenty of freedom, but he's always there to unite them.

Gratis, acting precisely on what its title connotes, launches the quartet into a free jazz spirit. Ultra-high harmonics from the double bass, sweeping bow movements that loom eerily, free-form guitar clusters, spontaneous bombs from the drummer, and an array of alto saxophone thrills intended to alarm, provide a fascinating adventure. Yet, the presentation is highly accessible.

Most of the album takes on a milder hue, concentrating on the mainstream and merely seasoning the pot with avant-garde leanings. Drummer Gage can be remembered for his contributions through all the different topics showing up here, as well as for his dynamic solo on the album's opening number. They close with "Elegy to a Friend, which does, indeed, practice the worldwide custom of elegy through its classical definition. Oboe, bass, guitar and muffled cymbals close it on a somber note that moves slowly over a beautiful refrain.

Track Listing: Dancing Waterfall; Apollo; No Blues is Good Blues; Trane Track; Day into Night; Manhattan Mambo; Gratis; Elegy to a Friend.

Personnel: Royce Campbell: guitar; Terrence Cook: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, oboe; Ratzo Harris: bass; Stan Gage: drums.

Year Released: 2007 | Record Label: Moon Cycle | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Speechless CD/LP/Track Review Speechless
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Holiday On Fire CD/LP/Track Review Holiday On Fire
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Calvins Toboggan CD/LP/Track Review Calvins Toboggan
by Matthew Aquiline
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Silent Light CD/LP/Track Review Silent Light
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 27, 2017
Read PausaLive CD/LP/Track Review PausaLive
by Patrick Keyes
Published: April 27, 2017
Read Adam's Apple CD/LP/Track Review Adam's Apple
by Greg Simmons
Published: April 26, 2017
Read "Chronosome" CD/LP/Track Review Chronosome
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 24, 2016
Read "Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works" CD/LP/Track Review Three Worlds: Music From Woolf Works
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: February 4, 2017
Read "Second Impression" CD/LP/Track Review Second Impression
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 14, 2016
Read "Of The Musical" CD/LP/Track Review Of The Musical
by Paul Naser
Published: December 29, 2016
Read "June" CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Swivel" CD/LP/Track Review Swivel
by Mark Corroto
Published: October 16, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM RECORDS | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!