Essence; Live at Vision Festival X, NYC

Jeff Stockton By

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Don Ellis
Mighty Quinn

Trumpeter Don Ellis was at the nexus of West Coast jazz in the late '50s and early '60s, a veteran of several big bands who appeared on Mingus Dynasty before recording Essence in 1962 (here reissued for the first time). The styles and tempos change (or disappear), but Ellis always plays with a pure tone, emotional restraint and a logical flow that has every note following naturally from the one preceding it. "Slow Space is similar to the silence-heavy music pianist Paul Bley would make with Jimmy Giuffre, and "Irony offers subtle sound effects as Bley reaches into his piano to pluck the strings and someone lets a marble bounce around in a whiskey glass. Ellington and Strayhorn's "Johnny Come Lately is straight-ahead and swinging, and "Angel Eyes is dark and bluesy. Ellis inhabits the standard so convincingly and his playing is so enthralling that you might find yourself hoping he'll carry the tune to its resolution all by himself.

Eddie Gale Now Band with William Parker
Live at Vision Festival X, NYC
Self Released

Last year's tenth annual Vision Festival in New York City marked the return of trumpet legend Eddie Gale. He never went away, of course, remaining active and creative in the Bay Area, but after performing with Cecil Taylor on Unit Structures and releasing his own highly regarded sessions for Blue Note, he only recorded sporadically since. The Now Band lives in the moment, and it's a privilege to hear William Parker sit in for what feels like a special, inspired one-off.

After the band states the compositional themes, each player takes his turn to solo: Parker walks his bass, Gale's tone is scalding and expressive, and altoist John Gruntfest keens savagely. Tenorist Ismael Navarette is smooth by comparison, but he rapidly warms up as the concert progresses, playing soprano with a bite on "African Sunshine. The opening "Remembering John refers to Coltrane, and Gale's music shares Trane's spiritual directive: inner peace can be found, but only after passionate intensity.

Visit Eddie Gale on the web.

Tracks and Personnel


Tracks: Johnny Come Lately; Slow Space; Ostinato; Donkey; Form; Angel Eyes; Irony; Lover.

Personnel: Don Ellis: trumpet; Paul Bley: piano; Gary Peacock: bass; Gene Stone: drums; Nick Martinis: drums.

Live at Vision Festival X, NYC

Tracks: Remembering John; A Minute With Miles; African Sunshine; High Tech Emergency.

Personnel: Eddie Gale: trumpet; William Parker: bass; John Gruntfest: alto saxophone; Ismael Navarette: tenor and soprano saxophone; Valerie Mih: piano; Tee Squire Holman: drums.


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