164

Grachan Moncur III Octet: Exploration

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Grachan Moncur III Octet: Exploration Trombonist and composer Grachan Moncur III made a memorable impact forty years ago with his challenging compositions and austere improvising style. He then maintained a very low profile for decades, teaching, recording only rarely, and encountering dental problems. Now he's made a welcome return to recording with the absolutely stunning CD Exploration.

In the 1960's, Moncur's trombone style was notable for breaking away from the then-prevalent model of J.J. Johnson. Rather than play bebop acrobatics, Moncur played spare lines characterised by his use of space. He still plays that way, but he sounds more relaxed. He plays with a great variety of phrase lengths and tonal approaches, from rueful lyricism on "Love And Hate" to a burry sound on faster pieces. But it's his compositions that make this album so rewarding. Except for the short free improvisation "Excursion," they're all from the 1960s, using strategies such as changing time signatures ("Monk In Wonderland") or multiple themes ("New Africa") that were innovative at the time, coupled with striking, declamatory melodies. These performances, arranged in brilliant, even startling fashion by Mark Masters, don't look back. The voicings, riffs, and interludes devised by Masters, along with the absence of a chordal instrument, give Exploration a sound that looks forward, as Moncur always does.

The arrangements are played with crackling intensity by this sterling octet, and the improvisations follow suit. Suffice it to say that every solo is impressive, but Bartz is especially good on "Frankenstein," Harper on "Love And Hate," and Clark shines on the title track. Drummond and Cyrille are an ideal rhythm team. They intertwine with the soloists even as they generate fiery swing; Drummond's empathy with Moncur on "New Africa" is quite notable. Hearty congratulations are due all around, to Moncur, to the sidemen, to Masters, to everyone involved with the project. Exploration is a great record.


Track Listing: Exploration, Monk In Wonderland, Love And Hate, New Africa, When?, Frankenstein, Excursion, Sonny's Back.

Personnel: Grachan Moncur III, trombone; Tim Hagans, trumpet; John Clark, French horn; Dave Woodley, trombone; Gary Bartz, alto saxophone; Billy Harper, tenor saxophone; Gary Smulyan, baritone saxophone; Ray Drummond, bass; Andrew Cyrille; drums.

Year Released: 2004 | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read Desire & Freedom CD/LP/Track Review Desire & Freedom
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 19, 2017
Read On Hollywood Boulevard CD/LP/Track Review On Hollywood Boulevard
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Motorman's Son CD/LP/Track Review The Motorman's Son
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Touch My Beloved's Thought" CD/LP/Track Review Touch My Beloved's Thought
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 7, 2016
Read "Upset The Status Quo" CD/LP/Track Review Upset The Status Quo
by James Nadal
Published: May 11, 2016
Read "Rise Of Orion" CD/LP/Track Review Rise Of Orion
by Karl Ackermann
Published: December 15, 2016
Read "Eleven Promises" CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Promises
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: July 30, 2016
Read "Classic! Live at Newport" CD/LP/Track Review Classic! Live at Newport
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 8, 2016
Read "Prick of the Litter" CD/LP/Track Review Prick of the Litter
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: January 28, 2017

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!

Buy it!