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 Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read The Invariant CD/LP/Track Review The Invariant
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 22, 2017
Read Akua's Dance CD/LP/Track Review Akua's Dance
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 21, 2017
Read Daylight Ghosts CD/LP/Track Review Daylight Ghosts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: February 21, 2017
Read "2016" CD/LP/Track Review 2016
by Chris Mosey
Published: November 13, 2016
Read "Oscar, with Love" CD/LP/Track Review Oscar, with Love
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 19, 2016
Read "Red Rocks 7/8/78" CD/LP/Track Review Red Rocks 7/8/78
by Doug Collette
Published: June 12, 2016
Read "Love Dance" CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read "2nd Thoughts" CD/LP/Track Review 2nd Thoughts
by Mark Sullivan
Published: January 8, 2017
Read "Henry" CD/LP/Track Review Henry
by Ian Patterson
Published: December 1, 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!

Buy it!