133

Grachan Moncur III Octet: Exploration

Jerry D'Souza By

Sign in to view read count
Grachan Moncur III Octet: Exploration It is a crying shame that some of the best jazz musicians have to languish in obscurity. There are many reasons, but a review is not necessarily the place to go into them. Suffice to say that it is a moment worth cherishing when a stalwart comes in from out of the beyond to make his presence felt.

Grachan Moncur III was a forward thinker who made some of the most powerful music of the sixties with compatriots like Jackie McLean, Wayne Shorter, Tony Williams, Roscoe Mitchell and Dave Burrell. That trend continued into the next decade with Perry Robinson and Leroy Jenkins. Now, thirty years later, he is back leading an octet, thanks to Mark Masters, who contacted Moncur, conceived the project, and then went on to arrange and conduct the music.

Masters' vision does not eclipse the sinew and the grace Moncur invests in his music. Credit the musicians as the affirming force which gives the written and the free a new vision. The selections are well balanced and offer a comprehensive look into the skill of Moncur as composer. "Monk in Wonderland" exhilarates, the rich harmonic pulse probed first by Gary Smulyan on baritone sax and then by Gary Bartz on the alto, both digging in and luxuriating in a cornucopia of invention. The four-part suite "New Africa" offers an interesting study in contrast. The music passes through diverse moods and tempos that nevertheless flow seamlessly.

The horns glisten and shimmer for "Queen Tamam," the sheen edged by the tenor of Billy Harper. From there it opens up to usher in a percussive beat, a hard bopping tenor, a lick of the blues, some free propulsion, all the segments cleaving into a tantalizing whole. The tumble and spin of a free spirited "Excursion" is an unmitigated delight—no holds barred, no definitions set, just a vision at the end of the rambunctiousness.

This is a welcome return for Moncur. Hopefully, he will be making more music. We have waited all too long.


Track Listing: Exploration; Monk in Wonderland; Love and Hate; New Africa: a) Queen Tamam, b) New Africa, c) Black Call, d) Ethiopian Market; When?; Frankenstein; Excursion; Sonny's Back!

Personnel: 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; Grachan Moncur III--trombone

Year Released: 2005 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
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 "Miniatures" CD/LP/Track Review Miniatures
by Mark Sullivan
Published: July 20, 2016
Read "Nomade Orquestra" CD/LP/Track Review Nomade Orquestra
by Chris M. Slawecki
Published: August 5, 2016
Read "My Head is Listening" CD/LP/Track Review My Head is Listening
by Glenn Astarita
Published: February 2, 2017
Read "Fake It Until You Make It" CD/LP/Track Review Fake It Until You Make It
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 17, 2016
Read "Occasional Poems" CD/LP/Track Review Occasional Poems
by John Sharpe
Published: April 4, 2016
Read "Hark The Herald" CD/LP/Track Review Hark The Herald
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 6, 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!