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


comments powered by Disqus

Shop

More Articles

Read The Big Wig CD/LP/Track Review The Big Wig
by Ian Patterson
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Dreamer Is the Dream CD/LP/Track Review The Dreamer Is the Dream
by Mark Sullivan
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert CD/LP/Track Review Bill Evans – Another Time: The Hilversum Concert
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 24, 2017
Read The Failure of Words CD/LP/Track Review The Failure of Words
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 24, 2017
Read Groove Dreams CD/LP/Track Review Groove Dreams
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: May 23, 2017
Read Kami Fusen CD/LP/Track Review Kami Fusen
by Glenn Astarita
Published: May 23, 2017
Read "Welcome to Swingsville!" CD/LP/Track Review Welcome to Swingsville!
by Jack Bowers
Published: March 26, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "Get 'Em" CD/LP/Track Review Get 'Em
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "Early Americans" CD/LP/Track Review Early Americans
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: May 30, 2016
Read "A Cry For Peace" CD/LP/Track Review A Cry For Peace
by Geannine Reid
Published: October 24, 2016
Read "Colour And Movement" CD/LP/Track Review Colour And Movement
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: May 9, 2017

Why wait?

Support All About Jazz and we'll deliver exclusive content, hide ads, hide slide-outs, and provide read access to our future articles.

Buy it!