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Glenn Spearman: First and Last

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Sometimes people don't appreciate good things before they are gone. Take tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman. He made a handful of records which were mostly ignored. He worked with Cecil Taylor for a year and frequently collaborated with trumpeter Raphe Malik. Unfortunately, Spearman died in October of last year. And only now are people starting to notice his amazing talent.

Among his lasting legacies is his trio record First and Last, recorded only three months before his death ("his last ever earth gig, performing or recording"). This live performance with drummer Rashid Bakr and pianist Matthew Goodheart presents the saxophonist exploring a wide range of moods. Playing melodic or howling freely, Spearman spans the emotional spectrum from quiet contemplation to uneasy tension to all-out screaming release. Plenty of post-Ayler playing.

Drummer Bakr does his job so smoothly that you don't notice him a lot of the time, because he manages to predict changes so well. Pianist Goodheart gets a lot of solo time and handles with it by building cascades of sound atop a tonal center—probably because he's also covering the role usually taken by the bassist. But Spearman is the star, because of his range and the power of his expression. Fans of Frank Wright, Albert Ayler, or Jimmy Lyons should grab this record to hear one of the greatest exponents of this tradition.


Track Listing: Intertextual reference; Under the incalculable sky, diseased with stars.

Personnel: Glenn Spearman: tenor saxophone; Rashid Bakr: drums; Matthew Goodheart: piano.

Title: First And Last | Year Released: 1999 | Record Label: Eremite Records


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