192

Greene/Silva/Friedman/Winter/Walker: Free Form Improvisation Ensemble

Derek Taylor By

Sign in to view read count
Calendar dates and the inceptions of musical styles don’t always mix. When was the actual birth of bebop? When was the definitive beginning of fusion? Specific dates are not readily applicable to these historic milestones mainly because musical revolutions rarely transpire in strictly linear progressions. In the absence of absolute dates recordings are often assigned the distinction of denoting when styles surfaced. The work of the Free Form Improvisation Ensemble (FFIE) gathered on this disc is widely regarded among those that have actually heard it as the first instances of a completely spontaneous composition. Ornette Coleman is often cited as one of the earliest pioneers of free improvisation in jazz, but even his late 50s experiments contained elements of preconceived structure. By comparison the FFIE’s entire rubric revolved around converging together without any kind of premeditated consensus as to where their music would take them.

Whether the FFIE is indeed the first free form composing ensemble is debatable. Definitive firsts in music are always tenuous and subject to revision. What matters most about the FFIE is not whether they were the first group to delve into a particular approach to music, but the music they created itself. Fortunately for those of us who weren’t around to experience the dozen or so performances that comprised their career as a unit this disc provides an excellent snapshot of both their sound and vision. Silva and Greene are perhaps the most recognizable names in the group, but the self-professed purpose of the ensemble is collective communication over individual voicing and each man serves as an isonomic cog in the organic machine.

The recording clarity of “Eat Eat” suggests a studio environment. Unfolding across nearly half an hour length the piece is a beautiful encapsulation of the FFIE’s esthetic. The players roam across a startling array of spontaneously devised rhythmic and harmonic structures merging modern classical structures with jazz-based improvisation. The effect is so smoothly rendered that the piece’s lengthy duration dissipates rapidly without any feeling that the players are being too verbose in their creations. The final three tracks were garnered from a live concert performance at Judson Hall- a venue renowned for hosting performances by many of the guiding lights in free jazz during the 60s. The clarity of sound is again stunning considering the recordings’ origins and vintage. “Composition 1” works off an enlivening series of duets first between Winter and Silva and later between Silva and Greene. Greene’s piano harp is featured prominently and gives the music a dark, metallic edge in tandem with Silva’s mercurial bow. On “Composition 2” Friedman’s ravenous, wailing alto conjures a more jazz-grounded mood atop crashing drums and agitated piano. Sharp jagged tonalities are the opening focus on the ominous “Composition 3.” Alto and then flute act as catalyzing agents across a transfiguring undercurrent of dense rhythms generated by Greene, Silva and Walker.

As a document preserving this nearly forgotten group this disc succeeds immeasurably. Hints are made in the extensive liner notes of over forty hours of recordings made by the FFIE during the same time span as those presented here. If we’re lucky portions of these tapes will be unearthed soon and made available providing listeners with an even more complete picture of the important work these five men were forging.

Track Listing: Eat Eat/ Free Form Composition 1/ Free Form Composition 2/ Free Form Composition 3.

Recorded: April 3, 1964 NYC and December 30, 1964, Judson Hall, NYC.

Cadence Jazz Records are available directly from North Country Distributors (http://www.cadencebuilding.com)

Personnel: Burton Greene- piano, piano harp; Gary William Friedman- alto saxophone; Jon Winter- flutes; Alan Silva- bass; Clarence Walker- drums.

| Record Label: CJR | Style: Modern Jazz


Shop

More Articles

Read Rags And Roots CD/LP/Track Review Rags And Roots
by James Nadal
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Tangled CD/LP/Track Review Tangled
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Is It Me...? CD/LP/Track Review Is It Me...?
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review Live
by Bruce Lindsay
Published: April 25, 2017
Read 14.11.2016 CD/LP/Track Review 14.11.2016
by Nicola Negri
Published: April 25, 2017
Read Malnoia CD/LP/Track Review Malnoia
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: April 24, 2017
Read "In Denmark 1959-1960" CD/LP/Track Review In Denmark 1959-1960
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 18, 2016
Read "Jersey" CD/LP/Track Review Jersey
by Hrayr Attarian
Published: July 9, 2016
Read "New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard" CD/LP/Track Review New Spring - Live At The Village Vanguard
by Budd Kopman
Published: November 8, 2016
Read "The Meeting" CD/LP/Track Review The Meeting
by Edward Blanco
Published: May 17, 2016
Read "Night Music" CD/LP/Track Review Night Music
by Jack Bowers
Published: October 4, 2016
Read "My Blue Soul" CD/LP/Track Review My Blue Soul
by James Nadal
Published: May 10, 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!