Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

153

Sam Rivers: Fuchsia Swing Song

Greg Simmons By

Sign in to view read count
The Music Matters reissue of saxophonist Sam Rivers' Fuchsia Swing Song is likely the finest pressing of this record ever produced. Remastered from the original two- track tapes, and pressed on two 180 gram 45 rpm LPs, this vinyl is dead quiet, and sonically stunning. The instruments are huge in the soundstage and the clarity blows any CD version—and likely most prior vinyl versions—out of the water. Add to that a gorgeous gatefold cover with additional session photos and thick plastic sleeve liners, and this truly ranks as a first-class, ultra deluxe edition of this 1964 Blue Note classic.

But the music—oh, that music!

Sam Rivers' first album as a leader, as well as his first album for Blue Note, blends two of the major saxophone schools of the day. By 1960, jazz tenor had been redefined by the very different playing styles of Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane. Rollins was (and remains to this day) a melodist at heart which, even when he was stretching out his improvisations, left them accessible and easily contextualized. On the other hand, Coltrane's genius was built on his fearless harmonic inventions, speed, and raw emotion. Rivers' achievement with Fuchsia Swing Song is how successfully he blends those two schools of performance in his own voice.

The first few bars of the opening title track are indeed a pretty, well-defined melody: very Rollins-esque with a warm, if somewhat loose, breathy delivery. But that doesn't last long. Rivers begins improvising after just one turn of the melody, immediately blending components as diverse as Coltrane's "sheets of sound," as he pushes the boundaries of his horn into false notes, before throwing in a few traditional threads of bebop. There is a lot going on in this track and Rivers' enormous skills hang it all together.

"Cyclic Episode" takes it all even further out. Opening again with a defined melody, the tune quickly pushes the boundaries of its structure as pianist Jaki Byard uses his comping to distort the rhythm and key signature, before allowing it all to snap back into place for an aggressive Rivers solo. But when Byard takes his turn he quiets it down dramatically, slowing the tempo until, with the drums laying out, he achieves a soft, almost Bill Evans-style melancholy before exploding back into the original theme with his own high flying improvisational statement.

The brilliance of Fuchsia Swing Song is that it's endlessly ingenious at every level. The musicians have an uncanny ability to pull and stretch every passage like taffy without actually breaking the core melodic framework of the tunes. They can be subtle, belligerent, tender, and even completely over the edge, but all of these disparate contributions become integral to one of the most thrillingly satisfying records of the era. Fuchsia Swing Song doesn't seem to garner as much attention as some of the more popular titles in the Blue Note catalog and that's a real crime because this is truly one of the finest jazz albums of the era.

Track Listing: Fuchsia Swing Song; Downstairs Blues Upstairs; Cyclic Episode; Luminous Monolith; Beatrice; Ellipsis.

Personnel: Sam Rivers: tenor saxophone; Jaki Byard: piano; Ron Carter: bass; Tony Williams: drums.

Title: Fuchsia Swing Song | Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Blue Note Records

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Radio
CD/LP/Track Review
Interviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Jazz From The Vinyl Junkyard
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Contrasts

Contrasts

ECM Records
2014

buy
 

Violet Violets

Stunt Records/Sundance Music
2006

buy
Violet Violets

Violet Violets

Stunt Records/Sundance Music
2005

buy

Related Articles

Read Runner in the Rain CD/LP/Track Review
Runner in the Rain
by Troy Dostert
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Cuarteto Europa CD/LP/Track Review
Cuarteto Europa
by Mark Sullivan
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections CD/LP/Track Review
Chicago/Buenos Aires Connections
by Chris Mosey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition CD/LP/Track Review
Beggar’s Banquet 50th Anniversary Edition
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: December 15, 2018
Read Intelsat CD/LP/Track Review
Intelsat
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 15, 2018
Read World Gardens CD/LP/Track Review
World Gardens
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: December 14, 2018
Read "Mønk" CD/LP/Track Review Mønk
by Chris May
Published: September 20, 2018
Read "Geometry of Caves" CD/LP/Track Review Geometry of Caves
by Troy Dostert
Published: July 16, 2018
Read "Radiant Imprints" CD/LP/Track Review Radiant Imprints
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 8, 2018
Read "Egregore" CD/LP/Track Review Egregore
by John Eyles
Published: April 22, 2018
Read "The Stylings Of Champian" CD/LP/Track Review The Stylings Of Champian
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: October 30, 2018
Read "Currents, Constellations" CD/LP/Track Review Currents, Constellations
by Mark Sullivan
Published: April 30, 2018