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Henry Franklin: Jazz Is Dead 14

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Henry Franklin: Jazz Is Dead 14
Adrian Younge and Ali Shaheed Muhammad's Jazz Is Dead label is a moveable feast when it comes to consistency. In its fourteen albums date, there have been some great ones, some not so great ones and a couple of duds. With bassist Henry Franklin, however, the label has come up with a blinder, its most satisfying disc to date.

Los Angeles-based Franklin is not well known beyond musician circles, but his track record is distinguished. He has released twenty-two own-name albums since 1972, all of them, unhelpfully, on low-profile indie labels. He has recorded as a sideman on major labels with Hampton Hawes, Bobbi Humphrey, Julian Priester, Freddie Redd, Woody Shaw and The Three Sounds, among others. He has performed with Pharoah Sanders, Archie Shepp, Freddie Hubbard, Ornette Coleman, Don Cherry, Sonny Rollins, Milt Jackson and Bobby Hutcherson, and a host of other A-listers. In 1968 he played on Hugh Masekela's number one single "Grazing In The Grass" (Uni).

With Jazz Is Dead 14, Younge and Muhammad have done Franklin proud. The band is killer. It includes guitarist Jeff Parker, trumpeter Clinton Patterson, alto saxophonist David Urquidi, tenor saxophonist Scott Mayo and drummer Jonathan Pinson. Younge plays acoustic piano, Fender Rhodes, Hammond B3 and clavinet. The eight tracks are all originals co-credited to Franklin, Younge and Muhammad. Their textural and emotional scope is broad, ranging from tender and poignant ("Memories Lost," "A Song For Sigrid") through turbulent ("Feedback") and take in a bossa nova ("Café Negro") along the way. They all have strong tunes and one suspects Franklin was the chief writer.

As producers, one also suspects that Younge and Muhammad applied an uncustomarily light hand to the proceedings. As Creed Taylor said about "producing" John Coltrane's Africa/Brass (Impulse!, 1961): "You don't produce John Coltrane. I basically just made sure the lights were on and that he and Rudy [Van Gelder] had what they needed." Now in his ninth decade, Franklin knows what he is doing.

Album playing time is short at thirty-one minutes, giving each track an average duration of under four minutes. So while there are lots of solos, they are necessarily brief (and concision is a wonderful thing). With Jazz Is Dead 14, feel the quality, not the width.

Track Listing

Karibu; The Griot; People's Revolution; Memories Lost; Feedback; Cafe Negro; African Sun; A Song For Sigrid.

Personnel

Henry Franklin: bass; Clinton Patterson: trumpet; David Urquidi: saxophone, alto; Scott Mayo: saxophone; Adrian Younge: keyboards; Jeff Parker: guitar; Jonathan Pinson: drums; Nicholas Baker: percussion.

Album information

Title: Jazz Is Dead 14 | Year Released: 2022 | Record Label: Jazz Is Dead


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