Home » Jazz Articles » Jimmy Lyons: Jimmy Lyons Box Set

413

Album Review

Jimmy Lyons: Jimmy Lyons Box Set

By

Sign in to view read count
Jimmy Lyons: Jimmy Lyons Box Set
Add Jimmy Lyons' name to the list of under-appreciated jazz musicians. Despite several solo albums and side projects, his destiny irrevocably links him to Cecil Taylor. No other musician has a longer association with the revolutionary pianist, and no other musician seemed so intent on keeping Taylor honest jazzwise. While as fearless and inventive as anyone playing free jazz, the alto saxophonist always kept something of Charlie Parker in his playing no matter how far outside he went. That effervescent phrasing, the streaming ideas, and phrase-ending lilt made him indispensable to Taylor's Units. He was usually the most overtly playful voice in any ensemble. Where he went and how he got there remained a surprise, but the white-knuckle ride always justified the trip.

Ayler Records brings Lyons out from behind Taylor's imposing shadow with a lovingly produced 5-CD live set, each disc featuring a concert from a different year, beginning in '72 and ending in '85, a year before his untimely death. While the tapes were recorded casually without thought of commercial release, the performances themselves override any quibbling over sound quality. While Taylor himself is absent, Lyons surrounds himself with various Unit alumni, including William Parker, Karen Borca, and Raphe Malik.

The Jimmy Lyons Quartet recorded at Sam Rivers' Rivbea loft space in '72 gets things started with Lyons, trumpeter Raphe Malik, drummer Sydney Smart, and bassist Hayes Burnett. On 'Jump Up,' Burnett sets a steady bass with Smart busily beating along. Lyons and Malik play a little tag, then Lyons plays it cool before slipping the leash and taking off. Malik takes his time over the tumultuous rhythm section, but after some nudging from Jimmy he flies into smears and runs.

Returning to Rivers' loft in '75, Lyons and Burnett join Henry Letcher for some trio variations. On 'Heritage II,' Letcher stays fairly steady while Burnett and Lyons go exploring. Lyons sings in short burst phrases, launching cluster upon cluster. After extensive variations, the saxophonist moves into extended territory before coming back for many measures of sweetly voiced inventions.

Jimmy goes solo from a performance in '81, playing mid-range and dropping to hit root notes with ease. From '84, Karen Borca joins him on bassoon and Paul Murphy drums for 'We Sneezawee.' Lyons sails through the piece with Murphy right there with him. Borca adds some accents, but during her solo she shows herself capable of replying in kind.

The concert from '85 recovers the quartet format, again with Borca and Murphy, this time with William Parker on bass. 'Shakin' Back' has Parker taking on the daunting task of creating at Jimmy's pace. Lyons eases up a bit a lets Parker lead. Borca gives no slack and takes her solo at breakneck speed.

Included in the package are rare photos and the most exhaustive biography of Lyons available. Priding itself on the quality of its unissued live performances, Ayler has added a valuable entry to the Jimmy Lyons discography.

Personnel

Jimmy Lyons, alto sax; Karen Borca, bassoon; Hayes Burnett, William Parker, bass; Henry Letcher, Paul Murphy, Sydney Smart, drums; Ralph Malik, trumpet.

Album information

Title: Jimmy Lyons Box Set | Year Released: 2003 | Record Label: Ayler Records

Post a comment about this album


FOR THE LOVE OF JAZZ
Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

WE NEED YOUR HELP
To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

Tags

More

The Pan American Nutcracker Suite
Joe McCarthy's New York Afro Bop Alliance Big Band
Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and...
Gordon Grdina's The Twain feat. Dōjō and...
Senkya Padna
Bodurov Trio

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and includes upcoming jazz events near you.