As a musician, Charles Tolliver almost has it all. He has gained international respect from critics and peers, as well as a grateful and patient sliver of the market that purchases his scant recordings as a leader and attends his infrequent presentations. Thus Tolliver, because of his unprolific discography and absence from the market as a performer, is a minor transitional figure in the history of jazz trumpet playing, notwithstanding his actual or eventual legacy as a label owner, musician, composer, and teacher. A figure, however, by any other name is, well, a figure nonetheless! Therefore, Tolliver is now the subject of a Mosaic Select three-disc set in what might be, according to Michael Cuscuna, "the first in a line of co-ventures between Mosaic and [Tolliver and pianist Stanley Cowell's] Strata-East label.
Previously released material that has seen various editions encompasses most of these live early '70s dates. The first disc, recorded in 1970, is Live at Slugs; the second, from 1973, is Live in Tokyo; and the third, and perhaps most important, features six previously unreleased performances split evenly betweenthe aforementioned sessions.
Tolliver's two versions of Music Inc. featured here perform superior hardcore hard bop material with sympathies toward structured-yet-freer jazz stylistic tendencies. Indeed, plenty of gritted heart characterizes the writing and performance of this musical link between the last gasps of bop glory in the '60s and the Young Lions period. "Felicite and "Truth," for example, are forcefully melodic and endowed with just the right touch from all concerned. Swinging changes, as well as ethnic seasonings, frame the leader's fast runs and precise flutters in "Orientale. The latter's sinuously mysterious arched bass solo is met on brighter musical terms on "Effi.
"'Round Midnight is all about deeply gutted feeling and it sounds good. A previously unreleased twenty-plus minute version of "Our Second Father (Dedicated to the Memory of John Coltrane)," from the Tokyo date, is now available. It's rewarding to compare the respective hefty chops displayed by both editions of Music Inc. as they interpret it, as well as "Drought.
CD1: Drought (A); Felicite (A); Orientale (A); Spanning (A); Wilpan's (A); Our Second
Father (Dedicated to the memory of John Coltrane) (A CD2: Drought (B); Stretch (B); Truth
(B); Effi (B); 'Round Midnight (B CD3: On The Nile (A); Ruthie;s Heart (Dedicated to my
mother) (A); Repetition (A); Impact (B); Our Second Father (Dedicated to the memory of
John Coltrane) (B); Earl's World (Dedicated to my brother) (B).
(A) Charles Tolliver: trumpet; Stanley Cowell: piano; Cecil McBee: bass; Jimmy Hopps:
drums. (B) Charles Tolliver: trumpet: Stanley Cowell: piano; Clint Houston: bass; Clifford
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