Charles Tolliver, who along with Woody Shaw was arguably the last of the trumpet vanguard that defined the instrument's modern approach, often took the road less traveled, forming his own label, Strata-East Records, in the late '60s. This three-CD Mosaic Select release captures Tolliver (along with his familiar musical colleague, pianist Stanley Cowell) in two concert settings from opposite ends of the jazz globe. In light of the fact that these remarkable sessions have been either out of circulation or unreleased, you have to question why they weren't released earlier.
Rarely does a trumpet player subject himself to a quartet setting; it's just too taxing on the body. In early May of 1970 at Slug's Saloon on New York's Lower East Side and a couple years later in Tokyo, Tolliver and his quartet gave it all they had in an adventurous and breathtaking display of advanced hard bop. With a full, fat tone, Tolliver drives and twists with Cowell, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Jimmy Hopps through over an hour and a half of original music at Slug's. The interplay between Tolliver and Cowell is simply a lesson in symbiotic relationships. There was nothing like it at the time: during a period in the music when everyone was "going electric," Tolliver and Cowell were electrifying.
The concert in Japan with bassist Clint Houston and drummer Clifford Barbaro is possibly even more aggressive and adventurous. Added to the original material is a blistering original dedicated to John Coltrane ("Our Second Father"), which stretches out into twenty minutes of pure, intense creativity. All of the music is accessible, even to those faint of heart, and challenging to even cynical souls.
Track Listing: 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).
Personnel: Charles Tolliver: trumpet; Stanley Cowell: piano. With (A) Cecil McBee: bass; Jimmy Hopps:
drums. (B) Clint Houston: bass; Clifford Barbaro: drums.
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid
I was first exposed to jazz when I was tiny. My earliest memory is watching Ella Fitzgerald scat on a Christmas special when I was no older than four. Like many who are from tiny towns, my first extended exposure was listening to the high school jazz band when I was a kid. For some reason I remember an arrangement of Hey Jude they did. My first real exposure was Stan Kenton in the Smithville, MO high school gym. Kenton and the band director there were old friends, so he would play there from time to time. My dad took me without telling me where we were going and it was the only show he ever took me to. I remember that Bobby Shew played Send In Clowns and I damn near levitated I was so excited. The huge sound and amazing chords floored me. I believe I was 13 at the time. I immediately started practicing and taking lessons. Music became a passion and nearly a career. I also listened to Dick Wright's Jazz Show on KANU every night. I can't even start to explain what I learned lying in bed listening to Dick talk about jazz. I met him once when I was struggling to put together a solo for Joy Spring playing in a combo at KU. Stopped by his office and asked for recommendations. He showed up at my jazz ensemble rehearsal the next day with a tape with example solos. What a kind man Dick Wright was.
My advice to new listeners is to stop worrying about what music is important and focus on music you like. I spent quite a bit of my music life listening to important music I didn't necessarily like. Must say I have quite a bit more fun now listening to music that I deeply enjoy. Some of it is even important.
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