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Adam Nolan: Prim and Primal

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Adam Nolan: Prim and Primal
Tell you what. A lot of listeners have never been particularly big fans of free jazz. "It is difficult to understand." Really? "Formalism," said Sergei Prokofiev, "is the name given to music not understood on first hearing." This, recall, was a statement made in defense of Dmitri Shostakovich and his Fourth Symphony. This is not to compare Adam Nolan with Shostakovich. Yet one could imagine Stalin objecting mightily to the Kilkenny saxophonist's 2021 recording as "muddle instead of music." Because, face it, this is not music easily understood on first hearing to someone raised on swing-era harmonies. To say the least. It is not "Kansas City Keys," so move on.

It is, nevertheless, a very hip recording.

Why? Well, begin at the beginning. An initial reaction was "Steve Lacy started out as a trad player but look where he ended up." On first hearing, one might hear Steve Lacy. And Steve Lacy, by all accounts, was a great player. Or then there were late night sessions with George Coleman many years ago as a grad student, and his unbelievably musical rendition of "Meditation" with Tete Montoliu. Well, George Coleman makes an appearance as well. Perhaps through John Coltrane. Who clearly is in the mix too. "Maya Jungle" was inspired by Apocalypto (sic). Ugh. A terrible film that does not seem to be able to keep the lowland and highland Maya straight, let alone the Aztecs. Ok. That is left to historians and cognoscenti, even if the connection between the composition and the movie are not very clear. Does it matter, really? Probably not.

Admittedly, most of the originals here are hard to connect up with their inspiration. Especially "Latin Jazz" and "The Modern Jazz Trio." But then, somehow, Ernie Watts comes peeking through, and so does the rest of Buddy Rich's 1966 big band. Seriously, it was playing at some point. Or so it seemed. To be honest, free jazz requires a lot of work and open ears. Most of the time, jazz is not something consigned to the same genre as Cubism, Expressionism or Impressionism. Especially if your sympathies run in another direction.

An impressively good rhythm section moves the tracks along, even if one is not always sure where Derek Whyte and Dominic Mullan end up. The dots have to be connected. Time to go back and listen to Albert Ayler, but with an open mind, this time. What do you have to lose?

Track Listing

Expand the Tempo; The Modern Jazz Trio; Latin Jazz?; Ancient Mayan Jungle; The Magic Carpet; Kung Fu Master Vs The Ape (in a smoking area).

Personnel

Album information

Title: Prim and Primal | Year Released: 2021 | Record Label: Self Produced


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