All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

238

Bill Connors: Return

John Kelman By

Sign in to view read count
A musical chameleon, guitarist Bill Connors has gone through at least three different incarnations in the past. As the first guitarist in Chick Corea's Return to Forever, Connors attracted attention for his stinging and passionate work on Hymn of the Seventh Galaxy (Polydor, 1973). But no sooner had his star begun to rise than he left the band, the more aggressive fusion stance of the band being a far cry from the more Latin-informed group that he joined on the basis of Light as a Feather (Polydor, 1972).

Surfacing on the ECM label, Connors reinvented himself as an acoustic guitarist on two solo discs influenced in no small part by label-mate Ralph Towner, as well as the classic Of Mist and Melting (1977) that teamed him with saxophonist Jan Garbarek, bassist Gary Peacock and drummer Jack DeJohnette. Connors would return to a cleaner electric sound as a member of Garbarek's quartet and as guest on vibraphonist Tom van der Geld's under-appreciated release Path (1979). Then he disappeared again, resurfacing in '85 with a return to fusion that highlighted a more Holdsworth-esque legato approach, recording three albums over the next three years. Then he disappeared.

In the ensuing years Connors has continued to teach and study, and now he's back with an album that finds him in fine form with a completely unaffected and warm, big-bodied sound. Return has enough energy and groove to appeal to fusion fans but, without the bombast that is so often pegged with that genre, a more direct and economical approach that will appeal to those of a more purist persuasion.

Back from Connors' '80s recordings is drummer Kim Plainfield, last heard on pianist Bill O'Connell's genre-bending Latin Jazz Fantasy . O'Connell is on board as well, as is bassist Lincoln Goines, who has had a remarkably diverse career with artists including Mike Stern, Eliane Elias and Michel Camilo. The quartet, augmented on some tracks by percussionist Myra Casales, is flexible enough to handle everything from the funky shuffle of "Mr. Cool" to the up-tempo Latin workout "On the Edge," the more comfortably-swinging yet rhythmically-complex"Mind Over Matter," and the loosely blues-based "Terrabill Blues." The chemistry is palpable, with everyone sensitive enough to follow yet strong enough to lead in this clearly democratic environs.

Connors may have led a number of musical lives over the past thirty years, but they do share some common ground. Even in the context of Corea's overblown fusion, Connors demonstrated a certain concision, a search for the "right" note that gave his work more substance and emotional resonance than his replacement, the technically adroit but clinical Al DiMeola. Here he retains that same sense of thrift, capable of lightning runs when necessary but always constructing solos that make sense and are more than simply a series of notes strung together. Return is, indeed, a welcome comeback from a guitarist whose reputation has never been less than stellar, even though he's never achieved the same level of stardom as some of his contemporaries.

Note: outside of North America, Return is being released by ESC Records at www.esc-records.de .


Track Listing: On the Edge; Mr. Cool; McMinor; Mind Over Matter; Minor Matters; Try Tone Today; Terrabill Blues; Nobody Yet To; It Be FM; Brasilia

Personnel: Bill Connors (guitar), Bill O'Connell (piano), Lincoln Goines (bass), Kim Plainfield (drums), Myra Casales (percussion)

Title: Return | Year Released: 2005 | Record Label: Tone Center

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Return

Return

Tone Center
2005

buy
 

Return

Birdology
2004

buy
 

Step It

Birdology
1994

buy
 

Assembler

Birdology
1987

buy

Related Articles

Read Der Dichter Spricht CD/LP/Track Review
Der Dichter Spricht
by Troy Dostert
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Piano Works CD/LP/Track Review
Piano Works
by John Sharpe
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Throw Tomatoes CD/LP/Track Review
Throw Tomatoes
by Mark Corroto
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Reflections 2 CD/LP/Track Review
Reflections 2
by Glenn Astarita
Published: April 26, 2018
Read Making Other Arrangements CD/LP/Track Review
Making Other Arrangements
by Ian Patterson
Published: April 25, 2018
Read Charlie & Paul CD/LP/Track Review
Charlie & Paul
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 25, 2018
Read "Orientation" CD/LP/Track Review Orientation
by Troy Dostert
Published: February 18, 2018
Read "Vol. 1 - This Is My Swamp" CD/LP/Track Review Vol. 1 - This Is My Swamp
by Paul Naser
Published: September 29, 2017
Read "Silent Voices" CD/LP/Track Review Silent Voices
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: August 4, 2017
Read "Today" CD/LP/Track Review Today
by Roger Farbey
Published: October 2, 2017
Read "Ara" CD/LP/Track Review Ara
by Don Phipps
Published: January 4, 2018
Read "A Meeting Of Spirits" CD/LP/Track Review A Meeting Of Spirits
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 18, 2017