Schema Rearward: The Reward of Visiting the Past

Jakob Baekgaard By

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While Davide Rosa's and Luciano Cantone's Schema label has created a contemporary jazz sound with influences from lounge music, soul, electronica and bossa nova, their sublabel Schema Rearward is the place for those seeking a more pure acoustic jazz sound. Emphasis is on re-issues of modern jazz, especially from the sixties, but contemporary releases have also found their way into the catalog to underline the connection between the past and the present.

The Kenny Clarke-Francy Boland Big Band
Live At Ronnie Scott's: Volcano / Rue Chaptal

Among the jewels in Schema Rearward's catalog are the releases from The Kenny Clarke -Francy Boland Big Band. Pianist Francy Boland and drummer Kenny Clarke formed the big band with help from producer Gigi Campi and the result was inspired. The line-up included musicians such as trumpeter Benny Bailey and saxophonists Sahib Shibab and Johnny Griffin. Live they could really blow the roof off and the concert the big band played at London's famous venue Ronnie Scott's on February 28 1969 was something special. Campi recalls Griffin saying: "Gigi, you're going to hear some strong shit tonight" and indeed the music gathered on Live At Ronnie Scott's: Volcano / Rue Chaptal is hot and swinging. It is a compilation of two albums: Volcano and Rue Chaptal and features the big band in full musical eruption, but also with a sophisticated sense of dynamics and texture. In fact, the restrained ballad "Love Which to No Loved One" shows how many colors the big band had on its palette. It could play like a volcano, but also blow like a soft, gentle breeze.

Benny Bailey

The Kenny Clarke -Francy Boland Big Band had an incredible amount of talented musicians. Trumpeter Benny Bailey was one of them and he steps out on his own on the wonderful album Mirrors. He gets help from Francy Boland whose dynamic string arrangements are simply superb. Albums with strings are sometimes in danger of becoming too cerebral or sugary, but Mirrors avoids both of these traps and manages to speak both to the head and the heart. Bailey's warm trumpet blows in the lush setting of the strings that become part of a dynamic landscape with drums, bass, electric piano, saxophones and flute. The result is an album that is both rhythmic and romantic and it belongs in the pantheon of great string albums with saxophonist Stan Getz' Focus (1961) and Clifford Brown's With Strings (1955).

Sahib Shibab

Saxophonist and flutist Sahib Shibab plays on Benny Bailey's Mirrors and Bailey shows up among a host of other Boland Big Band-associates on the sessions that comprise the double-album Companionship. The album shows the full range of Shibab's artistry, ranging from the spiritual "Om Mani Padme Hum" that starts out with hypnotic hand drums and moves into swinging territory with dark piano chords and Shibab's singing flute and chanting. "Calypso Blues," on the other hand, is a combination of two pregnant musical styles: calypso and blues. The song combines the lively rhythms of the Calypso with the mournful lyrics of the blues: "Don't got the money to take me back to Trinidad" as one of the lines in the song says. Shibab is perhaps most well-known for his playing with pianist Thelonious Monk, but here he shows himself as accomplished artist in his own right.

Sahib Shibab
Summer Dawn

Summer Dawn is another gem from Sahib Shibab. It opens with the irresistible "Lillemor" that reinvents the rhythm from pianist Dave Brubeck's "Take Five" and adds Shibab's flute that gently leads the rhythm into a slow ballad section before the vibrant rhythm emerges once again. This effect says a lot about Shibab's sophistication. He does not just stay in one musical bag, but changes tempi and aesthetic expression. At the heart of it all, however, is a love of rhythm. Even in the ballad "Campi's Idea," there is a vibrant bed of percussion underneath the piano chords. Summer Dawn dances elegantly into the light.

Eraldo Volonté
My Point of View

Sahib Shibab is an unsung musician that deserves more recognition and the same could be said about the Italian saxophonist Eraldo Volontè. He is often associated with the second generation of jazz musicians that helped to move jazz in Italy in a new direction. My Point of View was released in 1963 and shows Volontè in top form. The shadow of saxophonist John Coltrane lingers around Volentè's interpretations of standards like "Summertime" and "On Green Dolphin Street," but he is still his own man and his playing is intense and soulful. He also knows how to get deep inside a ballad, as "You're Weaver of Dreams" clearly shows, and the accompaniment from the rest of the group, including pianist Renato Sellani and bassist Giorgio Azzolini, is simply smoking.

Eraldo Volonté
Free and Loose


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