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...

9

Heads of State: Search For Peace

C. Andrew Hovan By

Sign in to view read count
Much like another group of distinguished jazz veterans, namely The Cookers, the premise here was a simple one. Get together a crew of like-minded musicians with a track record of shared experiences and see where the music takes things. The genesis for Heads of State was a three-day homage to McCoy Tyner last fall at Smoke where pianist Larry Willis led this very quartet. The group, which also includes saxophonist Gary Bartz, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Al Foster seemed to jell and the impetus was for the quartet to continue as a unit, ultimately leading to the disc at hand.

Of course, it should come as no surprise that these gentlemen have come upon a degree of musical conversation that is almost telepathic. Each one has crossed paths on numerous occasions with a playbook of jazz music's finest including Mc Coy Tyner, The Fort Apache Band, Kenny Barron, and Jackie McLean. The group also calls upon a repertoire that mutually speaks to their past, featuring standards and originals.

The opening "Impressions" is taken at a more modest pace than Coltrane's signature treatment, although it still seems to catch Bartz off guard, his oddly inconclusive statement being somewhat of a head scratcher. Much more satisfying is his own "Uncle Bubba," which he first recorded with McCoy Tyner back in 1983. Things seem to further solidify with a nearly twelve minute run through Tyner's "Search for Peace." Bartz is heard at his most sublime, his restrained and whisper-like phrases unfolding like a flower. So too, Willis resists any temptation to utilize Tynerish block chords. His voicings and distinctive touch help to make the piece his own.

Slowing the tempo down from the original 1960 Blue Note version, Jackie McLean's "Capuchin Swing" is better heard for what it is-a head melody written over the changes of "Star Eyes." While they can probably rattle off chorus after chorus in their sleep, the quartet breathes new life into this framework proving how vital this vernacular still is to the jazz lexicon.

Drummer Al Foster integrates cymbals and tom fills into an organic whole during his solo statement on "Soulstice," a modal piece by Bartz that recalls Miles Davis' "So What." Williams sets the pace for the lilting and sunny numbers "Summer Serenade" and "Lotus Blossom." In fact, there is an air of newness in the approach given to these old standards that might make them the highlights of the entire disc. Bartz plays with a carefree style and wistful tone that is a pleasure, while Willis shapes his flow of phrases in a way that is distinctive to say the least.

While Buster Williams has a healthy share of solo space throughout, it might be equally rewarding to give a special listen to how he interacts with the music on a whole. The melody to "I Wish I Knew" propels itself via space between phrases and Williams interjects the optimal notes to fill the gaps both rhythmically and harmonically. There are many special moments of this type sprinkled throughout the program, although a puzzling sense of sameness seems to creep in at some point. Nonetheless, this is a fine debut with potential for further growth. It will be interesting to see what develops.

Track Listing: Impressions; Uncle Bubba; Search for Peace; Capuchin Swing; Soulstice; Crazy She Calls Me; Summer Serenade; Lotus Blossom; I Wish I Knew.

Personnel: Gary Bartz: saxophones; Larry Willis: piano; Buster Williams: bass; Al Foster: drums.

Title: Search For Peace | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Smoke Sessions Records

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road CD/LP/Track Review
Lab 2018, The Rhythm of the Road
by Jack Bowers
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Live CD/LP/Track Review
Live
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: September 25, 2018
Read 8 Songs CD/LP/Track Review
8 Songs
by Roger Farbey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Facing Dragons CD/LP/Track Review
Facing Dragons
by Chris Mosey
Published: September 25, 2018
Read Brothers CD/LP/Track Review
Brothers
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: September 24, 2018
Read The Fearless Flyers CD/LP/Track Review
The Fearless Flyers
by John Bricker
Published: September 24, 2018
Read "Autumn Wind" CD/LP/Track Review Autumn Wind
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 3, 2017
Read "Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Vienna, December 1st, 2016 (UK Edition)
by John Kelman
Published: March 30, 2018
Read "Vision Songs Vol. 1" CD/LP/Track Review Vision Songs Vol. 1
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: January 8, 2018
Read "At synge verden ind i en ny og mangefoldet tid" CD/LP/Track Review At synge verden ind i en ny og mangefoldet tid
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: May 13, 2018
Read "J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969 - 1984" CD/LP/Track Review J Jazz: Deep Modern Jazz From Japan 1969 - 1984
by Chris May
Published: March 15, 2018
Read "Friends & Family" CD/LP/Track Review Friends & Family
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: April 23, 2018