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Though sometimes proposed as a period when little new was happening in jazz, the '70s saw the blossoming of one of the most fertile grassroots periods in the music's history with the Loft Jazz movement. By 1975 there was a proliferation of artist-run venues across Manhattan, providing an outlet for independent-minded experimentation without the need to please an audience. For trumpeter Ted Daniel this period represented a very creative and productive time, confirmed by the two live sets at hand.
Recorded at Ornette Coleman's Artist House performance space on Prince Street, Tapestry is a reissue of a 1974 date with an added bonus track. Four lengthy performances confound the old saw that the lofts were just about fire music. "Asafego" pitches the melancholic beauty of Daniel's trumpet, almost reminiscent of Miles, against a dense shimmering backdrop of brother Richard Daniel's electric piano and Khan Jamal's rippling vibes while beneath the surface Tim Ingles' marauding wah-wah electric bass provides some menace. More of the same introduces the title cut, before a "So What"-type groove signposts a series of solos, with Jerome Cooper's percussion conception the most ear-catching. Closer to the stereotype, "Mozambique" posits a fragmented and aggressive rhythmic base over which Daniel's molten flugelhorn runs can't quite conceal a melodic core. Though murky the sound is acceptable and compounds the sense that this historic document is a communiqué from an underappreciated time.
One year later, Daniel fronted a trio at Sunrise Studio for four more extended workouts, released as The Loft Years, Volume One on his own reactivated label. Starting with Ornette's "Congeniality," Daniel builds from the theme before exposing his post-bop lineage, through involved runs leaving tonal centers well behind, over Tatsuya Nakamura's incessant freeform drums haloed by hissing cymbals. Richard Pierce's bass is not well-served by another murky recording, but when proceedings quiet he steps out for some buzzy strumming, before a rolling drum solo and a theme reprise. Sunny Murray's "Jiblet" has its moments, but it is not until the free ballad "The Moor," with its flamenco bass and brooding muted trumpet-and-drums interplay, that it all gels. Daniel's closing "O.C." pays double homage, with a swirling jaunty rhythm ultimately merging with a spirited rendition of Albert Ayler's "Ghosts".
Personnel: Ted Daniel: flugelhorn and trumpet; Tim Ingles: "non fretted" electric bass with wah wah pedal; Jerome Cooper: drums; Khan Jamal: Vibes; Richard Daniel: electric Fender Rhodes piano with Leslie speaker, wah wah pedal and echoplex
The Loft Years Volume 1
Tracks: Congeniality; Jiblet; The Moor; O.C.
Personnel: Ted Daniel: trumpet, flugelhorn, French hunting horn, tambourine, voice; Richard Pierce: bass; Tatsuya Nakamura: trap drums and quarter drums.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.