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...

460

Horace Tapscott: The Dark Tree

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Buried treasure, lost and found... pianist Horace Tapscott's The Dark Tree has only been sporadically available since its original, limited edition release in 1991, and the re-releases have been small runs. In the gloaming, fables have grown around the album. But as is by no means always the case with rarities, the reality here is as good as the legend: this motherlode of groove is a signature performance by a woefully neglected artist.



Recorded live at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood in 1989, the album finds Tapscott—with clarinetist John Carter, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Andrew Cyrille—stirring a steaming gumbo of ostinato-driven street funk and visceral, outer limits jazz. The title track, just short of 21 minutes, remains in 2009 a galvanising avant-groove of epic proportions: anchored by McBee's low down and gloriously resonant bass, Tapscott delivers a cadenza and block chord-laden solo of astonishing incantatory power.



An alternative performance, "The Dark Tree 2," included on the second disc, is almost, but not quite, as intense. Carter is blinding on both versions. Anyone with an aversion to clarinet, and they are not few, should bend an ear. Cyrille, who takes the third solo, is on fire. "Lino's Pad" hits a similar spot, despite some tricky time signature shifts between 7/4 and 4/4. There isn't a dud on either disc.



The Dark Tree's roots are diverse. It can be traced back to late 1960s/early 1970s proto-grooves like trumpeter Eddie Gale's "Black Rhythm Happening" and trumpeter Donald Byrd's "The Emperor," and the contemporaneous vamp-laden work of saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and pianist Alice Coltrane. Tapscott himself includes Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Randy Weston and Les McCann in the mix. Politically, the music is informed by the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), later renamed the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA), which Tapscott co-founded in Los Angeles in 1961.

Anyone interested in Tapscott and UGMA/UGMAA will enjoy reading Steven L. Isoardi's The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2006), which examines the links that can be forged between jazz musicians and the communities in which they live, and the use of music as an engine of social change.


Track Listing: CD1: The Dark Tree; Sketches Of Drunken Mary; Lino's Pad; One For Lately. CD2: Sandy And Niles; Bavarian Mist; The Dark Tree 2; A Dress For Renee; Nyja's Theme.

Personnel: Horace Tapscott: piano; John Carter: clarinet; Cecil McBee: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.

Title: The Dark Tree | Year Released: 2009 | Record Label: Hatology

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Fearless And Kind CD/LP/Track Review
Fearless And Kind
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read 25th Anniversary Project CD/LP/Track Review
25th Anniversary Project
by Jack Bowers
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Any Day Now CD/LP/Track Review
Any Day Now
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Adrift CD/LP/Track Review
Adrift
by Roger Farbey
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Folkjazz from Finland CD/LP/Track Review
Folkjazz from Finland
by Anthony Shaw
Published: November 14, 2018
Read Circulate Susanna CD/LP/Track Review
Circulate Susanna
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 13, 2018
Read "I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert" CD/LP/Track Review I Think I’m Going To Eat Dessert
by Mark Corroto
Published: December 14, 2017
Read "The Space" CD/LP/Track Review The Space
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: November 6, 2018
Read "The Berlin Concert" CD/LP/Track Review The Berlin Concert
by Troy Dostert
Published: June 18, 2018
Read "Metamorphoses" CD/LP/Track Review Metamorphoses
by Ian Patterson
Published: June 13, 2018
Read "Without A Trace" CD/LP/Track Review Without A Trace
by Edward Blanco
Published: April 4, 2018
Read "Moksha" CD/LP/Track Review Moksha
by Geno Thackara
Published: March 28, 2018