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Bobby Naughton / Leo Smith / Perry Robinson: The Haunt

Mark Corroto By

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You might have heard the cheer go up with the reissue of The Haunt, vibraphonist Bobby Naughton's 1976 trio recording with trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith and clarinetist Perry Robinson. Crate diggers have treasured the long out-of-print original release on Naughton's Otic Records. Thanks to Lithuania's NoBusiness Records, we have this important document remastered, plus an additional alternate take of "Slant."

Turning our wayback machine to the mid-1970s, creative jazz was being supplanted by jazz/rock and fusion. Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk were in self-imposed exiles and the creative world of the New York loft scene was all but unnoticed by major labels. Besides Naughton, Smith created his own label, Kabell Records to release his original music.

Quite a valuable document, this recording finds an intersection between chamber music and improvised jazz that had yet to be validated. Certainly, we had Jimmy Giuffre's trio free jazz Free Fall (Columbia, 1963), but this music feels more spacious and textured. Naughton, who began life as a pianist, applies a keyboard approach to his vibraharp. Notes are dispatched with an ever expanding touch, drifting and levitating while interweaving with Smith and Robinson's horns.

Both Naughton and Smith were Connecticut residents at the time, and both influenced each other. They co-founded The Creative Music Improvisers' Forum, which was modeled after Chicago's AACM, both were members of Anthony Braxton's Creative Orchestra, and Naughton can be heard on Smith's early ECM Recordings Divine Love (1979) and Spirit Catcher (1979), plus the yet to be reissued Leo Smith Trio The Mass On The World (Moers Music, 1978).

With the edition of Robinson's clarinet, Naughton adds a veteran of recoding sessions with Archie Shepp, Henry Grimes, Gunter Hampel, and Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra. He sounds both old school-ish and very modern at the same time. The music is delivered sans drummer and bassist, thus time is relative concept here. It is meditative in a slippery and dreamy manner, while also being carefully composed. Magic without a sleight of hand.

Track Listing: The Haunt; Slant; Places; Rose Island; Ordette; Slant (alternate take).

Personnel: Bobby Naughton: vibraharp; Wadada Leo Smith: trumpet; Perry Robinson: clarinet.

Title: The Haunt | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records

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