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The Jazz Detective Strikes Again

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Producer Zev Feldman, like Joe DiMaggio, has done it again. In May of 1941, DiMaggio began a major league baseball hitting streak. People followed his exploits game after game and hit after hit. DiMaggio's amazing record of 56 consecutive games still stands to this day. Same can be said of Feldman. His detective work, finding rare archival jazz recordings (mostly concert dates) in dusty archives, continues a streak that includes music from Bill Evans, Wes Montgomery, Albert Ayler, Eric Dolphy, Chet Baker, Ahmad Jamal and Charles Mingus, to name but a few of the projects he has chaperoned to production. The following releases can all be found both on CD and Record Store Day limited-release LP sets. Long live the streak.

Mal Waldron & Steve Lacy
The Mighty Warriors: Live in Antwerp
Elemental Music
2024

The occasion was a celebration of pianist Mal Waldron's 70th birthday. A series of three concerts were held at the DeSingel Art Center in Antwerp, Belgium to commemorate the milestone. The first two were duets between Waldron, Max Roach and Jeanne Lee, plus this quartet date on September 30, 1995. Waldron cut his teeth with bands led by Charles Mingus, Eric Dolphy, Jackie McLean and Max Roach. In 1965 he left the States for Germany and eventually settled in Brussels. Likewise, saxophonist Steve Lacy resided for more than 30 years in Paris. The two musicians bonded over their love of the music of Thelonious Monk, performing and recording many of the great man's compositions. That September, their quartet was completed by bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille, two musicians who have worked together since the late 1960s and along with Oliver Lake form the ensemble Trio 3.

The music is electric, as the quartet is in excellent form. You might have guessed, this being Waldron's birthday celebration, the focus is on the pianist here. His composition "What It Is" opens the concert and "Snake Out / Variations On A Theme By Cecil Taylor" closes the affair. Like Feldman's previous Waldron discovery Searching In Grenoble: The 1978 Solo Piano Concert (Tompkins Square, 2022), Waldron delivers his ever self-effacing sound here. The two Monk compositions "Epistrophy" and "Monk's Dream" are delivered as if the quartet were telling a much loved story with details filled in by each musician. The documentation includes a lengthy essay by Adam Shatz and interviews with saxophonists Jane Bunnett, Dave Liebman and Evan Parker, pianists David Virelles and Vijay Iyer, and the pianist's widow Hiromi Waldron, plus Cyrille and Workman.

Sun Ra
Sun Ra At The Showcase: Live In Chicago 1976-1977
Jazz Detective/Elemental Music/Deep Digs Music Group
2024

To be a Sun Ra completist is indeed a Sisyphean effort. It seems every month, even though he left this planet more than 30 years ago, there is another Ra concert recording released. Some are bootlegs, others of such dubious quality with no information as to date, titles or lineups, make one's head spin. For those who had witnessed the aura of Sun Ra and the spectacle that was an Arkestra performance, there is a fervent desire to relive the experience. The closest we have today to that experience is the Arkestra under the the direction of Marshall Allen as he nears his 100th birthday, yet we continue to collect Sun Ra.

Thankfully, Sun Ra's estate has sorted out much of his vast archive and gives its blessing for the mastering and release of excellent quality concert recordings like these two dates from Joe Segal's Jazz Showcase in Chicago from 1976 and 1977. As detailed in Ra historian John Corbett's liner notes, and essays by Marshall Allen, David Murray, Dave Burrell, Matthew Shipp, Thurston Moore, Amina Claudine Myers, Jack DeJohnette, Michael Weiss and {m: Reggie Workman = 11516}}, Segal wasn't a fan of free jazz, yet he booked the Arkestra on multiple occasions. Like today's Arkestra, Sun Ra presented the music in these two concerts as a revue. He peppers the out with the in. His strange electronics explorations are paired with swing standards like "Rose Room." Ra's Arkestra included the legendary tenor saxophonist John Gilmore, baritone saxophonist Danny Thompson, vocalist June Tyson and the French horn of Vincent Chancey, to name but a few of this 19-piece ensemble. Guitarist Dale Williams introduces us to the infamous chant "Space Is The Place" and the latest news from Neptune is delivered as Ra speaks in tongues before telling the 1976 audience about the coming of the 21st century. The amazing floor show is captured beautifully on these two discs.

Sonny Rollins
Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings
Resonance
2024

It is a false dichotomy to speak of different versions of saxophonist Sonny Rollins. Sure, there is the music he made before and after his Williamsburg Bridge sabbatical, but to many it's all genius. Rollins, however, has always been his own toughest critic. Maybe that explains why we haven't heard (besides the four Road Shows releases o Doxy Music) the hundreds of hours of music captured from his live performances. This music recorded on his first European tour has been floating around for years as bootleg copies taken from tv and radio appearances in Sweden, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Germany and France. With Rollins' blessing, this music is being officially released for the first time. It is collected and mastered in 180-gram vinyl 4 LPs or 2-CD formats, similar to the 1967 Rollins In Holland (Resonance, 2020) tapes that were released to critical and popular acclaim. In the latter part of the 1950s, Rollins favored the trio format sans a chordal instrument such as the piano or guitar, and he recorded the classic albums Way out West (Contemporary, 1957) with Ray Brown and Shelly Manne, A Night At the Village Vanguard (Blue Note, 1957) with Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones and Freedom Suite (Riverside, 1958) with Oscar Pettiford and Max Roach. He embarked on this European tour with bassist Henry Grimes and drummer Pete La Roca, who incidentally performed on one track from the Village Vanguard sessions.

We learn from Bob Blumenthal's liner notes that there was friction between Rollins and La Roca and he was dismissed, but not without recording 19 of the 25 tracks heard here. Maybe that tension is what makes those 19 tracks resonate. The pair spar, musically that is, on tracks such as "Oleo" and "St. Thomas." La Roca's replacement was an expatriate American and former member of Dizzy Gillespie's band, Joe Harris, followed by the legendary Kenny Clarke. It is with Grimes and Clarke, recorded at Aix-en-Provence, France that Rollins stretches out the performances, giving the drummer and bassist more space on takes of "Woody 'N' You," "But Not For Me," and "Lady Bird."

The release includes informative interviews with Branford Marsalis, James Carter, Joe Lovano, James Brandon Lewis and Peter Brötzmann, plus words from Rollins himself.

Yusef Lateef Quartet
Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon
Elemental Music
2024

For a musician with the integrity of Yusef Lateef, his music can be described as jazz and not jazz. While he eschewed the word "jazz," preferring the term "autophysiopsyche," he could revel in its celebrity while maintaining his explorations and study of the world's music. His term autophysiopsyche focused on the individual voice and its expression, one beyond the strictures of jazz, classical, Eastern, or Western music. This quartet recording from Cloître des Célestins in Avignon, France, on July 19th, 1972 is a magnificent example how Lateef could express his adventurous sound while also entertaining an audience. Lateef's quartet of pianist Kenny Barron, bassist Bob Cunningham, and drummer Albert Tootie Heath share the saxophonist's vision here. Barron contributes three compositions and Heath's "Lowland Lullaby" finds the drummer performing on Indian flute in a duet with Cunningham. As for Lateef, he performs on soprano and tenor saxophone, plus flute. Opening with the hard hitting "Inside Atlantis," Lateef scorches a tenor solo before turning the soloing duties over to Barron. This is followed by the gentle flute/piano duo "A Flower" that then shifts into the shuffling bare-chested blues, "Yusef's Mood." "Eboness" which features Cunningham's bowed bass solo is a nod to funk with Lateef vocalizing over his flute. The quartet changes gears throughout, switching to the very misty-eyed ballad "I'm Getting Sentimental Over You" with Lateef delivering a drop-dead tenor interpretation. Barron's "The Untitled" closes the concert with a 25-minute performance that shifts tempos and draws from both Eastern and Western musics. Like the other Zev Feldman discoveries, Atlantis Lullaby includes an essay from a jazz scholar, here Shannon Effinger, plus interviews with Lateef's wife Ayesha Lateef, Adam Rudolph, Reggie Workman, Joe Lovano, Tia Fuller, Bennie Maupin, James Carter, Sonny Rollins and bandmates Barron and Heath.

Tracks and Personnel

The Mighty Warriors: Live in Antwerp

Tracks: CD1: What It Is; Epistrophy; Longing; Monk's Dream; CD2: Variation Of III; Medley: Snake Out/Variations On A Theme By Cecil Taylor.

Personnel: Mal Waldron: piano; Steve Lacy: soprano saxophone; Reggie Workman: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.

Sun Ra At The Showcase: Live In Chicago 1976-1977

Tracks: CD1: A New Beginning; View From The Other Dimension; Synthesis Approach; Aka Anhknaton; Rose Room; Moonship Journey; Velvet; CD2: Calling Planet Earth & The Shadow World; Theme Of The Stargazers; Space Is The Place; Applause; Ebah Speaks in Cosmic Tongue; Greeting From the 21st Century; Joe Segal Announcement.

Personnel: Sun Ra: piano, electronic keyboards; John Gilmore: tenor saxophone; Marshall Allen: alto saxophone, flue, kora; Danny Dabis: alto saxophone, flute; Elo Omoe: alto clarinet, bass clarinet; Danny Thompson: baritone saxophone, flute; Michael Ray: trumpet; Ahmed Abdullah: trumpet; Emmett McDonald: bass trumpet; Vincent Chancey: French horn; Dale Williams: guitar; Richard William: bass; Luqman Ali: drums; Eddie Thomas: drums, vocals; James Jacson: ancient Ihnfinity drum, oboe; Atakatune: congas; June Tyson: vocals; Cheryl Banks—Smith: vocals; Wister (Judith Holton): Vocals.

Freedom Weaver: The 1959 European Tour Recordings

Tracks: CD1: St. Thomas; There Will Never Be Another You; Stay As Sweet As You Are; I've Told Ev'ry Little Star; How High The Moon; Oleo; Paul's Pal; Sonny Rollins Interview; It Don't Mean a Thing; Paul's Pal #2; Love Letters; CD2: I Remember You; I've Told Ev'ry Little Star #2; It Could Happen to You; Oleo #2; Will You Still Be Mine; I've Told Ev'ry Little Star #3; I Want to Be Happy; A Weaver of Dreams; It Don't Mean a Thing #2; Cocktails for Two; I've Told Ev'ry Little Star #4; I Want to Be Happy #2; CD3: Woody 'N' You; But Not For Me; Lady Bird.

Personnel: Sonny Rollins: tenor saxophone; Henry Grimes: bass; Pete La Roca: drums; Kenny Clarke: drums; Joe Harris: drums. 

Atlantis Lullaby: The Concert From Avignon

Tracks: CD1: Inside Atlantis; A Flower; Yusef's Mood; Lowland Lullaby; CD2: Eboness; I'm Getting Sentimental Over You; The Untitled.

Personnel: Yusef Lateef: soprano saxophone, tenor saxophone, flute; Kenny Barron: paino; Bob Cunningham: bass; Albert "Tootie" heath: drums, Indian Flute.

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