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Music, especially jazz music, has always been about personal expression. Get past the industry and the tradition, and you always return to the one caveman who gets up after the evening meal and howls the best. The more sophisticated we get in music, the more important are those few "cavemen" who howl.
With apologies to the Gold Sparkle Band’s incarnation here as a Trio, these men are some excellent howlers. The GSB has always been piano-less, like their prime role model Ornette Coleman, circa 1959, who turned the ultra-sophisticated world of Miles’ Kind Of Blue and Brubeck’s Time Out around, and spun a new jazz revolution. The GSB pares down their quartet to a spartan trio outfit (trumpeter Roger Ruzow doesn’t take part here) for this live date at New York’s Vision Festival in 2001.
This date, much like the expanded ensemble records Earthmover (1995), Nu Soul Zodiac (1999), and Fugues and Flowers (2002), keeps to that raw expression-over-style approach that is the formula of all new jazz revolutions. Like Ornette and Albert Ayler, the GSB favors the fashion that comes around every decade in pop music: punk or DIY. Think Sonny Rollins Live At The Village Vanguard (1957) with Elvin Jones sweating over his drum kit and picture saxophonist/clarinetist Charles Waters barking out lines like a rock star pushing a power trio.
But this isn’t rock. The band moves inside and out of the title track like a smart-ass bandit, playing with the melody and pushing the energy. Saying, this is the tradition and this is beyond the tradition - think of us here, now we are over there. Like Ornette and Albert, the simplest is the most radical.
Drummer Andrew Barker provides a nice 2:33 dedication solo “For Billy Higgins” before bassist Andrew Barker leads into the lengthy “Coronation Blues For The Memory Theatre West Coast,” which walks between vaudeville and Robert Johnson’s breakfast nook. They even polish a bit of a Southern strut (GSB was originally from Atlanta) on Cardshark.
Their simple approach – less is more – is certainly a hoot... or a howl.
Track Listing: Naysayer; Thunder Reminded Me; For Billy Higgins; Coronation Blues For The Memory Theatre
West Coast; Williamsburg Concerto #1.2; Cardshark.
Personnel: Andrew Barker - Drums; Adam Roberts - Double Bass; Charles Waters - Alto Saxophone, Clarinet.
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.