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Pete La Roca: Turkish Women at the Bath

Jim Santella By

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This album has a strange history. As Joel Dorn reminds us in the liner notes, it was originally produced by Alan Douglas in 1967 with the current title. The quartet is led by drummer Pete LaRoca, and features the talents of pianist Chick Corea, bassist Walter Booker, and tenor saxophonist John Gilmore. However, the album was later sold to Muse Records, who subsequently released it with a different title, Bliss! (MR-5011), listing Chick Corea as the leader. "Pete took umbrage, sued Muse and won," Dorn writes. "Unfortunately, when Muse took it off the market as a Chick Corea record, it was never re-released as a Pete LaRoca record and consequently hasn't been available for much too long a time." This CD reissue comes over thirty years since it was recorded; the world has changed some since then, but Art is timeless.

Turkish Women at the Bath is based on the painting by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, offering inspiration for each of LaRoca's seven compositions. The drummer, as leader, drives the rhythm and surrounds his quartet with shimmering cymbals. Walter Booker performs accompanying walking and running duties for the largely hard bop session, and offers a lyrical bass solo on "Bliss." Behind the bass solo, Corea repeats a one-measure descending motif tirelessly for over two minutes. LaRoca borrowed that pattern from a Pakistani tune; the modal harmonies throughout the session lend an authentic Middle Eastern mood. Gilmore and Corea share the solo spotlight; at the time of this recording, the tenor had only recently left Art Blakey's tutelage, and Corea had recorded his first albums as a leader: Tones For Joan's Bones and Inner Space, both on Atlantic. "Marjoun" is a Corea feature, showing the pianist's churning motion at the keyboard, while Gilmore rolls with contrasting waves of sound. This being the late sixties, the session includes some intentional reverberation with the saxophone on "Turkish Women at the Bath," and with the piano on "Marjoun." Stepping into the spotlight on "Dancing Girls," LaRoca punctuates clearly while Corea repeats the same one-measure phrase for almost three minutes. LaRoca's extended unaccompanied drum solo takes place in "Sin Street," another hard bop number laced with postmodern elements. Highly recommended.

Track Listing: Turkish Women at the Bath; Dancing Girls; Love Planet; Marjoun; Bliss; Sin Street; And So.

Personnel:

Title: Turkish Women at the Bath | Year Released: 1998 | Record Label: 32 Records

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