474

Unsung Recordings by Billy Bang

Robert Spencer By

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Rainbow Gladiator
1981
Soul Note

Expansive and warm, this is one of Billy Bang's best recordings. Tyler had a rough, appealing tone, and he was able to match the passionate lyricism of Bang's own playing. Morris is an uncommonly strong bassist; Rosewoman plays with authority; Dennis Charles is deservedly legendary. The title track runs fourteen minutes and is the brilliant, good-humored jewel of the disc, recalling in mood the sunny Pharoah Sanders releases on Theresa around the same time.

Personnel: Billy Bang (violin); Charles Tyler (alto and baritone saxophones); Michele Rosewoman (piano); Wilber Morris (bass); Dennis Charles (drums). June 10-11, 1981.


Valve No. 10
1988
Soul Note

Somewhat darker-edged than Rainbow Gladiator , this is an intensely-felt, sharply-played recording. Without a piano, Bang and Frank Lowe have freedom to range wide, and they do. Highlights are many, including an aching cover of Coltrane's "Lonnie's Lament" and Bang's spoken-word poetic tribute to Trane, "September 23rd." Lowe is masterful, adding fire that is never overstated; he manages to remain within bounds that might be considered conventionally melodic while venturing far and wide harmonically.

Personnel: Billy Bang (violin); Frank Lowe (tenor sax); Sirone (bass); Dennis Charles (drums). March 8-9, 1988.


A Tribute to Stuff Smith
1992
Soul Note

Although the choice of material here is made up entirely of tunes Stuff Smith played, and thus contains nothing less than fifty years old, Bang and Sun Ra (in a rare sideman appearance) make them new in the best tradition of jazz. "Satin Doll," "A Foggy Day in London Town" and the rest show how well Bang's style adapts to all forms of the music — and they ably illustrate the roots both of his activity and of Sun Ra's.

Personnel: Billy Bang (violin); Sun Ra (piano, synthesizer); John Ore (bass); Andrew Cyrille (drums). September 20-22, 1992.


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