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Roy Campbell: Visitation Of Spirits

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Roy Campbell: Visitation Of Spirits
A former stalwart of the New York avant jazz scene, which finds expression at the annual Vision Festival, trumpeter Roy Campbell died in January 2014, aged 61. While not quite forgotten, his name does not spring readily to the lips a decade on. Perhaps Visitation Of Spirits, an archival live recording from 1985, will help redress that situation. It features the Pyramid Trio, one of Campbell's more enduring groups, which issued three albums over a lifespan of more than 25 years, and featured him in the company of bassist William Parker and a changing roster of drummers, here including the original occupant of that stool Zen Matsuura.

Campbell, who may be best known for his tenure in the collective Other Dimensions in Music, also played with Matthew Shipp, Jemeel Moondoc, Joe McPhee and Billy Bang. But, in spite of such left field credentials, his sound relied as much on updating the hard bop vocabulary of such forerunners as Clifford Brown, Lee Morgan and Booker Little, as it did on out-there timbral adventures. Consequently, the five tracks in the generous 73-minute program offer a frequently melodic, hard driving swing which generates an amiable feelgood vibe.

Of course, it could not quite be described as straight ahead. Parker's copyrighted ever-changing amalgam of riff, lyricism and commentary makes sure of that. Matsuura too—although adept at surging propulsion (hear how he pushes the beat forward on the sprightly "Imhotep") and sensitive coloration— manifests as a chattery loose-limbed presence. Together, at the slightest provocation, they embark upon the sort of buoyant, almost-grooves which Parker later promulgated so successfully in tandem with drummer Hamid Drake, and which provide the rhythmic snags which help catapult Campbell's flowing lines forward.

Some neat touches illuminate the band's free-bop escapades throughout. On "Vigilance," one of the highlights, Parker brandishes his bow to up the ante behind a spiraling trumpet excursion, before combining sawing and plucking in his own feature, until a funky drum solo leads back into the blues- inflected theme. Just one example of the blend of excitement and adventure which these three could access, seemingly on demand.

Track Listing

Charmaine; Imhotep; Vigilance; Brother Yusef; Unidentified Title.

Personnel

Album information

Title: Visitation Of Spirits | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: NoBusiness Records


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