First posted at "Orgy In Rhythm" by Bacoso in September 2006. Re-post by permission. Text by Bacoso and Daily Jazz Blogspot.
Here is my last post on Strata-East for the moment and it's the great Cecil McBee. I have so many albums with him as a sideman I thought it was fitting that this solo album by him should be posted. This features the terrific "Tulsa Black" track that was compiled by Soul Jazz some years ago for their Strata East cd. I have lifted this review from the always excellent and eminently readable Daily Jazz Blogspot - jazz reviews and comment from one man with an unfeasibly large record collection.
The bass has always been an essential component of the jazz rhythm section, simultaneously holding down the groove while marking out the changes. Bassists of the hard-bop era often got little in the way of solo space (they were too important to be allowed to wander off by themselves) but throughout the 1960s and 70s, perhaps thanks to the gargantuan presence of Charles Mingus, they began to take a more prominent role. Several highly influential figures appeared, like Ron Carter and Dave Holland along with many others. Cecil McBee is perhaps less well-known, but equally talented, having played on seminal works by the likes of Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders.
This album finds him firmly placed as leader of an avant-garde group with a distinctly spiritual edge. Mutima is the key to the spirit and culture of black Africa, according to the sleevenote; McBee's compositions certainly evoke that spirit. The music is at times inspirational. The opening "From Within" is a bass solo with McBee playing two acoustic basses simultaneously. The idea of an 11-plus minute bass solo may terrify some, but this is riveting. Not only does he play the basses, but for a section he plays the feedback created by the amplification of both instruments. The sounds he creates are otherworldly and exciting, and not always easy to identify as being produced by an upright bass. "Life Waves" is an ensemble piece, but with McBee taking a prominent melodic role, and demonstrating enormous technical skill with some very fast lines.
The other standout track is "Mutima" itself, which is virtually indistinguishable from some of the work McBee undertook with Pharoah Sanders a few years earlier. Most Strata East recordings are pretty hard to come by, but this was briefly re-issued in the mid 90s as a CD in japan, vinyl in U.S. Hunt 'em down.
01. From Within (11:21)
02. Voice Of The 7th Angel (2:02)
03. Life Waves (9:13)
04. Mutima (13:41)
05. A Feeling (2:38)
06. Tulsa Black (6:10)
Bass - Cecil McBee
Bass [Electric] - Cecil McBee, Jr.
Congas - Lawrence Killian
Drums - Allen Nelson , Jimmy Hopps
Flute - Art Webb
Percussion - Jaboli Billy Hart , Michael Carvin
Piano - Onaje Allen Gumbs
Saxophone [Alto] - Allen Braufman
Saxophone [Tenor, Soprano] - George Adams
Trumpet, Flugelhorn - Tex Allen
Vocals - Dee Dee Bridgewater
another three great albums from Cecil McBee, all from 1977 :
Cecil McBee Sextet - "Compassion" from Pharoah's Dance
Cecil McBee - "Alternate Spaces" from El Goog Ja
Cecil McBee Sextet - "Music From the Source" from El Goog Ja
Please comment, thanks.