Simon says :
Many thanks to Jazz-Nekko, the much-loved Okinawan Devil, for allowing a re-post of this incredibly rare gem of an album as a follow-up to the last Norman Connors post. So this is both a re-post and a guest post! I'll hand you over to the ever-dependable JN and then add some words about 1975 ...
Jazz-Nekko says :
Gary Bartz is certainly on the top alto players of the modern generation, and like so many others - probably one of the most under-appreciated jazz artists. Eddie Henderson's horn is clearly influenced by Miles' early fusion period. Fellow Philadelphians, Elmer Gibson and Norman Connors have recorded with a "who's who" of jazz & fusion giants. It was only a year later that Connors became the Buddah Records Company's musical director.
This live set, "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn - 1", was released only here in Japan and just 500 albums were pressed. This set does not even show up in any of the artists' discographies; makes you wonder if the artists thought it worthy. For more than one reason, however, this ol' devil sure thinks it worthy: I attended this "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn" with my brother and two friends of ours.
The audience was 50% Japanese and 50% foreigners, mostly military personnel, as the club was not far from two bases. As you will hear, it was a quiet, respectful crowd but much of the raucous applause was cut out of the album. These guys were at the height of their artistic and imaginative skills. Connors led this set and personally selected the crew for their world tour. It was my first time to see Henderson in concert. Perhaps it is my bad memory or prejudice, but I cannot help but think his playing that night was a bit off. The sad part about this was that they did not include three other numbers – warm-ups – if you will, but the playing in those was also rather remarkable.
Throughout this, post-bop oriented but frequently dallying around the edges of fusion, gig, the group showed what they learned from the likes of Davis, Hancock, Roach, Sanders, Rivers, Harper and Sun Ra, marshaling polyrhythms, electronic textures, and cosmic mysticism to create a deeply spiritual jazz experience. The album kicks off with a darkish and fusion-edged version of Trane's 'Naima'. It was a ferocious attacking force by Bartz on alto, Henderson blew out the walls with his flugelhorn, Workman on bass and Connors' chameleon-like skin work; however, Bartz wins the honours on this track, in my opinion, but Workman gave him a run for his money. Bartz showed his ability to act as the group's adhesive by bopping and weaving his vamps around the others' strong solo works, as Connors continually drew out the map for the band.
The sprawling 26-minute 'Dance of Magic' spans the entirety of the flip side, capturing a memorable jam that explores free improvisation but without stepping beyond a point of no return. Connors' tremendous skins never fail to lead the band back home.
There was a certain coolness, a distorted sense of despair or subtle melancholy to this show that remains very clear in my memory to this day. Connors' oddly timed garbling/vocals perfectly suit a dark-toned feeling. I believe in the old adage that, "the only good jazz is jazz that is live" and here you will see what I mean ~ enjoy!
Simon adds :
1975 : THE TURNING POINT
What's unusual about this beautiful piece of jazz is its placement in the chronology of the main players' careers. Three years after they'd all been on "Dance of Magic", this album sounds like it could have been recorded the next day - yet in 1975 all three had just taken major, career-changing steps into jazz-influenced RnB or fusion-funk via their three individual albums of that year.
Let's check 1975 ...
Sometime in 1975, Gary Bartz recorded his album "The Shadow Do", in which the Mizell Brothers had packaged him up in their commercial jazz-RnB-funk that would continue in 1977's "Music Is My Sanctuary".
In March-April 1975, Eddie Henderson recorded "Sunburst", a funk/fusion album that was a major step away from his previous atmospheric post-Mwandishi albums.
In May 1975, all three major players - Henderson, Connors and Bartz - worked on Norman Connors' "Saturday Night Special", which was his first major RnB album, coming after the transitional "Slewfoot" on which all three had played as well.
Then in July 1975, two months later, they're in Tokyo recording this album, "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn" ....
They would have arrived back in the USA to see "Valentine Love", the single from "Saturday Night Special" with Michael Henderson and Jean Carn on vocals, hit the RnB Top Ten in the fall.
So 1975 was certainly a turning point for these three people.
While the others were putting on their dancing shoes, bass player Reggie Workman was still valiantly holding up the jazz front in 1975 - Charles Tolliver's "Impact!" (January); Marion Brown's "Vista" (February); Ken McIntyre's "Home" (June); and then after this July recording, off to Sonny Fortune's "Awakening" (August). Hopefully the others still took Reggie down to the disco occasionally.
Keyboardist Elmer Gibson (heard here on rhodes and piano) has a small catalogue of recording, but he obviously goes for quality ..... he can be heard on the wonderful and necessary 1972 "Neptune" album by The Visitors, as well as Norman Connors' "Dark Of Light" and "Slewfoot", and then this live album. He was Connors' musical director for a few years and composed "Kumekucha" on "Love From the Sun", and "Chuka" on "Slewfoot".
From what I can gather, despite leading an active life as a jazz educator and festival organiser, he then took a twenty-one year break from recording, then recorded his debut album "Generation Dance" in 1996-97, releasing it independently in 2002. And ... it features Gary Bartz, Eddie Henderson and Norman Connors. Since then he's got busy and released three more albums, as well having appeared on TC III's "Mega Jazz Explosion" from 2006 alongside Bartz and Henderson. Elmer lives here.
Also don't miss El Goog Ja's Gary Bartz discography.
01. 'Naima' (Coltrane) - 7:07
02. 'Revelation' (Hancock) - 18:10
03. 'Dance of Magic' (Connors) - 26:35
Gary Bartz - alto saxaphone
Eddie Henderson - flugelhorn
Norman Connors - drums, voice
Elmer Gibson - piano, electric piano
Reggie Workman - bass
Recorded live on 19 July, 1975 at Nemu Jazz Inn, Tokyo, Japan.
Nippon Columbia/Cobblestone VQ-7509-CO
320 vinyl rip and cover scans of this album by Jazz-Nekko.
Album blog links in this post go to :
Pharoah’s Dance, Ile Oxumaré, Strata-East Fan Club, El Goog Ja, Blak’s Lair, Mwandishi, My Jazz World, Happy as a Fat Rat in a Cheese Factory. "Neptune" by The Visitors link originally at El Reza, used by permission of Reza.
Please thank and support these bloggers if you click through and download.
If links go dead, please let me know so I can re-direct and keep the page current.
tell me what you think in the comments
tell me what you think in the comments