Monday, August 25, 2008

Bartz - Henderson - Connors - "Live at Nemu Jazz Inn - 1" (1975)

Originally posted by JN and Bacoso to "Orgy In Rhythm", April 2008

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 :


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.
Released 1975
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


deaf one said...

much thanks to all who were involved with this post
OIRC posts are appreciated, for those of us who came to enjoy OIRs excellent work but missed out on the archives

Maro said...

Hey Simon,

long time i haven't been in your blog and good surprises !!

Thank you very much

PS : Do you have a Romano Mussolini one called "mirages"?

Simon666 said...

hey maro
Don't have that one. There's a couple of tracks over at Killer Groove Music Library. The album used to be at My Favourite Sound, maybe you could ask them for a re-up ..

oui said...

it's an old story for me now but it is great to know that kids like you and your readers get a crush on bartz, connors, etc.
good music gets ressuscitated thanks to the internet so everything is not totally fucked up yet. yeah, glad to know that ;)

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

thank you Jazz-Nekko.
I like this lp.
thanks again.
(mediafire works so good)

Simon666 said...

Thanks Oui -
While i'm not quite sure that we can divide the world into "old and knowing" (those who accessed the album between April and June 2008 on OIR) and "young and having a crush" (everyone else on the planet), it's certainly a thrill at my age to be called young :)

ish said...

Speaking of 1975, I just posted a Gary Bartz radio show recording from 11/1975 over at El Goog's place. :)

ps Maro ther's a Romano Mussolini album "Soft & Swing" posted in the comments on one of the albums at my blog. Look for the "more carosello" download in

Ms.BeatJunkie!!! said...

this is a dope blog...I just cant take it sometimes...especially when at work cause I get distracted...THANKS!

johnv said...

I remember when this was posted originally. Everybody was gushing over it and I couldn't get it to download for anything! I was so annoyed, so I am tremendously grateful to get a second chance. Thanks Simon.

oui said...

hehe no worries man, by old i just meant a 15-20 years knowledge, of course. but on another way yes, it's very young too ;)

slsmithsr said...

Damn!!! What a lineup. Ought to be the shiggidy! Thanks again for the work you do.

El Slick

slsmithsr said...

Knocking on 60 and still next 50 years are gonna be busy!!

allmusicman said...

superb posting from the 3 giants!
bloody brilliant!
many thanks simon!

Simon666 said...

glad you're enjoying it alex, thanks for the comments as always

powerpool said...

As always: brilliant post. Grew up in Germany, (born '58), and when I got into music most of this stuff was already gone - if not for the likes of you probably for ever. Thanks a million for all you efforts and hard work: the fabulous rips, the sleuthing and the neverending posting.

Baby Breeze said...

Your posts are monumental, a word I chose because "encyclopedic" is simply not big enough.

My interest ranges from bop to New Thing, but I'm particularly drawn to players like Bartz, Billy Harper, Marion Brown, etc. who perhaps never achieved commercial success by accident, or simply because they didn't compromise enough. For me there's nothing like the vibe of the real heavy jazz from Trane's heyday through around '75. Since I was a bit too young to appreciate it then, and there are no decent used LP shops within 3000 km. of me, it's beyond fortunate to get my ears on this type of music here and at other fine corners of cyberspace like the Devil's Jazz Pit. Merci bien.

peskypesky said...

Thanks to all involved for posting this. And as others have said, this blog is magnificent. So informative and generous and passionate.

Although I can appreciate most styles of jazz, my favorite style is the modal/spiritual style. I like to have a steady groove and lots of soloing but not a lot (or any chord changes). Don't know why but it just sounds right to me. Some of my faves are Pharoah Sanders, the Coltranes, electric-era Miles, Joe Henderson, Archie Shepp, Rahsaan, Billy Harper, Gary Bartz, McCoy Tyner, Charles Lloyd and fusion (especially Mahavishnu Orchestra and Jean-Luc Ponty).

So, this is right up my alley. Thanks!

Simon666 said...

hi peskypesky,
Glad you're enjoying it, thanks for all the comments here and elsewhere ..

Art Simon said...

Hi Simon,

I finally got around to making my own blog exploring the music of Miles 73-75 period and some of the music it inspired (much like this wonderful record).
I think I've got some ones that are new to the blogosphere. Thanks again to Jazz Nekko and you for this awesome post!

Simon666 said...

Thanks Art, looks good - I'll come over and check it out properly ...

jahknee said...

THANKS!!! It's beyond words how I feel about discovering more material that i love by the Mwandishi alumni on records I never knew existed!!! My Musical education continues, and my soul rejoices!! THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!

HCM said...

I think I havent thank for this one yet, so here I go now.. THANKS!!!!
This is one of those albums that really amazes me. its a shame that its so rare one..

Anonymous said...

wow I am so glad you posted about this LP. just found it at my local record shop in brooklyn for $10! gorgeous sounds.

Anonymous said...

thanks for this post!
great live performance by the group. much better than connors studio album.

mr. mainstream/straight ahead!

ianob said...

This looks awesome. Any chance of a new link please? Thank you in advance!

Simon666 said...

Hi ianob -
The link in the post is working fine.

anon'n'on said...

thanks for the reup

Simon666 said...

You're welcome, anon'n'on, thanks for your comment.

Anonymous said...

Thanx for this one.
I ignored Norman Connors for the most part of my life, focusing on his 'cheesy period', but i decided to give a new ear on his older material. I found most of them, up to '75, pretty good, interesting, formidably played by a great bunch of musicians at the crossroad of their carrer, choosing the funky dollar over the jazzy respect. Thanx for this one which I was looking for, and wih the exception of the 'Aquarian Dream', I will be fulfilled with this inspired music.

Freaky Funkin' Fred From France

rambert said...

Thanks for sharing this gem!

biztibi said...

If somebody interested in, now is available on e-bay auction. Although is a really rare LP unfortunately is quite expensive.

Anonymous said...

utterly amazed to find your blog still here with all this great music. Haven't listened to this one yet- this is such a stunning write-up that I got goosebumps at the end of it. I must admit, I'm a real sucker for Gary Bartz' later more commercial soul-funk, especially "Celestial Blues", so I'm looking forward to hearing him doing somthing a bit deeper.

Cope said...

I haven't found enough good jazz out there on digital digging. Granted some gems but a lot are faded and this is the new hotness. Thanks again.

Nik Carlson said...

Wowsa - what an awesome collection of funky-jazz-tastiness. Appreciate all you hard work keeping so many underappreciated and/or underacmcessible jets audible! Peace out