Monday, July 28, 2008

Reggie Workman First - "Conversation" (1977)

yes, that scribble is part of the design

'Mark II' excerpt

'Conversation' excerpt

I’d always imagined that REGGIE WORKMAN had been John Coltrane’s bass player for many years, but apparently it all took place in 1961. I guess it's the legacy of recordings like the Village Vanguard recordings and the Africa/Brass Sessions that makes it seem longer. I mean, I just collected my mail and there's a promo pamphlet for a new pizza delivery service called "Love Supreme", who promise "emotional pizza for one and all". Now that's cultural reach.

After Coltrane replaced him with Jimmy Garrison, Workman spent the 1960s playing on many albums by artists like Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Freddie Hubbard, Archie Shepp, Herbie Mann, Roy Ayers and Wayne Shorter. (album blog links, not bios)

Around the turn of the decade, he played on spiritual albums like Pharoah Sanders' "Karma" and Alice Coltrane's "World Galaxy", and took part in some significant Strata-East dates - Stanley Cowell's "Brilliant Circles"; Charles Tolliver's "Impact" and "Live at the Loosdrecht Jazz Festival", and Billy Harper's "Capra Black".

During the 70s Workman became more involved in education, and led the New York-based Collective Black Arts organization in New York - a community self-help project that for a while published its own newspaper, "Expansions".

is his first album as leader. He's joined here by Cecil Bridgewater (trumpet); Slide Hampton (trombone); George Adams (reeds); Albert Dailey (piano); Michael Carvin (drums) and Lawrence Killian (percussion), who are listed by the collective name "Reggie Workman First".

This album was recorded on December 19th, 1977, a week after the Bridgewater Brothers' "Lightning and Thunder", which also featured Workman, Bridgewater and Carvin.

Workman and CECIL BRIDGEWATER had first played together on some of the "Roy Brooks and the Artistic Truth" albums in 1973, including the amazing "Black Survival", and in 1976-77 had both joined Max Roach on four albums, including "Nommo" and "Live In Tokyo".

Pianist ALBERT DAILEY released his first solo album "Day After the Dawn" in 1972. In the few years preceding this album, he'd recorded on Stan Getz and Joao Gilberto's "The Best of Two Worlds" , Azar Lawrence's "Summer Solstice", and Charles Rouse's "Cinnamon Flower". In May of '77, Dailey and Reggie Workman had both played on Archie Shepp's "Ballads for Trane".

Drummer MICHAEL CARVIN and percussionist LAWRENCE KILLIAN individually had a wealth of percussion credits on various albums by Pharoah Sanders and Lonnie Liston Smith. They'd both played on Sanders' "Elevation", L Smith's "Expansions", and Cecil McBee's "Mutima". Apart from the Bridgewater Brothers album the week before, Carvin and Reggie Workman had also spent part of December working on Hamiett Bluett's album "Orchestra, Duo and Septet". Also a veteran of some great Norman Connors albums, Killian began a five year stint with the Village People the year after this, even appearing (uncredited) in the film "Can't Stop the Music", before heading back to the funkier zone of Pucho and the Latin Soul Brothers.

On McBee's "Mutima", Carvin and Killian had been joined by saxaphonist GEORGE ADAMS, who'd also worked with Killian on the Roy Haynes albums "Hip Ensemble" and "Senyah". Most of Adam's 70s work had been with groups led by Charles Mingus, Gil Evans and Hannibal Marvin Peterson, with some side excursions to the Fatback Band's "Keep On Steppin" and, earlier in the year, James Blood Ulmer's "Revealing". The year before, he'd released "Suite For Swingers", his debut album as a leader.

Rounding out the group was trombonist SLIDE HAMPTON, a frequent leader in his own right and a veteran of many Maynard Ferguson albums. His one previous collaboration here was with Reggie Workman on Stick Evans' 1961 album "Stick Around With Sticks Evans", although he would go on to work with several of the players over the next few years.

Things get underway with Hampton's uptempo "Mark II". Carvin and Killian set up a percussive groove over which Workman's constantly sliding around a walking vamp. The brass set up the main melody, leading into solos by Dailey, Bridgewater, Adams, Workman and Hampton. After a return of the melody, there's a percussive workout with Killian on conga and Carvin providing sensitive minimal backing - the two are really locked together on this album, as Carvin's background was as much as a percussionist as a drummer . Finally, a thankfully short drum solo finishes up the track.

Workman's compositions had been few and far between until this point, and his pretty modal piece "Deja Vu" rounds out side 1. Dailey sets up a chord backing for the main brass theme, which is followed by a Hampton solo. All instruments drop away for an extended Workman bass solo. Dailey leads the band back in for Adam's sax solo, then all flirt around the main theme to finish.

Side 2 is taken up with Workman's eighteen minute arrangement of "Conversation", written by pianist Sonelius Smith. The year before, Smith had recorded it as "Conversation Piece" on "World Of The Children", his album with Shamek Farrah. Reggie Workman would later record the track again in 1993 for his "Summit Conference" album.

Workman leads the track in with some tense, bowed crescendos and scrapes that the brass respond to with improvised bursts of colour. The main theme is introduced and leads to a sax solo from Adams, with Workman answering his impro on bass. Next, Cecil Bridgewater solos over an extended complex rhythmical interplay between Dailey and the band. His solo continues while the band break down into some almost-free, yet still controlled, patches of colour built around Dailey’s apeggios.

This breaks down further into a call and answer section between bass and piano. Killian’s varied percussion brings back the beat and calls Dailey back to the key centre, while he continues the solo. There’s another Workman-only solo, which he finishes by re-introducing the main theme, leading into a Hampton solo and a final return of the theme.


1. 'Mark II' (Slide Hampton) 10:34
2. 'Deja Vu' (Reggie Workman) 11:32
3. 'Conversation' (Sonelius Smith, arr. by R.Workman) 18:04


Reggie Workman - bass
Cecil Bridgewater - trumpet
Slide Hampton - trombone
George Adams - tenor saxaphone
Albert Dailey - piano
Michael Carvin - drums
Lawrence Killian - percussion


Recorded at Sound Ideas Studios, New York City. N.Y. December 19, 1977DENON Catalogue # YX-7805-ND
Produced by Yoshio Ozawa for Nippon Columbia Co. Ltd.
Program Co-ordinator : Tsutorou Ueno (Nippon Columbia)
A&R director : Reginald Workman
Recording and Remix Engineer : Jim McCurdy
PCM Operator : Kaoru Yamamoto (Nippon Columbia)
Engineering Supervisor : Norio Okada (Nippon Columbia)

Cover photo - Tadayuki Naitoh
Artwork - Satoshi Saitoh (sign)
Cover Ilustration - Shozo Shimoda
Liner Notes - Hideki Satoh


1977 'Conversation' at base of this post 

1983 'Such Great Friends' (FLAC) @ Strata-East Fan Club
1986 Bootleg concert at Inconstant Sol
1987 "Synthesis" at Avax
1989 "Images - Reggie Workman Ensemble in Concert" from E-Mile (thanks!)
1993 "Summit Conference" at Call It Anything

1995 "Cerebral Caverns" (FLAC) at Call It Anything
1995 "Cerebral Caverns" (MP3) at Musistenz2000 "Altered States"
2006 Live at St Peters Church (with Andrew Cyrille & others) at Inconstant Sol


Some information from :
Rick Lopez's Reggie Workman discography
Michael Fitzgerald's Slide Hampton discography
Marcel Safier's George Adams discography & sessionography
Tony King's George Adams discography

The thirty-five album blog links within the post are from :
Call It Anything, Pharoah’s Dance, Ile Oxumare,
Seventeen Green Buicks, El Goog Ja, Orgy In Rhythm, My Jazz World, Strata-East Fan Club, Four Brothers Beats, Bari Beat Bandits ft. San Pasquale Ent., Keep on Truckin' (on the sunny side), The Roadhouse, Rocker CDs, Vlassis-13, Vibes From the Wax, The Music Jockey, The Sly Mongoose, Loronix, Mondo Musicale, Disco2Go, Rocker CDs, Jazz Archives, Fat Toro. Rapidshare link for James Blood Ulmer's "Revealing" courtesy of Burning Blue Soul, originally uploaded at "El Reza". Thanks to all these bloggers.



ish said...

That post is encyclopedic! And I mean that in a good way. Impressive work.

NOw to listen to the album...downloading. Thanks a lot Simon.

Unknown said...

Hi Simon

"DENON" is again & again.
Yes, I think that there are a lot of wonderful stuff in the late 70's Denon.
But I don't know where thediscography is.
You know what I mean :)

Always thank you for your efforts to sharing such a wonderful music.

el goog

il angelo said...

Exhaustive work, thanks, that has made me hungry for the album. Thanks

Gianni aka Cesare Barbetta said...

and I like it!

ish said...

And no disrespect to Mr. Workman, but that six degrees of separation is apparently true. I have an
ex-boyfriend who used to chant nam-myoho-renge-kyo with Marilyn Sokol,
who plays Valerie Periine's gal-pal in Can't Stop the Music (only the greatest example of music cinema, ever, well maybe not), which makes
me, via Larry Killian and Reggie Workman, practically John Coltrane's best friend, right? :)

Anonymous said...

Brother, you put in work on your research! Great blog, thanx 4 the great music!

johnv said...

Massive, Simon! I really appreciate the work you do on your posts. The knowledge is indispensable and makes listening to the music an even better experience.

fritz the cat said...

Gosh that's what I call a blog entry! thanks. Will give it a listen.

soulbrotha said...

Simon, your posts are so damn thorough and MEATY, it makes my head spin! You are awesome, my man!

Simon666 said...

Thanks soulbrotha :)
Now I'm going to have to cut down on posting so I can concentrate on the 4Brothers audio logo competition !

taro nombei said...

My birthday today... I'll gladly accept this as a present...
Heee on your excellent blog, It's all about the context as much as the music.
Loving it all, and lapping it up.
Much appreciated

Simon666 said...

Tanjyobi omede tou!

Simon666 said...

Have added the 35th (!) album link to this post, Max Roach's "Nommo" (1978) featuring Workman and Bridgewater, also with Billy Harper and Max Roach, now posted at the wonderful El Goog Ja blog.

Nuage fiché qui rêve said...

Impressive, massive, great, words fail me ; thank you Simon !

djfunkaholic said...

Many thanks Simon. Superb music & research once again.

Simon666 said...

Yet another album link added to this post, Pharoah Sanders' "Elevation"

Simon666 said...

Added a "More Reggie" section at the bottm, with a few links to other Workman albums - including a "new" 1986 bootleg at Inconstant Sol which has a version of 'Conversation'.

Simon666 said...

Added a link in the discog section to an MP3 version of Workman's "Cerebral Caverns" (1995) :

Simon666 said...

The Reggie Workman discog continues to expand, with a new donation by the fabulous E-Mile :

Images: The Reggie Workman Ensemble in Concert (1989), recorded live at the Knitting Factory.

Here are some details :

Reggie Workman - Bass, Producer
Don Byron - Clarinet
Marilyn Crispell - Piano
Gerry Hemingway - Percussion
Jeanne Lee - Vocals
Michele Navazio - Guitar

1. Suite for H.P. Madame - 28:48
2. Medea - 12:24
3. November 1 - 16:40
4. Jus' Ole Mae (Revisited) - 13:52

Grab it from the discog and PLEASE THANK E-MILE, eho can always be found at

Go and wish him well as he recovers from his burns injuries, but miraculously keeps blogging. Thanks E-Mile!

Simon666 said...

Hi guys,
If any of you missed out on the good quality cover scans, I've re-upped them :

Simon666 said...

MP3 version removed due to sustained attack by leech-blog Bentleyfunk. Sorry guys.

Simon666 said...

Link added to "Summit Conference" (1993) in discography. Previously we just had a torrent link.

Simon666 said...

link added within the post to Albert Dailey's "Day After the Dawn", go here :

JazzDoIt said...

Thank you for a very good one. You know, I'm lookin'for Roy Haynes - Hip Ensemble. Do you know where can I get a link for this one? I enjoyed a lot Senyah, so I guess the Ensemble is a pretty good one too, since it has similar personnel.

Siesta said...

Coincidence JazzDoIt, I'm also looking for Roy Haynes - Hip Ensemble published by Mainstream. It's also known as "Equipoise" (first track name). I'll post a link here as soon as I put my ears on it! Hope it won't be long.

Simon666 said...

Hi JazzDolt and Siesta, here you go :

JazzDoIt said...

Simon, much gratitude to you man. Thanks for the link. And have a very kind and harm support to your blog.

Great soulful sounds

Simon666 said...

Glad to help :)

Siesta said...

Thank you so much for the link Simon666! I couldn't find the file, was only listening to the album via deezer. Just listened to the whole damn LP ("Satan's Mysterious Feeling" is grooving like hell): it's just a pure gem! Thanks again for your blog and "à bientôt" (I'm French).

Black Orfeus said...

Thank you very much for this very rare album and high quality vinyl-rip!

Simon666 said...

you're welcome black orfeus :)

HCM said...

Sounding very nice! Im hooked on track 1.. Thanks Simon!

Simon666 said...

You're welcome Hoochie Coochie Man, thanks for all the comments :)

Anonymous said...

thanks for this. looking forward to yer next post.

Franco said...

Only just gettin' this !
Thanks.....and thanks for keeping it live!

Simon666 said...

Glad you're enjoying it Franco, good to see people still digging down here :)

Unknown said...

Thank you from Curacao, Dutch Caribbean! Enjoying this immensely!


neil said...

Long time since I've been here, Simon; many thanls for keeping the "Conversation" alive...