Saturday, July 25, 2009

Elvin Jones - "New Agenda" (1975)


Regarded as one of the world's greatest drummers, with his alternately thunderous and light-skipping percussive styles, Elvin Jones will always be remembered as Coltrane's drummer from the 1960-66 period, but also has an interesting output as a leader in his own right.

His Impulse and Blue Note albums straddled both avant-garde and post-bop influences, always allowing plenty of space for his collaborators, and by the 1970s, albums like Merry Go Round were beginning to annoy purists like l'il Scotty Yanow in their eclectic grab-bag that began to explore influences like latin and brazilian styles.

He continued to explore all corners of jazz in when he moved across to Vanguard Records in 1975, in a group of albums that I'm going to present in a series of posts. I didn't have this one, so my friend WK stepped forward with a nice 320 vinyl rip.

"New Agenda" was his first release for the new company in 1975. There's a pretty heavyweight reeds section behind him here - mainstay Steve Grossman with help on different tracks from Azar Lawrence, Joe Farrell and Frank Foster. That's how many winds players you need to compete with Jones' snare drum.

As if the power of his kit wasn't enough, on this album he brings in three percussionists - Candido, Guillermo Franco and Frank Ippolito, but this doesn't result in the bombastic chaos you might expect - rather, Jones works with them in a cohesive unit, often exploring subtle cymbal work to complete the percussive textures; and really letting them have their heads on the closer "Agenda".

No review for this album on AMG, presumably because it contains the dreaded, jazz-destroying electric piano, adroitly handled here by Kenny Barron on the opening soul-jazzer "Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat" ; and by Gene Perla on the aforementioned "Agenda" and "Stefanie" (penned by producer Ed Bland and later recorded by James Moody, see file within his discography here ). Anyway, Barron's presence gets this added to the Kenny on electric piano discography.

The pianoless tracks are anchored harmonically by guitarist Roland Prince, a veteran of many fine early 70s albums like Buddy Terry's "Awareness", Larry Willis' "Inner Crisis"; Shirley Scott's "Lean On Me"; Roy Haynes' "Senyah", Pete Yellin's "It's the Right Thing" and Compost's "Life Is Round". Here he's got a restrained style that on tracks like "Haresah" that almost mimics the tonality of Barron's and Perla's rhodes on other tracks.

Hope you enjoy this one!


01 'Someone's Rocking My Jazzboat' - 6:49 - (Foster)
02 'Naima' - 6:10 - (Coltrane)
03 'Haresah' - 8:09 - (Grossman)
04 'Anti-Calypso' - 5:18 - (Prince)
05 'Stefanie' - 4:39 - (Bland)
06 'My Lover' - 3:36 - (Hito)
07 'Agenda' - 7:55 - (Jones)


Drums - Elvin Jones
Bass - Dave Williams
Guitar - Roland Prince
Percussion - Candido (5,7) , Frank Ippolito (1,2,4,5,7) , Guillermo Franco (3,4)
Piano - Gene Perla (5,7) , Kenny Barron (1)
Reeds - Azar Lawrence (3,4) , Frank Foster (1,2,5) , Steve Grossman
Saxophone - Joe Farrell (5,7)


Producer - Ed Bland
Engineer, Mixed By - David Baker
Mixed By - John Kilgore

ALSO BY ELVIN JONES at this blog :
"The Main Force" (1976)
"Summit Meeting" (1976)
"Time Capsule" (1977)


Vinyl rip @ 320 donated by WK (thanks!)

Other album links in this post go to Orgy In Rhythm, Office Naps, My Jazz World, the Shad Shack, and Oufar Khan.Please thank these folks if you visit them and download their albums, commenting keeps music blogs alive and well.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

John Sangster - "Australia and all that Jazz" Vol 1 (1971)


"man, the destroyer"


Some jazz, some bossa rhythms, and some easy-listening-musique-concrète soundtrack all in the one package. What a bargain!

John Sangster's fascinating soundtrack album for a series of nature documentaries is buried behind one of the one of the worst, most generic titles of all time - not to mention the skanky record cover, which doesn't even have his name on it - but that was the lot of the commissioned library/soundtrack composer in 1970s Australia.

On the upside, that's probably a factor that allowed me to grab it for $3 at a street market a few months back, rather than having to pay the hundreds of dollars that some of his albums go for. Anyway, it's something of a buried treasure that we'll try and dig up today.

John Sangster was a vibraphonist, percussionist and composer who started out in fairly straight-ahead jazz groups as a cornettist, releasing two albums in the late 1940s. During the 1960s he developed an interest in the avant garde and then broadened his listening and composing to latin and other musical forms, releasing three albums that are now quite hard to get hold of - "The Trip" (1967), "The Joker Is Wild" (1968) and "Ahead of Hair" (1969).

The last of these was an idiosyncratic, percussion-laden take on the musical "Hair", recorded while he was working as a drummer in the Sydney stage version alongside prog-rock group Tully. Here's the title track (thanks Reza!) :

"Hair" - John Sangster
DOWNLOAD TRACK - not included in album download

During the mid to late 1960s, Sangster was also a member of the Don Burrows Quartet, and played on the album "The Jazz Sound Of the Don Burrows Quartet", previously featured on this blog.

That group, combined with Sangster's vibes, formed the core sound for a series of soundtracks by renowned soundtrack composer Sven Libaek, including "Inner Space" and "Solar Flares".

"Australia and All That Jazz" was commissioned by the Australian Museum - a museum of natural history - as the soundtrack for a series of 16mm wildlife documentary films by the museum's filmmaker Howard Hughes (no, not that one). Working here with the Burrows group and three additional woodwind players, Sangster himself plays vibraphone, an array of percussion and occasional simple fender rhodes (see the "Rain" preview at the top).

Ironically, the bulk of the funding for the project was provided by mining company BHP, perhaps as a payback for the fact that they were ripping up the Australian landscape at the time and wiping out much of the wildlife being celebrated here.

"First Light"

Sangster had previously worked on Sven Libaek's soundtrack for a series of nature documentaries that ran under the title "Nature Walkabout". Libaek's 1965 soundtrack had followed the standard formula, applying "human" drama to the scenes of animal activities and the power of nature.

from internal booklet, full scans in downloads

"The Birds"

For a nature documentary score, Sangster's approach here is radically different to that of Libaek - he incorporates the sound of nature itself into the soundtrack, via field recording, tape manipulation and melodic scoring for instruments - including Don Burrow's flute utilising echo-delay - that reflects the calls of birds, other animals and the elements.

While these are techniques that were common to the work of classical and experimental composers of the time, it was unusual to hear them both in a jazz context and used in such a lyrical fashion. Later on the the 70s and 80s these sort of techniques were used and abused in a range of appalling "new age" music, but here there's still a freshness.

"The City"

Nature's drama is also reflected in rhythmic sequences that reference occasional latin and afro-style beats, in the time-honoured 70s library tradition of non-european cultures being seen as 'wild', but also stemming from Sangster's genuine love for and engagement with a range of musics.

The first of his albums to cross over with his environmental interests, it's divided into two sides : "Where Water is Plentiful" and "Dry Australia", referring to the titles of two of the films the music was originally scored for. This album took the structures of and ideas behind the original recordings and developed them further in the studio.

"man, the destroyer"

I've got several albums by Sangster and others to follow in a continuing examination of the "library connection", so I hope you enjoy this one. The WAV and MP3 downloads in the comments both include scans of the four page internal booklets from the album.


All tracks written by John Sangster except Track 1 by Don Burrows.


01. 'first light'
The bush comes to life

02. 'sunrise'
The rising sun brings to life the flowers' colours - the Waratah, Gymea Lily and Banksia. This composition features Don Burrows' bass flute.

03. 'the birds'
features Graeme Lyall's tenor saxaphone

04. 'procession of tadpoles & waterstriders'
Don Burrows on alto flute

05. 'possum'
Errol Buddle on bassoon

06. 'forest with birds'
John Sangster on vibraphone and Don Burrows on alto flute

07. 'man, the destroyer'
Tony Buchanan's bass clarinet depicts the destruction of this beautiful environment - but with care, it will survive.


08. 'the desert'
Don Burrows - bass flute

09. 'skull & bones'
The sun-bleached remains of victims of drought

10. 'the sand swimmer'
Sangster on vibraphone slap-mallets

11. 'rain'
Water brings the desert to life. John Sangster on fender rhodes.

12. 'the knob tailed gecko'
Errol Buddle on tenor saxaphone

13. 'the centre'
Vibraphone improvisation by John Sangster

14. 'the city'
Even the distant city-dweller has his responsibility to preserve this land


John Sangster - vibraphone, electric piano, quijada, bells and windchimes, bongos, conga drum.
Erroll Buddle - flute, clarinet, oboe, bassoon, tenor sax
Don Burrows - Concert, alto and bass flutes; clarinet
Tony Buchanan - Flute, clarinet and bass clarinet
George Golla - classical and electric guitars
Graeme Lyall - Flue, clarinet and tenor sax
Derek Fairbrass - drums
Ed Gaston - bass


Cherry Pie Records
Recorded at Cherry Pie Studios, Sydney, 1971
Recording Engineers - Warren Mills, Max Harding
Studio Technician - Godfrey Gamble
Cover Design and Layout - Adrian Baine
Photography - Howard Hughes
Front Cover - Darke's Forest, New South Wales
Back Cover - near Bourke, western New South Wales


#1 : Don Burrows - "The Jazz Sound of the Don Burrows Quartet" (1966)
#2 : Don Burrows - "The Tasman Connection" (1976)
#3 : John Sangster - "Australia and All That Jazz - Vol. 1" (1971)


Vinyl rip, scans and text by

Thanks to Reza for the mp3 of

Other blogs referenced here are
The Manchester Morgue, Fine Folk and Rafter Lights.
Please thank these folks if you visit them and download their records - comments keep music blogs alive.

Downloads : WAV - MP3