I typically steer clear of superlatives when I write about musicians. My opinion is no less valid than any listener's opinion. That's one reason why I would never consider myself a critic. Just an advocate, really. Now that I've gotten that out of the way, let me tell you that Roy Haynes is the greatest living jazz drummer. There. I said it. And I'm not just basing this on his accumulated career - you know, the 50+ years of playing with every major innovator since the late 1940s. Truth be told, Roy Haynes is eternally youthful, and he's still a badass. In July 1987, when Roy was a cool 62 years old (retirement age for the lucky few), he brought his quartet to Riverside Park in New York. WBGO recorded it for posterity, including this lovely jam on "All Blues." Donald Harrison is the saxophonist, Dave Kikoski played piano, Ed Howard is the bassist.
And the leader...Roy...(tap tap tap)...Haynes...
Click here to listen.
Despite the name, Trio 3 - saxophonist/flutist Oliver Lake, bassist Reggie Workman, and drummer Andrew Cyrille - are anything but redundant. All are stalwarts of improvised music, each a master on their respective instrument. They just finished a run at Jazz Standard with special guest, pianist Geri Allen.
Saturday night, the quartet opened their second set with Oliver Lake's original, "Valley Sketches." Lake commanded the full range of his alto saxophone - from growling exhortations to charismatic high register shouts. Other highlights included Allen's "Thank You, Ma'am," and Reggie Workman's "November 1."
As much I as concentrate on the music, I am equally fascinated with the audience that attends music shows. While there were definitely some fans of the cerebral architecture onstage, this music was an initiation ritual for others. After all, Saturday night is a date night. I watched a youngish couple before the set, eating and drinking, smiling and enjoying each other's company. The blissful oblivion ended minutes after the music began. The further the music went, the farther the couple's intimacy seemed to migrate.
Don't get me wrong. I never blame the musicians. They do what they do. Trio 3 and Geri Allen may not be music to snuggle to, but it definitely feeds the brain. Music for a date night? Not really, unless your companion is an adventurous listener. Finding that special someone is never easy, but always worth the search. Same with the music.
What's going on all! Welcome to my blog series "DIGGIN' THE CLASSICS"! When new releases in the music world get slow, we all tend to dig into our collections for some vintage pleasure. Join me for my weekly (or whenever I feel like it) quest for soundtrack satisfaction. This is a blog for music lovers! "Walk With Me".
This edition celebrates: Yusef Lateef- The Gentle Giant (1972)
1. Nubian Lady
2. Lowland Lullabye
3. Hey Jude
4. Jungle Plum
5. The Poor Fishermen
6. African Song
7. Queen of the Night
8. Below Yellow Bell
Now I will admit, I am really picky when it comes to instrumental recordings. There has to be something powerful about a rhythm that speaks without words. Yusef Lateef is most definitely gifted in this area. Lateef defines his brand of music as "-insert here-", but don't call it jazz. "The Gentle Giant" is evidence of his unique talents. With Lateef playing various instruments (flute, tenor, and oboe) and a 9-minute cover of "Hey Jude" (?), there is enough variety on this album to prevent it from boring the "A.D.D." listener. One stand out track is, "Nubian Lady". The title say's it all. With it's melodic rhythms and ultra cool vibes, songs like these leave no room for words. That would just mess things up.
"I'm smiling, but don't call it jazz fool!"
Another track that stands out is "Queen of the Night" (must be something about the ladies). A funky track that has a bass line tailor made for hip-hop. It is this variety that makes this album one of his most interesting works. This Lp speaks to generations, and most likely opened the door for world music. Some refer to this album as being erratic compared to his prior works. I feel this is just a classic display of any artists' journey to evolve. This album is a honest contribution to the foundation of jaz......I mean "-insert here-". It dares to be different. ...And it is the "different" that makes it an instant classic.
"What do you mean by different?"