Track Selection: Love Song (Williams, 8:12)
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Marvelous free-swinging flow from Sam Rivers on tenor.
Wayne Shorter or Sam Rivers, tenor saxophone; Herbie Hancock, piano; Gary Peacock, bass; Tony Williams, drums; recorded Rudy Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, August 12, 1965,
After William’s Lifetime, Spring is his second Blue Note as leader. Williams is the perfect host, serving up probably one of Sam River’s best albums, as well as one of Hancock’s best and a great Gary Peacock record. There is a solo Williams track too, for those who like their percussion neat.
It feels very 1965. Jazz is freeing up nicely, with new players charting course for new lands, much looser in structure and direction. The musical purpose is expressive rather than narrative; the beat offers continuous propulsion in place of formal time signature. The “rhythm section” steps forward as an equal to the front line, everyone is a soloist, instruments freed from their traditional roles, Hancock’s piano is percussive, the bass no longer walks but adds texture and shades of colour.
Interesting decision by Williams to run with two tenor saxophone players, Shorter and Rivers, both leading lights of the post-bop scene.This often gives rise to a little friendly competition for pole position. Seems to me a beneficial decision, as I think Shorter is pushed to up his game.
The music was progressing towards its destiny, the inevitable rendezvous between modern jazz and modern art. At which point the audiences rebelled. “No no, I didn’t ask for “art”, I want music to dance to, to romance to, to do housework to, for the kids to rebel to. You seem to know a lot about music, so tell me, which Beatle do you think is the cutest?”
Reid Miles cover design in the manner of a Mark Rothko colour field – manifesto : We favor the simple expression of the complex thought. We are for the large shape because it has the impact of the unequivocal. We wish to reassert the picture plane. We are for flat forms because they destroy illusion and reveal truth. Yeah, that’s exactly what I thought. However Francis Wolff gets the back cover for one of his signature portraits, conveniently eliminating the need for liner notes.
It is a personal thing but I do not warm to the wild men of free jazz like Shep and Ayler, but I do like this mid sixties jazz, freed from the chains of Bop, which in turn freed us from the chains of Swing, and so forth, in reductio ad absurdum. Extending the French bon mot, we add a little Latin, IvyLeagueJazzCollector. . Perhaps every act of liberation turns eventually into a prison, unless you keep moving (LJC). Philosophy class, dismiss. Both Williams Blue Notes are great records worthy of your time and attention.
Vinyl: BN 4216 mono 1st press, with ears, New York’s finest.
I half-expected no ear, as more than a few titles after 4200 found their release the wrong side of the line in the sale of Blue Note to Liberty. This one just squeezed through before the chop came down on Plastylite, though as I have commented before, the first wave of deferred releases under Liberty are great pressings and great value.
Nice back cover, probably would have made a great front cover. Note Sans Serif Futurama font – but Blue Note.
Source: North London record store with a very eccentric owner whose shop name invites you to negotiate his prices, which are all inflated to take this into account. If he likes you, he will happily offer a disount. If he doesn’,t he is as likely to ask you to leave his shop. How he survives I don’t know, but he is still there.(Update 2019: Haggle Vinyl, Islington, closed its doors a couple of years ago)
Having posted William’s Lifetime recently, a number of posters reminded me what a good record his other Blue Note title is, Spring. (One of the great things about “an educational site” is the education I get from it!) This was an early acquisition, and was underappreciated at the time. I am now ready for this, when I wasn’t four years ago. So thanks to the posters.