Selection: Priestess (Harper)
. . .
Bily Harper, tenor saxophone; Everett Hollins, trumpet; Mickey Tucker, piano; Gregg Maker, Bass; Malcolm Pinson, drums; recorded in New York June 27-30, 1977, engineer Jim McCurdy A&R Recording Studio, New York City
Mickey Tucker was the only name I recognised, on the strength of his Muse titles.
Another step into the jazz twilight zone beyond 1970, Love On The Sudan picks up from where Strata East/Capra Black and Black Saint left off: more fire and brimstone from Harper’s incendiary tenor.
Priestess is a riveting performance, opening with chords in a bold harmonic progression, da da da da daa, which gives way to one of those rare studio sessions in which everyone is inspired by the mood. It really takes off, an organic ensemble work which ebbs and flow, and eventually subsides in emotional exhaustion. Around eleven minutes immersed in this torrent of music left me emotionally drained, which should leave you too.
The tag “spiritual jazz” can be bewildering to some, but for me it is raw emotional connection between the artists and the listener, open exploratory spontaneous and heart-felt communion of spirits. Not background music, dance music, or lounge, no cocktail-dress singer, or noodling electronica, but works for me.
The other tracks are good too, icing on the cake, especially the title track.
Vinyl: Denon Jazz YX-7568-ND Tokyo first issue, 1977.
Recorded in New York for Denon Jazz, Japan, it looks to be a first release intended for the Japanese market, a Japanese production, recorded in a New York studio by American musicians and engineer, pressed in Japan. I figure an “original pressing”.
The music is more powerful than the cover suggests. Whilst recorded in America, the cover artwork originates from its Japanese producers. The layout and design just shouts “Seventies”! Small colour artist portraits laid out on diagonal lines, neat and tidy text, made me think “Lee Ritenour… fusion…Yellowjackets” . You realize the strength of Reid Miles bold sense of design for Blue Note. I might have overlooked this album based on its cover, which is the opposite of the purpose of packaging.
I thought the album title might be victim of autocorrect, did you mean Love On The Sedan? It is however more likely a reference to the Sudan, in north-eastern Africa, capital Khartoum. The name Sudan apparently derives from the Arabic expression bilād al-sūdān (“land of the blacks”), I assume a Harper nod in the direction of cultural roots. Later in his discography he dedicates an album to Somalia, perhaps not worn well.
Just in case anyone was thinking of looking for love on the Sudan, the latest travel advice is against all but essential travel “If you plan to visit Sudan you should consider carefully whether your journey is absolutely necessary“.
From the safety of your sofa, however, a licensed copy of the full album – 35 minutes – has been uploaded to YouTube. In six months it has gained around 1500 views, and earned six comments, of which one wishes it was available of CD. Seems not everyone got the memo.
Probably interesting to compare audio quality of a low-res YouTube upload with my own 320k rip via a “fancy turntable“. I’d be mortified if it sounds as good on a phone/PC, but you never know with these things. It sounds jolly good in the flesh.