Reviews that mention Clifford Thornton

June 30, 2003


Attica Blues
Impulse! AS-9222 024 654 414-2

Music Is The Healing Force of the Universe
Impulse! AS-9191 440 065 383-2

What you’re hearing on these two LP-length CD reissues, recorded in the late 1960s and early 1970s, is the metaphoric death throes of the New Thing as a popular music.

But wait, you say, didn’t the angry unmelodic, experimental New Thing itself murder jazz’s popularity when it hijacked the music and drove large audiences away? Not really. Like other pieces of revisionist history perpetuated by the neo-cons this tale has been blown out of proportion to make more miraculous the trad revival of the 1990s. MORE

December 10, 2001


Freedom & Unity
Atavistic Unheard Music UMS/ALP 225 CD

One of the standard bearers of the Black Nationalist branch of the New Thing, trumpeter/valve trombonist Clifford Thornton’s musical profile nearly vanished in the years before he died in Switzerland in the mid-1980s.

Perhaps it was caused by his late 1960s detour into academe at Wesleyan University, plus his stint in the 1970s as an educational counselor at the African American Institute. Maybe it was because Thornton, who was once barred from entering France as a suspected Black Panther, and who plays a composition entitled “Free Huey” on this CD, found this his commitments were out of fashion in the conservative jazz world. Certainly he and other radicals like trumpeter Cal Massey were usually shoved into the background by the pronouncements of his more articulate and news-generating associate, Archie Shepp. MORE