Reviews that mention Hamiet Bluiett

September 21, 2018

Beaver Harris-Don Pullen 360° Experience

A Well Kept Secret
Corbett vs. Dempsey CvsD CD042

What might have been heard on its release in 1984 as a last gasp Black Nationalist-Free Jazz session with a touch of exoticism, from a 2018 perspective was in reality a precursor of a more universal Jazz ethos. That’s because A Well Kept Secret was eclectic enough to mix Freebop with atonality, riff tunes with romanticism and taking cautious steps into what would soon be called World Music.

Context is everything. At the time the two leaders, drummer Beaver Harris (1936-1991) and pianist Don Pullen (1941- 1995), were best known for their affiliations with exploratory avatars like Archie Shepp and Albert Ayler in Harris’ case and Charles Mingus and Milford Graves in Pullen’s. Tenor saxophonist Ricky Ford had recorded with Mingus, as had baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett, part of then-nascent World Saxophone Quartet. Only journeyman bassist Buster Williams and almost unknown steel drummer Francis Haynes didn’t appear to be card-carrying members of the Great Black Music affiliation. MORE

March 6, 2017

In Print

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s
By Michael C. Heller (University of California Press)

By Ken Waxman

Unlike earlier styles named for locations (Kansas City, West Coast) or sounds (Bop, Stride), New York’s so-called Loft Jazz movement of the ‘70s was defined by real estate. The result of policies that allowed large swathes of the southern part of the city to be neglected waiting for potential redevelopment, large, often unoccupied and un-serviced industrial lofts in Soho were soon legally or not occupied by artists drawn by expansive spaces and minimal costs. Many lofts housed experimental jazz musicians, who hosted sessions that eventually became regular concert spaces. Soon not only were locals like drummer Juma Sultan, saxophonist Sam Rivers and trumpeter James DuBois presenting door gigs; but adventurous players from the Mid-West with more business savvy and California music emigrants were sharing the spotlight. Using first-person interviews and archival researchm including reproductions of posters, flyers and LP covers, Michael G. Heller examines the scene’s rise and eventual fall from historical, pedagogical and sociological perspectives. MORE

January 5, 2012

Lest We Forget:

Julius Hemphill (1938-1995)
By Ken Waxman

Known best for the 15-odd years he spent as a founding member of the World Saxophone Quartet (WSQ), saxophonist and composer Julius Arthur Hemphill, influenced the shape of jazz before and after that affiliation. Live at Kassiopeia, a 1987 German concert recently released by NoBusiness, demonstrates his prowess in extending solo reed language and in powerful duets with German bassist Peter Kowald. Hemphill’s organizational and musical smarts also encouraged younger saxophonists such as Tim Berne and especially Marty Ehrlich, whose Julius Hemphill Sextet preserves the all-saxophone ensemble Hemphill created after splitting with the WSQ. MORE

May 21, 2011

World Saxophone Quartet

Yes We Can
Jazzwerkstatt JW 098

Who would have guessed that nearly 35 years after it was first organized the World Saxophone Quartet (WSQ) would make one of its most exciting CDs in years thanks to a 75-year-old guest star saxophonist? But it’s true. After a number of gimmicky CDs and live shows featuring shifting personnel, rhythm sections and odd song choices, the WSQ has returned to form with this superlative session thanks in no little part to the contributions of Kidd Jordan.

Playing alto saxophone instead of his usual tenor – thus filling missing WSQ founding member Oliver Lake’s chair – Jordan brings an indiscernible élan to the proceedings, evidently enlivening the group and prodding the other three players to masterful and imaginative work. The band’s other original members, baritone saxophonist and clarinetist Hamiet Bluiett and tenor saxophonist and bass clarinetist David Murray are both present. Meanwhile tenor and soprano saxophonist James Carter seems to be the newest permanent WSQ member, most recent in a long line of reedists who have filled the fourth chair since Julius Hemphill departed in 1990. MORE

March 8, 2010

Guelph Jazz Festival

Guelph, Ontario
September 9 - 13, 2009

Always populist, the annual Guelph Jazz Festival extended its support of outdoor improvisation plus interaction between Third and First World musicians in its 16th edition, without lessening its commitment to Free Music. Much of the outstanding music-making came from the later however, with American pianist Marilyn Crispell one standout.

Featured in American, European and Canadian group settings, Crispell’s playing was powerful and outer-directed at the River Run Centre concert hall, in a trio with two AACM stalwarts, seemingly ageless tenor saxophonist Fred Anderson and colorful percussionist Hamid Drake, whose rhythmic conception is comfortable in any context. Anderson often quivered or vibrated reflective lines that were paralleled with linear arpeggios or kinetic pedal-pushed frequencies by Crispell. Meantime Drake’s palm or stick movement conveyed all the rhythm. Climax was a version of Muñoz’s “Fatherhood”, built on ecclesiastical chording from the pianist, ruffs and rebounds from Drake and gospel-like preaching from Anderson. MORE

November 20, 2008

Kidd Jordan

The Vision Festival New York
June 11, 2008

Figuratively – and usually single-handedly – carrying the banner for experimental Jazz in New Orleans for many years, tenor saxophonist Edward “Kidd” Jordan, 73, must have felt metaphorically out-in-the-cold on many occasions. But heat was certainly in evidence – literally and emotionally – mid-June in New York as a turn-away crowd helped celebrate the reedman’s Lifetime Achievement with a series of concerts.

Highlight of the 13th Annual Vision Festival that took place at the Lower East Side’s Clemente Soto Velez Cultural Center, the five sets honoring Jordan were hot – as was the venue. Despite a few strategically placed revolving fans, the temperature hovered around 35 degrees Celsius in the venerable space, with body heat from the packed audiences adding to the ventilation challenges. MORE

January 26, 2004


The Journey
Downtown Sound DS 1002

First -- and best-known -- of the many expatriate, anti-Apartheid South African jazz musicians -- Duke Ellington sponsored his first LP in 1963 -- Abdullah Ibrahim, then Dollar Brand, gradually adapted a more ethic identity when he became a known quantity in the jazz firmament. As evidence, here’s an LP-length reissue of his 1978 Alice Tully Hall concert. On it he uses both his birth and Muslim names to show his mature music was an mixture of Townships, Arabic, traditional and new jazz influences. MORE

June 16, 2003


Live from the Vision Festival
Thirsty Ear THI 57131.2

The next best thing to being there, this combination CD and DVD package offers a distillation of some of the outstanding performances from last year’s Vision Festival in New York’s Lower East Side. Lacking the name recognition of Newport, Montreux, or any other capitalist entity-associated international star festival, in its less than 10 year existence, Vision has still promulgated a unique artistic vision.

Built around the vision of bassist William Parker, it’s a place where pioneering avant gardists from the 1960s mix it up with younger players who are carrying on experimental ideals. It’s cross-cultural, national and international as well, with the musicians showcased on this session arriving from Germany, Korea, Philadelphia, Chicago, Boston, Minneapolis, Valencia, Calif., New Orleans… and Brooklyn, MORE

October 28, 2002


If You Believe…
8th Harmonic Breakdown 8THHB 80004

Love Outside of Dreams
Delmark DG-541

Leading two regular bands obviously isn’t enough for Chicago-based multi-percussionist Kahil El’Zabar. Not only has he written poetry and film scores, taught at nearby universities and initiated arts presentations, but he’s also put together a series of ad-hoc musical groups.

Besides his regularly constituted Ethnic Heritage Ensemble (EHE) and Ritual Trio, he also organized the Bright Moments combo filled with Association for Advancement of Creative Musicians veterans and recorded exciting projects with 1960s tenor masters like Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. Now these CDs showcase him in two more bands. Tri-Factor is a regularly constituted co-op trio, filled out by baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett and violinist Billy Bang. The other combo disc is more of bittersweet affair. A reunion between El’Zabar and a former duo partner, extensively recorded tenor saxophonist David Murray, it’s also the final recording session for bassist Fred Hopkins, who died at 51 of heart and liver disease a few months after the session. MORE