Reviews that mention Beaver Harris

February 23, 2020

Marion Brown

Capricorn Moon to Juba Lee Revisited
ezz-thetics 1102

More than 50 years after they were first issued these advanced Jazz sessions which may have sounded transgressive at the time are now relatively mainstream, Freebop would be the proper designation. Additionally while the four tracks came out on two LPs by the under-rated alto saxophonist Marion Brown (1931-2010), they could easily be attributed to trumpeter Alan Shorter (1932-1988), who composed two of the four tunes.

A peripheral figure among FreeJazzers, Shorter recorded with the likes of Archie Shepp and François Tusques in the US and France, but after a period of inactivity died in obscurity. In contrast Brown who was also an academic played and theorized until the end of his life, including dates with John Coltrane, Shepp and Gunter Hampel. A lyrical player, like pianist Dave Burrell, who is featured on this CD’s final tracks, Brown had a much more varied career after he recorded his first album reissued as this date’s first two tracks. MORE

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 17, 2016

Archie Shepp

Live at the Donaueschingen Music Festival
MPS EAN/UPC 4250644878640

While it may hardly sound credible in 2016, about 40 years ago it appeared as if Archie Shepp was going to enter the history books as the most accomplished tenor saxophonist following John Coltrane. In hindsight it’s became apparent that the aleatoric advances from Europeans like Evan Parker plus more direct Energy Music extenders like Charles Gayle or protean thinkers such as Roscoe Mitchell soon eclipsed Shepp. When he turned so-called traditional, even neo-mainstreamers like Joe Henderson’s playing revealed Shepp’s tonal inadequacies. Like an angry radical glorying in his establishment confrontations during the 1960s, Shepp has become a New Thing parody. Croaking the blues, recycling Swing ballads, struggling with intonation and raging vocally more than playing, the Shepp of four decades ago would have characterized today’s flashily dressed Shepp as one of those bourgeoisie entertainers he was struggling against. MORE

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