June 23, 2010
The Giuseppi Logan Quintet
Tompkins Square TSQ 2325
One of the lesser-known second generation New Thingers, woodwind player/pianist Giuseppi Logan made a couple of interesting LPs for ESP-Disk in 1964 and 1965 as well as sideman appearances with trombonist Roswell Rudd and singer Patty Waters. Known equally for the strength of his music and his weakness in coping with the music business, Philadelphia-born Logan faded from view shortly afterwards and was thought to have died in the early 1990s.
But after being re-discovered living in New York a member of a Christian evangelical cult, Logan, now 75, began playing gigs with trumpeter/bass clarinetist Matt Lavelle. Lavelle and a top-flight rhythm section of pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Francois Grillot and drummer Warren Smith are all present on this, his first session in 45 years.
It’s a good thing. For except for a few moments when Logan plays piano, the eight numbers preserved are of more historic than sonic interest. Just as not every aged, traditional jazzman, rediscovered and recorded in the 1940s proved to be anything more than a competent player, it’s the same for Logan. His uncertain time, discordant tone and general hesitancy painfully show his age and alienation.
Unlike Charles Gayle whose sudden appearance in the early 1990s was equivalent to the 1960s renaissance of memorable and still potent country bluesmen such as Mississippi John Hurt, Son House and Skip James, Logan is most reminiscent of Arthur Doyle. Although nine years younger than Logan, Doyle’s return to playing in the 1980s and since then reveals a saxophonist and singer whose personal problems prevent him from really grasping improvisation’s intricacies. Logan’s confusion isn’t as blatant as Doyle’s, but he’s no Gayle. Since his first brush with fame, Gayle has since gone from triumph to triumph. Logan isn’t likely to do so.
On this CD Grillot’s steady walking and Burrell’s hard-hitting lines and chiming, double-timed patterns help balance the front line’s raggedness, mostly attributed to Logan. Lavelle is his usual lively self. Lowing bass clarinet runs are played in double counterpoint with Logan’s wobbling intonation on “Modes”, while Lavelle’s mid-range trumpeting studded with downwards grace notes is a highlight of “Steppin’”. But Logan’s hesitancy, squealing and verbalized mumbles retard the tempo on the second piece. Not only that, but his wobbly intonation and stuttering textures on the former almost completely sabotage adhesive attempts from Smith’s ratamacues and Burrell’s ornamental cadenzas.
Unlike, say, Albert Ayler’s burlesque-re-imagining of standards, Logan’s skills appear equally lacking on non-originals as he squeaks his way through “Over the Rainbow”, valiantly pursued by Burrell’s chording, while “Freddie Freeloader” comes across as whiny and discordant. Meanwhile the lyrics on the concluded self-penned “Love Me Tonight” are seemingly toothlessly mumbled.
Nonetheless “Blue Moon” is Logan one accomplishment. Playing piano in an untutored style reminiscent of Gayle’s, he re-harmonizes the familiar melody which clunks along driven by repeated syncopated asides and Grillot’s string-thumping.
Listeners with New Thing nostalgia or a yen for avant-garde completeness may be more impressed by this disc. Sadly, Logan still seems to be lost.
— Ken Waxman
Track Listing: 1. Steppin’ 2. Around 3. Modes 4. Over The Rainbow 5. Bop Dues 6. Blue Moon* 7. Freddie Freeloader 8. Love Me Tonight*^
Personnel: Matt Lavelle (trumpet and bass clarinet); Giuseppi Logan tenor saxophone, piano* and vocal^); Dave Burrell (piano); Francois Grillot (bass) and Warren Smith (drums)