November 23, 2013
…and they were cool
Improvising Beings ib 16
Musician’s re-discoveries have to be viewed in a contemporary context that takes into account innovations that have arisen since the player disappeared from view, plus the necessity of determining whether the skills that created the legend in the first place have remained intact. That was the chronicle involving Jazz’s first great re-discovery, trumpeter Bunk Johnson. Returning to the scene in the early 1940s, after a 30 year absence, the resulting sides didn’t match his historic reputation until later on when he was finally united with properly sympathetic sidemen.
So too is it with the reappearance of players from 1960s New Thing. Just as Johnson needed new arrangements and new players as well as new teeth, multi-instrumentalist Giuseppi Logan, whose history from 1965 until his unearthing about five years ago included stretches of institutionalization and homelessness, demanded compassionate and creative associates to guide him to the proper context. That has finally happened with …and they were cool. Unlike his disastrous come-back CD in 2008 this set is an appropriate setting for the then 77-year-old Logan. Comparing it to More, Logan’s reissued final commercial session shows how good the new disc is, and much can be attributed to producer/guitarist Ed Pettersen.
In 1965, although already grey-bearded, Logan was barely 30 years old and part of an explosion of talent. His bands on these live and studio sessions features such future Jazz luminaries as pianist Don Pullen, drummer Milford Graves and either Reggie Johnson or Eddie Gomez on bass. From the first shattering cymbal volley on “Mantu” the tunes are taken at a go-for-broke fashion, completely related to the times. Graves, who is slightly over-recorded, exhibits the collection of trick and tropes he maintains to this day, while Pullen’s cross-pulsing and dark slippery cascades here are among the most outside work he ever did. On “Wretched Sunday”, Gomez, a year before her joined Bill Evans trio, powerfully string shakes and stops to expand on the piece’s balladic mode. Defining his solo with energy rather than expertise, Logan’s alto saxophone trills add multiphonics to an otherwise earthbound performance.
Expanded with 10 minute of previously unreleased material, that almost doubles its length, the now nearly 19½-minute “Sherbar” wraps all of the players’ then-new advances into a satisfying staccato showcase. As Graves’ raw rattles and buoyant ruffs set the pace before being involved in an (un?) intentional call-and-response duo with Johnson’s double-stopped arco bass line, Pullen’s uncompromisingly stretches and scratches the theme. Overall, the drummer particularly inventive with gong resonations and anvil-like bass drum smacks, first backing Logan’s squealing flute than his contralto bass clarinet lines as they weave in and out of the narrative.
Forty-seven years later the situation is much different. Without a drummer the rhythmic base is taken up by Larry Roland’s four-square bass playing, with the narratives strengthened with Jessica Lurie’s percussive, single-note flute playing plus Pettersen’s electronic judders. Sticking to alto saxophone, Logan plays obbligatos to all concerned, only moving front-and-centre by the CD’s mid-point. By then the quartet has reached the romantic “Trying To Decide”, with Logan’s double-tongued reed work finally getting spikier following the bassist’s downward strumming.
From then on it appears that Logan’s alto tone is as jagged as Lurie’s flute work is tonic – imagine Jean-Pierre Rampal paired with Ornette Coleman – but the situation gets dicier when both play saxophones. One might suppose that it’s the older reedist who provides the tautness and the younger the sweetness on “And Which To Avoid” especially when BeBop inferences appear in the alto solo. And it’s this track which undeniably confirms that Logan had regained his aptitude. As Roland sweeps over his strings and shifting surfaces enlighten the guitarist’s background work, a joyful and moderated exposition appears. With its forward looking stance plus echoes of Energy Music and Hard Bop, the new CD contains all the qualities needed to successfully embed a re-discovered player in the present.
Track Listing: More: 1. Mantu+ 2. Sherbar+ 3. Curve Eleven* 4. Wretched Sunday^
Personnel: More: Giuseppi Logan (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flute and piano*); Don Pullen (piano [except*]); Reggie Johnson+ or Eddie Gomez^ (bass) and Milford Graves (drums)
Track Listing: cool: 1. Taking A Walk In The Park 2. With My Dog Sam 3. Singing The Blues 4. Trying To Decide 5. Which Path To Choose 6. And Which To Avoid.
Personnel: cool: Giuseppi Logan (alto saxophone and piano); Jessica Lurie (alto saxophone, and flute); Ed Pettersen (guitar and effects) and Larry Roland (bass)