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This review is from: Life Time (Audio CD)
I`ve been immersing myself in the 50s and 60s Blue Note reissues lately, so much so that my neighbours must either have been converted to jazz or...is that a For Sale sign I see outside?
This one`s from 1964 and features a shifting combination of musicians, Sam Rivers on
sax on the intriguing opening three tracks, beginning with a connected (by title) duet of numbers that appear to seek to express the colours red & green. Idiosyncratic bassist Richard Davis plays on these colour-coded tracks, with Gary Peacock on straight bass.
The great Bobby Hutcherson, always up for a challenge, offers his vibes on Memory, though to not enough effect for my liking. Herbie Hancock is heard on the last two tracks, makes his presence felt, but not enough to sway me into thinking this isn`t one hell of a vanity project, with some lovely playing, but to too little effect. To put it another way, I`m not moved, and I`m not likely to play this very often.
I`ve seen & heard my share of `free jazz`, both live and in clubs & pubs, and very fine much of it was. This is free-ish jazz, and, for me, there`s the rub. This is music that in a small way looks back to the jazz tradition, and tentatively looks forward to the freer explosions that would come. Too often it ends up being neither one thing nor another. It`s all too - bitty.
I really wish I liked this pleasant enough disc more than I do, but I`m left underwhelmed and undernourished. Some of my favourite jazz musicians are to be heard on Life Time - Hancock, Hutcherson (do not miss his wonderful album Oblique) and the superb Williams himself, so telling on so many others` discs of that classic era.
Hear this one for yourself. You may like it. I quite like it too, just not that much. 6 or 7 out of ten.
Review 2, a month later:
Some albums don`t `take` on first, or even second hearing. I played this again with ears & heart open and was beguiled by it, not least Sam Rivers` sax flourishes on the two connected opening tracks, but also the restrained inventiveness of Tony Williams` percussive runs - so unlike the barnstorming he displays on many of his other discs where he`s often a sideman - and Ron Carter`s swooping bass figures on the last track, which are quite something to hear. Hutcherson came through more this time too, as did the uncharacteristically gnomic piano fills of the more usually gregarious Hancock.
This is certainly not `free jazz` or anything particularly avant-garde. No, it is, as I now realise, a composed (in both senses of that word) set of pieces with a jazz
base, using jazz musicians, all making music of careful beauty & modest wonder.
I won`t play it all that often, but when I do I know I`ll be happy to hear it again - in the right mood!
8 or nine out of 10.
All in all, at least four stars. It grows...