Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
Alarms & Excursions
Genres: Jazz, Pop
Listen to Samples
Not far-out...just slightly bent
N. Dorward | Toronto, ON Canada | 08/14/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD remains Bern Nix's only recording to date as a leader: he's best known as one of the guitarists with the original edition of Ornette's Prime Time band, & the discography provided in the liner notes here reveals he's recorded a few times elsewhere with Jayne Cortez, Julius Hemphill & Ronald Shannon Jackson. It's a mystery why Nix hasn't been recorded more often: this disc is a first-rate guitar trio session, revealing among other things an excellent composer.Nix's sound is absolutely straightahead--a clean jazz guitar tone without any fuzz or rock influence. His approach is entirely tonal, but within the outlines defined by Coleman's concept of "harmolodics"--Nix's effort to explain this famously nebulous concept in the liner notes isn't much more comprehensible than Coleman's own, but its main point is clear enough: "All players are simultaneously soloists, as well as accompanists. The idea is to create spontaneous music that is compositional, as well as orchestral in scope." That last phrase throws me (orchestral??) but the rest describes quite well the feel of the music: the music isn't a cyclic expression of an underlying chord structure, but relies on a continuously evolving polyphony which means that each improvisation is, so to speak, spontaneously through-composed. The music delicately & almost seamlessly negotiates between the options offered by conventional jazz, modal jazz & free playing.This is to make heavy weather of a very approachable recording. The playing touches on all the conventional genres of mainstream guitar jazz--the blues, bop, the ballad, even the standard "Just Friends"--& leaves everything sounding fresh & unhackneyed. The great Fred Hopkins is an essential part of the music--listen to his swinging bass on the mordant, funky "Let's Don't" (Nix in the liner notes comments that it's "my postmodern reply to Cole Porter's 'Let's Do It' in this age of latex"). The fine drummer Newman Baker gets a well-deserved feature on "Acuity". The disc ends fittingly on the two most "out" numbers, "Driving Sideways Backwards" & "Boundaries": by this time the listener's ears have been entirely drawn into Nix's logical but unpredictable sound-world.A little classic of the 1990s, & an album that should be picked up by anyone interested in free jazz on guitar. The disc makes for an interesting juxtaposition with the recordings of two other guitarists who've tackled Coleman's approach, James Blood Ulmer & Pat Metheny. I think it's just as strong as their work."
A Harmolodic Genious
Josh Feldschneider | USA | 05/07/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This CD is the best guitar trio record if not the best guitar feature record I have ever listened to. Bern Nix, a gifted genious of harmony has not failed us from his days with Ornette Coleman's Prime Time ensemble. His originals: "Z Jam Blues", "Accuity" and his rendition of "Just Friends" were my favorites. This rhythm section featuring the late, great and honorable Fred Hopkins on Bass, and Newman Baker on drums, is an as-one power unit. Their drive changes from subtlety and textural to a hard driving harmolodic fiery dance. This CD is a 5 star without a doubt. When will he put another one out?"