Subject: I have found a CD that I think you would enjoy
I'Ve Known Riversand Other Bodies
Genres: Jazz, R&B
Listen to Samples
Achieves five star quality in spots
Tyler Smith | Denver, CO United States | 05/13/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Gary Bartz released this live-at-Montreaux album in 1973, a notoriously uncertain time for jazz musicians who were trying to negotiate musical waters being roiled by the popularity of rock, fusion, and funk, just to name a few of the more prominent influences of the day.
As I've noted in other reviews, the early '70s was by no means devoid of fine releases, but in general there was, it seems to me, an uncertainty of identity among many musicians during the period. Bartz was a prime example. In this often superb album, we hear plenty of his powerfully soulful and melodic sax playing, but we also hear occasional lapses into weaker material that seemed to be aimed at gaining a wider commercial audience.
Some of the occasionally dated feeling of the album comes from Bartz's vocals, which aren't altogether unsuccessful. On "Ju Ju Man," for example, his singing takes on the quality of a chant, appropriate to the song and its title. "I've Known Rivers," a musical adaptation of the Langston Hughes poem won't ever be held up as a classic vocal performance, but Bartz's voice is carried along nicely by his impressive rhythm section of Howard King, Stafford James and Hubert Eaves, and his attraction to the words of the poem seem sincere.
"Don't Fight That Feeling," on the other hand, is the kind of jazz-party tune that we heard too much of at the time. The lyrics and delivery are limp, and Bartz himself seems to fight the feeling of delivering a forced performance.
But the listener who can run this album down will often find that these objections are beside the point when Bartz really lets loose on alto and soprano sax. He has always been one of my favorite players, one who is never afraid to balance his muscular tone with a quality of lyrical song. The comment about "Don't Fight That Feelin'" aside, he also shows on this album that he was capably of delivering the funk without sounding dated at all, as on "Mama's Soul" and "Dr. Follow's Dance."
And he goes "outside" to great effect on the powerful "Warrior's Song." In short, "I've Known Rivers" successfully illustrates Bartz's ability to comfortably assimilate a wide variety of styles.
It was that restless search for new sounds, for a new way to assimilate all the possible influences of the day that made the music of Bartz, Joe Henderson and McCoy Tyner, to name three, fascinating to listen to in the '70s. But as "I've Known Rivers" also shows, it was difficult for these musicians to sort out the influences and synthesize them into something completely fresh and new.
This was album too long unavailable on CD. Give it a listen."