Search - Glenn Spearman :: Blues for Falasha

Blues for Falasha
Glenn Spearman
Blues for Falasha
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Pop
  •  Track Listings (4) - Disc #1

Tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman was familiar with the musical art of reaching plateaus. An acolyte of such unapologetically spirited improvisers as Albert Ayler, Frank Wright, and late-period John Coltrane, Spearman used ...  more »


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CD Details

All Artists: Glenn Spearman
Title: Blues for Falasha
Members Wishing: 1
Total Copies: 0
Label: Tzadik
Original Release Date: 1/19/1999
Release Date: 1/19/1999
Genres: World Music, Jazz, Pop
Styles: Avant Garde & Free Jazz, Jazz Fusion
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
UPC: 702397713029

Tenor saxophonist Glenn Spearman was familiar with the musical art of reaching plateaus. An acolyte of such unapologetically spirited improvisers as Albert Ayler, Frank Wright, and late-period John Coltrane, Spearman used his Double Trio to full-on free-jazz peak experience on Smokehouse, Fields, and Mystery Project. Here he takes the group into the realm of considering the oft-forgotten Ethiopian Falasha, a Jewish tribe that has lived separate from their nation's mainstream society to retain cultural integrity. The piece is full of long stretches that channel Larry Ochs, Chris Brown, Lisle Ellis, Donald Robinson, and William Winant into more slow-developing sound areas. Plenty of high-impact free improvising still crops up (and out), but on the whole this is music that has a wider-spread firmness, a blaze that spreads methodically rather than in flashes. The blues elements are mazed away by the interaction of twinned saxes, doubled drums, and the springing lunge of Ellis's bass and Brown's pianistic unleashings. Spearman is his usual scorched-range expert, ripping phrases open to study their roughest edges. Alas, Spearman's death in late 1998 stemmed a rising tide of creativity and energy all too soon. --Andrew Bartlett

CD Reviews

The righteous one
Case Quarter | CT USA | 01/29/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"blues for falasha, music in 4 parts -- 1) the old book, 2) rituals, 3) cold water and dirt, and, over 28 minutes, the longest section, 4) seed sounds -- is recorded on john zorn's label tzadik: radical jewish music. the name of glenn spearman appears in white letters embossed on a golden star of david. glenn spearman's mother is jewish.

the old book, a background chant over which spearman recites an original poem, concludes with a honking tenor sax evocative of a shofar. rituals opens with a groaning, my guess, made by either the prepared piano or the bass. john zorn refers to spearman's group as the double trio (ornette coleman's classic, free jazz, used a double quartet), consisting of 2 saxophonists, a pianist, a bassist, and 2 drummer/percussionists. both saxophonists play softly in unison and then the piano and percussion chime in, the droning groan fades and the other instruments continue on thru cold water and dirt.

the poet, nathaniel mackey, in the preface of his book, splay anthem, describes glenn spearman as 'a san francisco bay tenor saxophonist...who died in 1998 at age 51, a saxophonist in the coltrane tradition, a tradition worked and ramified by such musicians as shepp, albert ayler, pharoah sanders, and, of particular importance to spearman, frank wright, with whom he studied and worked in paris in the 1970s. ...glenn's music could be pointedly echoic. toward the end of his 1993 composition "thinking of frank," he quotes from the piece wright wrote in memory of trane "one for john." here echo is homage, lineage, a school of ancestors...' the falasha are a jewish hamitic people of ethiopia who claim descent from menelik I, the son of solomon and the queen of sheba. glenn spearman's father is african american.

seed sound, as mackey might say, echoes the music of john coltrane. you could say it's in the spirit of coltrane's meditations, the building up rapid playing of screeching, honking horns to blend with piano and heavily strummed bass, the piano growing in pace and intensity joining the screeching horns and loud banging drums. spearman published his music under the name: ascension publication, undoubtably moved by coltrane's ascension. the screeching rises to tumbling drums and the piece ends with a meeting of the 2 horns and the return of the chanting voices.

larry ochs, pianist for the double trio, writes in the linear notes that he believed blues for falasha marked the end of one kind of free jazz focus for glenn spearman as a saxophonist, and the explorations in new directions.

unfortunately, we'll never know where spearman's explorations would have taken him, as well his listeners. what we do have is something echoic and indicative of spearman's journey here in blues for falasha, music well worth a listen.