|All Artists: Cal Massey|
Title: Blues to Coltrane
Members Wishing: 0
Total Copies: 0
Label: Candid Records
Release Date: 10/1/1987
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaCD Credits: 1
A faint impression in the sands of time.
Samuel Chell | Kenosha,, WI United States | 08/14/2007
(4 out of 5 stars)
"This is the only recording by the luckless, quasi-legendary trumpeter-composer Cal Massey, whose elliptical, often anonymous career isn't brought into the sharpest focus by the liner notes. The recording appears to have been made in 1961 for Nat Hentoff's Candid Records, when Massey was 32. It immediately got lost, until it was rediscovered and released for the first time, posthumously, in 1987. As for Massey, he died of a heart attack in 1972 at the age of 43, the night after he had seen the preview performance of "Lady Day: A Musical Tragedy," to which he had contributed several songs.
Listening to this new edition is an experience of great ambivalence. The music is as original as it is conventional and accessible. It's as well played as it is occasionally somewhat ragged and amateurish, rather "home-made," in its constructions and performance. Jimmy Garrison's bass on "Blues to Coltrane" gets the proceedings off to a strong, reassuring start, but it subsequently gets lost in the ensemble and audio mix until another unaccompanied walking bass solo a bit later. Massey's trumpet at times reveals a minimalist quality reminiscent of Miles Davis' great "Walkin'" session of 1954. Julius Watkins' French horn is pretty much a gratuitous solo instrument, limiting the already brief playing time of Massey, and I have yet to hear a more tentative, "dabbling" pianist than Patti Brown (on an out-of-tune piano at that). Whether she's comping or soloing, it's difficult to appreciate her contributions (let alone tell the difference). Fortunately, her light touch is miked sufficiently to make the piano audible.
The revelation on the album is a tenor player by the name of Hugh Brodie, who sounds closer to John Coltrane than perhaps any number of players who have provoked the comparison. In fact, on Massey's "These Are Soulful Days," I would have guessed Coltrane in a blindfolded heartbeat--he's "that" close, in terms of Trane's sound and ideas.
Well, it's an "interesting" album, as provocative and undeniably sad as it is satisfying. I may need to listen a few more times to have a better handle on Massey's conceptions. Both he and his music sound delicate, frail, vulnerable (twice during his solos he quotes "Nobody know's the trouble I've seen"). I knew this purchase would be "risky," perhaps one of those CDs I would immediately toss or try to resell. Maybe eventually, but not yet. A genuine curiosity, to say the least. At least now some of us know the name Cal Massey."