Don Pullen's Ups and Downs
Joe Pierre | Los Angeles, CA United States | 02/22/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Don Pullen recorded two trio dates -- this album and "New Beginnings" -- both of which were recorded on Blue Note and now are out of print following his untimely death. This is a shame, because Pullen's music was great stuff, and his playing really shined in his trio outings. "Random Abstract" was the second of the two trio dates, recorded in 1990 with accompaniests James Genus (bass) and Lewis Nash (drums) -- both novices compared to Gary Peacock and Tony Williams, assembled for the "New Beginnings" in 1989. But this doesn't detract from the music one bit, and if anything just puts Pullen a little bit more in the limelight. The album starts with "Andre's Ups and Downs" -- aptly named since Pullen starts with a vamp that soon escalates into his trademark rolling runs up and down the keyboard. "Indio Gitano" starts out as more of a ballad, but also builds into characteristic Pullen treatment. However, both "The Dancer" and "Ode to Life" are genuine straight ahead ballads -- the latter a haunting, elegiac solo piece to finish out the album (and one that he later reworked with his African Brazilian Connection). "Endangered Species: African American Youth" is the most outside piece, with a recurrent percussive attack theme and lots of Cecil Taylor-like frenzied romps. The album tracks are:1. Andre's Ups and Downs
2. Random Thoughts
3. Indio Gitano
4. Dancer (for Diane McIntyre)
5. African American Youth
6. 626 Fairfax
7. Ode to Life (for Maurice Quesnell) Once again, it is a shame that Pullen isn't among the living and that he is best known for his latter-day work with his African-Brazilian Connection, because he is at his best here and in "New Beginnings" in the trio format (and with the George Adams-Don Pullen quartet). These albums are highly recommended and worth finding."
Modern Jazz Piano Trio That Shines
Brian "Jazz Fan" J. B. | Kalamazoo, MI USA | 04/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I love Don Pullen's inside/outside playing here, his melodicism, and percussive effects. He certainly wasn't a relic; he was contemporary and had his own style. For all adventurous jazz fans (I bet the Bad Plus crowd might like this and the new listeners coming from the punk to energy jazz people). Anyway, it is just terrific. Too bad Don Pullen is gone, but he left some fine music, including his work with Charles Mingus on Mingus Moves, Changes One and Changes Two. Pick it up when you can find it, the Mingus stuff is currently in stock. Thanks, Mr. Pullen, for making the music that lasts."