A classic from the 70's resurfaces
Phil Avetxori | 01/08/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Here's a disc that I've been seeking out for a long time. Tomato Records finally re-released it in 2002, after a few years of unavailability. As one of the great documents of 70s creative jazz, it's a welcome reissue. Sam Rivers is one of the all-time greats on tenor sax, and a mean soprano, flute, and piano player, as well. Anyone who's caught his trio live in recent years can attest to the fact that his talents are undiminished, even at the age of 80. This particular album was recorded in 1978, and prominently features bassist Dave Holland, one of Rivers' most sympathetic collaborators of the decade. Holland is the anchor here, with Thurman Barker's spare, understated, and masterfully economical drumming going from rapid hi-hat timekeeping to volcanic surges of Varese-like pile-ups. The bass player has an almost unreal sense of time, and his rapid, wandering lines are consistently articulated with impeccable clarity. Also holding the bottom end down is Joe Daley's tuba. He handles What one would assume to be an unweildly instrument for fast-paced improvisation with a deftness that allows him to flow easily amongst the quicksilver play of the other musicians. Daley also plays baritone horn on the opening cut "Shockwave", his lines and Holland's interlocking in a fluid tussle. The piece opens with Rivers on the piano, playing with a robust, but beautiful force that prefigures the style Matthew Shipp would take to the next level some years later. After the aforementioned duet between Holland and Daley, Barker gradually asserts his presence, while Rivers enters on tenor. His angular, clean lines evolve into impassioned shrieks, while the rapid free-bop pace never lets up. "Torch" is a similarly speedy number, with Rivers on flute. After the rhythmic, acoustic quasi-fusion of "Pulse", where Holland's playing most recalls his work with Miles Davis, "Flux" features the bassist's cello playing in a duet with Rivers' piano. The piece recalls twelve-tone classical in its more restrained moments, before building up into a dramatic cloud of sound accented by Barker's bells. Rivers' rich tenor returns on the closing "surge", as does Daley's tuba. Holland stretches out on arco bass while Barker lays low for much of the track, adding manic snare shapes at unpredictable peaks. Overall, this album met with my high expectations. It's a fine addition to Rivers' criminally slim back catalogue, and about as good as it gets at the intersection of top-form free jazz and metered playing."
On this album, I liked FLUX the best. FLUX is the most vari
Tom Brody | Berkeley, CA | 07/29/2008
(3 out of 5 stars)
"The album is called, WAVES. The music can be enjoyed in the same way that one enjoys listening to waves on the seashore, or the tumbling of water over boulders and pebbles in a stream or brook. There are no tunes on this album. None of the compositions are "toe-tappers." The pieces don't swing. They are not funky. But they do provide an intriguing atmosphere of sorts. Hence, if you are fascinated by the sounds of tiny waterfalls plunging into small pools, or the continual sounds of babbling brooks, then this album might be an intriguing listen for you.
As far as Mr.Rivers' music is concerned, I prefer the following albums:
(1) PARAGON on Fluid records (Fluid 101), with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul.
(2) CONFERENCE OF THE BIRDS on ECM records.
(3) CELEBRATION on Posi-Tone records, with Doug Mathews on bass guitar and bass clarinet, and Anthony Cole on drums.
(4) YOU CAN'T NAME YOUR OWN TUNE on 32 Jazz records, with Barry Altschul on drums, Muhal Abrams on piano, Dave Holland on bass, and George Lewis on trombone.
SHOCKWAVE. SHOCKWAVE begins with piano only. At first, the piano is tinkly, but then at 2 minutes becomes jagged. At 2 min, 20 seconds, the bass joins in. Only the snare plays so far (no cymbals). At 4 minutes, there is a short hopping motif, and at 4 1/2 minutes, the pace changes and the bass provides a continual flurry of rapid notes. At 5 min, a xylophone appears. At 6 minutes, the piano stops, and here the only instruments are bass and tuba. The sax returns at 7 min, 20 seconds. At 9 min, the sax begins a bleating, screeching, honking episode, sounding like Anthony Braxton at his best (or Anthony Braxton at his worst, depending on your point of view). At 13 minutes, there is a drum solo -- a three minute drum solo that lasts until the end of the piece.
TORCH. This piece begins with a flute and bass. Within a minute, the drums and tuba join in. The flute is happy, like a fluttering bird. At 2 minutes, 10 seconds, there is a somber part, where the bass plays only a single note, like a drone. The drone episode last one minute, and then things pick up again. At 5 minutes, 20 seconds, TORCH slows way down and the flute plays a sort of marching melody. At 6 min, 20 sec, the flute provides a prolonged fluttering motif. In my opinion, TORCH should have been kept to 2 minutes total (enough is enough).
PULSE. PULSE begins with only bass and tuba. It is difficult to tell what is happening. PULSE sounds like the deep-throated din of old men mumbling to each other in a dark tavern. At 2 minutes, 10 seconds, the low-throated din is punctured by Mr.Rivers' saxophone, which provides a shepherd's call. The shepherd's call consists of prolonged notes with a plaintive quality. At 7 minutes, the bass begins a drone motif, and the saxophone plays a real tune. The tuba plays a tune resembling SHORTNIN' BREAD. Thus, we have an interesting melange at this point, consisting of sax tune, bass drone, and SHORTNIN' BREAD.
FLUX. This composition begins with piano only. Then at 45 seconds, the bowed bass enters, playing a motif sounding like something from Stravinsky. A rattle and xylophone gently decorate first minute of FLUX. At 1 minute, 50 seconds, the tuba joins in, playing something forlorn. At 2 minutes, 40 seconds, there is a short episode with piano and xylophone only. At 3 minutes, 50 seconds, the bowed bass plays a scraping motif, and the piano plays a pounding motif. Scraping and pounding! The scraping continues for a half minute. At 5 minutes, the tuba flutters, but the fluttering continues for only 20 seconds. At 5 1/2 minutes, things calm down and are relatively quiet. FLUX is the most varied piece on this album.
SURGE. SURGE begins with the saxophone. The tuba plays a bunch of fluttering motifs. The sax plays squawks and honks, in the manner of Anthony Braxton. At 1 minute, 30 seconds, the saxophone plays a tune consisting of extended notes, sounding like HARLEM NOCTURN. At 2 minutes, 15 seconds, the saxophone resumes a rapid-fire delivery. At 3 min, 10 sec, there is a brief episode of squawking from the saxophone. But then, the sax resumes its earlier habit of playing prolonged, sustained notes.