Bill Your 'Free Form FM Handi Cyber | Mahwah, NJ USA | 07/29/2009
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Miles Davis may have added rock beats to jazz, but it was Tony Williams Lifetime that made jazz rock.
Williams, John McGlachlan and Larry Yound formed no less than a jazz power trio in 1969. This music has complex soloing and collosus drumming. But this band plays so hard and so loud, this advanced music has a 100% rock impulse. Picture John Coltrane joining Cream, and you might get an idea of what Lifetime's musical instincts were.
But unlike most power trios, Lifetime did not need a bass. Larry Young is a brilliant organist, but a minimalist. His style is subtle and lends itself well to comping for the guitar and drums' virtuoso excursions. For the function he serves, he is not even using his foot pedals as much as you would think. Most of the music's bottom--and there is not a lot of it-- comes from his organ chords.
Williams lays complex poloyrhythms on top of one another, taking the music far from its center of gravity, and then snapping it back at just the right point to create an incredible dynamic. It's ironic that this material is more rock-oriented than Miles' work at the time, since Miles main change was to provide a much more straight ahead bottom to his music. Lifetime is so hard and heavy, their music can afford to function on an IMPLIED bottom and still work as rock
Mcglachlan's axe is dense and loud, but his playing has its heart in jazz improvosation and not rock crunchiness. Williams also sings on this, and like with any old friend I love and respect, I'll avoid the subject.
The sound on this is horrible. In 1969 recording technology has improved by leaps and bounds, and there is no excuse for the tinny, transister radio buzz of this music; given the times, the engineer must have dropped a few tabs before going to work.
In 2009, there is no excuse for Emergancy to still sound so bad. There has got to be a way today's digital technology can fix this.
If any music deserves it, this does."
Horrible sound, great music
Lovblad | Geneva, Switzerland | 03/25/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Now this is supposed to have been a quite ground-breaking record. The music is really splendid but the sound quality is really horrible and does distract somewhat since a lot of older stuff is available where both production and transfers do the music more justice."
A gem released
muzo | p.e . I . canada | 11/22/2008
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This album has been a must hear for a long time, but was always out of print, and vinyl copies not always easy to track down, especially pre internet. Miles Davis heard this then had McLaughlin play on 'In a Silent Way'. I'm not sure of the dates, if this is true : however the playing is fabulous from all three musicians. Inspired musicianship from Tony Williams ,Larry Young, and John McLaughlin. the singing is actually more like talking its infrequent and not bad at all. the poor sound quality is the complaint most encountered , this is minimal. All musicians are heard clearly! and now is your chance to snap up a fusion, jazz rock or whatever you want to call it ,masterpiece. lets just call it inspired music"
Where rock and freebop intersect
G B | Connecticut | 02/28/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I got into jazz via fusion, and picked this up as a "historically important recording". It went completely over my head at the time (as did B*tches Brew). Mahavishnu, Weather Report (especially from Mysterious Traveller onward), Holdsworth-era Lifetime, and the electrified Return to Forever were bands that played in a jazz-influenced style - there was improvisation - but within the context of clear-cut rock-style compositions. This album predates those and still has very strong, obvious ties to the modal-to-free post-bop that Williams had recently played with Miles Davis - relatively simple melodies and sparse arrangements quickly dispensed with so that the musicians could play extended, exploratory solos. It's closer in style to mid-60s Miles or Coltrane than to Birds of Fire or Romantic Warrior.
Listen to the first tune, "Emergency". Yeah, the melody is played over a rock rhythm, but as soon as John McLaughlin begins his blistering solo, Tony switches to a swinging post-bop rhythm. These guys were familiar with the 60s jazz avant-garde and they definitely bend (but never break) rhythm and tonality.
There are two other beefs with the album. Yes, Tony's vocals are bad, and the lyrics are even worse. You just have to shrug these off - even the 3 tracks they appear on contain some fiery instrumental playing.
The sound is poor, but it's not catastrophic. You can hear McLaughlin and Williams fine; Larry Young is hurt the most, and I wish he'd been recorded better. (You can get a sense of what he sounded like during this period on the Blue Note release "Mother Ship" under his name.) I wouldn't go quite so far as saying I'm glad it's poorly recorded, but the rough recording does add to the intensity for sure.
Overall, Emergency is a diamond in the rough. It's not the first attempt to merge jazz and rock, but it's among the earliest where the musicians actually understood both styles and combined them in a thoughtful way to create something new. I find it hard to believe that someone could listen to the explosive playing on "Sangria for Three" and not shout in amazement."
Adventurous, exciting flawed classic.
Art Johnson | Los Angeles, California | 03/25/2010
(5 out of 5 stars)
"To me, this record is has a lot of great examples of the best "fusion" ever released. It's loud, organic, creative, powerful, and not afraid to take chances. The music itself is a kind of blend of post bop, funk, and loud electric rock, with some elements of free jazz. The noisy stew whipped up by Williams, McLaughlin and Young is so full of shifting dynamics and bright color it's almost psychedelic. Personally I think this record was a plateau in Tony's playing; he's so forceful, propulsive and melodic that it's obvious he's the leader of the group even if you didn't know it was his name on the cover. McLaughlin's pre-Mahavishnu tone and playing are on great display here; raunchy bends, twisting bop lines, some weird wah tones, all to great effect. Young is the band's secret weapon, controlling the harmonic weather from behind the scenes, providing rhythm figures and getting in some effective (but sparse) soloing lines. Having said all this, there are parts of this record that are dated and weak (most notably Tony's singing), but there's thankfully not a lot of it. The meat of this record is the instrumental passages, and their power and sheer uniqueness make up for any shortcomings. This is fusion from the time before the "rules" for fusion were laid and it became a stale cliche."