Thursday, May 26, 2011


Hokay, fergit about Abbey Lincoln playing into the hands of white Ameriga with her beyond-dignified film roles performing alongside such equally-stoic actors as Ivan Dixon and Sidney Poitier who also did their fair share of hand-playing. And while you're also at it ferget about Max Roach's heavy-duty communist proclivities* and twisted takes on the Ugly American image abroad** which might have shamed us in the seventies but  naturally we have matured since. Yeah, don't let those major detours in movie roles or political piety run amok sway your opinion no matter how hard you try especially regarding this jazz wonder which does a whole passel of things that needed to be done and at a time when doing such things wasn't exactly the best way to get your pic on the cover of TIME. And when I say "needed" I mean it, from bridging the bebop era and the avant garde to predating the entire Yoko Ono reason for being and (of course) driving the late-sixties African heritage resolution into total abandon a good decade or so before even white guys with affected bopster inflections began wearing dashikis! And hey, this was being done when some thought that all jazz was was that "cool" beatnik bopster attitude that Maynard G. Krebs used to lovingly dish out to midwestern unawares on a weekly basis via the espousal of Kingston Trio albums! Gotta love that Gilligan!!!

Nice realization of the young 'n tough black here, loads better'n today's gangsta mentality (Afro-America goes watered-down outrage thirty years after white America did the exact same thing!) complete with an early-sixties freshness to it that I guess instilled in blacks nationwide the hopes that perhaps there would be a black president in their lifetime (and if they lived into 1992 boy were they lucky!). And a great platter here too with Roach fully in charge of the highly percussive outing which not only teeters between fifties cool and sixties "new thing", but on "Triptych" actually goes all the way over into the atonal shape-of-things-to-come as Lincoln does her proto-Ono/Waters moans to Roach on drums and drums only creating a force that I remember sure knocked me for a loop the first time I managed to hear it (via they actually were gonna play this in between the usual Return to Forever spew?) on WKSU-FM at about three in the morning way back '83 way.

Can't think of a single flaw or fault with the thing ('cept for some obv. faint praise like "there just ain't enough of it!") from the inclusion longtime jazz fixture outside of the avant garde but boy does he fit in here Coleman Hawkins on "Driva' Man" and percussionist icon Olatunjii (not to forget the soon-to-die Booker Little, teenage jazz trumpeter virtuoso!) to the kind of music that used to get brainy pseudo-intellectual college students rushing to nearby thesauruses to describe their approval in even more vivid terms. Not to mention the entire feel and attitude which you don't have to be black to understand or enjoy in its easily revealed joy. In fact it's pretty inspiring lending ear to a track like "All Africa" where Lincoln hypnotically chants the names of various tribes to an equally trance-like proto-Art Ensemble of Chicago burundi beat. And "Tears for Johannesburg" has more deep-down grief and despair to it that anything I can think of that was being performed at the dawn of the sixties jazz upheaval.Well, a handy play of this and Coltrane's AFRICA BRASS is a whole lot more interesting in black historical terms than learning 'bout George Washington Carver making peanut butter or Marion Anderson singing at the Washington Monument!

Wanna hear it? Wanna not pay exorbitant prices for a fresh copy??? If so, you can download the entire thing here and put yourself outta misery for good!

*Roach was, along with Archie Shepp and maybe Charles Mingus (who might not have been able to make it if memory serves) part of an ad hoc group that recorded a live album for the Italian Communist Party the day after Mao died as a way to express their sorrow at the event even when millions of Chinese were probably heaving a heavy sigh of relief! Besides that, what real fan could forget his quadruple-LP set THE LONG MARCH recorded with Shepp and Anthony Braxton which I'll have to dig out one of these days just so's I can lay down another review of it for you!

**In the course of a late-seventies DOWN BEAT interview (and while wearing a stylish leather jacket I might add), Roach managed to get onto one of the soapiest of boxes I could imagine regarding American Xenophobia due the fact that in Scandinavia meat dishes are sometimes served up raw! The well-known drummer used this obvious fact to somehow prove, at least to DOWN BEAT's easily shame-able readers, the undisputed fact that the American mind is a narrow-mind, at least when it comes to the world around us which might have suited Swedes proud of their homegrown dishes plenty but only made me think about the benefits of home grill.

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