Kendra Steiner Editions

January 30, 2020

SPIRITUAL JAZZ 10: PRESTIGE (Jazzman UK, CD)

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:33 pm

SPIRITUAL JAZZ, VOLUME 10: MODAL, ESOTERIC AND DEEP JAZZ FROM PRESTIGE RECORDS (Jazzman Records, UK, CD….released 29 November 2019)

  • 1. Ahmed Abdul-Malik – Song Of Delilah
  • 2. Roy Haynes – Dorian
  • 3. Latin Jazz Quintet – Rip A Dip
  • 4. Roy Haynes – Modette
  • 5. Walt Dickerson – Death & Taxes
  • 6. Yusef Lateef – Love Theme From Spartacus
  • 7. Moondog – Organ Rounds
  • 8. Ahmed Abdul-Malik – Summertime
  • 9. Mal Waldron – Warm Canto
  • 10. Idris Muhammad – Peace
  • 11. Gary Bartz – I’ve Known Rivers

 

I haven’t taken the plunge with any of Jazzman’s previous 9 volumes of “Spiritual Jazz”—-they’ve been on my “wait for the price to go down on these” list—-but as a fan of Prestige Records since my boyhood days of finding Prestige LP’s at used record stores in the early 70’s, I had to grab this one immediately, and I’m glad I did. Now I’m going to more aggressively search for the previous volumes….

Most of us probably associate the term SPIRITUAL JAZZ with labels such as Black Jazz or Strata East, and it’s a relatively broad term, which could refer to overtly spiritual music in the vein of Alice Coltrane, to more primal works such as those of Pharaoh Sanders, to anything with an Afro-Centric or Eastern vibe. The Art Ensemble of Chicago could be called by the term, and even some of the grungy, small-label funk 45’s from the 68-73 period (the kind of thing collected on old “Soul Patrol” albums….after all, some of those had the subtitle “the undisputed Black Mind Power”) could be put into that arena, although not “jazz” by the usual standard. In hindsight, that was a significant movement, allowing the 60’s-inspired cultural exploration of African roots and the Black aesthetic to flower in new and exciting ways that were often rooted in community activism, multi-cultural education, etc. (although we tend to think of Afro-centric things as Spiritual Jazz, the Jazzman series wisely includes volumes from European and Japanese artists too, showing the movement can take root and inspire people anywhere, and also, if something like PAUL HORN IN INDIA can’t be included as Spiritual Jazz, what can?).

Prestige certainly released a number of albums in that vein, and tracks from two of them end this album, one by drummer IDRIS MUHAMMAD, and one by saxophonist GARY BARTZ’s NTU TROOP (I remember both of those artists getting a good amount of airplay when I was involved in jazz radio in the mid-to-late 70’s). However, what makes this album quite special and unique is that the other 8 tracks are all earlier material, mostly from the 1950’s. In a way, it could be called ROOTS OF SPIRITUAL JAZZ, and the way it surveys “exotic” tracks from the 1950’s, moves into the early 60’s with MAL WALDRON (always a man who followed his own unique aesthetic that did not fit into any established category), and then fully blossoms in the early 70’s with MUHAMMAD and BARTZ truly shows the evolution of this kind of “deep” jazz.

Before I start dropping the term “modal” around, perhaps I should provide a link to a short tutorial about the modal approach:

Basically, this collection goes back to the 1950’s and looks at artists such as Ahmed Abdul-Malik and Yusef Lateef who were early exponents of Middle Eastern/African/Islamic elements in jazz (and at the time, I’d imagine people would have viewed this kind of jazz as a cousin to Exotica) as well as folks like drummer Roy Haynes (always ahead of the curve) or vibist Walt Dickerson or pianist-composer Mal Waldron who anticipate modal jazz, throw in a few left-field entries that foreshadow later movements in jazz, and wind up in the early 70’s with what most of us would think of as “Spiritual Jazz.” It’s a wonderful trip full of not-too-common tracks from Prestige, and I highly recommend this volume….in fact, come payday, I think I’ll be picking up a few of the other volumes in this series.

I also have to compliment the wonderfully insightful liner notes of Francis Gooding (Jazzman Records has always set a high standard for the depth and diversity of their compilations as well as first-rate documentation/notes). As someone who prefers Prestige Records to Blue Note (not that I don’t love Blue Note), I appreciate Gooding making that case better than I could. Prestige was a low-budget, spontaneous, jam-oriented label, and in that was its uniqueness and greatness. When I started the KSE label, Prestige’s Bob Weinstock was a hero and model to me (although I do not have his skills in options trading and investments….if only I did!).

If this review makes the album sound at all appealing to you, then you should probably find a copy ASAP. It has a wonderful flow, the sound quality is sparkling, and notes are informative and get you making valuable connections, and any collection that champions PRESTIGE RECORDS is something I want to get behind.

1 Comment »

  1. Excellent review Bill, straight to my wishlist.

    Comment by GL — February 5, 2020 @ 3:36 pm | Reply


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