Sunday, October 09, 2005

Elvin Jones & Jimmy Garrison Sextet - Illumination!

Elvin Jones/ Jimmy Garrison Sextet

impulse! A-49

Recorded August 8th, 1963
Earphones for cover photo courtesy of Koss Incorporated, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Side One

1. Nuttin' Out Jones
2. Oriental Flower
3. Half and Half

Side Two

1. Aborigine Dance in Scotland
2. Gettin' On Way
3. Just Us Blues

Produced by BOB THIELE

; drums
PRINCE LASHA; clarinet and flute
SONNY SIMMONS; alto sax and English horn
CHARLES DAVIS; baritone sax
McCOY TYNER; piano

This is really a very interesting LP. Made in 1963, it's the product of 3/4 of John Coltrane's great 60's band moonlighting on some of their own material, along with some other lesser known but underrated players. Interesting instrumentation, too - the clarinet is often the preserve of dixieland jazz, but can work well in a hard/post-bop setting like this with good effect - as Prince Lasha proves on the opening 'Nuttin' Out Jones', where he trades ever faster and more inventive solos with altoist Sonny Simmons. It's also notable for being, unbelievably, the only date on which Jimmy Garrison recorded as leader (co-leader, in this case).

As mentioned above, it's mostly hard bop with some freer moments - you can think of what John Coltrane was doing on his early impulse! albums such as Coltrane and Impressions and you'd be more or less there. Each track has something to reccomend it. The eastern-inspired melodies of 'Oriental Flower'. The bluesy repeating figures of 'Half and Half'.

Special mention has to be reserved for side 2's opener, 'Aborigine Dance In Scotland'. Alto and baritone saxes playing in unison with the flute create a vaguely bagpipe-ish sound (if you've never actually heard a bagpipe) in which the theme is stated, before a long and utterly fantastic Elvin Jones solo. That man just had incredible rhythmic ideas, I guess he was picking up from both previous drummers such as Max Roach and Art Blakey, and the sort of ideas being passed around by his current boss, John Coltrane.

The following 'Gettin' on Way' is a freeish post-bop track with some great sax and another first rate drum solo. It could almost be Coltrane up there. The LP rounds off with 'Just Us Blues' which does exactly what you expect of a good blues.

This was only Elvin's 2nd date as leader, and he's put together a decent LP. He was to release many more albums under his name for almost another 30 years, many of which are said to be as good as this one. My personal favourite - 1965's 'And Then Again' will be the subject of a future review. Watch this space!


Drummerworld has some great photos of Elvin as well as a biography
Wikipedia has an entry on Elvin with a short discography and links to just about everybody he ever played with or was influenced by
Sadly, Elvin passed away last year. Here's a couple of obituaries from the Guardian and the Times

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