Wednesday, December 21, 2005
Arnie Lawrence and Treasure Island
ARNIE LAWRENCE and treasure island
Doctor Jazz FW38445
Recorded January 15th-17th, 1979
1. Yoffie Is Back
2. Skip To The Blues
3. Blessed Is The Match
1. Abdullah and Abraham
2. The Street Musician
3. All-Ways and Forever
Arnie Larence; alto & soprano sax, alto flute
Tom Harrell; trumpet & flugelhorn
Mike Richmond; bass & piccolo bass
Jeff Williams; drums
Badal Roy; tabla, percussion, vocal
Abdullah Maghrib; conga, percussion
Lois Colin; harp
Bonnie Mattlick; narration on 'Yoffie Is Back'
Annette Sanders; Vocal on 'All-Ways and Forever'
Shamira Azad; Vocal on 'Yoffie Is Back'
Reverend John Gensel; narration on 'Blessed Is The Match'
I can't explain it either, maybe it's the effect of being a year older, but I can't help listening to 70s Jazz-Funk-Whatever-Fusion this week. Especially dodgy fusion, too - or at least that's what you'd think when looking at the sleeve of this LP. I remember coming across it in the bargain bin of a particularly cheap record store a few months back and thinking "Woah, anything that looks this bad must be good". Well, my instinct was correct - despite being full of musicians i'd previously never heard of, and despite being from a period I usually am extremely wary of - I actually quite enjoy listening to this record.
I found out recently that Arnie Lawrence was at one time a protegé of Chico Hamilton, and appeared on his 'The Dealer' album (alongside Archie Shepp on piano, too!). He went on to record many more albums with Hamilton before striking out on his own with this forward-looking record. You can read a brief biography of Arnie by following this link.
As i've just said, this is a forward looking album, with a variety of styles and moods explored. Side 1 alone contains jazz-funk-fusion ('Yoffie Is Back'), hard swinging bebop ('Skip To The Blues') and ECM-style abstract ambient improvisation ('Blessed Is The Match'). Lawrence never dominates, letting the other musicians have their say, although perhaps it was this modesty that lef to him failing to receive the respect he deserved. The 'treasure island' monicker might lead you to expect some calypso-flavoured ramblings - and that's exactly what you get midway through 'Yoffie Is Back'. Strange stuff.
Side 2 is a little more consistent, staying in the meditative style of 'Blessed Is The Match', with the exception of 'The Street Musician' - a big slice of funk underpinned by some serious percussion.
Leaving the jarring moods aside, this is a fine LP - nicely played and recorded with some interesting ideas, and like so many albums, just never got picked up commercially and now languishes, unappreciated in bargain bins the world over. Well, Mr. Lawrence - I like it.