Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Freedom Together

Freedom Together
Prestige PR 7463

Recorded 1966

Side One

1. Freedom Together
2. Getting To Know You
3. Ode To Prez

Side Two

1. Nocturne For Contrabass
2. Just You, Just Me
3. Night Leaves
4. Young At Heart


Jaki Byard; piano, tenor sax, electric piano, celeste, vibes, drums
Richard Davis; bass, cello
Alan Dawson; drums, vibes, tympani
Jr. Parker; vocals, lagerphone

'One man band' is not a phrase that you hear often in a jazz context, but it could well be applicable here. Look at the list of instruments played by Byard here, and you can begin to wonder what on earth he was doing with a rhythm section on this 1966 recording. Of course, he cacn't play all his instruments at once and needs a bit of backup, but the presence of multi-instrumentalist Byard adds considerable colour to this trio date (I say trio - Jr. Parker adds vocals to only a couple of tracks, and they're best skipped over, especially the rather straight reading of Rodgers & Hammersteins' 'Getting To Know You').

Byard is best known for his piano playing, with a style wholly his own. He can be at times angular and sharp in the manner of Cecil Taylor, whilst at others he rips up the keys in the style of a ragtime pianist. Practically every other style of jazz is present in his playing, too, most of the time condensed together into a single phrase. It makes for an interesting listen, most of the time, but it's also great to hear him take a break from the limited piano-trio format (always likely to get a bit dull, i think) and let loose on tenor, or vibes. He's great at playing all of these instruments, too.

This is an interesting album from an interesting figure in jazz, although it doesn't go down as a classic it's worth a listen nonetheless. Make sure you have a look at Jaki Byard's website, which has a detailed biography of him that's worth a read if you want to know more.

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