Monday, April 03, 2006

Ray Pizzi - Conception

Pablo 2310 795

Recorded September 1976

Side One

1. Conception
2. Willow Creek
3. The Missing Link

Side Two

1. Angel's Crest
2. Friday Night Rush Hour Blues
3. Rhapsodie
4. Digitations


RAY PIZZI; soprano & tenor sax, flute, bassoon
DAN SAWYER; guitar
GREG MATHIESON; piano, keyboards, organ
JOHN HEARD; acoustic bass
JOEL Di BARTOLO; electric bass
MARK STEVENS; percussion

"So," you ask, "who is Ray Pizzi then?". Well, that's just what I asked when I picked up this record recently, and you bet I'm glad I did. Ray Pizzi is, depending on who you ask, a woodwind specialist, concert performer, composer, arranger, educator, or one of the few great jazz bassoonists. He was also a noted sideman for leaders as diverse as Louis Bellson, Willie Bobo, Henry Mancini, Ravi Shankar and Frank Zappa. A stint with Dizzy Gillespie's big band in the 1970s led to him meeting up with Norman Granz who recorded Pizzi as leader on these 1976 recordings for his Pablo label.

The music is a heady jazz-funk-rock fusion that, in common with most fusion LPs, meanders much of the time. But a couple of tracks stand out - most notably side one's 'The Missing Link'. Featuring a beautifully clipped, arpeggiated theme by Pizzi on tenor and some excellent group dynamics this is the album's high point. On side two, 'Friday Night Rush Hour Blues' repeats the same ideas to good effect, but elsewhere there are lacklustre tracks like 'Willow Creek', whose only saving grace is as a vehicle for the unusual sound of solo bassoon in jazz. I say unusual, but in this case not good. Pizzi has recorded very few sessions as leader - there's a discography here - which is shame as when he's good on this album he's very good - it just doesn't happen all that often.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hi, being listening to the conception music for a long time, its still sound fresh. Ray pizzi is a rare breed, i would say the greatest saxophone player, his sound is deep, control, very unique tone as well.Definitely, master of the instrument. When i first listen to the ablum, it sounded avant garde, now that i have listen for long time, it is just melodious as well, being looking for Ray pizzi after liking conception, for a long long time without success until the cd ray played with carol kaye and mitch miller. another one of the best and surely a collector item too. Managed to get ray's email after contacting carol kaye (found in carol's website). Got a few other pizzi's cds direct from ray pizzi, he also sent me one of his collerctor item lp.... check out ray pizzi,, he is one notch above the best..... tks, thfong from the island of singapore. (