A really amazing set of work from tenorist Clifford Jordan – a player who first rose to fame in the hardbop scene of the late 50s, but who moved into tremendous new territory with these Strata East recordings of the late 60s and early 70s! Jordan was a Chicago contemporary of players like Johnny Griffin and Von Freeman, but he was never content to rest on his laurels – and stretched out on these records with a spiritual vibe that he'd never expressed before – and which would go onto inspire countless other musicians in years to come! This set brings together all the Dolphy Series recordings that Jordan recorded – either as an artist or producer – two of which were never issued on record at the time.
In a way, Brown was the Wynton Marsalis of his time; like Marsalis, Brown came on the jazz scene following a period of significant stylistic change. However, unlike Marsalis (who rejected the free jazz made famous by the generation just preceding his own), Brown chose to embrace the innovations of his immediate elders. In the process, Brown became one of the great post-Gillespie trumpeters, developing a voice that spoke the language of bebop with a distinct, personal inflection. In September 1953 – having just recorded his first dates as a leader for Blue Note – Brown went to Europe with Lionel Hampton.
Whether at the helm of a record date or as a sideman, Clifford Jordan was known for giving his all. These studio recordings were originally made for Strata East, a label known for its adventurous spirit. The tenor saxophonist leads two separate groups. The sextet selections include trombonist Julian Priester, pianist Wynton Kelly, bassists Wilbur Ware and Richard Davis, drummer Albert Heath, and trumpeter Don Cherry. Jordan's pensive "Vienna" is given an extended workout, with Cherry's somewhat abstract playing fitting in rather well. The second piece, Jordan's "Doug's Prelude," is also a bit brooding, showcasing the leader, Priester, and Kelly.
Two excellent early Clifford Jordan albums, Starting Time and A Story Tale, are reissued in full on this single CD. Jordan, whose sound was just beginning to become quite distinctive in 1961, is heard with a quintet also including trumpeter Kenny Dorham, pianist Cedar Walton, bassist Wilbur Ware, and drummer Albert "Tootie" Heath, and on a set with altoist Sonny Red, Tommy Flanagan or Ronnie Mathews on piano, bassist Art Davis, and drummer Elvin Jones. With the exception of four selections, all 16 tunes are group originals. Best-known are Walton's "Mosaic" and "One Flight Down," but all of the music is high-quality hard bop. Dorham and Red are both in excellent form, constantly challenging Jordan. Fine if formerly obscure music.
Musa Ancestral Streams remains a relative oddity in the pantheon of jazz's black consciousness movement – a solo piano set of stunning reach and scope, its adherence to intimacy contrasts sharply with the bold, multi-dimensional sensibilities that signify the vast majority of post-Coltrane excursions into spiritual expression, yet the sheer soulfulness and abandon of Stanley Cowell's performance nevertheless vaults the record into the same physical and metaphysical planes.
Rare spiritual jazz by reed player Milton Marsh – one of the harder-to-find albums on Strata East – and one of just a couple incredible records to Marsh's name! Obscurity aside, this is prime Strata East – with some sprawling moments in a larger band formation that go just far out enough, but an overall approach that's pretty inside, very much in the label's strong 70s soul jazz tradition. There's a pretty large cast of players in action, including some legendary ones like saxophonist David Ware, percussionist Greg Bandy, Cedric Lawson on piano and others. Titles include "Vonda's Tune", the incredible "Monism" with its spoken word excerpt from Hazrat Inayat Khan's Sufi Message, nicely read by Marsh himself over an amazing mix of soulful strings and tense interplay, plus "Metamorphosis", "Community Music", "Sabotage 3 Preparations" and "Ode to Nzinga". A lost masterpiece!