A Darker Shade Of Blue
Gary Bartz NTU Troop – Home! (1969) [Milstone MPS 9027]
Recorded in actual performance at a Left Bank Jazz Society concert, in Baltimore, Maryland ; March 30, 1969 .
Produced by Orrin Keepnews, Recording Engineer: Dave Jones, Re-Recording: Don Van Gordon, Mastering by Ray Hagerty, Photographs by Robert O. Torrence, Album designed by John Murello
This is the first and the last album recorded by the original NTU Troop – Gary Bartz, Woody Shaw, Albert Dailey, Bob Cunningham and Rashied Ali.
Liner notes by Orrin Keepnews :
One Sunday afternoon, Gary Bartz went home for a while.
Back to the city where he had grown up, where he had first listened to jazz and (after hearing those first early Charlie Parker records) had begun to play alto, where his father had for years run one of those rare jazz clubs that musicians like to play in—a city where it might almost seem that the whole jazz community is made up of Gary Bartz fans. (I mean, on this particular Sunday there was also a concert in town with acts like Basie and Cannonball and Herbie Mann, but Gary managed to have a full house at the big ballroom where the Left Bank Jazz Society hold its weekly doings.)
It has long been my feeling that Gary is one of those performers who do by far their best playing when they can act upon and react to an audience—so, inevitably, there had to be a “live” (as distinguished from recording-studio) Bartz date. Then the opportunity arose to make such a recording with an audience whose warmth and enthusiasm for this young artist could just about be guaranteed. So when Gary and his associates went home for this job, engineer and producer and equipment went along, too….
Most of the material here is Gary’s, proving again (as on his first two Milestone albums) that he is a remarkable writer of real songs. The first tune’s initials, incidentally, stand for “Black Arts Movement” (a Baltimore-based organization); Rise has since become Gary’s theme song; and Amal is one of the truly prettiest ballads I’ve ever heard. Also, the steel drum to be heard at times (particularly as both rhythmic backing and added voicing behind piano passages) is yet another facet of the Bartz talents.
Rartz-Henderson-Connors – Dance Of Magic: Live At Nemu Jazz Inn – 1 (1975)
Recorded live on 19 July, 1975 at Nemu Jazz Inn, Tokyo, Japan. Released 1975
Nippon Columbia/Cobblestone VQ-7509-CO
This live set, “Live at Nemu Jazz Inn – 1″, was released onlyin Japan and just 500 albums were pressed. This set does not even show upin any of the artists’ discographies; makes you wonder if the artists thoughtit worthy…
Throughout this, post-bop oriented but frequently dallying around the edges offusion, gig, the group showed what they learned from the likes of Davis,Hancock, Roach, Sanders, Rivers, Harper and Sun Ra, marshaling polyrhythms,electronic textures, and cosmic mysticism to create a deeply spiritual jazzexperience. The album kicks off with a darkish and fusion-edged version ofTrane’s ‘Naima’. It was a ferocious attacking force by Bartz on alto, Hendersonblew out the walls with his flugelhorn, Workman on bass and Connors’chameleon-like skin work; however, Bartz wins the honours on this track, in myopinion, but Workman gave him a run for his money. Bartz showed his ability toact as the group’s adhesive by bopping and weaving his vamps around the others’strong solo works, as Connors continually drew out the map for the band.
The sprawling 26-minute ‘Dance of Magic’ spans the entirety of the flip side,capturing a memorable jam that explores free improvisation but without steppingbeyond a point of no return. Connors’ tremendous skins never fail to lead theband back home.
There was a certain coolness, a distorted sense of despair or subtle melancholyto this show that remains very clear in my memory to this day. Connors’ oddlytimed garbling/vocals perfectly suit a dark-toned feeling. I believe in the oldadage that, “the only good jazz is jazz that is live” and here youwill see what I mean ~ enjoy!
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