Happy New Year!
Let's begin the new year with someone who, alas, left us late in the old one. Sam Rivers died on Boxing Day 2011, aged 88. An absolutely legendary multi-instrumentalist and composer. I saw Sam once back in around 1993 (I think) at the Basement in Circular Quay with the Mike Nock trio. It might well have been his first (and/or only) tour of Australia. I only knew his name from his appearance on Miles in Tokyo, in which he briefly preceeded Wayne Shorter in Miles Davis's great second quintet. I went along on the recommendation of John Clare (aka Gail Brennan, who appears earlier in this blog) in the Sydney Morning Herald.
I'd never seen a player or improviser of this calibre before. Just extraordinary. On a superficial level, I thought it was cool that a guy of his advanced years (though he would probably have been in his late sixties at that time) comported himself in a rather fetching pair of leather trousers. The other thing I remember is Mike Nock's apparent disatisfaction with the young drummer in his trio (whose name I don't recall at all), to whom he was constantly waving instructions. So I guess Sam was probably slightly handicapped by a rhythm section that wasn't quite up to his level. I didn't hear anything untoward at the time, but what do I know?
Anyway, here's a much earlier appearance at the Montreux Jazz festival in 1973 with a rhythm section that was very much up to the job. I think the spoken introduction is probably by the esteemed Claude Nobs*, director of the Montreux festival. This LP is actually from a matrixed QS Quadraphonic master (as were a lot of Impulse! LPs at the time), so those of you with a Dubly Pro Logic II decoder might have a bit of fun with this.
If you enjoy this, might I suggest checking out Sam's great Blue Note albums, Fuschia Swing Song and Contours, as well as Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds on ECM, all of which are readily available.
A1: Spoken Introduction (1:19)
A2: The tenor saxophone section (18:35)
A3: The beginning of the flute section (4:41)
B1: The conclusion of the flute section (8:25)
B2: The piano section (7:33)
B3: The soprano saxophone section (9:23)
NB: there are no bands between tracks on the LP, so I've just made a guess at to where the tracks begin and end. The titles of the pieces are somewhat helpful in this regard.
Sam Rivers: tenor and soprano saxophone, flute and piano
Cecil McBee: bass
Norman Connors: drums and gongs
All compositions by Sam Rivers.
Recorded at the Montreux Jazz Festival, Montreux, Switzerland, July, 6, 1973.
Produced by Ed Michel
Recorded and mixed by Baker Bigsby.
Impulse! records, USA, 1973. Cat # AS-9251
*That's "funky Claude" for any Deep Purple fans out there.