Andrew Hill has been, in the gentlest of cases, an idiosyncratic player, composer, and bandleader. But often, reviews of his work have been quite strident and refer to him as an iconoclast. That's okay; some critics thought of Monk and Herbie Nichols that way, too. Time Lines has Hill back – for the third time in his long career – with Blue Note, the label that gave birth to his enduring classics like Black Fire and Judgment!. But Hill is still every bit the creative and technically gifted musician he was back in the day; perhaps more so. His band features seasoned veteran Charles Tolliver on trumpet, saxophonist Greg Tardy (who also triples on clarinet and bass clarinet, and beautifully, to say the least), and a rhythm section composed of bassist John Herbert and drummer Eric McPherson.
Carolyn Malachi is an artist’s artist. Her work is the kind that deeply studied technicians instantly recognize and appreciate as one of their own. And, while her work has largely straddled the fence between the avant-garde and the commercially accessible, with Rise: Story 1, she almost completely hops over to the side of experimentation and technician play. The results are a mix of flawlessly sung, rapped, and played material that feel disjointed in their arrangements and non-linear storytelling, creating an album more impressionistic than accessibly concrete, depending on how much creative play one can tolerate or embrace from their music.
This recording, comprised of two complete Art Ensemble of Chicago albums – Les Stances a Sophie with singer Fontella Bass from 1970 and People in Sorrow from 1969 – offers two very different sides of the group's sound from this key period in their development. Recorded in France and released on the Nessa label in the United States, the two discs show how much in command the AEC were of their strengths even at that early date, though for the record it should be noted that with the exception of Don Moye and Lester Bowie, the trio of Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman, and Malachi Favors had been playing together since 1965…
Live in Berlin is a live album by the Art Ensemble of Chicago recorded in March 1979 and first released on the West Wind label in 1991. It features performances by Lester Bowie, Joseph Jarman, Roscoe Mitchell, Malachi Favors Maghostut and Don Moye.
Wadada Leo Smith's third Tzadik release finds him in a modern jazz quartet of seasoned jazz cats and legendary improvisers. Pianist Anthony Davis, bassist Malachi Favors Magoustous, and drummer Jack DeJohnette join Smith in creating an unhurried, mature and, frankly, atypical Tzadik release in that even though it may sound somewhat free to more conservative ears, it is hardly antagonistic and is unmistakably a piano jazz quartet. Regardless of classification, this is an album of excellent jazz that is so fresh and well executed as to define and remind what's great about listening to the music. It's a pleasant surprise that such an incredible lineup of musicians can come together and yield a musical sum still greater than what you would expect, when considering the individual "parts."
As Black Saint and Soul Note continue their boxed set "Complete Recordings Of" series in 2011, this volume by Lester Bowie is one of the most diverse. Containing three discs cut over a decade, it reflects the numerous dimensions in Bowie's musical persona, from fiery improviser to post-modern formalist and engaged ensemble member, and above all, his love for the entire jazz, blues, and gospel music traditions. The first disc in the collection is 1978's 5th Power. It's the only title here that showcases Bowie actually leading an ensemble under his own name. His session personnel for the date were saxophonist Arthur Blythe, pianist Amina Claudine Myers (who also sings on the rousing gospel-jazz of "God Has Smiled on Me"), bassist Malachi Favors, and drummer Philip Wilson.