You, me, the music, and me.

Thursday, October 20, 2005


Arista-Freedom 1017 (1975)

Here's the very latest addition to my collection. It's another Arista-Freedom recording from the seventies, this time by trumpeter Charles Tolliver. I hadn't heard any of his recordings before, so this was basically bought sight-unseen (hearing-unheard?) on eBay. I was bidding on a couple of Archie Shepp records and saw this listed by the same seller, so I figured I'd throw it in there too and get more records for what would probably be close to the same postage. I got outbid on the Shepp albums, but ended up winning this one for $4.76 (with shipping and handling coming to $5.25!).

I had heard Tolliver's name connected with certain avant-garde circles, so I was a little surprised to find that this album contained fairly straightahead jazz. It sounds like some of John Coltrane's early-to-mid-sixties material with his famous quartet, or fellow trumpeter Woody Shaw. Tolliver's tone is clean, clear, and bright, and his band, consisting of pianist Stanley Cowell, bassist Steve Novosel, and drummer Jimmy Hopps, provides solid, supple support. The title track sounds like a great lost recording from a Blue Note session by Herbie Hancock or Freddie Hubbard, while "Mother Wit" displays a subtle lyricism that wouldn't be out of place on a Miles Davis album from the fifties or sixties. The lengthy "On the Nile" has an exotic, modal sound not unlike that of Pharoah Sanders.

The Ringer was available on CD for a while, but may currently be out of print. If you dig around, you may be able to find a copy; get the record if you can, which boasts a far superior cover. One of my beefs with the CD reissues of the Freedom albums (when they happen at all) is that many don't contain the original cover art (and when they do, of course, it's shrunken down to CD size). An album like The Ringer is a rare example of an album that I'd prefer to have on vinyl instead of CD (the fact that mine is a barely-played DJ copy certainly doesn't hurt, either!).


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