LEON THOMAS IN BERLIN
With Oliver Nelson - Recorded Live At The Berlin Philharmonic
Gold Series 09026638772
Leon Thomas -vocals and percussion. African Wood
Flute (2&5) Oliver Nelson -Alto Sax (1-4) Arthur Sterling-Piano
(1-4) Guenter Lenz-Bass (1-4) Lex Humphries-Drums (1-4) Sonny Morgan
-Congas (1-4) Percussion (6) Harold "Jazzbo" Alexander-Flute
(6) Lonnie Liston Smith - Piano (6) Jimmy Phillips- Bass (6) Alvin
Queen - Drums (6) Richard "Pablo" Landrum - Percussion (6)
Tracks 1-5 Recorded November 6, 1970 at Philharmonic Hall, Berlin.
Track 6 Recorded March 15, 1970 at Filmore East, New York City.
1. Straight, No Chaser
3. Umbo Well
4. The Creator Has A Master Plan - Peace
5. Oo-Wee!! Hindewe
6. Damn Nam ( Ain't Going To Vietnam)
"Leon Thomas in Berlin" is an excellent example of the work
of this almost forgotten vocalist. Thomas was very much a maverick
in terms of his singing style, his use of the yodel and other effects
turned his voice very much into another frontline musical instrument
in much the same manner as scat was used by earlier singers . The
lasting impression given by this is of a highly Afro - American form
of the idiom which was much in fashion in the late 60's and early
70's. In many ways it is a great pity that this vibrant music has
fallen so far from grace to be replaced by the mainstream conservatism
that is so omni-present in a great deal of the performances which
define Jazz at the present time.
One of the real treats on this disc is the playing of Oliver Nelson
on alto saxophone. His solos are absolutely blistering and serve as
a reminder of why he was so at ease with as avant- garde and forceful
a player as Eric Dolphy on many of the sessions under his own name
. His performances here can only be described as exuberant and obviously
act as a spur to drive Thomas in his improvised sections.
The balance of the material is impeccable - all of the tunes are written
by Thomas with the exception of "Straight No Chaser". Ronnie
Scott is the master of ceremonies and after his introduction it is
right into a highly swinging version of the Monk tune with imaginative
vocalise from Thomas and a beautiful angular solo from Nelson . "Echoes
" must be one of the most memorable of Thomas' tunes and I never
tire of hearing "The Creator Has A Master Plan" - the rendition
here is particularly fine .
The rhythm section on this concert is superb and there are some memorable
solos from Arthur Sterling on piano . "Pharoah's Tune "
has a long introduction from Thomas which is in the form of a poetic
recitation which is almost an insight into the "Rap" style
of the future.
This is a real gem of a re-release and I feel sure that it will become
a favourite of anyone who is prepared to give this highly charged
original music a chance.
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