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Reviewers: Don Mather, Tony Augarde, Dick Stafford, John Eyles, Robert Gibson, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke, Jack Ashby



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TRIO BEYOND

Saudades

ECM 1972/73

 


CD1

1. If
2. As One
3. Allah Be Praised
4. Saudades
5. Pee Wee
6. Spectrum
CD2

1. Seven Steps to Heaven
2. I Fall in Love Too Easily
3. Love in Blues
4. Big Nick
5. Emergency
 

John Scofield – Guitar
Larry Goldings – Hammond organ, electric piano
Jack DeJohnette - Drums

Tony Williams was a phenomenal drummer – good enough to join the Miles Davis Quintet at the age of 17. When he left Davis in 1969, he formed his own group, Lifetime, with guitarist John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young. Lifetime was influential in the world of jazz-rock, although I found some of its recordings hard to bear because of the prevailing noise level – especially from Larry Young’s abrasive Hammond organ.

Drummer Jack DeJohnette and guitarist John Scofield were both influenced by Lifetime and decided to form a trio with organist Larry Goldings, paying tribute to Tony Williams. As they played together, they realised that they should perform more than Lifetime’s repertoire, so they called themselves Trio Beyond.

This double CD catches them in concert at London’s Queen Elizabeth Hall in November 2004, playing to an enthusiastic audience. The music is certainly striking: the first track hits the ear like an extrovert drum solo with accompaniment – or more like a nighttime bombing raid, sufficient to flatten a whole city. Jack DeJohnette is a drummer who can emulate the technical wizardry of Tony Williams, but his attack often seems relentless.

Things calm down somewhat for As One, where Larry Goldings’ Hammond organ takes on a churchy ambience, but the barrage resumes with the full force of jazz fusion in Allah be Praised (a Larry Young composition). John Scofield’s electric guitar wails piteously and snaps spikily. The title-track is a more endearing piece, with a shuffling rhythm – although the jagged guitar again makes one think that John Scofield should erect a sign saying "Ear-piercing while you wait".

Pee Wee is the first Tony Williams composition in the concert – a number that Miles Davis recorded on his album ESP – a surprisingl;y gentle jazz waltz, opening with pensive guitar from Scofield, and later adding delicate brushwork by DeJohnette and churchy organ from Goldings. Spectrum reverts to full-frontal attack which develops into an up-tempo swinger that eventually becomes anarchic noise, ending with an explosive but frankly messy drum solo from DeJohnette.

The second CD begins with Seven Steps to Heaven, a satisfying swinger dominated by Jack’s busy drumming, with a groovy solo from Goldings, who switches to electric piano to introduce I Fall in Love Too Easily, which starts thoughtfully but gets wilder with the addition of guitar and drums.

Love in Blues sways seductively, with Scofield bending notes like crazy and DeJohnette trying to demolish the drum kit. John Coltrane’s composition Big Nick is given a 17-minute workout, starting with an enterprising solo from Goldings, who makes the Hammond organ more attractive and less painful than Larry Young used to. Scofield’s solo is comparatively restrained – and all the better for it. After about eight minutes, Goldings lays out so that the guitar is effectively backed only by DeJohnette, who then offers a well-shaped drum solo which even descends to an unaccustomed pianissimo.

The concert ends with Emergency (only the second Tony Williams composition on the album) – a raucous performance which, like many other tracks, displays the group’s expertise while veering too closely towards heavy metal to make for comfortable listening. If you have ears, prepare to shed them now!


Tony Augarde

 



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