Jean-Claude Thompson is one half of famed duo The Amalgamation Of Soundz and has now come up with a nine-track exotic jazz compilation which includes some obscure, yet pretty accessible stuff. Well, not in all cases.
The album opens with the Jazz percussion ensemble M’Boom and a track from their 1984 LP “Collage”. M’Boom was led by legendary drummer Max Roach and this particular track, “Circles”, was written by Joe Chambers, heard here on marimba. The group also featured Ray Mantilla and Eddie Allen and is an exotic-sounding seven-and-a-half-minute trip. You would never guess that this was recorded in the mid 80s. It never really starts to happen, yet it maintains a rolling groove – with percussion only.
Yves Laferrière is a Canadian electric bassist who released his soundtrack to a movie he worked on back in 1978. The track “Anastasie Oh! Ma Chérie” includes some sexy background vocals and is a violin-heavy mid-tempo swaying cut. Even though he is more known as a progressive-rock composer, having scored the music for over 25 movies, this track here is on the smoother side of the pond.
Charles Greenlee, the trombonist who has worked with Archie Shepp, among many others, is represented here with a track from his only album as a leader, the 1977 “I Know About The Life”. “He’s Gone” features the majestic, sublime vocals of Jean Carne and is submerged in a serious jazz backing with one of the signature, powerful, crying solos by Shepp, trumpet meister Charles Sullivan, and also has Hubert Eaves and Buster Williams.
We’re going back to 1960 and a wonderful, almost forgotten album by saxophonist and flutist James Clay. “A Double Dose Of Soul” on Riverside featured Victor Feldman on vibes. His composition “Pavanne” is included here, a wonderfully relaxing piece of flute and vibes magic which also has Sam Jones with a moving, walking bass line and Louis Hayes on drums as well as Gene Harris on piano. The album was produced by Orrin Keepnews.
“Bleecker Street” is from a 1988 Enja Records release by trumpet and flugelhorn ace Stanton Davis called “Manhattan Melody” and uses some really quirky, strange electronics and programming tools on top of the bursting sax of Dave Mann. Not really my cup of tea. Tenor and soprano saxophonist John Stubblefield, who used to work with Kenny Barron and the Mingus Big Band, is represented here with another Enja release, the James Ware composition “Going Home” from the 1987 album “Countin’ On The Blues”. His free-flowing solo and that by bari saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett add to the exoticism of the whole compilation here. The track also has some mean playing by Mulgrew Miller, Charnett Moffett, and superb drum work by Victor Lewis.
Another rarity comes in the shape of “Saudi” by drummer Lenny McBrowne & The Four Souls. Finest West Coast Cool Jazz from 1960 on the Pacific Jazz label with Donald Sleet on trumpet and Daniel Jackson on tenor. The trio Triton recorded their “Wilderness of Glass” album in 1978. The Modern Jazz cut “Greasy Sunday” is led by the soprano sax of British jazz icon Alan Wakeman and is supported only by bass and drums. A fascinating listen, moving in circles.
The album concludes with an obscure track by composer and bassist Terry Plumeri. Another exotic piece, the Gamelan-inspired “Bornless One” features the brutally repetitive, but intoxicating Kalimba playing of Michael Smith and together with the strange, overdubbed vocals by Terry himself, this makes it all the more exciting.