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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Horace Tapscott - The Dark Tree (HatOLOGY, 2009 re-issue) *****

Sitting in my hotel room, waiting for the New York Clean Feed Festival to start, my ears, brain and body receive full enjoyment from what might possibly be the re-issue of the year. Recorded at a live performance in 1989, this album by Los Angeles pianist Horace Tapscott is an absolute post-boppish free jazz delight, with other icons John Carter on clarinet, Cecil McBee on bass, and Andrew Cyrille on drums. The long title track alone is worth the purchase of the album. It is a hypnotic, highly rhythmic, forward moving piece, with John Carter's clarinet soaring high above the thundering piano chords, and the absolutely relentless rhythms of bass and drums. Tapscott's piano solo is as great as Carter's. And throughout the album the bass and drums also get their moments in the spotlight. This is music in the tradition of Coltrane: African, expansive, highly rhythmic, spiritual, deeply expressive, helping the listener to break away from all the provincialism and mediocrity of daily life. It is music that goes directly to the essence, conjuring up sounds of beauty, passion, drama, but also of liberation and freedom. You get even a second version of the title track on the second CD. All the pieces of the album are of the same high level, and even if John Carter does not play on all tracks, the quality of the music as a piano trio is equally superb. Don't miss it!

The title itself refers to the artistic traditions of African Americans that Tapscott tried to revive, the reason why he even left Lionel Hampton's big band, to start his own Arkestra (spelled in reference to Noah's Ark).

Here is the title track on Youtube: enjoy!


Chris Monsen said...

Great album. I have the previous re-issue (don't know from when, maybe 2003? I'll have to check when I get home, but that was released on HatOlogt too).

joesh said...

Great music, and a chance to hear the great John Carter - who is sadly no longer with us.

Guy said...

Also bought this a while ago, great album indeed. Heard Carter for the first time on the quartet album w/ bobby bradford ("seeking" from the late 60s), which is also a record that deserves more recognition

Unknown said...

This is one amazing (half?)track! I'd never heard Horace Tapscott before, but this is certainly very powerful stuff.I just couldn't stop listening to it after the first few seconds.I'm not a free jazz fan at all (my first jazz love was Count Basie), but I've been hearing some "freer" stuff lately (Marilyn Crispell springs to mind), and there's certainly a lot left to be discovered there.

Shaun said...

I think Arkestra is more likely a reference to Sun Ra's band of the same name rather than a reference to Noah. :)