Category Archives: Jazz

Afrofuturistic cover of the Crossings album

The Afrofuturism of Robert Springett and Herbie Hancock

The Art of the Album

Beginning in 1972, Herbie Hancock teamed up with artist Robert Springett to produce a series of albums with a vision rooted in Afrofuturism. Although the term would not be officially coined until 1993, it’s pretty clear that a number of musicians, including Sun Ra, Hancock, Lee “Scratch ” Perry, Afrika Bambaataa and George Clinton were onto the vibe much earlier.

Continue reading The Afrofuturism of Robert Springett and Herbie Hancock

Sonny Rollins Volume One

At the end of 1956 Sonny Rollins ended his six-year period of recording at Prestige Records, and he proceeded to record prolifically for the next two years for a variety of labels. Rather than accept the advances against royalties arrangement of his Prestige contract, Rollins opted to be paid by the session, without royalty provisions. He recorded this way for Lester Koenig at Contemporary, Orrin Keepnews at Riverside, and Alfred Lion at Blue Note, as well as recording a variety of performances, both as leader and sideman, for EmArcy, Verve, and Atlantic. This period culminated in the famous vacation from recording that found Rollins practicing nightly on the George Washington Bridge.

Continue reading Sonny Rollins Volume One

Sam Rivers: Fuchsia Swing Song

In the autumn of 1964 tenor saxophonist Sam Rivers spent two months on tour with the Miles Davis quintet. This was the group that, with the addition of Wayne Shorter, would become known as Davis’ “Second Great Quintet.” Miles found the young tenor man to be too “out there” for his group, influenced as he was by avant-gardists such as Eric Dolphy, Ornette Coleman, Albert Ayler, and Archie Shepp.

Continue reading Sam Rivers: Fuchsia Swing Song

Charlie Rouse: Bossa Nova Bacchanal

I love bossa jazz, but let’s face it, during the early 1960s there were so many instrumental boss nova albums cut that it’s sometimes hard to get enthusiastic when yet another surfaces from the back catalogues. Listeners really need to sit up and take notice of this reissue by tenor saxophonist Charlie Rouse, though. Bossa Nova Bacchanal is a real lost treasure.

Continue reading Charlie Rouse: Bossa Nova Bacchanal

Freedom Suite

The history of Sonny Rollins’ jazz classic

by Marshall Bowden

In 1956 Sonny Rollins was one of the best-known tenor saxophonists in jazz, released two classic jazz albums, Saxophone Colossus and Tenor Madness. In the following two years, freed from his Prestige Records contract, Rollins set about making some great records that were released on a variety of labels, including Riverside, Contemporary, and Period. He released Way Out West and worked with Thelonious Monk.

Yet, even as his career ascended he faced the specter of racism when he attempted to rent an apartment in New York City. “Here I had all these reviews, newspaper articles and pictures,” Rollins later said. “At the time it struck me, what did it all mean if you were still a nigger, so to speak? This is the reason I wrote the suite.”

Continue reading Freedom Suite