Monday, September 22, 2008

Beaver Harris Quintet: Live WKCR, March 21, 1977

Here's some vintage late 1970s free jazz, courtesy of the late Beaver Harris. The music on these three mp3 files is from a live broadcast at WKCR-FM. About the best information I can get on this session comes from the David S. Ware sessionography:
March 21, 1977 / WKCR-FM Studio, New York City
  1. unknown titles [51:03]
Raphé Malik (tp)
David S. Ware (tenor sax)
Hamiet Bluiett (bs)
Tito Sumpa (perc)
Beaver Harris (drums)
With the possible exception of Sumpa, these cats are all close to household names in the avant-jazz world. The sound quality is quite good - the nice thing about live-in-studio performances is that you get a feel for what the band would be like live, but without the potentially dodgy acoustics that plague live club or concert bootlegs.

The first track is a sprawling 44 minute piece of pure cacophony that slowly takes shape as the musicians get a feel for their surroundings. Needless to say, the drums and percussion are prominent, and sometimes Malik and Ware sound if they're struggling to be heard. Bluiett's bass simply seems to blend into the percussion. About halfway through, Malik gets some extended space to solo, followed by Ware near the half-hour mark. His soloing at this relatively early date in his career foreshadows his more recent work. That solo is followed by a drum-percussion dialog between Harris and Sumpa, before the rest of the band rejoins to close things out. Track 2 picks up where the first track ended. The final track features piano, suggesting that Cecil Taylor must have been sitting in on the session as well - the third track definitely has a different feel to it, and quiets things down enough to give Bluiett a chance to be heard. There are definitely some knowledgeable cats who drop by here, so maybe one of 'em will be able to give us the lowdown on the session beyond the fragments that I can provide.

Dowload Live WKCR, March 21, 1977