Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Frank Wright: Last Polka in Nancy?

Last Polka in Nancy? was the second album released on the Center of the World label (catalogue # CS 002). The album was later reissued as a CD in 1999, with a bonus track on Fractal Records (catalogue # Fractal 007 CD). Like its companion recording, Center of the World, Vol. 1, Last Polka in Nancy? is out of print, and will cost an arm and a leg if you can find it. Besides, it isn't often that one gets to hear a free jazz polka tune (see track 5).

Here's Thom Jurek's review in AMG:
The second volume in the excellent Fractal live retrospective of the Frank Wright Quartet comes to us from Nancy in 1973. Pianist Bobby Few, bassist Alan Silva, and drummer Muhammad Ali (no, it's not) with Wright blowing the living hell out of his saxophones and clarinet, are a picture of free jazz as it permeated the European landscape at the time. This is a freewheeling exorcism of a set with spar but well placed dynamic sequences that accent all the textures possible when the boundaries to expression are gone. Silva uses a bow as much as he plays pizzicato; Few uses his keen sense of harmonic balance to open the upper register of the instrument while playing huge ninth and even 11th chords like a bell, ringing in the tone fields for Wright who bleats, squawks, screeches, screams, and moans through his horn, playing ostinato blues lines through his horn like Albert Ayler (check "Guana Dance, Part 2" by Silva especially). His notes are harsh, bitten off and bloodied curdles of the human voice as it attempts to express what it can never state in words. The compositions, if they can be called that, are by Few and Silva, and as open mode pieces; they work as such, especially on the level of timbral sonance and microtonal systemic work. Wright is no match for Few's sharp, elegant range on his instrument, and so he uses force as counterpoint, while Silva and Ali engage in the dance of shimmering tempos. There aren't many recordings like this out there, and this one is as essential and as blessed by demonic inspiration as Vol. 1 is.
Frank Wright - Tenor Sax, Bass Clarinet
Bobby Few - Piano
Alan Silva - Bass
Muhammad Ali - Drums

1. Winter Echoes (Few) 14:47
2. Guanna Dance, Part 1 (Silva) 4:04
3. Guanna Dance, Part 2 (Silva) 11:33
4. Thinking of Monk (Few) 1:21
5. Doing the Polka (Few) 10:16
6. Two Birds with One Stone (Wright) 18:57

Tracks 1 - 5 were recorded at the Jazz Pulsations Festival in Nancy, France 10/10/73. Track 6 was recorded at Detmold, Neue Anta, in 1978.

Download Last Polka in Nancy?