Another hard-to-find Bobby Hutcherson LP recorded in 1968 that languished on the Blue Note shelves until 1980. The playing here is hot and heavy, with some great flute work from James Spaulding, beautiful piano from Stanley Cowell–who wrote this cut–and sterling drum work from Joe Chambers, who contributed four compositions to the LP.
Stanley Cowell’s Brilliant Circles: A Lost Treasure of Hard Bop
In the late ‘60s, as the jazz scene and the jazz audience was splintering in various directions, the inventive, ever evolving hard bop movement was getting recorded less and less by the established U.S. companies like Blue Note and Prestige, leaving documentation up to small independents, European labels and musician-owned imprints. Stanley Cowell’s Brilliant Circles, made in New York for the British Black Lion/Freedom label, is a perfect example. The music is state-of-the-art and ensemble’s core (Cowell, Bobby Hutcherson and Joe Chambers) comes from the Bobby Hutcherson-Harold Land Quintet of the period. One of hard bop’s lost treasures.
Mtume Umoja Ensemble - Alkebu-Lan: Land of the Blacks (Live at the East) (Full Album)
Invocation Baba Hengates Utamu Saud Alkebu-Lan No Words Separate Not Equal Sifa (The Prayer)
Recorded - August 29, 1971
Released - 1972
James Mtume - Conga, Tonette Horn Carlos Garnett - Tenor Sax, Flute Leroy Jenkins - Violin Ndugu - Drums Gary Bartz - Alto Sax, Soprano Sax Stanley Cowell - Piano Buster Williams - Bass Andy Bey - Vocals Joe Lee Wilson - Vocals Billy Hart - Drums Eddie Micheaux - Vocals Yusuf Iman & Weusi Kuumba - Poetry
Stanley Cowell Trio - Ibn Mukhtar Mustapha (from Illusion suite, ECM, 1974)
A great short spiritual tune recorded for ECM by the Stanley Cowell Trio at the beginning of the 70’s, with Stanley Cowell on piano, Stanley Clarke on bass and Jimmy Hops on drums. A tightened tune with three distinct parts in less than 5 minutes that leaves no time for long solos. After a ‘free’ dialogue between bass and piano the groove suddenly settles with a kind of west-indies feel as Stanley Cowell turns on electricity. Then the tempo changes again and it’s Africa.
Drummer Jack DeJohnette's debut as a leader (which has been reissued on CD) has quite a bit of variety. The music ranges from advanced swinging to brief free improvisations and some avant-funk. DeJohnette(who doubles on melodica) is joined by Bennie Maupin (on tenor and flute), keyboardist Stanley Cowell, bassists Miroslav Vitous and Eddie Gomez, and drummer Roy Haynes. He uses six different combinations of musicians on the eight songs (five of his originals, John Coltrane's "Miles’ Mode,“ Cowell's "Equipoise” and Vitous' "Mirror Image"). Intriguing and generally successful music.
There’s not much information out there on Stanley Cowell. What led you to his music?
I collected jazz from a very early age and for some reason this Stanley Cowell album really stuck to me. I guess there’s a division for me between jazz basics like Miles Davis and Coltrane, and the often namechecked space jazz stuff like Sun Ra and other out-there free jazz. Stanley Cowell is right in the middle of those two. He was quite an important B-list pianist from the late ‘60s, and this album features some dons like Bobby Hutcherson and Woody Shaw. I like listening to free jazz, but not for too long. I need some sort of structure to hold on to, with jazz or classical music, so that’s why I like this album a lot.