Kidd Jordan is, quite simply, one of the greatest living masters of improvised music, both as performer and educator. It's been said many times, but the lack of recognition afforded him is criminal, not to mention the fact of his meager discography as a leader. This trio session is a welcome document of his supreme musicianship and unflagging creative spirit.
For those still unfamiliar with Jordan's approach to the tenor saxophone, he takes Coltrane's accomplishments to the next level. All of the fire and energy are present, but there is also a rapidity in musical shift, a fluency in the language Jordan has cultivated over the past fifty years, that is nothing short of astonishing. For the extreme regions covered by his approach, compare the liquid clarity and grace of his playing on "The Evil Eye" with the burning intensity of "Officer, that Big Knife Cuts my Sax Reeds." On the former, especially in the opening minutes, Jordan's higher register virtually weeps as bassist Harrison Bankhead and percussionist Warren Smith respond with alacrity, Smith with delicate brushwork and Bankhead further solidifying the rhythmic foundation while answering Jordan's sliding phrases. On the latter, Jordan comes out swinging as no one else can, each phrase a whirlwind of free blues and post-bop that leaps registers with stunning flexibility. His shrieks and hollers, now a trademark and way up in the soprano range, are a wonder to hear as he resolves them to mid-level post-Coltrane exhortations, jumping between historical eras with every gesture.
Jordan could not have chosen more sympathetic collaborators. Warren Smith is, himself, only recently receiving any of the recognition due his excellent musicianship. His vibes work is peerless, as demonstrated by his solo on "We are All Indebted to Each other," where we are privileged to hear the huge range of timbres he coaxes from the instrument with both ends of the mallets. Baknhead is no less masterful, as his own melodically inventive solo on "Harrison Carries out the Coffin" attests. Together, these three improvisers craft an album of infinite intrigue and spontaneity that certainly lives up to its title.
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