The Squid's Ear Magazine


Swell's, Steve Fire Into Music ( w/ Moondoc / Parker / Drake): For Jemeel: Fire From The Road [3 CDs (RogueArt)

A triple CD of extended and magnificent performances between 2004 & 2005 from the quartet of Steve Swell on trombone, William Parker on double bass, Hamid Drake on drums and Jemeel Moondoc on alto saxophone, to whom this album is dedicated; two concerts in Texas and one at the Guelph Jazz Festival, with compositions from Swell and Moondoc plus collective improvisations.
 

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UPC: 3760131271263

Label: RogueArt
Catalog ID: ROG-0126
Squidco Product Code: 32923

Format: 3 CDs
Condition: New
Released: 2023
Country: France
Packaging: Digipack Double CD
Recorded live:
by Shaun Jones on October 2nd 2004 at the El Dorado Ballroom, Houston Texas, USA (CD1)
by Jeff Williams on Ocotber 8th 2004 at Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas, USA (CD2)
by Nik Tjelios on September 8th 2005 at Guelph Jazz Festival, Guelph, Ontario, Canada (CD3)


Personnel:



Steve Swell-trombone

William Parker-double bass

Jemeel Moondoc-alto saxophone

Hamid Drake-drums


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Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"As welcome as it is to have this treasure trove of previously unheard music from this masterful quartet, Fire From the Road also serves as a powerful tribute to the band's late saxophonist, Jemeel Moondoc, who passed away in August 2021 from complications of sickle cell anemia. The three-disc set compiles three hours of music captured in 2004 and 2005 at concerts in Houston and Marfa, Texas, and the Guelph Jazz Festival in Ontario, Canada."-RogueArt



"Ladies and gentlemen, once again - Fire Into Music." When those words were initially uttered, at a 2004 concert at Houston's El Dorado Ballroom, they simply served as introduction. Opening For Jemeel: Fire From the Road (2004-2005), the stunning and mammoth new album from trombonist/composer Steve Swell and his adventurous quartet Fire Into Music, that brief introduction is transformed into a send-off and an understated eulogy.

As welcome as it is to have this treasure trove of previously unheard music from this masterful quartet, Fire From the Road also serves as a powerful tribute to the band's late saxophonist, Jemeel Moondoc, who passed away in August 2021 from complications of sickle cell anemia. [...] the three-disc set compiles three hours of music captured in 2004 and 2005 at concerts in Houston and Marfa, Texas, and the Guelph Jazz Festival in Ontario, Canada.

"Jemeel had all the qualities that you want in a great improvising musician," praises Swell. "He always went that extra step beyond into a level of musicianship and experience that becomes magical. His playing always managed to find those little areas that I like to call 'between the cracks' - where the intonation gets expanded and the rhythm is a little more askew, and you're drawn through new doorways of sound that alter your perceptions and expectations."

Swell originally formed Fire Into Music - in which the trombonist was joined by Moondoc, legendary bassist William Parker, and master Chicago drummer/percussionist Hamid Drake - for a three and a half week tour in late 2004, followed by a shorter run in the fall of 2005. They reconvened the following year for their sole studio recording, Swimming in a Galaxy of Goodwill and Sorrow, released by Rogue Art in 2007.

A long overdue follow-up was planned for the summer of 2021, as COVID pandemic restrictions were easing. It was postponed for Swell's ultimately successful bout with throat cancer before Moondoc's untimely passing later that summer brought the band to an end. Fortunately a number of performances from Fire Into Music's brief run had been recorded, and Swell selected three standouts featuring compositions by himself and Moondoc along with a pair of extended free improvisations.

There is a wealth of remarkable music from all four artists throughout these captivating hours. The nearly hour-long improvised set from Houston that comprises disc one features a breathtaking ten-minute solo by Parker, a model of diverse textures and unfolding development. It leads into stark, eloquent solo turns by first Swell, then Moondoc, before Drake's thunderous rhythms propel the piece to its explosive finale.

Moondoc's loping, angular composition "Junka Nu" is featured twice, from performances in Marfa and Guelph. The leader provides three compositions: "Space Cowboys," highlighted by Moondoc's sinuous alto buoyed aloft by Parker's robust, charging bassline; the title track from Swimming in a Galaxy of Goodwill and Sorrow, beginning with a four-way conversation spotlighting the bandmates' gifts for listening and complementing each other's unfurling contributions; and the strident groove of "Box Set," previously recorded by Swell's group Slammin' the Infinite and his co-led quartet with Gebhard Ullmann.

Brief as Fire Into Music's existence may have been, its members share histories stretching back decades on the New York City creative music scene. Swell, who had arrived in the city in 1975, was invited to join Moondoc's Jus Grew Orchestra in the late 1980s for its Thursday night residency at the Nuyorican Poets Café. This began a decades-long musical relationship that spanned a number of disparate contexts, including Swell's Soul Travelers quintet with Dave Burrell, Parker and Gerald Cleaver, and several configurations featuring the trumpeter Roy Campbell.

It was also in the Jus Grew Orchestra that Swell was also introduced to Parker, who hails Moondoc as "an unsung natural musician who created his own conservatory that came from inside of himself... [with] a beautiful bluesy sound that genuinely touched upon the deeper parts of Africa." By the time of Fire Into Music's foundation, Parker and Hamid were frequent collaborators as well, evident in the taut rhythmic foundation that underlies even the most turbulent stretches of Fire From the Road.

Though Swell acknowledges the time and concentration necessary to delve fully into the music of Fire From the Road, he says, "I hope people will take the time to listen to it all and get a real appreciation of what Jemeel brought to improvised music. He was so unique in his approach, his imagination and his ability. For me and for everyone who were fortunate enough to play with and to hear him, he always brought the magic." "-Michael Major, Broadway World


Get additional information at Broadway World

Artist Biographies

"Born in Newark, NJ, Steve Swell has been an active member of the NYC music community since 1975. He has toured and recorded with many artists from mainstreamers such as Lionel Hampton and Buddy Rich to so called outsiders as Anthony Braxton, Bill Dixon, Cecil Taylor and William Parker. He has over 40 CDs as a leader or co-leader and is a featured artists on more than 100 other releases. He runs workshops around the world and is a teaching artist in the NYC public school system focusing on special needs children.

Swell has worked on music transcriptions of the Bosavi tribe of New Guinea for MacArthur fellow, Steve Feld in 2000. His CD, "Suite For Players, Listeners and Other Dreamers" (CIMP) ranked number 2 in the 2004 Cadence Readers Poll. He has also received grants from USArtists International in 2006, MCAF (LMCC) awards in 2008 and 2013 and has been commissioned twice on the Interpretations Series at Merkin Hall in 2006 and at Roulette in 2012.

Steve was nominated for Trombonist of the Year 2008 & 2011 by the Jazz Journalists Association, was selected Trombonist of the Year 2008-2010 , 2012 and 2014-2015 by the magazine El Intruso of Argentina and received the 2008 Jubilation Foundation Fellowship Award of the Tides Foundation. Steve has also been selected by the Downbeat Critics Poll in the Trombone category each year from 2010-2016.

Steve is presently a teaching artist through the American Composers Orchestra, Healing Arts Initiative , Mind-Builders Creative Arts Center (Bronx), the Jazz Foundation of America and Leman Manhattan Preparatory School.

Steve was also awarded the 2014 Creative Curricula grant (LMCC) for the project: "Metamorphoses: Modern Mythology in Sound and Words" which was taught in a month long residency at Baruch College Campus High School in Manhattan."

-Steve Swell Website (http://www.steveswell.com/SteveSwellBio.htm)
5/31/2023

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"William Parker is a bassist, improviser, composer, writer, and educator from New York City, heralded by The Village Voice as, "the most consistently brilliant free jazz bassist of all time."

In addition to recording over 150 albums, he has published six books and taught and mentored hundreds of young musicians and artists.

Parker's current bands include the Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra, In Order to Survive, Raining on the Moon, Stan's Hat Flapping in the Wind, and the Cosmic Mountain Quartet with Hamid Drake, Kidd Jordan, and Cooper-Moore. Throughout his career he has performed with Cecil Taylor, Don Cherry, Milford Graves, and David S. Ware, among others."

-William Parker Website (http://www.williamparker.net/)
5/31/2023

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Jemeel Moondoc (August 5, 1946 – August 29, 2021) was a jazz saxophonist who played alto saxophone. He was a proponent of a highly improvisational style.

He was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States, and studied clarinet and piano before settling on saxophone at sixteen. He became interested in jazz largely due to Cecil Taylor and at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, he was a student of Taylor's. After that he moved to New York City, where he founded "Ensemble Muntu" with William Parker, Roy Campbell, Jr., and Rashid Bakr. The group also had its own Muntu record label, but eventually faced financial difficulties. In 1984, he formed the Jus Grew Orchestra, which secured a residency at the Neither/Nor club in the Lower East Side. He worked with Parker again in 1998's album, New World Pygmies.

He died in August 2021, at the age of 75 from the effects of sickle cell anemia."



From the biography entry of JemeelMoondoc.com, the website currently inactive:

"It was Cecil Taylor who brought the young JEMEEL MOONDOC into modern jazz, and Jemeel has remained a devoted disciple ever since. Moondoc studied with Cecil Taylor and played in his Black Music Ensemble at Antioch College in 1970 - 1971, becoming a featured soloist. Moondoc's own early groups, the Ensemble Muntu, which included Arthur Williams, Mark Hennen, Roy Campbell Jr. William Parker, Rashid Bakr, et al, was very much in the Taylor mold, but Moondoc remained open to other influences as well; the recent release of a three-CD box set, The Muntu Recordings, (NoBusiness Records NBCD 7-8-9) chronicles the first recordings and performances of Jemeel Moondoc and Muntu during the New York loft jazz scene. (see http://www.pointofdeparture.org/PoD27/PoD27Muntu.html)

In the 1980's Moondoc made three recordings for Soul Note Records including Judy's Bounce with Ed Blackwell and Fred Hopkins. This recording in particular gave Moondoc recognition as an innovative improviser and composer; his playing style sits somewhere between Ornette's country wail and Jimmy Lyons street corner preaching. In 1983 Moondoc formed the Jus Grew Orchestra, a group of improvisers that included Roy Campbell Jr. Bern Nix, Zane Massey, Steve Swell, Codaryl Moffett, Nathan Breedlove, John Voigt and others. Moondoc composed extensively, understanding, as did Mingus and Ellington, that t he strength and power of composition lies with the individual and unique talents of the orchestra members, he also use a technique called 'conduction' which is an improvisational technique were the conductor can guide the entire group through unwritten passages. At one point for about a year and a half during 1983 and 1984 Jemeel Moondoc and Jus Grew Orchestra performed every Thursday night at the Neither-Nor bookstore on East 5th Street. The Orchestra also did stints at the Nuyorican Poets Café, and First on First, with intermittent performances at the Fez. The Jus Grew Orchestra made two live CD performances - Spirit House [Eremite, 2000], recorded at UMASS at its Magic Triangle Jazz Series, and Live at the Vision Festival [Ayler, 2002].

Between 1985 and 1996 Jemeel Moondoc could not secure a recording date. "There was a lack of interest in recording so-called free jazz at the time", recalls Moondoc. "I remember thinking that the whole music scene was going downhill, I was still playing, I just didn't record, it didn't really bother me because I knew I was going to get the opportunity to record again".

In 1995 Moondoc began a recording relationship with the now renowned Eremite Records label (eremite.com/eremite); between 1996 and 2002 he recorded several records on Eremite. The most acclaimed is Revolt of the Negro Lawn Jockeys 2001. This recording "shows a musician capable of drawing together the post-bop linage that includes Jackie McClean and Charles Mingus, and the free-jazz energy music tradition of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor into one grand swinging synthesis", writes Ed Hazell in the liner notes. "Any quintet lineup featuring alto sax, vibes, bass and drums inevitably invites comparison with Eric Dolphy's Out To Lunch. Hard act to follow, but Jemeel Moondoc can hold his head up high. Those who take perverse pleasure in announcing the death of jazz in all its forms, should be strapped to a table and forced to listen to this 47-minute set until their ears bleed". - Dan Warburton, Paiisiantransatlantic.com . Jemeel Moondoc's "unorthodoxies are deeply rooted in the knowledge of and a profound feeling for his craft. His heavily vocalized sound on alto combines the sharp edge of Jackie McLean and a gentleness of tone reminiscent of Joe Henderson. He manipulates timbre as expressively as Albert Ayler. The vivid animation and emotionalism of his playing again recall Ayler , along with another of Black Musuc's great exponents, the South African musician Dudu Pukwana". But "Moondoc's rhythmic concept, delivery, and sense of space are completely unique; his phrases slip and wobble prankishly, forming impossible oblique shapes, while somehow holding to a melodic line". "Moondoc gives everything he does an old-world, future-world, other-word plurality. He is one of the most singular players in music, and one of the most eloquent and communicative storytellers", explains Michael Ehlers of Eremite Records.

Moondoc is currently associated with the newly formed Relative Pitch Records, his newly released CD, Two 2012, is an intriguing duo dialogue between Connie Crothers and Moondoc, "the program finds the two players engaging in an off-the-cuff improvisations - the takeaway from this intimate series of duets is that Crothers and Moondoc are kindred souls - not the sort who traffic in cheap musical melodrama - the emotional reach in their interactions is real." (Derek Taylor - Dusted Magazine). Moondoc's newest release The Zookeeper's House 2014, has started to gain some critical acclaim. "Alto saxophonist Jemeel Moondoc has been keeping the faith in a post-free-jazz mindset for many years, working with bassist William Parker and others on the adventuresome avant-jazz fringes. He continues his progression with The Zookeeper's House, The new five-track set, with different groupings and musical angles, captures a distinctly live vibrancy and in-the-moment vulnerability in the studio. On the opening track, Moondoc is joined by sensitive foil Matthew Shipp on piano, bassist Hilliard Green and drummer Newman Taylor Baker, laying out the rumbling ruminations for Moondoc's six note, Albert Ayler-esque theme, played with brittle fervor by the saxophonist. Structure yields to abandon, and Moondoc's toothy, sharp-toned burst, angular fragments and sense of space alight, with empathetic help from his allies. On "Little Blue Elvira," a kind of ambling, slap-happy horn trio-with trumpeter Roy Campbell Jr. (who died a few months after this session, and to whom the album is dedicated) and trombonist Steve Swell joining the leader in unison-conjures up a Mingus vibe. Loose essences of Coltrane (or the Coltranes) are worked into the album's fabric with Alice Coltrane's "Ptah The El Daoud," another chord-less setting with Swell and Campbell, and the aptly named "One For Monk & Trane." "For The Love Of Cindy," with only drums, bass and the saxophonist's poetically embracing space, ends the album on an airy note, with a bittersweet ambiance vaguely redolent of Ornette Coleman's "Lonely Woman," but less lonely. With The Zookeeper's House; Moondoc returns-and-continues-a bit deeper and wiser". Josef Woodard-Downbeat Magizine October 2014"

-Wikipedia (https://www.jemeelmoondoc.com/biohttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jemeel_Moondocgraphy)
5/31/2023

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Hamid Drake (born August 3, 1955) is an American jazz drummer and percussionist. He lives in Chicago, IL but spends a great deal of time touring worldwide. By the close of the 1990s, Hamid Drake was widely regarded as one of the best percussionists in jazz and avant improvised music. Incorporating Afro-Cuban, Indian, and African percussion instruments and influence, in addition to using the standard trap set, Drake has collaborated extensively with top free-jazz improvisers. Drake also has performed world music; by the late 70s, he was a member of Foday Musa Suso's Mandingo Griot Society and has played reggae throughout his career.

Drake has worked with trumpeter Don Cherry, pianist Herbie Hancock, saxophonists Pharoah Sanders, Fred Anderson, Archie Shepp and David Murray and bassists Reggie Workman and William Parker (in a large number of lineups)

He studied drums extensively, including eastern and Caribbean styles. He frequently plays without sticks; using his hands to develop subtle commanding undertones. His tabla playing is notable for his subtlety and flair. Drake's questing nature and his interest in Caribbean percussion led to a deep involvement with reggae."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hamid_Drake)
5/31/2023

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



CD 1:

1. Improvised Music at the El Dorado 55:28



CD 2:



1. Junka Nu 19:37

2. Improvised Music at Ballroom Marfa 31:53

3. Space Cowboys (CD-2) 12:29



CD 3:



1. Box Set 20:29

2. Junka Nu 19:27

3. Swimming in a Galaxy of Goodwill and Sorrow 23:46

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
Collective Free Improvsation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Chicago Jazz & Improvisation
Quartet Recordings
Parker, William
Staff Picks & Recommended Items
New in Improvised Music
Recent Releases and Best Sellers

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