Air Conditioning 12:42
Ba-lues Are 18:43
Au Privave 6:02
Straight No Chaser 21.02
Total time: 78:36
Tribute to Bird and Monk
Labor Records reissues Heiner Stadler’s pioneering album Tribute to Bird and Monk.
Long unavailable, this critically acclaimed tribute features a stellar group of New York musicians in arrangements of six pieces by Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk that are as provocative today as they were when originally released.
Remixed for the first time to digital from original sources by noted engineer Malcolm Addey
A truly groundbreaking landmark recording, Tribute To Bird and Monk, was widely lauded when it was first released in 1978 – credited as one of the best and most unusual albums of that year by Neil Tesser in a Jazz Magazine article that noted the record’s “tough, bright, innovative resiliency” and earning the coveted five star (highest) rating in a Downbeat review by critic Jerry de Muth (who called the two LP set “a brilliant mixture of arranged and free jazz”) and garnering arranger-producer Heiner Stadler a place in the magazine’s Annual Critic’s Poll as a Talent Deserving Wider Recognition. Now reissued as a compact disc on his own Labor Records imprint, it is likely that Stadler’s unique talent will again be heard as deserving increased attention and the music will once more be praised on a level comparable to when it first appeared. The considerable artistic success of Stadler’s pioneering project can be credited as much to his visionary assembling of a truly distinctive ensemble to perform his inventive orchestrations, described by de Muth as “far more than arrangements,” noting that “recompositions would be a better term.”
In selecting veteran cornetist Thad Jones, a Monk alumnus and one of the most renowned arrangers of his day, to be an important member of the band filled out by much younger musicians who were closely associated with more modernist aspects of the jazz genre, Stadler imbued the date with an intriguing traditionalist facet at a time when tradition and innovation were virtually at war. Tenor saxophonist George Adams, most recognized for his work with Charles Mingus was at home in both camps. Trombonist George Lewis as a member of the AACM was clearly recognized as a member of the avant garde, while multitalented pianist Stanley Cowell stood out as one of the few players of his instrument to find a place in the post Ornette realm of forward looking modernism. Virtuoso bassist Reggie Workman, a veteran of Coltrane’s innovative band and then a member of Max Roach’s creative quartet was extending both the range and the role of the bass. While Lenny White, known for his pioneering fusion work on Miles Davis’ Bitches Brew and Chick Corea’s Return To Forever, proved to be a propulsive force, capable of swinging with fiery power. The addition of percussionist Warren Smith on tympani for a pair of tracks further contributes to the band’s uncommon sound.
The program – comprised of three compositions each by Parker and Monk “Air Conditioning,” “Au Privave,” and “Perhaps” by the former and “Ba-lue Bolivar Ba-lues-are,” “Straight No Chaser” and ”Misterioso” by the latter – simultaneously pays tribute to both tradition and innovation, running the gamut from polytonality to bold voicings and manipulations of tempos and swing. The durability of this music, as daringly modern today as it was when it was made more than three decades ago, stands as a tribute not just to Charlie Parker and Thelonious Monk, but also to Heiner Stadler, whose sympathetic vision of the two great composer’s creativity has brought their sound into the future while paying homage to the tradition from where it sprang. As Howard Mandel notes in his preface to the original liner notes by Robert Plamer, “Tribute is a fair indication of Stadler’s powers. In it, he demonstrates that Bird and Monk wrote immutably multi-faceted music from which inspired individuals can generate kaleidoscopic variations, and that their music has inspired him to stretch form in a manner indisputably wed to content. There is no higher tribute than an artist making something new and enduring out of sources he admires and acknowledges.” This is the brilliance Heiner Stadler provides to us with his Tribute to Bird and Monk.
“Tribute is a brilliant mixture of arranged and free jazz, with the strength of the compositions providing a firm foundation.”
DOWN BEAT ***** Five-Stars (top rating)
“The result is a giant step bridging the avant-garde of the ‘forties, bebop, with the avant-garde of today.”
www.gapplegatemusicreview.blogspot.com (May 2011)
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(see review #6 down)
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The New York City Jazz Record
www.italia.allaboutjazz.com (All About Jazz Italia)
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