Music Diary #8 – 8th January 2012

Sunday is usually a quiet day for new music so there is not much to report on other than the new Of Montreal album which I confess I have not listened to yet, plus D Bowie is 65, and Elvis would have been 77 – how time flies.

So I thought I would comment on the passing of the great jazzman Sam Rivers on Boxing Day last year. Rivers may not be a household name but he was one of the great innovators of jazz, especially in the avant garde area of the music.  His career started in earnest the late 1950s and his contemporaries read like a who’s-who of the great and the good in the world of jazz. Heavily associated with the Blue Note record lable he produced a run of great albums for that lable which stand out as some of the most recordngs they released.

The ’60s saw him working with Miles Davis, Cecil Taylor, Paul Bley, Archie Shepp and notably on Tony Williams first solo album. Lifetime. His work with Cecil Taylor in 1969, together with Andrew Cyrille and Jimmy Lyons stands out as some of the most exciting music he produced.

His work in the 70s around the Studio Rivbea  facility in New York produced some classic improvised music and took jazz into new areas. – whether as part of a trio, his orchestra or the Winds of Change woodwind ensemble.  His duo work with Dave Holland in the late 70s produced a couple of fine albums and his Contrasts album for ECM was another highlight of a great career.  His work on Impulse! around this time is worth checking out as it took improvised music to a whole new place.

From the ’80s onward Rivers recorded work became sparse and he relocated to Florida where reformed his Rivbea Orchestra and entered a new phase of his career concentrating on a wider sound palette and creating some critically acclaimed big band music.

With well over 30 albums released as a leader, and countless more as a sideman it is hard to recommend the best but I would nominate these three as a place to start

– Fuschia Swing Song (Blue Note 1964)

– Lazuil (Timeless 1989)

– Purple Violets (Stunt 2005)

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