Frank Wright: The Complete ESP-Disk Recordings (2005)
This two-disc set features two of the notoriously underrated saxophonist's albums, 1965's Frank Wright Trio and 1967's Your Prayer, as well as providing some brief interviews with Wright and ESP-Disk record producer Bernard Stollman.
Born in Grenada, Mississippi in 1935, Wright grew up playing the electric bass in R&B bands in Memphis and later in Cleveland, where he met Albert Ayler. After listening to Ayler, Wright took up the tenor saxophone and found a new calling in the burgeoning free jazz movement. He moved to New York, the hotbed of experimental music, and began playing with other restless jazz musicians, such as John Coltrane, Cecil Taylor, Larry Young, Noah Howard and Sunny Murray.
Along the way, ESP-Disk gave him the opportunity to record the two albums heard here, though after that, Wright seemed to disappear. Exactly what occurred to him and why it did is touched upon on in the interview material, though it is safe to summarize the situation as good-ol' American apathy towards jazz. Wright, it turns out, left to Europe, where he found a better reception for his music and his art, living there almost exclusively until his death in 1990.
Listening to the often brash and impassioned music on these sets, it seems easy to imply that Wright and his music were perhaps too wild and too bold on arrival. Forty years after their inception, the material on both discs remains remarkably fresh. It's the type of angular, Ayler-influenced, squawking-wild material that's still difficult to "get" in most American jazz circles. While Wright was never fully appreciated while he was alive, this release hopes to, at the very least, give a new generation of jazz aficionados a chance to hear his music.
Track Listing: CD1: The Earth; Jerry; The Moon; Interviews: Bernard Stollman Meets Frank Wright; Recording; The Voice of Life; Playing With Other Musicians; Bernard Advises Frank on Europe; Europe vs America; Other recordings, books and more; All is said. CD2: The Lady; Train Stop; No End; Fire of Spirits; Your Prayer.
Personnel: CD1: Frank Wright: tenor saxophone, vocals; Henry Grimes: bass; Tom Price: drums. CD2: Frank Wright: tenor saxophone; Arthur Jones: alto saxophone; Jacques Coursil: trumpet; Steve Tintweiss: bass; Muhammad Ali: drums. All musicians contribute vocals and miscellaneous percussion throughout.