Horace Tapscott: The Dark Tree (2009)
, bassist Cecil McBee and drummer Andrew Cyrillestirring a steaming gumbo of ostinato-driven street funk and visceral, outer limits jazz. The title track, just short of 21 minutes, remains in 2009 a galvanising avant-groove of epic proportions: anchored by McBee's low down and gloriously resonant bass, Tapscott delivers a cadenza and block chord-laden solo of astonishing incantatory power.
Recorded live at the Catalina Bar & Grill in Hollywood in 1989, the album finds Tapscottwith clarinetist John Carter
An alternative performance, "The Dark Tree 2," included on the second disc, is almost, but not quite, as intense. Carter is blinding on both versions. Anyone with an aversion to clarinet, and they are not few, should bend an ear. Cyrille, who takes the third solo, is on fire. "Lino's Pad" hits a similar spot, despite some tricky time signature shifts between 7/4 and 4/4. There isn't a dud on either disc.
's "Black Rhythm Happening" and trumpeter Donald Byrd's "The Emperor," and the contemporaneous vamp-laden work of saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and pianist Alice Coltrane. Tapscott himself includes Cecil Taylor, Andrew Hill, Randy Weston and Les McCann in the mix. Politically, the music is informed by the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA), later renamed the Union of God's Musicians and Artists Ascension (UGMAA), which Tapscott co-founded in Los Angeles in 1961.
The Dark Tree's roots are diverse. It can be traced back to late 1960s/early 1970s proto-grooves like trumpeter Eddie Gale
Anyone interested in Tapscott and UGMA/UGMAA will enjoy reading Steven L. Isoardi's The Dark Tree: Jazz and the Community Arts in Los Angeles (University of California Press, 2006), which examines the links that can be forged between jazz musicians and the communities in which they live, and the use of music as an engine of social change.
Track Listing: CD1: The Dark Tree; Sketches Of Drunken Mary; Lino's Pad; One For Lately. CD2: Sandy And Niles; Bavarian Mist; The Dark Tree 2; A Dress For Renee; Nyja's Theme.
Personnel: Horace Tapscott: piano; John Carter: clarinet; Cecil McBee: bass; Andrew Cyrille: drums.
Record Label: Hatology
Style: Modern Jazz