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September 23, 1978 - Image 5

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1978-09-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

an
penir
By R.J. SMITH
Already, there is talk of a festival for
ext year. Someone mentions Charles
lingus as the featured artist, someone
Ise suggests Miles Davis-but
hatever the plans turn out to be, there.
:one certain thing: after Thursday
ight's performance at the 1978 Ann
rbor Jazz Festival honoring Duke"
'llington and sponsored by Eclipse
azz, many are rooting for the festival's-
ontinuation.
Ah, where to begin? Displayed at the
oV Thursday was such a mixture of
gionalities and voices-indeed, Mary
ou Williams distills the whole of jazz
her approach-that there are no
imple, bite-sized ways to transmit
hat happened. The best one can do is
ewer a few of the memories, and of-
r them up with an apologetic "if only
ou could have been there," like retur-
ing from a banquet with only a few
craps in a bag to offer those who didn't
ake it.
MAY LOU WILLIAMS, labelled by
me "the greatest woman in jazz
"story," opened the show with the.

f

Igshov
pair launched into a "modern blues"
called "Baby Man" that played with
musical space, it seemed to me, in
much the same way that de Chirico
handled distances in his paintings.
There was a remarkable essence to that
song, a way the telegraphed bass and
the feathery upper-range piano-work
rose into nothingness, that made it
seem strange only in reflection-at the
time, its otherworldliness was
passionately consuming.
What a remarkable contrast this
pair of songs provided, and yet not a
thing was forced or unnatural about
their juxtaposition. Williams could play
a swinging, Hinesian '"My Blue
Heaven" and then quickly dish up a
starry, impressionistic treatment of "I
Can't Get Started" with no discon-
tinuity in her unaffected commitment
to the material.
AFTER A rough-and-tumble version
of Ellington's "Caravan," Williams
finished off with a selection called
"Rock-Jazz," which had a cheering,
funny jump-step of a bass line. More
than any other performer who ap-
peared on the stage at Hill, I had wished

The Michigan Daily-Saturday, September 23, 1978-Page 5
v heralds fine jazz weekend

Ellington's "In A Sentimental Mood"
which was too cold and immobile, the
group worked well together and
displayed some outstanding solo work.
Although occasionally he seemed to
burn out his ideas before exploring
them fully, Cecil Bridgewater con-
tributed many fine moments.
The real star of the Roach group,
apart from Max, however, is tenor
saxophonist Billy Harper. Harper has a
great talent for invoking fiery and
muscular solos, and breaking them
apart into their tiniest components.
r'
Daily Photo by ANDY FREEBERG
at the opening of the Ann Arbor Jazz
AND AS FR Roah, well what
need be said? Max Roach played splen-
didly Thursday night, making his
several solos crackling exhortations
primed on rapid-fire variation. Always
looking relaxed and in control, he was
an absolute rage on the drums.
We should have known, however, that
the great times were too good to last

long. Even Duke Ellington had his bad
days,,of course, a9d one must imagine
that any large-scale festival like this is
bound to turn up a few poor performan-
ces here and there. Perhaps it shouldn't
have been such a sad event when the
first shoddy performance at the festival
was turned in by Stan Getz and his
quartet; however, sad seems the only
word to describe it, considering this
was Getz.
I might have been able to get more
worked up about Getz's miserable gig if
he had been able to invest more energy
in simply being bad. Instead, he wan-
dered on and off the stage, often
smoking a cigarette leisurely while he
watched his band from the side or a bar
seat set up for him on the center of the
stage (!).
CLEARLY SOLOING interested Getz
preciously little. Much of the time large
portions of songs were turned over to
the band members, who enjoyed per-
functorily riffing away in an un-
swinging manner, and Getz would even
drop off in the middle of a solo-to the
surprise of his band, who would scram-
ble to fill in for him.
It's not that there wern't plenty of op-
portunities for some meaty
playing-but they simply weren't taken
advantage of. Wayne Shorter's lovely
ballad "Lester Left Town" was given a
shapeless and dull-witted handling, and
a nice Getz solo in another Shorter
composition, "Infant Eyes," was
marred by stupid percussion effects
and some doodling on the synthesizer
by Getz's keyboardman Andy Laverne.
Laverne wrote several charts for the
group, typified by similar stock latin
riffs, too much percussion, and Laver-
ne's own boorish playing.
STAN GETZ is very much an impor-
tant figure in American jazz of the last
few decades, and he certainly has come
upon this title honestly. But his
trademarks-fluttery tone and liquid
melodies-need an often frightening in-
tense passion lurking beneath the sur-
face to render his playing anything but
sentimental at best, and at worst,
sacharine and lugubrious.
At the show Thursday night, Getz was
miles away from that intense passion;
in fact, he didn't seem interested in it at
all. Instead, he swapped it for some
easy Latin tunes, and a lot of walking
space on the Hill Auditorium stage.
By the time Getz and his group had
left the stage, around 12:30, small
groups of people from around the
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auditorium began exiting. This was a
.shame, for one of the evening's true
highlights followed.
RETURNING ON stage as the last
act of the evening was Max Roach, who
with tenor saxophonist Archie Shepp
performed the American premeir of a
double-suite entitled "Force."
Combined for this festival to make up
"Force" was the suite "Sweet Mao,"
dedicated to the memory of Chairman
Mao, and "South Africa, '76," written to
honor those black South Africans who
died in the Soweto riots.
Broken up into four parts, "Force"
generally combines-repetitive, intense
playing by Roach with the twisting, of-
ten anguished playing of Shepp.
ALTHOUGH THE double-suite is
political, it avoids polemicizing: rather
than relying on much tortured
saxophone shouting, or an abundance of
stark accusatory lines, "Force" begins

with an oppressively dense tension
created by Roach, and it is over this
tension that Shepp slowly tells his
stories.
It is music like this that truly tests a
critic's ability to transmit the music's
feel into words. Strictly speaking this
suite does not swing, nor does it hold
much rhythmic contrast, until the four-
th and final movement, when Roach
plays a new'pattern of repetition based
on what may be African drum rhythms,
or else the sound of gunshots.
There is much more here, though:
some incredible playing by Shepp, who
twists melodies inside out and breaks
them against the rhythms, and
dynamic interplay between the two that
often raises the duet to an incredibly
feverish pitch.
"FORCE" IS not for everybody-it is
a demanding work to listen to, perhaps
See JAZZ, Page 7

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with DANCING NIGHTLY
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Cisco's Disco
Ann Arbor's Premier Discoteque

Max Roach, left, and Stan Getz, right, were two f the four featured performers
Festival 1978 in Hill Auditorium Thursday night.

,,I

ords, "so many critics have called me
he history of jazz. Well I'm going to
lay the history of jazz for you tonight."
It seems to be a concern of Eclipse to
resent a balanced slate of performan-
es at each concert, in terms of
'traditional," "commercial,"
'progressive," and "avante garde"
zz. But it almost seems that with a
ow that features Mary Lou, all other
ttempts at diversity are pointless.
Indeed, Williams made very good on
er promise. Starting off with a suite
hat flowed elegantly from a spiritual
nood through the ragtime, Kansas City
wing, blues, and bop idioms, she
lways seemed at home, making the
le she was playing her style.
FOLLOWING THE suite, Williams
as joined by bassist Ronny Boykins,
ho demonstrated a remarkable sup-
leness of tone and ability to fluidly
each all registers of the bass. There
was a rendition of "Green Dolphin
treet" that somehow fused the spirit of
elly Roll Morton's edict that a jazz
iano should sound like a jazz band,
ith a Monkish aura of quirky sppr-
seness.
Following the classic "Street," the

there had been more of Mary Lou.
But if a legend had to make way for
other performers, then I'm glad it was
for another comparably significent
legend. The Max Roach Quartet, led by
the 54-year-old Roach, played a set of
hard-driven, hard-blowing music which
outwardly seemed to show little of
Roach's be-bop roots.
The first tune, which also turned out
to be their very best, was Roach's "It's
Time," it clearly illustrated the group's
direction. "It's Time" is a rampaging,
frightening song of the sort that makes
one want to turn away and run-if only
one didn't want to hear how the
saxophone player would scare him
next, or if the bass wasn't so com-
pelling, or if one's heart only wasn't
racing so fast with the beat.
THE SECOND selection, "The Call
Of The Wild And Peaceful Heart," was
equally characteristic of Roach's
music. In the middle of the song bassist
Calvin Hill laid down a solo that
smoothed out dissonances and wide in-
tervals, only to be followed by a Roach
solo that basked in clashing rhythmic
differences and uneven tempos.
Except for a rendition of Duke

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