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Recorded in 1967 and just now discovered and issued, Ave B Free Jam captures a group of musicians mostly at the very beginning of their careers. Trumpeter Warren Gale would go on to work with the Stan Kenton Orchestra. Fellow trumpeter Jacques Coursil played with drummer Sunny Murray and trumpet master Bill Dixon, both staples of the free jazz vanguard, before becoming a respected teacher. Drummer Laurence Cook soon had a long and varied career, joining Dixon, Joe Morris, Annette Peacock and his own Disaster Unit over the decades. Bass clarinetest Perry Robinson and bassist Steve Tintwell had already recorded, if only just, when this ensemble assembled.
For this session, though, the musicians eschewed leaders, prep or structure, and just let it flow. Gale and Coursil lead the frontline, weaving high energy lines in, around and even across each other. Cook and Tintwell keep the rhythm elastic, adapting to the spontaneous melodies rather than keep any obvious time. Robinson provides a deep thrum in the background, filling out the bottom foundationally and acting as the loam in which his colleagues’ roots take hold. The group keeps the pedal to the metal for most of the album’s 78-minute runtime, giving it all they’ve got in a nearly unbroken string of freeform self-expression. That can be a lot to take in for one sitting – something the producers seem to be aware of, as the CD is programmed as twenty-one tracks. But it’s difficult to imagine jumping on this ride only to get off a few minutes later, no matter how exhausted, before Ave B Free Jam reaches its destination.
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