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ep1str0phy

Members, Don't Git Weary

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Good God, I can't get enough of this album.

On the face of it, Members seems like your standard late-60's fare--electric bass, hip grooves, Joel Dorn production. It's also phenomenally short, clocking in at just a little over 30 minutes (flat). What the album lacks in volume, however, it more than compensates for in verve.

There's just so much to love. Roach leads a proto-Music Inc. group comprised of Gary Bartz (alto), Charles Tolliver (trumpet), Jymie Merritt (electric bass), and Stanley Cowell (piano and el. piano). The music is nothing too groundbreaking--mainstream jazz in a post-bop vein, reminiscent of some Strata East cuts--but it’s quite affecting nonetheless.

Even with the short playing time, there’s more than enough to merit repeated listenings. Tolliver, especially, has never sounded better--he carries a great deal of the solo weight here, tearing through the ensemble with a facility, range, and power seldom demonstrated elsewhere. Bartz keeps his improvisations grounded, favoring light, earthy statements that contrast with Tolliver's fire. Cowell and Merritt keep the proceedings moving, aggravating, abetting the front-line torrent. Roach plays above his usual standards, showcasing a dizzying polyrhythmic attack that threatens to overwhelm the proceedings, tipping the ensemble work just so--but never falling into chaos.

Fine compositions all around--three Cowell tunes, one apiece by Roach, Merritt, and Bartz (no Tolliver cuts, curiously). Strong contributions, but the ensemble takes them some place special. Listen to Effi, especially--when Tolliver starts soaring over the din, stretching his upper register, challenging the roar of the rhythm section, the effect is breathtaking. There are moments like that all over this album.

Caveat--the Koch Jazz edition (the one I purchased) has slightly sub par sound quality. This one deserves the deluxe treatment.

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It was love at first listen for me, that's for sure. And this was in the late 70s, when you could not find the record anywhere except collector's stores or dusty mom & pops. It was several years after first hearing it that I actuall found a copy of my own. Before then, I had a really musrky sounding reel-to-reel dub that I played over and over and over.

To watch this album slowly but surely move over the years from obscure cult item to acknowledged classic has been very gratifying.

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I always saw this record as an unfortunate "behind the curve" document. I got it when it was first issued.

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Behind the curve, yeah, but in such a way that it showed others that, in case they were wondering, the door was open for them too. Change, good or bad, is only as lasting as how far down the line it goes, I think.

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Oh, you be talkin' 'bout work. I was talkin' 'bout something different.

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I be talkin' about evolution in the wake of revolution. I'm all for both of 'em.

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During that time, Max was "out of it" concerning what was going on in clubs, in private, on the street, etc. With his recordings, he seemed to be trying to do his best to be "hip" but other records by his "sidemen" were much closer to the mark. Max "thought" too much for his own good.

Maybe you had to be there, but I think you should be able to follow the threads now.........

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I like this album a lot. Definitely in the Strata East scheme of things.

Let's not forget Andy Bey's appearance either! ^_^

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oh yeah.

i remember finding the bey appearance a buzzkill. it's like pseudo-spiritual but kinda boring.

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During that time, Max was "out of it" concerning what was going on in clubs, in private, on the street, etc. With his recordings, he seemed to be trying to do his best to be "hip" but other records by his "sidemen" were much closer to the mark. Max "thought" too much for his own good.

Maybe you had to be there, but I think you should be able to follow the threads now.........

I don't know... I can't really listen to this set with respect to social/historical context. Max's "sidemen" are such a dominant force that I can't fault the album on account of the leader's idiosyncrasies. I came into this one a lot later--after years and years of pop inculcation and what not--and it still sounds fresh in spite of itself. The fact that the guys are carrying on like they are even with electric instrumentation and Max's histrionics makes the album all the more extraordinary. Still, I wasn't around back then, and I can only imagine what it must have been like in 1968...

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This is the album with Bartz' Libra isn't it?

Man, there was a time when I couldn't get enough of that

NTU Troop sound...and with Cowell and Tolliver and

especially Bey, well...

Whew! I just wonder whether it'll have the same effect today?

Anyone remember "Alkabulan - Land of the Blacks?"

Used to know ever word and note of that 2-LP Strata East -

especially every flubbed note! Didn't matter tho' cause the spirit

was written in the groove (in both ways!)

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It was very hard to get a copy over here back then .... I only got it in the late 1980's in an obscure Italian reissue.

Max trying to be hip, that's true, but he was very conscious of black power back then, suffereing from agents' ignorance for years after his engagement in the Civil Rights Movement, IIRC. I won't blame him. The music has some genuine power, and Atlantic were the only to record him in a decade!

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