Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Rooster_Ties

everything SAM RIVERS - whacha got?? - and talk about 'em all!

92 posts in this topic

Just this past Monday, Spontooneous hooked me up with a turntable and something to play it through (the first time I've had one in close to 10 years -- thanks Joe!!), so the last couple days I've been spinning vinyl I've had for 20 years or more, most of which I probably haven't listen to since I first got it -- and certainly not since the mid to late 90's.

This include four somewhat less well-known Sam Rivers LP's...

Crystals (ABC IMpulse, 1974)

Sizzle (ABC Impulse, 1976)

The Quest (Pausa, 1977)

Contrasts (ECM, 1980)

Thus, I'm starting this here thread to discuss ALL THINGS SAM RIVERS. I figure we all know most or all of the Blue Note stuff (sideman dates included), and his BN stuff is certainly fair game for this thread -- but what about all the rest?? I've got a bunch more Sam on CD, but I'll have to dig through things to find all of it. Meanwhile, list and discuss your favorites...

Edited by Rooster_Ties

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, I'd have to say I thoroughly enjoyed Sam's brief stint w/Miles. He definitely brought a different dynamic to the music than George or Wayne, and I think Tony played differently with him in the band.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I've only got Fuchsia Swing Song and Contours so far from Sam, so I'll be interested to read what Rivers I'm missing out on. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Nice thread!

Don't have a whole lot (wish I had way more).

I have:

Fuchsia Swing Song

Dimensions and Extensions

Contours

Crystals

Vista

On every date that I've heard him on so far, he always brings something special to the table. In addition, he always stands out on his sideman appearances. Dialogue and Into Somethin' stand out as immediate examples. I also dug him with Miles too. The Tokyo date is one of my favorite Miles because Sam is on it.

Crystals is a staggering record. There is so much happening that after repeated listenings, I still manage to find something new. Dimensions and Extensions is interesting just to hear Donald Byrd in a free jazz blow out. Surprisingly, Contours is the most straight-forward date of the ones I owned. Vista, which just came out a couple of years ago is surprisingly more free and edgy than one might expect. I haven't played it in awhile but I think its just Sam and two percussionists. Will have to dig that one out again.

Looking forward to seeing what other people have to say.

Edited by Holy Ghost

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sam played my college in Fall 1973, a trio with Dave Holland and Barry Altschul. Yeah, those were the days. They played for 2 hours, one continuous piece. I just remember the level of intensity in that room. It was a great show.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are plenty of other threads but no general one (I assume lots of Rivers music was discussed already in those threads, though).

I have the Mosaic - it's merely a prelude, fine though it is.

The Impulse sessions should be out in a more comprehensive fashion. The LPR is fine (Crystals), the "Trio Live" or whatever it was called was good as well. "Streams" is great but I don't have it (I think it was on CD in the early GRP days).

One of the most astonishing discs I know of his is "Portrait", his solo outing on FMP. He plays all of his instruments (tenor, soprano, piano & flute) and does some short (10 seconds or so) vocalising while changing from one horn to the other or adjusting his piano stool.

The two LPs he did in duo with Dave Holland are fine, though not albums I play all that often.

Other LPs I have (why aren't there more CD reissues of his albums?) and like are "Paragon" (Fluid - one of my top favourites), "Rendez-Vous"(Red), which pairs him with Italian alto player Mario Schiano, then there's his ECM "Contrasts" (with George Lewis) and "Waves" (with that Daley chap on tuba) - all or most of these feature the Rivers/Holland/Altschul trio as core unit.

The RCA big band albums from the late 90s (Inspiration & Culmination) I'm not quite sure what to make of. I like them (as I like more recent live shows with the UK and Austrian RivBea Orchestras from London, Diersbach's Inntöne festival, wherever) but I don't play them often.

Last thing I also have is "Tangens" his FMP duo with Schlippenbach - need to spin it again, can't say anything about it right now.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Be careful what you ask for.

...and don't ask me to elucidate.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Holland's Conference of the Birds is a nice one too. I particularly like Involutions date. I listened to Contours every day for something like a year. The Holland/Rivers duets are worth revisiting every once in a while.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Holland's Conference of the Birds is a nice one too. I particularly like Involutions date. I listened to Contours every day for something like a year. The Holland/Rivers duets are worth revisiting every once in a while.

Conference of the Birds is a classic, of course!

There's another sideman album that came to my mind: the Jason Moran one on Blue Note, "Black Stars" - not bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Conference of the Birds is more than nice, IMO. I also have high praise for the duets. I haven't listened to the duets in many years, but here's what I wrote about that album in a 1976 issue of Stereo Review:

SAM RIVERS/DAVE HOLLAND
. Sam Rivers (soprano and tenor saxophones); Dave Holland (bass).
Waterfall; Cascade
. IMPROVISING ARTlSTS 373843 $6.98 (from Improvising Artists, Inc., 26 Jane Street, New York, N.Y. 10014).

Performance: Masterly

Recording: Excellent

At this writing, the Improvising Artists, Inc. label, operated by pianist Paul Bley, has but four albums in its catalog, but the degree of excellence exhibited so far bodes well for the future of this musician-owned label. IAI’s latest addition consists of two extended free-form duets performed by saxophonist Sam Rivers and bassist Dave Holland, who enjoy high reputations in that relatively small circle of connoisseurs that embraces the so-called “new music.” Holland played with Miles Davis from the
Filles de Kilimanjaro
period until well beyond
Bitches Brew
, he has recorded extensively with leaders ranging from John Simon and Carlos Santana to Joe Henderson and Anthony Braxton, he participated in the celebrated Circle Paris concert, and he has led groups on ECM recordings. Sam Rivers, who has several recordings as a leader on the Blue Note and Impulse labels, is co-owner (with his wife) of Studio Rivbea, a gathering place for New York musicians and fans who come there to hear such artists as Anthony Braxton, the Human Arts Ensemble, and, of course, Rivers himself. A serious, introspective musician, Sam Rivers does not have the aggressiveness of Archie Shepp, nor is his playing as bizarre as that of the late Albert Ayler. Consequently, though he is often likened to Shepp and Ayler, he is not as well known. I would place him above the two, and I think it is only a matter of time before he gets the recognition his artistry deserves. This album, being on a small label, probably will not get as wide a distribution as Rivers’ previous releases, but it is his best work to date: two masterly pieces of impressionistic playing by two uncompromising musicians. And lest I seem to shortchange Dave Holland, let me note that his importance to the success of these dialogues is equal to Rivers’. My preference is “Waterfall,” which takes up all of side one and on which Rivers plays the soprano, but I wouldn’t exactly kick side two off my turntable.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Only heard him play live once - with Barry Altschul and Dave Holland at Studio Rivbea - but that was a great night.

My favorite Sam Rivers recording is the Improvising Artists where he duets with Dave Holland on tenor and soprano.

Recently got Contours. I've played it once so far, and enjoyed the recording, especially Mr. Rivers ' playing, very much.

Reading this thread reminds me that I should take my Contrasts LP off the shelf and play it. It didn't get through to me back in the early 80's when I bought it, and I haven't listened to it since then. Time to listen again.

I wish that he had stayed with Miles a while longer. It would have been interesting to see where that band might have gone.

I tend to sometimes overlook Sam Rivers, even though he's a great musician. Perhaps that's because he's kept a somewhat low profile. No excuse for me overlooking him, though.

We should be grateful that he's with us and is still playing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good sessionography there. Another one I like a lot is Reggie Workman Summit Conference. Rivers and Hill!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Conference of the Birds is more than nice, IMO. I also have high praise for the duets. I haven't listened to the duets in many years, but here's what I wrote about that album in a 1976 issue of Stereo Review:

SAM RIVERS/DAVE HOLLAND
. Sam Rivers (soprano and tenor saxophones); Dave Holland (bass).
Waterfall; Cascade
. IMPROVISING ARTlSTS 373843 $6.98 (from Improvising Artists, Inc., 26 Jane Street, New York, N.Y. 10014).

Performance: Masterly

Recording: Excellent

Thanks a lot for posting that review! Makes me want to hear the two albums again, but alas my record player's not installed at this time (or rather it's still at my parents' place - I need a new one anway...)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

he could really write a nice tuba line.

people will tell you "sizzle" is disco rivers but it isn't true. it is a good and pretty normal rivers album. i like it better. maybe the rhythms are steadier i dunno. but it doesn't have any more funky riffing than "waves" which i find annoying. sometimes rivers keeps going and going and flowing and i would like him to stop. i enjoy it more when he is concise.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I tend to sometimes overlook Sam Rivers, even though he's a great musician. Perhaps that's because he's kept a somewhat low profile. No excuse for me overlooking him, though.

We should be grateful that he's with us and is still playing.

I have that same problem and I don't know why.

The Blue Notes are all swell and his stuff from the '70s is very courageous music. I have heard less (very little, in fact) of his recent work.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

My personal favorites:

Bobby Hutcherson - Dialogue

Sam Rivers - Purple Violets

Larry Young - Into Somethin'

I need to spend more time with the Blue Notes, and think I'll pull the Moran back out, liked it but didn't play it a lot.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sam's one of those guys who's gonna do what he does no matter what or where. As a result, most all of his recordings are "about the same" from a casual listening perspective. But what he does is totally in control, very, very high level musicianship in the service of a musicality that is equally high. So even if one wishes to say that "if you've heard one or two, you've heard 'em all", ok, that's a convenient way to skate around the reality that even on just those one or two, you've heard some of the most together, personal, and substantial music that you're gonna here out of an "improvisational musician".

To the end of context, though, I found his playing on Hilton Ruiz' RCA sides of the '90s to be delightfully fresh and at times even startling in terms of the whole "expectations of context vs reality of solo" dynamic. Once again, Sam "just" did what he did, but where he was doing it was not where you would expect him to be doing it, and yeah!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I only recently found a cheap copy of Sizzle and I really dig that one. Obviously have all the Blue Notes and many/most of his ECM sides. I was in the audience for the "80th Birthday" recording he did at the Jazz Bakery. I love his recent trio, as well as his "old" one with Barry A. and Dave H. Right now I'm listening a rather obscure disc: NOJO's "City of Neighborhoods," with Sam guesting all over it. Still, my enjoyment of Rivers' records is real hit-or-miss. I think I like him more now that he's mellowed a bit and my ears are more open. He's also one of those guys who I prefer seeing live than listening to on the stereo.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw him live several times with Dizzy Gillespie in Dizzy's later years--he was usually the highlight of the concerts.

One time I caught him with his trio at Sweet Basil--also a pleasing experience.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

When I was working on my Ph.D. at UF in Gainesville (1992-1997), I saw Sam perform many, many times. He'd usually come up from Orlando and play at the Covered Dish (man, that joint was a great place to see shows)... he'd play in all sorts of settings (quartet, trio, duet, etc.), and he'd often let some of the locals sit in. Sometimes his sets would go on for a couple of hours, and on occasion he'd get in a zone where he'd return back to his firebreather days of the "young man" he was in the sixties and seventies.

The man is amazing, and although he definitely has slowed down these days, he is one of the giants of the music!

Cheers,

Shane

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I saw him live several times with Dizzy Gillespie in Dizzy's later years--he was usually the highlight of the concerts.

One time I caught him with his trio at Sweet Basil--also a pleasing experience.

When I was working on my Ph.D. at UF in Gainesville (1992-1997), I saw Sam perform many, many times. He'd usually come up from Orlando and play at the Covered Dish (man, that joint was a great place to see shows)... he'd play in all sorts of settings (quartet, trio, duet, etc.), and he'd often let some of the locals sit in. Sometimes his sets would go on for a couple of hours, and on occasion he'd get in a zone where he'd return back to his firebreather days of the "young man" he was in the sixties and seventies.

The man is amazing, and although he definitely has slowed down these days, he is one of the giants of the music!

Cheers,

Shane

Thanks for sharing these memories. I heard him in performance a number of times in the late 1970s and early 1980s at Dartmouth College in Hanover, NH. He took part in several of Bill Cole's Cycles presentations as I recall and also was composer in residence for a term. The most memorable performances were in a trio with Bill and Joe Daley, a group with Dave Holland, Barry Alstchul and Joe Daley, and a sometimes messy but very cool concert of his large ensemble music with student musicians and guests. One of the things that struck me then is how underrated his piano playing is. There's no question that he ranks among the finest living saxophonists and flutists but he rarely gets mentioned as a pianist.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Black Africa on Horo with Joe Daley and Sydney Smart. :tup:tup:tup

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

61NCJSGJHCL._AA240_.jpg

I really enjoy this album and would like to pick up more of his recent works.

I latched onto Sam's playing immediately (I think Miles In Tokyo was the first one I heard) and have been a fan ever since. Saw him in Denton (with Sangrey), he performed both with his trio and the student orchestra. Great memory.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's some photos from a set at Studio Rivbea with Joe Daley, in July 1976:

487341556_29beaf3e14.jpg

357505592_9f87ed18e8.jpg

357484691_3af4431fee.jpg

465513891_ab8c64f6a1.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please sign in to comment

You will be able to leave a comment after signing in



Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.