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Billy Harper

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Imagine being 23 years old, new to NYC, unrecorded, and you're suddenly leading a group of Freddie Hubbard and the 1961 John Coltrane rhythm section, even just for a night or whatever.  Man, would love to hear/see recordings of that.  I do know that Harper sounded pretty great in 1968, from the Art Blakey/Jazz Messengers recordings that are around, so he probably sounded good in 1966, too.

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43 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Done.

YO!

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2 hours ago, Late said:

Miles should've hired Billy for the Cellar Door gig. 1970.

All the sax players he hired then seemed to lose whatever made them individual.  Hard for me to tell Gary Bartz from Sonny Fortune, and that shouldn't be.

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I'll admit, I have not spent tons of hours listening to the Post-BB stuff, even though I own it.  I "admire" it more that I like it, parts of "Get Up With It" and the "Right Off" side of Jack Johnson, as well as some parts of "Big Fun" being probably the biggest exceptions.

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3 hours ago, felser said:

All the sax players he hired then seemed to lose whatever made them individual.

I think I hear what you're saying. Maybe it's not a case of the saxophonists losing their individuality, but rather that Miles' bands from that period had less and less a saxophone-focused sound. After Coltrane, after Wayne, keyboards and guitars (generally speaking) become the dominant sound, with Miles on top and Michael Henderson moving a bass line much differently than Dave Holland.

David Liebman often cites the story about not feeling relevant in Miles' band, and asking Miles why he should stay. And Miles replies: people like to see your fingers move fast. While perhaps too reductionist, that does seem to sum up the role of the saxophonist — even despite killer solos in Agharta and Pangaea, among others — in the post Bitches Brew era.

I owned the post Bitches Brew stuff a long time before I became familiar with it. I always wanted "to get to it," and then didn't — for years. When I finally got to it — listening, say, to the On The Corner sessions for three months straight, at home and in the car — I finally understood the hype. Wasn't hype. Just amazing music.

Oops — this is a Billy Harper thread!

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7 hours ago, Late said:

I think I hear what you're saying. Maybe it's not a case of the saxophonists losing their individuality, but rather that Miles' bands from that period had less and less a saxophone-focused sound.

Agreed ....

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I'd go along with less of a tenor-focused sound. The bottom and lower middles had filled up with electric bass, electric guitars, and multiple percussions. But from the middle middles on up, there was still room. Thus the alto, soprano, and flute, instruments that all made memorable contributions by various players.

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On The Cellar Door set, when Miles plays, Keith defers to him. When Bartz plays, Keith ramps it up (so DeJohnette does too), and they tend to swallow the alto sound. My impression at least. Not wanting to bash Bartz, the guy can play, but that band could sense tentativeness.

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5 minutes ago, Late said:

On The Cellar Door set, when Miles plays, Keith defers to him. When Bartz plays, Keith ramps it up (so DeJohnette does too), and they tend to swallow the alto sound. My impression at least. Not wanting to bash Bartz, the guy can play, but that band could sense tentativeness.

The same dynamic happens on the Blackhawk sets.  Listen to how Kelly, Chambers and Cobb ramp up when Mobley begins soloing.  Maybe it was on direction of Miles?

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To me, McCoy Tyner had the same effect on his 70's sax players.  Azar Lawrence was the last one that didn't get overwhelmed.  Players as strong as Bartz and George Adams just went under, let alone poor Joe Ford.   Sonny Fortune did the best with him.    

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A mid-70's occasion where Sonny Fortune is soaring. (There used to be a longer version of this on YouTube, but I couldn't find it.)

 

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4 hours ago, felser said:

To me, McCoy Tyner had the same effect on his 70's sax players.  Azar Lawrence was the last one that didn't get overwhelmed.  Players as strong as Bartz and George Adams just went under, let alone poor Joe Ford.   Sonny Fortune did the best with him.    

I never heard George Adams go under, ever.

In the case of Ford, and to a lesser extent Bartz, I'd put the onus of being "overwhelmed" on them, not McCoy. It's never on the leader to play down to their sidemen unless they have a reason. Otherwise, you on the gig, play.

But to be fair, I saw Bartz live with McCoy ca. 1983, and he was magnificent. Totally.

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19 minutes ago, JSngry said:

I never heard George Adams go under, ever.

In the case of Ford, and to a lesser extent Bartz, I'd put the onus of being "overwhelmed" on them, not McCoy. It's never on the leader to play down to their sidemen unless they have a reason. Otherwise, you on the gig, play.

But to be fair, I saw Bartz live with McCoy ca. 1983, and he was magnificent. Totally.

McCoy Tyner Quartet with Gary Bartz at the short-lived Judge's Chambers?

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Nah, some place in Santa Fe. I was living in Albuquerque then. Same band that was on Dimensions with Terrence Blanchard added. Damn good group live, at least that night.

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