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Mark Stryker

Previously unreleased Sam Rivers live recordings

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Wow thats awesome stuff. That first release looks like something I am going to want to have :)

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I've been on a Sam Rivers kick lately and so am thrilled to hear about this. As someone who is a relative novice in the ways of collecting the surprisingly voluminous amount of circulating "unofficial" SR material that is bouncing around online, I'm thrilled to hear that some vintage material will be getting this sort of treatment.

Obviously the AAJ article is a summary press release-type deal, but I'm a little bummed to see no mention of any Holland-Altschul trio material. I've heard scarce few recordings of this trio in its prime playing in the sort of long-form, free associative format that Rivers more or less pioneered. The Pi reunion album is indispensable, yes, and Paragon and The Quest are wonderful documents in the way of more or less digesting that trio at its most focused and combustible, but the unedited live stuff is bananas. I'm of the mind that Rivers's trio material is really best heard without filter--full of languors and dead-ends, yes, but also a kind of grind and ecstasy of discovery. 

This is the thing I admire the most about Sam's work--his phrase construction, sense of development, time sensibility, etc. sound like someone who has studied formalism, exploded past liberation, and arrived at a kind of constructivist abstraction. Even his more expressionist episodes have a kind of refinement and clarity of gesture that is just extraordinary. Holland and Atschul were a monster of a rhythm section going into the 70's, and every time I hear vintage recordings of that trio it sounds like three different people working and trying to bend a terminal point in expression--like listening to an event horizon in all these threads of inside-outside jazz (energy free jazz, minimalist proto-AACM-type stuff, Miles Quintet pseudo-math, Blue Note post-bop, Ornette-ish freebop, etc.)--brilliant and catastrophic and reaching for the ineffable. 

Knowing, again, only a small piece of this group's oeuvre, the stuff is have is by and large in crappy audio quality, with the exception of an incomplete concert from (IIRC) '72 that sound a bit like the Pi album on steroids.

As an aside, if that trio with Holland and Steve Ellington is the Foggia date that was put up on youtube a while back, then I'm all in. That band comes the closest, I think, to the dynamic of the Holland-Altschul trio, but with a lot more linear momentum--i.e., a lot of post-bop fireworks, not as much pure abstraction. 

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More Sam Rivers is definitely a good thing.  The trio with Doug Mathews and Anthony Cole was a fun band, so I'm happy to see that more live material is on the way.

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