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Guy Berger

Oliver Lake corner

33 posts in this topic

I realized we don’t have a thread for this guy, who is still active and making creative music.

He’s recorded a lot of music and even though I’ve heard about a dozen albums with him I’ve barely scratched the surface.

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Oliver Lake - Again and Again (Gramavision)

I like this one a lot (cover notwithstanding).

 

 

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I have been a fan for about as long as I have been listening to jazz/improvised music for more than thirty years. I have collected a large chunk of his discography and have had the opportunity to hear him live several times in various settings - including once when I was involved in presenting him. As the OP suggested there is a lot to go through. I have a particular fondness Impala with Geri Allen, the organ trio and quartet recordings, the Trio 3 recordings with Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille and the big band recording, Wheels. All of these have the right balance of structure/composition and edge/tension that resonates with me.

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17 minutes ago, relyles said:

I have been a fan for about as long as I have been listening to jazz/improvised music for more than thirty years. I have collected a large chunk of his discography and have had the opportunity to hear him live several times in various settings - including once when I was involved in presenting him. As the OP suggested there is a lot to go through. I have a particular fondness Impala with Geri Allen, the organ trio and quartet recordings, the Trio 3 recordings with Reggie Workman and Andrew Cyrille and the big band recording, Wheels. All of these have the right balance of structure/composition and edge/tension that resonates with me.

 

I'd put Gallery on the same exalted level as Impala.  It also features Geri Allen.  (In fact, I may even like Gallery a little bit more than Impala -- but they're both wonderful.)

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I also agree that the Trio 3 recordings are outstanding.

 

Lastly, Lake's Heavy Spirits is another long-time fave:

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Edited by HutchFan

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Agreed about Gallery.

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Lake has a special affinity with Eric Dolphy. Two of my favorite albums:

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Remember those two Jump Up records he did on Gramavsion? I liked the first one every bit as much as I did not like the second.

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40 minutes ago, JSngry said:

Remember those two Jump Up records he did on Gramavsion? I liked the first one every bit as much as I did not like the second.

I've never heard either of those.  What's the name of the first one?

 

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Jump Up.

He tried to make a brand out of it, but...the first time felt natural. After that, it felt like trying.

But, you know, when Sheila E broke with "The Glamorous Life", the LP version, it was kinda like, oh really? Maybe this is gaining traction?

But no. Still, you couldn't tell that until it didn't!

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I think the second Jump Up album was called "Plug It."   I didn't care for it either.   But some of those Gramavision albums were very good, including Gallery and Again and Again cited above.   I also like Impala quite a bit. 

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The Trio 3 dates are worth checking out.

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I have most of 'em up through Gallery, and they're all choice. The Trio 3 material I've heard (and seen) has been excellent. Can't think of too many clinker experiences when seeing him, whether in small group contexts or with orchestra. Solo is the one formation I feel like I haven't witnessed live.

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Good player, but he ain't no Henry Threadgill or Julius Hemphill.  he ain't even Arthur Blythe.  But he still ok.

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7 hours ago, danasgoodstuff said:

Good player, but he ain't no Henry Threadgill or Julius Hemphill.  he ain't even Arthur Blythe.  But he still ok.

All four have (had) very distinct and personal approaches to the music and sound, and the music of al four delivers absorbing listening experiences.

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Let's not forget Lake's long sting with the WSQ!

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4 hours ago, relyles said:

All four have (had) very distinct and personal approaches to the music and sound, and the music of al four delivers absorbing listening experiences.

Yes, absolutely, and it's great to have all that variety.  Just stating my own preference/hierarchy.

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19 hours ago, danasgoodstuff said:

Yes, absolutely, and it's great to have all that variety.  Just stating my own preference/hierarchy.

Understood.

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On 11/16/2021 at 9:45 AM, relyles said:

All four have (had) very distinct and personal approaches to the music and sound, and the music of al four delivers absorbing listening experiences.

exactly

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On 11/16/2021 at 11:40 PM, danasgoodstuff said:

Good player, but he ain't no Henry Threadgill or Julius Hemphill.  he ain't even Arthur Blythe.  But he still ok.

 

Funny you mention those 3 - I was thinking of Lake in relation to them.  Threadgill and Hemphill are visionary composers/conceptualists, Blythe was much more of a "pure player" (Chuck once compared him to Lou Donaldson and not entirely unfairly).  I think of Lake somewhere in between on that spectrum.

Stuff I've enjoyed w/Lake - the Black Saint albums, the early WSQ albums, the Trio 3 albums I've heard.  He's also great on Dennis Gonzalez's Idle Wild.  I haven't heard any of the Gramavision albums!!!

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4 hours ago, Guy Berger said:

 

Funny you mention those 3 - I was thinking of Lake in relation to them.  Threadgill and Hemphill are visionary composers/conceptualists, Blythe was much more of a "pure player" (Chuck once compared him to Lou Donaldson and not entirely unfairly).  I think of Lake somewhere in between on that spectrum.

Stuff I've enjoyed w/Lake - the Black Saint albums, the early WSQ albums, the Trio 3 albums I've heard.  He's also great on Dennis Gonzalez's Idle Wild.  I haven't heard any of the Gramavision albums!!!

I might not put it quite that way, but I largely agree.  Musician can be a long way short of 'visionary' and still produce lots of enjoyable work.

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I find I prefer Heavy Spirits most. From the turn of the 1980s he seems to find his thing, which is less interesting to me. 

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I’ve seen him a few times - with Trio 3 (open air at Lincoln Center) and with his solo show (club performance on a Western Canada tour).

Edited by sidewinder

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Trio 3 Live in Wiilsau is awesome from early in their time as a band - 1992 I believe. Later Trio 3 recordings can be hit or miss. Oliver has really one kind of mode of playing and he’s certainly not as fluent as Arthur Blythe nor as subtle as Henry Threadgill. But that one thing can be energetic and powerful when it works. A couple of the Trio 3 shows that I’ve seen were pretty damn good but usually Andrew was the driving force in concert with the somewhat simple understated playing by the great Reggie Workman. Helluva groove they can get to - plus some of the tunes are really good and often unique (especially the drummer’s compositions)

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Back in the 1980s, Oliver Lake and Jump Up played at the Caravan of Dreams. I didn't care for the group.

But, I've also seen him with Trio 3, as a sideman with Malachi Thompson, and with Graham Haynes and Barry Altschul--all very good.

Edited by kh1958

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Flow 

Generations Quartet

Oliver with

Joe Fonda on bass

Michael Jefry Stevens on piano 

Emil Gross on drums 

recorded live on 10/30/2015 in Germany 

having truly amazing musicians like Stevens & Fonda with a good young drummer elevate this one - plus a great recording. Tunes by Lake (2), Stevens (3) & Fonda (2)

Not Two records 

 

 

 

Edited by Steve Reynolds

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