Rooster_Ties

Spirit Free - 'plays Starship' (dandy obscure 1971 LP, by Las Vegas group)

15 posts in this topic

Several years ago (at Love Garden Records, in Lawrence, KS), I stumbled on a 2011 CD reissue of an obscure album by an obscure band from Las Vegas(?!), recorded in 1971 -- and having dug it out again this morning, I'd forgotten what a real corker it is.  Anyone else have this one?

IMHO, 4 or 5 tracks (from the expanded 8-track CD) are about as top-drawer as you could ever hope, from something this obscure.  The tenor player, especially, is exactly the kind of player I like best -- forward and out there, but restrained and tasteful - all at the same time (much like Joe Henderson during Joe's 70's Milestone years).

On the original album, Side 1 was two long live tracks -- and Side 2 was studio.  Then the CD adds three more tracks (30-min) from the same studio session - so the whole CD runs 73+ minutes.  For my money, the first 4 tracks on the original album are stone classic (and the 19-minute last (8th) track ain't shabby). The rest (tracks 5-7) are close to as good, though I think they clearly picked the best material for the original LP.  Here's the back/front of the CD (images from discogs):

https://www.discogs.com/Spirit-Free-Plays-Starship/release/3277592

R-3277592-1480356256-5583.jpeg.jpg  R-3277592-1323605315.jpeg.jpg

The opener on side 1 (live) -- which includes a stage announcement that it's based on an Egyptian scale -- is energetic but restrained (at the same time) - and sort of bubbles along with a lot of urgency.  But I'm actually going to post track #2 first (below), which I think more quickly displays the quality of this band.

The whole band really cooks -- but what seals the deal for me is the tenor-player, Rick Davis (Paul "Rick" Davis).  The liners, which are fairly extensive for something as obscure as this - say Davis was born in 1935 in Wichita, and "hit the road in 1957 with Buddy Morrow as well as a variety of big bands, including the Hal McIntyre and Russ Carlyle Orchestras", before being drafted in 1958.  "While stationed at the Brooklyn Army Terminal and playing in the 328th Army Band, in his free time he gigged with a number of jazz groups, including saxophonist Sam Donahue" -- after which he went to Vegas...  Anyway, I won't type out all the liners (6 dense pages of text, plus as many pages of pics).  None of the these guys (or, frankly, any of the names listed in any the the liners) are even remotely familiar to me (so if anyone has this, and if I'm due some education about anyone, please lay it on me).

Here's the whole band on these recordings:

  • Rick Davis - Tenor
  • Rob Feuer - Electric Piano
  • Orlando Hernandez - bass
  • Santo Savino - Drums

And here's Track #2: "Vibrations" (live) -- which quickly showcases how good these guys were...

PS:  I'm on my second spin of this entire CD this morning.

 

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Here's Track #3: "Starship" -- the first of the studio tracks, and the beginning of Side 2 of the original LP.  Tenor doesn't come in until after 3:15.

 

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Here's track #4: "Guardian Angel" (the second of the 3 studio tracks on the original album)-- which starts a little slow, but really get's going around 1:45 and 2:00 -- slowly but surely the tenor-player's lines start spinning out around 2:30.  A really lovely track, and I just love this guy's (the tenor's) playing throughout.  I like that he takes his time, but he always seems to know where he's going.

 

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Well, yeah.  Started listening, and then immediately ordered me one off of discogs, thanks so much!

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I have that CD reissue -- it's a strong one indeed. Haven't spun it in ages.

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On 4/19/2018 at 0:59 PM, felser said:

Well, yeah.  Started listening, and then immediately ordered me one off of discogs, thanks so much!

When you get it, report back!  And as long as I'm here...

Track #1: "Isis Unveiled" - which kicks off side 1 (all 'live').  As with most of this album, it gets incrementally more interesting as the whole thing unfolds.  (Which is to say that the tenor-solo really gets going about 2-minutes in.)  I like how the tenor player just keeps adding more heat, bit by bit, until things are a whole lot hotter than you expected a few minutes earlier.  Then they slide back into the theme near the end of his solo, very gracefully.  The transitions in intensity are very well thought out and executed, and land on these ears damn nicely.

 

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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3 hours ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Felser, any thoughts on this date? - assuming your copy ordered back in April came through.

Yeah, I like it quite a bit, thanks again!  I'm a huge fan of that era, modal stuff with fender rhodes, and Joe Henderson-influenced tenor.  Highly recommended to like-minded listeners, though not essential to the less-inclined.  Me, I can't get enough of it, and this is a well-written, well-played CD of it.

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Enjoyed listening to the clips but probably not enough to buy it.

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Mrs. Rooster is back home in KC for a week visiting her folks (left just this morning), so time to listen to a whole bunch of things that she could only abide so much of -- this being the first thing on after work tonight.

Anyone else have this obscurity?  Not too hard to find on CD, but no less obscure probably.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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12 minutes ago, Rooster_Ties said:

Mrs. Rooster is back home in KC for a week visiting her folks (left just this morning), so time to listen to a whole bunch of things that she could only abide so much of -- this being the first thing on after work tonight.

Anyone else have this obscurity?  Not too hard to find on CD, but no less obscure probably.

I do. Interesting album and the reissue has attractive presentation but definitely not essential.

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I'm glad you resurrected this thread.  I meant to put it on my list.

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Brand new copy at Dusty at the moment, for only $7.99.

BTW, their verbiage (which is probably worth preserving here), reads thusly...

  • A trippy little combo with a distinct post-Coltrane feel – stretching out here wonderfully, on a hip little session on a homegrown label! The group hail from the unlikely spot of Las Vegas – but they've got a deeply spiritual sound that rivals the best work on the coasts in the early 70s – a very searching, righteous sort of groove – crafted beautifully from the tenor sax lines of Rick Davis, and the sweet Fender Rhodes of Ron Feuer! The album's filled with long, exploratory tracks – tunes that are free, but never too much so – and the mixture of electric keys and tenor works nicely throughout – giving the album a really unique and unified feel that sets it apart from other small jazz sets of its type. All tunes are originals by the group – and titles include "Vibrations", "Starship", "Spirit Free", and "Isis Unveiled". CD features 3 bonus tracks too – "Horizon", "Starship (alt)", and "Dear Latin Friend".

BTW, my take remains that 4 or 5 of the 8 tracks total (and the lengthiest ones) are really, really outstanding -- the 4 that I posted YouTube clips of upthread especially.

Edited by Rooster_Ties

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Bump for a little more discussion. :w  Dusty seems to still have this CD frequently for $7.99 (brand new!) -- and in stock right now if anyone's interested.

For a release and band as utterly obscure as this, the liners are surprisingly voluminous!  6 pages of well-researched narrative about the band and players, their backgrounds, how they formed, band history (limited as it was), and what's known about them later -- and as many more pages of nice pictures too.

All the best tracks (1-4) are posted in full above, now along with Track #8:  A quite long alternate take of "Starship" (the master is Track 3) -- nearly TWICE as long (19 minutes), vs. 9 minutes for the master version, but IMHO the quality of the playing is just as good.  The tenor player does a good job of turning up the heat slowly, which seems to be a pattern of his all throughout this album.  This track hits a nice, rolling boil, but never more.  One could argue it's too long, but I also see it as pretty impressive for an utterly unknown local band to sustain this quality of playing in a studio environment for almost 20 minutes.  Especially they way they dial back the heat, and then turn it back up a bit -- back and forth several times -- as much as they do, for this long (and without an audience).

 

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Yeah, a friend of mine did this reissue. It's cool -- they probably overestimated demand because it didn't sell at all upon reissue. I'm sure stock is still pretty full. The Boscoe CD he put out, on the other hand, did quite well.

This is the kind of stuff that the early/mid-00s reissue scene was known for, and Numero/Asterisk was part of that in a big way. I miss the days of really nice CD reissues with good liner notes. They're fewer and farther between right now.

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On 4/19/2018 at 10:44 AM, clifford_thornton said:

I have that CD reissue -- it's a strong one indeed. Haven't spun it in ages.

+1

2 minutes ago, clifford_thornton said:

I miss the days of really nice CD reissues with good liner notes. They're fewer and farther between right now.

+1

:excl:

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