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Tony Williams "Life Time"(1964)


CJ Shearn
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I picked this up a few days ago, another purchase that was always meant to, but never got around to it till now, but first time I played this, it was a big shock (been through it twice now). A shock in a good way, Tony playing free stuff at 18 posessing this amazing fluency in that idiom, and good compositions to boot. I think "Memory" is the most challenging listen on the album, but what a good experience. Also RVG (as far as I can tell from my cheap little surround set up here in the dorm) did a very nice remastering job, the K's are very well defined.

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Truly a great record! That's the sort of record that's quite rare, I think. It has a huge openness, a great free flow. Sam Rivers is always a treat, in my opinion.

Then the percussion trio track (with Hancock and Hutcherson) seems to be sort of a preview or predecessor to those "little-instrument" things that came in the late sixties and in the seventies (think of the AEoC, for instance).

And the duet of Hancock and Carter is stunning, beautiful! Hell, Williams at 18 was also a very interesting composer!

CJ, you might also want to check out Williams's second Blue Note record, Spring. It's available as an old domestic BN CD. It has Rivers, Shorter, Hancock, Peacock, and is a more organised affair, as I hear it, but quite good, too! And has a beautiful cover...

ubu

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Not that I'm aware of.

You know, considering that this album is almost 40 years old now, and given how some people still argue against the intrinsic validity of music like this (which, to avoid being misunderstood, is an entirely different thing from any individual liking it or not) the old saw about an artist not being ahead of their time but most people being behind theirs still rings true.

Beautiful music, that's whatcha' got here. Beautiful, beautiful music made by masters.

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Couldn't agree more with everything that has been said here already.I listened to Lifetime this weekend to compare with another Tony Williams CD that I picked up, Cilivization. IMO Lifetime is better but I enjoyed Cilivization as well.

If you like Lifetime I would agree that you should pick up Spring as well. It has always fascinated me why Lifetime so overshadows Spring. It is the better of the two, but both are very similar in feel and both are quite enjoyable.

What a talent.

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So Spring is the only recording of Rivers and Shorter together? That is a shame; their compatible yet contrasting styles made for a wonderful frontline. But I guess it makes sense, too. If I remember correctly, Sam was (is?) fiercely territorial about his sound and afraid other saxmen could influence him.

I’ll take Lifetime and Spring over the ’80s Blue Note recordings any day, hour and minute. It’s not a fair comparison, though. On one hand, the world was fresh and full of possibility, and on the other, Williams’ goal (I’ve read) was to update Miles’ Second Quintet style into the ’80s.

Boy, Lifetime would make for one outstanding SACD!*

*Standard personal biases apply, of course.

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It has always fascinated me why Lifetime so overshadows Spring.

FWIW, back in the day, in the circles I was in, it was the other way around - lots of cats were down with SPRING but not so many w/LIFETIME. SPRING was always in the stores, LIFETIME wasn't.

Don't know if that was a regional phenomenon, or if the Wayne factor swayed the local market, or just what it was. But like I said, SPRING was better known in my circle back in the 70s.

And I used to walk 72 hours each way to the head shop in mile deep snow too... ;)

The thing I like about Tony's 80s BNs is you can really hear him develop as a writer. He wrote a LOT of good stuff for that band, and if it's in a much more conservative style than waht's on these 60s things, well, go figure. The cat did what he did, including MILLION DOLLAR LEGS (an album I STILL hate with a passion!). But good writing is good writing, and Tony turned into a VERY good writer of more traditional type pieces, so that's where the fun is in that stuff comes from for me.

It sure ain't comin' from Billy Pierce...

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I’ll give you the blossom of Tony’s writing, and I do return to Story Of Neptune more than the other late BNs, but the sense of spontaneity, exploration and wonder is not what is was in the ’60s. But then again, the objectives were different, too.

Now you could lay some of the blame at Pierce’s feet, and maybe he wasn’t the best fit... but damn! I like Billy’s neo-bop and at least Ralph Moore wasn’t taggin’ along (or someone who might pass out and soil himself on the stand)!

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Well, the thing is, Tony actually studied composition pretty seriously sometime in the 70s from what I hear. He WANTED to become a writer of stuff like he wrote apparently. The pieces might not be the most adventurous music he ever did, but they ARE finely crafted, much more than just blowing vehicles. Might be kind of a consolation prize compared to what came before, but hey...

I'm partial to FOREIGN INTRIGUE myself, Garrett & Hutcherson bring more spark to the show than the later, regular band usually did. But there's interesting material throughout that output. Grounds for a Mosaic Select someday, I'd hope.

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If Mosaic were to do a set (too big for a Select, I think), maybe we’d finally get a chance to hear the rest of the material recorded during the Tokyo Live tour. To tell the truth, I’m surprised BN is content to leave the unreleased recordings sitting in a vault and Tokyo Live Vol. II hasn’t yet been released. I guess the first volume must not have sold well.

*Edited ’cause it didn’t read quite right on the first go.

Edited by kartoffel·hadi blues
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I'll get "Spring" in a few weeks, I gotta cool the cash burning till my next check. I always say "one more", but that's never it ;-) I would agree that there should be more stuff released from "Tokyo Live", which I have a burn of since it's OOP and I missed my chance to get it, if a real copy turns up I'll grab one. I think the 80's quintet had promise, judging from "Tokyo Live", I really enjoy Bill Pierce's contributions to the record, his soprano sound is very fresh, very clarinet like to my ears. Another thing I might add about "Life Time" is that, the compositions are "real" as opposed to the young guys out today who have written tunes that sound like homework exercises on the records. That's one of the things I've paid attention to on the 2 Joshua Redman discs I have "Spirit of the Moment", and "Wish". A few things sound like what I described above with the Berklee mentality, but similarly there are traces of ideas wanting to get out. BTW, does anyone notice on "Wish" that maybe b/c of Pat Metheny's presence on the record, that Redman goes for a lot of Brecker licks?

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Guest youmustbe

The stage manager of The Connection told me that Jackie brought in Tony one night and had him play drums. Supposedly Tony's first NY gig. (BTW Told me that when Tina Brooks was in the play, it always was 20 minutes longer because Tina always played longer than the alloted time.)

I remember Tony subbing for Steve Gadd with Joe Farrell at Mikell's one night. Slamming.

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BTW, does anyone notice on "Wish" that maybe b/c of Pat Metheny's presence on the record, that Redman goes for a lot of Brecker licks?

Hmm… I have but one disk of Brecker’s, so I can’t readily make the connection. It’s an interesting observation, though. Especially since Redman has a reputation for being cliché free. Maybe it’s a parallel evolution kind-of-thing in response to Metheny’s playing?

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perhaps Kartoffel there is a connection that Redman has to Pat's playing here, but I'm thinking of certain stuff Josh plays on that record, like during his solo, phrasing out of late period Trane that has become a trade mark of Mike's playing as well: short of hoarse, ( I would imagine) false fingered lines that sorta sound like: "dugga dugga doo bee doo" etc.........

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Guest youmustbe

No tapes of Tina that I know.

The stage manager told me that Michael Matos made every performance. the others didn't always show. He had to play drums one night.

I forget all the names, but Duke Jordan, Kenny Drew,Walter Davis, were some of the others.

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Another thing I might add about "Life Time" is that, the compositions are "real" as opposed to the young guys out today who have written tunes that sound like homework exercises on the records.  That's one of the things I've paid attention to on the 2 Joshua Redman discs I have "Spirit of the Moment", and "Wish".  A few things sound like what I described above with the Berklee mentality, but similarly there are traces of ideas wanting to get out. 

Yep, those compositions were/are very "real", alright. That group and album were way ahead of their time, in my humble opinion. Remember the hiring by Miles prior to this session?

I was very fortunate to meet Anthony Williams in 1962 when we were each studying with the same remarkable drum instructor, the late Alan Dawson. For the record, I'm not about about to compare myself with Tony Williams, though we enjoyed some similar experiences at the same place and time. He was living in NYC with Max Roach, at the time, but commuting to Boston frequently for his lessons with Mr. Dawson. What does that tell you?

I'm not sure exactly what your point was with your "Berklee mentality" reference, but would be interested to learn more, CJ.

Tony was a phenomenon from the time he was a teenager until his untimely, likely preventable death.

Tony_Williams_JPG.jpg

RIP, Anthony Williams~

Edited by Ron Thorne
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