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Byline: Peter Bacon

TERRI LYNE CARRINGTON Jazz Is A Spirit (ACT): This drummer and band-leader is certainly keeping that spirit alive. Jazz Is A Spirit swings hard and has a lot of attitude.

It opens with a spoken statement of intent by bassist Malcolm-Jamal Warner, over a swirling cauldron of sound which harks back to Bitches Brew-era Miles Davis, then kicks into a hard-bop work-out called Little Jump which evokes the Jazz Messengers with its trumpet and tenor frontline and incessantly pushing pulse from the drum chair.

What is striking is the way in which for a younger player like Carrington, the 60s are as much a part of the jazz tradition as what went before - in that she's something of a traditionalist.

The personnel varies from track to track but there's a cohesion to the album nevertheless. Among the more illustrious of the band members are Wallace Roney and Terence Blanchard on trumpets, Herbie Hancock on piano, Kevin Eubanks on guitar and Gary Thomas on saxophone.

Carrington runs an egalitarian band with loads of space for the soloists to stretch out. Her two short drum solos are non-derivative and neither outstays its welcome. her writing too is original with some intriguing melodic twists in addition to the rhythmic complexity one expects from a drummer. HHHH

If you like the sound of this you may want to hear her live at the Pizza Express, Dean Street, Soho on April 7 in the company of Gary Thomas, keyboardist Rachel Z and the exceptional Vietnamese guitarist Nguyen Le among others.

EDDIE HARRIS Yeah You Right (Eastside): It's unclear whether this rather tackily packaged 1992 studio date recorded in Switzerland has ever been released before, so let's assume it's first time out for the late saxophonist

and his band of unknowns.

It would be tempting to see it as a sad end to an illustrious career for the man who is best known as the composer of Freedom Jazz Dance and as an early practitioner of the electric saxophone.

But Harris's music always has the power to beguile, mainly because of its all-encompassing good humour, and because no matter how average the accompaniment, when the man puts a saxophone to his lips, electric or

otherwise, there's no way he can make anything other than real music. There's also the chance here to hear another instrument he created: the reed trumpet, presumably a trumpet with a saxophone mouthpiece!

The lyrics on this disc are absolutely dire, but with the brain in neutral the feet are free to dance merrily along. HH


ART BLAKEY & THE JAZZ MESSENGERS Meet You At The Jazz Corner Of The World (Blue Note): The latest in the Rudy Van Gelder editions (named after the celebrated engineer who has remastered his original recordings) is a fine monument to one of jazz's greatest leaders and one of his greatest bands.

It's 1960 and the Messengers are at the Birdland club in New York. On trumpet is Lee Morgan, on tenor is Wayne Shorter. Blakey is joined in the rhythm team by Jymie Merritt on bass and Bobby Timmons on piano.

The inimitable voice of Pee Wee Marquette introduces the sets and the band is firing on all cylinders from the start. A few tunes come from the pen of one of the band's many illustrious alumni, Hank Mobley, others from Morgan and Shorter and there's a sizzling take on Monk's Round Midnight (or Round About Midnight, as Blakey pedantically insists on calling it).

The tracks are long, the solos by turns explosive and elegant, and the whole unit interlocks perfectly for the tightest ensemble work and the most relaxed accompaniment.

For its time, the live recording is good, though Timmons piano sometimes sounds a little brassy. With playing of this calibre, however, a tin can and a piece of string would have been all right. HHHHH

ALICE COLTRANE Transfiguration, Transcendence and Radha - Krsna Nama Sankirtana (All Warner Bros Masters): Maybe Alice Coltrane's time has come at last. The pianist/harpist/organist who had a classical training and then picked up jazz at the side of Bud Powell continued her husband's spiritual quest in music with Indian-influenced, trance-like music that was raved over by the few as profound and genre-breaking, but dismissed by the many as empty noodling.

It doesn't sound nearly so strange 30 years on, and any track off these three discs could sit quite comfortably among the eclectic music of Radio Three's Late Junction programme.

Transfiguration is a live trio date from 1976 and is the most conventionally jazzy. There are long solos from bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Roy Haynes, while Coltrane turns in some fiery organ work alongside the endless piano arpeggios.

Radha - Krsna Nama Sankirtana sets organ, harp or Fender Rhodes against a choir of voices singing of the Hindu gods.

My favourite is Transcendence which mixes those same instruments in with a string chamber group or Indian instruments.

Seriously slow music for this bustling world, and extremely therapeutic. Is it jazz? Who cares. HHHH for Transcendence, HHH for the other two.

Peter Bacon
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Feb 2, 2002
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