Sunday, 21 March 2010

Don Ellis ''Soaring''

Don Ellis


( Cassette, MPS Records, 1973 )
Catalog # 15400

1. Whiplash
2. Sladka Pitka
3. Devil Made Me Write This Piece
4. Go Back Home
5. Invincible
6. Image Of Maria
7. Sidonie
8. Nicole

I have waited and waited for this reissue to come out. "Soaring" is one of my favorite Ellis albums competing with "Tears of Joy" as perhaps the best. I can only say that once I received this record, I immediately listened to it three times in a row. I would have gone for a fourth time, but it was getting late.
To me "Soaring" is the studio-recorded book-end to the "Tears of Joy" live album. It mostly has the same personnel, same type of compositions, same excellent musicianship. This album holds, I think, some of the best writing of all the Ellis discography. Not to judge a book by its cover, but the simple, elegant rendering of a seagull image in white, black and blue perfectly compliments the "Tears of Joy" cover. From the liner notes I learned that Maria Eckstein provided the graphic artwork for "Soaring" and, given the similarity in composition, I would think perhaps "Tears of Joy" as well.
"Soaring" opens with "Whiplash", a Hank Levy piece, a bracing opener that quickly finds its groove in the fashion that exhibits Hank Levy to be a master of composition in odd-metered tempos.
"Sladka Pitka" is a contribution from keyboardist Milcho Leviev of "Bulgarian Bulge" fame who again mines Hungarian folk music as an inspiration for a multi-faceted big band. This track, however, is a more straight ahead piece that builds to a stunning climax (think: good ending for a DCI show)
"The Devil Made Me Write This Piece" features Don on drums in (I learned from the liner notes) his last recording as a drummer. You can guess the meter, or read the liner notes and learn what was really going on.
"Go Back Home" is all Sam Falzone. Pounding, hard-hitting, straight ahead 4/4 with a tenor solo and a false ending guaranteed to bring a crowd to its feet in concert.
"Invincible" is, I think, one of the finest pieces written by Don. It starts as a haunting ballad, then builds and builds, and then concludes with a most satisfying statement. A beautiful piece with fine sectional playing among the saxes and an excellent alto solo by Vince Dedham who has a great tone and the ability to create a solo that meshes seamlessly with the orchestration behind him. Vince would later go on to back Loggins & Messina along with another Ellis alumnus, Jon Clarke, on the "Native Sons" album
"Images of Maria", a piece Don wrote for graphic designer Maria Eckstein (mentioned above) is a composition as beautiful as her artwork.
"Sidonie" is one of my all-time favorite Ellis pieces with a myriad of colors, textures, time signatures and some very tasteful soloing by Don again showing his masterful ability to blend soloing with orchestration. This piece is on a par with "Chain Reaction" from the "Connection" album.
"Nicole" is a haunting ballad that concludes the record very nicely.
Excellent liner notes by Nick Di Scala with information about the tracks that I did not know (for instance the inspiration for "Images of Maria" and the fact that "Nicole" is from an unused portion of "The French Connection" score.) I am most grateful to Nick and all who brought "Soaring" back to the light of day in digital format.
Like I said - Buy it, buy it now.

Andy's note:
Another off cassette tape on the BASF/MPS label.Again it sounds just fine (This 200 cassette tapes for $NZ 60 was a real bargain!).The review is from the web and I note that this has been re-released on the Jazz Club series,if you like the sound treat yourself to a copy of a fine album.

By Andy


Anonymous said...

no pw required


Grazie Mille mi mancava questo di D.Ellis
Grazie Mille Guido/LF

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