The Squid's Ear Magazine


Rivers, Sam Quartet (feat. Jerry Byrd / Rael Wesley Grant / Steve Ellington) : Archive series. Volum (NoBusiness)

During the early 80s saxophonist and wind improviser Sam Rivers formed his quartet around electric instruments, with the core rhythm section of drummer Steve Ellington and electric bass guitarist Rael Wesley Grant, the other lead instrument on guitar during that time, sometimes with Kevin Eubanks, and on this previously unreleased, superb live performance in Florence, Italy, guitarist Jerry Byrd.
 

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product information:

Personnel:



Sam Rivers-tenor saxophone, flute, piano

Jerry Byrd-guitar

Rael Wesley Grant-electric bass guitar

Steve Ellington-drums


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Label: NoBusiness
Catalog ID: NBCD 146
Squidco Product Code: 30986

Format: CD
Condition: New
Released: 2021
Country: Lithuania
Packaging: Jewel Case
Recorded in Florence, Italy, on May 17th, 1981.

Descriptions, Reviews, &c.

"As Bill Shoemaker lays out in his fine liner essay that accompanies this album, the early eighties was a time of transition for the great multi-instrumentalist and composer Sam Rivers. The prior decade had been quite fruitful, as he had been the proprietor of one of the most well known jazz lofts of that burgeoning underground scene, as well as releasing high quality records on major and highly regarded independent record labels. But by the eighties things had changed drastically, property redevelopment in New York City priced artists and musicians out of the loft market, while the rising neo-conservative jazz movement pushed Rivers into the hands of much smaller record labels with inadequate distribution. In league with the brilliant late seventies / early eighties avant free funk of Arthur Blythe and James Blood Ulmer, this concert, recorded in Florence in May of 1981, shows Rivers adapting with the times, playing with Jerry Byrd on guitar and Rael-Wesley Grant on electric bass in addition to longtime musical associate Steve Ellington on drums. The great Sam Rivers Trio performances of the seventies presented the leader playing several instruments over a boiling bass and drums backdrop. Things have changed here, as the music is as often as not centered around unaccompanied solo portions, in the beginning where Rivers develops a lengthy and fascinating outré tenor saxophone improvisation, only to come back to the band and join the funky bass boosted framework that they have developed. Ellington gets space for a lengthy and well delivered drum solo, then Rivers builds from the piano, leading to a wonderful cascading full group section, with everybody at their best led by the free flowing notes of piano and guitar. Rivers grows more muscular, kneading the keys and pulling out strong chords, before pulling back to a jaunty theme. There's a section for guitar that's snarling with added vocal encouragement, basic bass and drum backing, encouraging Byrd to wail in a bluesy but slightly disconnected manner. Rivers moves to flute with subtle accompaniment from the band, he's brilliant and unique on this instrument, creating beautifully flowing sounds and moving into an unaccompanied section. interspersed with vocalizations while scatting and humming into the instrument. The band returns at lightning speed pushing the tempo, leading to an open space bass solo, played in a nimble and impressive fashion. Rivers returns with the full band, still playing flute in a lightly funky setting, he scats the finale while announcing the musicians to the audience. This is a valuable recording, not only for the musicality on display, but for shedding some light on Sam Rivers' activates in the eighties. Recording and performing opportunities grew more scarce as the decade went on, leading to Rivers joining Dizzy Gillespie's band and moving to Orlando. But fear not, this set the stage for one of the greatest final acts in jazz history."-Tim Niland, Music and More



This album has been reviewed on our magazine:

The Squid
The Squid's Ear!

Artist Biographies

"Samuel Carthorne Rivers (September 25, 1923 December 26, 2011) was an American jazz musician and composer. He performed on soprano and tenor saxophones, bass clarinet, flute, harmonica and piano.

Active in jazz since the early 1950s, he earned wider attention during the mid-1960s spread of free jazz. With a thorough command of music theory, orchestration and composition, Rivers was an influential and prominent artist in jazz music.

Rivers was born in El Reno, Oklahoma. His father was a gospel musician who had sung with the Fisk Jubilee Singers and the Silverstone Quartet, exposing Rivers to music from an early age. His grandfather was Marshall W. Taylor, a religious leader from Kentucky. Rivers was stationed in California in the 1940s during a stint in the Navy. Here he performed semi-regularly with blues singer Jimmy Witherspoon. Rivers moved to Boston, Massachusetts in 1947, where he studied at the Boston Conservatory with Alan Hovhaness.

He performed with Quincy Jones, Herb Pomeroy, Tadd Dameron and others.

In 1959 Rivers began performing with 13-year-old drummer Tony Williams. Rivers was briefly a member of the Miles Davis Quintet in 1964, partly on Williams's recommendation. This edition of the quintet released a single live album, Miles in Tokyo, from a show recorded on July 14 at Kohseinenkin Hall. Rivers' tenure with the quintet was brief: he had engagements in Boston, and his playing style was too avant-garde for Davis during this period; he was replaced by Wayne Shorter shortly thereafter.

Rivers was signed by Blue Note Records, for whom he recorded four albums as leader and made several sideman appearances. Among noted sidemen on his own Blue Note albums were Jaki Byard, who appears on Fuchsia Swing Song, Herbie Hancock and Freddie Hubbard. He appeared on Blue Note recordings by Tony Williams, Andrew Hill and Larry Young.

Rivers derived his music from bebop, but he was an adventurous player, adept at free jazz. The first of his Blue Note albums, Fuchsia Swing Song (1964), adopts an approach sometimes called "inside-outside". Here the performer frequently obliterates the explicit harmonic framework ("going outside") but retains a hidden link so as to be able to return to it in a seamless fashion. Rivers brought the conceptual tools of bebop harmony to a new level in this process, united at all times with the ability to "tell a story", which Lester Young had laid down as a benchmark for the jazz improviser.

His powers as a composer were also in evidence in this period: the ballad "Beatrice" from Fuchsia Swing Song has become an important standard, particularly for tenor saxophonists. For instance, it is the first cut on Joe Henderson's 1985 The State of the Tenor, Vols. 1 & 2, and Stan Getz recorded it during the 1989 sessions eventually issued as Bossas & Ballads The Lost Sessions.

During the 1970s, Rivers and his wife, Bea, ran a jazz loft called "Studio Rivbea" in New York City's NoHo district. It was located on Bond Street in Lower Manhattan and was originally opened as a public performance space as part of the first New York Musicians Festival in 1970. Critic John Litweiler has written that "In New York Loft Jazz meant Free Jazz in the Seventies" and Studio Rivbea was "the most famous of the lofts". The loft was important in the development of jazz because it was an example of artists creating their own performance spaces and taking responsibility for presenting music to the public. This allowed for music to be free of extra-musical concerns that would be present in a nightclub or concert hall situation. A series of recordings made at the loft were issued under the title Wildflowers on the Douglas label.

Rivers was also recruited by Clifford Thornton to lead a student world-music/free-jazz ensemble at Wesleyan University in 1971.

During this era Rivers continued to record, including several albums for Impulse!: Streams, recorded live at Montreux, Hues (both records contain different trio performances later collated on CD as Trio Live), the quartet album Sizzle and his first big-band disc, Crystals; perhaps his best-known work from this period though is his appearance on Dave Holland's Conference of the Birds, in the company of Anthony Braxton and Barry Altschul.

In the early 1990s Sam and wife Beatrice moved to Florida, in part to expand his orchestra compositions with a reading band in Orlando. This band became the longest-running incarnation of the RivBea Orchestra. He performed regularly with his Orchestra and Trio with bassist Doug Mathews and drummer Anthony Cole (later replaced by Rion Smith.) From 1996 to 1998 he toured and recorded three projects for Nato Records in France with pianist Tony Hymas and others. In 1998, with the assistance of Steve Coleman, he recorded two Grammy-nominated big-band albums for RCA Victor with the RivBea All-Star Orchestra, Culmination and Inspiration (the title-track is an elaborate reworking of Dizzy Gillespie's "Tanga": Rivers was in Gillespie's band near the end of the trumpeter's life). Other late albums of note include Portrait, a solo recording for FMP, and Vista, a trio with drummers Adam Rudolph and Harris Eisenstadt for Meta. During the late 1990s he appeared on several albums on Postcards Records.

In 2006, he released Aurora, a third CD featuring compositions for his Rivbea Orchestra and the first CD featuring members of his working orchestra in Orlando.

Rivers died from pneumonia on December 26, 2011 at the age of 88 in Orlando, Florida.

On June 25, 2019, The New York Times Magazine listed Sam Rivers among hundreds of artists whose material was reportedly destroyed in the 2008 Universal fire."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sam_Rivers)
2/28/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Jerry Byrd is an American jazz guitarist from Pittsburgh. He is known for his work with Gene Ludwig Trio, Sam Rivers Quartet, and Tommy Stewart & His Orchestra.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/1493962-Jerry-Byrd-2)
2/28/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

Rael Wesley Grant is a jazz bassist, known for his work with the Sam Rivers Quartet.

-Discogs (https://www.discogs.com/artist/1108417-Rael-Wesley-Grant)
2/28/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.

"Bradford Steven "Steve" Ellington (July 26, 1941, Atlanta - March 22, 2013, Montgomery, Alabama) was an American jazz drummer.

Ellington picked up drums when he was four years old and played with Ray Charles when he was nine. In the latter half of the 1950s he played with Charles Brown, George Adams, and Duke Pearson. He studied for one year at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1961-1962, where he played with Sam Rivers, then worked with June Christy, Joe Castro, and Hampton Hawes. He began playing with Roland Kirk in 1964, with whom he would perform and record through 1970; aside from Kirk, he played as a sideman himself with Jackie McLean, Chet Baker, Stanley Turrentine, and Mose Allison. Concomitantly, he led his own band in 1965-1966, whose sidemen were Woody Shaw, Walter Davis, Jr., Wilbur Ware, and C. Sharpe.

In the 1970s Ellington worked with Billy Eckstine, Brick Jazz Funk Fusion, Hampton Hawes, Art Farmer, Freddy Cole, Freddie Hubbard, Ike Isaacs, Maxine Sullivan, Harry "Sweets" Edison, Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis, and Dan Wall. He returned to work with Rivers in the period 1980-1982, played with Sonny Stitt and Dave Holland, then put together a new ensemble of his own, which was active from 1985 to 1990. He was the drummer for Michel Petrucciani's trio from 1988 to 1990, and in the 1990s worked with Hal Galper, Steve Grossman, James Moody, and Johnny Griffin."

-Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Ellington)
2/28/2024

Have a better biography or biography source? Please Contact Us so that we can update this biography.


Track Listing:



1. Tenor Saxophone Section I 11:19

2. Tenor Saxophone Solo 4:27

3. Tenor Saxophone Section II 5:39

4. Drum Solo 7:14

5. Piano Solo 5:52

6. Piano Section I 4:23

7. Piano Section II 6:19

8. Guitar Solo 5:25

9. Flute Section I 4:55

10. Flute Solo 4:09

11. Flute Section II 2:08

12. Bass Solo 5:21

13. Flute Section III 4:56

Related Categories of Interest:


Improvised Music
Jazz
Free Improvisation
NY Downtown & Metropolitan Jazz/Improv
Quartet Recordings
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