Homage to Peace

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Emergency was a short-lived jazz group centered in Paris in the early 1970s fronted by vanguard sax great Glenn Spearman. The band's one recording, a live set, was issued on the Parisian America Records label, and is one of those rare gems that not only marks its time and place in the history of the music perfectly, but also transcends it. Certainly this quintet, comprised of two Americans, two Japanese, and a Frenchman, was truly an international ensemble. Spearman and bassist Bob Reid were accompanied by pianist Takashi Kako, electric guitarist Boulou Ferre and drummer Sabu Toyozumi. The four pieces that make up this recording come out of the post-Coltrane modal aesthetic -- indeed Spearman and Kako are perfect foils for one another in the same way Trane and McCoy Tyner were -- but with the addition of an electric guitarist, moved out into other directions both texturally and harmonically. This set is not jazz-rock, and reflects none of Miles Davis' innovations, but is instead free jazz that points into the abyss where instrumentation is merely the tool for travel. The "Emergency Theme" is the band's manifesto in that it brings all the dynamic and textural elements into a harmonic caterwaul that is amazingly accessible and taut. Kako's Tyner-influenced playing offers large spacious chords for Ferre to feed from and Spearman takes their root as his cue to explore the outer reaches of his tonal range. The rhythm section never attempts to keep the music centered or grounded but instead pushes the three soloists harder. "People in Sorrow" is a shortened version of the composition by Roscoe Mitchell of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and uses the electric guitar as its true mouthpiece as well as a bowed bass by Reid. "Kako Tune," is a testament to Kako's true knowledge of the music and its history, as well as his inclination to deconstruct the piano's harmonic tropes from Bill Evans and Art Tatum through contemporaries like Bobby Few and Dave Burrell. The gig closes with Reid's beautifully cacophonous "Infidels." A true, fiery blowout of honk and skronk, Spearman observes the dictums of his teacher Frank Wright, and attempts to turn his horn inside out. This is a must for anyone who is interested in the development of free jazz in the 1970s.

Track Listing

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
2 7:56
blue highlight denotes track pick