Jimmy Lyons

Other Afternoons

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The music of Jimmy Lyons as a leader is of main interest here, but this particularly fine late-'60s session has other valuable lessons to offer about the nature of jazz improvising. The impact of both a bandleader and the music they compose is made very clear by the direction this session took, despite the fact that its rhythm section had already established its own way of playing through previous relationships with pianist Cecil Taylor. But this, along with whatever conceptual impact Taylor may have had on his longtime main hornman, Lyons, are all factors that are tossed in the bin like yesterday's news as the music being created takes its own course. The combination of Lyons with Lester Bowie is simply marvelous. The alto saxophonist's speciality is a kind of pungent yet unsentimental tone, kind of a thinking man's Charlie Parker, while trumpeter Bowie seems to pack every note, whether it is blasted or delicately blown, with deep pockets of potential comedy or melancholy. It is a perfect match of contrasts, made even more interesting by both players' reliance on space, in each case developed as an alternative to the amount of intense energy or sonic bombast being tossed up by other members of these players' regular associations, the Taylor group and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, respectively. From drummer Andrew Cyrille and bassist Alan Silva a listener might expect a certain kind of firepower as well as rhythmic developments being colored in terms of suggestions and impulses rather than firmly shoved in a pocket. These two master players are thrilling here in their adventurous attempts to give their friend Jimmy Lyons a whole new sound on his album. And it is true; while the results can be compared to other alto saxophoinist leaders of Lyons' generation, such as the more thoughtful efforts of Marion Brown, this album stands out as containing much superior playing, springing from what seems to be a fully realized conception of just where the music was going. The session has been released by several labels, and not even the bomb-crater-size surface-noise pockmarks of the BYG pressings can destroy the power of these performances. "However" is a great tune, so is the title number and the delicate, pretty set-closer, "My You."