70s Jazz Pioneers

70's Jazz Pioneers: Live at the Town Hall, NYC

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The '70s have been unfairly maligned by some of the more conservative jazz critics, but in truth, the '70s were a very creative decade for jazz. From the fusion of Return to Forever and Weather Report to the funk-jazz of Grover Washington, Jr. and the Crusaders, and the modal explorations of McCoy Tyner and Joe Henderson, the '70s were banner years for jazz. On March 20, 1998, trumpeter Mark Morganelli celebrated the richness of '70s jazz by organizing a special concert that was held at New York's Town Hall. Morganelli's idea was to feature improvisers who made an impact during the '70s, and those improvisers included trumpeter Randy Brecker, soprano and tenor saxman Dave Liebman, guitarist Pat Martino, pianist Joanne Brackeen, bassist Buster Williams, and drummer Al Foster. That concert resulted in this excellent post-bop CD, which finds the '70s jazz pioneers offering acoustic-oriented versions of '70s classics like Freddie Hubbard's "Red Clay," Stanley Turrentine's "Sugar," and Chick Corea's "500 Miles High" (all of which used a lot of electric instruments originally). Not all the songs were written during the '70s -- for example, Miles Davis' "All Blues" was first recorded in 1959 and became a standard in the '60s, while Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island" is a '60s classic. So one could argue that this performance is a celebration of the '60s as well as the '70s. At any rate, Morganelli deserves applause for assembling a group of fine musicians and overseeing an evening of inspired jazz.

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