Teddy Charles

New Directions, Vol. 1

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On this 1952 recording from Teddy Charles, the talented bop vibraphonist is increasingly drawn to the influence of modern musical theory and composition. For Charles, whose background includes associations with Miles Davis, Pepper Adams, and Charles Mingus, the move beyond the jazz mainstream suits his approach that has as much to do extracting tone and color from his instrument as it does with the notion of swinging. Still, this music has much that will appeal to jazz fans. Guitarist Jimmy Raney, for one, may surprise listeners with the ease with which he adapts his bebop chops to these outward-bound settings. Another surprise, drummer Ed Shaugnessy, not a figure associated with the avant-garde, anticipates the crisp staccato patterns that Billy Higgins would contribute to Ornette Coleman's first recordings. Bassist Dick Nivison also plays a key role, his big, authoritative sound taking charge in much the same Mingus would with his bass. The tracks consist of two Charles originals: the initially moody, then up-tempo, "Edging" and the fine tone poem "Nocturne." Raney contributes a short original, and then there's a hip-shaking "A Night in Tunisia," played with a modernistic, vamp-driven flair that deconstructs the Dizzy Gillespie tune while remaining respectful of its place in the bop pantheon. This music can now be found on the CD compilation New Directions, which also includes all of the tracks from the earlier Teddy Charles and His Trio and from the decidedly avant-garde New Directions, Vol. 2, from 1953.

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