Teddy Charles

New Directions, Vol. 2

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Vibraphonist Teddy Charles traveled a long way from the straight-ahead music he was playing in 1951 to arrive at the austere, demanding music on this 1953 set. While previous releases from Charles mixed jazz with avant-garde influences, this one severs the ties to jazz absolutely (in later years Charles would reincorporate these elements). There is little improvisation here in a conventional jazz sense. Instead, Charles, pianist Hall Overton, and drummer Ed Shaugnessy structure their playing on set scales and rhythmic patterns that determine the eventual shape of the music. Overton, with whom Charles was studying theory and composition at Juilliard at the time of this session, wrote three of the four tracks. These pieces involve Overton and Charles playing lines that are variably disjunctive and then complementary to what the other is doing. Harmonic limits are stretched just shy of dissonance. Shaugnessy has no conventional timekeeping duties. His contributions consist largely of subtle cymbal accents and occasional brittle, eighth-note phrases on the snare. In the absence of a strong foundation, the music hovers, intentionally spinning in mid-air, without apparent resolution. This music can now be found on the CD compilation New Directions, which also includes the tracks from New Directions, Vol. 1 and the swinging set of standards from 1951's Teddy Charles and His Trio.

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