Ted Curson

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This Futura CD issue of vanguard trumpet legend Ted Curson with the Georges Arvanitas Trio in a Paris studio is one of those very special dates where everything seems to go right. Curson is in excellent form here, whether he is playing free improvisation as on "Latin Quarter," which opens the set and is a fiery 13-minute excursion into the outer reaches of free jazz, or turning in a slightly bent but nonetheless streaming hard bop performance as he odes on the next track, "Flip Top." The Arvanitas Trio, an under-celebrated band that backed virtually every major American musician in Paris proves how well it adapts to Curson's muscular style by responding with more muscle. Arvanitas' left-hand rhythm comping is tough and full of fire and edges. On "L.S.D. Takes a Holiday," Arvanitas pushes Curson hard to the edges of a harmonic shelf that finally bleeds off into a blazing symmetry of angles that is propelled into an abyss by the ferocious bass playing of the under-heralded Jacky Sampson. Also noteworthy are Curson's compositions here that, like much music of their time, leave tradition to the dust. He engages it and the blues in a sort of modal inquiry, where he wraps extant ideas about form, tonal sonance, and intervallic architecture in a phraseology and compositional elegance that was beyond most of his peers. Futura's CD version sounds warm, lovely, and very much alive. Thank goodness this is available again.

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