Don Pullen

The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note

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In 2012, pianist and organist Don Pullen's portion of the Black Saint catalog was tapped for the celebrated CAM Jazz/Black Saint/Soul Note reissue series. Pullen, who passed away during the spring of 1995, left a trail of intriguing albums, which resonate beautifully together in miniature LP jacket-styled packaging within the handsome, hand-sized box set. Prior to attaining world-wide recognition as a feisty member of the Charles Mingus band during the early to mid-'70s, Pullen made his first records as a sideman with saxophonists Giuseppi Logan and Charles Williams, as well as legendary percussionist Sunny Murray, who had worked with Albert Ayler back in 1964 when Pullen sat in with Logan and Milford Graves on an ESP Disk recording session. But it was Mingus who brought out the best in Pullen, a passionate and at times ferocious performer who literally drew blood when he attacked the ivories as a member of the first Mingus Dynasty band in 1979. A definitive example of that technique is preserved on "Boogie Stop Shuffle," the opening track on Mingus Dynasty's Elektra album Chair in the Sky. Pullen would continue to work with fellow Mingus bandsmen for years to come. In fact, George Adams and Dannie Richmond helped him record an album for the Italian Horo label in 1975. That year also marked Pullen's debut appearance on Giacomo Pellicciotti's newly established Black Saint record label. Capricorn Rising brought Pullen into the studio with master improviser Sam Rivers (who played saxes and flute), bassist Alex Blake, and drummer Bobby Battle.

Healing Force, which came out in 1976, was a solo effort, and had been prefigured by Pullen's 1975 Sackville release, pragmatically titled Solo Piano Album. Pullen's next unaccompanied recital LP, Evidence of Things Unseen, would appear on Black Saint in 1983. This introspective outing and Healing Force complement each other nicely while contrasting with the ensemble recordings in the set. Milano Strut was released in 1978, and paired Pullen with self-described sun percussionist Famoudou Don Moye. It was followed the next year by Magic Triangle, in which this duo became a potent trio with the addition of Moye's multi-instrumental colleague from the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Joseph Jarman. Warriors, which doesn't always register in discographies with Pullen as the leader, was issued in 1978. It features saxophonist Chico Freeman who by that time had come out with several earthshaking albums at the very cutting edge of modern jazz. The other half of the quartet heard on the aptly titled Warriors consisted of bassist Fred Hopkins and once again Bobby Battle. This superb compilation closes with The Sixth Sense, a 1985 release that brought Pullen, Hopkins, and Battle into creative collaboration with Mississippi trumpeter Olu Dara and rapidly rising New Orleans saxophonist Donald Harrison. Anyone seeking further examples of Pullen's activity as a Black Saint recording artist should look into David Murray's albums Children and Shakill's Warrior, as well as Pullen's live dates at the Village Vanguard with George Adams.

Track Listing - Disc 1

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 12:43
2 11:57
3 6:04
4 15:10

Track Listing - Disc 2

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 15:50
2 8:33
3 8:28
4 18:40

Track Listing - Disc 4

Sample Title/Composer Performer Time
1 9:19
2 10:44
3 7:32
4 13:14
blue highlight denotes track pick