July 15, 2016

Charles Tolliver - Impact (1975)

If you've come across and are interested in hearing Charles Tolliver and his Music Inc. group, you're digging pretty deep into jazz history. 70s jazz is generally very cult material; I think most people will agree that the decade is hardly as saturated with classics as the 50s and 60s. If you've been following the blog for a while and are familiar with my usual jazz write-ups, you might know that I have lukewarm feelings towards late 60s and 70s jazz, but after listening to the Arthur Jones album, Woody Shaw's solo debut, and now this, I think I'm starting to develop a deeper appreciation for the styles of that era.

Tolliver has two albums titled Impact from 1975, one is a studio session and one is a live session. I was only aware of the live record and wound up incorrectly cataloging the studio album in my digital library as that live performance. Needless to say I was caught way off guard (you'll understand why if you give this a listen). The live album is the bare-bones Music Inc group, a quartet, and this is full on big band fun. Big band is far from my thing, but I kept with it on this album and ended up enjoying what I heard. The sleeker feel that the 70s recording techniques provide gives Impact a unique flavor. Besides the usual Music Inc lineup, the band is joined by the established saxophone names George Coleman, Harold Vick, and James Spaulding--all three were important in developing the late 60s, early 70s post-bop vibe. All of the other many musicians in this group assume a more supportive role. A handful of moments on Impact are comparable to Mingus vibes (especially from his Impulse recordings), but even more than Mingus, the arrangements are reminiscent of Oliver Nelson's (better) works. Impact is full of great melodies and powerful solos, steered mostly by the compelling performances of Tolliver and Stanley Cowell. Not going to be a favorite of mine simply because this big band stuff isn't my style, but I left with a heightened interest in 70s jazz and eager to hear Music Inc in its quartet form.