John Fordham // ★★★ Jazzwise (juillet 2021)

This 1985 gig at the University of Southern California (USC) brought together a one-off combination of notable 1980s West Coast jazz originals in pianist Horace Tapscott, early-Ornette trumpet partner Bobby Bradford, and clarinet innovator John Carter – plus LA-born flute virtuoso James Newton, by this time on his way to an international reputation. The glue for this gathering came from Roberto Miguel Miranda, a double-bassist, composer, and academic of Puerto Rican ancestry who in 1984 had won a hefty National Endowment For The Arts grant, and with it composed this music for a percussion-heavy 11-piece he called the Home Music Ensemble – displaying plenty of individual and collective improv over an assortment of hooky, Coltrane-to-’70s McCoy Tyner anthems and spiritually meditative dreamwalks. ‘Platform for Freedom’ is a terrific, bass-thundering fast vehicle for Tapscott’s flooding runs and rattling chordwork, and ‘Prayer #1’ opens with a softly squealy Bradford trumpet passage after ethereal flute and clarinet meditations, before turning into a collective melée. USC Jazz Studies chair Thom Mason’s soulfully fluttery tenor sax is also a highlight on ‘Deborah Tasmin’, while the brooding ‘Faith’ (Miranda wears his religious agenda on his sleeve) unfolds in slow Ellingtonian brass harmonies for lightly balletic variations from Newton and Carter. The unique combination of personnel has perhaps prioritised the importance of this session over the consistency of the music-making, but it’s an intriguing collector’s piece for all that.

 

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