(All Album Reviews by Chuck AzEee!)
The face of jazz was changing during the late sixties, sax great John Coltrane had just died, and greats from the "bop" era of the genre were being kicked to the curb, as radicals like Ornette Coleman and Miles Davis were amongst the many big names that were willing to change with the times.
During the mid-sixties, a young tenor saxophonist by the name of Charles Lloyd had assembled a young and up and coming band that was causing a stir with their exciting brand of post-bop aesthetics with the fury of rock. This band consisted of Charles Lloyd on tenor sax and flute, Cecil McBee on bass, Jack Dejohnette on drums and the wunderkid, pianist, Keith Jarrett. This band although being an acoustic band, had a hard edge that was a hit with younger rock fans and led to some festival stealing moments. By the late sixties, the band had run their course, and came to a halt with Jack Dejohnette leaving the band, eventually to end up in Miles Davis' greatest electric era band.
Keith, guesting with a number of artists towards the end of the decade, eventually released his first solo album, to mixed reviews. It is during this time after a number of advancements, Keith rejoined his ex-Lloyd bandmate, Jack DeJohnette in Miles Davis Group in 1970.
Despite being in one of jazz's glorious spots, Keith was unhappy being in the Miles band, the dream of Miles' dueling piano virtuosos, to Keith was a heap of noise, and the musical direction was even more annoying, as Miles Davis was full steamed into his electric period, which meant that Keith would be playing electric piano. After a few months of despair, Keith quit Miles Davis' band, and in his leaving, swore never to play any electric keyboards again.
During the beginning of the seventies, Keith did more sessions work while balancing his solo career, his famous quartet, first a trio featured, bass great, Charlie Haden, who played bass for Ornette Coleman's groundbreaking early free jazz period. And drummer Paul Motian, was involved in the most influential Jazz trio of the last half Century, The Bill Evans Trio of 1959 to 1961.
This lineup released a couple of albums, but the band really took off when Ex-Ornette Coleman tenor saxaphonist, Dewey Redman joined, and with his joining Keith's imaginative brand of jazz came into fruition, and Quartet went onto make a number of stunning albums, but of all the albums, the band The Survivor's Suite is one of the greatest zazz albums released during the seventies.
The Survivor's Suite is an exciting brand of jazz, mixed with fusion, not the normal fusion that everyone at this forum is used to, but an even more imaginative style of world-ethnic and post-bop cleverly crafted together into one of the period's greatest albums.
Containing just two songs, "The Survivor's Suite" first half begins with Keith overdubbing on soprano sax, recorder and bass recorder building slowly with some great bass work from Charlie Haden (both bowed and plucked) before the Osidrums come in and leads into Motian and Redman joining the piece. The first half becomes a full throttled post-bop jazz piece, with all playing their perspective instruments shifting and weaving through R&B and jazz rhythms.
The next part of the suite, "Conclusion" starts off more schizoid sounding, belying the peaceful mood of the first half of the album, Dewey blaring away, Keith hammering on the piano, Charlie pulsating bass holing the bottom with Paul drumming as if he killing someone one before after a few minutes of avant-noise, Paul breaks into drum solo that would make Bill Bruford cry.
After the solo, things once again calms down and the second part of the suite is just as lovely as the first part, as Dewey's tenor still as beautiful as anyone playing the instrument, and the three other virtuosos providing the foundation for his Sax.
The seventies was a fruitful era for jazz, financially as many of the surviving giants of the sixties, sold out and went full steam ahead into jazz rock/fusion, but Keith's American jazz combo (forgetting to mention that he also had a European quartet, that followed a more straight hard bop style) was probably the most imaginative Jazz band of its time, and The Survivor's Suite is probably better than anything that came out during the decade.