Grachan Moncur - Some Other Stuff

Blue Note

Original Release Date: July 6th, 1964

Re-release date (RVG Edition): February 24th 2009

Availabilty: CD, MP3 download, iTunes

Some Other Stuff cover

Following the re-release of Jackie McLean's "One Step Beyond" earlier in February, "Some Other Stuff" goes further in revealing the radical departures in jazz being pioneered by trombonist Grachan Moncur III in 1964, a seminal year for his music and the future of jazz as musicians such as Archie Shepp, Albert Ayler and Cecil Taylor moved to embrace free jazz.

The music of "Some Other Stuff" is pioneering, atmospheric and challenging but yet not quite entering the kind of jazz forms that Miles Davis proclaimed as a key factor in turning people off the music:

"Music was changing a lot in 1964…….. The way-out free thing wasn't what a lot of people wanted to hear…. Where just a few years back the music we were playing was the cutting edge, was getting real popular and finding a wide audience, all that started to stop when the critics...... started supporting the free thing, pushing that over what most everybody else was doing. Jazz started to lose its broad appeal around this time."*

If you want to hear innovative jazz this side of 'the free thing' at its best, then surely the second track on the album, "Thandiwa", is it. The band - Grachan Moncur III (trombone), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Herbie Hancock (piano), Cecil McBee (bass instrument), Tony Williams (drums) – is essentially the Jackie McLean band of "One Step Beyond" but with Wayne Shorter replacing Jackie McLean and Herbie Hancock on piano replacing Bobby Hutcherson on vibes. (Cecil McBee also replaces Eddie Khan on bass). "Thandiwa" has that rhythmic pulse (driven by Tony Williams' drumming) and time no changes vibe that Miles Davis would develop to the full in his mid 'sixties albums. No wonder that within a few months Wayne Shorter would join Herbie Hancock and Tony Williams in the Miles Davis band that became known as the second great quintet.

But in a measure of the confidence that Grachan Moncur had in his writing and in his music at this time, each of the four tracks on the album is its own jumping off point for experimentation.

The opener "Gnostic" is much closer to free jazz with its discordant juxtaposition of piano and trombone and piano and then sax and piano and the absence of any rhythmic pulse.

Meanwhile "The Twins" seems centred on a single piano chord and is characterised by continually shifting time signatures from the rhythm section with overlaid freely improvised trombone, sax and piano playing.

The closing track, "Nomadic" is essentially a showpiece for Tony Williams with minimalistic improvised horn parts and piano giving way to an extended drum solo that speaks volumes for how far the then young man's rhythmic imagination was ahead of its time.

Overall, an essential companion to "One Step Beyond" and a clear landmark in the devlopment of a jazz beyond the mainstream of blues and bop.

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Grachan Moncur - Some Other Stuff (Rudy Van Gelder Edition) [Remastered]

Read our review of Jackie McLean's "Destination Out!"

Read our review of Jackie McLean's "One Step Beyond"

*"Miles - The Autobiography" by Miles Davis with Quincey Troupe
Miles - The Autobiography thumb amazon uk

Tony Williams biography

Grachan Moncur III biography

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1 comment:

Rob J said...

I was recommended this album by a customer who was buying a series of Blue Note classics, so I thought I would take a gamble as the cd was going very cheaply.

What a fantastic album !

Even by Free jazz standards, this an astonishing piece of music. Shorter does not sound like anything on his previous Blue Note recordings. He is in truly unknown terrain here, ably supported by Monchur and Tony Williams who is another revelation with his timekeeping. Hard to believe he was a mere 17 years of age !

Herbie Hancock is as sublime as ever.

Honestly, words fail me.

How did I miss one of the great Free Jazz classics ?