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ClassicsOnline Home » NEW YORK JAZZ COLLECTIVE: I Don't Know This World Without Don Cherry
"A terrific CD and Baikida Carroll's trumpet playing is especially on the money."
By Alain Le Roux
It could be said that Mike Nock began recruiting players for this band in the early 1970s, during his San Francisco days. Bassist Michael Formanek, then but a home-town teen, says that hearing Nock inspired him to pursue a living in music.
This would have been toward the end of the all-too-brief lifespan of The Fourth Way, a quartet Nock co-founded, one which evolved its own creative language between or beyond structure and freedom. The Fourth Way’s sound was as distinctively adventurous as its longer-lived peers on the cutting edge of the day, fitting like a glove between the acoustic proclivities of Oregon and the amplified excursions of Weather Report. The Fourth Way covered plenty of waterfront at both ends of the dynamic spectrum, letting the moment inspire what would follow.
In that regard, Nock hasn’t changed. He has grown, and this music is a progress report from which I gather that life has been interesting and that things have gone well. He’s always been hard to pigeonhole, not surprising for someone who taught himself, through hard work on his own, and learning on the bandstand, to be a sharing part of a whole (therein lies the essence of jazz) before formal musical education. He’s done school, too, and in fact now holds a faculty position at the Sydney Conservatorium.
Looking at the globe, one sees that Nock couldn’t have gone much further from Australia to make this album without again getting closer to his current home, but then New York remains, for better or for worse, the hub of the jazz wheel. As time goes on, though, arguments against New York as centre-of-the-jazz-universe grow stronger, due to artists such as Nock.
Really, all Nock had to do was look up some old mates, and he knew who to call. "My idea," says Nock, "was to put together a representative group of the New York ‘new music’ thing, independent musicians with roots in both the new music and the tradition."
To say he succeeded would be an understatement.
Multi-instrumentalist Marty Ehrlich was Nock’s first choice. Their work together goes back to the late 1970s on Nantucket Island. This latest collaboration raises their discourse to another higher level: like Nock, Ehrlich is a good listener, to his colleagues as well as to himself, at all times, and decisive in his contributions, whatever the settings.
For trumpeter Baikida Carroll, this project represents a return after several years off the scene on doctor’s orders. The St Louis native, who spent time in Paris before resettling in New York, came in from Woodstock for the sessions, and his time sitting out must have fanned some flames - you’ll hear it in his playing. Trombonist Frank Lacy has experience in this sort of sextet context, including a stint as musical director for that distinguished
earn-while-you-learn postgraduate program known as Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.
The aforementioned Formanek, who has his own string of albums with similarly eclectic rosters, anchors it all, with able drumming from
Pheeroan ak Laff or Steve Johns sharing the percussion chair. They have their work cut out for them, and rise to the occasions unforeseeable but beautiful.
The repertoire is all in-house, and this is an ensemble without need of outside sources. Listening to this first collective meeting, I hope it won’t be their last.
W Patrick Hinely
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