Monday, November 06, 2006

Keith Tippett Group

"You Are Here... I Am There" 1970

Keith Tippett's debut album as a bandleader was and remains a rather remarkable affair in that it was the first engagement of British young people who came up in rock, pop, and blues bands to play jazz. Tippett himself is a classically trained musician who came to jazz via Mingus, George Russell, Coltrane, and Pharoah Sanders, but his compositional element also owes to composers such as Darius Milhaud, Vaughan Williams, and Frederick Delius. His front-line group contains the Soft Machine's Elton Dean, plus Nick Evans and Marc Charig, while his rhythm section contains drummer Alan Jackson and bassist Jeff Clyne -- whose bowing sensibilities are not only highly developed but provocative as well. All eight tracks were composed and arranged by Tippett, but his penchant for writing for a particular group of musicians is very keen here: check the Charig solo in "I Wish There Was Nowhere," Tippett's own solo in "Violence," and the saxophonistry of Dean in "Stately Dance for Miss Primm" and both versions of "This Evening Was Like Last Year." Evans' trombone work so thoroughly saturates most charts that it's impossible to single anything out as a specific vehicle for him. Tippett's engaging harmonic sensibilities wrap around tonal investigation, a deeply committed sense of the blues and swing, and a color palette that owes plenty to Gil Evans without sounding the least bit derivative. This is brave jazz that makes use of space, harmonic organization, and free improv, much more so than some of his contemporaries who would just as soon do away with jazz as deepen or widen it. Very fine indeed. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide

"Dedicated To You, But You Weren't Listening" 1971

Pianist, composer, arranger, and bandleader Keith Tippett's first album, You Are Here...I Am There, was issued in 1969, and received some notice as the work of an ambitious composer looking for a voice. Apparently, by the time he recorded Dedicated to You, But You Weren't Listening, which was released in 1971, he'd found it in spades. Tippett has become one of the great lights of the British free jazz movement, and for more than 30 years he has led groups of improvising musicians, from two to 40 in number, on some of the most exploratory and revelatory harmonic adventures in musical history -- whether those in America know it or not. The band here is comprised of 11 pieces, including Elton Dean, Robert Wyatt, Nick Evans, Roy Babbington, Gary Boyle, Neville Whitehead, and others. The commitment to jazz here is total, as Tippett grafts the dynamic sensibilities of George Russell, the textural and chromatic palettes of Gil Evans, and the sheer force of Oliver Nelson onto his own palette. The interplay between soloists and ensembles is dazzling -- check "Thoughts for Geoff," with blazing solos by Nick Evans, cornetist Marc Charig, and Tippett himself in a series of angular arpeggios interspersed with chordal elocution. Wyatt's drumming, which opens the record with a bang on "This Is What Happens," is easily the most inspired of his career on record. The nod to Mingus on "Green and Orange Night Park" is more than formal; it's an engagement with some of the same melodic constructs Mingus was working out in New Tijuana Moods. In sum, this is an adventurous kind of jazz that still swings very hard despite its dissonance and regards a written chart as something more than a constraint to creative expression. Brilliant. The CD reissue by Disconforme is fantastic in sound and in package. ~ Thom Jurek, All Music Guide


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks alot!

This was really good freak-out jazz :D

07 November, 2006 05:23  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you so much - especially for "You are here, I am there". I've been looking for this album for years.

08 November, 2006 05:01  
Anonymous Bruce said...

I was surprised how much I enjoyed 'you are here...'. It's melodious and it really swings. Previously I was not a fan of Tippet's playing style - heavy handed with constant sustain pedal. But again the sheer melodiousness of his playing here is very appealing.

I still think Keith is one of those 'avant garde' ists who took himself a bit too seriously as the years progressed, but his first is certainly an auspicious and attractive entre.

08 November, 2006 21:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you downloaders enjoyed the album. I can tell you it was great fun recording it.
Nick Evans

11 March, 2008 12:02  
Anonymous Edgar said...

Was that really Nick Evans? Wow. I wonder how he even reached this webpage.
I've been listening to "You are here" for the past 12 years... Awesome. I always thought the band, by playing that Hey Jude bit, was making fun of the Beatles...

16 May, 2008 15:06  
Blogger Wally said...

Thanks for these. I have long been a KT (& Julie) fan but had never heard these.
Great to hear on Dedicated early versions of themes developed at greater length in later outings.
Also very interesting to hear the difference a couple of years makes from You Are Here and the degree to which he (and the other musicians) matured.

26 November, 2009 19:44  

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