Arhtur Blythe Quintet – Live at The Public Theatre, New York – May 4, 1979 – NPR: Jazz Alive! series – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
Arthur Blythe Quintet, in concert at The Public Theatre in New York and recorded for National Public Radio’s Jazz Alive! series on May 4, 1979.
Diving into the free and the Avant-Garde this weekend, with nods to the Traditional. One of the things that made Arthur Blythe so appealing was his ability to freely move back and forth between two wildly divergent styles and keep it all together.
The website Burning Ambulance has a great assessment of Blythe’s music – here’s a taste of a much longer piece:
Arthur Blythe signed to Columbia Records in 1978, releasing his first album for them the following year. He was a veteran artist, closing in on 40, when he did so. He was a man with strong ideas, a book of compositions, and a pool of collaborators drawn largely from New York’s loft jazz scene but also from his time in Los Angeles and his tenure as a respected sideman. On Lenox Avenue Breakdown, he put together a killer band including James Newton on flute, James “Blood” Ulmer on guitar, Stewart on tuba, Cecil McBee on bass, Jack DeJohnette on drums, and Guilherme Franco on percussion. The four compositions — “Down San Diego Way,” the title track, “Slidin’ Through,” and “Odessa” — travel through a variety of moods. The opener is a pulsing, jumpy, almost Latin number with Blythe and Newton serving as the lead voices, while Stewart and McBee create a rhythmic bed that sways like grass in the wind. Ulmer is a background element here, rarely jumping out of the ensemble, and Franco stays mostly out of DeJohnette’s way, other than adding a few squealing sounds as the music fades out. “Lenox Avenue Breakdown,” by contrast, is a fierce New York streetscape. Blythe crawls down into the alto’s low range, shadowed by the bassist, as Ulmer chops away at the strings. “Slidin’ Through” is a more conventionally swinging piece, while “Odessa” ends the album in passionate style, with Ulmer taking his most jagged and unfettered solo.
You can check out the rest of the article here.
In the meantime, dive into this appearance via NPR’s much celebrated and deeply lamented series Jazz Alive! from May 4, 1979. A couple glitches in the original tape (like tape deterioration), but it straightens out after a few minutes.