Just this past Stormy Monday, we listened to some great jazz compositions, most stemming from a variety of locales in the late ’90s. Now it’s mid-week, and a scorching set by the super-group Trio Beyond — Jack DeJohnette, Larry Goldings and John Scofield — to open a week-long run at the Blue Note in NYC has my head spinning, needing to get this music out to the masses.
The trio’s 2006 double-disc release, Saudades, was recorded live in London in 2004, when the three joined forces to celebrate the life and music of Tony Williams. “When you see this young man, you’ll know there’s a lot of good music yet to be made. I think Tony is about nineteen years old. It’s kind of scary that a young man should have so much talent,” was Mort Fega’s introduction of Williams on the classic 1964 Miles recording My Funny Valentine (also available as The Complete Concert 1964) at the beginning of the drummer’s career.
Tony Williams Lifetime, a late ’60s trio with John McLaughlin and Larry Young, is the model for Trio Beyond, a band that just shines, masters pushing each other to their limits. From the end of the first disc, we have a cover of Lifetime’s “Spectrum”, a McLaughlin piece that growls and tears, and features absolutely stunning drumming from DeJohnette.
Certainly the “other” greatest drummer planet is Brian Blade, whose Fellowship is a grand and literary band, but whose finest work is unquestionably done with Wayne Shorter, both as part of 2004’s (and briefly 2006’s) Hancock/Holland/Shorter/Blade and the regular Wayne Shorter Quartet. Wayne has released a pair of live albums with the Quartet since 2001, both stunning recordings, entirely aside from the music contained therein. And that music! What music!
The tracks on both, however, are separate and shorter versions, whereas the band tends to play long, fluid, hour long suites, as Miles did from 67-69 (roughly speaking), and individual tunes easily stretch beyond the 15 minute mark. So here, from an October 2006 gig in Sweden is WSQ, which also includes Danillo Perez and John Patitucci, we have “Adventures Aboard the Golden Mean”, a wild flight of fancy that should make abundantly clear why this band is considered by many to be the greatest working band on Spaceship Earth. Enjoy!