AFRO-AMERICAN MUSIC INSTITUTE CELEBRATES 36 YEARS
Pain Relief Beyond Belief
Chris Byrne – saxes, Adrienne Byrne – flute, Jeremy Bacon – piano (all tracks); Robert “Bunny” Cox – drums, Tom Jordan – bass, Elaine Richardson – vocals (tracks 1-7); Duane Eubanks – trumpet, Ronnie Burrage – drums & Mike Boone – bass (tracks 8-9).
I don’t know how you may feel about bootleg recordings but I have a special affinity for them since they are always “live.” There are shortcomings of course like the inability to mix separate instruments or fix “bloopers” in the editing suite but over all one gets an energy and performer-audience interaction that more than outweighs those limitations. This is one of those recordings selected from two separate live concerts.
At first I thought I was listening to some vintage 70s jazz from the period when Pharoah Sanders et al were expressing the higher human values in their music. The titles of the tunes and the lyrics further led me in that direction. What struck me was the originality of every composition, simplistic beauty of melody over fresh chord progressions played with comfortable and clear communication among the musicians as if they were very used to speaking the same dialect. Every track is an adventure that takes you on a journey to someplace you might remember or have never experienced.
The musicianship is of superior quality on every instrument and the solos are very original unburdened by the well-worn clichés so often heard from the college-bred jazz musicians who learn the notes but haven’t lived the life. These musicians play like they have lived it and paid some relevant dues in the company their predecessor generation. In other words, I hear mentorship and experience over intellect and technique. The technique is definitely there, but it is used to serve the message of the artist not just as a dazzling device to impress the listener.
I felt in the audience response that there was a genuine appreciation of the above not just a polite response. In other words, I perceived there was a connection with the audience that I wager had a positive effect on the performances.
The selection and order of tunes is one of the few ways a live recording can be improved upon and this one is well-paced with variety of mood, tempo, rhythms, voice, ensemble and dynamics. The weakest element for me was the balance in sound among the instruments on certain tracks that wouldn’t have occurred in a studio where one could control the mix and the players would have adequate monitoring of sound.
One of my favorite listening exercises is the “blindfold method” where no information is given about the recording on the first listen. My blindfold score on this one would have been almost zero except that I knew it was Dr. Chris Byrne on saxophones and his daughter Aeb on flute. My experience of the music, however, makes me want to hear more from every player and to seek out other examples of their work. I had never heard of Miles Davis the first time I heard him on the radio in 1947 but I have never been able to get enough of him since. This recording is living proof that the popularity charts may not always be the richest repository of great jazz music. It may behoove us to follow the intended suggestion of this rendering and find some more “Bootlegs.” Then call me and I’ll have a nip with you.
Track 1: I Wanna Ride First Class
Track 2: Keely’sWaltz
Track 3: Orange Moon
Track 4: Something Underneath
Track 5: The Messenger
Track 6: Grace
Track 7: Westonian Pandemonium
Track 8: Minor Incident in the Intersection
Track 9: Prime Time
---Dr. Nelson Harrison - psychologist, composer, arranger, lyricist, author, playwright, veteran trombonist with the Count Basie Orchestra (1978-81).