Monday, July 11, 2011

Noah Howard, THE BLACK ARK

Freedom, 1972; reissued by Bo'Weavil; available

4 tracks, 40:38

This legendary free jazz album is finally readily available, and boy is it a doozy! Having recorded previously for ESP-Disk', Noah Howard put together a radical septet in 1969 for THE BLACK ARK. It isn't certain why its release was delayed for three years. The other players are trumpeter Earl Cross, conga-player Juma Sultan (who also played with Jimi Hendrix), drummer Mohammed Ali (not the boxer, but drummer Rashied's younger brother), pianist Leslie Waldron, bassist Norris Jones, and the legendary Arthur Doyle on tenor sax(his debut performance!). Most of these players went on to other things, and all were obscure masters of their respective instruments. Definitely in the same category as Ayler or Takayanagi and Abe, this is jazz set to "destroy". The four tracks all begin and end with a more-or-less melodic theme; the funky "Domiabra" and Asian-tinged "Mount Fuji" (the longest tracks at 10:20 and 15:32) are most remarkable in this regard. The middles, however, all descend into noisy free-for-alls. Howard and Cross are every bit as riotous as Doyle, and each man's solo involves lots of shrieking and honking. The rhtyhm section holds its own nicely. Waldron attacks the piano in a percussive manner, while Ali manages to provide furious pounding and blasting or restrained rolling according to the other players' whims. Juma's conga adds another layer of strangeness, with its trippy delay effect creating a unique sound. The Bo'Weavil CD issue comes housed in a very nice thick card sleeve, almost like a mini-LP, with an inner sleeve for the CD itself; it's also available on vinyl. The reporduction of the orginal liner notes plus new commentary by Oren Ambarchi adds to the overall wonder of this album. If you're at all interested in free jazz, you probably need this and I heartily recommend it. I will even go on record saying I enjoy this one album far more than ANYTHING Ayler recorded!


WOO DOPS said...

Nice blog mate, just found it after you left some comments on my youtube account. See if you can find Space Dimension by Noah Howard, there is also one called Uhuru Na Umoja which is credited to Frank Wright, but really it's another Noah Howard record...Both excellent I think.
Will spend some time checking your excellent reviews. Thanks!

Prof. ~.a.~ said...

Those two you recommended are pretty good! Glad you like the reviews!

WOO DOPS said...

I forgot to mention Noah Howard Live at judson hall. Not heard it for ages...but it's a belter, quite groovy if I remember....If you want something a bit more wild then..One for John - Frank Wright...awesome.

Prof. ~.a.~ said...

I'm liking these recommendations, sir! Thank you! Have you heard Ali and Wright's DUO EXCHANGE? That's quite a burner as well.

Check back soon for some more jazz-type reviews, starting with Coltrane's INTERSTELLAR SPACE and THE OLATUNJI CONCERT!

WOO DOPS said...

I'm lucky enough to own the Duo Exchange is incredible. Look forward to the Coltrane reviews!