The Music Library and Monographic Acquisitions are working on a project to boost the collections of Free Jazz and Spiritual Jazz (and Jazz Funk, some Fusion, some Spoken Word, Modal, Post Bop, New Sound, etc.), primarily from the 70s and with a focus on American jazz. Expect a brighter spotlight on these efforts in the coming months. But, for now, in the process of digging through the digital stacks, many many gems already in the collection were discovered. What follows is a rundown of just three of them, all LPs from the LSC. Take a stroll sometime through the Jazz at Duke Libraries and you will encounter numerous, and sometimes rare, wonders!
Human Arts Ensemble – ‘Under the Sun’ Universal Justice Records, 1974
The 3rd release from the St Louis MO avant troupe, featuring Lester Bowie and Charles Bobo Shaw. Two side-long cuts, the B side is a more free and abstract original, while the A side is the true stunner. A funky one, it is “a free music symphony based on an Afghanistan folk melody, ‘Lover’s Desire’ (Folkways FE 4361) transcribed from radio Kabul.”
Julius Hemphill – ‘Dogon A.D.’ Mbari Records, 1972 (LSC: GX25087)
Another arch of brilliance from St. Louis, this one helmed by composer and reedman Julius Hemphill. The entire album wows, but the title track is a true powerhouse. Hemphill is on alto sax and joined by drums, trumpet, and most impressively: cello. Abdul Wadud commands the left channel with repetitive stringed brilliance while the drums hold down the right and the horns do as they please over everything.
Rufus Harley ‘A Tribute to Courage’ Atlantic Records, 1968 (LSC: GX8482)
Jazz bagpipes? Jazz bagpipes!! Harley (born near Raleigh, no less!) was adept at several instruments (the B side finds him on saxes and flute) but truly made his mark playing bagpipes in a jazz setting. The ears might need a while to adjust, but check out the lone elegiac original, and title track, ‘A Tribute to Courage (JFK)’, for a shining example of his unique stylings.