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HARRIOTT, JOE: Freeform and Abstract Revisited (dbl)
For anyone interested in the way things change, these two key recordings, one from 1960, the other 1961, stand on a unique musical spot. The Jamaican saxophonist Joe Harriott moved to London in 1951 and was an important player on the British bebop scene; but things were changing in jazz and after a spell in hospital Harriott came out with a new idea for what he called free form - at around the same time as Ornette Coleman (who is famous where Harriott isnít) but in a far more ambiguous, or sophisticated way. Itís a unique jazz language and, I would have to say, culturally very British. More musical, less iconoclastic. This isnít free music as we have come to understand it, itís a kind of thinking I recognise from Henry Cow, but in a jazz idiom; trying things out, shifting form very tightly organised to continuing with the same idea but very freely and then snapping back. Featuring the St. Vincentian trumpet/flugelhorner ĎShakeí Keane (listed as Kane here but donít get me started), the legendary Phil Seaman, Pat Smythe and another Jamaican Coleridge Goode, the interplay is exceptional and it mystifies me that such an important piece of history still hasnít attracted the broader attention it deserves. Perhaps because itís not flashy enough; just solid, imaginative musicianship stretching itís musical language without trying to break it.