Friday, April 9, 2010

Pete La ROCA - Turkish Women at the Bath 1967

Pete La ROCA - Turkish Women at the Bath 1967
1997 Remastered Issue. 32052


"Turkish Women At The Bath" is a wonderful rediscovery. Drummer Pete La Roca made only three albums as a leader during his heyday in the 1960's and now this long forgotten session is available once again. Although best known for his Blue Note debut "Basra" in 1965, La Roca recorded two albums for Douglas Recordings in 1967, the previously released "Bliss!" and this obscure date. This session is a fascinating slice of late-60's modally influenced jazz featuring an especially welcome solo spot from John Gilmore, who was rarely able to record outside of Sun Ra's grasp.

Hearing Gilmore free of the Arkestra is reason alone for celebration, but to combine that event with an early appearance by Chick Corea elevates the session well beyond mere historical curiosity. Gilmore is more restrained here than with his regular employer, but it is a delight to hear him elucidate with a sense of subtlety that was sometimes lost in the ecstatic throes of the Arkestra. Gilmore's resplendent tone is in full force here, like an otherworldy cousin of Paul Gonsalves, he brings an authoritatively timeless air to these pieces. Corea's cascades of precise linearity contrast nicely with Booker's rock solid bass vamping and La Roca's splashy cymbal work. "Bliss" leaves Gilmore out of the mix and highlights Corea's gorgeous descending melody.

Considering the albums' 1967 vintage, the session never sounds dated, despite the typical modal vibe, so much the rage at the time. The only real complaint is the sound of the recording. A studio recording, it still has a distant quality in regards to the placement of the drums and piano. During La Roca's solos he sounds like he is out in the wings, while Gilmore sounds front and center. This is a minor flaw however, as the band's performance more than makes up for this lack of fidelity. Considering it was La Roca's last record before deciding to take a long hiatus from music to become a lawyer before his eventual come-back, we are fortunate to have it, despite its mere half hour duration.
By  Troy Collins.
A "lost" classic of spiritual free jazz, Turkish Women is a charming session inspired by the decadent Ingres painting of the same name. This late 1960s session brought together the fiery, refined tenor sax of John Gilmore; the ruminative acoustic piano of (pre-fusion) Chick Corea; the heavy, hefty-duty bass of Walter Booker; and leader Pete LaRoca. LaRoca, who left music shortly after this 1967 session to devote his time to the art of law, is a contrapuntal percussionist who's even credited in The Rough Guide to Jazz as "the first person to record a totally free-tempo drum solo." It's an ensemble effort, but longtime Sun Ra sideman Gilmore delivers a rare non-Arkestra performance that demonstrates why Coltrane was so clearly influenced by Gilmore's tightly-controlled, sonic whirlwinds.
By Mike McGonigal.
Anyone who is interested in what John Gilmore did away from Sun Ra will enjoy this album. His tenor playing sounds very captivating after a few listens, but strangely awkward initially. In other words, play it several times and don't believe the Penguin Jazz CD guide review. Chick Corea's piano playing is so "haunting" that at on at least two pieces it sounds like the soundtrack to the horrow classic, Phantasm. Pete La Roca's drumming also contributes to the pleasing errie feel of this album. The album doesn't sound quite like any other hard-bop jazz album I have heard, it is therefore recommended.
By  N. M. McBride.
Pete La Roca- Drums
Chick Corea- Piano
John Gilmore- Tenor Sax
Walter Booker- Bass
01. Turkish Women At The Bath (5:45)
02. Dancing Girls (6:07)
03. Love Planet (5:40)
04. Marjoun (3:40)
05. Bliss (4:58)
06. Sin Street (7:15)
07. And So (1:24)

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