Bobby Battle Quartet with David Murray – The Offering – Mapleshade 01332, 52:36 ****:
(Bobby Battle (drums); David Murray (saxophone); Larry Willis (piano); Santi Debriano (bass))
This recording dates back to 1990 and was mastered live to two-track analog tape on a tweaked Sony deck. There is no extra filtering, mixing, compression, equalization, noise reduction, multi-tracking or overdubbing used.
Battle was born in Detroit in 1944 and starting playing the drums at the ripe age of seven. By ten he began studying music formally and his interests always leaned towards jazz. He had a brief romance with the saxophone, but while in the Marines in the early 60s there was an opening for a drummer in the band, so he returned to the drums. By the late 60s he was playing with Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Pharaoh Sanders and touring with Sonny Stitt. In the 70s he played in Don Pullen’s band and in the 80s met David Murray (who plays sax on this record). Information on the other performers lies in the booklet that accompanies this disc.
The music starts off very mellow with a tribute to a dear departed friend and handily sets the mood. The second track highlights the drums/percussion while sounding a bit muted and distant—my guess due to the minimal miking choice. On the whole the record is dry (as there is no use of reverb) and the recording environment doesn’t seem to offer much in the way of ambiance. The warmth and naturalness of the horn sound (on modern records) is usually accompanied by “digitalness” which is thankfully absent on this record. Unlike many jazz records made in this period, there is much less fusion as the music harkens back to the late 50s/early 60s in feel. The disc picks up the pace as evidenced by a track like “The Offering” which is frenetic with intense percussion and nimble piano playing. The music is penned by the bass player and his work on this track is prominent as well. All the music is played with an intensity and sincerity that shows the commitment of the performers to make “a record” as opposed to a bunch of tunes. As I write this it is raining outside and I can’t think of a more perfect complement.
TrackList: Ballad For Frederick (Willis); To Widsom, The Prize (Willis); Jitterbug Waltz (Fats Waller); The Offering (Debriano); I Mean You (Thelonious Monk); Jazz Laughter (Debriano).