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Charles Tolliver – Charles Tolliver All Stars – Pure Pleasure Records 180 Gram Vinyl LP Release March 2019 – ( Original release Strata-East SES 19681) 45:16****:

( Charles Tolliver – trumpet; Gary Bartz – alto saxophone Side B only; Herbie Hancock – piano; Ron Carter – bass; Joe Chambers – drums)

Charles Tolliver was a lyrical trumpeter with considerable technical gifts and was at home in the bebop collective. Although he was highly regarded by jazz musicians for his direct, straight-forward approach, that was modelled on the styles of Clifford Brown and Freddie Hubbard, he failed to gain a wider audience.

Pure Pleasure Records is releasing this March, under the heading Charles Tolliver All Stars, Tolliver’s first effort as a leader, which at the time in 1968 was entitled either Charles Tolliver and His All Stars or Paper Man. All of the tracks on the release are Tolliver compositions, plus there is a previously unreleased added bonus track of Neal Hefti’s Repetition which was defined by Charlie Parker on the 1995 reissue of his 1950 album Charlie Parker With Strings. 

The album used in this review is a test pressing from Pure Pleasure and it has been smashingly remastered by Ray Staff at Air Mastering, Lyndhurst Hall, London. It is clean, crisp, and clear with wonderful depth of sound.

Side A consists of three tracks; “Earl’s World”, “Peace With Myself” and “Right Now”. The compositions fall somewhere between hard-bop and avant-guard with Tolliver’s lyrical trumpet leading the way with his sweeping style. At the time of this recording, pianist Herbie Hancock and bassist Ron Carter formed two-thirds of the rhythm section ( along with drummer Tony Williams) of Miles Davis Second Great Quintet that also included tenor saxophonist Wayne Shorter. Hancock and Carter work hand in glove throughout the session which adds to the intensity of the outing. The most outstanding number on this side is the lengthy ( over 9 minutes) “Peace With Myself”. A bop waltz, it is structured so as to give Tolliver an opportunity to demonstrate his unrestricted probing talent. Hancock and Carter show how resourceful and perceptive their relationship could be.

Side B brings alto saxophonist Gary Bartz into the mix with his expressive and inventive playing. “Paper Man”, is one of the alternative titles given to this album, and Tolliver is promoting the 50th Anniversary of the title by taking a band into the Blue Note in NYC from March 14 to 17, 2019 that includes the aforementioned Bartz. The track opens with bell-like note striking from pianist Hancock which is followed by some tight unison playing between Tolliver and Bartz. Thereafter the number rolls out, as each member of the band acquits themselves with sparkling emotion and compelling artistry.

The previously unreleased Neal Hefti composition “Repetition” is a perfect closer as it is fueled with imagination and enthusiasm.

This excellent group is worth a re-listen for their splendid and inventive music enhanced by a top shelf remastering.

—Pierre Giroux

TrackList:
Side A:
Earl’s World
Peace With Myself
Right Now

Side B:
Lil’s Paradise
Paper Man
House Of Saud
Repetition   ( Take 2 – Previously Unreleased)

More info at Pure Pleasure Website:

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