Horace Tapscott – Live At Lobero Vol. 2 – Nimbus Records NS-1258 (1981)/Pure Pleasure Records (2021) 180-gram stereo vinyl, 40:30 ****1/2:
Complex, live jazz gets a well-deserved vinyl upgrade!
(Horace Tapscott – piano; Roberto Miranda – bass; Sonship – drums, percussion)
While he was not as renowned as most jazz musicians, Horace Tapscott had a definitive impact. As a child, he studied both piano and trombone. In his teenage years, he played with Don Cherry, Frank Morgan, Billy Higgins and Lionel Hampton, mostly on trombone. Eventually, Tapscott focused on the piano. One of his most vital contributions was the creation of the Pan African Peoples Orchestra in 1961. The goal of this ambitious project was to preserve and bring African-American music to audiences everywhere. His muse resulted in two small record labels, Interplay and Nimbus, both of which released his albums. In addition to the Pan African Peoples Arkestra, he recorded as a band leader for over 30 years.
Pure Pleasure Records has released a 180-gram re-mastered vinyl of a notable Tapscott concert, Live At Lobero Vol. 2. Recorded in 1981, it was performed in Santa Barbara and released the same year as Vol. 1. Side A opens with the 13-minute opus, “Lino’s Pad”. Double bassist Robert Miranda establishes a 7 or 8-note repeat vamp. Then drummer Sonship comes in as Tapscott drops a series of double chords. He counters the tight syncopated rhythm with some atmospheric moodiness, featuring right-hand trills. His first solo is skipping and well-paced with touches of halting rhythm. There is a subtle uptick by the trio and then they alternate between that and the original cadence. Miranda switches to bow and alters the feel. The shading is more exotic. Tapscott takes over the basic vamp. Sonship executes a complex extended solo that utilizes the entire drum kit. The next track, “Close To Freedom” is considerably shorter and is arranged in medium swing. It has classic jazz time signatures and a brighter resonance. Miranda’s galloping bass sets up Tapscott’s soulful runs that include some flourishes. His phrasing is excellent and the overall finesse of the group is impressive. A 4-octave fade at the end is very catchy.
Side B consists of one piece, Robert Miranda’s ‘St. Michael”. It is an inspired musical suite that embraces different jazz styles. As it unfolds, Sonship’s ethereal gong is joined by a tone-edgy bowed double bass. Tapscott counters with free-jazz lines that lean on dissonant accents. Eventually Miranda and Sonship get a basic groove established with Tapscott adding some muscular chords. His ability to integrate with his band mates is evident. There is a swing break that morphs gradually into bebop freneticism. Tapscott is not afraid of quieter moments. In a compelling unaccompanied interlude, he brings a hushed ambiance, but amps up the solo with classical trills and wild, crashing modulation. Miranda’s return on bow adds a plaintive touch that shifts to a menacing one. Tapscott complements this with soothing piano. When Sonship rejoins in march-time, there are three separate musical statements integrated simultaneously into the number. A climactic finger-snapping break concludes this satisfying finale.
This vinyl re-mastering of Horace Tapscott – Live At Lobero Vol. 2 is superior. The crowd noise is all but eliminated (The listener is almost startled when there is applause after a solo.). Showcasing lesser-known jazz artists like Tapscott is an essential part of jazz history and Pure Pleasure Records remains one of the leaders in these efforts.
Side A: Lino’s Pad; Close To Freedom
Side B: St. Michael.
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