The Max Roach Trio featuring the legendary Hasaan — 180 gram vinyl LP Speakers Corner 

by | Jul 1, 2019 | Jazz CD Reviews, SACD & Other Hi-Res Reviews | 0 comments

The Max Roach Trio featuring the legendary Hasaan 180 gram vinyl LP Speakers Corner Released May 2019 ( original release Atlantic Records Stereo SD 1435 December 1964)41:07**** :

( Hasaan Ibn Ali – piano; Art  Davis – bass; Max Roach – drums)

From time to time in jazz history, individual performers appear, and like shooting stars, flame out with little or no trace of their time in the jazz world. Hasaan Ibn Ali ( who will simply be referred to as Hasaan in this review) is clearly one of them.

Although stories have surfaced about Hasaan’s time and influence on the Philadelphia jazz scene and some of its notable names ( John Coltrane/Odean Pope/Benny Golson), his only tangible output is this terrific audiophile reissue on 180 gram vinyl LP by Speakers Corner of the 1964 Atlantic Records album The Max Roach Trio featuring the legendary Hasaan.

These seven tracks contain some forty plus minutes of Hasaan compositions, and represents everything he consigned to printed music. However, some sources suggest that the Library of Congress in Washington DC, houses a Hasaan solo piano recording from 1964, the exact contents of which are not known.

As for Hasaan’s pianistic style, it can be percussive, cluttered, and filled with dissonant chords reminiscent of Thelonious Monk, or Cecil Taylor or Herbie Nichols. Although Hasaan himself attaches his style closer to that of Elmo Hope, which in Alan Sukoenig fine liner notes on this album, quotes Hasaan referring to Hope as “his artship”.

Hence Hasaan’s  dedicated composition “Hope So Elmo” which is a ballad full of resonant chords and is supported by bassist Art Davis in full arco mode interspersed with some plucking all in a very dark tone. Roach lays out on this track.

Another defining feature of Hasaan’s playing is his fingering which is blindingly fast and complex. The composition “Almost Like Me” is filled with such demonstrations especially in his exchange of fours with Roach.

Side Two has three tracks; “Din-K A Street”, “Pay Not Play Not” and “To Inscribe”. Throughout these tracks one can hear a pianist who is on a completely different plane than most other players as he lays down chord structures that don’t fall within established norms. So if the listener is willing to make a commitment to the music, there is a reward as Hasaan has developed a unique harmonic sense, and his opaque expressions will deliver chills.

A pianist’s life work in a singular recorded document.

Side One:
Three-Four vs. Six-Eight Four-Four Ways
Off My Back Jack
Hope So Elmo
Almost Like Me

Side Two:
Din-K A Street
Pay Not Play Not
To Inscribe

—Pierre Giroux







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