“I’ve Known rivers, and other bodies”

I have been thinking about posting this week: and wanting to do some promoting of my music. After a trying week at work,  I had the most wonderful gig on Friday at the Black Dog!   But writing about your own stuff gets wearing- I would rather talk about so many other things.- like other people’s music, that inspires me.

My new commute is touch longer than before: I now spend about 15 -20 minutes in the car each way.  ( I know, it is short!)  I get to listen to random music.  Being an abstract random, this is a pleasure most times.

I recently got a hold of a CD which I have previously owned as a cassette, and an LP- which were loaned and lost. ( the tape died)

“I’ve known Rivers and other bodies” is a song that has informed and inspired me, in my mind’s ear, for decades.

This song was a concert recording of alto/soprano player Gary Bartz with  Ntu Troop at the Montreux Jazz Festival, July 7, 1973. Hubert Eaves is on piano, Stafford James bass, and the young Howard King on drums.

The energy of the gig is alive: Mr. James starts with a modal bass line in D- Mr. King kicks in, supporing, and soon Mr. Eaves is laying down a chordal bed, in A.- bitonal, and entrancing.

Then, Mr. Bartz enters, singing in a clear, unaffected voice, the poem “ I’ve known rivers” by Langston Hughes. His voice is not heavy with vibrato, nor flat.

The song mostly stays in a compelling groove- with a bridge happening at the end of the poem’s recitation.

Bartz’s solo is a true wonder- leaping, cascading, river like in it’s explorations.  And while this song much like Coltrane, it is clearly Bartz’s own work.  I have played that solo in my mind from since the 80’s, when drummer/kalimbist Bob Zander hipped me to it. It is a source of continual inspiration to me.

The danger of compelling grooves is that they can last too long.”I’ve known rivers” clocks in at 8 minutes 20 seconds, and I usually want to hear it again.  I see that  Gary Bartz is still alive and playing.  I think he deserves our support.  Let’s go see these guys- and our local guys, and celebrate the gifts given  to our community musical psyche.

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