CD Until [Robin Kenyatta] (CD 1335764),
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Until [Robin Kenyatta]


  • 1. Until
    2. This Year
    3. You Know How We Do
    4. Little Blue Devil
  • Additional Info
    Manufacturer Part Number (MPN): 2005

  • Credits
    ProducerJoel Dorn; Joel Dorn
    EngineerPhil Ichle; Phil Iehle

    Personnel: Robin Kenyatta (saxophone, alto saxophone); Mike Lawrence (trumpet); Roswell Rudd (trombone); Fred Simmons (piano); Horace Arnold (drums); Archie Lee (percussion).
    Liner Note Author: Don Heckman.
    Recorded and released after a two-year stint in Europe, Until marks alto saxophonist Robin Kenyatta's American debut as a leader, after sideman tenures with Sonny Stitt, Bill Dixon, and Archie Shepp. For anyone (of the few) who followed the rather obscure reedman's career, this set -- originally released on the Atlantic jazz subsidiary Vortex and produced by Joel Dorn -- is indicative of the restless nature of Kenyatta's career on his own records: he was not only interested in, but attempted to play, the entire range of jazz. For starters, there are three different units scattered across the album. The opener, "Until," written by Barry Miles, is a tender, straight-ahead ballad that showcasesKenyatta's alto accompanied by pianist Fred Simmons, bassist Walter Booker, and drummer Horace Arnold. The lyricism Kenyatta possesses here is celebratory; it's a near perfect union of technical mastery and soulfulness. "This Year," written by trumpeter Mike Lawrence, is an adventurous piece informed by the vanguard lyricism of Ornette Coleman and Don Cherry, as it meets the swinging hard bop tradition. It is performed by a pianoless quartet that includes Lawrence. A quintet with Simmons performs the closing "Little Blue Devil," a Kenyatta original that swings harder and stays closer to the hard bop vest. The strangest number here, and one that completely locates Kenyatta in the exploratory nature of the era, is his own "You Know How We Do," recorded by a pianoless septet with Roswell Rudd on trombone, percussionist Archie Lee, and second bassist Lewis Worrell. The stark, gospel-style head (also deeply influenced by Coleman), where it exists at all, is supplanted by the dual bass fury and a solidly rhythmic attack -- even the solo phrasings on the brass and saxophone underscore this. While Until may have been a tad schizophrenic for the time period as jazz was choosing sides along with everything else in the culture, it sounds timeless and even contemporary in the 21st century, making for a wonderful starting point for anyone interested in pursuing the mercurial nature of Kenyatta's music. This date was finally issued on CD in 2008 by Wounded Bird Records, marking the first time his material had been made available in the digital age. ~ Thom Jurek

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