This album requires some in-depth attention. Don''t worry, if you play it long enough it will extract the attention. Just don''t give up on it without having given it its fair shot. It is not the warmest jazz I''ve ever heard, although Dolphy plays with a "woody"...
This album requires some in-depth attention. Don''t worry, if you play it long enough it will extract the attention. Just don''t give up on it without having given it its fair shot. It is not the warmest jazz I''ve ever heard, although Dolphy plays with a "woody" tone (even when he is playing the alto) that I really like. But the musicians, all five of them, are speaking the TRUTH. Listen to them!!!
There are three Little compositions (one of which gets repeated), two standards, and two tracks each from Dolphy and Waldron. By the way, it is incredibly important to get THIS complete edition of the Five Spot recordings. If you get vols 1 and 2, you will not only spend much more money, but you will miss "God Bless the Child" - the best thing on here!
Track by Track -
"Like Someone in Love" - What a great song. Who does a bad version of "Like Someone in Love"? Nobody I know about. The versions by Bjork and Slide Hampton are brilliant and this version fits right in. After some introductory piano phrases, Little takes over the melody while Dolphy takes those wonderful flights of fancy on flute. Dolphy solos at some length, then Little, then Waldron, then Davis (do I correctly count three verses for each solo? A THREE-VERSE BASS SOLO????!!!), and a beautiful conclusion.
This version of "God Bless the Child," which is solo Dolphy, is a small miracle. Whether I would have been able to identify it as "God Bless the Child" without reading the title is anybody''s guess, but I do know I would have been deeply and very sincerely touched by Dolphy''s spirit either way.
"Aggression" seems like more of a Little showcase, tho others do solo. I like Waldron''s solo the best. Naturally, you don''t expect that title to go with a relaxing number, but the piece/song maintains a good edge that stays entertaining, like an exciting movie. And it''s very fast, with an especially gripping trading eights/drum solo at the end.
When the first volume of At the Five Spot was released, the next track, Waldron''s "Fire Waltz," was the first track on the album. That''s fitting enough - it nicely summarizes the quintet''s approach.
“Bee Vamp” (both versions). Here is another Little composition, a couple of bars of melody followed by soloing on a not particularly inspiring chord progression. Little may have been a heroically adventurous trumpeter but a master of songcraft he definitely was not. It would be fair to call these two tracks my least favorites on the album.
Is Dolphy''s "The Prophet" an Islam reference? This track, like “Fire Waltz” and the first version of “Bee Vamp,” was on the original Five Spot volume 1 LP, and it would have to be . . . how could you tell the story of this amazing evening in 1961 without "The Prophet," the longest song played that evening (at 21:15)? Really a quite riveting track, serious and powerful from first note to last.
To my surprise (especially since I had pegged composer Little as the most humorless member of the band), "Booker''s Waltz" is quite a bit more lighthearted - dare I say carefree? - than we have become used to. The band certainly seems to enjoy the waltz format.
"Status Seeking" is a Waldron composition that Waldron and Dolphy had recorded with a sextet a couple of weeks earlier for the album The Quest (which is known in Amazon digital music as Warm Canto - well worth checking out). The live version fits well into this setting. Although everybody solos, this track is notable as the track where we really hear what Blackwell can do with the drums.
Dolphy''s second and last contribution as composer is "Number Eight (Aka Potsa Lotsa)." It is a nice composition, with a great theme and plenty of room for solos!
At the end of the second “Bee Vamp,” you hear 4 or 5 people clapping as the band is introduced. Maybe there were more people there but the ones who really understood the music were too nodded out to applaud.
Just in case you care, here''s the review of this album that I wrote before it started to grow on me (turns out I didn''t have to wait years after all):
Please read my review of Dolphy''s solo performance of "God Bless the Child," which I LOVE! The rest of the tracks all seem to have the same flaw, a certain aloofness which makes me feel that, in listening, I am missing out on the party. Certainly, there is a lot of good - great! - playing but, except for "God Bless the Child," the album is kind of on the depressing side. And this is coming from somebody who will listen to basically anything (pianist Mal) Waldron has done. _The Complete Five Spot_ is certainly something I take seriously as a work of art, and something I will listen to again as the years go by, just in case I become more able to get into it as I evolve.