Clifford Jordan Glass Bead Games

Release date:
October 6, 2023
Buy vinyl:

There are few saxophonists who were able to hold their own against the late great Eric Dolphy. Clifford Jordan is one of them. As a member of the Charles Mingus sextet on his legendary 1964 European tour with Eric Dolphy, Jordan is featured on iconic albums such as The Great Concert of Charles Mingus and Town Hall Concert. Born in 1931, the tenor saxophonist was a giant of the hard bop genre, with an adaptable style that could match the earthsy avant-blues of Mingus, or soar into space alongside Dolphy. Originally released in 1974 and recorded the year prior, Glass Bead Games was the fifth and final installment in Strata-East's Dolphy series, and undoubtedly one of the fantastic series' highlights. The recording features two different quartets, with only Billy Higgins (ds.) and Jordan (ts.) appearing on all tracks; Cedar Walton and Stanley Cowell take turns on piano, while Sam Jones and Bill Lee (father of Spike!) take turns on bass. Across 12 tracks and two sides, Clifford Jordan's two quartets are consistent, with some of the tightest grooves and most spiritual playing of the 70's being recorded during these two sessions. Album opener "Powerful Paul Robeson" is an homage to the legendary singer and activist, and is the kind of spiritual jazz that immediately sends chills down your spine. It opens with atmospheric piano rolls and percussion, over which Jordan's free improvisations take on an almost devotional sound. Homages to great jazz men are frequent throughout, with half of the tracks being named after musicians, including the Lee penned "John Coltrane". The song opens with a bass solo from Lee, before the quartet settles into a steady mid-tempo groove. Jordan plays the angular melody alone, and with every refrain, the melody takes on a haunting quality, until it descends into a subdued bass solo. The chant-like choral refrain that follows, laid gently over a repetitive bassline and delicate percussion is hypnotic, and as Jordan picks up the melody once more, you'll feel as though this is somehow different. Glass Bead Games is undoubtedly one of the finest spiritual jazz recordings to come out of the 70s, and is one that you absolutely must not miss! We are proud to be reissuing Clifford Jordan's Glass Bead Games, available on limited edition vinyl with an obi-strip, only from P-VINE RECORDS.

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