Spirits Known And Unknown 180 Gr Audiophile
Data aparitiei: 19.12.2019
Casa de discuri: Pure Pleasure
Leon Thomas (voc, perc); Pharoah Sanders (sax); James Spaulding (as, fl); Lonnie Liston Smith (p); Cecil McBee, Richard Davis (b); Roy Haynes (dr); Richard Landrum (bgo)
Leon Thomas' solo debut recording after Pharoah Sanders is a worth listening collaboration with a number of musicians including bassist Cecil McBee, flutist James Spaulding, Roy Haynes, Lonnie Liston Smith, Richard Davis and Sanders (referred to here as "Little Rock"), etc. ... Thomas' personal singing effect, best described as a yodel, is in its best form here and is brought into focus alongside the unique lyrical style and his trademark, scat singing.
The set begins with a shortened, more lyrical version of Thomas' characteristic "The Creator Has A Master Plan", with the text flowing gently and smoothly alongside the yodel that flashes only in the choruses. Another thing is his own "One", led by Davis' piano and centering Spaulding's saxophone in the middle of the track, Thomas alternates here between scatting and groaning, yodeling and howling, across the lyrics, through them, among them and despite them. It is an intense ride preparing for the glorious "Echoes".
This composition is Thomas in his most spiritual and uplifting form and possesses the mysterious drift of a melody that fuses with Spaulding's flute and a set of pan-pipes that flame-up in and out of the mix before Thomas's lament comes to the fore as a solo. The end of the record page looks into Thomas' past (he sang with everyone from Count Basie to Grant Green and Mary Lou Williams) for a highly original interpretation of Horace Silver's classic "Song For My Father". Thomas gives the melody so much emotion that it is a miracle that he can keep it under control. Page two is formally freer with "Damn Nam", a near-hate tirade in which the band follows a melodic vision and harmonic innovation.
There is also the deeply moving "Malcolm's Gone", a co-composition between Thomas and Sanders, which has the wonderful horns hard and true in the center of the mix and a wild spiritual, Far Eastern atmosphere in the improvisation. It is the longest track on the album and one of the most criminally ignored in Thomas' long career. The album closes with Bell and Houston's "Let The Rain Fall On Me". It is a shimmering straight jazz number with a beautiful piano solo by Smith. It is the conclusion of a visionary album with a lovely, spiritual note.
Spirits Known And Unknown" is one of Thomas' most beautiful moments on vinyl, proving its versatility and accessibility to an audience that for too long had been too close to the avant-garde and free jazz.