TINTIYANA, FIRST PART
TINTIYANA, SECOND PART
African Space Program
Enja : 1974
DB, piano; Sonny Fortune, Carlos Ward, alto sax, flute; Roland Alexander, tenor saxophone, harmonica; John Stubblefield, tenor sax; Hamiet Bluiett, baritone sax; Cecil Bridgewater, Enrico Rava, Charles Sullivan, trumpet; Kiane Zawadi, trombone; Cecil McBee, bass; Roy Brooks, drums, percussion.
It’s easy to imagine the title of this album being taken in the spirit of any number of space-inspired Sun Ra joints, as a nod to the cosmic music contained therein. But the seeming optimism and unbridled expansiveness that fuels these tracks can actually bring to mind a more literal reading — if not of afronauts, then at least of the vast plains of the southern savannah.
Brand/Ibrahim’s music is almost always marked by this open quality, and a directness that draws on both a folk tradition and a jazz tradition. Both are in ample evidence on these two wonderful cuts from this large band outing, a mix of Euro and American swinging superstars recorded in New York in late 1973. The first part is quite composed, brass heavy in a way that subtly presages the World Saxophone Quartet, not least by featuring the always rocking bari sax of future WSQer Bluiett. There’s also a late, sweet solo from McBee.
The second part is where the album achieves lift off. It’s more of a straight blow-out, with alternating, articulate statements from the whole band; a decent point of comparison is Muhal Richard Abrams’ “Blues Forever,” another big group outing directed by a pianist (in more of an organizational/compositional role). There are also echoes of the Art Ensemble’s arrangements in this track.
As the piece rolls on, the solos get increasingly ragged, the energy rising, until at the finale the rain really comes down hard on the plain. The under-appreciated Carlos Ward, Sonny Fortune, and John Stubblefield unleash some ecstatically unhinged solos here, tapping briefly into stratospheric Albert Ayler territory. First rate stuff from players too often regarded as second tier.
Other notable sounds include an all-too-brief harmonica solo (we won’t write that very often) from the late Alexander, which emerges beautifully out of the surrounding, splattering fanfares; and the amazing rhythm team of McBee and Brooks. Brooks is notably kick-ass throughout the whole date, and his thunderous backbeat powers the second half of “Tintiyana, Second Part” into orbit. Brooks, who died in 2005, was one of the original members of M’Boom.
As ever, Olewnick planted his flag some time ago.