Saturday, March 19, 2011
Phillip Wilson was a member of the AACM and he played in the prototypal Art Ensemble of Chicago (The Roscoe Mitchell Art Ensemble). He was a member of Paul Butterfield's Blues Band and played at Woodstock in 1969- it's one of his compositions appearing on Side 6 of the famous Woodstock Soundtrack triple album. He was a member of jazz/funk/rock group Full Moon.
Perhaps more importantly, he played and recorded with Anthony Braxton, Julius Hemphill, Frank Lowe, George Lewis, David Murray, Lester Bowie, James Carter, Oliver Lake, James Newton, The Last Poets, Bill Laswell, Hamiet Bluiett, Manu Dibango, Jaco Pastorius, John Carter & Wadada Leo Smith.
He wasn't a session musician - he was the guy these people wanted playing for them, with a beautiful poise and fluidity to his approach to the drums, and a free but funky sense of texture and dynamics, and a genuine sense of both 'fire', as well as self-control.
He was *also* the first drummer/percussionist with INTERface.
INTERface was a group led by the guy who ran the Environ loft space in New York City in the mid-late 1970's - John Fischer. Fischer, a visual artist as well as a piano player, was experimental and progressive in his approach - towards both the music he liked to play, as well as the music he programmed at Environ.
Perhaps not as widely mentioned when "the loft scene" is discussed, as Studio RivBea, Ali's Alley, Ladies Fort and others - Environ was every bit as important as the most active of these venues, in the artists it presented and fostered, and the music it gave a platform to. [Further on Environ shortly, here.]
This is the first release on Fischer's ReEntry Records, although not the first album by INTERface or by Fischer [more later].
INTERface here was John Fischer (piano), Mark Whitecage (alto saxophone), Perry Robinson (clarinet), Charles Tyler (baritone saxophone), Rick Kilburn (bass), and Phillip Wilson (drums).
There's somewhat of a fractured chamber-jazz feeling here, in that there's a sense of stripping down to spare sonorities, rather than a full tilt energy-fest approach.
The 'vocal-sounds duet' of Poum #3 may strike some as terribly dated (it does to me) - the piano-clarinet duet of February may not 'burn hard enough' for lovers of skronk - but listen to the chromatic theme of A Day in May, or the quirky crab-like theme of Flies. Tyler's soloing and Wilson's drumming on Quartet are a beautiful loose-limbed joy.
Whitecage and Robinson are strong players and Rick Kilburn has a good feel and formidable chops. Fischer shows a classical influence - even including some left-hand 'Classical quotation' in February - he both supports and pushes his group with a fine musical sense.
Contrary to the 'flybill' on the cover, this was recorded in July, not in January, of 1977.
Please consider buying INTERface releases that are still in print - direct from the artist
It appears some vinyl is still available, as well as the (inexpensive) CD releases (Fischer playing with Arthur Blythe, Wilber Morris, Theo Jorgensmann & more..) .
Hope you enjoy.
Please leave a comment - if you like it, if you don't like it - 'whatever'! .. .
John Fischer - Piano & Voice
Mark Whitecage - Alto Saxophone & Flute
Perry Robinson - Clarinet
Charles Tyler - Baritone Saxophone
Rick Kilburn - Bass
Phillip Wilson - Drums & Percussion
2. A Day in May
2. Solo Poum #3
Recorded at Environ, 476 Broadway, NYC - July 1977
This post - for the memory of Phillip Wilson.