John Handy: Spanish Lady


Spanish Lady


John Handy (alto sax)


Live at the Monterey Jazz Festival (Koch Jazz 7820)

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John Handy (alto sax),

Michael White (violin), Jerry Hahn (guitar), Don Thompson (bass), Terry Clarke (drums)


Composed by John Handy


Recorded: live at the Monterey Jazz Festival, CA, September 18, 1965


Rating: 100/100 (learn more)

Mingus at Monterey 1964. John Handy at Monterey 1965. Charles Lloyd at Monterey 1966. In those years, the Monterey Jazz Festival was the place to be, if only for these three sensational performances. Handy, on tenor, was there with Mingus the year before, and in 1965 it was his turn to bring the house down. His group played two long tunes: the 26-minute "If Only We Knew" and the 19-minute "Spanish Lady," at the end of which the audience was applauding and whistling ecstatically. The latter track has an intense flamenco-flavored ambiance from beginning to end. Handy's hypnotic unaccompanied opening statement, brimming with vocalized exclamations, stirring tremolos and effective upper-register phrasings, leads into a remarkable section driven by Hahn's propulsive strummed guitar and Clarke's unrelentingly creative and supportive drum work. Handy's swift and compelling riffs build things to a rousing climax, after which White solos on his amplified violin with a sound evocative of his own cited influences, Stuff Smith and Ray Nance, but much more modern and harmonically challenging in approach, with endlessly varied effects played with great passion and invention. Hahn's backing of White, and his own subsequent solo, are both astonishing, especially his convoluted and often surprising runs. Handy returns with more of the same, his alto sounding almost guitar-like, with Hahn, Thompson, Clarke, and finally White going full-throttle as they help Handy bring the piece to its highly dramatic resolution.

Reviewer: Scott Albin

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  • 1 Ralph Miriello // Apr 02, 2008 at 10:36 AM
    Scott: This is one of my favorite live performances ever! The amazing thing is I saw these guys perform together in a reunion concert at he Iridium thirty years later. It was still stirring. Goes to show good music is time eternal.
  • 2 Ed Leimbacher // Dec 24, 2008 at 06:44 PM
    great selection and even greater music! there was a story among Seattle area Jazz fans years ago that Michael White was living on the streets here (with or without his electrifying violin), as somewhat similarly Lucky Thompson wound up hiding out in Seattle, descending further into dementia and incapacity and death. so i hope White made it to the reunion mentioned above; he certainly deserved a better fate.