Joe Farrell: Collage for Polly
Collage for Polly
Joe Farrell (flute)
Joe Farrell Quartet (CTI/CBS Associated ZK 40694)
Composed by Joe Farrell.
Recorded: Hackensack, NJ, July 1970
Rating: 85/100 (learn more)
I never really got into the art of Jackson Pollock. To me his abstract art was a bunch of nonsense. I mean how creative was it to stand over a big canvas and randomly drip paint onto it? I sort of looked at free jazz the same way. Free jazz has never really been in the bag of jazz music I reach into to. I am sorry to say I find much of the music of the free school to be no better than hearing a group of drunken revelers tooting away on their party noisemakers.
Of course, I respect all musicians and must leave room for the fact that the free music I didn't like may be above my head. What does this say about the free jazz I do like? Is it simpler? Is it less free? What does it say about me? Am I not very smart? I don't really know. But searching my memory for the few times I have enjoyed any music from the genre, something does become clear. I don't seem to be able to handle it when the musicians are all on top of each other playing directionless themes and disparate forms. I do have a good ear, and the music has to get pretty damn complicated to lose me. But I prefer the free jazz excursions in which individual players can be clearly heard. That occurs in "Collage for Polly." The tune – which is not a tune – is constructed in such a way that each player is given space to make a statement. Echo and reverb dominate the open spaces because that was what was available to the players in 1970. This collage is almost more a sampling of cosmic sound effects than any form, free or not. But they are cool sound effects. How can you not be interested in hearing four of the most renowned and inventive jazz musicians of their day (and now) express themselves in such an unencumbered way? It is also always a plus for any free jazz piece to be short in length. In this case we are talking 2½ minutes. Perfect.
Epilogue: It turns out that some years ago I was at a business convention in Chicago and attended an event at the Art Institute of Chicago. With gin and tonic in hand, I started roaming. I came across a Georgia O'Keefe. Then I saw the famous American Gothic. I turned the corner into a very large room to find myself standing in front of a HUGE Jackson Pollock. I stood and stared for several minutes. The damn thing was fascinating. I found myself analyzing each drip and jagged line. In my mind I could see a tired but inspired Pollock applying the gallons of paint. I realized then and there that Pollock was a great artist and that we should always keep our minds open to any art – and that includes free jazz.
Reviewer: Walter Kolosky