Julius Hemphill: Bordertown




Julius Hemphill (flute, alto & soprano saxes)


Big Band (Elektra/Musician 9 60831-1)

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Julius Hemphill (flute, alto & soprano saxes), Bill Frisell (guitar),

David Hines, Rasul Siddik (trumpets), Frank Lacy, David Taylor (trombones), Vincent Chancey, John Clark (French horns), Marty Ehrlich (flute, alto & soprano saxes), John Purcell, John Stubblefield (tenor & soprano saxes, flutes), J.D. Parran (flute, baritone sax), Jack Wilkins (guitar), Jerome Harris (electric bass), Ronnie Burrage (drums), Gordon Gottlieb (percussion)


Composed by Julius Hemphill


Recorded: New York, February 1988


Rating: 88/100 (learn more)

Listening through Big Band, Julius Hemphill's only recording with such a large unit, one must wonder why he didn't assemble big bands more often. His compositions beautifully lend themselves to full brass or reed sections latching onto his carefully constructed background figures and compositional shifts. But perhaps it's better that way, allowing this late '80s date to stand out as one of Hemphill's career highlights. The other diamond in the rough here is the jazz/rock brilliance of Bill Frisell who, slightly after the 4-minute mark, begins a daring, raucous solo statement in which he manages to maintain his trademark melodicism amidst a jazz/rock blowing-session atmosphere. When the initial straight-eighths groove morphs into a double-time swing session that builds to an album-ending climax, daresay I hear a bit of rock-star shredding from the always tasteful Frisell? Yes! And because it's Frisell at the helm, it works.

Reviewer: Eric Novod

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