Sam Rivers: Cyclic Episode
Sam Rivers (tenor sax)
Fuchsia Swing Song (Blue Note 90413)
Composed by Sam Rivers.
Recorded: Englewood Cliffs, NJ, December 11, 1964
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
Sam Rivers and Tony Williams, friends from their days in Boston, were a perfect pair at this stage of their careers, matching each other's ability to fluidly move between rhythmic and metric ambiguity and well- defined, hardnosed swing. It's no surprise that young Williams recommended Rivers for what turned out to be Sam's short-lived tenure in Miles Davis's group earlier in 1964.
On "Cyclic Episodes," Rivers alternates long, boppish lines—precise and direct in their melodic nature—with edgier free statements that blur barlines and hover above the harmonic structure. The rhythm section excels throughout, especially during the interlude, beginning at 3:25; Carter slides through double stops, Byard rolls out impressionistic and evocative chords, and Williams reflects silently behind the kit at times, and at others implying 3/4, 6/8 or 4/4 time. Rivers's debut was a major statement by a fresh new voice on the 1960s jazz scene. Sprinkled with hints of the freedom his later work would attain, Fuchsia Swing Song is an essential album for fans of exploratory 1960s post bop, yet still accessible to less adventure-seeking listeners.
Reviewer: Matt Leskovic