Muhal Richard Abrams: Blu Blu Blu
Blu Blu Blu
Muhal Richard Abrams (piano)
Blu Blu Blu (Black Saint 120117-2)
Alfred Patterson (trombone), Mark Taylor (French horn), Joe Daley (tuba), John Purcell, Robert DeBellis (alto saxes), Eugene Ghee (tenor sax), Patience Higgins (baritone sax), Warren Smith (vibes), Brad Jones (bass), Thurman Barker (drums).
Composed by Muhal Richard Abrams.
Recorded: New York, November 9-10, 1990
Rating: 93/100 (learn more)
The title track of Muhal Richard Abrams's Blu Blu Blu big band CD would make a great blindfold test. Just like other Chicago progressives such as Lester Bowie, Amina Claudine Myers, Henry Threadgill, and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, Abrams has always been open to all forms of music, from ragtime to free jazz, European classical, and in this case the blues.
The Abrams composition "Blu Blu Blu" is dedicated to his fellow Chicagoan McKinley Morganfield, aka Muddy Waters, who died seven years prior to this recording. Listening to Dave Fiuczynski's Waters-inflected guitar work here, steeped in the blues tradition as well as influenced by more contemporary jazz and rock, one wonders how Muddy himself might have fared playing this polished yet earthy arrangement. This sounds like a well-oiled Chicago blues band, with the stomping drummer Thurman Barker deftly in the driver's seat. The wailing Fiuczynski, preaching Ghee, pungently muted Walrath, gliding Smith, and Otis Spann-like Abrams, all have their individual says. Swelling orchestral vamps, and Fiuczynski's frequent fills and Delta-derived screeches, add satisfying texture to this fairly standard blues romp. The out chorus is a dual improv between Fiuczynski and Walrath, with Daley's tuba ostinato goosing them along, until the final adroitly resolving modulation by the brass and reeds. Muddy would have liked this one.
Reviewer: Scott Albin