Mengelberg, Lacy, Lewis, Gorter, Bennink: Change of Season
Change of Season
Change of Season: Music of Herbie Nichols (Soul Note SN 1104)
Composed by Herbie Nichols.
Recorded: Milano, July 2 or 3, 1984
Rating: 92/100 (learn more)
For someone who scuffled in virtual anonymity during his lifetime, the highly individualistic post-bop pianist/composer Herbie Nichols has attained fairly remarkable acclaim in the 45 years since his death. He's not become wildly famous, but his sophisticated compositions have been interpreted by many prominent, forward-thinking musicians. This 1984 performance is the title track from one of the first Nichols tribute albums. The quintet treats Nichols' harmonically-ambiguous tune as a lumbering ballad framed by pianist Misha Mengelberg, whose spare, dissonant self-accompaniments are reminiscent of another idiosyncratic pianist/composer, Thelonious Monk. Soprano saxophonist Steve Lacy is astringent and concise, while trombonist George Lewis lends a boppish touch. The musicians don't seem entirely comfortable navigating Nichols' serpentine changes, but somehow their diffidence fits; Nichols was, after all, a rather self-effacing musician. Indeed, as this music demonstrates, that's not a bad way to be. There's beauty in the bashful.
Reviewer: Chris Kelsey