Thursday, October 7, 2010

Charles Tyler's "Eastern Man Alone" Reissued

Charles Tyler's Eastern Man Alone (ESP 1059) was first released in 1967 and perhaps could not be said to have caused a sensation. That was a year where so much was going on musically that some things did not get all the attention they deserved.

Now it's out again on CD and to return to it again after so many years is to hear it with all the intervening music in between as a new context. Fact is the instrumentation was unusual at the time. Tyler on alto plus David Baker on cello and the two acoustic basses of Kent Brinkley and Brent McKesson.

Tyler began his career in the limelight as a member of Albert Ayler's group and by 1967 he was taking some steps away from the speaking-in-tongues frenetic solo style he initially adopted. Eastern Man moves toward a chamber jazz. The three strings and sax combination allows for a more intimate sound, with the strings playing foil to Charles's stringent alto. The melody heads still have an Ayleresque down-home folkishness to them, but Charles' solos tend to bounce off the ceiling a little less.

It was a rather different offering to the typical "new thing" sides that preceded it. But the music is still on the outside track.

It bears hearing again. There is much to like in the interactions of the quartet. It innovated and it turns out that similar instrumentations became quite ordinary in later years. There are moments where intonation is non-standard, but that gives the music some rawness and guarantees that those who are looking for a slicker veneer will not take to it. Perhaps that explains it's relative neglect over the years.

Listening again now, though, I find that there was much that was prophetic. The music has a conviction to it. Listen a few times and you'll no doubt see what I mean.

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