Saturday, May 13, 2017
Rocco John's Peace and Love on CD
I've waded into this sea, and it's full of riptides. It's not easy to find an entry point for music like this. I don't know who Rocco John is (his full name is Rocco John Iacovone), I don't know who Will Connell is and I've never heard of the Improvisational Composers Ensemble. This is a recording however, where Rocco John uses the Improvisational Composers Ensemble to pay tribute to Will Connell in front of a very small but appreciative audience.
Next we can establish that this is free jazz because the first tune, the 23-minute long "Aurora Borealis," starts off with a section that begins in a troubled mood and then slowly builds into a cacaphony. The first time I heard this, I had to hit the stop button and yell out "Enough." There are rewards when you stick with it--the middle section is calmer and makes more sense. But this is advanced stuff, noise for those who understand noise and practically no one else. Toward the end we get an interesting drum solo before returning to the somber themes of the first couple of minutes. It's a challenge.
That's just the opening track. "Evolutions" is the second of three cuts on the album and it's well over 16 minutes long. It's also far more melodic, bluesy and sexy and I actually really like it--even through the more jagged passages. You might want to start here if you're not in the mood for a 23-minute baptism by fire. The album ends with "What If the Moon Were Made Out of Jazz," which clocks in at a mere 22:30, borders on lovely with its rich combination of saxophones and bass clarinet until it too falls into the sea.
If you've been reading my reviews, you know I ain't afraid of no free jazz. Here I almost have to step back and recuse myself because, well, let's just say of all the free jazz records I own, this one is the most free. There might be someone out there who believes this is the greatest recording of all time, and that I just don't understand it.
That could be absolutely true.