6:00 AM GMT 22/06/2011
Stupid-rare North Euro multi-reed jazz belter, from the artist formerly known as Edmond Gregory.
Here, at the end of 2010, it seems that we've come to the end of the golden era of jazz CD reissues, curtailed at exactly the point where music blogs are introducing fans to yet rarer recordings and stranger figures from the bypassed shadows of the genre. One such player is multi-reedist, Sahib Shihab.
Born Edmond Gregory in Savannah, Georgia in 1925, Shihab cut his teeth on post-Parker bop, recording with Miles, Coltrane, Monk (he's on the original version of Round About Midnight) and Dizzy Gillespie's big band before departing the U.S. in the late '50s, angered by the racial tensions of contemporary New York. "I don't have time for this racial bit," he told Down Beat magazine in 1963, "It depletes my energies."
After touring Europe with the Quincy Jones Big Band in the early '60s, Shihab settled down in Scandinavia, moving between Denmark and Sweden and establishing a thoroughly unique driving sound that blended post bop, modal, Eastern and Northern European styles; wild rasping experiments on flute and sax, against driving, flowing rhythms that suggested nothing less than the reed equivalent of the mercurial Monk himself.
This album, cut live in Copenhagen in '63, is a rolling joy. Led in by Niels-Henning Orsted Pederson's walking bass, and the twin-drum kits of Alex Riel and Bjarne Rostovold, opening track, 4070 Blues, comes on like some pastoral theme tune from the wildest ever '70s kids' TV show, Shihab's urgent, rough-house flute wigging out and digging in as the rhythm section keep it moving ever forward, like some carnival of woodland animals hopped up on mushrooms and licorice root. Shihab's clenched, cautious introduction to Charade - "The title... song... from... the Stanley. Donen. Pro. Duction. A UNI! Versal release... titled 'Sharard' or 'Sha-raid'..." - suggest that he may not have been completely sober during the recording, but his playing, as soloist and bandleader is totally in control, pulling the band on a twisting, mystical ride that conjures up images of Cary Grant's Euro playboy world wrenched at the seams by free psychedelic revolution.
An unsung hero of radical '60s jazz, Shihab's wider rediscovery is long overdue. Unfortunately, with CD reissues the way they are, it's unlikely to happen any time soon.
Posted by Ross_Bennett at 3:16 PM GMT 03/11/2010
Sahib Shihab – And The Danish Radio Jazz Group (Oktav, 2008)
Quincy Jones – The Boy in The Tree (Mercury, 1961)
Kenny Clarke/Francy Boland Big Band – Jazz Is Universal (Atlantic, 1962)