Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Introducing the inspiring John Gilmore

Of course, I had heard JOHN COLTRANE, but it wasn't until I really listened -- really concentrated on the frenetic flurry of notes pouring forth from his tenor saxophone -- that I could appreciate his genius.
I remembered feeling exhilaration.
I'm experiencing similar feelings this week, as I listen carefully to one of Trane's influences, the Chicago tenor saxophonist JOHN GILMORE.
Gilmore was among the boundary pushing sidemen of SUN RA AND HIS ARKESTRA. Gilmore also recorded his own dates occasionally, such as the 1957 Blue Note disc "BLOWING IN FROM CHICAGO," with fellow tenorman CLIFF JORDAN.
The disparity between the two sax players is audibly clear, or as Joe Segal wrote in the liner notes:
"(Clifford's) mellower tone is readily distinguishable from Gilmore's harder, more punching sound."
Gilmore's playing sounds like a revelation, and music writer John Szwed explains why:
"(John) Gilmore, like a handful of other younger saxophonists, had been pushing the horn to new limits. The saxophone was invented relatively late in the history of musical instruments, and though its capacities were still being discovered, it had already moved well beyond what most other horns were capable of playing in jazz. The saxophone offered the potential for playing an enormous variety of tones, many of which lay well outside the Western aesthetic. It was possible to play it with intense vocalized articulation, new extremes of vibrato, alternate ways of producing the same tone, overblowing, and the so-called false upper register developed among stomping, bar-walking rhythm and blues saxophonists. Tenor saxophones, especially, were able to honk, howl, scream, cry, pop, growl, and tongue-slap tones, and Gilmore had taken the horn further in this direction than anyone else at the time."
I think I love music so much because it continues to inspire and excite me.
Gilmore's saxophone playing is no exception.


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