Ray Anderson
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Chicago's white trombonist Ray Anderson (1952) moved to New York in 1972, where he worked with Anthony Braxton (1978-81) and Barry Altschul (1978-80). Anderson, a virtuoso of multiphonics and a schoolmate of trombonist George Lewis, was one of the musicians who pushed the limits of the trombone after the neglect of the bebop years.

Anderson debuted on Oahspe (november 1978) in a trio with bassist Mark Helias and drummer Gerry Hemingway that was a slicker version of Barry Altschul's free-jazz trio (in which both Anderson and Helias were playing at the time). A quintet with Ray Anderson on tenor and alto trombones, Allan Jaffee on guitar, Mark Dresser on bass, Gerry Hemingway on drums recorded Harrisburg Half Life (june 1980). Both albums introduced group improvisation in a more friendly format. Anderson's style at the instrument was a lot less cerebral than Lewis', and frequently downright ironic, reminiscent of New Orleans' marching bands, Chicago's rhythm'n'blues and California's funk-rock.

Anderson's schizophrenic style allowed him an equally schizophrenic career. The Slickaphonics, formed with Helias, Jaffe, Jim Payne on drums and Steve Elson on tenor and synthesizer, played avant-funk music on Wow Bag (march 1982), Modern Life (november 1983), that replaced Elson with saxophonist Daniel Wilensky, and Humatomic Energy (may 1985), with Elson back in the ranks.

Right Down Your Alley (february 1984), the second trio with Helias and Hemingway, was largely dominated by Anderson's compositions, notably Right Down Your Alley, but also featured Hemingway's Paucartambo. The name of the trio changed to BassDrumBone after You Be (november 1985), but the music also became less adventurous on Wooferlo (november 1987), Hence The Reason (march 1996) and March of Dimes (september 1997). They were making free jazz palatable to the traditionalists with their good-humored anti-intellectual approach while surgically operating on its corpse with a postmodernist perspective in the tradition of Charles Mingus.

Anderson's sextet for It Just So Happens (february 1987), featuring Stanton Davis's trumpet, Perry Robinson's clarinet, Bob Stewart's tuba, Mark Dresser's bass and Ronnie Burrage's drums, emphasized his playful side (Fishin' With Gramps, Ross The Boss). Even more riotous and clownish was Blues Bred in the Bone (march 1988), with grotesque pieces such as Blues Bred in the Bone, 53rd and Greenwood and Hemlines performed by a stellar quintet with pianist Anthony Davis, guitarist John Scofield, bassist Mark Dresser and drummer John Vidacovich. The joke was sustained on What Because (november 1989), as the players changed but the quintet remained the same (John Hicks' piano, Jaffe's guitar, Dresser's bass and Pheeroan Aklaff's drums) and the spirited numbers kept coming (only one piece was a cover): Off Peak, What Because, Waltz for Peace, Alligatory Crocodile. The Wishbone Suite was the centerpiece of Wishbone (january 1991), with Helias, Mark Feldman on violin, Fumio Itabashi on piano, Dion Parson on drums, Don Alias on percussion. Pianist Simon Nabatov, bassist Charlie Haden and drummer Ed Blackwell made up the glossy quartet of Every One of Us (june 1992), but the sprightly originals (Kinda Garnerish, Muddy and Willie) were diluted by too many covers.

In the meantime, Anderson had joined George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band for Happening Now (october 1987) and charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra for Dreamkeeper (april 1990) and played on the album by the New York Composers Orchestra (january 1990). He continued to be part of New York's avantgarde ventures, even if his solo and group recordings almost seemed to make fun of them.

George Gruntz's Concert Jazz Band (now featuring trumpeters Lew Soloff, Ryan Kisor, John D'Earth and Herb Robertson, saxophonists Tim Berne, Ellery Eskelin and Marty Ehrlich, violinist Mark Feldman, tuba player Howard Johnson, three trombonists, and pianist George Gruntz) performed witty Anderson music on Big Band Record (january 1993): Anabel at One, Lips Apart, Seven Monsters, The Literary Lizard, Don't Mow Your Lawn.

The Alligatory Band (electric bass and guitar, drums, percussion and Lew Soloff's trumpet) recorded Don't Mow Your Lawn (march 1994), an even more hilarious and verbose workout (Airwaves, Blow Your Own Horn, Diddleybop, Alligatory Pecadillo), and the lighter Heads and Tales (may 1995).

After the parenthesis of Azurety (april 1994) and Cheer Up (march 1995), two albums by a trio with Dutch drummer Han Bennink and Irish guitarist Christy Doran that bridged heavy-metal and free-jazz styles, Anderson debuted yet another project, Slideride, a trombone quartet with Craig Harris, George Lewis and Gary Valente, on Slideride (august 1994). And then another one, the Lapis Lazuli Band, with pianist Amina Claudine Myers and guitarist Jerome Harris, on Funkorific (january 1998), an album of funky rhythm'n'blues. And then another one, the Pocket Brass Band (Soloff on trumpet, Matt Perrrine on sousaphone, Bobby Previt on drums) on Where Home Is (november 1998), almost a tribute to New Orleans' jazz plus the usual funky element (Bimwa Swing).

After having participated as a guest to the first albums of the Super Trombone, Super Trombone (march 1995) and Hello Young Lovers (october 1996), Anderson became a member of it on Take Five (november 2000), joining Jim Pugh, Dave Bargeron and Dave Tylor (and their piano-bass-drums rhythm section).

BassDrumBone was a trio formed by bassist Mark Helias, drummer Gerry Hemingway and trombonist Ray Anderson that released the live Hence The Reason (march 1996), the live March Of Dimes (september 1997), Cooked To Perfection (1999), collecting pieces recorded in 1986, 1987 and 1996, The Line Up (2006) and The Other Parade (august 2009).

The six-movement Sweet Chicago Suite was composed in 2001, but only recorded a decade later on Sweet Chicago Suite (may 2010) with his Pocket Brass Band (Lew Soloff on trumpet, Matt Perrine on sousaphone and Bobby Previte on drums).

Canada Day was originally a quintet led by drummer Harris Eisenstadt, but he enlarged to an octet with Ray Anderson (trombone), Nate Wooley (trumpet), Dan Peck (tuba), Matt Bauder (tenor sax), Chris Dingman (vibes), Garth Stevenson (bass) and Jason Mears (alto sax) for Canada Day Octet (december 2011), containing the four-movement suite The Ombudsman.

Ray Anderson (trombone), Han Bennink (drums), Ernst Glerum (double bass) and Paul Van Kemenade (alto sax) recorded Checking Out (january 2016).

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