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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, James Poore, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf

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Manhattan Stories




Sweet Georgia Bright

How Can I Tell You

Lady Gabor (2 versions)

Slugs’ Blues

Dream Weaver

Charles Lloyd (tenor saxophone and flute): Gábor Szabó (guitar): Ron Carter (bass): Pete La Roca Sims (drums)

Recorded 1965, Judson Hall, and Slugs’ Saloon, NYC [42:35 + 42:13]

The only live recordings of this quartet were made at Judson Hall and Slugs’ Saloon, NYC in 1965. One piece is common to both - Lady Gabor - composed by the guitarist Gábor Szabó, and the group of Charles Lloyd, Szabó, Ron Carter and Pete La Roca Sims is heard at the top of its game, untrammelled by studio limitations, free to stretch out on each track.

Sweet Georgia Bright is based on Monk’s Bright Mississippi and is most assuredly not Sweet Georgia Brown. The superb interplay between the four musicians and the pyrotechnical drumming of Sims attests to the consummate level of achievement of this ensemble. The ballad Lloyd composed to salute Billie Holiday, How Can I tell You, reveals lyric flexibility with a truly outstanding Szabó solo with Magyrisms to spice up the musical vocabulary, and a solidly excellent bass solo from Carter. Lloyd and Szabó first played Lady Gabor when they were both members of Chico Hamilton’s Quintet so one should expect the ensemble to be rock tight, as it is, and familiarity to be absolute. Lloyd plays flute here and his tonal variety is excellent, Szabó’s modal guitar playing especially expressive.

Slugs’ Saloon, as its name suggests, offers a club ambience and this date is not as well recorded as the more elegantly appointed hall date. It was, incidentally, the place where Lee Morgan was shot dead. Nevertheless Slugs’ Blues offers a furnace of new ideas, a solid blues where the guitarist offers a mesmerising exhibition – in the least exhibitionist way – of acceleration and deceleration in soloing. The rhythm section operates on a telepathic-seeming level. The band stretches Lady Gabor two minutes longer than at Judson Hall and generates a hypnotic groove in the Sufi-infused Dream Weaver.

I can’t praise the production standards too highly. Resonance has done the very best it can with the tapes and the 36-page booklet is a mine of information. An outstanding release in every way.

Jonathan Woolf

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