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Ted Curson and Company

Jubilant Power





Reava’s Waltz

Ted’s Tempo

Song of the Lonely

Airi’s Tune

Searchin’ for the Blues


Ted Curson (trumpet, piccolo trumpet, Flugelhorn, Cowbell): Chris Woods (alto sax, flute): Nick Brignola (baritone sax, saxcello): Andy LaVerne (piano, tracks 1 and 2): Jim McNeely (piano, tracks 3-6): David Friesen (bass): Steve McCall (drums, tracks 1 and 2): Bob Merigliano (drums, tracks 3-6): Sam Jacobs (congas)

Recorded October 1976


The first two tracks come from a live Philadelphia session on 16 October 1976 and the remainder comes from a studio set recorded in New York City the following day. All six tracks showcase Curson’s fiery and technically accomplished blowing, supported by exceptionally characterful front-line confreres and a strong rhythm section. Together that adds up to forceful but often thoughtful interplay and it will remind many people of Curson’s perhaps now undervalued place in the scheme of things.

Reava’s Waltz , dedicated to his mother, is cast in a Mingus-derived groove though replete with personal voicings and backing figures cast in a kind of whole-ensemble form. Those counter-themes behind Curson’s solo are finely executed whilst that most chewy-toned of baritone articulators, Nick Brignola, shows fine chops here and throughout. The other member of the front line is altoist Chris Woods, an individualist to the core, whose playing veers from relentless to expressive. This inventive waltz, stretching live to twelve minutes, is followed by Ted’s Tempo, loosely based on Night in Tunisia. Again, the muscular soloists, led by the leader but not forgetting Brignola’s angry and gnarly voice, swap solos in a no-holds-barred way, excellently borne up by the incisive rhythm section led by pianist Andy LaVerne.

For the studio session LaVerne was replaced by Jim McNeely and there was a change at the drums: Steve McCall out and Bob Merigliano in. There’s a melancholy Curson ballad, Song of the Lonely, which is suitably melancholic, with some brief trumpet flurries to dissipate too much tristesse, and a somewhat Latin Airi’s Tune where Woods’ solo, both searing and hoarse, catches the ear and where McNeely seems to summon up shades of Ray Bryant. Searchin’ for the Blues is a loping, rather Monk-like affair, with an excellent ensemble and good solos. Woods digs out his double, the flute, for the final rack, a lyric Marjo, where Curson too shows what a resourceful and adaptable stylist he is.

Inner City had the good sense to engage Nat Hentoff to write the original liner notes, duly reprinted here. So ‘Jubilant Power’ is just about right as an album title – if you add intermittently introspective, lyrical and thoughtful too. A fine restoration, then.

Jonathan Woolf

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