Jason Crane, yes, he of The Jazz Session, has hit the road and you can follow his adventures by logging in at jasoncrane.org. Crane, who is also an accomplished poet, will give readings while on tour as well as interview a slew of musicians in his continuing quest to acknowledge the many people who are busy creating jazz. And, there are ways to support him - clink on the links above to check it all out.
Watts later recorded for Savoy Records but, in the 70s he became a recording engineer and then an educator (with a short stay at Wesleyan University here in my hometown, brought to the school by Thornton, who spent 6 years on the faculty.) This reissue is a welcome reminder of the power of creative interplay and Marzette Watts' voice in the creative avant-garde.
These 3 ESP Disk releases remind us of those post-John Coltrane years, when musicians continued to push against barriers and boundaries. Many of these musicians left the United States not only because of the political climate (the Vietnam War, urban riots, the Nixon Presidency) but also because European audiences seemed to be more open to adventurous music. For more information about these recordings and other offerings from ESP, go to www.espdisk.com.
As for Ralph Bowen, he luxuriates and flourishes in these sounds. His tenor sounds quite relaxed yet also quite focused. The 9 tracks, all Bowen originals, feel fresh, taking influences from all parts of the jazz world (hard-bop, funk, touches of Latin rhythms) and creating good music. The sweet melody of "In My Dreams", the only true ballad on the CD, brings to mind soul music from the 1970s while "Into The City" is "funk-swing" at its best. Bowen plays some solid soprano sax on "The Dowsing Rod", his handsome tones and lyrical solo giving way to the more "stinging" sounds of Moreno's guitar.
Play "Total Eclipse" from beginning to end and you'll hear 4 musicians not only having a great time but also making adult music of the first order. "Adult", in that is not "dumbed-down" for commercial success but that it is playful, inspired, fully realized and involves the listener on many levels. Ralph Bowen continues to produce really good music - don't hide your eyes or ears from this "..Eclipse."
Here is the title track, courtesy of Posi-Tone Records and IODA Promonet:
Total Eclipse (mp3)