JOHN LEE & GERRY BROWN - INFINITE JONES
Jon Lee & Gerry Brown for Keytone from 1973.
Gerry Brown (drums, percussion)John Lee (bass, Fender bass, percussion)Gary Bartz (alto & soprano saxophones, slidewhistle, percussion)Chris Hinze (flute, alto & bass flute, piccolo, bamboo flute)Henny Vonk (vocals, percussion)Howard King (percussion)Rob van de Broek (piano, electric piano)Hubert Eaves (piano, electric piano, percussion)Jasper Van 't Hof (piano)Wim Stolwijk (piano, voice)
Forget all the dross that Lee & Brown knocked out during the 70's this was their first lp a slammin' slab of spiritual fusion which blows the shit out of their later output.
Michael Cuscuna (no less) wrote these excellent sleeve notes:
Infinite Jones is an outstanding recording from two outstanding musicians, John Lee and Gerry Brown. They have totally absorbed the various vocabularies of every musical idiom of the day and added their own fiercely creative energies to that knowledge. This album will prove that beyond doubt.
John and Gerry first established themselves within the New York and Philadelphia music circles. Gerry has worked with such diverse musicians as Lionel Hampton and Stanley Clarke, John has played with Max Roach, John Henderson, Pharoah Sanders and others, as a team they worked together in several groups, most notably that of tenor saxophonist Carlos Garnett.They expanded their reputations further when they moved to Holland to join Chris Hinze's Group. While Chris' recording schedule and tours are quite demanding, the duo found time to play with Joachim Kuhn and to write and record this, their first album as leaders.
Their compatriots here are from two basic sources. Hubert Eaves and Howard King are in Gary Bartz' NTU troupe, while the remaining sidemen have all worked with Chris Hinze.
The title tune kicks off in a contemporary funk groove with bass, drums and electric piano, Henry Vonk's voice and later Gary's soprano come in to state the theme, which moves as a half tempo feel across the rhythm section. Eaves' electric piano and Gary's soprano sax are the featured soloists, a series of haunting voice-organ pedaltones move beautifully under the rhythm section and soloists.
Deliverance, whose theme is stated by the rhythm as well as the melody instruments, is the longest and freest piece on the album. Bartz gets off some beautiful statements on the soprano, followed by Gerry's first drum solo, which is an exercise in descending dynamics. Bartz steps out again as the band gradually builds in intensity. John Lee's electric bass solo grows not only in power but in the intensity of his statements, with free and complimentary support from the piano and drums. Jasper van 't Hot turns in a great electric piano solo, check the way John's bass glisses and Gerry's drum figures lock in together under him, some raspy thrills from Bartz make the transition into Gerry's next drum solo an impressive, if not brief tour de force, after which the band rejoins for a brief statement of the theme.
Jua strikes the ears as an impressive extension of the classic John Coltrane Quartet, not only in the feel of the rhythm section (check the left hand on the acoustic piano), but also in the development of a basic six note theme into a full tune and then into a full performance. The first solo is Chris' flute as the rhythm section turns on in a rolling six/eight the band lightens up for a swaying entrance of Bartz' soprano sax and then begins to build back up their original level. There are several amazing moments in the Bartz' solo when the sax and drums lock firmly together in their phrasing. Gerry's Absitively Posolutely begins with a drum solo that evolves into a rockish beat with percussion support. Bartz comes in with a slidewhistle as the drums grow more frantic and insistent until this unusual piece comes to an end.
Rise On has an underlying samba feel with the alto sax, flute and voice reading the theme. The tune is basically a showpiece for Gary's alto with John's delightful glissando occasionally stealing the spotlight. Chris Hinze's Who Con See The Shadow Of The Moon opens with the alto sax, arco bass and voices playing and even dirgelike line with the alto flute playing over them, eventually brushes and electric piano are introduced to apply a marchlike tempo under the line, then the rhythm section breaks into a controlled dark-baroque feeling for a brief solo and extended bass solo.Bamboo Madness offers a catchy theme played by the unique combination of bamboo flute, acoustic bass and percussion.
My enthusiasm for Infinite Jones is inexhaustible. With each listening new musical discoveries reveal themselves to me. It is fitting that this album by John Lee and Gerry Brown would be as outstanding as their individual playing. What more can I say.
Michael Cuscuna Writer Critic, Producer New York