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Hamiet Bluiett: Im/possible to Keep

During the late ’70s and early ’80s, India Navigation chronicled the maturation of the New York loft jazz scene, playing a key role in the ascent of David Murray, Chico Freeman, and others. With the exception of the truly dispensable Pharoah, producer Bob Cummins had excellent instincts in constructing a catalog that balanced unconventional solo albums by Hamiet Bluiett and Leroy Jenkins, Freeman’s burnished ballads albums, and the hard-nosed post-Coleman contours of Murray, Arthur Blythe, and others. Pharoah aside, these reissues offer an excellent vantage on a long-gone scene.

It’s a stretch to call the two-CD Bluiett set a reissue; it does contain the entire S.O.S. LP, but also over 90 minutes of previously unissued material. The LP consisted of a single cut, “Sobre Una Nobe,” which veered from swaying, samba-tinged sensuality to molten intensity. Not only has it lost none of its luster in the intervening years, it has taken on a greater gravity in this new collection, which documents the two complete sets recorded at Axis in Soho back in ’77. The present album title, Im/possible to Keep, refers to the baritone saxophonist’s quartet of pianist Don Pullen, bassist Fred Hopkins, and drummer Famoudou Don Moye, which explored extended spaces and retooled a war-horse like “Tune Up” with a sharply focused fervor.

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