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Herbie Nichols Project: Dr. Cyclops, Dream

The first Herbie Nichols Project record, Love Is Proximity, was the first to use a classic quintet format and modified hard-bop approach to interpret Nichols’ music, which is what the composer had in mind all along. For the follow-up pianist Frank Kimbrough, bassist Ben Allison, trumpeter Ron Horton, reedman Ted Nash and drummer Tim Horner have been joined by another horn, Michael Blake, who plays tenor and soprano while Nash is heard on tenor, flute, and bass clarinet. The program will be unfamiliar to all but fanatics. “Beyond Recall”, “It Didn’t Happen”, and “Riff Primitif” are among the lesser-known tunes that Herbie actually recorded. “Valse Macabre” and “The Bebop Waltz” were first recorded by Roswell Rudd’s trio and Mary Lou Williams respectively. It is interesting that Williams, who used the title “Mary’s Waltz”, used no improvisation on either of her two early ’50s versions, one of which featured Don Byas. These were advanced players for whom even a relatively simple Nichols piece was daunting at the time.

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