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Horace Tapscott: Dissent or Descent

Given Tapscott’s recent ascendance to ancestry, courtesy of that old devil cancer, the title of this disc is rather prophetic. Clearly Horace Tapscott in his rich artistic life chose to dissent, never descending to the ordinary or the mundane. His lack of conformity was borne out in a stubborn refusal to forsake the Los Angeles root he steadfastly nurtured and in his lack of pianistic compromise.

The lone clue to the origin of this session, which is criminally lacking in information, is the 1984 date provided for the live version of his “Ballad for Samuel” (H. Tapscott). Tapscott’s indebtedness to Monk is evident, a debt partially repaid here by a stunning 10:00 solo rendition of the evergreen “Ruby My Dear.” Of the originals, there is a stately quality to his themes, almost anthemic in their delivery. Witness the original “To the Great House,” which would make for a particularly hip newscast theme. This date is also important because it pairs two we have lost, as Tapscott is joined by another recent ancestor, bassist Fred Hopkins, and one of Monk’s greatest drummers, Ben Riley. “Sandy and Niles” proves an apt showcase for Hopkins’ wholly original bass sound via a solo that is beautifully shaded by Riley.

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