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The Glenn Spearman-John Heward Group: th

How many great players like Glenn Spearman are laboring in obscurity around the country? Well, his comrades-in-arms on this recording, for starts. Bay Area listeners know Spearman to be a master of the great post-Coltrane tenor tradition. Trying to find original expression in areas that Trane, Ayler, Pharaoh, Dewey, et al. worked might seem daunting, but Glenn always sounds supremely confident. He is joined by Christopher Cauley, alto; David Prentice, violin and viola; Dominic Duval, bass, and Heward on drums. The instrumentation and approach sometimes evoke Ayler groups, which would be dangerous in the case of lesser players, but here all comparisons end favorably. Heward seems to have have studied Sonny Murray just to figure out where else to go, and when a certain sound makes us think of Gary Peacock, Charles Tyler, or Michel Sampson, we realize immediately that the players at hand are their own men.

For a time it seemed as if the cathartic first flowering of free jazz couldn’t for some reason sustain further growth. This beautiful record is spectacular evidence to the contrary.

Originally Published