Sam Rivers Trio Live 2007 Reunion Album Due Sept. 25

Rivers, Dave Holland and Barry Altschul had not played together in 25 years

Sam Rivers image 0
Francis Wolff

Sam Rivers

A previously unissued live recording of the late saxophonist/flutist/pianist Sam Rivers, Reunion: Live in New York, will be released on Sept. 25 on Pi Recordings. The date captures Rivers with his trio of Dave Holland on bass and Barry Altschul on drums, performing at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University in 2007. The trio had not played together in 25 years when this concert took place.

The release coincides with what would have been Sam Rivers’ 89th birthday. The reunion concert was the culmination of Columbia University radio station WKCR’s week-long Sam Rivers Festival. There was no rehearsal other than a 10-minute sound check prior to the performance and no prior discussion of what they would play. Rivers started with a figure on tenor sax and Holland and Altschul quickly fell in behind him. Off they went for the next hour on an extemporaneous journey, conjuring the decades-old magic.

According to a press release, “Although the trio performed extensively, it is surprising how poorly it was documented on record. Aside from two small-label European releases, The Quest (1976) and Paragon (1977), the best-known artifact of their playing together remains Holland’s first album as a leader, the exquisite Conference of the Birds (1972), which memorably pairs Rivers with Anthony Braxton. But Holland’s album was recorded right at the inception of the trio, and cannot be called representative of what its sound would become. In other words, the concert on this release is not only an all-star reunion, but also one of the very few documents of one of the great groups of the 1970s.”

The track titles are numbered, parts one through five for the first set and one through four for the second.