Become a member and get exclusive access to articles, live sessions and more!
Start Your Free Trial

Kidd Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: A Tribute to Alvin Fielder, Live at Vision Festival XXIV (Mahakala)

A review of the live album honoring the drummer

JazzTimes may earn a small commission if you buy something using one of the retail links in our articles. JazzTimes does not accept money for any editorial recommendations. Read more about our policy here. Thanks for supporting JazzTimes.
Kidd Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake: A Tribute to Alvin Fielder, Live at Vision Festival XXIV
The cover of A Tribute to Alvin Fielder, Live at Vision Festival XXIV by Kidd Jordan/Joel Futterman/William Parker/Hamid Drake

This phenomenal 41:24 piece of spontaneous improvisation is rooted in the bonding of outcats in the ’70s Deep South. Drummer Alvin Fielder, a founder of Chicago’s AACM who’d moved to Mississippi to help tend his family’s pharmacy, got word from a friend that a teacher at Southern University in New Orleans was on the verge of quitting music, frustrated at the absence of kindred spirits devoted to exploring the freer aspects of jazz. Fielder sought out this teacher, saxophonist Kidd Jordan, in 1974. The rapport was immediate, becoming the foundation of a profound friendship.

Fielder passed in January 2019. Five months later, Jordan staged this concert at New York’s Vision Festival. Also on the bandstand were longtime Fielder colleagues William Parker (bass) and Steve Futterman (piano), with Hamid Drake taking over on drums. The first eight minutes are the coalescence of chaos; as if to heighten contrast, the band then courses through corridors of blues, gospel, and chamber music, summoning moods that range from raucous rapture to ruminative delicacy.

Jordan is heir to the legacy of Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp, an alchemist of molten passion who’s still canny enough to drop references to “Nature Boy” and “Summertime” in tribute to his late friend’s Southern roots. Futterman dents the senses with gusts of creation but also listens attentively, carrying a rich palette and sharp scalpel. Parker brings his own distinctive universe to every gig, one where grizzly bears move like lemurs; some of the more pivotal moments here occur when he steps into a clearing to pluck or bow in testimony. Drake, a Louisiana native mentored by Ed Blackwell, was the right choice for this date.

Alvin Fielder named Kidd Jordan the godfather to his daughter, said their relationship was “not a kinship, but a twinship.” For him, Jordan, Parker, Futterman, and Drake play their hearts out with a fervor more hawkish than mawkish, taking the music outside for a memorable sendoff and a glorious embrace.

Preview, buy or download A Tribute to Alvin Fielder, Live at Vision Festival XXIV on Amazon!

Drummer Alvin Fielder Dies at 83