Gerald Cleaver and Violet Hour
Live at Firehouse 12
Drummer/composer Gerald Cleaver is on fire here leading his band Violet Hour through some post-bop future-classics. Ben Waltzer (piano) is an early delight on the opener, Pilgrim’s Progress, trumpeter Jeremy Pelt has a chance to rip here too. And Chris Lightcap (double bass) is urgent and driving throughout, so locked in with Cleaver but the two have their distinct voices and make some separate choices.
This is workout-jazz – all cylinders firing. JD Allen (tenor sax) and Andrew Bishop (bass clarinet and soprano and tenor saxes) will also get plenty of chances here, particularly on the 8-minute Silly One and the funky 12-minute twist-and-turner, Tale of Bricks.
There’s not a ballad in sight as Cleaver barges through these five long pieces – a 45-minute burn that is always exciting. And the drummer gives plenty of space to his soloists – mostly sitting down hard on the ride cymbal and rolling and tumbling beneath them, never over-powering, just stoking the engine and driving it home.
The weirdest thing about this album is that it was recorded in 2006 and shelved until now.
But jazz is timeless. (Unless you added a DJ, rapper or drum-machine). And this feels like a good ol’ blowing session. Just as there are Coltrane albums released anew in 2019 and other long lost classics – plus all the material we must still catch up with – so it is that one of the best straight ahead jazz belters from 2019 is a live club date that sat in the can for 13 years.
I keep playing this. Over and again. It’s effortless but it has a real spark there. A real charge. It’s wonderful playing. Nice to know its now out in the world and allowed to do its thing. A must for small-combo hard-bop jazz listeners.
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