DON ELLIS — Soaring

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3.78 | 3 ratings | 2 reviews
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Album · 1973

Tracklist

A1 Whiplash 4:25
A2 Sladka Pitka 6:40
A3 Devil Made Me Write This Piece 6:00
A4 Go Back Home 3:15
B1 Invincible 6:43
B2 Image Of Maria 3:03
B3 Sidonie 6:37
B4 Nicole 5:29

Total Time: 42:12

Line-up/Musicians

Bass – Dave McDaniel
Cello [Electric] – Pat Kudzia
Clarinet, Flute, Oboe, Saxophone [Soprano, Baritone] – Gary Herbig
Clarinet, Flute, Saxophone [Tenor] – Sam Falzone
Congas – Lee Pastora
Drums – Ralph Humphrey
Flute, Flute [Alto], Piccolo Flute, Saxophone [Alto, Soprano, Tenor] – Fred Selden
Flute, Piccolo Flute, Saxophone [Alto, Soprano, Tenor] – Vince Denham
French Horn – Sidney Muldrow
Guitar – Jay Graydon
Organ, Piano, Electric Piano [Fender Rhodes], Clavinet – Milcho Leviev
Percussion, Drums – Ron Dunn
Trombone – Mike Jamieson
Trombone [Bass] – Ken Sawhill
Trumpet, Drums, Flugelhorn – Don Ellis
Trumpet, Flugelhorn – Bruce Mackay, Gil Rathel, Jack Caudill
Tuba – Doug Bixby
Viola [Electric] – Renita Koven
Violin [Electric] – Earle Corry, Joel Quivey

About this release

MPS Records ‎– MB 25123(US)

Thanks to snobb, dreadpirateroberts for the updates

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DON ELLIS SOARING reviews

Specialists/collaborators reviews

js
Don Ellis’ “Soaring” is another one of those albums that is a tale of two sides, with one side being quite different from the other. Side one of this album is classic Don Ellis high energy modern big band music with ambitious arrangements, lots of odd-metered rhythms, electronic effects and screaming solos. Side two, instead, centers more around ballads and pop type material. The whole album is worth a listen, but I bet most Ellis fans are going to gravitate to side one. A big plus on this album is Bulgarian keyboardist Milcho Leviev who shares Don’s enthusiasm for complex arrangements, odd metered rhythms and wild solos enhanced with electronics. Milcho was always Don’s most valuable sideman.

Some highlights on side one include Milcho’s “Sladka Pitka” which features Bulgarian rhythms and Leviev’s crazed solo on an electric piano enhanced with wah wah effects. Ellis’ “The Devil Made Me Write this Piece” features African rhythms and Don himself taking a drum solo. Side one closes with “Go Back Home”, a foot stomping soul jazz rave up that was a crowd favorite. Throughout this side Don delivers many hair raising solos on the trumpet showing he ranked with the best of the day. In fact, this album may be the one album of his that best showcases his soloing abilities.

“Invincible” opens side two and is probably the best track on this side. It starts as a ballad but then builds, guided by Vince Denham’s powerful sax solo, as it goes through constant modulations and then a classic Don Ellis false ending. The rest of this side is taken by two ballads that are quite sentimental by Ellis standards. I think this album was intended to include all the fan favorites, so that might explain the more pop oriented material. One other track on this side, “Sidonie”, brings back the Bulgarian rhythms and energy, but it lacks the luster of the tracks on the first side. Its kind of convenient the way they split the music on this album, I will probably spin side one now and again, but its possible I may never give side two another listen. Not that it is so bad, but its not what I would normally be drawn to in a Don Ellis recording.
dreadpirateroberts
One of his last studio recordings, Soaring brings together a wide range of elements from Ellis’ past to create an accessible big band album with its share of fusion and even pop sensibilities. The record certainly still has its tricky moments, where it seems like half the players are hard at work doing different things, but it does retain a sense of completeness.

Ellis essentially has a small orchestra to utilise but doesn’t crowd his arrangements. There’s also a focus on more ‘riff-based’ playing for some of the rhythm sections – take ‘Go Back Home’ or ‘The Devil Made Me Write This Piece’ for instance and it’s generally a set of exciting tunes, opener ‘Whiplash’ not least among them. There’s still room for a couple of slower numbers – of which the brief ‘Image of Maria’ is perhaps the more heartfelt, while ‘Nicole’ is a bit cooler.

‘Sladka Pitka’ written by organ and piano player Milcho Leviev possesses perhaps the most varied arrangement, melding CTI-sounding light funk with what could be described as a car-chase horn arrangement, and passages that evoke some sort of bad trip. The most expressive song, even the most direct, has to be ‘Invincible’ with its coy beginning and explosive middle section – the stand out piece for me.

Fans of his earlier work may not enjoy this album, but if you already own ‘Haiku’ ‘Connection’ or ‘Tears of Joy’ and don’t have Soaring yet, it’s definitely worth a look.

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