GEORGE COLEMAN — The George Coleman Quintet In Baltimore (review)

GEORGE COLEMAN — The George Coleman Quintet In Baltimore album cover Live album · 2020 · Hard Bop Buy this album from MMA partners
4.5/5 ·
Steve Wyzard

For all of those who may not yet be convinced that George Coleman belongs on any short list of the All-Time Great tenor sax players, may I kindly refer you to this recently re-discovered recording? Yes, this is another "lost" concert tape that is now available for wider distribution among those of us who were far too young to be there or to know what was going on at the time. And based on this performance, we missed out on a lot because the evidence can now be provided that those in actual attendance must have been floored.

Recorded on May 23, 1971 at Baltimore's Famous Ballroom, this set (5 songs, 46:56) has very few source tape issues and definitely sounds much better than the majority of the "recently unearthed" concerts that have flooded the marketplace over the last 10 years. There are almost no "dropouts", and the band is mic'd in such a way that no one is heard wandering off into the next room. From the band I was only previously familiar with Coleman and pianist Albert Dailey, but Danny Moore (trumpet), Larry Ridley (bass), and Harold White (drums) are all exemplary performers and are given much space for soloing.

And what of Mr. Coleman himself? After taking John Lewis's "Afternoon in Paris" as a warm-up, his ferocious solo in Clifford Brown's "Sandu" has to be heard to be believed. Then there's his utter explosion at the end of an unrecognizably breakneck "I Got Rhythm". The band slow down ever so slightly for "Body and Soul". Moore sits out while Coleman runs the gamut for almost 7 minutes. This set closes with another Clifford Brown composition, "Joy Spring", also taken at a blistering tempo with an amazing sax/drums duo.

Let it be said right here that George Coleman should be far better known than he is, and this album (while it's still available) is all the ammunition needed to emphasize the point. And while he's always remembered for his times with Max Roach and Miles Davis, and for appearing on Herbie Hancock's Maiden Voyage, his career since than has been one of a much lower profile, but not one of much lesser accomplishments. Here's hoping the George Coleman Quintet In Baltimore album is the first step toward changing the consensus of marginalization.
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