12 August 2012

United Front - Path with a heart


West Coast jazz has not been getting the attention it deserves and has by and large been overshadowed by the latest on the East Coast. So to rectify that unfortunate situation, we'll be posting a few left coast records largely centered on this quartet. This was the first record out on RPM, a San Francisco-based label which remained active up to the end of the 80s, succeeded by Asian Improv records.

Not easy to find much info on this disc, also noted in a Downbeat review by resident vinyl freak John Corbett which can be found here:

http://www.downbeat.com/digitaledition/2009/DB1109/_art/DB0911.pdf

In the review, he drew an interesting parallel with the Art Ensemble of Chicago and with the Black Artists Group in the use of little instruments, notably at the beginning of the A-side, and also with Anthony Braxtion in the odd march tune starting up the B-side. There is something of the genre-breaking habitus of the AACM crowd here, also heard on Izu's "Forgotten Spirits", calling forth the link between the US west coast and the East Asian continent which was eventually to be known as Asian Improv.

As Corbett concudes: "This release remains incredibly rare, so much so that a Google search barely yields anything. If that is the measure of things that are truly obscure nowadays, this album does not deserve to be hidden from view". Sound like the right thing to post, then.

Thanks to "Arcturus" for making me aware of this very fine band. More to come!


Basic info:

United Front - Path with a heart
RPM Rpm-1 (1980)

Tracks:

a1_Feel free (C. Hoffman)
a2_Don't lose your soul (M. Izu)
a3_And so it goes (L. Jordan)

b1_march in ostinato (G. Sams - dedicated to Lawrence Carroll and Norman Saunders)
b2_Forgotten spirits (M. Izu)
b3_Jazz piece
a. Now and then (L. Jordan)
b. Here and there (L. Jordan)
c. In an hour or two days (R. Wood, L. Jordan)

Carl Hoffman - percussion
Mark Izu - bass, sheng
Lewis Jordan - alto saxophone
George Sams - trumpet, miscellaneous instruments

Recorded July 28 and August 1 at John Altmann's stdio, San Francisco
Recording and mixing engineer - John Altmann

Produced by United Front

23 comments:

kinabalu said...

rapidshare

crocko

gilhodges said...

This is a fantastic record. Thanks K!

wightdj said...

Good group, thanks.

riccardo said...

@ kinabalu

i've listened and taped this group
at Moers '79, if there is an interest, i can digitize the tape.

Anonymous said...

i saw them live back in the day, really excellent group. Mark Izu and Lewis Jordan are still active in the bay area, in more "performance" (w/ storytelling, poetry) contexts. don't know what the others are up to or where.

kinabalu said...

@riccardo: I would certainly be interested.

Karl said...

Lewis is fairly active these days (I play semi-regularly with him in a variety of contexts), and he's playing better than ever. His current (ongoing) poetry + improv project, Music at Large, features a rotating cast of musicians and (to elaborate on anonymous's previous past) plenty of blowing; the ratio of word to instrumental music is roughly on par with United Front. Lewis has also featured in recent work by John-Carlos Perea, in collective units with India Cooke, and in numerous (officially available) documents and concerts with Budapest's Grensco Collective. His website: www.lewisjordan.com.

Mark Izu I'm not very personally familiar with, but he's still very active in the Bay (often in contexts that feature a later United Front drummer, Anthony Brown). As far as I can tell, Carl Hoffman is essentially inactive on the progressive jazz scene (I believe he may have a regular standards gig in the Bay somewhere), and George Sams has only lately begun playing again.

Hopefully United Front's existing recorded legacy will see the light of day sooner rather than later. In the meantime, take heart in the fact that some of these musicians--and they are true warriors, in the "as serious as your life" meaning of the word--are active and playing some the best music of their lives. I hope to get some new music with Lewis together soon--the struggle continues, even for this obscure music.

-Karl Evangelista (www.karlevangelista.com)

Anonymous said...

Thanks, but ...
wrong file in Crocko !

Byablu said...

Thanks kinabalu. And Riccardo, if there's a chance of a tape of them at Moers 79, I'd be interested too. I was there & remember being really impressed, not only by their playing, but by their togetherness & by the strength of their compositions too. Until today, I thought I'd never hear them again.

kinabalu said...

Right file:

crocko

Anonymous said...

This is a great record! And indeed the music is closely related to the legendary AEOC. Thanks a lot for posting this! - But if I'm not wrong, the track named "Don't Lose Your Soul" is missing...?

Anonymous said...

My mistake, "Don't Lose Your Soul" is included in track 1, just found it!

kinabalu said...

You're right. I kept it as one track as these two tunes run together, though you can hear where the second one begins.

riccardo said...

it's not clear in what year this was recorded...

kinabalu said...

1980

Kamelmauz said...

Crazy rare.

Arcturus said...

hey man, thanks for getting these up! I'm just thrilled people are finally being exposed to this stuff!

George moved back to St Louis where he runs an art gallery & still presents some heavy-duty music, as well playing again, as Karl mentioned

Lewis Jordan's band w/ Karl Evangelista plays waaay too infrequently - I heard 'em do a killer show in Oakland a few years ago, w/ India Cooke joining in - but one probably has a better chance of hearing him in Europe than at home . . .


there's also Jon Jang's first record on RPM, w/ all 4 joining him along w/ guitarist Baird Miller - pretty sure tehre's a rip of it floating around, but can provide one if wanted . . .

Arcturus said...

btw, I learned from Looker's BAG book that George had studied w/ Bakida Carroll in the late 60's/early 70's

in addition to BAG/AACM influences here, one should also look south - to Charles Mingus (esp. in the compositions!) & Horace Tapscott (music/community)

& another btw if anyone's reading this: we heard Karl Evangelista last week here in Sac in a group called the Smack Trio - check this young guitarist out folks; he's the real deal!

Carl said...

i think it was about a year ago that these guys had more than one reunion concert and the writer Jeff Kaliss may have dealt with it in an article on SFMusic Day around that time but i havvint red it.

Carl said...

i'm a Luddite stuck in the 20th Century and don't know how to contact a blogger directly but i'm definitely interested in the recording from Moers.
fotoz and video too, for that matter.
all i have is a cassette i made from an NPR broadcast back then.

Arcturus said...

Car - you're thinking of this: https://www.sfcv.org/preview/san-francisco-friends-of-chamber-music/sfmusic-day-to-honor-asian-american-jazz-movement

United Front has not had a reunion, & from what I understand, that's just not in the cards.

George Sams did visit the bay area last summer & played (8-20-15) w/ the group Conjure!, which included Lewis Jordan from United Front, India Cooke, and the drummer Donald Robinson.

kinabalu said...

New link:

Adrive

francisco santos said...

BIG THX!...