Clifford Jordan In the World
Clifford Jordan In the World was released on Strata-East in 1972 (though the album was recorded in 1969). Jordan was already a well-seasoned player, having worked with Max Roach, Horace Silver and Eric Dolphy. (The album credits state that it is the first in a Dolphy series produced by Jordan).
Like Jordan’s Glass Bead Games which followed on Strata-East, In the World depends on two different groups of musicians- and there are some killers players here–Julian Priester, Don Cherry, Richard Davis and even Roy Haynes (who alternates with Albert Heath).
The music is pretty accessible —nothing terribly exotic, and mainly Western influenced. The piano parts mix blues and traditional sounds; the horn parts are melodic and satisfying without much discord. The drumming is great as is the bass work. There are some nice deep passages where you can hear the full impact of the instrument’s range toward the end of the first track, “Vienna.” The horn parts are ‘lovely’ without being predictable.
The first side finishes with “Doug’s Prelude”- which starts with piano, bass and drums setting the stage for some long swinging notes on the horn. The quality of the recording shines through here, as does the pressing (more about that in a minute). There’s a nice minor/major aspect to this composition when it settles in, and though the piano is not as full-bodied as I like, the bass sounds just wonderful, as do the horns. (This is a constant personal lament –about how pianos are recorded– so don’t take it as harsh criticism of this particular record).
The B Side is a little more adventurous, at least by title:
“Ouagoudougou” (which is the capital of Burkina Faso, an old French African colony)– starts with a horn phrase that is complex and cool, and when the band breaks in; it is a sweet groove all the way- stunning stuff. There are some personnel changes on side 2 (pretty easily explained on the back cover of the album). The track sets a fast pace and is more demanding of the listener but we still aren’t too far out in experimental land; I’d call this a full-on assault by an extremely talented roster of players rather than some intellectually challenging listen. (At a certain point, I lose the thread on some of the more experimental stuff anyway- perhaps it’s just developing the ears for it. I like to think my somewhat recent return to listening to jazz music has given me better ears for what I used to regard as “out there.” This isn’t “out there”). Kenny Dorham’s trumpet work is impressive. The closing refrain is compelling.
The track “872” finishes side 2. It’s fast paced and the melodic aspects seep through the quick measures, with horn trills and a rapid-fire quality that is not directly mirrored by the drums—almost like Haynes is playing at a different pace, though he’s surely and steadily keeping time to the more frenetic delivery by the other instruments. I’d say this is the most demanding track on the record, musically; its interest to me was the interplay between all the business of the horns and the intricate, yet almost counter-tempo quality of the drums. There’s a part where the horns play in unison and everything seems to come together as the song winds down and the instrumentation becomes sparer with some lovely cymbal work accenting the closure.
There are a number to choose from, though the original U.S. Strata-East pressings in top condition fetch serious money. I opted for a contemporaneous Japanese issue, circa 1972. The price was easily half the cost of the U.S. copies being offered and the surfaces are impeccable. I know there are fans of Japanese vinyl, particularly from this era, when the quality of US plastic soon declined precipitously as the oil crisis loomed. Frankly, I’ve had pretty good luck with the original US pressings from Strata-East and cannot tell you if this Japanese issue falls down sonically compared to the U.S. pressing. I can tell you that it sounded great standing alone. There is a new reissue on vinyl that I haven’t tried.
Next up is Glass Bead Games from Cilfford Jordan, also on Strata-East.
Bill Hart Austin, TX May 2019