When Giuseppi Logan resurfaced just over a year ago, after having been absent from the jazz scene for nearly forty years, a comeback seemed unlikely. Homeless at the time, Logan could often be found playing for tips in Tompkins Square Park on a pawn shop alto sax - not the most prestigious gig in New York. He had just started playing again after decades away from the music, and with other priorities (such as finding a permanent place to live) taking center stage, a jazz comeback seemed a steep hill to climb for the 75 year old multi-instrumentalist and composer.
Record producer Josh Rosenthal didn't think so, however, and for this album he's pulled out all the stops, bringing together an all-star quintet to back Logan on eight tracks, five of which are Giuseppi Logan originals. Pianist Dave Burrell and drummer Warren Smith are colleagues of Logan's from his glory days with ESP when he recorded the albums The Giuseppi Logan Quartet and More. Also on the disk is talented trumpeter and bass clarinetist Matt Lavelle, a man who's been a strong supporter of Logan since his reemergence, and Francios Grillot, a go-to bassist for both free and mainstream jazz.
From the opening track "Steppin'" Logan seems to be be picking up where he left off when he vanished without a trace from the jazz scene nearly forty years ago. Logan's compositons have stark yet dynamic quality, and his quintet on this recording seems to revel in the opportunity for atonal exploration that these songs provide. Dave Burrell's attack on the keys is both gritty and elegant, and Grillot and Warren provide a fluidity that is central to the album. Matt Lavelle's bell clear tone on the trumpet, and his unique bass clarinet style provide perfect foil for Logan's raw alto sound. Logan's approach to the ballad on "Around" shows his uncompromising attack hasn't lost any bite, and his interpretations of standards on this disk such as "Over the Rainbow", "Blue Moon" (on piano) and the Miles Davis Composition "Freddie Freeloader" show his singular approach to atonality. Unlike the many followers of Ornette Coleman and Albert Ayler who pepper the jazz scene today, Giuseppi Logan has truly forged his own style.
This album puts Logan's sound from the '60s in a new context, and may be the coup de grace that he has always needed to silence critics of free-jazz who have made him a target. On this new album Logan's distinctive tone on the the alto is transported unaltered from his '60s heyday, intact and pristine. Likewise, the uncompromising iconoclasm of Logan's compositional style, which defines the album, seems to have made the trip without a mark. The resurrection of such a distinct artistic style after nearly forty years in hibernation is no small feat. Logan's ability to do so shows a determined artistic vision.