Monday, January 15, 2018

Ronald Shannon Jackson - Berlin, 1984

Somewhere between Prime Time and Last Exit...

I only really know Ronald Shannon Jackson from his time with two groups: Ornette Coleman's late 70s Prime Time band and the infamous free jazz ensemble Last Exit. One is pretty wild, the other is, uh, extremely wild. Both of them, in fact, have had people ask me if I'm actually listening to music.

Anyway. Jackson, the common element of those two bands, was a talented drummer and someone who led an interesting career on his own: he was associated with Mingus, Ayler and Cecil Taylor at various points. In the 80s, he struck up an association with New York's avant-garde scene, with led to him playing on records by John Zorn, Bill Laswell and being part of Last Exit. And he formed his own group, The Decoding Society.

I'm not exactly a jazz scholar, so I'll defer to the Penguin Guide to Jazz, who compares this group favorably to Mingus and Coleman: "dark, swampy vamps... and sudden outbursts of white noise." I don't disagree, but I'm only really familiar with Mandance. I will say, the music's fascinating and definitely free jazz, but isn't as esoteric as Last Exit. If anything, it's like mid-70s Miles Davis kept going into darker, freer grooves.

This show comes from Berlin sometime in 1984. I don't have any details on the tracks, or if they're all improvised or whatever, but it's something I've been meaning to share for a while. If only because I like it, and it's not something I see online very often. Maybe someone more knowledgeable can enlighten me as to the details?

6 comments:

M. Milner said...

RSJ Berlin 1984: http://www.mediafire.com/file/o7j2cw9wdwu8dh9/RSJ+Berlin+84.zip

Lucky said...

Thanks for sharing this early Shannon Jackson, dear M. Milner!

Scraps said...

Thank you! I really like RSJ, and I like his own stuff, especially the Decoding Society. If I were to point anyone to one album, it would be Mandance, but you say you are already familiar with that, and you didn't go searching for more, so maybe you were not struck as I was. Anyway, when leading his own group, he gets out there, but not "free". But sometimes way out there!

M. Milner said...

I'm hot and cold on RSJ, actually. I liked Mandance, and I used to have a couple other records of his, but he's not the kind of person where I'll track down all of his albums. There is a show from Montreal I want to find a copy of, though

Scraps said...

If you liked =Mandance=, then I would point you toward =Barbeque Dog= and =Street Priest= in the same period.

Scraps said...

I should have said, all three of those albums remind me very strongly of Prime Time, especially =Of Human Feelings= (one of my ten favorite jazz albums ever) and =Body Meta=.