Wednesday, September 14, 2011

More rare Eddie Costa... with Gigi Gryce

Fred Baker was an underground film director, and a big fan of dance and jazz, so much so, that his first endeavour behind the camera, On the Sound, was a short film combining those two disciplines. Sadly, Baker died on June 5, 2011, aged 78 (obituary).

As Baker told here, he first approached Mingus, whom he knew, for the soundtrack to his project, but Mingus declined and recommended multi-instrumentalist and composer Gigi Gryce. From what Baker says in the Vimeo page and in Cohen's & Fitzgerald's biography of Gryce, it seems that he took some recordings made by Gryce for the film, had the dancers dance to the music, filmed them, and then edited the whole thing down to about eight minutes.

As rare as it may be today, this short film won the USA Golden Eagle for 1963, and was selected to be screened at the 1963 Edinburgh and Berlin International Film Festivals and the Biennale in Venice.

The music on this film is relevant because, together with Reminiscin', the LP for Mercury, and what's been rescued by Uptown in their recent CD, it is one of the very few recordings by the Orch-Tette, Gigi Gryce's last working group before his untimely retirement from music. As Cohen & Fitzgerald explain in their book,"the score contains music that were found in Gryce's recordings, particularly in the two movements based on the blues, but also shows the influence of free music with an extended vibraphone solo over bass and drums with no pulse". I would add that the two vibes solos by Costa are among the highlights of the film.

According to Gigi Gryce's discography, also by Cohen and Fitzgerald, this was probably recorded in the summer of 1960, definitely at Bell Sound Studio, New York City, by Richard Williams (trumpet), Gigi Gryce (alto sax, clarinet, flute), Eddie Costa (vibes), Richard Wyands (piano), Reggie Workman (bass), and Mickey Roker (drums).

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