Alfred Lion had the good sense to record him for Blue Note in a trio format, documenting many of his most outstanding compositions. He is sometimes categorised as a "post-bop" pianist and composer, although some of his most interesting pieces were composed during the early bebop era. As a player, his approach to the piano was witty and agile, perhaps less angular and dissonant than Monk, but no less unusual in its rhythmic and harmonic conception.
His imagination as a composer was vast, his musicality intense and vivid. Nichols' pieces observe the idiosyncrasies of the most powerful musical ideas in the jazz world of the time, but most significantly, transform them through a deeply personal conception of music.
He plays with the listener's expectations so cleverly that the word "familiarity" ceases to have meaning. Herbie Nichols was unable to earn a living from his music. Poignantly, his work is joyful and optimistic. The early passages are reminiscent of Bud Powell in their execution and Duke Ellington in their structure, Crisp Day - Herbie Nichols Trio - Herbie Nichols Trio (Vinyl.
But the solo that follows -if it is fair to describe it as such- is a soft, sinuous stream of chromatic notes, cautiously succeeding each other. Herbie Nichols is a giant and his recognition is long overdue. Buy this record today and do him justice by playing it loud to everybody.
Mosaic's 24 page LP-size booklet exceeds all expectations with essay, notes and rare photos. Tracks: the third world, step tempest, dance line, blue chopsticks, double exposure, cro-magnon nights, it didn't happen, amoeba's dance, brass rings, skiddoo, shuffle montgomery, it didn't happen, crisp day, shuffle montgomery, the gig, applejackin, hangover triangle, lady sings the blues, chit chatting, house party starting, the gig, furthermore, th street, sunday stroll, nick at T's, furthermore, terpichore, orse at safari, applejackin, wildflower, mine, trio, the spinning song, LP) primitif, query.
One person found this helpful. The ranks of fine jazz musicians who never received credit for their contributions during their lifetimes are unfortunately large.
Herbie Nichols' life offers testimony to the fact that talent doesn't always dictate the course of a career. This wonderful pianist was all but ignored during his life. Fortunately, Blue Note recorded this set of music, which provides all of us the opportunity to hear what was missed the first time around. Nichols' pieces revolve around subtle vamps, unexpected Monk-like angularities and dark, swirling melodies.
While the influence of Monk is there, Herbie's music is completely his own, and like Monk, he crafted compositions that are unique, self-contained worlds. He just doesn't repeat himself. The music here is satisfying on each and every listening.
For a fine review of and comment on Herbie Nichols' life and the difficulty of pursuing a life in jazzpick up A. Spellman's book, "Four Lives in the Bebop Business. Like Hill and Monk's tunes, each of Herbie's compositions has a very distinct personality, and they encompass a wide range of emotions and moods. They explore harmonies, rhythms and forms that were unorthodox in and still sound a little strange today.
They range from "The Gig" a humorous tongue-twister! I myself never heard of Herbie Nichols beforebut once I did LP) was appropriately impressed. His music seemed "easy" to listen to, but it wasn't; Nichols' melodies were angular, jutting against each other sideways rather than in a linear fashion. One of the other reviewers here expressed surprise that Nichols' music isn't better known, but great art is never very popular.
Alfred Lion of Blue Note Records, who recorded these sessions, was amazed that they didn't sell well because he loved the music and believed in it. But don't take my word for it - get this album, as well as Buell Niedlinger's "Blue Chopsticks" and the Herbie Nichols Project's "Strange City" to hear one of the most original voices in jazz. To describe Herbie Nichols without comparisons to T. Monk would be nearly impossible- odd, even awkward melodies and uniquely dissonant chord structures are obviously characteristics of both of these great musicians.
The differences, however,are just as profound. Herbie has a more European sensibility and a classical training and so comes off with a slightly more intellectual style. Fortunately, Herbie still swings solidly and technique never seems to overwhelm or displace his rhythmic intensity.
Also, while Monk's tunes might be deceptively simple, Herbie makes no pretention toward simplicity- he draws as much from the modern classical composers as he does from the jazz canon and incorporates influences easily and seamlessly into a smart, cohesive style. Yet the most obvious characteristic common to these two is the sense of playfulness that goes into every phrase.
It is not hard to imagine Herbie grinning in anticipation, wondering how the listener will react to each oddball melody or chord voicing as he plows forward, fragments of offbeat measures and angular tunefulness in his wake. This is an absolutely wonderful collection from a uniquely wonderful artist. Need customer service?
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