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**180 gram LP x 2 gatefold sleeve Hi Res remastring** Fifth part of the Strata-East Dolphy Series, Glass Bead Games is arguably the crown jewel of the Strata East movement, an amorphous genre that treads an unusual path between post-bop, 70’s avant-garde and spiritual jazz, with a groove. Glass Bead Games is full of revelations at many levels. First, the decade of the 1970s did produce genuinely creative, "human" new music flowing from the jazz mainstream; second, Bill Lee was more than Spike's dad: he was a superlative bassist, a team player of the first order, a powerful catalyst who, if anything, deserves to be better known than his son; third, Billy Higgins was, as so many musicians insist, a once-in-a-lifetime drummer—the bellows inspiriting the collective flame. Most importantly, Clifford Jordan was an artist of the first order, his playing so effortless and unforced, unselfconscious and focused, mature and wise that, at a time when altissimo fury was all the rage, it's small wonder his authentic voice frequently went unheard. His musical rhetoric is so personally expressive, its substance so compelling, the listener couldn't care less about the extraordinary technique required to convey its captivating message. Compared to some of his more acclaimed peers he's a less aggressive yet paradoxically more directive and shaping influence. The climaxes, rather than spelled out, are merely suggested, registering with deep and lasting impact on the listener. It all comes down to learning the language, those precious little beads. Not every player, including Jordan or the listener, can use it like Shakespeare, but all can learn to read Shakespeare and understand its principles of arbitrariness and serendipity, of invariance and transformation. Jordan, no less than Shakespeare, requires a like-minded cast of players—in this case four musicians of such redoubtable proficiency that each remains committed to keeping the beads in play. He's not a man content with a mere musical "dialogue" with his fellow musicians nor is he about to take the initiative in pulling his troops up to his level. Instead he begins to tell a musical story that's so compelling his three comrades are inspired equally to contribute to a collaborative narrative. This is brilliant music-making by a Coltrane- influenced successor who feels no obligation to mime the predecessor. It may be the most significant saxophone performance on record since Coltrane and, providing the listener stays with it for any length of time, the most deeply satisfying. Jordan's game—so effortless, unforced, and "level"—erases distinctions between composed and improvised, soloist and ensemble, narrator and narrative, the dancer and the dance. It seems incapable of wearing out its welcome. By Samuel Chell/All About Jazzpucci 2019
"This is one of those few records where every element is perfect, and all players rise together to a new level of expression – and we'd easily rank this one right up there with John Coltrane's Love Supreme or Pharoah Sanders' Kharma for sheer magnitude of sound and message! Clifford Jordan is at the height of his tenor powers – cutting sharp lines, stretching out his notes, and hitting all these dark edges that had never appeared in his work – and the rest of the group is great too – with Stanley Cowell on piano, Bill Lee on bass, and Billy Higgins on drums. Higgins is amazing, and gives the set a sort of lyrical freeplay that makes Jordan's hard solos come alive in a magical way – and Cedar Walton also plays piano on a few numbers, pushing things forward with the sense of warmth and imagination that always made him a treat in the 70s! Every cut's a winner" Dustygroove