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Best of 2020
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 1
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 2
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 3
Live at Century City Playhouse 9.9.79 - excerpt 4
File under: Spiritual Jazz
Best of 2020

Horace Tapscott, Pan-Afrikan People's Arkestra

Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79 (3LP)

Label: Nimbus West

Format: 3 x LP

Genre: Jazz

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**In process of stocking. 500 copies. Amazing 3LP set!!! The Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra on fire in 1979 in a complete 2 hour concert!!! Super intimate and raw-like sitting in the front row of this small club 41 years ago … cut directly from original master tapes with no digital process whatsoever. Gatefold tip-on sleeve, featuring archival photographs and a beautiful essay by Mark Weber.** A never before issued recording of Horace Tapscott leading his legendary Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, 'Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79' documents the entirety of a 2 hours performance, sprawling across glorious 3 LPs, that rises as one of the most beautiful, striking, and historically important records of the year. A joyous explosion of sound, seeded by social, political, and community-based action, at the juncture of spiritual and free jazz, this one's a 10 out of 10 and not to be missed.

Certain bodies of music stand apart from the pack. This can be a consequence of critical or institutional neglect, the singularity of their creative proximity - rendering them beyond the accepted notions of a genre and categorisation - or remarkable artistic accomplishments that seemingly separates them from their peers. When regarding the work of the Los Angeles based pianist, band leader, and composer, Horace Tapscott, and that which sprung from his Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra across the 1960s, 70s, 80s, and 90s, all are unquestionable in play. A tour de force of sound, seeded by social, political, and community-based action, Tapscott and his Arkestra were among the most important groups working in the United States, not to mention jazz, during the years of their activity. They also remain among the most under-appreciated. Thankfully, the last few years has brought a number of reissues and archival releases by Tapscott, the Arkestra, and many of its members and associates like Linda Hill, Jesse Sharps, Adele Sebastian, Nate Morgan, Curtis Clark, and others, allowing the sprawling scope and astounding merit of their accomplishments to come into view for a broader audience.

Now we have yet another from Nimbus West - the imprint founded in 1979 by Tom Albach to support Tapscott and Arkestra’s activities - Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79, a never before issued recording sprawling across three mind-bending LPs. Hugely historically important, and an absolute marvel of sound, this is West Coast avant-garde and spiritual jazz at its absolute best.

After Charles Mingus, it’s hard to think of a more important and influential figure in the history of Los Angeles jazz than Horace Tapscott. He was nothing short of a visionary, leaving a decades deep body of work, fuelled by a singular social, political, and creative ethos, in his wake. If the East Coast of the U.S. had Sun Ra, the Midwest had AACM luminaries like Kelan Phil Cohran, The Art Ensemble of Chicago, and Muhal Richard Abrams, then the West Coast had Tapscott.

Tapscott began as a trombonist before switching to piano, playing with Frank Morgan, Don Cherry, and Billy Higgins while still in his teens, before hitting the road with Lionel Hampton during the late 50s and early 60s, an experience formative enough to push him down his own path as a band leader.

For most of his career, Tapscott remained one of the unsung giants of jazz; a gifted composer, arranger, and educator, as well as a remarkably original pianist and bandleader. In 1961 he founded the Underground Musicians Association (UGMA) - which morphed into the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra roughly a decade later, a project which, despite Tapscott’s untimely passing in 1999, continues to send ripples across the world improvised music to this day, both through its own activities and through the individual gestures - past and present - of the hundreds of talented voices who have passed through its ranks (Arthur Blythe, Azar Lawrence, Jimmy Woods, John Carter, Bobby Bradford, Sonny Criss, Ndugu Chancler, Nate Morgan, Jesse Sharps, Adele Sebastian, Dadisi Komolafe, Gary Bias, to mention only a few).

Live at Century City Playhouse 9/9/79 is one of those rare documents of avant-garde jazz that, even 40 years after it was laid to tape, challenges the mind and creative sensibilities, while promoting the body to dance. The band is locked in and loud - rattling, rhythmic, and tonally complex - met by wild exclamations of an ecstatic audience taken to the brink. This is what music is all about - by the people and for the people, bringing us together and fuelling the forward march - the sounds of hope and change, locked in mesmerising creative exchange. Few records to have emerged this year can claim these heights. An absolute masterpiece that once heard will leave you wondering where it’s been all these years.

Unquestionably one of the best records of the year, cut directly from the original master tapes with no process, and issued in a gatefold tip-on sleeve, featuring archival photos and a beautiful essay by veteran writer Mark Weber, it doesn’t get any better than this. Nimbus have only pressed 500 copies, so this one isn’t going to sit around for long. A 10 out of 10 and as essential as records come.

Details
File under: Spiritual Jazz
Cat. number: NS-4035
Year: 2020