Dave Burrell – 1.11.18

Delighted to share the full recording of Dave Burrell's stunning OTO show from last year. 'Overlooked' implicates Burrell in a jostle for positioning which he likely isn't bothered with - he's been happily writing and recording as a composer in residence at the Rosenbach Museum and Library in Philadelphia for well over a decade, and has worked with his wife, poet and librettist Monika Larsson, to tell the complex stories found in the archive there for years. No one in the room at OTO failed to notice his sense of deliberate ease and total elegance as he struck up two forty-five minute sets to thunderous applause, blending his earlier music with his later projects.

Both sets hinge on one of Burrell's more contemporary works - 'The Paradox of Freedom’, as it weaves its way in and around the earlier ‘Black Robert’ and his most recent piece, 'Full Blown Rhapsody'. 'The Paradox of Freedom' imagines contradictions felt by freed slaves as they migrated north. “I use a boogie line that my mother used to play; there was a dance that went with it called 'Truckin’. I decided to use that line and try to do something with my right hand that would give the idea of migration and maybe an overreaction to freedom. The paradox is what kind of freedom are we talking about?” 

A luminous second set opens with 'Margy Pargy'. Burrell traces its edges, open faced, sonorous and laden with swing, and then adds a gradual ringing, repeating slow dripped melody. He strides from Jelly-esque stompers into 'Expansion' and 'Full Blown Rhapsody' before looping back to 'Paradox'. 'Lush Life', Burrell's deconstructed tribute to Billy Strayhorn, closes the evening to a hollering room. An understated master. We wish wholeheartedly for his return.


"Rough-hewn, strongly structured, then more distant before dropping in hints of recognisable melody. Rare excursions deep in to the bass register reinforced the sonorous resonance of OTO's Yamaha, drawn out by judicious use of pedals. Dense, chordal clusters gave way to the relentless rhythms of the railroad, cut short suddenly by a subdued sense of peace. A blink of boogie-woogie, and a warm 12-bar blues which gradually self-destructed with virtuosic invention. Dancing with Monika, considered and contained, closely followed by a spring-loaded Red Summer March, composed in the company of Steve Swallow one freezing winter, a spikey blues morphing in to a solid beat with a crafted melody strung over it, summoning up the spirit of Ellington." - London Jazz News


Dave Burrell / piano


Recorded live at Cafe OTO on Thursday 1st November 2018, by James Dunn. Mixed and mastered by James Dunn. All material Dave Burrell-Lanikai Sounds Publishing Company, BMI. Photo by Fabio Lugaro. 

Available as 320k MP3 or 24 bit FLAC


Set 1 - 42:45

Black Robert
Paradox of Freedom
Dancing with Monika
Black Robert - Variations
Red Summer March

Set 2 - 47:07

Margy Pargy
Full Blown Rhapsody
Paradox of Freedom - Variations
Teardrops for Jimmy
Punaluu Peter
Lush Life (Billy Strayhorn)

Dave Burrell

Standing out as a leading figure of the New York avant-garde scene in the second half of the '60s, Burrell quickly established himself as one of the most innovative pianists, collaborating with the emerging leaders in contemporary jazz and joining the groups of Marion Brown, Pharoah Sanders and Archie Shepp. He has played and recorded, among others, with Giuseppi Logan, Sunny Murray, Albert Ayler, Grahan Moncur III, Byard Lancaster, Sirone, Alan Silva, Clifford Thornton, Roscoe Mitchell. Such a fluid and creative “free jazz” season culminated in the partecipation of Burrell and many other prominent musicians in the legendary Pan-African Festival in Algiers and in the historic series of releases of the french labels BYG and America. Even since, Burrell revealed the absolute openness that would cross his entire output: in the broad spectrum of materials and explorations of his records from this period, also the rereading of Giacomo Puccini's arias in Burrell's La Vie de Boheme finds its place.

In the following decades Burrell's music and concepts have evolved and enlarged in many directions, in the piano solo dimension as through a long series of historical collaborations. Constant activity in the avant-garde jazz continuum and continual confrontation with ragtime and jazz piano tradition (Jelly Roll Morton, Ellington, Monk), as well as with popular song and classical music heritage, have always been strongly connected in Burrell's personal style, a combination of composed form and improvised detail that joins past and present in an all-embracing panorama. Along with his long-time membership in Archie Shepp's groups (more than 20 records together), his and Beaver Harris' 360 Degrees Music Experience in the '70s (playing under the motto “from ragtime to no time at all”), the long and intense partnership with tenorist David Murray, and the stable collaborations with tubist Bob Stewart, with Andrew Cyrille and William Parker (Full Blown Trio and other projects), with singer Leena Conquest and in latest years with trombonist Steve Swell and the soprano diva Veronica Chapman-Smith are only some highlights of his career...[more]