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Space Minds, New Worlds, Survival of America

Leroy Jenkins

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Album Review

Recorded for a label that also issued Philip Glass' Einstein on the Beach, the awkwardly titled Space Minds, New Worlds, Survival of America represented Leroy Jenkins' first venture into a field where contemporary classical and jazz were beginning to merge, a more modern Third Stream. His quintet on the title suite includes Musica Elettronica Viva veteran Richard Teitelbaum on synthesizer, and also gives us one of trombonist George Lewis' first recorded forays into electronics. The piece uses extensive improvised passages, but both the written material and the rhythms employed are relatively distant from a jazz feel, though with Jenkins a strong blues affinity is never far beneath the surface. Much of it actually prefigures pianist Anthony Davis' work with his Episteme ensemble of a few years later, and one wonders if his experience with Jenkins was critical to his future development. The four subsequent tracks are acoustic, without Teitelbaum and with Lewis confined to trombone. They range through a similarly semi-classical landscape with a bit of jazzy emphasis on pieces like "Kick Back Stomp." But the true highlight of the session is the final song, "Through the Ages Jehovah," an utterly gorgeous melody that's reiterated by the violin and trombone over sumptuous accompaniment by Davis and Cyrille. It's one of those melodies that could go on forever; its brevity is its only fault. Space Minds... is a fine album, one of Jenkins' best outside of the Revolutionary Ensemble, and an excellent introduction to his world.

Biography

Born: 11 March 1932 in Chicago, IL

Genre: Jazz

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s

Free jazz's leading violinist, Leroy Jenkins has greatly expanded the options and range of sounds and possibilities for stringed instruments in free music. His techniques have included sawing, string bending, and plucking. Jenkins plays adventurous phrases and distorted solos, while including elements of blues, bebop, and classical in his approach. Jenkins often lists as influences a diverse group of violinists (Eddie South and Jascha Heifetz) and other instrumentalists (Charlie Parker, Ornette Coleman,...
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Space Minds, New Worlds, Survival of America, Leroy Jenkins
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