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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Debut of important jazz composer, September 20, 2008
This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
The trombonist Grachan Monchur is relatively unknown to the general jazz public but in the '60s, he made a series of important progressive albums for Blue Note ususally in the company of altoist Jackie McLean and vibist Bobby Hutcherson. This newly remastered CD in 24 bit is a god-send. It was Moncur's very first release and besides McLean and Hutcherson, he is abetted by bassist Bob Cranshaw, trumpeter Lee Morgan and a very young 17 yr old drummer who would achieve fame in the Miles Davis Quintet, Tony Williams. The tunes are not your normal Be-bop staple but in a more progressive stance such as the title tune of the album which is practically all in whole tones. Of course, after having served a tenure in the Farmer-Golson Jazztet, Monchur can also swing with the modal/boppist "Coaster" and also a tribute to Thelonius Monk, "Monk in Wonderland". Anyone intrigued by Moncur's compositions should also check the albums he did with Jackie McLean, "One Step Beyond", "Destination Out", "Bout Soul plus his last album featuring Wayne Shorter & Herbie Hancock, "Some Other Stuff". Recommended for all those interested in modal-free form jazz.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolve Now!, September 21, 2008
This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
When Larry Young's Unity and Tony Williams' Life Time were reissued in the first round of the Blue Note RVG Edition Series nearly ten years ago, I was surprised that Grachan Moncur III's revolutionary "Evolution" didn't join them. Although it is more avant-garde than the average BN outing of the time, it is one of those albums that collectors have been screaming to have available for years. (In fairness, it was available as part of a Mosaic Select set since 2003.) Well EMI has finally evolved to the point where this fine disc is with us once again. This November 21, 1963 recording is the third of three sessions featuring Jackie McLean on alto sax, Bobby Hutcherson on vibes and Moncur on trombone. (The first, Jackie McLean's "One Step Beyond," now becomes the leading candidate for RVG reissue IMO; I have reviewed the second, McLean's Destination Out!) In many ways, this date is the strongest of the three, primarily because the chemistry these musicians established after three recording sessions, not to mention live dates as they were a working band, is truly impressive. Tony Williams return as the drummer (he also plays on "Beyond," but was replaced by Roy Haynes on "Out") is significant and essential to establishing a more expansive rhythmic foundation. The addition of Lee Morgan to the frontline was a stroke of genius, and this is one of the few "out" BN recordings he participated on. (I wonder how much his involvement on this date influenced his Search for the New Land?) Finally, all four of Moncur's original compositions are amazing, quirky classics, from the shifting pace of "Air Raid," to the haunting title track, to the classic modern groove of "The Coaster," to the mischievous "Monk in Wonderland." Listening to this album again makes me so grateful that other jazz fans can finally evolve!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ---------, March 23, 2009
This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
If you like Jackie McClean's Destination Out or Dialouge by Bobby Hutcherson, Evolution is essntial for you.

When boppers were doing retrotunes and the young lions avant sheets of noise, these guys split the differance and made music even more compelling. Moncur, McClean, Hutcherson and Williams blend the blues, chamber jazz and the avant garde. There is plenty of free-jamming here, but it is in the context of freshly composed work.

The "out there" playing that does occur, and there is tons of it, serve as working parts unique and sophistiacted compositions. Each song is carefully honed, with shadings and dynamics from Moncur and Hutcherson. Hearing a vibraphone and a trombone work around one another is not a typical intersection and jazz, and these guys weave in and out of each other's orbit beautifully.

Tony Williams is outstanding as always: He was probably the best jazz drummer of his time, and his pollyrythms and flurishes here surprise you as always. He simply does things, instinctively, that no other drummer would think of. McClean is also brillant with his minimal playing. While other sax players were trying to copy Coletranes 1000 note a minute playing--i am not kidding about the 1000-Jackie used a compartatively spare style. But his solos are always powerful and piercing in their use of space. (It is too bad he and Trane never worked together in Tranes late period. The contrast would have been increadible.)

This band had a syngery and a stylistic instict that made it top flight. They simply took their own direction when most in jazz were taking sides, and fortunately for us, they recorded it on Evolution.

My only regreat is I got this for $50 on Vynal before the reissue. Oh well, it was absolutley worth it.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another minor classic from the Blue Note archives, March 8, 2004
This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
Grachan Moncur III reocrded only two albums as a leader for Blue Note, as well as appearing on a handful of other Blue Note dates--the full story may be found on the Mosaic boxed set of his music. This is his first album as a leader, & it's closely related to another album of the time under Jackie McLean's name--_One Step Beyond_, which features McLean, Moncur, Bobby Hutcherson & Tony Williams. The key difference between the albums--besides the switch of bassists (Eddie Khan on _OSB_, Bob Cranshaw on _Evolution_) is that _Evolution_ adds in Lee Morgan, who plays so well on the date that he manages to put even this tough crew of players in the shadow. His enormous array of special effects & the sardonic tone of his trumpet have rarely been better employed.
Moncur's lasting importance is as a composer: all four tunes here are highly imaginative & couldn't be mistaken for the work of anyone else. The first part of the album (side A) is the most adventurous, with "Air Raid" incorporating long mournful out-of-tempo passages & then furious action (thus being an exact portrait of the air raid of the title: like Wayne Shorter or Herbie Nichols, Moncur's compositions are often very literal narratives); "Evolution" is an entirely out-of-tempo dirge. Both pieces have the same creepiness that's a hallmark of Moncur's compositions of this period (think of "Frankenstein" & "Ghost Town" on the other album). "The Coaster" & "Monk in Wonderland" are more orthodox in approach--they swing hard, though their changes are juts as challenging--but "Monk in Wonderland" has the added fillip of its switches between 3/4 & 4/4 time. -- Moncur was never all that good a soloist--he tends to stick to repeating the same note or phrase over & over again & he's no speed demon--but he holds up his end & the rest of the band sounds great.
For me Morgan & Williams are the heroes of this date, as well as Moncur's tunes. It's excellent music that's worn as well as many more celebrated dates in the Blue Note catalogue. Unfortunately Moncur had a rather abortive career after he made his two discs for Blue Note, & has been rarely spotted on disc (the most recent recording of his I have is his sideman work on Frank Lowe's _Decision in Paradise_). To judge by the one interview I've seen with him (where he was at points barely coherent & on occasion broke down in tears) he's a troubled man, & it's a enormous pity that things didn't work out better for him.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Get The Mosaic Select Box Instead, February 4, 2007
This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
Why pay outrageous prices for the Japanese import when you can get the Mosaic Select box through Amazon for as low as $36 and some change? In addition to Evolution, the box contains Moncur's Some Other Stuff, which is as hard-to-find and overpriced as Evolution, as well as Jackie McLean's One Step Beyond and Destination Out, along with part of McLean's 'Bout Soul and Hipnosis?

Any fan of Evolution will enjoy this set, which features Jackie McLean on all but Moncur's Some Other Stuff, which instead features Wayne Shorter on tenor. Fans of Bobby Hutcherson should also check this out, as he appears on nearly half the material. Tony Williams appears in typically stellar form on One Step Beyond, Evolution and Some Other Stuff, and leaves the drum seat in good hands, with the likes of Roy Haynes, Billy Higgins and Rashied Ali also making appearances.

Bottom line: get the 3-CD Mosaic box for about the same price as the imported Evolution, and in the process enjoy early-to-mid 60s Blue Note avant-bop at its very best, with Moncur III's innovative compositions the common thread that brings together a stellar cast of musicians. Four and half stars because the material from McLean's 'Bout Soul and Hipnosis isn't quite on par with the rest.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding!, June 24, 2009
This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
If you like Jackie McClean's Destination Out or Dialouge by Bobby Hutcherson, Evolution is essntial for you.

When boppers were doing retrotunes and the young lions avant sheets of noise, these guys split the differance and made music even more compelling. Moncur, McClean, Hutcherson and Williams blend the blues, chamber jazz and the avant garde. There is plenty of free-jamming here, but it is in the context of freshly composed work.

The "out there" playing that does occur, and there is tons of it, serve as working parts unique and sophistiacted compositions. Each song is carefully honed, with shadings and dynamics from Moncur and Hutcherson. Hearing a vibraphone and a trombone work around one another is not a typical intersection and jazz, and these guys weave in and out of each other's orbit beautifully.

Tony Williams is as always: He was probably the best jazz drummer of his time, and his pollyrythms and flurishes here surprise you as always. He simply does things, instinctively, that no other drummer would think of. McClean is also brillant with his minimal playing. While other sax players were trying to copy Coletranes 1000 note a minute playing--i am not kidding about the 1000-Jackie used a compartatively spare style. But his solos are always powerful and piercing in their use of space. (It is too bad he and Trane never worked together in Tranes late period. The contrast would have been increadible.)

This band had a syngery and a stylistic instict that made it top flight. They simply took their own direction when most in jazz were taking sides, and fortunately for us, they recorded it on Evolution.

By William R. Nicholas
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blue Note gold., February 1, 2014
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Michael S.King Sr. (JACKSONVILLE, FL, US) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
Another Blue Note gem. I would have liked to have been around for some of those sessions. Truly the golden age of modern jazz.
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5.0 out of 5 stars In a word "Incredible"!, April 16, 2014
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This recording should be considered a masterpiece by any fan of the genere! If nothing else, focus on Tony Williams and your mind will be blown!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution, February 13, 2013
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This review is from: Evolution (Audio CD)
This way new to me. You have to listen several times, then the music starts to win you over. But, not for all occassions.
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Evolution
Evolution by Grachan Moncur III (Audio CD)
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