Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Ronald Shannon Jackson, What Spirit Say, (DIW 1995)

Probably my all time favorite Jackson recording, just because James Carter and Jef Lee Johnson rock the house. Carter loves extended technique, big tone and big solos, and I think his style actually works best with a strong funk backing groove. Johnson's guitar work is a revelation, grounded in Hendrix and 'Blood' Ulmer, and always in the pocket. Ronald Shannon Jackson's drumming is as melodic (!) as always, and this funk delivers.

Listening to the album again, the third track "Terminal B" sounded too familiar. Sure enough, the James Carter credited tune is also on Carter's "Layin' the Cut" from 2000 (another all time favorite). Comparing this album's version of "Terminal B" to it's later incarnation is interesting. It reveals that the latter album had better audio production, and Marc Ribot's second guitar adds to the recording. Most surprisingly, drummer G. Calvin Weston can hold his own even when compared to Ronald Shannon Jackson. But Jef Lee Johnson's guitar playing is just stellar on "What Spirit Says," as is the interplay with Carter. So draw your own comparisons, they are both excellent tracks!

There's really an amazing dearth of reviews for this gem out there. Anyone want to share?

1. What Spirit Say (Jackson) 4:49
2. Opinions (Jackson) 3:36
3. Terminal "B" (Johnson) 6:13
4. Cameroon Morning (Jackson) 5:43
5. Aged Pain (Jackson) 6:06
6. Sorcerer's Kitchen (Jackson) 3:22
7. Serenade for Magicians (Jackson) 7:33
8. A Night in Seville (Jackson) 6:47
9. Front Seat Frisco (Carter) 4:35
10. Now's the Time (Parker) 4:25
11. Missing Link (Jackson) 3:00

1995 - DIW (Japan) 895 (CD)

Recorded December 11-12, 1994 at the Power Station, New York City

Ronald Shannon Jackson, drums, percussion, flute, boschhorn (schalmei); Jef Lee Johnson, guitar; James Carter, soprano and tenor saxophones; Ngolle Pokossi, bass; Martin Atangana, guitar (7)


  1. http://rapidshare.com/files/393135443/What_Spirit_Say.zip

  2. Great post. I'm a huge fan of Shannon Jackson.
    I'm in need of Live at Greenwich House on Knitting Factory.

    peace, don c

  3. Thanks Dr. Puck and donc! I'm traveling out of the country for a couple more weeks, but I'll check into Greenwich House when I get back.

  4. Another great post! Thank you!

  5. Thanks man. You're a gent of fine taste.

  6. http://www.adrive.com/public/g7aGDN/What%20Spirit%20Say.zip