Hamiet Bluiett

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
Endangered Species (1976), 7/10
Birthright (1977), 7/10
SOS (1977), 7/10
Im/Possible to Keep (1977), 6.5/10
Resolution (1977), 5.5/10
Orchestra Duo and Septet (1977), 6/10
Saying Something for All (1979), 5/10
Dangerously Suite (1981), 5/10
Bearer of the Holy Flame (1983), 5.5/10
Ebu (1984), 5/10
The Clarinet Family (1984), 5.5/10
Nali Kola (1987), 5.5/10
Metamorphosis (1990), 5.5/10
Walkin' and Talkin' (1991), 4/10
If You Have to Ask You Don't Need to Know (1991), 4/10
Sankofa Rear Guard (1992), 4/10
Young Warrior Old Warrior (1995), 4/10
Barbecue Band (1996), 4/10
Takin' It to the Next Level (1996), 4/10
Live at the Knitting Factory (1997), 5/10
Libation for the Baritone Saxophone Nation (1997), 6/10
Same Space (1998), 4/10
The Calling (2000), 4/10
Blueback (2001), 4/10

St Louis' baritone saxophonist Hamiet Bluiett (1940) moved to New York in 1969, where he refined the huge, grandiose sound of his instrument. While co-founding the World Saxophone Quartet, he recorded Endangered Species (june 1976) with a quintet featuring trumpeter Olu Dara, Jumma Santos on balafon, bassist Junie Booth and drummer Philip Wilson, and the solo tour de force Birthright (june 1977), subtitled "a solo blues Concert", whose Doll Baby, My Father's House and In Tribute to Harry Carney established the threatening, deafening and challenging style of his playing. SOS (august 1977) contained just one 37-minute jam (Nali Kola/ On A Cloud) with pianist Don Pullen, bassist Fred Hopkins and percussionist Don Moye, probably his classic setting. The live Im/Possible To Keep (august 1977) contained a live 40-minute version of Oasis - The Well for a trio with Hopkins and Moye, a 37-minute version of Nali Kola/ On A Cloud for the quartet with Pullen and debuted Pretty Tune in a 35-minute version. Resolution (november 1977), a quintet with Don Pullen, bassist Fred Hopkins and percussionists Don Moye and Billy Hart, contained Happy Spirit. Orchestra Duo And Septet (december 1977) tried different combinations of players (cellist Abdul Wadud, trumpeter Olu Dara, pianist Don Pullen, balafon player Andy Bey, flutist Ladji Camara, bassist Reggie Workman, oud player Ahmed Abdul-Malik, drummer Thabo Michael Carvin, etc): the 14-minute orchestral Glory - Symphony For World Peace, the eight-minute duet Nioka, the 20-minute Oasis - The Well for septet. This prolific and creative season came abruptly to an end, as Bluiett concentrated on the World Saxophone Quartet. Bluiett's albums outside the quartet became more and more accessible: Dangerously Suite (april 1981), basically an overview of black pop music, and Ebu (february 1984) with John Hicks on piano, Hopkins on bass and Marvin Smith on drums.

The live Bearer of the Holy Flame (july 1983), with Footprints, documents a quintet with pianist John Hicks and two percussionists.

Bluiett also formed an ensemble of eight clarinetists (plus bass and drums) that debuted with The Clarinet Family (november 1984). Bluiett's compositions (To Be There the longest) were more straightforward than in the past, but players such as Dwight Andrews and Don Byron made all the difference.

The collaboration with Southafrican trumpeter Hugh Masekela, Nali Kola (july 1987), featuring backup band of soprano saxophone, guitar, piano and three African percussionists, was mainly devoted to a 17-minute version of Bluiett's old classic.

The solo Walkin' & Talkin' (april 1991), the quintet with guitar, bass, drums and African percussion (Okyerema Asante) of If You Have To Ask You Don't Need To Know (february 1991), the quartet with electric guitar, bass and drums of Sankofa Rear Garde (october 1992) Young Warrior Old Warrior (march 1995), for a sextet with trumpet, tenor saxophone and piano, and Barbecue Band (june 1996) were unassuming recordings that veered towards simpler bluesy music.

In the meantime Bluiett contributed several compositions to the World Saxophone Quartet: Feed The People on Metamorphosis (april 1990), Blues for a Warrior Spirit on Takin' It 2 the Next Level (june 1996).

A baritone saxophone quartet, the Bluiett Baritone Nation (with James Carter, Alex Harding and Patience Higgins), debuted on Live at the Knitting Factory (june 1997), blossomed on Libation for the Baritone Saxophone Nation (june 1997) and was already old news on Blueblack (january 2001).

Then he resumed his mediocre routine, running the gamut from the world fusion of Same Space (july 1998) to the Caribbean soul of With Eyes Wide Open (november 1999), with the occasional tribute to his free-jazz youth, such as Saying Something for All (february 1979), a program of solos and duets with Muhal Richard Abrams, or The Calling (october 2000).

Bluiett died in 2018.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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