Horace Tapscott

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Krentz Ratings:
West Coast Hot (1969), 7/10
Songs of the Unsung (1978), 4.5/10
Flight 17 (1978), 5/10
The Call (1978), 5.5/10
In New York (1979), 5.5/10
Autumn Colors (1980), 5.5/10
At the Crossroads (1980), 5.5/10
Dial B for Barbara (1981), 6/10
Sessions 2 (1982), 6.5/10
Dissent or Descent (1984), 5.5/10
The Dark Tree (1989), 5/10
Aiee the Phantom (1995), 6/10
Thoughts of Dar es Salam (1996), 5.5/10

Los Angeles-based pianist Horace Tapscott (1934) was something of a moral leader for California's free-jazz community. In 1959 he established the multimedia Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra and in 1961 he helped to create the Underground Musicians' Association (UGMA), but nothing surfaced on record. A quintet featuring alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe recorded the four jams of The Giant Is Awakened (april 1969), also known as West Coast Hot.

Ancestral Echoes (january 1976), with the 27-minute Eternal Egypt Suite, documents the first recording in date by Horace Tapscott with his Pan Afrikan People's Arkestra, which at the time was a 24-musician acoustic ensemble.

The solo piano album Songs of the Unsung (february 1978), full of covers, was hardly representative of his compositional genius or his rhythmically eccentric style. The Arkestra (two pianos, six reeds, two trombones, tuba, cello, two basses and two percussionists) was finally documented on Flight 17 (april 1978), that includes no Tapscott compositions, and The Call (april 1978), mostly composed by Tapscott. Besides a trio with bassist Art Davis and drummer Roy Haynes, In New York (january 1979), and the other trios of Autumn Colors (may 1980), and Dissent or Descent (1984), and the duo with a drummer of At the Crossroads (1980), his art was best represented on the two original pieces of Dial B for Barbara (1981) for a sextet (piano, trumpet, two saxophones, bass and drums). The most ambitious composition of the era was the 29-minute solo piano fantasia Struggle X An Afro-American Dream, documented on Sessions 2 (november 1982).

Tapscott Winds (october 1983) documents a session with flutist Aubrey Hart and saxophonist Kafi Roberts.

The double-disc The Dark Tree (december 1989) documents a live performance by a quartet with Horace Tapscott, John Carter on clarinet, Cecil McBee and Andrew Cyrille.

Towards the end of his life, Tapscott managed to record Aiee The Phantom (june 1995) for a trumpet-saxophone quintet with bassist Reggie Workman and drummer Andrew Cyrille, that contained the 16-minute Mothership, and Thoughts of Dar es Salam (july 1996) for another trio.

The Horace Tapscott Quintet with Michael Session (soprano alto and tenor saxes), Thurman Green (trombone), Roberto Miranda (double bass), Fritz Wise (drums) and Dwight Trible (vocals) is documented on Legacies For Our Grandchildren (december 1995).

The triple-LP set Live At Century City Playhouse (september 1979) documents a live performance of Tapscott's Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra, featuring Johnny Williams (baritone sax), Alan Hines and David Bryant (both on bass), Louis Spears (cello), Billy Hinton (drums), Adele Sebastian (flute and vocals), Conga Mike and Daa'oud Woods (both on percussion), Linda Hill (piano and vocals), Billie Harris (soprano sax), Desta Walker and Sabir Matteen (both on tenor sax) and Lester Robertson (trombone).

The double-disc Live At I.U.C.C. 26/11/1978 (november 1978) documents a concert of the Pan-Afrikan Peoples Arkestra including the 31-minute Jungle Juice, the 21:30-minute Ballad For Samuel, the 25-minute Lately's Solo, the 22-minute To The Great House, etc.

60 Years (The Village, 2023) collects leftovers of the Pan Afrikan Peoples Arkestra recorded between 1961 and 2019, notably the 27-minute live improvisation Dem Folks (august 2019).

Tapscott died in 1999.

(Copyright © 2006 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
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