|| 'Kidd' Jordan Quartet
New Orleans Festival Suite
Cat. No.: SHCD152
Edward 'Kidd' Jordan tenor saxophone
Joel Futterman piano, soprano saxophone, indian flute
William Parker bass
Alvin Fielder drums
1. Decateur Street (Jordan / Futterman / Parker / Fielder) 28:10
2. Dream Palace (Jordan / Futterman / Parker / Fielder) 32:49
3. Ole Miss Lovesong (Jordan / Futterman / Parker / Fielder) 11:56
Total time: 72:55
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central, and creative, figure on the New York new jazz scene and has been for
twenty years or thereabouts. The quartet’s 'New Orleans Festival Suite' confirms
what may or may not be common knowledge, namely that the 'Kidd' Jordan Quartet
is not only the senior improvising jazz group on the scene but also the hottest
and the most excitingly evocative.
|This live recording was made in
May 1999 at the Dream Palace in New Orleans during the annual jazz festival.
The session was improvisationally interactive to an explosive degree, even
for these four musicians, and the recording had become legendary a while
before it was released. 'Kidd' Jordan is from New Orleans and that
is where he’s mostly played, but lately he’s been in demand in New York
and Chicago, and Europe too. Pianist Joel Futterman is a Chicagoan
now based in Virginia and before he became a cohort of 'Kidd' Jordan he
was a cohort of the late Jimmy Lyons. Alvin Fielder held the drum
chair for the Roscoe Mitchell Sextet album, 'Sound' (Delmark DECD-408) when,
in 1966, it signalled the appearance of new jazz activity in Chicago. He’s
been on innumerable sessions since, including a number for Silkheart Records.
Bassist William Parker is just about the most
"The Jordan quartet is a product of this age. The four listen, interrelate,
interpret, and invent music with power and beauty. This is a muscular set of high
artistic order guaranteed not to disappoint seekers of truth."
Frank Rubolino, One Final Note, January 2002
Is it possible to hear someone listening? If it weren't, this recording
of the 'Kidd' Jordan Quartet's incredible 1999 New Orleans Festival
performance would be inaudible. Every sound here comes from listening.
Each note, each beat, each breath is a response to what came before. In
the universe of the 'Kidd' Jordan Quartet, there are no actions - only
reactions. "I play off of people," says Jordan. "Whatever somebody lays
down for me to play on, I try to listen and hear something and play off
"You just keep on developing your ear. A lot of people don't use their ears in
improvisation, because, I don't know, maybe they want a product that's free of
flaws. But with us, whatever goes down is what you get. I ain't gonna do but one
take. That's the way I felt on that particular day. The next day I'll be feeling
another way, so I'll do it another way."
Calling the 'Kidd' Jordan Quartet a universe might be an understatement, considering
that each member could fill entire solar systems with sound. The huge clouds of
rolling, expanding music that Jordan, Joel Futterman, William Parker, and Alvin
Fielder breathe forth in this performance are way beyond infinity.
The Quartet's enormity starts with the bottomless tone-ocean of Edward 'Kidd'
Jordan. He coaxes, pries, and stretches every possible sound out of his horn.
Just try mapping out the endless curves and u-turns of Jordan's playing at any
point here. He slithers from soul-stirring bellow, to high-altitude wail, to ghostly
whisper, to all-out lung-puncture, to many other points previously unknown, connecting
the dots so continuously that it's impossible to tell where one sound ends and
the next begins.
Responding to Jordan's multi-layered call is a superhuman task, but Futterman,
Parker and Fielder do more than answer - they ask just as many questions of their
own. "Playing with 'Kidd', you've got to be like a chameleon," says Fielder. "Things
are constantly changing - the moods, the tempos, the colors. You've really got
to reach deep.
"Everything leads to something else. A very fast thing may lead into something
with a lot of color. And then that may lead into a latin thing, and the latin
thing may lead into a ballad. It just flows."
That flow is created by listening. You can practically hear the band running,
jumping, and diving to intercept the sounds with their ears. Working together
in various combinations for so long (26 years in Jordan and Fielder's case), the
Quartet has learned to play each other as much as their instruments. Their music
isn't made of statements, but responses - which immediately become statements
to respond to. The resulting conversation is spontaneous, yet consciously lyrical.
"Sometimes we're out, and we're stretching with each other, then all of the sudden
we come in, and we stop on a dime," says Futterman. "And it's because we're listening.
We start something, we resolve it, and we connect. And we hear the resolution
"After so many years, it becomes like ESP," adds Fielder. "You can just look
at a person's fingers, their eyes, their lips. You can tell. It's a language."
That language uses a huge vocabulary, one wide enough to contain all sounds.
Carefully phrasing those sounds, and patiently constructing the spaces between
them, the quartet achieves a lyricism that connects all the diverse colors of
its infinite palate. "I use any kind of musical sounds I can get," Jordan says.
"Whatever the situation produces, you use whatever you can to play something off
"There was noise before there was music. It's all just timbre, musical timbre.
It may not all be melody, but not all music is based on melody."
The language the Quartet has invented pushes their conversations beyond standard
concepts of time. The tracks here might be considered 'long' in conventional terms,
but the endless line that runs through each second makes the music feel eternal
- like it's always been playing, yet has somehow just started. Everything is so
connected that terms like before and after no longer apply, and time seems to
"If you listen to each phrase, you'll hear the time within each phrase. When we're
playing, we're feeling that pulse, and reacting with each other," says Futterman.
"So there is time in the music, but it's a universal kind of time."
"Somebody, maybe Max Roach, said, 'Everything's in 1/1 time'," says
Fielder. "Every note's a quarter note. People may say, 'This part is in
4/4 time, this part is in 3/4 time'. But in the end, it's all 1/1."
The widescreen soundscape of the Quartet is so panoramic, it can be hard to isolate
the individual elements. Joel Futterman's piano playing is an avalanche; he spits
out fistfuls of notes and lofts up shards of tone, chiseling at his keys like
a sculptor searching for a grain of gold buried in a wall of stone.
William Parker's sound is intoxicating in its solid simplicity. Leaning
into his bass like he's pushing the world forward, he's a sonic
construction worker, devoutly crafting mile-wide plucks and seamless
bows into an ever-angling ladder for the group to slowly climb.
Alvin Fielder is a perpetual motion machine, a blurry tornado of cymbals and snare.
He crests over and around Jordan and Futterman with perfectly-placed washes and
blood-pushing slaps. Just when he seems to come into view, his sound darts and
hides, sliding from crashing wave-rides to marching snare-rattles without pause.
Most hypnotic is the interplay between Jordan and Futterman. "When 'Kidd' and
I met, it was like we had been waiting all our lives to play with each other,"
says Futterman. The way the pair curl and cross in and out of each other's lanes,
passing their sound-baton so quickly it's hard to tell who's holding it, is beyond
telepathic. "Often I'll start a phrase, and Joel will finish it," says Jordan.
"We just feel one another." Their inferno rages highest about seven minutes into
Dream Palace, when Futterman grabs his soprano sax and engages Jordan in an epic
duel of breath-sparring, mountain-climbing, and energy-trading.
There clearly was a fire in the air in New Orleans on May 2nd, 1999. But pick
any date, any place - when Jordan, Futterman, Parker, and Fielder play, there's
always a fire. "Locations don't mean too much to me," says Jordan. "When you've
been playing as long as I have, things like where and when don't matter. I could
be playing Carnegie Hall or a joint with sawdust on the floor, it's the same thing
to me. The act of playing is what I'm up for."