52 Jazz Tracks for 2021 (3. ‘The Highest Mountain’ by Clifford Jordan & The Magic Triangle)

In the third of Jon Turney’s weekly series reflecting on tracks that have stayed with him over the years (introduced HERE), he visits the BIMHuis in 1975 for this live recording of The Highest Mountain by Clifford Jordan & The Magic Triangle:

The Highest Mountain album coverThis is all about the feel of the group, especially the rhythm section (that “magic triangle”). This live cut from a European tour in 1975 captured something not achievable in the studio. Sound quality is just about acceptable, but the atmosphere is amazing.

The commanding presence of Clifford Jordan’s blearily impassioned tenor makes the strongest initial impression. But after appreciating that, you can go back and listen again for one of the most deeply integrated rhythm sections ever.

The theme is a collection of bluesy phrases, any of which would have served to launch Sonny Rollins into a helter-skelter improvisation of indeterminate length. Jordan is more measured, and more co-operative, using the breathing space the arrangement offers to pause for thought before returning to a solo full of briefly urgent assertions and wry asides.

The other three follow every twist and turn seamlessly. Sam Jones’ time playing sounds as if it echoes the heartbeat of the world. Billy Higgins on drums is more flamboyant, but matchlessly musical, Cedar Walton’s piano a delight.

LINKS: Listen to the full album on Spotify

Read Jon’s post in full on Bristol Jazz Log

Read Jon’s introduction to the ’52 tracks’ series

Week Two: Dave Holland’s ‘Cashel’

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