Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Ronald Shannon Jackson and the Decoding Society - Mandance (1982)

Some more Ornette-inspired insanity.

I bought this from Ashwoods some time in the late 80s, I think. The pencil scribble on the label tells me I paid six bucks for it. Those were the days. There used to be racks full of albums like this that nobody but me seemed to want.

I'm afraid I know very little about Shannon Jackson beyond the few records I have that he appears on. He's played with Cecil Taylor, on Ornette Coleman's early electric recordings, with James Blood Ulmer, Bill Laswell and the monster improv band Last Exit. I am not a musician, so I can't tell you technically what he's doing, but he seems to have a very idiosyncratic drumming style.
Oh, and he's from Fort Worth in Texas, which is also Ornette Coleman's home town (Jackson is ten years younger than Coleman).

This is the first major label recording by his Decoding Society (I have a few earlier ones on obscure German and US labels). The band features some extraordinary players, who would become famous to varying degrees in their own right, most notably Melvin Gibbs and Vernon Reid (whose name on the sleeve probably persuaded me to part with six ill-gotten bucks back in my student days). The music here swings between heavily composed sections and wild improv (sometimes simultaneously). It's wild, swingin' and often funky.

A1: Man Dance
A2: Iola
A3: Spanking
A4: Catman
A5: The Art of Levitation
B1: Belly Button
B2: Giraffe
B3: When Souls Speak
B4: Alice in the Congo

All compositions by Ronald Shannon Jackson
Arrangements by RSJ and the Decoding Society

Antilles Records, UK, 1982. Cat # AN 1008

Ronald Shanon Jackson - drums
Henry Scott - trumpet and flugelhorn
Zane Massey - tenor, alto and soprano saxophones
Vernon Reid - electric guitar, steel guitar, Roland guitar synthesizer, banjo [why doesn't Vernon play a bit of banjo with Living Colour, eh?]
Melvin Gibbs - electric bass
Reverned Bruce Johnson - fretless electric bass, electric bass
David Gordon -trumpet on A1, A2 and B3 (replacing Henry Scott)
Lee Rozie - additional tenor and soprano saxophones on A1, A2 and B3

Recorded live in the studio, New York, June 1982, by Neal Teeman and Akili Walker.
"Decoded by Ron Saint Germain"
Produced by David Breskin and Ronald Shannon Jackson

320kbps mp3
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