CIMP 145 Luther Thomas (alto sax) Trio with Kelvyn Bell (guitar) and Ronnie Burrage (drums)
Luther Thomas reunites with his St. Louis growing up buddies to visit their roots and exercise their rights to swing and have fun on this original program. Recorded April 2 & 3, 1997.
Alto Gladness - Here We Go - 38 Special - Saxcrobatic Fanatic - Baseball (Star Spangled Banner) - Forever My Love - Basketball - Basketball 3 on 3 - Precious Grace
It was almost one year prior to this recording that Luther Thomas made his first CIMP presentation (BAG’in It, recorded April 6, 1996). The anxious circumstances preceding that recording (see the notes on CIMP 112) were overcome by the power and inspiration of the music from his quartet; music which strengthened a mutual respect between producer and artist. So when Luther contacted me earlier this year and adamantly suggested I record this trio (a musical association that goes back to St. Louis in the early ‘70s but was, up until now, undocumented), I shared his infectious enthusiasm. But I also had apprehensions because, even though Messrs. Burrage & Bell have the immediate respect of the circle of musicians I seem to be in regular contact with, my associations with them through recordings were, for me, often of qualified interest, as both men had had more than fleeting associations with, shall we say, the more commercial areas of Jazz. On the other hand, Luther’s home recorded tapes suggested that, cut loose, this trio could, indeed, cut loose.
The trio exhibits a relaxed familiarity, a gathering of friends open to mutual suggestions and guidance. Ronnie told me that he was 12 years old when they first started working together, covering Motown favorites and pop icons of the late ‘60s–early ‘70s. Ronnie and Kelvyn were perhaps the last generation to be part of BAG (the St. Louis Artists cooperative, similar in many ways to Chicago’s AACM); Kelvyn called them the Baby BAGers. Luther, the senior member of this trio, bridges the gap between the first generation (the Julius Hemphills, Oliver Lakes, etc.) and the last generation of BAGers. After all these years, it’s obvious these three enjoy each other’s company, sometimes as teachers, sometimes as students, in concert, in workshop –a friendship runs through it all. And the references to this long and varied musical association also run through this concert. Enjoy.
Robert D. Rusch