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DAVID WERTMAN

David Wertman

Kara Suite

    As one of the three inaugural 1976 releases to ignite the mythical Mustevic Music catalogue, David Wertman’s elusive Kara Suite LP was the first record to turn jazz drummer Steve Reid’s vanity imprint into an bona fide cooperative record label with a multi-artist repertoire. Entrusting his own bass player with the limelight, Reid’s unlikely A&R decision would typify his oblique strategies and challenge the common perception of a soloist within jazz’s shifting landscape.

    Drawing few comparisons amongst independent label releases of the time, save for rare standalone LP by Ronnie Boykins (ESP 1975) and cellist Abdul Wadoud (Bisharra 1978), Wertman’s only solo album (preceding his work with Sun Ensemble and The New Life Trio) combined frenetic bow work, intricate spiritual exchanges and raucous rock solid cyclic riffage to underpin his own compositional complexities. Providing a platform for first-time players like Richard Schatzberg (French horn) and future avant jazz punk participant Ken Simon (tenor/soprano sax) Kara Suite provides an early indication of Wertman’s multilayered and non-conformist blueprint from which the hallowed New Life Trio would eventually illuminate. The album’s off-kilter commitment is further cemented by the inclusion of worldly free jazz luminary Charles Tyler (alto sax) and the naturalistic back-beat of Steve Reid himself to complete the dream team – albeit a sleepless one, on account of this one-off quintet’s wide-eyed innovation.

    Presented in four parts, Kara Suite documents Wertman’s very first musical directorial commitment to vinyl, preceded only by guest appearances, months earlier, on Steve Reid’s classic Rhythmatism and the ultra-rare The Universal Jazz Symphonette LP which chronicles Wertman’s deep-end New York baptism alongside Billy Bang and Earl Freeman before his relocation to Northampton forged this unique and oblique chapter in America’s independent jazz narrative. As one of the final pages to be turned in the Mustevic reappraisal legacy this album perhaps remains the best kept secret for aficionados who actively choose to blur the lines between spiritual jazz and free jazz with no discrimination against art rock and the genre that might soon be christened punk (but not as we know it).

    Finally resurrected via the Finders Keepers/Early Future unison, complete with full cooperation and sleeve note narration by David’s partner Lynne Meryl, it might come as little surprise that amongst these pillars of alternative, privately pressed jazz is a story that also intertwines names such as Alice Cooper, Archie Shepp, KISS and DJ Shadow and many mutating musical genres that have made this music so hard to pin down over the subsequent five decades.


    TRACK LISTING

    1. Kara Suite
    2. Sunshine
    3. Sharatarr
    4. Devotion 

    "Earthly Delights" is a forgotten 1978 free-jazz masterpiece by bass player, composer and improviser David Wertman, alongside his Sun Ensemble. Born in 1952 and raised in Queens NY, Wertman’s distinctive upright playing style was entirely self-taught. He cut his teeth in the notorious New York Jazz lofts, jamming for hours and hours with the likes of Billy Bang, Arthur Blythe, Marion Brown, Steve Reid, Dave Pike, William Parker, Brandon Ross and Charles Tyler to name but a few.

    "Earthly Delights" is the first recording by the Sun Ensemble band and features the original line-up of Greg Wall (Baritone Saxophone), Jay Conway (Drums), John Sprague Jr. (Flute and Percussion), David Swerdlove (Soprano/Alto Saxophone), and John Zieman (Synthesizer). John Sprague Jr. financed and produced the album, releasing it on his own label Sweet Earth Records, a short-lived but bountiful imprint, perhaps best known for issuing Sun Ra And His Arkestra’s 1979 album “The Other Side Of The Sun”. "Earthly Delights" is perhaps best described as loosely composed, or highly improvised, depending on where you stand on such subjective matters. Containing just 4 compositions, "Earthly Delights" explores man’s relationship with nature; at times subtle and delicate, at times wide and sweeping in its gestures. The record’s spiritual message is conveyed by heartfelt, virtuoso performances from all six players, drifting together seamlessly from one sonic wave to the next.

    A highly sought-after spiritual jazz album from 1976. Passing away in 2013, David Wertman was a hugely respected upright bass player who worked closely with Dr. Lonnie Smith, Billy Bang & Arthur Blythe throughout his long career. Original artwork, plus brand new liner notes written by Will Sumsuch (5 Mag) with original photographs and poetry supplied by his widow Lynne Meryl.


    TRACK LISTING

    Disc: 1
    1. Relations
    2. Earthly Delights

    Disc: 2
    1. Oh John Love Trane
    2. Clear Air Dancer


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