Tuesday, April 12, 2011

R.I.P. Billy Bang

I was truly saddened to learn that Billy Bang passed away yesterday, April 11th, 2011. Free jazz violinists don't grow on trees, but between him and Leroy Jenkins, some truly amazing music has been created. Ottowa Citizen has more. EDIT: Tom Hull has a mini CG and more links here. Post on npr's A Blog Supreme.

Billy Bang played on many great records, both as leader and with people like Sun Ra, William Parker, Kahil El'Zabar, Marilyn Crispel, William Hooker and Bootsy Collins to name a only a few. Below, some picks of my favorite Billy Bang recordings, off the top of my head and probably missing a few gems:
  • Billy Bang Quintet: Rainbow Gladiator (Soul Note, 1981)
  • Billy Bang Sextet: The Fire From Within (Soul Note, 1985)
  • Billy Bang: Bang On! (Justin Time, 1997)
  • Billy Bang: Vietnam: The Aftermath (Justin Time, 2001)
  • William Parker Violin Trio: Scrapbook (Thirsty Ear, 2003)
  • Sirone-Bang Ensemble: Configuration (Silkheart, 2005)
  • Billy Bang: Vietnam: Reflections (Justin Time, 2005)
  • Billy Bang Quintet feat. Frank Lowe: Above and Beyond: An Evening in Grand Rapids (Justin Time)
Never got a copy of Prayer for Peace, Bang's last record and one much praised by Tom Hull.

EDIT: Finally got a digital copy of Prayer... yesterday. Also, if this happens to be your first visit (thanks to Hull for the link), please note that my jazz library/list/grades haven't been properly updated in ages. Hoping to sort this out sooner rather than later.

EDIT 2: Thanks to Destination: Out!'s lovely Billy Bang farewell post, I came across the rare album Intensive Care, released under the group name Jazz Doctors in 1984, a one off project with Bang, Frank Lowe, drummer Dennis Charles and bassist Rafael Garrett. It's a highly well-played and enjoyable record that deserves a mention among those above (see my Jazz pages for grades).

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