Gary Peacock (b), Carmell Jones, Don Ellis (tp), Bud Shank, Jimmy Woods (as), Harold Land (ts), Forrest Westbrook, Clare Fischer, Frank Strazzeri, Dick Whittington, Paul Bley (p), Billy Bean, Dennis Budimir (g), Bill Schwemmer (d) Gary Peacock, Chuck Flores, Gene Stone, Leon Petties, Milt Turner, Nick Martinis, Mel Lewis (d)
Reference: FSRCD 996
Bar code: 8427328609968
Bassist Gary Peacock (1935-2020) made his first recordings in the West Coast between 1959 and 1962. He was in his mid-20s when he arrived in Los Angeles, and although his talent was starting to get some recognition, not many would have counted Peacock among the most proficient young bassists in jazz. After the release of these recordings, there were few who wouldn't have.
Before him, the most prominent new bassists of the early 1960s were Scott LaFaro, followed by Charlie Haden, Steve Swallow and Chuck Israels. LaFaro's unexpected death in 1961 was a great loss because we most likely missed on further developments he would have contributed to the role of bass in jazz. Gary Peacock's push for innovation was a win for the same reason. The Peacock who suddenly burst in 1962 onto recordings with Jimmy Woods, Clare Fischer and with Don Ellis and Paul Bley was among the most challenging young musicians in jazz, a bassist learning to make his way into the most advanced groups. His playing had come far since his recordings with Bud Shank or Carmell Jones two years earlier, in an evolution that had no turning back.
Gary Peacock was sure that “although you may have an idea of where you are in your work, a record will show you where you really are —you and anyone else who hears it.” Listening to this compilation of his early recordings, you may find the answer.
"Bassist Gary Peacock, who died in September of 2020, was probably best known for Trio '64, his sole album in 1963 with Bill Evans, as well as his work with Albert Ayler, Paul Bley, Marc Copland and Keith Jarrett. But before Trio '64, Peacock spent several years in Los Angeles working as a sideman. On the West Coast, Peacock emerged as part of a school of conversationalist bassists who didn't just keep time but were expected to engage with a point of view.
Now, Fresh Sound has released a wise sampler of Peacock's recordings during this period. The album, The Beginnings: Gary Peacock, West Coast Years (1959-1962), features the bassist with the Carmell Jones Quartet, the Bud Shank Quartet, the Clare Fischer Trio, the Carmell Jones Quintet, the Jimmy Woods Quartet, the Don Ellis Quartet and the Bud Shank Quintet.
All of the tracks have an avant-garde edge, with Peacock driving firmly on top. During this period, Peacock became a rhythmic player with unusual bass patterns and improvised statements, at times provoking and other times supporting. All of these tracks belong to eight terrific albums, which makes this new compilation a smart starting point for experiencing Peacock's roots and playing intellect. Much of the music is ahead of its time, refusing to fit into the era's pop and songbook approach and carving out new territory for small-group jazz. On each track selected by Fresh Sound's Jordi Pujol, Peacock is playing powerfully and distinctly.
You need to hear this album to understand Peacock's approach on future leadership albums and sideman sessions. The tracks are all terrific choices."
—Marc Myers (January 11, 2021)
"The first thing that is going to shock you about this collection of material by legendary bassist Gary Peacock during his early years is that at one time HE ACTUALLY LOOKED YOUNG!
Together with Charlie Haden, Steve Swallow and Chuck Israels, the recently departed Gary Peacock was one of the most important of the up and coming bassists, best known for his work with Keith Jarrett's classic trio alongside Jack DeJohnette, as well as with Albert Ayler and Paul Motian. This retrospective has him in seen different settings, all in Los Angeles (or Santa Monica) in trio or small group formats, showing a wide breath and width of his talents and taste.
There are some surprises here, as Peacock shows a debt to and influence from legend Charles Mingus, giving some clever work in Carmell Jones' Quintet with Harold Land/ts on “I'm Gonna Go Fishin’” and snapping with the trio of Clare Fischer/p and Gene Stone on “Free Too Long”. This same trio is quite lively, with Peacock's bass dominating “Stranger” and bopping to the nifty and hip “I Love You”. A straight Jazz Messenger-ish “New Groove” and “Liddledabllduya” with Bud Shank/as, Jones/tp, Dennis Budimir/g and Mel Lewis/dr sounds like vintage Blue Note material, while elliptical tones are by the more adventurous team of Peacock with Paul Bley/p and Nick Martinis/dr a Monkish “Form” and sepia “Donkey”. West Coast warm."
George W. Harris (December 7, 2020)
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