Good Music We Can Know

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Excellence out of Blue Note: Pete LaRoca's Basra (1965)


Mr. LaRoca retired from jazz in 1968, and became an attorney. He was a percussionist who played with Sonny Rollins and John Coltrane, among many others, and this is the first of only two albums that would showcase him as a leader before his ignominious retreat. It is a careful yet swashbuckling, latin and eastern-tinged jazz achievement of exceptional quality. Exceptional.

LaRoca's percussion is deceptive, clever and simmering with heat, but none other than Joe Henderson commands the stage with tenor solos of positively delightful invention. His mercurial, arabic influenced phrasing on LaRoca's own composition, "Basra" (the title track) is just superb. Playful, yet serious, wild to the brink of avant-garde, yet squarely accessible in the best way.

One of my favorite jazz LPs of all time. All time. You will like this.