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August 14, 2011

"The Will Come, Is Now" - Ronnie Boykins

Listening to The Will Come, Is Now on my iPod as I type; I can't help but revisit this ESP-Disk' release at least once a month. Ronnie Boykins' first and only release as a leader has so much replay value and it it leaves me wanting more and more. A bassist that is as versatile to play along with Muddy Waters, Marion Brown, Steve Lacy, Bill Dixon, Sam Rivers, Mary Lou Williams. Rashaan Roland Kirk, at many others, Boykins is mostly famous for his time with the Arkestra. Where we can hear Boykins providing the bass lines for some of the most pivotal Sun Ra LPs.

In an era when Jazz was becoming more and more fusion as well as electric, Boykins rejected the norm and recorded this earthy, acoustic session in 1974. It's very rhythmic, with bass licks that draw from eastern music and polyrhythmic influences from African drumming. Yet his beautiful arco playing on the upright amalgamates classical western sounds with eastern and African influences.

The opening title track exemplifies everything I described in the prior paragraph. However we then make a left turn with the following cut, "Starlight at the Wonder Inn." A buoyant ballad pulling from traditional jazz melodies that even a composer like Strayhorn would write. Although Boykins' technique allows it to be off teetered enough to comprise of its own aesthetic. Fitting perfectly with the rest of the album.

"Demon Dance" is the most Post-Bop in nature, but once the theme is played the whole ensemble wails together as if they were a New Orleans band from the earlier part of the century. It's swinging while offering a change of pace just as the album starts to really grip hold of you.

The closing track, "The Third I," comes in strong similar to Art Ensemble of Chicago recordings. Very heavy rhythms, free form, and demanding on the listener's ears. Requiring your endurance for ten and a half minutes, Boykins then stops everything with a satisfying bass line. Here, the horn sections remind me a lot of Anthony Braxton's composing. This theme is short, creating quite the tease. Leaving me wishing I can hear more Ronnie Boykins. Guess I'll have to go through my Sun Ra records this afternoon.

1974 - ESP-Disk'.
Ronnie Boykins - bass and sousaphone; Joe Ferguson - soprano and tenor saxophones, flute; Monty Walters - alto and soprano saxophones; James Vass - alto and soprano saxophones, flute; Daoud Haroom - trombone; Art Lewis - percussion - George Avaloz: congas.

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