Cambridge Focus

The focal point of jazz will be moving to Cambridge soon. The Rise Club on 485 Mass Ave., is a
By Jim Cramer

The focal point of jazz will be moving to Cambridge soon. The Rise Club on 485 Mass Ave., is a new jazz house that promises to bring in music that has never made its way into Boston proper. The Club is off to a good start this week featuring Ocean, made up of a group of musicians who have played with Stanley Turrentine and the Heath Brothers. Ocean will play through the weekend.

But then, moving in next weekend will be Charles Tolliver, a great trumpet player who has hitherto received no exposure in the Boston area. There is a reason for that. Tolliver is an uncompromising jazz musician, who has shown no intentions of "crossing over" into that rock/soul/disco world where the more commercialized jazz performers play.

Tolliver has an interesting history. Born in Florida in 1942, Tolliver moved to New York in his youth where he became proficient on the cornet. After three years of college he went under the wing of that great alto saxophonist Jackie McLean, who gave him a solid start on his own recording career. After his stint with McLean, Tolliver became one more great musician to work under the tutelage of Max Roach. He played on several popular recordings in his two year stary with Roach, including the classic "Members Don't Get Weary" on which he met pianist Stanley Cowell. He later teamed with Cowell and a few other musicians including drummer Jimmy Hopps, to form Music Inc. The group, which specializes in doing things new and differently, established its reputation on the European concert circuit. The strongest recording available during those sojourns, "Live at the Loosdrecht jazz festival" has Tolliver at his most unrestrained.

Tolliver will be coming in to the Rise Club with Joe Chambers. Sets, which will begin at 9:30 p.m. January 19-22, will cost $3 a piece. The Rise Club is on the fifth floor of 485, and requires i.d.'s on weekends.

The 1369 jazz club, at 1369 Cambridge St. in Inman Square, is bringing in Animation, this weekend, to round out the Cambridge jazz circuit.

Paul's Mall and the Jazz Workshop are showing why the Rise Club will soon be the number one place to see jazz in Cambridge. The Mall has Melba Moore, who sounds okay, not great, on her new album "Melba," produced by none other than disco Van McCoy. Speaking of disco, the Jazz workship has Dexter Wansel in this weekend. Wansel is right out of The Sound of Philadelphia studios, and carries with him the high recommendation of Ken Camble, of Camble and Huff fame (the O'Jays). The strange thing about this Philly International date is that Jean Carn, who used to do some nice jazz with Doug Carn, will be playing with Wansel and his Planets. Maybe people at the workshop think they can attract both the jazz and the disco crowd by including some nice sax with a thumping bass. We'll see. If you so desire, sets for Dexter are 8:30 and 11:00, for Melba: 9 and 11:30. The Mall/Workshop is at 733 Boylston St., right near Copley Square.

Some good news on the Mall front, Roy Ayers is moving in at the end of January for a five day stint.

Speaking of focal points, McCoy Tyner's new album, "Focal Point," is just one terrific performance by Tyner. The release, cut this summer, but just now making it to the shelves at the Coop, is devoid of the heavy string section that made "Fly With the Wind" such a hit. This record is much more on line with the pulsating sounds of Trident. The most popular cut, at least for the disc jockeys, has been "indo Serenade," with its clearly defined melody and beautiful romantic piano work by Tyner. But the other numbers, including "Mes Trois Fils" and "Mode for Dulcimer," offer more in terms of improvisational beauty. This album is saxophone heavy which is good news for Gary Bartz fans. Bartz gives a performance on this album the likes we haven't heard since "Hiome." Tyner gives a newcomer, Joe Ford, a lot of leeway in his flute solos, which could be the record's sole weakness.

Re-releases don't lie. "Here to Stay," a Blue Note re-issue featuring Freddie Hubbard, goes far to proving that the old Hubbard, the just-breaking-in-brash-young Hubbard, could do things that the more esteemed Hubbard could not even understand now. This album gives you the best of Hubbard and some terrific tenor sax by Jimmy Heath and Wayne Shorter. Cedar Walton shows why he is still one of the most under-rated pianists in his smooth accompaniement. The album is fortunate to have "Hub Cap", a long unavailable cut featuring Hubbard, Heath, and Philly Joe Jones, among others. And, for those who are collecting them, there is a dandy "Body and Soul" with Hubbard, Shorter, Reggie Workman (on bass) Philly Joe and Walton. Easy listening.

If you have not purchased it yet, you should seriously re-think your whole recording library. The album is the Charlie Parker Verve Years 1950-51, and the contention is greatest re-release yet. The selections, the improved rerecording techniques, and the Bird himself, of course, make this album the best listener choice for the year. My favorite selection: "Lover Man," the Kurt Weill hit down better than on all those old Billy Holliday cuts.