Horace Tapscott: Live At Lobero, Volume 2

The pianist's trio offers a lively, individualistic take on hard bop, touching on freer, avant-garde playing


The Lobero is a theatre in Santa Barbara, California and an exceptionally large and hollow-sounding room, judging by the spacious sound of the recording.

Tapscott begins with Lino’s Pad, his own composition, where he demonstrates a modal approach which limits bassist Miranda to an ostinato for much of the time. The intensity of the piano solo rises and falls throughout the performance and the bass and drums provide ever-appropriate rhythm backing when Tapscott branches out, increasing the tension.

Close To Freedom was written by someone called C. Clunk and again there are changes of direction and intensity throughout. A repeated pattern is once again explored in depth with the pianist playing at first in a heavily percussive manner and then switching to a gentle, rhapsodic approach. Miranda plays a well-structured arco solo, using the full range of his instrument to advantage. Towards the end Sunship supplies a explosive drum solo that incorporates the shape of the basic theme. This was 1981 and the trio was playing hard bop gradually evolving into free, avant-garde territory.

The entire second side of this LP is devoted to the bassist’s composition St Michael, which runs for 22 minutes. It begins with fragments of double bass and slowly segues into a flowing solo spurt by the pianist, improvising at length on the slender theme. Tapscott soon begins adding his own fresh melodies to the proceedings, his work enlivened by bass and drum backing. Miranda’s solo is long and varied, a virtuoso expedition on bowed bass juxtaposed with pizzicato interludes. Although Sunship’s drum and percussion work often appears at odds with the pianist’s lines it all comes together gradually and effectively overall.

This is a recording of a lively, inventive concert at a period when straightahead jazz was beginning to come together again after a prolonged period in the wilderness, thanks to the dominance of rock and fusion.

Lino’s Pad; Close To Freedom; St. Michael (40.30)
Tapscott (p); Roberto Miranda (b); Sunship (d, pc). California, 12 November 1981.
Nimbus 1258, via Pure Pleasure