This document is being stripped out and added to the Rivers Sessionography.


"A welcome documentation of an important part of the contemporary musical landscape... [presenting] a comprehensive cross-section of the New York loft session movement.
Wildflowers is destined to become an important benchmark of '70s music. By documenting the work of many of the most important exponents of black oriented free music, it presents a fair picture of what's currently happening in lower Manhattan's lofts."
[Chuck Berg Down Beat Magazine Aug 11 '87]
Wildflowers 1—Douglas/Casablanca NBLP 7045
  1. Jays / Kalaparusha  —Kalaparusha (ts), Chris White (b, el-b), Jumma Santos (dr)
  2. New Times / Ken McIntyre  —McIntyre (as), Richard Harper (p), Andy Vega (cng), Andrei Strobert (dr)
  3. Over the Rainbow / Sunny Murray & the Untouchable Factor  —David Murray (ts), Byard Lancaster (as), Khan Jamal (vib), Fred Hopkins (b), Murray (dr)
  4. Rainbows / Sam Rivers  —Rivers (ss), Jerome Hunter (b), Jerry Griffin (dr)
  5. USO Dance / Air  —Henry Threadgill (as), Fred Hopkins (b), Steve McCall (dr, perc)
Wildflowers 2—Douglas/Casablanca NBLP 7046
  1. The Need to Smile / Flight to Sanity  —Byard Lancaster (ts), Art Bennett (ss), Olu Dara (tp), Sonelius Smith (p), Benny Wilson (b), Don Moye (cng), Harold Smith (dr)
  2. Naomi / Ken McIntyre  —Personnel same as Volume 1, track 2
  3. 73°-S Kelvin / Anthony Braxton  —Braxton (as, cbs, cl), George Lewis (tb), Michael Jackson (g), Fred Hopkins (b), Phillip Wilson (perc), Barry Altschul (dr)
  4. And Then They Danced / Marion Brown  —Brown (as), Jack Gregg (b), Jumma Santos (cng)
  5. Locomotif No. 6 / Leo Smith & the New Delta Ahkri  —Oliver Lake (as), Smith (tp), Anthony Davis (p), Wes Brown (b), Paul Maddox and Stanley Crouch (dr)
Wildflowers 3—Douglas/Casablanca NBLP 7047
  1. Portrait of Frank Edward Weston / Randy Weston  —Weston (p), Alex Blake (b), Azzedin Weston (cng)
  2. Clarity-2 / Michael Jackson  —Oliver Lake (ss, fl), Jackson (g), Fred Hopkins (b), Phillip Wilson (dr)
  3. Black Robert / Dave Burrell  —Burrell (p), Stafford James (b), Harold White (dr)
  4. Blue Phase / Abdullah  —Charles Bracken (ts, ss), Ahmed Abdullah (tp), Mashujaa (g), Leroy Seals (el-b), Rickie Evans (b), Rashied Sinan (dr)
  5. Short Short / Andrew Cyrille & Maono  —David Ware (ts), Ted Daniel (tp), Lyle Atkinson (b), Cyrille (dr)
Wildflowers 4—Douglas/Casablanca NBLP 7048
  1. Tranquil Beauty / Hamiet Bluiett  —Bluiett (cl, bs), Olu Dara (tp), Butch Campbell and Billy Patterson (g), Johnny Booth (b), Charles Bobo Shaw and Don Moye (dr)
  2. Pensive / Julius Hemphill  —Hemphill (as), Abdul Wadud (cel), Bern Nix (g), Don Moye (perc), Phillip Wilson (dr)
  3. Push Pull / Jimmy Lyons  —Lyons (as), Karen Borca (bsn), Hayes Burnett (b), Henry Maxwell Letcher (dr)
  4. Zaki / Oliver Lake  —Lake (as), Michael Jackson (g), Fred Hopkins (b), Phillip Wilson (dr)
  5. Shout Song / David Murray  —Murray (ts), Olu Dara (tp, flg), Fred Hopkins (b), Stanley Crouch (dr)
Wildflowers 5—Douglas/Casablanca NBLP 7049
  1. Something's Cookin' / Sunny Murray & the Untouchable Factor  —David Murray (ts), Byard Lancaster (as), Khan Jamal (vib), Fred Hopkins (b), Murray (dr)
  2. Chant / Roscoe Mtchell  —Mitchell (as), Jerome Cooper (perc, saw, dr), Don Moye (dr)

Wildflowers The New York Loft Jazz Sessions

©1995, Gravity Sarl (made in France by MPO) Gravity / Douglas Music

CD 1
30 00 332 [ARC 384]
Total Time: 70:18
  1. Kalaparusha - Jays (6:11)
  2. Ken McIntyre - New Times (7:45)
  3. Sunny Murray & The Untouchable Factor - Over The Rainbow (5:48)
  4. Sam Rivers - Rainbows (10:24)
  5. Air - USO Dance (8:26)
  6. Flight To Sanity - The Need To Smile (10:45)
  7. Ken McIntyre - Naomi (6:31)
  8. Anthony Braxton - 73°-S Kelvin (6:41)
  9. Marion Brown - And Then They Danced (7:14)
CD 2
30 00 342 [ARC 384]
Total Time: 63:02
  1. Leo Smith & The New Delta Ahkri - Locomotif No 6 (6:24)
  2. Randy Weston - Portrait of Frank Edward Weston (9:17)
  3. Michael Jackson (aka Michael Gregory Jackson) - Clarity (6:09)
  4. Dave Burrell - Black Robert (5:43)
  5. Abdullah - Blue Phase (12:35)
  6. Andrew Cyrille & Maono - Short Short (6:57)
  7. Hamiet Bluiett - Tranquil Beauty (5:45)
  8. Julius Hemphill - Pensive (9:54)
CD 3
30 00 352 [ARC 384]
Total Time: 60:50
  1. Jimmy Lyons - Push Pull (5:32)
  2. Oliver Lake - Zaki (9:52)
  3. David Murray - Shout Song (2:45)
  4. Sunny Murray & The Untouchable Factor - Something's Cookin' (17:02)
  5. Roscoe Mitchell - Chant (25:22)
The tracks JAYS, AND THEN THEY DANCED, BLUE PHASE and TRANQUIL BEAUTY are presented here in their entirety. They fade rather than end with applause because they are both part of a continuous set where one composition followed into the next. Due to technical live recording problems, the beginning of THE NEED TO SMILE was not properly recorded. The producers felt the performance strong enough to include it with a logical beginning at the soprano saxophone solo. 73°-S KELVIN and SHORT SHORT are each excerpts of continuous performances.


Liner notes by Robert Palmer: "I was thinking in terms of forces of nature when I titled these compositions," says Sam Rivers, "the motion of waves, changing currents, changing flow." These are probably the most appropriate metaphors anyone has come up with for Rivers' extraordinary music, and it is typical of Sam that he thought of them first. He has never been one to sit around and wait for someone to do something for him. He has gone out and done things on his own, whether the task before him was organizing a small combo, assembling and rehearsing a big band, or establishing and operating the most important musician-run performing space in New York, Studio Rivbea. He has mastered the tenor and soprano saxophones, the flute, and the piano, and those who have heard him play viola, which he was performing on back in the fifties, say he is formidable on that instrument as well.
Sam comes from a family of achievers. His grandfather notated and published a collection of spirituals and black folk songs in the 1880's. Both his parents were college graduates, and when he was born in El Reno, Oklahoma in 1930, Mr. and Mrs. Rivers were there because they were on the road, giving concerts of spirituals.
When Sam was seven his father died in a highway accident and his mother raised him in North Little Rock, Arkansas, where she taught at Shorter College. After a stint in the Navy, Sam went north to Boston, where he studied at Boston Conservatory and worked steadily for around fifteen years, seven nights a week, with people like Gigi Gryce, Jaki Byard, and, later, the young Tony Williams. There were also reed gigs with Billie Holiday and T-Bone Waker.
In fact, Sam was on the road playing the blues with T-Bone when he got a call to join the Miles Davis quintet. He replaced George Coleman and lasted six months, and even a casual listen to the one album he made with the group, Miles in Tokyo, tells why. It was 1964. Miles and the rest of the band were doing finely crafted but polite versions of "If I Were a Bell" and "My Funny Valentine" and Sam was soaring off into the stratosphere, playing lengthy solos of gut-wrenching intensity that stuck out like sore thumbs. Later in the sixties he worked in the volcanic bands of McCoy Tyner and Cecil Taylor, situations in which he was more at home, and recorded his first albums for Blue Note. During the early seventies he slowly built a devoted following in New York and recorded some remarkable albums for Impulse. On the first one, Streams, and in many of his live performances, he simply improvised, backed by bass and drums and switching from one of his instruments to the other, for an hour or more at a time, without planning anything in advance. On the other hand, his big band music, captured on the Impulse! album Crystals, was rigorously structured.
Lately Rivers' small groups have been purveying the best of both worlds, and this album, the first with his current quartet, strikes a particularly judicious balance. It is free and controlled, passionate and lucid. A few days before Rivers made the record, I visited him at Studio Rivbea, and he said something that might serve as his credo, if he believed in such things: "You can come out here and be an intuitive musician and be really happening, but your dreams and visions won't last forever. If you don't get into the books and get your technical thing together while that intuitive thing is happening, you won't survive."
Rivers' great strength is that he has so much of both, so much technique and so much imagination and fire. On tenor he is practically without peer, with a sound and style that are wholly his own. "I listened to everybody I could hear to make sure I didn't sound like them," he says. "I worked out my own chord substitutions, wrote my own exercises to practice." On soprano he has an equally personal sound and style; even when he is looking Eastward for inspiration he sounds nothing like John Coltrane, as his performance on "Pulse" corroborates. He is a virtuoso flutist, and one suspects he would have become a major jazzman had he confined his activities to the piano.
"Shockwave" begins with the piano. Sam's playing is reflective but sinewy, and as the shockwave spreads the group charges into a full-tilt collective improvisation. "Actually," Rivers notes, "I don't think in terms of solos with accompaniment; I consider that we're all playing together in a situation where everyone is complementing everyone else. At times I may be the dominant voice but I consider myself part of a group; it's complete ensemble playing at all times." It takes a particularly resourceful musician (with an unusual amount of stamina) to cut the mustard in a Rivers band, and it only takes a few minutes of this first composition for the listener to realize that in this group, every man is equal to the task. Dave Holland, the bassist, who makes solo records for ECM and has been heard with just about every important musician in contemporary jazz, from Miles Davis to Anthony Braxton, has been with Sam the longest. He has said that he considers working in Rivers' bands a particularly stimulating challenge, since he has to create at all times, without falling back on predetermined riff patterns or clicheés. Joe Daley, who is the most astonishing of a whole new generation of virtuoso tuba players, has also been heard with Rivers, often in a trio context in which he functioned simultaneously as the bass instrument and a second horn. Thurman Barker, who comes from Chicago and the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians, is the newest member of the group. Sam says he is probably the most sensitive drummer he has ever worked with.
Daley gets a chance to prove his mettle after Sam's opening piano solo, playing sassy baritone horn along with Holland's inventive bass until the drums and Sam, on tenor, re-enter. Appropriately, "Shockwave" ends with Barker's drum solo. But the side ends with a delicate flute reverie that nevertheless picks up a head of steam and is called "Torch". Side Two is ushered in by a bass and tuba duet. Sam was the first of New York's more progressive jazz musicians to regularly use the tuba in his small groups, and here the instrument participates with the string bass as an equal. The soprano saxophone improvisation that follows snakes over a rhythm that refers to a rock groove without getting locked in. On "Flux" Sam is back on piano and Holland is on cello, an instrument from which he extracts a lovely bowed sound. Barker is heard on chimes. "Surge" is an apt title for the magnificent tenor saxophone solo that concludes the album.
Sam Rivers is on the cutting edge of jazz, but he has never been one of those musicians who commune primarily with their own muse. His music communicates, and as he says, "I still feel like swinging; I'm still into that." Waves is food for thought but it's foot-tapping music too, and there shouldn't be anything shocking about that; the best, most mature jazz has always been about both.

--Robert Palmer

Back to Rivers Sessionography.

THANK YOU ALL [The original working list for this discography via Matt Gorney (RivBEA),
Sam & Beatrice Rivers, Dante Sawyer (Jazziz), and Vladimir Simosko.]

Assistance, Direction, and Encouragement has come from
the following gracious individuals--

  • Mr. Sam Rivers
  • Matt Gorney, RivBEA Sound Company
  • Brian Carpenter and Jazz Pop Online, a site with info on Mr. Rivers' current activities.
  • Michael Fitzgerald and his Jazz Research Center, a kind of "Discography Central," including documents
    on Art Davis, Woody Shaw, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Henry Grimes, and many others.
  • Anthony B. Rogers, above and beyond.
  • Alan Saul and his Dolphy Discography
  • Gerrit Stolte, European correspondent
  • Lonnie Sherman, for the whole world as discography
  • Vladimir Simosko, author (w/ Barry Tepperman) of Eric Dolphy, A Musical Biography and Discography.
  • John Chacona
  • Marcel Glen Safier and his Andrew Hill, David Murray, Odean Pope, and Von Freeman Discographies
  • Ken Waxman
  • R. Lynn Rardin
  • Jan Lohmann and his "The Sound of Miles Davis" Web-site and Discography.
  • Sybil Golden, Postcards, Inc.
  • R. Shapiro and his Cecil Taylor Discography.
  • Damon Short and The Music of Cecil Taylor.
  • Alec Cozens
  • Edward M. Michel, producer of the Rivers impulse! sessions.
  • Stephen Miner and his Lee Konitz Discography, and Stephen's friend RUFUS.
  • Bill Sakovich
  • Henry Loess
  • Rohan James Parkes
  • Sheri Margrave
  • Stefano Zenni
  • Christopher Anderson
  • Dane C. LaBarr
  • Chuck Eschweiler
  • Dan Serro
  • Yoshiyuki Suzuki and Kazue Yokoi for info on poet Kazuko Shiraishi.
  • Hugo van Ginhoven
  • Tom Stoudt
  • Heinrich Smejkal
  • Alice & George Russell
  • Todd Jenkins
  • Stuart Kremsky
  • Patrice Roussel
  • Richard Goodkind
  • Lazaro Vega
  • Ray Stadt
  • Jay Soule
  • Pete Gershon
  • Graham Connah
  • Arjen Gorter [Arjen & Estrella Acosta's Homepage]
  • Allan Sutherland
  • Dan Given
  • Kevin Whitehead, author of "New Dutch Swing."
  • Joost Buis
  • Sean Bergin
  • Dick Griffin
  • Allan Chase
  • Sean Wilkie
  • George Scala
  • Heinrich Smejkal
  • Tom Storer
  • Michel Ménard
  • Thurston Moore
  • Byron Coley
  • Alain LeRoux and Le Jazz.
  • Guy Berard
  • George Scala
  • Randy Aranson of MCA/Impulse!
  • David Wayne
  • Guillaume Bregeras
  • Tim Nees
  • Forti Giorgio
  • Generous Producer Jean Rochard of the Nato label.
  • Michael McLaughlin
  • Tosiyuki Nomoto
  • Jens Brasöy
  • Andrew Galloway
  • Chuck Berg
  • Rick Wallach
  • Lloyd Haber
  • Wolfgang Kraus
  • "The Blue Note Label:" A discography compiled by Michael Cuscuna and Michel Ruppli
  • Mosaic Records. E-mail:
    Phone: (203) 327-7111
    FAX: (203) 323-3526
  • Cadence Magazine and reviewers Robert L. Campbell, Richard B. Kamins, Chris Kelsey, Steven Loewy, Robert Spencer, and Jerome Wilson.
    The indispensable "Review of Jazz & Blues: Creative Improvised Music."
    For subscription info and much more visit the Cadence website. CODA Magazine.
Back to Rivers Sessionography

Comments, additions, corrections to: Rick Lopez