New Life Trio – Visions Of The Third Eye
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The late great drummer Steve Reid reissued eclectic recordings on his own Mustevic Sound label which gave his career a second wind. Though teased on a well-received compilation, one Mustevic release never saw reissue: New Life Trio’s Visions Of The Third Eye, a tremendous collaborative effort between Reid, guitarist Brandon Ross and bassist David Wertman. Early Future Records is proud to announce the reissue of the classic, final Mustevic recording for the first time as a limited-edition vinyl release. The release also includes a 20-page written zine featuring an in-depth testimonial and interview with Brandon Ross, and an explorative essay by Finders Keepers’ Andy Votel, as well as a wealth of archival photos, scores, and reviews. Reid’s long and varied career began in his native New York City, where he was involved early on as a member of the Apollo Theater House Band and the R&B scene of the 1960s, including recordings with Martha Reeves and James Brown. In the late 1960s, Reid spent three years in West Africa absorbing musical traditions and experimenting with artists such as Fela Kuti, Guy Warren, and Randy Weston. After a stint in prison for dodging the draft as a conscientious objector, the drummer came out swinging in the 1970s. He worked regularly as a session and Broadway musician even while immersing himself into the jazz world. The do-it-yourself ethos of the New York Loft Scene inspired Reid to create his own label, Mustevic Sound. A friend involved with the label was David Wertman, a young bassist from New York who released his own Kara Suite on Mustevic in 1976. New Life Trio’s story began when Wertman moved from New York to the more sedate but creatively vibrant town of Northampton, Massachusetts. Here, Wertman met Brandon Ross, a young guitarist from New Jersey who had relocated there with his brother to join a coterie of New York expats who had found a comfortable, collaborative environment amidst the liberal college towns in the area, including avant-garde legends Archie Shepp and Marion Brown. Wertman and Ross became friends and began to perform together regularly, both formally and informally. A string trio of Wertman, Ross and violinist Terry Jenoure was set to record, but Jenoure dropped out just prior to the date. This led Wertman to call his friend Steve Reid to come join the two at the Tin Pan Hollow Studios in Vermont to record what would become Visions Of The Third Eye on December 6, 1978. Originally conceived as an all-acoustic date, the recording would morph slightly when Ross added electric guitar muscle on a number of pieces. Reid would then take the helm and release the recording in 1980, giving a very auspicious birth to what has now become a classic spiritual jazz recording. Fast forward to 1995… New Life Trio gets a belated second wind from Stuart Baker’s inclusion of the Ross-voiced “Empty Streets” on his Universal Sounds of America compilation. Visions Of The Third Eye became a kind of “holy grail” record for collectors of jazz and creative music. The album’s cover image was even incorporated into the cover of Freedom, Rhythm & Sound (2009), a wonderful coffee table book presenting album covers from those revolutionary decades in Black creative music.
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