Artist: Sonny Sharrock ▪ Album: Black Woman ▪ Genre: Jazz ▪ Style: Free Jazz ▪ Year: 1969 ▪ Label: Vortex Records
In 1969, Sonny Sharrock, America’s first free jazz guitarist (prominent on such Pharoah Sanders albums as Tauhid) was well into his 1967-73 stint in jazz-pop flautist Herbie Mann’s group, terrorizing Mann fans with uncompromising blasts of atonal electric guitar. Not only did Mann love that clash, he produced this album, Sharrock’s first as a leader, for an Atlantic subsidiary. The album, with a cast of New York free jazz all-stars including pianist Dave Burrell, bassist Norris Jones (aka Sirone), trumpeter Ted Daniel, drummer Milford Graves, and more, features Linda Sharrock’s Patty Waters/Yoko Ono-influenced vocals, with healthy dollops of soul and gospel. I’ve heard side two’s opening track described as «an adaptation of a lullaby [used by Canteloube in his Chants D’Auvergne] culminating in the rape and dismemberment of the singer». Linda’s fierce wails and screeches are as aggressive as her husband’s guitar playing, yet there’s an unavoidable pop element in the music suggesting that, however naively, the participants believed that they could reach amass audience. Alas, this eccentric musical grab bag (which also touched on Country blues with the first appearance of Sonny’s «Blind Willie», here played solo on acoustic guitar) was too far out even for those times. A year later, the couple’s music became more extreme on the also-legendary monkey-pockie-boo.
– SH for the Wire