James Newton ‘Toil and Resolution’

At their beginning in 1978, Cobalt Records, founded by Philippe Conrath, promoted French free jazz and improvising musicians like Michel Portal or Jean-François Pauvros, as well as Marquis de Sade, a prominent figure of the French New-Wave, from Rennes, France, where Conrath also launched the famous Transmusicales festival. In 1989, though, Cobalt had became a world-music-only label specializing in African and Indian Ocean music. This 1980 LP, by US flutist James Newton, is from a time when the label was still associated with the Libération newspaper and through it with the Bazooka artists, including Kiki Picasso, who provided the artwork for this release (see more of his work with partner Loulou here). Newton was born in 1953 in Los Angeles, CA, and moved to New York in 1978 where he played with Cecil Taylor and Lester Bowie, as well as in trio or quartet with pianist Anthony Davis. Newton belongs to this breed of jazz musicians called Third Stream, mixing classical music with jazz. With its agile and bird-like tonalities, ‘Toil and Resolution’ certainly exudes classicism and serenity, though the music is inventive and varied throughout. The playing is straightforward yet harmonious, with only occasional fortes and overblowned passages. The sudden addition of reverb at 5:00 into the last track comes as a kind of shock, as you suddenly realize you’ve been listening to flute played in a rather dry environment before.

James Newton ‘Toil and Resolution’
James Newton: solo flute

01 The Single Petal of a Rose (5:02)
02 Toru (12:35)
03 Après Rouen et Caen (9:24)
04 Toil and Resolution (8:18)

Total time 35:20
LP released by Cobalt records, France, 1980


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