Sam Rivers: Dimensions & Extensions (1967)
Blue Note 15364
01 – Precis
02 – Paean
03 – Effusive Melange
04 – Involution
05 – Afflatus
06 – Helix
Donald Byrd – trumpet
Julian Priester – trombone
James Spaulding – alto sax, flute
Sam Rivers – tenor sax, soprano sax, flute
Cecil McBee – bass
Steve Ellington – drums
Recorded: Van Gelder Studio, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey; March 17, 1967.
Producer: Alfred Lion
Recording Engineer: Rudy Van Gelder
Cover photography: Francis Wolff
Cover design: Reid Miles
Liner notes: Robert Palmer
Re-mastered (2008) by: Rudy van Gelder
Re-issue Producer: Michael Cuscuna
Liner notes (2008): Bob Blumenthal
Originally issued in 1977 on Blue Note BN-LA 453, as part of the double album “Involution” (the second half of which is an Andrew Hill session).
Issued as an individual album with the original cover for the first time in 1986 (BST 84261).
Ambitious, atonal, challenging all are accurate descriptions of Dimensions and Extensions, Sam Rivers’ fourth album for Blue Note.
Rivers remains grounded in hard bop structure, working with a sextet featuring Donald Byrd (trumpet), James Spaulding (alto saxophone, flute), Julian Priester (trombone), Cecil McBee (bass), and Steve Ellington (drums), but he explodes the boundaries of the form with difficult, dissonant compositions.
With his unique, mercurial tone and edgy solos, he keeps pushing the sextet in different directions.
It’s intense, cerebral music, but since it has distinct themes and strong rhythms, the forays into free jazz, dissonant harmonies, and unpredictable tonal textures are actually quite accessible.
Rivers simply burns on each track, whether playing tenor, soprano, or flute.
Byrd doesn’t display the wild imagination of Rivers, yet he keeps the pace with alternately languid and biting solos.
Similarly, each of the remaining musicians makes a lasting impression with his individual time in the spotlight.
With music as risky at this, it’s forgivable that it occasionally meanders (especially on the slower numbers) but, overall, Dimensions and Extensions offers more proof that Sam Rivers was one of the early giants of the avant-garde.
~Stephen Thomas Erlewine [AMG]