Alvinn Pall Sextet - S/T (Radio Canada International 1976)
Mind-blowing political jazz from Saxophonist Alvin Pall fronting a sextet featuring Sam Noto on Trumpet, Jerry Johnson on Trombone, George McFetridge on piano, Rick Homme on bass and Terry Clarke on drums.
This is very much an LP of two halves. Side one features two blisteringly fast standards and a beautiful ballad by Pall. This highlights what an amazing group this is, but gives no indication of what is to come.
Side Two is completely different and it's totally incredible. The whole side forms the “Trudeau Suite”, dedicated to the then Canadian Prime Minister, Pierre Trudeau (father of the present incumbent Justin). The suite covers Trudeau’s somewhat turbulent first few years in office from 1968 to 1974.
The first track “Joyful”, describes Trudeau's election amidst a wave of “Trudeaumania”. When elected, he ushered in a wave of progressive reforms, such as legalising abortion and homosexuality, as well reforming divorce laws and pushing for institutional bilingualism. The track begins with a bell and then a voice, before breaking into a theme that sounds startling similar to Woody Shaw’s (actually Victor Lewis’s) “Seventh Avenue” (it was however written a couple of years before). Parallels between this group and Woody Shaw’s are easy, the front three play with all the incredible dynamism of Shaw, Carter Jefferson and Slide Hampton at their peak. This is phenomenal!! The second track “Melancholy” presumably describes the events and aftermath of the “October Crisis” in 1970. The FLQ, a Québécoise separatist terrorist group, kidnapped a British Diplomat and (later) a Canadian politician. In response Trudeau, claiming the country was in a state of “apprehended insurrection”, enacted the War Measures Act. The act suspended habeas corpus, allowing the police unlimited powers to detain any one and search property without a warrant. The army moved in to the streets of Quebec. In an infamous interview Trudeau was insouciant, imploring the interviewer to “Just Watch Me” to see how far he would erode civil liberties.