POWER TOOLS Strange Meeting (1987) & Coiled And Ready To Strike – Live On The BBC (1987) – Ronald Shannon Jackson R.I.P.

Strange Meeting (1987)
Coiled And Ready To Strike – Live On The BBC (1987)
Bill Frisell, Melvin Gibbs & Ronald Shannon Jackson Communicate

This was a strange meeting. A one-time gathering of greats, guitarist Bill Frisell, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drumming legend Ronald Shannon Jackson. You would think with these guys (and that band name) that there might be some intense jazz/funk head-butting going on here, but the largely improvisational trio made a point of downplaying the obvious, offering up atmospheric, tonal coloring in place of loud, frenzied mania. To be honest, expectations may have undermined PT’s impact. Gibbs’ Defunkt resume and Shannon Jackson’s balls-out freeform outfit, Last Exit, were still fresh in people’s minds, while Frisell’s avant garde chops were about to get a sturdy workout in John Zorn’s Naked City. How Power Tools shoehorned Frisell’s languid, almost psychedelic musings into Jackson’s tough to contain propulsion is a study in restraint. Though, they do get dirty, as the controlled freak-out in the middle of the 9 minute live opener, “Blame & Shame,” illustrates (below). Coiled And Ready To Strike is a high quality, unreleased live recording that pulsates with an energy that wasn’t quite captured on the studio album, even though the work is similarly exploratory. The bar is raised in front of a live audience, though, and Jackson & Gibbs drive the trio to even greater heights of tension. Together, both recordings are a snapshot of an under-appreciated experiment that wouldn’t last. I’ve read that Miles Davis guitarist Pete Cosey continued the journey, replacing Frisell, but have never heard any of that configuration’s work. Find Power Tools at Amazon (rather expensive, HERE).

Coiled And Ready To Strike – Live On The BBC
Blame & Shame (9:33)
Strange Meeting (5:48)
Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (5:35)
A Song Is Not Enough (8:59)
Untitled (15:32)
Unscientific Americans (16:25)
Howard Beach Memories (8:40)

Strange Meeting
Strange Meeting (5:13)
Wolf In Sheep’s Clothing (3:37)
Wadmalaw Island (5:07)
Unscientific Americans (3:01)
Howard Beach Memories (5:39)
When We Go (4:56)
The President’s Nap (3:55)
A Song Is Not Enough (3:34)
Blame & Shame (5:41)
Unchained Melody (5:22)



  • Anonymous
    July 1, 2009 - 18:39 | Permalink

    Melvin Gibbs is a very underrated musician. From this kind of stuff to the (Henry) Rollins Band and beyond, etc. The Arto Lindsay trio album (Aggregates…) on Knitting Factory has some nice bass playing from him on it.

  • illlich
    July 4, 2009 - 16:41 | Permalink

    I saw the Pete Cosey lineup at the Knitting Factory back in '89 or so (was actually a dual guitar lineup, with MBASE guitarist David Gilmore on midi-guitar, I remember him playing sampled percussion sounds). In fact I think someone in our entourage recorded it on a Marantz portable, though I don't have a copy. We showed up early at the KF box office to get tickets, and there was some bag lady hanging out there wearing a weird hooded silver jumpsuit. . . she turned around and we realized it was Pete Cosey!

  • Capt. Willard
    July 4, 2009 - 17:11 | Permalink

    Funny. Thanks.

  • Capt. Willard
    November 6, 2009 - 14:53 | Permalink

    Find them both HERE

  • Anonymous
    April 24, 2010 - 02:17 | Permalink

    wonderful stuff! thank you!

    and lmao at the bag lady story!


  • Don From Oregon
    September 8, 2011 - 22:59 | Permalink

    Thanks Willard!
    For whatever reason, I never saw these…Thanks!

    • Willard
      September 8, 2011 - 23:17 | Permalink

      There’s a lot of stuff hidden in the closet. Thanks for stoppin’ by.

  • Neil
    May 13, 2013 - 11:41 | Permalink

    Don’t know what to expect. Thanks,

  • jc
    October 20, 2013 - 00:59 | Permalink

    Ronald Shannon Jackson, RIP.

    • Willard
      October 20, 2013 - 09:55 | Permalink

      Thanks for the info jc.

  • Willard
    October 20, 2013 - 13:14 | Permalink

    Many thanks DonFO

  • Francis
    October 21, 2013 - 15:24 | Permalink

    I’d never heard of this Frisell project. Very cool! Thanks —

  • Rick
    October 21, 2013 - 17:12 | Permalink

    Thanks. Am always keen to hear Frisell.

    • Willard
      October 21, 2013 - 19:15 | Permalink

      He appears on our latest John Zorn post, Spillane, too.

  • g
    October 24, 2013 - 09:59 | Permalink

    Read this news a day or so ago – had seen The Decoding Society back in the early 80”s and imagine that might have been the first time I saw RSJ and Vernon Reid playing together. Jackson was playing up until a short time ago – sad to learn of his loss. Sadder still that, save for places such as this, many people will never have to chance to hear his music.
    It’s great how you take the time to educate your readers!

  • Dougal, near Glasgow
    November 24, 2013 - 05:54 | Permalink

    Frisell on gloriously incendiary form ; many thanks for the links. I had the ’87 on an old cassette, recorded from BBC Radio 3 at the time, and by a weird coincidence, or rather, memory jogged by reports of RSJ’s death, I was transferring a distinctly low-fi version from cassette to mp3. Thank you.

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