THE WIRE, September 1999What interests Gallivan today is the very much active Powerfield, the volcanic trio made up of himself on synthesizer and electronic percussion, Pat Thomas on live electronics and Gary Smith on electric stereo guitar. The trio’s first release, Electronic/Electric/Electronic, is a full-on electronically manipulated fusion of progressive rock and free jazz, distinguished by a level of rhythmic interplay that is almost extra-sensory
Love Cry Want
Offhand I can’t think of any valid reasons why Joe Gallivan is not more celebrated. He worked with well heavy geezers like Eric Dolphy, Gil Evans and Wilson Pickett, participated in a longstanding duo with Charles Austin, and ran admirable outfits like Neon Lighthouse and the Soldiers Of The Road, in whose ranks warriors like Evan Parker, Steve Williams Paul Dunmall and Guy Barker served. Gallivan helped Robert Moog develop the drum synthesizer. With Love Cry Want, an innovative group led by the legendary monomonickered Nicholas, he played drums, steel guitar and synth alongside percussionist Jimmy Molneiri and organist Larry young. In June 1972, when LCW gigged in Lafayette Park, across from the White House, Nicholas was test-driving a prototype guitar synthesizer. Neighbor Richard Nixon, alarmed by the strange sounds, tried to get the concert stopped. Where Presidential pressure failed, records industry timidity succeeded; the tapes were suppressed until now. Nixon would have liked to know how that was done.
Love Cry Want
Larry Young was a member of not one, not of two, but of three legendary bands at the end of the 1960’s and early 70’s. Having helped to create the new Miles Davis sound on Bitches Brew, he co-founded Lifetime with John McLaughlin and Tony Williams, and following that was a member of one of the legendary jazz-fusion groups, Love Cry Want, who carried the sound of both a step further, and perhaps a step too far for the critics for either critics or public. LCW were even banned from the environs of the White House on the grounds that they might interfere in some obscure electronic way with Richard Nixon’s head. A whole era of American history falls into place in an instant.The group sound was not quite so heavily dependent on Young as Lifetime had been, largely because guitarist Nicholas (no other name) had at his disposal a prototype guitar synthesizer which greatly increased his range of sound. Drummer Gallivan, who remains one of the unsung heroes of this music, was also to go on and pioneer a drum synth. At this stage, though he has a Moog, he is mainly working acoustically, in the light, fast but curiously threatening sound one knows from his own records. It is usually possible to distinguish what he is doing from the more straightforward style of Jimmy Molneiri. The music consists of big intense washes, driving motoric rhythms and occasional moments of unexpected grace.Recording quality is far from wonderful, but the session has an amazingly atmospheric period-quality, and audio buffs will have fun working out who is playing what. A remarkable document of a largely forgotten but seminal group.
Joe Gallivan—who does not merit an entry in the Grove Dictionary of Jazz—is one of the forgotten pioneers of the music. Now based in Hawaii, he was a member of the fabled Love Cry Want, successors to Lifetime and the Miles Davis group in the search for a viable fusion of jazz and rock, and he later went on to invent a viable drum synthesizer. For much of his playing career, like Tony Oxley, he has moved eclectically inside and outside a countable beat, and he has used both acoustic and amplified percussion.Innocence is cast in cycles of form, freedom and surrender and is concerned thematically with the innocence of creative music-making in an essentially pragmatic culture. Though the basic structures are scored and typically sophisticated, they are open-ended enough to allow the soloists to explore their own natures and their own stance on the basic dilemmas of accommodation or resistance.If it all sounds grandiose, it works. Gallivan has assembled a band of old friends from his years in London, with the addition of younger players like Barker, Deppa and Presencer (where else could three players of this quality be found?) and a last-minute recruit, flautist Neil Metcalfe, who brings an air of thoughtful simplicity to the opening ‘Materialism’. On ‘Voices of Ancient Children’, Evan Parker combines darkly with Elton Dean, establishing a sonority that will dominate the session, very British, but here heard in an unexpected framework. It’s to Gallivan’s credit that he has stamped so much of his own personal authority on players as experienced as these, without turning this into an exercise in auteurism.
All of the compositions on the album are by Joe Gallivan and the arrangements are both challenging and unusual. Each piece is introduced by one or two soloists and the ensemble takes over only to cushion to these organic cadenzas…Gallivan seems to record far too little, but once again, he has scored with a release that is musically a thousand miles from Duke, but has matched the Ellington knack for showcasing improvising sidemen.
Those interested in free music played in a forceful, heartfelt way might find this live-to-DAT recording from Hawaii a real pleasure. Gallivan, a former member of the Gil Evans Big Band and Larry Young’s band, and sideman with the likes of Pepper Adams, Ira Sullivan, and Kenny Wheeler, plays with a trusting abandon, right in sync with his partner’s inner clock. He’s equally aggressive and dynamic on sticks or brushes, swelling to meet the musical situation head on, always playing with as much melody and shape as rhythmic drive. The duo creates a wonderful tension on “Magic Mirror,” and Gallivan is charting a course alongside the pianist, though somehow completely free of his expressive playing. On “Intensity”, Cuomo lays groundwork, but leaves the space for Gallivan, who unleashes a frantic assault. Again, on “Internal Directions”, Cuomo’s part is almost a vamp over which the drummer hurls a magnificent phase-altering skins-and-cymbals barrage. Gallivan offers a free jazz cadence on “Evolution” between cymbals and bongos. Gallivan builds up Cuomo with cymbal wash and enticing brushwork on “Round Midnight”, tastefully mixing in hand drums in flourishes. “I’ve Got It Bad” is played straight and very slow, but as Cuomo offers a fine-fingered reading of “In a Sentimental Mood,” Gallivan colors and shades the edges with soft humor and grace. Joe Gallivan has obviously accumulated a wealth of experience; thankfully, he’s developed an avant-bop style that’s quite a kick to listen to.
The Origin of Man
Drummer Joe Gallivan is a road warrior who’s had significant tenures in New York, London and Europe. Though now comfortably ensconced in Maui, the music is anything but mango breezy. Indeed, it’s bracing. Collaborating with pianist Brian Cuomo and altoist Elton Dean, Gallivan plunges into the deep waters of open-ended improvisation. It’s a risky proposition that nonetheless pays big dividends. Indeed, one hears echoes of the kind of soundscapes once spun so effectively by Charles Lloyd. This is spontaneous composition made accessible by the musicians’ maturity, their shared vision, and paradoxically, their discipline (tracks average about five minutes a piece, thus setting up constantly shifting moods and atmospheres). It’s a piece of haunting beauty.
Des Del Silenci
The series “Jazz of the Twenty-first Century” closed with a performance by a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic group. Among the many possibilities offered by jazz, some players are conducting encounters with music of folk origins. This is the case with Marti Perramon, Joe Gallivan, and the Ektal Ensemble. Heading the group are the Catalan percussionist Perramon and the American drummer Joe Gallivan. In Madrid they presented their CD “Des Del Silenci”, which documents the collaboration of the Ektal Ensemble exploring a dialogue with Gnawan musicians, and includes trumpeter Benet Palet, bassist Chris Merryman, and modern dancer Antonia Herrada. Although it seems an extravagant conglomeration, the common aesthetic that resulted was very coherent.An obvious precedent for this project was in the investigations of diverse folk traditions by the late Don Cherry. Of Joe Gallivan, one must say that he has ample experience in the field of jazz; he formed a band with Donald Bird and was the drummer in the Gil Evans Orchestra. Music of ambiance and trance, the repertoire of “Des Del Silenci” places on the point of its aesthetic lance the Moroccan expression of the Gnawan culture. The singing of Abdeljalil and the mandolin playing of Moulay had previously been a substantial part of the group Nass Marrakech. This is not a false grafting, but a visible understanding among the musicians; it sounds like a band with its own journey of sound. The experience of the concert was, like that of the CD, one of the most interesting to have surfaced in the Spanish panorama.