Tyrone Washington - Roots
Representing his 2nd album as band leader and his penultimate solo album in total, Tyrone Washington’s 1973 Roots album for Perception serves to remind us of the Jazz musician who became a mystery as he disappeared from recorded music. Rumoured to have left music for his religious faith nothing has been documented about Tyrone Washington since his final release in 1974. Thus, Roots has taken on an almost Sugarman mystique as it works as a reminder of what might have been for this artist and for the jazz world.
An album that kicks off with a cover version of the Stevie Wonder classic You Are The Sunshine of My Life then goes on to take us on a musical journey of virtuosity and dexterity as Washington’s tenor saxophone weaves magic with Hubert Eaves’ piano over the inventiveness of Stafford James’ bass and Clifford Barbaro Barchonadii’s drums.
As each song progresses something deeper occurs, not least on the title track where Washington swaps his sax for the flute and then on the anti-Vietnam War tour de force War Is Not For Men which is characterised by Eaves’ percussive keyboard playing and Washington using his horn to communicate the energy of the Black resistance to that conflict. The final track, 1980, is an absolute masterclass in inventive, improvised modal Jazz where every member of the session is cutting loose on an Afrofuturistic theme.
With Eaves having worked with the likes of Gary Bartz & the NTU Troop and D-Train and Washington himself playing as sideman on releases by Horace Silver (The Jody Grind) and Larry Young (Contrasts) it is clear to see why Roots is such an impressive album and why it is such a must have in any collection.