Credit the folks at International Phonograph for the jazz re-issue of the year — perhaps the decade. The late saxophonist Julius Hemphill practically embodied the term “avant-garde artist” in the 1970s, and his masterpiece may have been the set of 1972 recordings he made with an all-star out-there ensemble made up of trumpeter Baikida E. J. Carroll, cellist Abdul Wadud, and drummer Philip Wilson.
Dogon A.D. was originally released on the Arista Freedom jazz label in the ‘70s, and it thrilled and challenged a generation of jazz fans upon its arrival. Then, with the advent of the CD era, Dogon A.D. disappeared. Fans have looked for a re-issue for years, and several cheap versions have been available with inferior sound and poor packaging, but this re-issue sounds as fresh as the day the recordings were made. Better still, the packaging is superb, a complete reproduction (in miniature) of the original vinyl sleeve.
It also includes Hemphill’s most memorable recording, the 20-minute opus known as the “Hard Blues.” This music still challenges today, but it also swings, percolates and mesmerizes. This is one of the defining statements of the jazz era.