Legendary Jazz Drummer Alvin Fielder's Trio Live at @TheYellowScarf in Jackson


Meridian native Alvin Fielder was in New Orleans at Xavier University studying pharmacy when he met New Orleans’ legendary jazz drummer Ed Blackwell, and then moved to Chicago where he joined the nascent Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM) and played with Roscoe Mitchell, Joseph Jarman and Muhal Richard Abrams. Returning to Mississippi in 1968, he was for many years the only African-American pharmacist in the state, but he continued to perform, often with Kidd Jordan’s Improvisational Arts Quintet in New Orleans. Quite appropriately, he named his record label Prescription Records, with an RX on the label. But while Alvin Fielder has remained in demand as a first-rate avant-garde jazz drummer, his gigs are usually in Europe or New York, and it is relatively unusual for him to be performing in Jackson, so when I saw that he was scheduled to play at Cassandra Wilson’s excellent jazz club The Yellow Scarf, I purchased an advance ticket and drove down to Jackson to see him. Fielder performed with a trio on this particular night, with Andrew Lewis on piano and Dr. London Branch on bass, and with a vocalist named Rhonda Richmond (who also handles the clubs live music bookings) on a couple of tunes. Despite Fielder’s reputation as an avant-garde drummer, his style is actually melodic and firmly rooted in the work of Max Roach, whose influence he acknowledges. When he solos on drums, it is usually very easy to follow the form of the composition he is playing. He is truly a living legend, and he doesn’t appear in his hometown nearly often enough.

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