David Wertman - Kara Suite LP
Label: Early Future
Release Date: October 27th, 2023
As one of the three inaugural 1976 releases to ignite the mythical Mustevic Music catalogue, David Wertman's elusive Kara Suite LP was the first record to turn jazz drummer Steve Reid's vanity imprint into an bona fide cooperative record label with a multi-artist repertoire. Entrusting his own bass player with the limelight, Reid's unlikely A&R decision would typify his oblique strategies and challenge the common perception of a soloist within jazz's shifting landscape. Drawing few comparisons amongst independent label releases of the time, Wertman's only solo album combined frenetic bow work, intricate spiritual exchanges and raucous rock solid cyclic riffage to underpin his own compositional complexities. Providing a platform for first-time players like Richard Schatzberg (French horn) and future avant jazz punk participant Ken Simon (tenor/soprano sax) Kara Suite provides an early indication of Wertman's multilayered and non-conformist blueprint from which the hallowed New Life Trio would eventually illuminate. The album's off-kilter commitment is further cemented by the inclusion of worldly free jazz luminary Charles Tyler (alto sax) and the naturalistic back-beat of Steve Reid himself to complete the dream team -- albeit a sleepless one, on account of this one-off quintet's wide-eyed innovation. Presented in four parts, Kara Suite documents Wertman's very first musical directorial commitment to vinyl, preceded only by guest appearances, months earlier, on Steve Reid's classic Rhythmatism and the ultra-rare The Universal Jazz Symphonette LP which chronicles Wertman's deep-end New York baptism alongside Billy Bang and Earl Freeman before his relocation to Northampton forged this unique and oblique chapter in America's independent jazz narrative. As one of the final pages to be turned in the Mustevic reappraisal legacy this album perhaps remains the best kept secret for aficionados who actively choose to blur the lines between spiritual jazz and free jazz with no discrimination against art rock and the genre that might soon be christened punk (but not as we know it). Finally resurrected via the Finders Keepers/Early Future unison, complete with full cooperation and sleeve note narration by David's partner Lynne Meryl, it might come as little surprise that amongst these pillars of alternative, privately pressed jazz is a story that also intertwines names such as Alice Cooper, Archie Shepp, KISS, and DJ Shadow and many mutating musical genres that have made this music so hard to pin down over the subsequent five decades.