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Various Artists - Freedom Jazz Baystate 

By the mid-1970s, the spiritual jazz scene, which had achieved its greatest prominence from the late 60s through 1972 thanks to labels like Impulse, Flying Dutchman, and ESP, was suffering as jazz musicians increasingly turned to rock and funk rhythms in an attempt to court commercial success.  Those who did not desire to cross over were left in a precarious situation and many artists found new life in Japan, which had always exhibited a strong love for jazz.

One of the labels there that offered musicians the freedom to record the kind of music they enjoyed without pressure to conform was Baystate.  Although very little seems to be known about the company or its background, they did have an enviable roster of artists that included Roy Brooks, Max Roach, and Billy Harper.  Their most infamous release was Harry Whitaker's Black Renaissance, which they issued with the wrong recording date and without paying Whitaker any royalties.

Their catalog seems to be in the process of being reissued, and Freedom Jazz Baystate is the ideal way for sampling their wares. A disc that crams 20 songs into 74 minutes, the songs are edited to focus on key moments and presented with a flow like you might hear from an abstract jazz dj.
    
Featured songs include multiple apperances by Charles Greenlee and Archie Shepp ("He's Gone," "Steam," and "Crusificado"),  Art Matthews ("5/4 Thing" and "Samba Ebony"), and Robert Ruff ("Shaza-Ra" and "Ruff's Blues").  Beaver Harris and Roy Brooks are represented with several tracks also.

An interesting sidenote is that the Black Renaissance tracks are credited to Woody Shaw and Azar Lawrence, who played on the session but under Whitaker's direction. I guess there is still some bad blood between the two parties.  Nonetheless, Freedom Jazz Baystate comes recommended to anyone interested in exploring some soulful expatriate jazz.    

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