I was fortunate enough to catch the Sam Rivers Trio when they were on tour in support of this album. I caught the gig in downtown Portland Oregon, in a magnificent, gigantic, historic church. And when the band played, church was definitely in session.
While we were waiting outside before the show, Mr. Rivers came out to smoke a cigarette. Meeting him and chatting with him about jazz was one of the most exciting conversations I've ever had. Sam Rivers was a really, really, honest to God, an awesome dude.
The show was hot. I mean like smokin' hot. Now I know that saying stuff like that on a jazz blog is super cheesy, but those adjectives are really best used here in this context. Anyway, speaking of said adjectives, I refer to the the title of this album: Firestorm. The swirling ferocity of this trio literally felt like the sounds the three of them were making were on fire. Sam switched between reeds and piano. Doug Mathews, after slaying it on the upright bass, moved to bass clarinet and electric bass. Anthony Cole's spectacular drumming literally sent me into a trance (he played piano on a few tunes that night as well).
Sam Rivers played with Charlie Parker and Miles Davis when he was very young. He played or recorded with nearly every cornerstone musician in jazz, from the great masters of the past to the hottest new talent, consistently putting out perfect music all the way through his 70+ year career. Towards the end of his life he still blew that sax with the aggressiveness of someone 30 years his younger, still creating compositions with a creative spirit that was unparalleled in the genre; a creativity so rare, he lived in a class of musicians that people like Mozart lived in.
At the end of the show, after the 2nd or 3rd encore, he leaned towards the mic, and said: "You just witnessed the history of jazz."
He made that statement, a statement that some could take as egotistical, with utmost humility. He wasn't bragging; he was simply just letting us know what had just happened.