Difficult as it may be for younger listeners to believe, there was a time when ECM released adventurous improvised music. Back near its inception in the early '70s, the label issued a wide variety and decent number of challenging avant-garde recordings that represented some of the most forward-looking musical thinkers of the time. One of these was Marion Brown, who, at the time of this session, was about midway between his extreme post- Coltrane explorations and the luscious, down-home evocations of Georgia that he would create for Impulse! over the next few years. He gathered 11 musicians, including a couple from the then current Miles Davis Bitches Brew band (Chick Corea and Bennie Maupin), the then little-known Anthony Braxton, Andrew Cyrille, and the late great vocalist Jeanne Lee for two side-long, wide-ranging pieces.
All the rave reviews about this album are justified; this is a superb, sizzling, and very soulful live recording from 1970. According to the liner notes this recording was made "almost as an afterthought" by Blue Note. But afterwards, the label decided not to release the show, keeping it in the Blue Note vaults until it finally saw the light of day in 2000. But patience is rewarded; this is a fantastic album.
Recorded in 1970 but not released until 1996, Live At the "It Club" shows the Three Sounds pulling out funky, gritty rhythms out of their basic bluesy hard-bop sound. The group's funky influences are most noticeable in the rhythm section of drummer Carl Burnette and bassist Henry Franklin, who had been playing with Harris for only a short time when this set was recorded. The rhythm section pushes Harris, making the music loose and swinging – the groove matters more than anything on the album. Occasionally, the energy of the Three Sounds lags, but Live at the "It Club" is an enjoyable piece of grooving soul-jazz.