Sunday, January 08, 2023


Proud to present an in-depth look at Emergency! by the Tony Williams Lifetime, via Pitchfork's Sunday Review. This record means a lot to me. Lifetime looms large in my ongoing Heavy Metal Bebop research — it's come up again and again in the various conversations I've had on the topic of the jazz/metal intersection. In some ways, it represents the birth of that concept: There was no jazz-rock, and then suddenly, with Emergency!, there it was*. 

Beyond its historical significance, the record also just completely kicks ass. I think a lot about the whole "musical time machine" question, i.e., what bygone act would you go back and witness if you had your pick. For me, lately, the original Lifetime — maybe at the October 1969 Ungano's run recalled by Herbie Hancock in the review — tops that list.

For a bit more on Lifetime, check out this John McLaughlin interview from a few years back.

*This phrasing is a bit hyperbolic. There were of course plenty of precursors. One I need to delve into more is Gary Burton — I found an interview where Tony specifically cited him as a genre-blending pioneer, and I've often heard Pat Metheny and Bill Frisell do the same. I don't know this body of work well, but I intend to remedy that!