Revolutionary Ensemble – The People’s Republic (A&M/Horizon, 1975)
The Revolutionary Ensemble leaped back into the public consciousness last year by releasing their first album in 30 years on the Pi label. This is the one prior to that before the group made up of Leroy Jenkins on violin, Sirone (Norris Jones) on bass and Jerome Cooper on drums and percussion took an extended hiatus from recording. The group members were hardly idle during this time frame, performing live and making records under their own names as well as teaching.
The first side of the album includes the composition “New York” which features Jenkins’ fast paced violin playing over superb support from Sirone and Cooper. “Trio For Trio” is a more arranged sounding piece of music with classical overtones adding trombone to the trio’s arsenal. “The People’s Republic” is a very interesting, almost Art Ensemble-ish in its slowly evolving construction based around vocals – not traditional singing, but chants, yelps and screams. Using the vocals with the scrapes and plucks of the violin and very percussive bass and drums creates something of an otherworldly effect.
Finally, “Ponderous Planets” which sounds very much like a Sun Ra title finishes the album. This selection is nearly suite-like in its linked sections of composition and improvisation, ending with a trio improvisation taken at a breakneck pace. This was a very interesting record and fans of jazz violin or 70’s loft scene era jazz should definitely be on the lookout for it.
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