Sunday, October 28, 2007

Alan Pasqua - The Anti-Social Club (Cryptogramophone, 2007)

Keyboardist Alan Pasqua is joined on this interesting all original program of thinking man's fusion by Ambrose Akinmusire on trumpet, Jeff Ellwood on saxophones, Nels Cline on guitars, Jimmy Haslip on bass, Scott Amendola on drums and Alex Acuna on percussion. There is a big Miles Davis vibe running through the album and the group builds its improvisations on the music that Davis pioneered from 1969-75. The title track opens the album with a lengthy improvisation recalling Davis' In A Silent Way. The musicians sound tentative at first but then really dig in, particularly Ellwood who gets a nice feature. "George Russell" is Pasqua's tribute to the noted jazz composer and theorist which mines a complex funky groove. The leader takes a fine acoustic piano solo before switching back to electric to back a wild flight of guitar fancy from Cline. The middle section of the album is where things really move into overdrive. As can be imagined from the title, "New Rhodes" is a feature for Pasqua's electric piano, which alternately stabs and smears as the occasion calls. "Fast Food" goes deep into electric Miles Davis territory, frog-marched inexorably forward by Amendola's caveman stomp on drums. I've been listing heavily to the Davis On the Corner Sessions boxed set and this track wouldn't sound out of place on that collection. "Wicked Good" channels an updated Bitches Brew groove with subtle percussion and electric piano. "Prayer" with its plaintive trumpet work and "Message to Souls Departed" are shorter ballads that add some textural abstraction to the proceedings. This was a very good album of thoughtful and adventurous music that combines different elements of the jazz spectrum in an intelligent and innovative whole.

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