Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Steve Reid - Odyssey of the Oblong Square (Soul Jazz, 2009)

Originally released as a self produced album in small quantities from a 1977 radio studio performance, master drummer Steve Reid's loft jazz masterpiece is back in print after a long absence. On this album he is joined by David Wertman on bass, Mohammad Abdullah on percussion, Ahmed Abdullah on trumpet and Arthur Blythe and Charles Tyler on alto saxophone. Rhythm and groove are the primary elements of the music, with the bass, drums and percussion locking together to produce a massive groove that propels the horns ever onward. "Odyssey Theme" fades in to the band already in full flight, with a punchy theme for horns and hand percussion. The lengthy "Deacon's Son" has a probing start for alto and trumpet, with a solid bass and percussion groove. Nice extended saxophone solo spools out over hypnotic percussion. Abdulla takes things to a higher level with a lively trumpet solo, picking the pace up to a high level fast and exciting but still well controlled. "Odyssey Sweet" has a fast Ornette-ish full band improvisation, free-bopping over a slinky groove. "Ginsamseng" begins with a fast, full band improvisation, and M. Abdullah's hand percussion anchoring the searching horns. The horns scale back and Wertman's bass comes to the forefront, deep and strong, acting as a pivot point for the music. Bass, drums and percussion lock into an epic groove that slowly builds in intensity, scaled by hot sounding trumpet. This was taught and exciting music powered by a wall of percussion, and is an excellent example of the kind of "loft jazz" that was being made in the late 1970's. Odyssey of the Oblong Square - amazon.com

Send comments to Tim.