Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Sabir Mateen - Urdla XXX (Rogue Art, 2010)

Multi-instrumentalist Sabir Mateen is no stranger to playing in music in off the beaten path locations. Whether its busking in the subway tunnels of Manhattan with the band Test, or a improvising in a stifling Unitarian church in upstate New York where I first saw him, Mateen remains committed to his muse regardless of the locale. So being invited to present a solo concert for a French arts group celebrating their 30th anniversary is so sweat. He starts things confidently by striding up to the performance space chanting and setting the mood for the enchantment to come. What emerges is a fascinating suite of solo free jazz improvisations for clarinet and alto saxophone. Mateen has always struck me as the spiritual successor of Sam Rivers, and like the older man he acts like an expert embroiderer, weaving together desperate strands of melody and texture into a cohesive whole. Adding tips of the music hat to forbears Jimmy Lyons and Frank Wright add to the excitement of the music which takes on a visual hue at times with Mateen swirling and swaying swaths of musical color which were no doubt appreciated by the artists in attendance. Totally improvised solo concerts must be amongst the most challenging settings in jazz, but Mateen is more than up to the task, even breaking into verse at one point with his poem "Music Is Sound and Sound Is Music," that can be seen as something of a mission statement for his music. The music of sound is within and without, joy and pain, beauty and suffering. It is when we listen, really listen, we will hear music all around us. Wise words, and an agenda that was adhered to well on this exciting spontaneous album.

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