Monday, November 19, 2012

Grass Roots - Grass Roots (AUM Fidelity, 2012)

Grass Roots is an exciting modern jazz group consisting of Darius Jones on alto saxophone, Alex Harding on baritone saxophone, Sean Conly on bass and Chad Taylor on drums. In the brief liner notes to this album it is written that the group and the music came together in a natural and spontaneous manner. That certainly sounds like the case as Taylor and Conly lay down an elastic and balanced groove while Jones's alto saxophone is raw and excoriating and feeding off guttural blasts from Harding's baritone. "Hotttness" opens the album sounding deep, stoic and very powerful. The saxophones trade staccato bursts of ideas. Building into a tight groove with the saxophones circling strong bass and drums before they once again open the throttle, erupting into free flight. "Lovelorn" has a nice contrast between the brawny baritone and the yearning alto, embracing the open space made available by the music. There is a torrid and exciting blast of music on "Ricochet" with Jones approaching a Pharoah Sanders like level of intensity and the full band rough & ready. Harding's "Flight AZ 1734" has a fast swinging opening for the saxophones together building a very upbeat and emotional tune. Alto and baritone take flight on fast and strong solos, playing tight and united. "Schnibbett" and especially "Hovering Above" are dynamic, with slow examination of quiet, probing at open space. This album worked well, straddling the line between strong modern jazz and free music. The contrast between the two saxophones tones drives a swirl of activity that is earthy and spontaneous. Grass Roots - amazon.com

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