Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Pharoah & The Underground - Spiral Mercury (Clean Feed, 2014)

This is another very inspired pairing of musicians - the legendary free-jazz tenor saxophonist Pharoah Sanders and musicians from cornetist Rob Mazurak's various Underground bands: Chad Taylor on drums, Guilherme Granado on synth, Matthew Lux on bass and Mauricio Takara on percussion. This was recorded live in Portugal as a seamless concert of effortlessly flowing music. Tracks include "Gna Toom" which begins in a mysterious and probing fashion, restrained with electronics hinting at the Miles Davis LP In a Silent Way. The music builds slowly and patiently into a more strident fashion where the horns play against subtle shades of electronics and percussion. Stabs of synthesizer open "Spiral Mercury" before pummeling drums and percussion and an excellent Sanders solo clears the field. Pharoah sounds wonderful, building his solo in a logical fashion and climaxing with his trademark overblown screams, then he hands things off to Mazurek for a spitfire solo of his own. "Blue Sparks From Her" is enveloped by a sense of uneasy calm with electronic sound manipulation using delay and laser like sound. The patters that are swirling coalesce to a supporting structure for saxophone and cornet over bubbling drums and percussion. This album worked very well, the musicians meshed perfectly and walked the high-wire of improvised music in a very confident manner. From cascading free improvisation, to moody sections of rumination, the music remains compelling. Spiral Mercury - amazon.com

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