Saturday, July 22, 2006

Sabir Mateen - Prophecies Come to Pass (577 Records, 2006)

Philadelphia native and Sam Rivers disciple Sabir Mateen is very active on the downtown jazz scene playing tenor saxophone, flute and clarinet in a number of bands. Here he is joined by Matt Lavelle on trumpets; Steve Swell on trombone; Matthew Heyner on bass and Michael Thompson on drums. Although the music is dedicated to the late trumpet master Raphe Malik, it is the spirit of Albert Ayler and the raggedly beautiful music made by the bands he led that permeates this live recording. "Sekasso Blues" leads things off with bowed bass and drums before the horns kick in with a funky fanfare. Mateen then takes the lead with an inquisitive and probing solo. The trumpet chimes in urging a faster pace using bursts of energy before moving on to an extended solo backed by raw drumming. There is an open, well paced drum solo before the group lurches back into a feisty reprise of the original theme, and then a raucous free improv tag ending.

"The Beauty Within" has a yearning theme featuring bowed bass and drums. Mateen's flute enters bashfully with a lilting solo before moving into "Everyone's Got Something To Say"which picks up the pace with some intense collective free improvisation. Lavene breaks free to solo on trumpet and then Sabir re-emerges on clarinet to lead the group into the title track "Prophecies Come to Pass" the third and final part of this epic medley which opens with some spaceous interplay. A fast walking bass solo leads the group and everybody raises the cacophony to a Ayler-like spiritual ecstasy before trumpet and drums depart into a forceful private conversation. "Sentimentally" slows things down considerably as the title might indicate. Sabir plays some lonesome and bluesy tenor with an occasional screech into the upper regions. Then "Children Of The Creator" ends the disc on a very high note. Beginning with a ragged theme reminiscent of the Ayler bands from their wonderfully exciting Greenwich Village recordings, the theme gives way to an intense speaking-in-tongues improvisation which provides the most direct link to the Ayler legacy. This is a very good example of the type of raw creative jazz that is being played in downtown New York on a nightly basis. While it doesn't get the same amount of attention as the mainstream of jazz, it is a vital and vibrant part of the larger music scene.

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