Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Noah Howard – Black Ark (Freedom/Bo Weavil 1969, 2007)

Tenor saxophonist Howard's ferocious album had been lost to the mists of time for many years before making an unexpected re-appearance in the fall of 2007. Joining him here are Arthur Doyle on tenor saxophone, Earl Cross on trumpet, Leslie Waldron on piano, Norris Jones on bass, and Mohammed Ali on drums. This album mixed the cacophony of unfettered late '60's free jazz with moments of melody and lyricism. “Domiabra” and “Ole Negro” make up the first half of this album, clocking in at about 10 minutes each, they establish a fine pattern of melody statement followed by free ranging solos and ensemble passages. Bass solos by Jones (aka Sirone) provide respites of calm like the eye of a hurricane before the group reconvenes a whole to take the pieces out. The solos are very high energy and exciting with nothing being held back. “Mount Fuji” deviates from the mold with a gentle, vaguely eastern sounding melody which the band uses as a springboard to slowly build into an ecstatic series of improvisations. “Queen Anne” ends the record with a short performance of controlled intensity. This was a wonderful discovery as the playing by the band is top notch. Anyone interested in intense free form jazz should make an attempt to track this down.

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