Thursday, April 14, 2011

Odean Pope - Universal Sounds (Porter Records, 2011)

After moving to the great jazz city of Philadelphia as a young man, saxophonist Odean Pope embarked on a successful career as a sideman and a leader. Porter Records, also based in Philadelphia has been very supportive of Pope's work as of late re-issuing past records by the Catalyst collective and new records like this one that continue Pope's exploration of experimental jazz, past and present. He's got a fantastic band in tow, including Marshall Allen on alto saxophone and electronic wind instrument, Lee Smith on bass and drummers Craig McIver, Jim Hamilton and Warren Smith. "The Binder" wails extraordinarily on saxophone and drums with nearly unbearable intensity before breaking for a fast, subtle bass solo. A gentle percussion interlude builds pace with bells and other instruments. Saxophone and drums return in torrid gales like a force of nature. "She Smiles" is a subtle ballad with deep bass and chimes, carried along by caressing saxophone. A thick bass solo followed by weary saxophone. The fascinating and very unusual "Track" features Allen's electronic instrument along with percussion sounding like marimba or xylophone feeling appropriately Sun Ra mysterious and strange, as they explore the outer reaches of the musical cosmos. "Blues" brings everybody back to ground earth as the deep and strong two saxes harmonize the melody and one breaks out fast. Saxophone and drums dialogue are key here, building faster with a wide open sax/bass/drums and then subtle bass/perc groove. "Custody of the American (Bullshit Version)" opens with swirling sax & electronics. Vocal moans and bowed bass spoken word rage, Mingus like in intensity and indignation. Percussion and wordless vocal lead strong drums building almost frantic, concluding with twin saxes and torrid drumming. Universal Sounds -

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