Monday, May 30, 2011

Muhal Richard Abrams - Sounddance (Pi Recordings, 2011)

Honored as a jazz master by generations of musicians, and co-founder of the influential AACM, pianist Muhal Richard Abrams met two distinguished yet completely unique colleagues for an improvised performance where they were truly walking the high-wire without a net, performing the improvisations live. The first disc is with George Lewis, trombonist and laptop experimenter. It is fascinating to hear how these two men meet and find common ground, making music based on the manipulation of pure sound. Abrams is at times percussive, pensive or lyrical, and Lewis responds with electronic noise and slurred trombone that is at time hard to distinguished from each other. But idioms are put aside as both men come together to create a spontaneous improvisation in sound, tone and color that is unique in its time and place. This is pure music, out of space and time and existing in its own moment completely. The second disc in this collection is perhaps even more valuable as it captures on of the final performances of the great saxophonist Fred Anderson. Both men were around the age of eighty at the time of the recording, but hat in no way impaired them, in fact it was an enabler that allowed two musicians who had literally seen most of the history of jazz first hand to come together for a purely improvised performance that soared beautifully. Abrams is an institution in his own right and is finally getting the attention he deserves from the likes of the NEA and the Vision Festival. But as Pi generously proves on this double CD, his ability as a musician remains as fecund as ever and he remains a vital source on the jazz and improvised music scene. Sounddance -

Send comments to Tim.