Saturday, August 29, 2015

Blue Buddha - Blue Buddha (Tzadik, 2015)

Blue Buddha is a special collective group consisting of Dave Douglas on trumpet, Bill Laswell on electric bass, Louie Belogenis on tenor saxophone and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. The music was recorded live in the studio without edits or overdubs and that sense of "without a net" excitement pervades the disc. This group plays spiritual jazz of a unique nature beginning with “Purification” which is spacious, with the saxophone playing off against the trumpet and disjointed percussion. The music takes a long time developing but the payoff is well worth it with excellent drumming and cries of saxophone and trumpet. Belogenis plays some raw and rending saxophone to open “Double Dorje” and Sorey responds with open percussion, very free and unfettered with a Spiritual Unity feel. There is some really great saxophone and drum interplay, making for a wonderful match of musicians. “Truth of Cessation” has spacious breathy trumpet, playing quiet long breaths and longing peals of saxophone responding followed by open ended drumming and Laswell’s enveloping soundscape. Trumpet in free space sounding confident and making a statement, the kind of music Douglas used to make with groups like the Tiny Bell Trio. “Wrathful Compassion” is the band at its most ferocious and it is an absolute thrill ride from start to finish.  The full group comes out immediately playing fast and hard, making for a very exciting free jazz sound that is going for broke developing a swirling a mass of extraordinary sound, moving into sensory overload. The trumpet and saxophone are absolutely scalding while the bass and drums manhandle the rhythm. Bruised deft drums and baying horns give a haunted air to “Diamond Vehicle” followed by  hollow sounding electric bass. Beats of trumpet and rough grained sandpaper saxophone, bubbling bass percolate before things really start to move. Powerful jabs and peals of trumpet engage back and forth with Belogenis’ unrestrained saxophone. He has an amazing free sound that recalls Pharoah Sanders at times. Laswell’s supportive bass has an unusual sound throughout the record, buoyant and cavernous while Sorey’s facile drumming is fascinating throughout. “Lineage” ends the album with saxophone calling out with bare supplication, like a humble prayer. Gong like cymbals add to the spiritual feeling, delving into deep meditative thought and the bringing forth of hopes and dreams. Sorey gets more aggressive, again driving excellent drum and saxophone interaction. They move faster and more unfettered, reaching and digging in deeper and propelling themselves higher, for a superb conclusion. This music has a sacred vibe to it that runs from the great avant garde jazz of the 1960’s through to today. The music is luminous and open hearted, imposing yet quite accessible. Blue Buddha -

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