Friday, April 19, 2019

Michael Gregory Jackson Clarity Quartet - WHENUFINDITUWILLKNOW (Golden Records, 2019)

Something of a legend among fellow guitar players, Michael Gregory Jackson's interests go beyond jazz to include funk, rock and experimental music. All of these elements are at play on this fascinating album where he plays in the company of Niels Praestholm on bass, Simon Spang Hanssen on saxophones and Matias Wolf-Andreason on drums. “Clarity 6 (Dedicated to Fred Hopkins)” features funky bass and hyper active drumming which supports the heavy lifting as the guitar takes off and explores. The overall feeling is fast paced and exciting with guitar and saxophone jousting over the thick rhythm, building into a driving, squalling full band improvisation that is quite enthralling, blowing into a brief wicked fast shed section before retreating ever so slightly into brief cells if fast improvisation and then to the theme to close. “Spin (Dedicated to Baikida Carroll)” has thick bass and hollow drums setting the groove for Jackson's laser focused guitar to extrapolate a thematic statement, the guitar digging deep, while the drums and bass mine a pneumatic groove, and the guitar and saxophone perform an elaborate improved dance of funky jazz that recalls the seventies, but blasts them firmly into the Afro-futuristic realms of tomorrow. Hand percussion and slabs of bass keep the music simmering, and snarls of electric guitar bring it all back home. “Clarity 3” blasts off with all of the instruments setting a choppy and complicated theme, and then gradually picking it apart, as crisp drumming and well articulated bass playing supports Jackson's neon toned guitar as he spools out an impressive improvised statement. He adds further bite to the tone as the drums keep up an ever shifting and thoughtful narrative and the soprano saxophone enters the scene a little late, but providing an excellent foil for the guitar to grind and sting against, building to an excellent freewheeling full band improvisation as the group takes the time to really stretch out and play and ply their skills in a most productive manner. “Souvenirs (Dedicated to Jessica Hagedorn)” has another excellent full band introduction, before the guitar and saxophone emerge to swirl and fly in the air, doing daring maneuvers like stunt pilots at an airshow, supported by strong cymbal play and tight bass. Jackson lays it on the line playing his heart out and the group responds with some of their gutsiest playing on the album, creating a short but emotionally resonant track. This album worked quite well, Jackson honors his formative years playing with members of the BAG and AACM collectives with his commitment to fearless improvisation, tempered by solid teamplay and compositional forethought. Whenufindituwillknow -

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