Tuesday, April 09, 2019

Prince Lasha / Eddie Gale / Marcus Shelby / David Boyce / Howard Riley / Darrell Green - 6x6 (Unsound, 2019)

In San Francisco during late October 2008, two of unsung heroes of progressive jazz entered a studio and met four up and coming members of the local scene. Each musician came up with their own piece of music for the group to collaborate on, with one full take, no overdubs or retakes. The band consists of Eddie Gale on trumpet, flute and piano, Pince Lasha on reeds and percussion, David Boyce and Howard Wiley on saxophones, synth and percussion, Marcus Shelby on bass, and Darrell Green on drums. Gale was prescient, predicting the upcoming election and providing a respectful nod on the opening track “This is for Obama.” He opens and closes the track with a chant honoring the president to be and in the middle is a very impressive and lengthy performance. The rhythm section is strong and true keeping this fast paced composition in constant motion and providing a launching pad for the solo flights. The horns work well together providing waves of deep sound, and then individual members take flight for logical and memorable solos, on tenor and soprano saxophones and Gale's trumpet plus a wonderful section for bowed bass and drums. “Kennedy's African Playground” is by bassist Marcus Shelby, with a warm sound incorporating thick bass and flute and delicate percussion, creating an alluring sound. The saxophones come in, deepening the sound of the music as a fine tenor saxophone emerges and patiently develops a scouring and enlightening statement over deep percussion and trilling flute. All of the instruments come together for a colorful and potent collectively improvised section, and then dropping out for some excellent bowed bass and flute framed by bells and percussion setting a deeply spiritual atmosphere. Shelby is a powerhouse here, plucking or bowing he is the engine a the core of this performance's success. “Sub Atomic Musik” offers bird sound like flutes and saxophone creating a unique atmosphere, settling into a series of tones, electronic synth playing off against the saxophones and drums with ominous vocalization leading us into uncertain and nervous territory. The music builds to a breakout free improvisation, with the saxophones wailing handsomely and Gale's trumpet powering though it all as the rhythm section chugs mightily. “Howard's Hues” kick's off with a blast as the full group comes out swinging with crisp drums and bass, and the horns building ever higher creating a solid edifice of golden sound. Gale takes a potent and strutting trumpet solo over surging bass and drums, handing off to tenor saxophone for a swirling, snaking turn in the open space, then the relay moves to a snake charmer soprano saxophone solo. It's a great blowing vehicle and everyone comes together with a strong full band statement, before there is another big tenor breakout leads the horns into a cacophonous jam that is very exciting to hear, before pulling it together for a fine conclusion. Sadly, Prince Lasha would pass away a few months after this recording, but he went out on a very high note because this is an excellent and highly recommended recording, everyone plays well, and it is wonderful meeting of the older masters and younger musicians on the rise, finding common ground in open minded jazz music. E-mail Eric M. for details.

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