Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Angles 9 - Beyond Us (Clean Feed, 2019)

Angles 9 is the largest iteration of the wonderful Angles meta-band, one that has recorded very successfully in trio, sextet and octet forms as well as the nonet setting. Clean Feed compares the music to the likes of Chris McGregor's Brotherhood of Breath and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, and there is a lot of truth to these analogizes. But at their best, I hear them as a logical continuation of the music of Charles Mingus, with hearty themes and emotionally resonant soloing and full band playing. This allows them to develop a wide range of possibilities, from swing to free, like on the title track "Beyond Us" which eases in on a carpet of piano and vibes, followed by waves of horns broadening the soundstage along with deep drumming. Raw saxophone breaks out, juxtaposed against the crystalline vibes, as the riffing horns build a massive edifice of sound that allows them to use the textures of large ensembles while maintaining the nimble mobility of solo and small combo sections. The final selection of the album is the joyous composition "Mali" with bright and vibrant horn riffing and elastic rhythm that gives the music a lighter almost danceable air. Short and pithy solos, and powerhouse full band playing keep the music moving briskly to a very exciting conclusion. This was another good entry into the Angles series, also proving that there is room for an improvising modern large ensemble that isn't tied to recreating the works of a long dead great. Gathering a nice sized group of excellent musicians and letting them loose on interesting open ended compositions is an idea that never gets old. Beyond Us - amazon.com

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