Tuesday, August 06, 2019

Sounds of Liberation - Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) (Dogtown Records, 2019)

Sounds Of Liberation was a band formed in 1970 in Philadelphia, consisting Khan Jamal on vibraphone, Byard Lancaster on reeds, Billy Mills on bass, Dwight James on drums, Monnette Sudler on guitar and Omar Hill and William Brister on percussion. The group released one album, New Horizons in 1972, on their own label, then this five-song session of original music was recorded in New York City but lay unreleased for over forty years. “Thoughts” has warm vibes leading the group into the song, with guitar and percussion gradually filling in. The music has a quiet and steady groove that works well, supple bass grounding everything, even as the pace and intensity begins to increase. Guitar and bass have percussion dig in deep as vibes shade the performance with beautiful hues before taking on a more percussive tone as the music drives forward with a  greater sense of urgency to the fade out. On “Keno” flute and vibes are met by hand percussion and guitar creating a jaunty and upbeat full band performance. Vibes become prominent over scratching guitar lending a dreamlike quality to the music which still moves along at a pretty good clip. Solo section for nimble and fast paced percussion juggling rhythm and time before the flute returns leading the band back to the conclusion of the track with a restatement of the theme. “Sweet Evil Mist (Rib Crib)” definitely sounds of its time with some cool sounding funky effects scenting the bass and guitar with drums and percussion bubbling intently underneath the excellent flute and saxophone front line. The music becomes a heady and complex texture operating on several interacting levels, melding into a collective improvisation of merit. Lancaster's saxophone stretches out with an emotionally resonant solo framed by vibes and bubbling percussion as the horns flutter and shriek and the guitars bend like rubber bands allowing for the elasticity of the music to embrace both free jazz and groove jazz simultaneously. Opening fast and melodic“Badi,” has flute and vibes again taking center stage, and some excellent bass holding everything together. A flute solo with echo effect works well, flying free and some choppy guitar adding further texture. Rounded vibraphone notes sustain their tones and ring around the soundstage, sounding like chimes left out in the wind while the bass, guitar and percussion quietly yet feverishly work on rhythms and grooves. “New Horizons (Back Streets of Heaven)” introduces vocals, both male and female, singing in an appealing soulful style, while there is a strong pinched saxophone solo breaking free and bouncing vibes simmer over a tight and accessible rhythm, while the full band pitches in for a solid and lengthy performance. The singers return with their message of hope as the tune winds down with a funky and peaceful conclusion, aptly demonstrating the state of jazz in Philadelphia in the early seventies. Unreleased (Columbia University 1973) - amazon.com

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