Saturday, November 23, 2019

Avram Fefer - Testament (Clean Feed, 2019)

Alto and tenor saxophonist Avram Fefer is a well regarded member of the New York City jazz scene, having released albums as a leader and as a sideman for many years. For this album, he has assembled a stellar band featuring Marc Ribot on guitar, on Eric Revis on bass and Chad Taylor on drums. The opening track “Dean St. Hustle” has the full band jumping in with a great modern jazz theme which allows them to come out swinging hard. Fefer’s saxophone rides hard adding gritty asides along with fast drumming, sparks of guitar and elastic bass as the full group is just steaming at high speed. The saxophone lays out, leaving room for an excellent guitar, bass and drums section, where Ribot applies an appealingly jazzy tone and the bass and drums are deeply rhythmic and propulsive. The raw and emotional melody of “Testament” is taken at high speed, developing quickly with savage electric guitar and percussion interplay. The band plays loud and fast as Fefer weaves his saxophone through the thicket of pulsating guitar, bass and drums, and the collective improvisation they develop is scouring and very exciting. Ribot is amazing, snarling and hissing alongside the pummelling drums and relentless bass playing as he engages with the bassist and drummer to create undomesticated, yet beautiful music, that becomes even more minimal with an excellent bass and drums duet. “Magic Mountain” builds from open ended cymbal shimmers as saxophone and guitar intertwine, giving the band the light and nimble feeling of being uprooted. Their improvisation turns into a choppy freer improvisation, playing in a complex and forward thinking fashion, flowing and in the moment. Ribot shoots out laser like guitar tones over undulating bass and drums, creating a fine rhythmic feature. Gently played guitar opens “Parable” with everyone coming together in a ballad formation, featuring soft brushed percussion and gruff but kind tenor saxophone. The musicians gradually meld together gracefully and the music is played with tact and dignity, building in intensity until it becomes something grander as the raw, enveloping sound of the group fills the available space and pushes to a strong finish. This album worked very well, the compositions were well designed and the musicians are some of the best on offer. They take the material and shape and mold it in fascinating and invigorating ways, making for a fresh and exciting musical experience. Testament -

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