Friday, October 30, 2020

Sun Ra Arkestra - Swirling (Strut Records, 2020)

After Sun Ra left the mortal plane in 1993, the Arkestra carried on, eventually settling in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia under the able leadership of longtime member Marshall Allen. The band has conducted many tours, keeping the flame of Ra's music alight, but this is the first studio album the group has recorded in several decades. It is a wide ranging and very well played affair, over the course of two discs, the band hits many of the Arkestra high points from cosmic chanting to free jazz, deep blues and swing and some surprises along the way. What you learn right away from listening to this album is that this isn't some pale "ghost band" trading on the name of a long dead hero, but a vibrant, road tested unit that can play the full range of the band's huge catalog. Tara Middleton is a fine vocalist in the June Tyson mold and her singing leads the band into the opening medley "Satellites Are Spinning / Lights on a Satellite" which are examples of prime mid-period Arkestra material that the band cruises through, accenting the melodies and rhythms that made Sun Ra's compositions so intriguing. This is followed by the Allen original "Swirling" that makes use of the large reed and brass sections of the group to create a nostalgic and swinging performance anchored with excellent piano from Dave Hotep. As easily as they swing, they are able to move into more progressive material like "Astro Black" where once again the vocals ground the band before they take flight for a pithy improvised section. The medley of "Infinity / I'll Wait for You" with plaintive vocal calls and powerful instrumental swells also hits the mark demonstrating the quality of the arranging and the spontaneity of the musicians when given an open spot. A bit of esoterica from the Ra catalog is the surging tune "I'm Gonna Unmask the Batman" with Farid Barron's vocals framing a powerfully rhythmic performance. "Space Loneliness" is the longest track on the album gradually developing over some lush piano and horn arrangements, and delightful saxophone and electric guitar solos to add some spice. The album ends with the medley of "Door of the Cosmos / Say" with the much of the band chanting the melody and leading into a complex mix of acoustic piano and electronics that deftly encapsulates the band's link to the swing music of the past and the experimental music of the future. This album worked quite well, the new arrangements of Arkestra favorites along with surprising catalog choices combined with the talent and passion of the band make this a very successful project. Swirling -

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Monday, October 26, 2020

Jon Irabagon - I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox (Irabbagast Records, 2020)

A wonderful blast of much needed cathartic energy in this virus addled and politically divided land is provided by the quartet of Jon Irabagon on tenor saxophone, Ava Mendoza and Mick Barr on guitars and Mike Pride on drums. The Nothin' But the Blues series have added musicians with each entry and it is very interesting to now hear two guitarists add their own unique approaches to the format. They sustain their fast paced high heat improvisation "I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox" for an full uninterrupted forty-seven minutes, and the invention never flags, while the musicians keep the proceedings interesting and exciting throughout. While the music may draw its grounding from the deep blues, an endless wellspring of musical inspiration, there is also a deep vein of experimental music and noise rock contained within it which allows for wide open imagination. Collective improvisation is the most important approach here, although any one of the instrumentalists could dominate the proceedings if they so chose, the results are remarkably democratic, with Barr and Mendoza creating fascinating and constantly changing textures through their guitar interplay, along side Pride's rumbling and rhythmically subversive drumming. Irabagon has proven many times that he has the stamina to match up at length with such heavy company, and his playing is typically excellent. Alternating muscular runs with Ayler-ish wails he completes the band like the final piece of a puzzle. This could be daunting to listen to, yet the album flows very well and there is no sense of the music having a very serious or gloomy expression. It is undoubtedly heavy, but like the best metal, there is a satisfaction that comes from the impact of the music and knowing the musicians gave it everything they had. I Don't Hear Nothin' but the Blues Volume 3: Anatomical Snuffbox -

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Saturday, October 24, 2020

James Brandon Lewis Quartet - Molecular (Intakt Records, 2020)

Saxophonist and composer James Brandon Lewis is one of the most exciting young players on today's modern jazz scene. For this album, he puts together an excellent band with Aruán Ortiz on piano, Brad Jones on bass and Chad Taylor on drums and mbira. Inspired by science and biology, he produces a fresh and vibrant album. "A Lotus Speaks" opens the album with heavy bass and drums, followed by confident saxophone and piano accompaniment. Lewis's saxophone takes charge, rising in tone and playing powerfully with the rhythm group in support, and he branches out nicely as the drumming drives him forward until things slow down for the conclusion. A fast complex theme is developed on "Helix" with all hands playing briskly. Smeared saxophone sounds take the music in a more experimental direction, along side tough love drumming that really ups the ante. The tenor and drums interaction is fantastic, dropping down to a nervous sounding rhythm section feature, getting faster and more viscous, unleashing fine sounding bass and drum solos then a quick full band out. The title track "Molecular" starts slow and reflective, with a beautiful theme, loose and open piano, bass and drums are quite mellow, with a gorgeous piano feature. Lewis enters with a strident saxophone tone, gradually building the volume and speed of the piece with a steady hand. There is a dynamic slowdown and then up-tic keeps the music flowing with renewed energy. "Cesaire" draws on an interesting rhythm from the cymbals as saxophone blows across it, gliding over subdued piano and bass. Everybody joins in for the short performance, forming a fine theme and quick improvisation for Lewis over complex rhythm foundation. Rippling piano quietly opens "Neosho," adding bowed bass and percussion. As the temperature rises, Lewis playing with a longing tone that evolves as the elegant backdrop changes, like a drum solo wrapped in piano. Lewis returns with long dark tones of saxophone that reach out and grow in potency, with peaks of raw overblowing. The full band takes a choppy approach on "Per 2" growing tight, this one that really hits hard and then releases, the short running time working in their favor. Bright piano comping and solid saxophone playing make this a winner."An Anguish Departed" shows piano and drums developing a firm foundation, playing robustly, with the leader's tenor saxophone entering rather late, but building focus and developing a strong solo statement that is fresh and timely. Finally, "Loverly" has a mood that is quiet and spare, allowing the band a chance to take stock. A bass feature grounding the performance and adding a reflective air that Lewis confirms with his saxophone solo. Molecular -

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Thursday, October 22, 2020

Sylvie Courvoisier Trio - Free Hoops (Intakt Records, 2020)

Free Hoops is the third album by pianist and composer Sylvie Courvoisier and her trio mates Drew Gress on bass and Kenny Wollesen on drums. Their music is complex but accessible, often developing into witty improvised sections, played with a sense of quality and exuberance. "Lulu Dance" uses subterranean piano phrases ended with distinct clinks like the end of line bell on an old typewriter. Taut bass and light drums keep the music well integrated, without pressure or force and Courvoisier makes use of the entirety of her instrument and becomes as much a percussionist in conjunction with more forceful drumming. There is a sharp break, opening a more spacious and free area, gradually building momentum with cymbals and flowing piano, building to a more buoyant and colorful finish. Dynamic and choppy piano quietly repeats a short theme during "Just Twisted," before becoming progressively louder and more percussive amid strong drumming and aggressive bass playing. The group plays in a joyous kaleidoscopic free manner before breaking for an excellent bass solo framed by percussion and spare keyboard. The music is quite complex in its rapid shifts of tempo and tone but the musicians are more than up to the task. "Requiem d’un songe" has spare percussion and bass opening the piece, paired with droplets of crystalline piano notes. The music is quite gentle and beautiful, as the musicians interact as if in a dance. After a few minutes there is a change adding more urgency from the bass and drums and complex piano sending coded information at a rapid pace. The narrative is constantly changing, moving into a bass solo with drum accents. The trio comes together at a very fast tempo, playing tightly wound, with a return to the spare reflective nature of the music to close the performance. Rippling impish piano weaves around the bass and drums on "Nicotine Sarcoline" quickly developing with large bright chords and slashing cymbals, before digging sown into some excellent bass playing, and a more controlled pace. The rippling, cascading piano is never far away, returning and taking the bass and drums for another wild ride, and leading to a brash and exciting conclusion. This album worked quite well, the always changing dynamic nature of the music ensures that nothing gets stale and shows that the trio is in a state of continuous growth. Free Hoops -

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Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Brandon Seabrook with Cooper-Moore and Gerald Cleaver - Exultations (Astral Spirits, 2020)

This is a very high quality recording from a band consisting of Brandon Seabrook  on guitar, Gerald Cleaver on drums and Cooper-Moore on diddley bow. The trio is capable of a wide range of music from flat out power trio free improvisation to spacey drifting and maintains the listener's interest throughout. "Flexing Fetid and Fecund" fades in fast torrid drums and strong sounding diddly bow, with Seabrook's guitar amped up and skittish, adding nervous energy to their interplay. They develop a taut collective improvisation that is edgy and pure, leading to choppy guitar breaking out that adds shimmering sounds to offset the explosive percussion. Cooper-Moore's bow provides fulcrum for shards of electric guitar and strong drums on "Dark Bogs," while Seabrook takes a magnificent solo, spraying color all over the sound stage over a strong drumbeat. The group's trio improvisation is very impressive, allowing for breaks that change the overall direction of the music, flowing like estuaries into new and unforeseen directions. The drums and bow make a fine foundation for Seabrook who explores at length on this performance, making it a true highlight, as he plays knotty, slashing guitar throughout the piece. "Cudgel Majik" opens with startling guitar sounding heavily altered, playing with bow and drums right off the bat, gathering squalls of amped up guitar, piercing through the rhythm, and bombarding on all available fronts. This is very exciting and interesting fusion music with Seabrook alternating between growling effects and high piercing sounds. Cooper-Moore's bow and Cleaver's drums restore calm, reinforcing the rhythm for an extended duet that is complex and pure, followed by Seabrook returning, riding a massively distorted tone, that takes the track to its conclusion. Using the guitar to produce electronic shimmering along side diddley bow and drums, "Along Comes Diddley" enters into a strong and fast collective improvisation, with a very rapid pace, as the bow and drums providing an excellent rhythmic foundation and Seabrook paints the sky with wild electric guitar sounds. Slashing and chopping, the guitar playing is fantastic, leading to a stellar performance all around. This album was really well played, with a impressive range and a sense of exploration that made the most of the musicians and their individual qualities. Exultations -

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Saturday, October 17, 2020

Tim Berne's Snakeoil - The Deceptive 4 (Intakt Records, 2020)

Snakeoil has become one of alto saxophonist Tim Berne’s most reliable bands, accompanied by Matt Mitchell on piano, Oscar Noriega on bass clarinet and b-flat Clarinet and Ches Smith on drums and percussion. This excellent new release consists of two discs, the first recorded live at Firehouse 12 in December of 2017 and the second from IBEAM and Roulette in 2009-10. The opening track “Perception” makes its case well with raw and rending reeds using high register punctuation and pummeling drums. The music evolves into massive collective improvisation at a feverish pace, with saxophone and drums in particular making haste, before the music slows down considerably allowing room for some beautiful piano flourishes. The group develops a complex swirl of colors on “Moornoats,” as the piano breaks out with Smith adding vibes for a delightful texture and the clarinet eases in with the volume and intensity of the music increasing. Deep howls of saxophone and clarinet build long tones of sound, with piano chords tolling underneath, and the drums returning to the fray. There is great intricate woven interplay between the instruments on “Deception” which becomes gradually more intense with heavier piano and drums interlocking for a great section of heavy chords and slashing cymbals. The music stretches out nicely with a generous saxophone solo and an exciting portion of reeds and drums dialogue, leading to a  sweet full collective improvisation at the end. “OCDC” has a fractured opening section with complex interplay between the musicians. This resolves into long horn tones piercing over rippling piano with the band showing great chemistry by playing such complicated music. The piano is low down and burrowing, leading back to the twisting and interconnected narrative, aided by crashing percussion. The lengthy medley “Spare/Cittá” has a very wide screen sensibility to it, with long tones of saxophone and clarinet moving into full bodied flowing full band music that sounds arranged, varied in textures and hues and played with a colorful flourish. The music builds an intense full band conclusion that adds a dramatic touch. In the final track “Hemphill” saxophone and clarinet combine beautiful tones and harmonies, as the piano cascades framing the special sounding reed duet in space. Drums enter as the horns urge a much more urgent full band performance, leading to a grand conclusion. This was a very compelling release, allowing fans to see a recent concert from the group as well as live music from their formation, when they were so new Berne hadn’t even chosen a name for the group yet. The Deceptive 4 -

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Thursday, October 15, 2020

Alexander von Schlippenbach - Slow Pieces for Aki (Intakt Records, 2020)

Pianist Aki Takase, wife of equally lauded pianist Alexander Von Schlippenbach asked a simple question: does freely improvised jazz always have to be so fast and loud? The question stuck with Schlippenbach, who prepared for a year before going into a Zurich studio to record his answer at the piano, a meditation on slowness. The music itself is quite beautiful in a spare and haunting manner, the pianist is supremely confident in his technique and approach to improvisation, whether drawn from written composition and themes or spontaneous composition and freely improvised section. It’s hard to choose one performance that stands out, because this is an album that needs to be listened to and absorbed as a whole document. It can become a bit hypnotizing at times with Schlippenbach leaving behind the quick and strong hammered phrases that are the stark and startling hallmarks of his keyboard style when he plays with groups, particularly groups that feature strong saxophonists like Evan Parker or Peter Brotzmann. But that is not the case here and you get an entirely different view of this wonderful musician, music turned inward, fragile and introspective. The nature of the music is in the title, focusing on the word slow. These pieces approach a zen or minimalist approach at times, and by shedding anything ornamental or unnecessary, the pianist is truly able to bare his soul in an deeply personal album that is dedicated to his wife. It is a wonderful achievement, and highly recommended to any jazz fan. Slow Pieces For Aki -

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Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Sun Ra Arkestra - Unity: Live at Storyville NYC Oct 1977 (Enterplanetary Koncepts, 2020)

This is an unusual and fascinating Sun Ra album with the Arkestra expanding to full big band size and committing themselves to mostly swing repertoire. This album was recorded live at Storyville jazz club in New York City during October of 1977, and it is really interesting to hear the band swing like mad, which must have silenced a lot of critics who looked down on their costumes and more free playing. After weaving gracefully through the standard “Yesterdays” things really begin to pick up steam with the inclusion of Duke Ellington’s “Lightnin” and Ra’s own “Lights on a Satellite.” But the highpoint of the recording comes when the band jumps into a couple of early jazz barnburners, “Yeah, Man” and “King Porter Stomp.” This expanded twenty member version of the Arkestra latches onto these big riffs and just doesn't let go. They get such an authentic sound that you can imagine them as a territory band blowing up towns in the midwest in the 1930’s with their massive hot jazz sound. Ra stitches together Tadd Dameron’s “Lady Bird” and the Miles Davis vehicle “Half Nelson” which have similar structures and allow the band some room to stretch out as does a version of “My Favorite Things” that owes more to John Coltrane than Julie Andrews. The program winds down with an excellent version of the Sun Ra original “Satellites are Spinning” with vocalist June Tyson leading the group through the vocal chant and then making way for an excellent improvised instrumental section. The album wraps up with a short version of Ra’s beautiful original “Enlightenment” that ends the concert on a thoughtful and beautiful note. This album was originally released on the Italian Horo label in 1978, and this digital reissue sounds very good, making this unique and high quality Sun Ra album widely available again. Unity - Bandcamp

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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Sangeeta Michael Berardi - Divine Song (New Pulse, 1979; CD re-issue, Sunjump Records, 2020)

This is a remastered CD re-issue of an album from guitarist Sangeeta Michael Berardi, accompanied on various tracks by an extraordinary lineup including Archie Shepp on tenor saxophone, Roswell Rudd on trombone, Mario Pavone and Eddie Gomez on bass, and Rashied Ali on drums. The opener, John Coltrane’s “Some Other Blues” has excellent blowing from Shepp’s saxophone, sounding lusty and upbeat, with Berardi’s guitar comping and fluidly soloing. Solid bass and drums provide a sound backdrop, while the trombone sneaks in to add further texture, and Rudd develops a section of his own before folding back in. “Dancing on the Crescent Moon at Dusk I” moves into a more post bop direction, with guitar, bass and drums playing medium fast, and the leader developing a commanding guitar solo. Cymbals and buoyant bass highlight a cascade of guitar notes, and a really fine trio playing all around. Sophisticated guitar and bass intertwine on Gershwin’s “Summertime” sounding mellow but intricate. They play a beautifully flowing version of the standard, with both players dialed in. The full group comes together for “The Fifth Heart String Sings” with guitar, drums, mysterious buzzing bowed bass. Shepp’s rich saxophone fills in the sound, raw saxophone and blustery trombone, with sharp threads of guitar, creating a powerful performance, a knotty improvisation stretching out, culminating in superb raw rending tenor saxophone, and a fine reed duet with trumpet. “Dreaming Coltrane” builds slowly from guitar, light percussion and bowed bass with lowering horns adding a dark atmosphere. Drums and regular bass take up the rhythm, as stark trumpet and guitar branch out, guitar solos of quality, becoming complex over splashy cymbals and stoic bass. Trombone weaves through again, providing artful foil for the wonderful guitar playing, each adding growls and trills to keep things fresh. The finale, “Dancing on the Crescent Moon at Dusk II,” features the base trio with trombone, at a medium up clip and playing tight, the guitar and trombone diverge while still swinging hard. Trombone and guitar playing off of one another in a spirited fashion, stretching out once again and trading solo spots in addition to tight interplay. This was a very good album and it is good to have it back in wide circulation. Berardi is a fine guitar player, with a strong tone and keen approach to improvisation, and he fits in well with the heady company he keeps. Divine Song -

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Thursday, October 08, 2020

Albert Ayler Quartet With Don Cherry - European Recordings Autumn 1964 Revisited (ezz-thetics, 2020)

Tenor saxophonist Albert Ayler toured Scandinavia in the autumn of 1964 at the peak of his powers and in the company of an all star band: Don Cherry on cornet, Gary Peacock on bass and Sunny Murray on drums. This two CD package contains tracks from Holland and Denmark as the group consolidates the triumphs of their spring and summer recordings of Spiritual Unity and New York Eye and Ear Control. "Angels" develops a yearning theme, using space as the horns separate and begin to free themselves while stoic bass and drums add stark peaks of sound. Peacock's bass is prominent, patiently filling the available space, including a fine solo, then the full band returns to the stark theme. A bit more punchy, "C.A.C." shows the full band jousting at a high speed, and Ayler developing furious circular motifs on his saxophone. The group roars into a complex full band collective improvisation that is quite fierce and loud, before coming to a dramatic full stop. The group leans into the well known "Ghosts" theme, with a potent smeared sounding improvisation from Ayler coming forth that is unique in sound and very effective, and Murray's ever shifting rhythm pushing him along. Cherry plays in a clearer and choppier fashion, locking in with Peacock's solid bass playing for an excellent feature. The bassist also gets plenty of solo space before the horns return to restate the melody and close out. "Infant Happiness" uses emotional sounding cries of sound as its theme, evolving into a free excursion with the horns integrating and communicating amid grounding bass and skittish drums. The horns combine in harmony, returning to the melody and then lay out for a bass and percussion interlude. A long open ended track, "Spirits" has moments of dynamic tension that rise and lead to a frenetic Ayler solo backed by bass and drums.  He uses the breadth of his instrument to make a very powerful statement, freely expressing himself in an awe inspiring way. Cherry follows in an equally unfettered manner, allowed ample opportunity to speak his piece over supportive bass and percussion. "Vibrations" is a strong melody, familiar from the Arista/Freedom release of the same name leading to inspired collective improvisation from the group, with everyone deeply engaged. The saxophone and trumpet are exhilarating together, with room filling bass and shapeshifting drums completing the scene. "Spirits" is a fast moving take, dropping theme quickly for sharply improvised section, with raw saxophone and patient bass levied by strong trumpet, repeating the theme and then blasting out on another short, caustic improvisatory quest. "Spirits" again, live club setting is interesting, Ayler doesn't hold back, pushing the narrative forward with Cherry alongside but Ayler is really in fire playing way up high and surging, seeking. Cherry playing in consort with the bass and drums with Ayler accents developing a unique approach and overall sound. Sharp ascending sounds on "Saints" keep the pace fast and hot with Murray's fierce drumming at full boil. Huge massive walls of grows are emitted by Ayler, they sound like nothing else, creating a stunningly artistic statement. This is Ayler at his best, in the crucible of constant creation. "Mothers" is amazing, with longer tones of saxophone, Ayler worrying at them, emitting wailing emotion that displays hurt, longing, pathos and the naked emotion is almost to hard to listen to at times. This is what people often miss when talking about Ayler, when they talk about on the speed and power of his playing when the haunting fragility and emotional honesty are just as important. Cherry pushes away from it with clearer but still serious sounding tones that take a step back from the brink. Building to a pulsating trumpet and saxophone blowout, "Children" uses dynamic playing throughout, leading to a very fast Ayler solo over storming bass and drums, building to a soaring high register flight, followed by a very short encore of "Spirits" brings everything full circle. This was an very good album, one that consolidates a lot of important and historic Ayler music. It illustrates what an excellent match he was with Don Cherry and gives a comprehensive view of their contribution to American free jazz. European Recordings Autumn 1964 Revisited -

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Tuesday, October 06, 2020

The Thing With Joe McPhee - She Knows... (ezz-thetics, 2020)

The Thing, eventually to become a legendary free jazz unit, were in their lean and hungry mode on this remastered version of their second album and in the company of one of their heroes, the American avant-garde jazz pioneer Joe McPhee. The Thing are made up of Mats Gustafsson on tenor and baritone saxophones, Ingebrigt Haker Flaten on bass and Paal Nilssen-Love on drums, with McPhee adding pocket trumpet and tenor saxophone. What made The Thing so special is that they were willing to draw from any well of inspiration, be it the history of free jazz, their own compositions or delving into the world of rock 'n' roll. On this album, they lead off with "To Bring You My Love" which happens to be the title track to my favorite PJ Harvey LP. It's a slow, sultry, bluesy song that is excellent fodder for Gustafsson and McPhee who can grind and growl in the lower registers of their horns while the bass and drums keep the processional beat. The Don Cherry track "The Thing" from what they took their name is anchored with thick trunks of bass, with the rest of the band swinging hard on the rough and choppy theme. McPhee slides into an excellent improvised trumpet solo over simmering bass and drums. Gustafsson's raw and guttural saxophone is the perfect foil, branching out on a long exploratory solo with his fellow Thing members, and it is clear why this particular Don Cherry song inspired them so much, as McPhee joins them to bring everything together for a righteous blowout to complete the performance. Ornette Coleman's complex "Kathelin Grey" is a perfect choice for the quartet configuration, with McPhee playing the pocket trumpet that Cherry favored and Gustafsson is able to make the most of the space that is available. There is some excellent bowed bass and tenor saxophone on "Going Home," a track that was often played by Albert Ayler, and fits in well with the band's overall sensibility. The music is emotional and frought with rawness and the old time religion that Ayler focused on when he recorded this traditional song during his magical year of 1964. Gustafsson and McPhee bring waves of sound in equal measure combining the historical new thing approach with steely eyed modernity. A lengthy exploration of Frank Lowe's "For Real" leads the group into an explosive finale on McPhee's own "Old Eyes" where the band goes for broke with everything they have leading to some excoriating full band and solo settings that are just out of sight in terms of excitement and quality instrumental playing. This was an excellent album, clearly a landmark for The Thing in terms of solidifying their presence which would increase many-fold in the jazz world as the years went on. Also it codified their relationship with a respected elder in Joe McPhee who would go on to play these musicians in many contexts as well as providing very informative liner notes for this re-issue. She Knows -

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Monday, October 05, 2020

Alan Braufman - The Fire Still Burns (Valley of Search, 2020)

Alto saxophonist and flutist Alan Braufman returned to the jazz consciousness in grand style with the re-issue if his excellent 1975 Valley of Search LP. Reconvening with the pianist of that album, Cooper-Moore, he created this new album in the company of James Brandon Lewis on tenor saxophone, Ken Filiano on bass, and Andrew Drury on drums. On "Morning Bazarr" the group uses melodic piano, crisp drumming and emotive bass to create supple rhythm section playing. The reed instruments join in, playing a rising and joyful theme, where light textured flute takes flight, soaring at will around the easy going rhythm, shaded by tenor saxophone that takes over for a fine solo section. The band develops a deep groove and rides it well pushing forward in an accessible and colorful manner. "No Floor No Ceiling" develops very fast paced full band motion right out of the gate with impressive piano soloing creating a maelstrom of sound. Horns play with unfettered power, digging deep and arcing long over-blowing tones of pure sound, showing discipline within the freedom, with each saxophonist taking a different approach which is equally successful and interesting to hear, pushing hard to explore the outer limits of their expressiveness.  Musicians vital energy in "Home" shows the way that the music develops the theme and the band uses it to catapult themselves into greater states of excitement and energy. A piercing saxophone solo develops, creating on the fly outside of the dynamically fluctuating group theme, raw peals of sound punctuate this flight, with the second saxophone using some of that energy for a following statement that is framed with heavy piano and pummeling drums, so that he must push mightily to make it. The incantation like track seems like something that could could go on for a half hour, but it's rolled up in a svelte six minutes. "Creation" creates a loud swirling sweeping drama in the opening section, breaking out to have a wider palate to draw from with dark droplets of piano notes, and deep elastic bass and drums. The music is complex yet compelling, leading to a rhythm section centerpiece that was absolutely top notch. The horns enter, adding further fuel to the fire, long tones of saxophone framing and abetting the piano, bass and drums to push further as their tones deviate and get wilder still, reaching for the heavens with every note. This album worked very well, with the musicians exploring a wide range of material from free to ballads with equal skill. Braufman has clearly lost none of his focus or drive, leading to a very successful project. The Fire Still Burns -

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