Thursday, June 03, 2021

Ralph Peterson - Raise Up Off Me (Onyx Music, 2021)

Though the great drummer Ralph Peterson passed away this year after a courageous battle with cancer, he left us this wonderful parting recording, a final gift, one of many he gave during his very successful career, beginning as a protégé of Art Blakey and then as a respected bandleader in his own right. On this album he teams up with Zaccai Curtis on piano and Luques Curtis on bass, with special guests Jazzmeia Horn and percussionist Eguie Castrillo, and this album was recorded at Peterson’s own studio in Massachusetts during December of 2020. "The Right to Live" has a percussive group start setting a deep pocket, becoming more melodic with aggressive drumming. Piano and drum interaction is quite strong and powerful, pushing each other ever higher, showing impressive skills all around. Peterson's drum solo is deeply rhythmic and very impressive and beautiful to hear. "Bouncing With Bud" is a joyous nod to bebop, with everybody on board and sounding like they are having a blast. The pianist has an excellent touch and hearing Peterson on brushes is a treat, soon the two of them are dancing over their instruments with some fine bass holding things together, leading to a well earned bass solo followed by fine subtle brush solo from the leader. "Blue Hughes" develops exciting and complex rhythms from the drums outward as the piano and bass seem to ride on the huge sonic waves that Peterson is producing. He introduces Latin elements to push the music into a different direction, louder, faster and more exciting. This was a very good and diverse recording that covered the bases of mainstream jazz with skill and wisdom. Orrin Evans writes that the title Raise Up Off Me refers to the crises of 2020, the pandemic and Black Lives Matter protests, but also Peterson's vibrant will to live and continue to teach and play and carry on the tradition. Raise Up Off Me -

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