Thursday, December 23, 2021

[Ahmed] - Nights on Saturn (communication) (Astral Spirits, 2021)

Taking their inspiration from the great bassist and composer Ahmed Abdul-Malik, the members of [Ahmed], Pat Thomas on piano, Joel Grip on bass, Antonin Gerbal on drums and Seymour Wright and alto saxophone, use their music to sonically explore slavery and race hatred, and Abdul-Malik's own contribution to jazz. The album consists of one very long track called "Nights on Saturn (communication)" which was recorded live at Cafe OTO, London in December of 2019. Beginning with urgent quartet jazz, and alarming toned saxophone, crisp drums and propulsive piano push the music forward. The bass is appropriately at the center, holding down the middle as chaos reigns around it, with towering piano chords chomping down and serrated saxophone sawing at the jail bars holding them in as they seek true freedom. The group interaction as a whole is fine, so matter how extreme the music gets, amid destructive piano and ribald saxophone, they are never lost or unsupportive. The intensity level is very impressive and keeps the music rolling ceaselessly forward, with repetitive saxophone figure and massive piano and drums interplay of almost unbelievable volume and density. The music develops a punchy dynamic interplay between the four musicians, while some light and space allowed into the previously dense music, with tight bass and drums keeping pace with the garrulous piano and saxophone. The dynamism of the music helps it to come across, with the coruscating free improvisation gradually lightened to the point of offering a stellar bass solo, something the album's dedicatee surely would have appreciated. Ripples of piano up and down the instrument in the manner of Don Pullen take the music in a different direction, met by imaginative rhythm playing and saxophone interjections, piano and saxophone play short figures at one another, leading to long peals and cries of saxophone. The full band comes together for a knock down free jazz conclusion that ends this very impressive album on a high note. This is a work of focused energy and spirited interplay that deserves attention. There is also quite a bit of interesting liner material that puts the project into perspective. Nights on Saturn (communication) - bandcamp

Send comments to Tim.