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Jazz - Verschenen op 30 oktober 2020 | Strut
Gone—or more likely just moved into a higher orbit—since 1993, Herman "Sonny" Blount, aka Sun Ra, began life as a musical prodigy and doo-wop devotee before he fashioned an inimitable personal and musical mythology. With a showman's eye for outlandish Egyptian-themed capes and headdresses, he inhabited the roles of Nubian avatar, Space Age visionary from Saturn, and experimental and prolific jazz storyteller, who wrote primarily for piano, sticks and reeds in a number of musical contexts, none more celebrated than his Arkestra. Now led by original member, 96-year-old alto player Marshall Allen, the 15-piece Arkestra has released their first album in 20 years. Recorded in Philadelphia at Rittenhouse Studios by Peter Tramo who captures the band's mélange of sound in decent detail and separation, the aptly-titled Swirling, has nothing in common with the tired retreads of the zombie big bands still alive under the Ellington and Basie names, nor the modern impressionistic splashings of the current big band revival of Darcy James Argue or John Hollenbeck. Inspired by Ra's layered, blues-based large ensemble jazz, Swirling is a greatest hits revisitation into the magical music, methods and madness of this otherworldly maestro. As astral as Ra's uplifting "equations" can be, his art is always grounded in earthly rhythms as in the '70s era composition, "Sea of Darkness / Darkness" which opens with a cappella voices chanting/singing before giving way to the pulsing ebb and flow of the baritone sax. This melds into a perky, deep funk version of Ra's trip-to-Venus groove, "Rocket No. 9." Afro-Cuban rhythms, accented with the late Stanley "Atakatune" Morgan's congas, sax skronking from Allen, and a final, loud goodbye kiss make "Angels and Demons at Play" a highlight. Embodying a smoother tone, a steady cymbal beat and a more traditional notion of band sections playing together (albeit atonally) is the Allen-penned title track which features the hop-skip-jump piano joyousness of Farid Barron, a played-it-straight solo by tenor player James Stewart and singer Tara Middleton scatting. Carrying on the legacy of original Arkestra vocalist/oracle June Tyson, Middleton who joined in 2012, shines best in opener "The Satellites Are Spinning / Lights on a Satellite," where she gives full voice to Ra's hopeful poetry: "The satellites are spinning/ A better day is breaking/ The galaxies are waiting/ For planet Earth's awakening." Equally compelling, horn flutters and twinkling piano keys imitate a spinning Sputnik while a wheezing, rhythmic drone underpins this classic example of the Arkestra's ragged charms. While the vibe here seems routinely loose, a jam session full of tossed off ideas and instrumental flourishes lurching towards cacophony, it's actually a universe forming, a cyclonic testament to the continuing power of Ra's positive vision that creativity and enlightenment are as limitless as the cosmic mysteries of space. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
Jazz - Verschenen op 30 oktober 2020 | Klarthe
David Neerman is adventurous to say the least. This nomadic vibraphonist, composer and arranger can be heard on his own albums, those under the Kouyaté-Neerman name (his duo with Malian balafonist Lansiné Kouyaté) as well as on collaborative work with Youn Sun Nah, Serun Kuti and many others. Noir Lac (named after the Cistercian abbey in Cher, a department in central France, where this project was first conceived a few years ago) is his final musical venture, and it’s a memorable one. The album sees Neerman, singer Krystel Warren, Lansiné Kouyaté and the Sequenza 9.3 vocal ensemble join forces. From the very beginning of the album (which is best played loud or with headphones), the listener is transported to a Dead Can Dance-sounding paradise. The ambiguous vocals are incredibly poetic and moving, not unlike the final song one hears before birds set off on a mass migration. Krystle Warren’s androgenous voice is surprisingly soulful and resembles that of Jimmy Scott with its angelic superiority. The vibraphone and the balafon are a guiding force that keep the music in balance. Transparent layers of music crash against each other and resonate profoundly. The closing track Christmas or Apocalypse is almost prophetic of current times and the Christmas that is soon to come. On Friends, we are met with a magical ecumenism between American gospel and Gregorian singing. You would do well to layer up on jumpers and turn up the heating at home for hairs will stand on end and spines will shiver listening to such music. Neither Jazz nor classic nor world, but a simple, sacred celebration of beauty. © Stéphane Deschamps/Qobuz
Jazz in het magazine
- Dinner Party with the Four Jazzmen!
- Diana Krall, as Elegant and Sophisticated as Ever!
- Artemis: The Jazz Goddesses
- Wallace Roney: a legend leaves us
- Avishai Cohen: This Time It's Different
- Here Comes Al Di Meola
- Shabaka Hutchings: past, present and future
- Bird flies away...
- McCoy Tyner: pianist supreme
- Charles Lloyd, still going strong