Lucid Culture

JAZZ, CLASSICAL MUSIC AND THE ARTS IN NEW YORK CITY

A Pensive, Memorable Album and a Lower East Side Show From Bassist Luke Stewart

One of the best of the ongoing series of outdoor free jazz shows on the Lower East Side starts at 1:30 PM on Sept 18 in the community garden at 710 E 5th St. in Alphabet City. Trumpeter Chris Williams kicks off the afternoon in a trio with Luke Stewart on bass and Cinque Kemp on drums, then at 2:30 there’s an intriguing flute trio with Daro Behroozi, Éléonore Weill and Martin Shamoonpour. Headliner Sarah Manning, one of the edgiest and most potent alto saxophonists of the past decade, plays at 4 with Jair-Rohm Wells on bass and William Hooker on drums.

Stewart’s Silt Trio with Brian Settles on tenor sax and Chad Taylor on drums recorded their album The Bottom earlier this year, although it hasn’t made it to the web yet. Directly or indirectly, the music is often on the brooding and mournful side, steeped in slowly unfolding, ambered blues phrasing, frequently in contrast to a hypnotically kinetic rhythmic drive. The hooks are straightforward and hit you one after the other: dark as some of this music is, this is one catchy record.

Taylor lays down a plinky loop on his mbira as Stewart builds a muted, shivery backdrop in the opening number, Reminisce. Settles enters with his resonant, lingering blues phrases: this diamond is shining like crazy. It’s a great opener.

Taylor’s funky syncopation contrasts with Settles’ resonant modalities over the bandleader’s loopy bass in track two, Roots. It’s akin to a more hypnotic take on what JD Allen was doing with his trio about ten years ago.

The album’s big epic is Angles, beginning with squirrelly flickers from Stewart and regal anticipation from Taylor. Settles builds muted airiness punctuated by detours into extended technique, then indulges in an unexpectedly goofy duel with Stewart. Echo effects over a distant rustle, a little trap-rattling and a solo sax serenade follow in turn.

The trio pick up the pace with the steady, strutting title track, Settles gently choosing his spots with his minor-key riffage. Rapidfire sax volleys over an elegantly tumbling background permeate the next track, Circles. The trio close with Dream House, an unexpectedly straight-up if minimalist swing tune.

September 14, 2022 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Smart, Relevant Protest Jazz From Irreversible Entanglements

Protest jazz quintet Irreversible Entanglements came together out of a 2015 Musicians Against Police Brutality response to the killing of Akai Gurley, who was gunned down in a New York housing project stairwell the year before. Their debut album, Who Sent You? is streaming at Bandcamp. It’s smart, conversational, powerful and surprisingly catchy stuff. MC Camae Ayewa (better known as Moor Mother), saxophonist Keir Neuringer, trumpeter Aquiles Navarro, bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Tcheser Holmes have a tight, purposeful rapport that echoes the Art Ensemble of Chicago’s more kinetic improvisations, and Ayewa’s lyrics are spot-on. If music that’s in touch with reality is your thing, this is your jam.

The album’s first track, The Code Noir Amina has a galloping, hypnotic Afrobeat groove with sunny, sustained horn lines shimmering overhead, building to a relentlessly tumbling drive and then receding elegantly. “At what point do we stand up…do we stand up at the breaking point? At the point of no return?” Ayewa asks.

The title track follows a similar pattern, from a big pummeling whirlwind of an intro to a series of rises and falls, the horns first spare and then frenetic. There are light electroacoustic touches, a quiet, persistent, echoey horn break in the middle and an unexpectedly calm, reflective djembe-and-sax outro. “What are you doing here in my home, my neighborhood, who sent you? Where did they tell you to patrol, to oversee, redeem, crucify? Did they tell you to walk around with your finger on the trigger? Who sent you? Did they tell you how long we’re supposed to stay here, under your gun, the occupation, who sent you?” Ayewa wants to know. What an appropriate song for this summer, right?

No Mas opens with the horns building variations on a stark minor-key blues riff, then hits a bass-and-drums groove that’s the closest thing to straight-up hip-hop here. “No longer will we allow them to divide and conquer, divide and oppress, define our humanity,” Ayewa insists.

Blues Ideoogy is the album’s fastest number, starting out with a tight, racewalking pulse and fraying at the edges as it goes along: it’s a snide commentary alluding to child rape in the Catholic church. The album’s final track is Bread Out of Stone, Ayewa reflecting on a turbulent heritage of enslavement and resistance over a loopy bass-and-drums clave groove. If there are historians twenty years from now, they’ll look back to this as a foundational album for the beginning of a new era. But we’ll have to fight to get to that point if we do at all.

July 9, 2020 Posted by | jazz, Music, music, concert, poetry, rap music, review, Reviews | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment