JOE HENDERSON – THE ELEMENTS
The Elements originally released in 1973 on Milestone arrived during a time of discovery for Joe Henderson, a time to set aside the post-bop instrumentation and repertoire he was identified with and branch out into other realms. What transpired is in a league all its own. Present in the four-part improvisation that makes up the album, "Fire", "Air", "Water" and "Earth" are elements of spiritual jazz-fusion and beyond - celestial, cosmic, and trance-inducing in nature. Alice Coltrane’s contributions on harp and piano set the tone as she weaves sublime chordal textures through the layers of improvisation. Assisting Henderson and Coltrane were a group of sympathetic explorers-- violin original Michael White, bass giant Charlie Haden, and the multifaceted percussionist Kenneth Nash. Latin American, Indian, and Native American strains enter the mix as Henderson applies the heat and mercurial invention of his more conventional work to these open-ended settings. While the music is enhanced with overdubbing in spots, the true magic of The Elements emanates from the musicians' collective genius at listening and responding to each other – a gift of extreme magnitude.
GARY BARTZ NTU TROOP – HARLEM BUSH MUSIC UHURU
Harlem Bush Music – Uhuru remains extremely relevant. Though the album came at a time when Black Consciousness and Black Pride were coming to the forefront of American culture, current times are such that its message of struggle, love and hope transcends racial categories. That is both a great testament to the power of this music, as well as to the dawning fact in this country that we're all in this together," said All About Jazz. Joined by the inimitable Andy Bey on vocals, Juini Booth and Ron Carter on bass, Harold White on drums, and Nat Bettis on percussion, Bartz turns in a set of politically relevant, hard-grooving, funky, searching and essential soul-jazz. The centerpiece of the album is the righteously grooving, original seven-minute version of “Celestial Blues” featuring the incredible vocals of John Coltrane’s favorite vocalist, Andy Bey.
ROSCOE MITCHELL – BELLS FOR THE SOUTH SIDE
A fantastic program of live recordings – all captured at the Museum Of Contemporary Art in Chicago – as part of their 50th Anniversary tribute to the AACM! Roscoe Mitchell works here in a very unusual format – with four different trios, each heard separately – then grouped together in different ways on larger recordings that feature all members in varied formation! The trios feature James Fei on reeds and electronics with William Winant on percussion and vibes; Hugh Ragin on trumpet withTyshawn Sorey on trombone, piano, and percussion; Craig Taborn on piano, organ, and electronics with Kikanju Baku on drums and percussion; and Jribu Shahid on bass and percussion with Tani Tabball on drums and percussion. Mitchell plays a range of reeds and percussion – and some of the percussion used is from the collection of various Art Ensemble Members, being exhibited by the museum. The performances are great – and not only is Mitchell still at the height of his improvisational powers, but he's also got the other musicians working in a spirit that really lives up to the tradition of the AACM! ~ Dusty Groove