Whatever else is going on in jazz — fractured meters, indie-pop fusions — it's always good to hear a couple of horns burning through the changes over swing cymbals and a hard-walking bass groove. Reedmen Andrew D'Angelo and Jeff Lederer play the top half of that equation on drummer Wilson's latest while the leader and bassist Chris Lightcap cover the bottom end.
At times, this album exudes the glorious free bop that emerged from the '70s and '80s avant-garde. D'Angelo kicks off the album with an alto-sax annunciation that's as smooth and speedy as Charlie Parker, with Eric Dolphy's sharp angles. This is especially cheering because, only months before this September '08 recording session, D'Angelo had been treated for a malignant brain tumor. Here he's in full command.
Lederer's tenor tears varied phrases through the standard "Two Bass Hit," smooth runs shifting into testifying honks. And the free-squall monkey gets turned loose on Lightcap's Ornette-ish "Celibate Oriole." Not that there aren't moments of reflection, like the 12-tone chamber arrangement for clarinet and bass clarinet, "Lucky," the traditional hymn "Come and Find the Quiet Center," and the vocal-number finale, War's "Why Can't We Be Friends?" Why indeed.
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