The WSQ, which has performed as a unit since '76, has generated a mountain of excellent recordings on the Black Saint and Elektra labels. In late '95, the same year that founding member Julius Hemphill died, the quartet recorded its first Justin Time record with John Purcell taking Hemphill's place. As a result of Purcell joining the group, the other members were freed to play other instruments outside the earlier paradigm of two altos, a tenor, and a baritone sax.
Four Now also distinguishes itself by the addition of three African drummer/vocalists who first appeared on the '91 Nonesuch album Metamorphosis. In contrast to this earlier album, the group explores more rhythmic freedom on Four Now, juxtaposing the cross-continental interplay of drum improvisation and horn improvisation. The results of this American-African cultural fusion are dramatically successful. Compositions by both the horn players and the drummers achieve a delicate balance between arrangement and improvisation, as is the WSQ trademark. "Dakar Darkness," an adventurous piece by David Murray, manages to integrate poetry text read by Oliver Lake into the freedom of the mix without losing the group's overall coherence.
Track Listing: Dou Dou N'Daiye Rose, Dakar Darkness, Suga, Colors, For Now, What A Dream, Sangara.
Personnel: David Murray: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Hamiet Bluiett: baritone saxophone, contra-alto clarinet; Oliver Lake: alto saxophone, poetry text; John R. Purcell: saxello, english horn, alto flute, c flute; Chief Bey: African drums, vocals; Mor Thiam: African drums, vocals; Mar Gueye: African drums, vocals.