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Rasul Siddik: House of Art (2009)

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Rasul Siddik: House of Art No stars How we rate: our writers tend to review music they like within their preferred genres.

The idea of playing free within a set of modes or changes is certainly nothing new in the world of creative music, but it can still be striking when a musician talks about following in the footsteps of Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
Charlie Parker
1920 - 1955
sax, alto
or Max Roach
Max Roach
Max Roach
1925 - 2007
drums
as such. To hear music like that of Paris-based trumpeter Rasul Siddik and his Now! Artet is an instant reminder of how truly vanguard playing can exist in timeworn formats.

For House of Art's seven original pieces, the Artet consists of drummer John Betsch
John Betsch
John Betsch
b.1945
drums
, saxophonist Ghasem Batamuntu, bassist James Lewis and either Bobby Few
Bobby Few
Bobby Few
b.1935
piano
or Katy Roberts on piano. "Impulse" begins with a taut and condensed Betsch solo, a thematic improvisation presaging the theme. Siddik's head arrangement, lilting but reared back, is reminiscent of the Sonny Simmons
Sonny Simmons
Sonny Simmons
b.1933
sax, alto
-Barbara Donald juggernaut, his terse, throaty and fragmented cry skittering across Roberts' chordal outlines and rhythmic rejoinders. Where Siddik is thin and loose, Batamuntu's soprano empties with arpeggiated flurries and concentrated flame. An insistent vamp and churchy head is placed alongside airy rhythms on the title track, which quickly morphs into dissonant blats, Siddik and Batamuntu trading crunched and sputtering volleys.

The addition on two tracks of volcanic and encyclopedic pianist Bobby Few is of particular note. His ominous poise and deep gospel-Romantic superimpositions turn ears on the ballad "Shirley's Delight." In fact, the inclusion of a chordal instrument tempers what might otherwise move headlong into free-for-all territory. Closing with "Traveling East," percussionist Rai Bonini augments the group, a simple processional theme fleshed out with little instruments, pinched brass and soprano snaking through a meaty walk. It's taken three decades for Siddik to release a leader date and the wait has been well worth it.


Track Listing: Impulse; House of Art; Shirley's Delight; Hop Jumpin'; Song for Tomorrow; Evidence of Bliss; Travelling East.

Personnel: Rasul Siddik: trumpet, flugelhorn, percussion, bamboo flute, ney; Ghasem Batamuntu: tenor and soprano saxophones; Katy Roberts: piano (1, 2, 5); Bobby Few: piano (3, 4); James Lewis: bass; John Betsch: drums; Rai Bonini: percussion, birdcall (7).

Record Label: Philology Jazz Records

Style: Modern Jazz


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