Positive Knowledge: Live In New York (2003)
The performance documented here was recorded at the 2001 Vision Festival, a stage that serves as a window for artists whose persuasion is the expression of free jazz. Sometimes when things are free, there is a price to pay. Does the musician communicate with the listener? Are the impulses strictly personal or do they also have the ability to let feeling flow to others? Sure, the intentions are honorable, but the bottom line has to be communication. If that is missing, all is lost. The music here has moments of great inspiration and some that call for breathing space.
Oluyemi Thomas churns a torrid air with squiggles, cries and yowls when he has “Direct Focus”; Wimberly accents lightly, letting the horn do the singing, and then gradually kicks up the tempo. Thomas shows a distinct flair for heady improvisations constantly stoking the fire of changes. This is a top notch performance. The flute enhances the charm of a tune and “Beauty Is Hidden” evidences this from the first note that floats in. The tune moves in another direction prancing on percussion and drums to an African rhythm before Thomas returns to escarp the line with fragmented lines. The “Secrets Of Imperfection” are revealed in the tortured wordless vocals of Ijeoma Thomas, the heavy atmosphere torqued on the horn, the pressure relentless.
On the distaff side, “Ask Eric/Iron Lady” has its imperfections wrought by excess from the vocal cries and the abrasive pummel of the brass. And “Mother Africa” evaporates into a meandering exercise over the length of its bass solo.
Track Listing: Proofs (For Alan Silva); Secrets of Imperfection; The Upper Chamber House of Prayer; Righteous Intent; Ask Eric/ Iron Soul (For Eric Dolphy); Mother Africa (For Wilber Morris); In One Heart (For Jeanne Lee); Direct Focus; Beauty Is Hidden.
Personnel: Oluyemi Thomas: bass clarinet, C-melody and soprano saxes, flute, musette, percussion; Wilber Morris: bass (1-7); Ijeoma Thomas: poetic vocals, percussion (1-7); Michael Wimberly: drums, percussion.