Hugh Ragin: Revelation (2004)
Enlisting the inestimable rhythm team of bassist William Parker and percussionist Hamid Drake was clearly an inspired choice. From rubato passages like that opening the fifteen-minute title track to the skewed rhythm and blues of "Kamal's Gift," Parker and Hamid create a solid foundation while managing to imbue the looser exploratory sense that they demonstrated on their recent tour with Parker's own O'Neal's Porch Quartet. Israeli reed player Assif Tsahar, well-known in the New York free scene and no stranger to Parker and Drake, has formidable abilities, both traditional and extended.
And what of Ragin? With classical technique coupled with the more outer-reaching and emancipated attitude of Lester Bowie, he embodies a deep spirituality that underpins the entire record. From the swinging "Night Life" to the bold and aggressive "Speak to the Mountain," Ragin plays with an energy and commitment to trust and interplay between the players that elevates the session.
At times difficult to digest because of its density, Revelation is, nevertheless, an intriguing combination of the jazz tradition with European art house music. While clearly limited in its appeal, fans of the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Albert Ayler's work will find much to like about Ragin's concept.
Track Listing: Restoration Intensive; Kamal's Gift; Revelation; The Battlefield; Skull Hill; Night Life; Wormwood; Speak to the Mountain; Next Time
Personnel: Hugh Ragin (trumpet, piccolo trumpet, pocket trumpet), Assif Tsahar (tenor saxophone, bass clarinet, musette), William Parker (bass, musette, pocket trumpet), Hamid Drake (drums, percussion)
Record Label: Justin Time Records
Style: Modern Jazz