Roy Campbell: Akhenaten Suite (2008)
Campbell's ensemble includes vibraharpist Bryan Carrott and drummer Zen Matsuura, who worked with him on New Kingdom (Delmark 1991), violinist Billy Bang, and bassist Hillard Greene, a favorite of saxophonist Charles Gayle.
The music was commissioned by, and premiered at, the Vision Festival in New York in 2007, where this recording was made. The enthusiastic crowd coaxes our heroes forward on each track, even though the suite needs no cheering section. Campbell's writing is more Miles Davis/Gil Evans than Sun Ra. As with his previous work, he maintains a heavy amount of swing in his melodies.
The disc opens with an upbeat vibe, its snaking melody touching all the players' strengths. Campbell and Bang intertwine before the leader unwinds some clear, naturally flowing flugelhorn. With that, the direction of the suite is stated. The audience can relax, knowing this will be a thoroughly enjoyable ride. Onward with a nice processional, "Aten And Anarna."
After a brief intro by way of a recorder, the meat of the disc is presented on "Pharaoh's Revenge," which is in two parts. The players stretch out, allowing the listener to savor the sonorities of Bang's unplugged violin. Soon Campbell soars over both Bang and the rhythms laid by Carrott, Matsuura, and Greene. His sound, always graceful, takes on a real sheen of majesty here. The two featured players, Bang and Campbell, deliver the goods throughout.
"Sunset On The Nile" is the closing piece, and the feel is quite luxurious. Roy Campbell has composed a fully formed suite, one which is worth repeated listening sessions.
Track Listing: Akhenaten (Amenhotp) Intro. Part 1; Aten And Anarna; Pharaoh's Revenge Part 1; Pharaoh's Revenge (Tutankhamon) Intro Part 2; Pharaoh's Revenge Part 2; Sunset On The Nile.
Personnel: Roy Campbell: trumpet, flugelhorn, recorder, arghul; Billy Bang: violin; Bryan Carrott: vibraharp; Hillard Greene: bass; Zen Matsuura: drums.
Record Label: AUM Fidelity
Style: Modern Jazz