Lisle Ellis: Sucker Punch Requiem: An Homage to Jean-Michel Basquiat (2008)
Joining Ellis are saxophonist Oliver Lake, trombonist George Lewis, drummer Susie Ibarra, pianist Mike Wofford, vocalist Pamela Z, and flutist Holly Hoffman. The suite is divided into sixteen parts ranging from jazzical tone poems to electronic splatter and bookended by two vocal pieces. The set is naturally programmatic and almost filmic or theatricalsome of it is incredibly dense and other parts are quite sparse. The point of the project is as a springboard, something to be revisited time and again as Ellis solidifies the relationship between the painter's immense oeuvre and his own work. Basquiat's art is best seen in an installation of a number of pieces they are feisty and often compete with one another, but when done well, the effect is of a landscape more solemn and wistful than jagged words and images might belie.
Ellis' suite is atmospheric even at its most jaunty, the rhythm section keeping a distant flow as Lake's tart liquidity scrapes and scumbles phrases. Arranged sections have a quality of "popping out," much as a knife-wielding stick figure on a canvas. Alternately, the electronic and vocal pieces are slathered on, gestural but not particularly colorfulsignifiers of action rather than content. Strangely, text is not obviously integrated into the proceedings, though it might be because the vocal sections are almost overpowering and not entirely convincing. Obviously Basquiat's work has made a huge impact on Lisle Ellis, and it will be interesting to see how he tackles and integrates this subject into future projects.
Track Listing: Summonings; Incantation and Ascent; Portrait of the Artist as a Young Derelict; X-Ray Gray; Perishable Fig. 1a; Bas Relief; Las Pulgas (Repelling Ghosts); Perishable Fig. 2; Color Blind (Oracle)1/2; Suicide Study; Color Blind (Oracle)2/2; For Blues and Other Spells; Perishable Fig. 1b; 57 Great Jones St. August Twelfth Nineteen Eighty- Eight; Perishable Fig. 3; Untitled (Life Stilled).
Personnel: Lisle Ellis: bass, electronics and sound design; George Lewis: trombone; Oliver Lake: alto and soprano saxophones; Holly Hoffman: flute; Mike Wofford: piano; Susie Ibarra: percussion; Pamela Z: voice and electronics.
Record Label: Henceforth Records
Style: Beyond Jazz