Ensemble musikFabrik, Etienne Charles, Pulverize The Sound & Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora
There were a few dips in content, mostly of a slow and sentimental nature. The Mighty Sparrow's "Memories" and Bob Marley's "Turn Your Lights Down Low," both featured on the new album. These songs sounded bland beside the majority of pulsating material, but the reading of "You Don't Love Me (No No No)" (popularized by Jamaican singer Dawn Penn) fared much better, managing to transcend its too-frequent selection as a cover version. The result of this latest Charles project and lineup is to explore the density of fun, exploring a highly commercial set of ingredients, but filtering them through a jazz lens full of hardened soloing prowess. It's akin to what England's Courtney Pine has been attempting in recent years, but Charles is succeeding in capturing a far rootsier vibration.
Pulverize The Sound
July 25, 2013
Pulverize The Sound, in a mellower mood? Well, only relatively. There was that monstrously aggressive, volume-maximized appearance at the 2011 Vision Festival, where this trio sounded mostly indebted to diseased (if serried) thrashcore. Now, two years later, they're refining their character, delving into other areas that were always present anyway. Jazz, improvisation, minimalism, droning, moderne classical. Perhaps it's just that they performed at a quieter, more contained level for this Roulette gig. It was easier to hear the details of texture, and savor the spaces between the intricately worked out sensitivities of trumpeter Peter Evans, bassist Tim Dahl and drummer Mike Pride.
The load remains heavy, but the strikes are rationed into carefully poised eruptions and sudden, simultaneous thematic punches. Pulverize The Sound are delicately hard. The threesome must surely have spent many hours in rehearsal, just to make the complexity sound like spontaneous improvisation. Either that or they've now been playing together long enough to harbor an uncanny rapport.
Dahl had toned down his distortion, so now sounded more proggy than thrashy. Evans is an expert at needling accuracy, matched with an astounding stamina, particularly when he sculpted extended and suspended tones through the employment of circular breathing. Lesser beings would use a laptop or sampling pedal. Pride moved beyond the drum kit, getting into gongs and polystyrene, rummaging in his percussion bag, or chiming the chimes, in perfect staccato time with his cohorts.
Their set approached the 90 minute mark, as they'd just completed two days of work-shopping and collaborative composition at Roulette, adding to their growing repertoire. The result was a series of spikily antagonistic pieces, a ballet of delicately tip-toed violence. Clipped like a chipping ice pick. It's a profoundly group-orientated music, each player serving the ultimate mission with masterly concentration.
Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora
For My Sweet
August 5, 2013
For My Sweet is a relatively obscure community venue in the Bedford-Stuyvesent part of Brooklyn, with jazz gigs happening every Monday evening. On this particular night, the proceedings were moved into the rear garden area, with two sets from trumpeter Ahmed Abdullah's Diaspora. Only in NYC can we see a combo of this caliber at such a low-key joint. An open-microphone intermission is a feature at For My Sweet, and who should turn up in the audience but Amiri Baraka. This revered poet didn't need too much persuasion to stand up and intone one of his own works (part of "Wise, Why's, Y'z"), to hushing, transfixing effect.