Makanda Ken McIntyre: A New Beginning
A New Beginning plays both sides of the coin, presenting a fairly straightforward hard bop rhythm section juxtaposed against McIntyre's expansive reed adventures. The twelve tunes on this record offer him opportunities to stretch out at length on the alto saxophone and flute, plus other reed instruments. With a variety of moods and feels, they emphasize melody and coherence.
That structure makes it all the more exciting when McIntyre steps out, as he does on alto with the opener, "Black Sugar Cane." His woody tone, rhythmic unpredictability, and bird-like flights reveal an unpretentious sense of discovery. When McIntyre switches to flute, his approach changes dramatically: he offers gossamer lines of fragile melody, paying more attention to delineating the turning points than mining the depths of a given phrase or mood.
The rhythm section on A New Beginning plays a solid supporting role, particularly Wilber Morris's deliberate foundation-laying work on the bass. But the main reason to check out this record is McIntyre himself. The mix on A New Beginning occasionally falls short, and the piano slips into the background more than it should, but that's a relatively minor problem. By the time this group wraps up the title track closer (with strong solo work by the group and McIntyre's understated melodicisim on bass clarinet), you'll wish there was more.
Track Listing: Black Sugar Cane; Evolvement; Breadfruit; Witch's Brew; Another Look; Monk & Trane; Toy Rugs; Joyous Remembrance; Smile; Sonny; Tomorrow? Tonight!; A New Beginning.
Personnel: Makanda Ken McIntyre: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, oboe, flute, and bassoon; Joanne Brackeen: piano; Wilber Morris: bass; Charli Persnip: drums.
Record Label: Passin' Thru Records