Everything old is new again, even "the new thing is, well, "the new thing again.
In the 1960s, as the moldy conservatives and even the hard bop practitioners were trying to define jazz as one specific thing. Suddenly, the music exploded into multiple directions. Aided by John Coltrane and Ornette Coleman, adventurism jazz musicians like Albert Ayler, Archie Shepp, Bill Dixon, Sun Ra, Joseph Jarman, and Marion Brown incorporated freedom and Afro-centric themes into the mix.
Fast-forward to the 1980s and the figs once again tried to define just exactly what jazz is. This back-and-forth of conservative verses adventurous thought in jazz might not be at the forefront of modern musical debatejazz only accounts, after all, for approximately 2% of CD salesbut in the ebb-and-flow of creative thought it is refreshing to hear a remake of Coltrane's Ascension (Impulse!, 1965), and maybe follow an Albert Ayler cover band.
Just don't look to the university jazz programs for this re-rebirth. Take this tribute to Marion Brown, by the genre-busting alt/rock band His Name Is Alive (HNIA). Like Yo La Tengo and Thurston Moore, HNIA does not let genre limit their explorations.
Endorsed by Marion Brown himself, this overtly gentle tribute is a meditative rhythm-fest of inspired music. The disc opens with percussive ymbals calling the electric keyboards and meditation to order. Guitarist/pianist Warren Defever and saxophonist/pianist Elliott Bergman of HNIA utilize members of Antibalas and another Michigan band, NOMO, to realized this work. Soon, Justin Walter's trumpet washes over the cymbals and keyboards, with the opening "Sweet Earth Flying repeated live, at the conclusion of the disc.
Lengthy meditative pieces abound, with bluesy atmospheric guitar and saxophone meeting on the live "Capricorn Moon. The treat here is the contemplative electric keyboard pieces "November Cotton Flower and "Bismillahi 'Rrahmani' Rrahim, that come brimming with insight and hope.
Many would paint "the new thing as just angry anarchy; that is just wrong. This introduction or rethinking of Marion Brown's music reveals a gentle approach to a music that dares to be jazz.
Track Listing: Sweet Earth Flying; Juba Lee; Capricorn Moon (live); November Cotton Flower; Bismillahi 'Rrahmani 'Rrahim; Geechee Recollections (I); Geechee Recollections (II); Sweet Earth Flying (live).
Personnel: Warren Defever: guitar, piano; Elliot Bergman: tenor saxophone, Rhodes; Jamie Saltsman: double bass; Justin Walter: trumpet; Jamie Easter: percussion; Dan Piccolo: drums, percussion; Michael Herbst: alto saxophone; Erik Hal: electric piano; Olman Piedra: congas, cajon.