Saxophonist Ras Moshe has been gradually making a name for himself as one of the best of the fiery saxophonists of the New York underground. He's released a series of limited edition live recordings on the Utech label that have impressed those who have heard them (unfortunately a small number of people). Now comes Transcendence
on the Kordova Milkbar label, not much more high profile than Utech but I suspect they may be a little more readily available. Transcendence
is a quartet date with Moshe's working group featuring Dave Ross (guitar), Shayna Dulberger (bass) and Rashid Bakr (drums). On this disc, Moshe proves himself to be a saxophonist very much in the tradition. Those who scoff at that idea are those who have yet to come to grips with the idea that the tradition now includes John Coltrane, Albert Ayler and Archie Shepp. While Moshe clearly derives inspiration from these players, his sound is unique: dry, a bit tart, with a strong booming presence in the lower registers.
The surprise of this disc is Ross who obviously listened to Sonny Sharrock and whose fast strumming, when dueling with Moshe during the disc's several collective interludes, recalls that past innovator. He also has a ringing tone that frequently fleshes out the quartet sound in a unique, almost orchestral manner. Dulberger is a powerful force in the lower end. Her presence, frequently a low growling rumble, bristles with energy and gives the music its forward momentum. Bakr's multi- directional drumming is as effective as when he stoked the fires of the Cecil Taylor Unit 25 years ago.
The program consists of nine diverse compositions: two by Ross, one by Dulberger and the rest by Moshe. The leader's title track alternates between a medium tempo swing and a slow balladic section. "If You See Something, Say Something is a free jazz blowout, short, to the point and clearly articulated. Ross' "Sun Room starts as a pleasant, relaxed waltz that builds wonderfully to an intense peak in what is perhaps the best group performance on the disc, Moshe really digging in on this track. With Transcendence Moshe's quartet stakes its claim to being one of the more exciting groups on the scene.
Personnel: Ras Moshe: reeds, flute; Dave Ross: guitar; Shayna Dulberger: bass; Rashid Bakr: drums.