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New York Art Quartet: 35th Reunion

Mark Corroto By

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The Fluxus art happenings of the sixties are being recalled today by so many people “that were there,” that it is to laugh (ha ha). Like Fluxus, the free jazz loft scene was witnessed by too few. The music, with all its propulsive energy and (un)structure, was more of a rumored scene, then a music viewed by the thousands. Free jazz, like every great revolution in thought and art, passes before the masses or the critics, for that matter, catch wind. In the sixties, when so many thought revolution would bring down our government, practitioners of this most creative of musics were slowly changing the future of creative jazz. In 1963, The New York Art Quartet was defining the direction of change, whose banner was to be taken up by the October Revolution In Jazz in 1964, Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz, Albert Ayler, Cecil Taylor, and of course John Coltrane. Thirty-five years after their self-titled ESP recording, the quartet plus Amiri Baraka a.k.a. Leroy Jones is back to remind us that the New Thing has yet to become an old thing. Baraka asks, “of what use is poetry?” and is answered by a collective and spontaneous creation. Rudd, who takes me back to Steve Lacy and their interpretations of Thelonious Monk and Herbie Nichols, plays with such superb vocalization while Graves’s throaty accompaniment of his percussion leaves a magic picture in the minds eye. Baraka’s recollection of the turbulent sixties on “Seek Light At Once” is the highlight of the recording, acting as the most creative bridge to the 21st century so far.

Track List:A Meeting Of Remarkable Journeys; Reentering; Llanto Del Indio; VG’s Birthday Jamboree; Visiting Ogun; Perceiving Passerby’s; Seek Light At Once; Music’s Underwear.

Title: 35th Reunion | Year Released: 2000 | Record Label: Izuma Records


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