The Philadelphia based collaborative group, Ode to Omni continues its intriguing forays into spiritual jazz with its second release, the live recording, Anchors
. Under percussionist Marcus Myers
' leadership the band interprets four long and cinematic Myers originals with a sublime blend of raw passion and harmonic sophistication. Starting with "Flesh and Spirit," a delightfully tense and expectant mood permeates the album. Myers' drums thunder and gallop over a dense and captivating musical backdrop that pianist Jon Bradley
enhances with his electronics. Trumpeter Rick Rein
and the other horns blow undulating lines, bringing an ethereal feel that complements Myers' earthy beats. This captivating tune also features altoist Max Swan
in a serpentine and breathtakingly agile solo that expands lyrically over the rhythm section's furious vamps.
Another saxophonist, tenor man Sam Greenfield
, wails with vibrant spontaneity and intelligence on the funky "Glory." Keyboard player Alex Ayala
lays down gritty and viscerally moving refrains as the frontline states the theme with intense soulfulness and an organic vibe. Bassist Eric Whatley
's swaggering duet with Myers ushers in the stimulating and riotous conclusion.
Whatley's eloquent and electrifying strings and Ayala's chiming piano buoy vocalist Maricia Danielle
's evocative and emotive singing of the title track. Mirroring Danielle's expressive voice is guitarist Josh Nussbaum
's lilting shimmering monologue that evolves with quiet tones and thick, fiery chords. The piece closes with a soaring, sweeping orchestral melody.
Vivid soundscapes over Myers' propulsive drums set a similarly dramatic mood on the incandescent "Audacity." Ayala's romantic pianism contrasts with trombonist Frank Rein
's blustery, growling improvisation. Rein's inventive phrases slide over the exciting collective refrains. Guitarist Andy Bree's fiery extemporization burns through the ensemble's heady, sonic tapestry with bluesy fervor and rocking bravado.
As this sophomore effort demonstrates, Ode to Omni's artistry has matured and its style has become more polished. This, however, is not at the expense of its creative zeal or its ardent enthusiasm. Even though this EP remains reminiscent of the classic 1970s discs on, such sadly defunct labels as, Strata East, Myers and Ode to Omni are on their way to developing their own unique sound. Hopefully one that will remain anchored in tradition but also will provocatively look forward.
Flesh and Spirit; Glory; Audacity; Anchors.
Maricia Danielle: voice; Rick Rein: trumpet; Frank Rein: bass trombone; Max Swan: alto
sax; Sam Greenfield: tenor sax; Alex Ayala: keyboards; Josh Nussbaum: guitar; Andy
Bree: guitar; Eric Whatley: bass; Marcus Myers: percussion and drums; Jon Bradley: aux.