All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

423

Rudresh Mahanthappa / Bunky Green: Apex

Mark F. Turner By

Sign in to view read count
Apex is an alto sax summit of huge proportions—a prodigious work of collaboration and stirring performances—boasting Rudresh Mahanthappa, one of today's rising stars, and Bunky Green, a lesser known master who has influenced innovators such as Greg Osby and Steve Coleman. Like another memorable 2010 release, Dual Identity (Clean Feed), which featured Mahanthappa and alto conceptualist Steve Lehman, the music here is another no-holds-barred outing between seminal artists.

Though there's a 36 year age difference, Mahanthappa's fearless horn is equally matched by Green who, impressively at 75, continues to peel the paint off walls with an angular style—once touring with Charles Mingus' band in his early twenties, and heard on his own Another Place (Label Bleu, 2006). Backed by a stellar cast of players, Apex is not just the meeting of young and old lions (a one-time debilitating term), but about two artists that share a camaraderie, vision, and affirmation of the alto legacy.

An array of robust experiences is witnessed, with drum duties split between the great Jack DeJohnette and younger firebrand Damion Reid, plus invigorating work by stalwarts bassist Francois Moutin and pianist Jason Moran. Indian-influenced roots surface in Mahanthappa's "Welcome," where his biting horn issues a spellbinding incantation that preludes "Summit," a track where the two similar-toned horns trade fiercely, the music swinging hard, and a powerful spotlight shining on DeJohnette's continued prowess.

Mahanthappa's past music has been criticized for being "overly cerebral" at times, but here he delivers a balance between complex and mainstream musical concepts. Opening with Moutin's splendid bass solo, "Soft"'s languid blues slowly transforms into a demanding staccato tempo, before reverting back to its original form. "Playing with Stones" combines South Indian music with a tight groove that is no small feat, the band working out the details with exacting precision and inspiration.

Moran's empathetic notes are sweet repose in "Lamenting," an earnest setup for Greene's flight pattern in "Eastern Echoes," as Reid salvos in tandem with Mahanthappa's coarse voice. "Little Girl" and "Rainer and Theresia" are evidence of the elder's lyricism and soul; each containing a timeless and enduring quality that could rank with any well-known standard.

If there's one track that highlights the two saxophonist's similarities, then it would be "Who?." The appropriately titled composition is volcanic—horns moving in quick jagged bursts, chromatic maneuvers, thrusts and parries. The band is also in step, especially Moran's eccentric soloing and comping.

There are surprises to be found in multiple listens, including a hidden track at the end of the recording. Apex is the fruitful meeting of two profound alto stylists—individualists whose voices are at once recognizable—and one of the most enjoyable recordings of 2010.

Track Listing: Welcome; Summit; Soft; Playing with Stones; Lamenting; Eastern Echoes; Little Girl, I'll Miss You; Who?; Rainer and Theresia; The Journey.

Personnel: Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Bunky Green: alto saxophone; Jason Moran: piano; François Moutin: bass; Jack DeJohnette: drums (1, 2, 9, 10); Damion Reid: drums (3-8).

Title: Apex | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Pi Recordings

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Apti

Apti

Rudresh Mahanthappa
Apti

Enhanced Performance

Enhanced Performance

Rudresh Mahanthappa
Codebook

Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Best of / Year End
Read more articles
Agrima

Agrima

Self Produced
2017

buy
Bird Calls

Bird Calls

ACT Music
2015

buy
Gamak

Gamak

ACT Music
2013

buy
 

Samdhi

ACT Music
2012

buy
Gamak

Gamak

ACT Music
2012

buy

Related Articles

Read Kinship CD/LP/Track Review
Kinship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Ask For Chaos CD/LP/Track Review
Ask For Chaos
by Gareth Thompson
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Homage to a Dreamer CD/LP/Track Review
Homage to a Dreamer
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Live At Cafe Amores CD/LP/Track Review
Live At Cafe Amores
by John Sharpe
Published: August 18, 2018
Read Passion Reverence Transcendence CD/LP/Track Review
Passion Reverence Transcendence
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: August 17, 2018
Read Inner Voice CD/LP/Track Review
Inner Voice
by Don Phipps
Published: August 17, 2018
Read "Copenhagen Live 1964" CD/LP/Track Review Copenhagen Live 1964
by John Sharpe
Published: December 15, 2017
Read "The Questions" CD/LP/Track Review The Questions
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: March 20, 2018
Read "Pulse/Quartet" CD/LP/Track Review Pulse/Quartet
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: January 19, 2018
Read "Secret Language" CD/LP/Track Review Secret Language
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 17, 2017
Read "The Poetry of Jazz" CD/LP/Track Review The Poetry of Jazz
by Mark Corroto
Published: March 16, 2018
Read "Der Verboten" CD/LP/Track Review Der Verboten
by Glenn Astarita
Published: December 7, 2017