221

Harriet Tubman: Ascension

Raul d'Gama Rose By

Sign in to view read count
Harriet Tubman: Ascension The raison d'être for the band, Harriet Tubman, is an almost aching musical yearning for a complete freedom. It is a freedom from genre and certainly on Ascension, complete freedom from style as well as style. This what the 20th Century Spanish poet and playwright, Federico Garcia-Lorca described as the heart of duende, a holistic alternative to style and mere virtuosity, seeking an elevated level of delving into the depths of the soul so that the music dilates the mind's eye, in order to render its intensity almost unendurable. In fact, virtually unbeknownst to the artists—guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis, also including the opposing trio of trumpeter Ron Miles, and turntablists, DJ Singe and DJ Logic—all the elements of melody, harmony and rhythm melt away to create a completely spiritual corkscrew of notes, voices and accents. The resultant music pulsates, pirouettes and punches its way into the mind's ear, aided by the very magic of its spirituality.

The magic is also in the opposing forces of each trio. The original Harriet Tubman of Gibbs, Ross and Lewis is a molten mix of malleable and ductile material that screams out of the metallic elasticity of Ross' strings, the throb and double stops of Gibbs's bass and the churning of Lewis's drums. The trio of Miles, Singe and Logic is an almost glacial, ghostly reflection of the music itself—a parallel reality that mirrors the heat of Tubman with the cool of a contrapuntal vibe.

The powerful mix of the concerto unfolds most tellingly in "Down Shift/Ascension" and in "Night Master/Ascension." Soloists seem to do battle with the ensemble, but creating diametrically opposed characters in the music. In the former sequence, the screaming glissandos of the turntablists burn through the seemingly chaotic ensemble playing behind them. In the latter, Miles is aglow in the bronzed heat of what is set as his musical backdrop, by the rest of the players.

Much is being made of Harriet Tubman's channeling the spirit of John Coltrane's 1965 Ascension (Impulse!), as well as Ornette Coleman's Free Jazz (Atlantic, 1960), recorded five years earlier (coincidentally also played by a double trio). But there is another consideration to be made here: both the inspirational artists reached for beyond the realm of acceptable norms of the music of the day, in their day. Harriet Tubman does much the same as its members break the mold of 21st Century music as well. In doing so, the collective improvisation of its musical constituents succeeds in creating an exciting new musical canvas featuring molten textures, dripping with an expanded palette of colors as the music of Ascension sails into the stellar regions of mind and universe.


Track Listing: Ascension; Ritual Rubbin'; Down Shift/Ascension; Night Master/Ascension; Ascension; Stellar Attraction; Probe; Sidereal Flux; Plasmaroid; Widely Known.

Personnel: Brandon Ross: guitar; Melvin Gibbs: bass; JT Lewis: drums; Ron Miles: trumpet; DJ Logic: turntables; DJ Singe: turntables.

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Sunnyside Records


Shop

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Pat Metheny Pat Metheny
guitar
Ornette Coleman Ornette Coleman
sax, alto
Bill Frisell Bill Frisell
guitar
Eivind Aarset Eivind Aarset
guitar
Satoko Fujii Satoko Fujii
piano
Tim Berne Tim Berne
saxophone
Melvin Gibbs Melvin Gibbs
bass, electric
Zony Mash
band/orchestra

More Articles

Read The Picasso Zone CD/LP/Track Review The Picasso Zone
by Franz A. Matzner
Published: February 23, 2017
Read The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark CD/LP/Track Review The MUH Trio – Prague After Dark
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Les Deux Versants Se Regardent CD/LP/Track Review Les Deux Versants Se Regardent
by John Sharpe
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Molto Bene CD/LP/Track Review Molto Bene
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 23, 2017
Read Fellowship CD/LP/Track Review Fellowship
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 22, 2017
Read E.S.T. Symphony CD/LP/Track Review E.S.T. Symphony
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 22, 2017
Read "Istanbul Underground" CD/LP/Track Review Istanbul Underground
by James Nadal
Published: June 22, 2016
Read "Equal Crossing" CD/LP/Track Review Equal Crossing
by Eyal Hareuveni
Published: August 10, 2016
Read "American Tunes" CD/LP/Track Review American Tunes
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: July 1, 2016
Read "Marianne" CD/LP/Track Review Marianne
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 28, 2016
Read "Bright Side" CD/LP/Track Review Bright Side
by David A. Orthmann
Published: October 31, 2016
Read "Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater" CD/LP/Track Review Henrik Jensen's Followed by Thirteen: Blackwater
by Phil Barnes
Published: October 21, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!