All About Jazz needs your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 (or more) and we'll hide those six pesky Google ads that appear on every page for a full year! You'll also fund website expansion.


I want to help

331

Gerald Cleaver / Uncle June: Be It As I See It

Mark F. Turner By
Published:
Sign in to view read count
Gerald Cleaver / Uncle June: Be It As I See It Be It As I See It, Gerald Cleaver's fourth release as a leader, is an artistic vision of the Great Migration of African American families, in particular his family's movement from the rural South to the urban landscapes in the North, arriving at his home in Detroit, Michigan. The New York-based drummer/composer is a major player in forward-thinking music, his reputation and acumen evolving through his early tenure with AACM leader Roscoe Mitchell, and involvement with like- minded contemporaries including bassist William Parker and pianist Craig Taborn in Farmers By Nature (AUM Fidelity, 2009). As proven time and time again, Cleaver's drumming skills are a force of epic proportion.

This time, his growth as a composer is highlighted all the more. These vignettes—childhood memories and experiences—are both abstract and human, representing a wellspring of imagination and talent, realized by his Uncle June ensemble, a tremendous lineup that includes longtime collaborator Taborn, the dual reeds of Tony Malaby and Andrew Bishop, bassist Drew Gress, and violist Mat Maneri.

Like stanzas in a poetic work, each track is connected yet autonomous. "To Love"'s dark shadowy groove includes cacophonous instruments and Cleaver's strident spoken words of love and tenacity, followed by "Charles Street Sunrise," which contains blustery flute in a pastoral setting. "Lee / Mae" is adorned with a current of ethereal strings and horn harmonies that are as lovely as they are dissonant. "Statues / UmbRa" moves like a modern day urban folktale, its balladesque rhythmic centering, before morphing into obscurity with multiple speaking voices, languid horns, and distorted guitar. These ideas are adventurous; sometimes unsettling, yet always fascinating.

Though the project is challenging, Uncle June rises to the occasion. "Gremmy" is outlandishly fun, intersecting between the lines of avant-garde and free-bop and elevated by Bishop and Malaby's contrasting reeds, Gress' thumping solo and a skittering flight from Taborn. Another factor in the equation is Maneri, whose resonating viola adds an unusual tonality. "From A Life Of The Same Name" concludes the set with a mellifluous hypnotism that's the polar opposite of the opening track; its slow swirl of voices creating an intoxicating aura.

Be It As I See It is memorable; a lucid expression that is at times surreal and breathtakingly poignant.


Track Listing: To Love; Charles Street Sunrise; Fence & Post (For Mom & Dad)--Alluvia; The Lights; Lee / Mae; Statues / UmbRa; Ruby Ritchie / Well; He Said--Gremmy; Charles Street Quotidian; 22 Minutes (The Wedding Song); From A Life Of The Same Name.

Personnel: Gerald Cleaver: drums, percussion, voice); Andrew Bishop: flute, soprano saxophone, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone; Tony Malaby: soprano saxophone, tenor soprano saxophone; Craig Taborn: piano; Drew Gress: bass; Mat Maneri: viola; Ryan MacStaller: guitar (1, 8); Andy Taub: banjo (11); Jean Carla Rodea: voice (8, 11); John Cleaver: voice (8).

Year Released: 2011 | Record Label: Fresh Sound New Talent


Shop For Jazz

CD/LP/Track Review
Multiple Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Be It As I See It
Be It As I See It
Fresh Sound New Talent
2011
buy
[no cover]
Be It As I See It
Atlantic
2010
buy
Farmers By Nature
Farmers By Nature
AUM Fidelity
2009
buy
Detroit
Detroit
Fresh Sound New Talent
2008
buy
Adjust
Adjust
Fresh Sound New Talent
2002
buy
[no cover]
Adjust/Veil Of Names
Atlantic
2001
buy
William Parker William Parker
bass, acoustic
Andrew Hill Andrew Hill
piano
Bennie Maupin Bennie Maupin
clarinet
Paul Motian Paul Motian
drums
Nels Cline Nels Cline
guitar, electric
Ken Vandermark Ken Vandermark
saxophone

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.