331

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

Mark F. Turner By

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

More Articles

Read The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door CD/LP/Track Review The Sound of Surprise: Live at the Side Door
by Edward Blanco
Published: February 25, 2017
Read The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture CD/LP/Track Review The Angel and the Brute Sing Songs of Rapture
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Coldest Second Yesterday CD/LP/Track Review Coldest Second Yesterday
by John Sharpe
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Follow Your Heart CD/LP/Track Review Follow Your Heart
by Mark Corroto
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Chicago II CD/LP/Track Review Chicago II
by Doug Collette
Published: February 25, 2017
Read Over the Rainbow CD/LP/Track Review Over the Rainbow
by Paul Rauch
Published: February 24, 2017
Read "Euro Swing Vol. 2" CD/LP/Track Review Euro Swing Vol. 2
by Mark Corroto
Published: July 24, 2016
Read "Blooming Tall Phlox" CD/LP/Track Review Blooming Tall Phlox
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: December 16, 2016
Read "Life Compass On!" CD/LP/Track Review Life Compass On!
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: February 5, 2017
Read "Havana Blue" CD/LP/Track Review Havana Blue
by Jack Bowers
Published: August 13, 2016
Read "Stripped" CD/LP/Track Review Stripped
by James Nadal
Published: August 22, 2016
Read "Of the Tree" CD/LP/Track Review Of the Tree
by Dave Wayne
Published: October 9, 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!