Since the release of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme (Impulse!, 1965), only a handful of albums have effectively explored jazz's spiritual aspects while sustaining its exciting secular qualities. Beyond The Wall is a masterful work of original music that succeeds marvelously on both levels, building upon Trane's legacy, as well as the work of the date's two very special guest artistsPharoah Sanders and Bobby Hutchersonbolstered by the superb rhythm section of pianist Mulgrew Miller, bassist Robert Hurst, III and drummer Brian Blade.
Garrett and Sanders blend their distinctive instrumental voices on the opening "Calling, an evocative piece suggestive of several Coltrane compositions (as well as Cedar Walton's "Holy Land ), and the title track, a tour de force blowing vehicle on Traneish rhythm changes. Hutcherson's vibraphone augments the group on "Qing Wen and "Realization (Marching Towards The Light), which showcase Garrett's melding of jazz with Far Eastern influences. The two selections also feature the voice of Nedelka Echols, giving them a heavenly quality reminiscent of Hutcherson's Now! (Blue Note, 1969) and Sanders' Journey To The One (Evidence, 1980). The spiritual depth is further enhanced on the latter track with an incisively sampled Tibetan chant.
Garrett spells Miller at the piano in the rhythm section for his stirring "Tsunami Song, a feature for Guowei Wang's erhu (a bowed two-string Chinese instrument) and a string quartet of violin, cello, harp and Hurst's bass. Sanders, Hutcherson, Miller and Echols (joined by five backing vocalists) return on "Kiss To The Skies and "Gwoka the former an appealing gospel tinged ode, the latter a dancing, African-inflected melody.
In between the group, sans voices, stretches out on the leader's "Now, a Latinish line driven by Blade's exuberant drumming and Rogerio Boccatto's understated percussion. The disc concludes with the moving "May Peace Be Upon Them, a beautiful benediction passionately delivered by Garrett with just the trioa fitting finish for an important album of music with a majestic message.
Calling; Beyond the Wall; Qing Wen; Realization (Marching Toward the Light); Tsunami Song; Kiss to the Skies; Now; Gwoka; May Peace Be Upon Them.
Kenny Garrett: alto saxophone (1-4,6-9), piano (5); Pharaoh Sanders: tenor saxophone
(1-4,6-8); Mulgrew Miller (1-4,6-9); Robert Hurst, III: bass; Brian Blade: drums; Bobby
Hutcherson: vibes (3,4,6,7,8); Ruggerio Boccato: percussion (1,3,4-8);
Nedelka Echols: vocals (3,4,6,8); Genea Martin, Kevin Wheatley, Arlene Lewis, Geovanti
Steward, Dawn Caveness: vocals (6,8): vocals; Guowei Wang: erhu (5); Jonathan
Gandelsman: violin (5); Neil Humphrey: cello (5); Susan Jolles: harp (5).