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In an interesting note in the liner booklet for Big Chief Dreaming, guitarist Garrison Fewell says that the band dwelt on the role that inspiration and exploration played in shaping artistic vision. That question is answered in the path they took, or to put it more accurately, the paths. Explorations of the written note and improvisations are shaped in duo and trio outings. The main point underscored by the music, however, is that both situations evolve into pithy artistic statements.
Inspiration is forged on the empathy of the musicians, and all five pick up that invisible emotional thread and weave it into appealing patterns. They do so with a quiet demeanour, a tonal delectability that gently inveigles the senses. They shape that sphere right from the opener, an improvisatory tale called "Instant Intuition," with Fewell on guitar and Tino Tracanna on the soprano sax conversing in pellucid tones. Different tangents gel into a whole on the title tune, a trio outing with Tchicai, Fewell, and Massimo Manzi. Tchicai opens the path, Fewell follows in close cleave, while Manzi fills the pulse with his accents. And in that interplay, which evolves from the chase and pause, comes the character of the improvisation.
An incipient allure resides in the soul of "Simplicity." The melody is defined by the saxophonists, whose shifting accents then cut deep grooves or flit on breathy tonesDalla Porta takes the motif into a softly changing prism, and Fewell illumines with his floating lines. The quintet comes out swinging on "Yogi in Disguise," but that is soon tempered as Fewell takes his guitar into a pastoral plain that get backs into the swing of things as Tchicai and Tracanna return.
Track Listing: Instant Intuition; Prayer for Right Guidance; Big Chief Dreaming; Simplicity; The Queen of
Ra; Thrift Shopping + Extension; Basetto; X-Ray Vision; Grappa to Go; Splinters No. 1;
Haengende Skaerm; Yogi in Disguise.
Personnel: John Tchicai: tenor saxophone, bass clarinet; Garrison Fewell: guitar; Tino Tracanna:
soprano and tenor saxophone; Paolino Della Porta: bass; Massimo Manzi: drums.
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me
I grew up listening to mainstream '70s rock then ended up on the staff at the college paper at San Diego State, and volunteered to review heavy metal LPs. My second semester, the music editor dropped a Fenton Robinson LP on my desk, Night Flight. You like metal; they play guitar--he plays guitar, the editor told me. If we don't run a review, Alligator Records is going to stop servicing us.
Night Flight opened up a whole new world for me--the blues led me, inevitably, to Basie, who led to Duke, who led to Mingus, who led to Miles, who led to ...