Learn How

We need your help in 2018

Support All About Jazz All About Jazz is looking for 1,000 backers to help fund our 2018 projects that directly support jazz. You can make this happen by purchasing ad space or by making a donation to our fund drive. In addition to completing every project (listed here), we'll also hide all Google ads and present exclusive content for a full year!

12

Rudresh Mahanthappa: Bird Calls

Dan Bilawsky By

Sign in to view read count
Charlie Parker has been deified, his methods have been codified, and his recordings have been analyzed ad infinitum. Six decades have passed since he left this realm, yet he remains the lodestar for a significant portion of the jazz community, from the aspiring to the elite, and his influence hasn't waned one bit. Given all of that, it's astonishing to realize that so few players have taken chances by looking beyond the songs, the music theory, the recordings, and the man. For if they did, they would find the spark of creativity and the desire to extract the new from the old that drove Parker to create something meaningful and lasting. That's just what saxophonist Rudresh Mahanthappa seems to have done with Bird Calls.

In putting together this project, Mahanthappa managed to marry Parker's language with post-modern vernacular, creating something that speaks to today while referencing the past. Mahanthappa sticks to Parker's "Now's The Time" rhythmic layout but creates new melodies during "Maybe Later," he disassembles "Donna Lee" and puts it back together in his own image during "On The DL," and he touches on the melody of "Parker's Mood" with a more intense and direct rhythmic approach on "Talin Is Thinking." In other places, he builds new constructs atop established harmonic foundations, tweaks tempos, and slices and dices Parker-isms into new shapes, blurring the line between the source material and the new music it yields.

The meat of the album is connected to the aforementioned Parker-derived pieces, but five "Bird Calls" serve as connective tissue between them. These short vignettes—each less than three minutes in length—are just as engrossing as the lengthier works. One might be all about mystique ("Bird Calls #1"), another might pair horn against horn ("Bird Calls #2"), and a third may find the piano speaking calmly and curiously ("Bird Calls #5"). Taken alone, they may seem somewhat out of place, but, when taken as part of the whole, these miniatures mean so much more: They're palate cleansers and directional beacons, ushering in new sounds and streams of thought.

Through it all, Mahanthappa's sui generis quintet proves to be every bit as responsible for the success of this music as he is. Adam O'Farrill's trumpet swims beautifully in the calmer waters and his clarion calls match Mahanthappa's fierce declarations elsewhere; pianist Matt Mitchell tumbles and flows in brilliant fashion; bassist Francois Moutin bounds along in the mix and anchors the band; and drummer Rudy Royston is ready to rumble. There's little this outfit can't do and there's virtually nothing that could make this record any better than it already is.

Track Listing: Bird Calls #1; On the DL; Bird Calls #2; Chilllin’; Bird Calls #3; Talin is Thinking; Both Hands; Bird Calls #4; Gopuram; Maybe Later; Bird Calls # 5; Sure Why Not?; Man, Thanks for Coming.

Personnel: Rudresh Mahanthappa: alto saxophone; Adam O’Farrill: trumpet; Matt Mitchell: piano; Francois Moutin: acoustic bass; Rudy Royston: drums.

Title: Bird Calls | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: ACT Music


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Acknowledgement CD/LP/Track Review Acknowledgement
by Don Phipps
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Lessons And Fairytales CD/LP/Track Review Lessons And Fairytales
by Jerome Wilson
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Child in Me CD/LP/Track Review The Child in Me
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: November 23, 2017
Read The Way Home CD/LP/Track Review The Way Home
by Joe Gatto
Published: November 23, 2017
Read Shadow Work CD/LP/Track Review Shadow Work
by Phil Barnes
Published: November 22, 2017
Read Veterans of Jazz CD/LP/Track Review Veterans of Jazz
by Mark Sullivan
Published: November 22, 2017
Read "Stolen Moments" CD/LP/Track Review Stolen Moments
by Jerome Wilson
Published: September 7, 2017
Read "Blow + Beat" CD/LP/Track Review Blow + Beat
by Karl Ackermann
Published: April 8, 2017
Read "Caipi" CD/LP/Track Review Caipi
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 24, 2017
Read "I Am" CD/LP/Track Review I Am
by Geno Thackara
Published: November 13, 2017
Read "The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure" CD/LP/Track Review The Hidden Notes - Spirit Of Adventure
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 18, 2017
Read "Gallarais" CD/LP/Track Review Gallarais
by Karl Ackermann
Published: November 15, 2017

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!

Please support out sponsor