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Canadian bassist Bret Higgins' Atlas Revolt ensemble celebrates its inaugural outing on composer, multi-instrumentalist and producer John Zorn's diverse and far-reaching Tzadik record label. Consequently, Higgins is a member of the Canadian band Zebrina cited as bringing "Jewish music into the 21st century" and features venerable American clarinetist Ben Goldberg on the 2014 Tzadik release Hamidbar Medaber
Atlas Revolt cogently fuses Middle Eastern and North African modalities with jazz-rock, hard rock, funk and hints of Klezmer into a production highlighted by the frontline's robust soloing jaunts, solidified by the leader's steady and supple bottom. And Higgins' manifold compositions nullify a sense of sameness, largely devised with entertaining qualities and finger-snapping grooves amid a consortium of snappy detours and harmonious expansions.
Violinist Aleksander Gajic's streaming staccato phrasings and melodic hooks instill a folkish organic component during many choruses and subplots, but "Meat For Dogs," is a strong vehicle for guitarist Tom Juhas who dishes out some resonating surf guitar licks, integrating psychedelic overtones and sonorous melodies. Aleksander and keyboardist Robbie Grunwald lay out an airy backdrop as Juhas stretches out, while incorporating bluesy cadenzas and gently soaring expressionism with extended notes that provoke a string of drifting choruses. Yet the guitarist packs a mighty wallop as well. It's among the more memorable works on the album and is a testament to Higgins' democratic groupthink and diverse repertoire as a composer, in addition to his laudable faculties on bass.
Track Listing: Atlas Revolt; El Metate; All About The Starry Dark; Zagazig; Electric Sinner; Sanan;
Meat For Dogs; Flashbulb Memories; Vorticism; Jakaranda.
Personnel: Bret Higgins: bass; Aleksandar Gajic: violin; Robbie Grunwald: keyboards; Tom Juhas:
electric guitar; Joshua Van Tassel: drums.