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Hartmut Geerken / John Tchicai / Famoudou Don Moye: Cassava Balls

Robert Spencer By

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Hartmut Geerken, John Tchicai, and Famoudou Don Moye are all masters of improvisation and of deeply-felt music that smolders with passionate zeal. This disc was recorded live at the "Praxis '85" festival in Athens, Greece on May 8, 1985, a night when, by the sound of things, each man was in thorough musical command.

They begin at the absolute height, and then fill the rest of the night with other colors. The opening track, "Patriotic Poem Number One Forty Years After," was powered by Geerken's instructions to the other two to play absolutely as loudly and furiously as possible. Then for "Sawasawa" the pianist lays down a driving ostinato, over which Tchicai solos with his characteristic fervent melodic energy. "Races" is a showcase for the evidently multi-armed Moye.

The center of the disc is formed by two tributes: Charlie Parker's "Mohawk," played superbly by Tchicai over a scatted vocal and thunderous drums and other effects; and Albert Ayler's "Mothers," on which Tchicai captures all the pathos and drama of Ayler's best work.

Rounding out the program we have artfully deployed noise effects ("Marconison"), tribal flute work ("Cassava Snake One Pot"), rhythmic and deeply affecting African chant ("Mikel Black"), and more driving tenor ("Rosty Metal"). A high-energy, high-passion, all-around great recording.


Personnel:

Hartmut Geerken, p, perc, shortwave radios, Tibetan horn, vcl; John Tchicai, ts, flt, perc, vcl; Famoudou Don Moye, d, perc, vcl.

Track listing: Patriotic Poem Number One Forty Years After / Sawasawa / Races Places Faces and Asses / Mohawk / Mothers / Marconison / Cassava Snake One Pot / Mikel Black / Rosty Metal.

Title: Cassava Balls | Year Released: 1999

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