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Franklin Kiermyer: Closer To The Sun

Mark Corroto By

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Sooner or later every human being has to come to terms with their inner self. Quite often it is later, on one's deathbed, that one's life is questioned. Those who do live an examined life while young (and healthy) often choose to live a more challenging life. Same for musicians, but their challenge is often the music of John Coltrane. His music is a perfect model because, especially in his later years, it was intertwined with his inner journey.

Drummer Franklin Kiermyer has been on that same expedition. Where Coltrane had less than a decade (he died at 31 in 1967), Kiermyer has trekked inward, studying meditation and Buddhism for nearly five decades. This is significant because he has chosen, or perhaps has been chosen, to catalyze the music of Coltrane via his own inner light. His latest release, Closer to The Sun builds upon his revelatory Solomon's Daughter (Evidence, 1994) recorded with Pharoah Sanders, Sanctification (Sunship, 1999), and Further (Mobility Music, 2004)

Closer to The Sun has a direct connection to Coltrane's 60s quartet. Lawrence Clark's tenor emotes with the power and resonance of Trane, pianist Davis Whitfield has that McCoy Tyner sparkle and bassist Otto Gardner keeps Jimmy Garrison time. Don't get me wrong, this is not a repertory band. Kiermyer's quartet emulates, never imitates. Recorded with the help of the celebrated producer Michael Cuscuna, the music began with improvised themes the quartet developed into the thirteen pieces on the disc. Hints of Coltrane's seminal Impulse! recordings A Love Supreme (1964) are evident, as are Crescent (1964), and Kulu Sé Mama (1966).

Pieces like "Heliocentric," "Mixed Blood" and "Emancipation Proclamation" burn with an unquenchable fire, Kiermyer's drumming a dynamo, turning the liberating physicality of his efforts into a pure energy the band feeds on. Even a blues ballad like "For Arthur Rhames" feeds off the drums' slow parade. Clark's horn reminds one of the music of saxophonist JD Allen, where the impetus is on exploration within the confines of the quartet setting. The title track is a perfect example of this quartet in full flight. Each player redlining in their effort, but never abandoning the modality of the piece. The ferocity in which the music is performed is its liberation. The closer, "Humanity," with its repeated piano theme and blues theme stabilizer, acts as a gentle kiss goodbye.

Track Listing: Greeting To Pharoah; Unified Space-Time; Ota Benga; Grace; Song For My Daughters; Heliocentric; The Soul Train; Prayer; Emancipation Proclamation; For Arthur Rhames; Mixed Blood; Closer To The Sun; Humanity.

Personnel: Franklin Kiermyer: drums; Lawrence Clark: tenor saxophone; Davis Whitfield: piano; Otto Gardner: bass.

Title: Closer To The Sun | Year Released: 2016 | Record Label: Mobility Music

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