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The latest release by Mujician; ““Colours Fulfilled”” is a mesmerizing exhibition of rhythmically structured pieces which by design, enable the band to launch into some momentous dialogue and improvisation. Mujician relies on the muscular rhythm section of Paul Rogers; bass and Tony Levin; drums. Pianist Keith Tippett also emphasizes rhythmic development with an assortment of small percussion instruments such as woodblocks and pebbles while providing a lower register pulse on the piano to propel synergistic rhythmic development. These qualities are further emphasized by the band’s dynamic sense of improvisational evolution. These extraordinary musicians have been at the forefront of the modern “British-European” free-jazz scene for decades, taking into account their remarkable careers within various incarnations of band involvement and distinguished solo endeavors. Collectively, Mujician represents perhaps the finest assemblage of free-jazz modernists within the genre! itself. Simply put, there are others but no band of this ilk is better. Released in 1998, ““Colours Fulfilled”” was produced by saxophonist Evan Parker, a pioneer and mentor of the British free-jazz movement. Parker’s influence cannot be denied; however, the fundamental ideologies and perhaps philosophies of Parker’s legacy are expanded upon and molded into a signature style that is a trademark of this band.
The pieces here are divided into 4 parts. Part 1 commences with saxophonist Paul Dunmall blowing the bagpipes in abstract fashion as sort of an implied surrealistic notion that a Scottish jig is taking place. Tony Levin’s crisp snare drum rolls compliment pianist Keith Tippett’s spurious phrasing and transcendent chord permutations. Thematic development takes place with the presence of Paul Rogers’ deep, booming bass supplying the ammunition for a slow and deliberate improvisational convergence. Tippett proceeds to play tricks with the theme while strumming his piano strings. Eventually, Dunmall launches into a devastating soprano solo, laying the groundwork for further lyricism and conversational dialogue among the band. Tippett’s role is that of the protagonist. He surges forward providing rhythmic nuance and accent while formulating interesting chord progressions that generally provoke his bandmates into expansive discourse and brilliant musical passages. Mujici! an also find a little time to incorporate some butt-kicking swing into this piece. The moods change, themes are rarely restated but merely explored and perhaps exploited all in unique fashion. Again, rhythm and structure are key components of this and most of their pieces. Somehow, it all makes sense. “Part 2” features rapid-fire tenor sax articulations from the great Dunmall. Tony Levins’ wonderful military marching drum rolls allude to a determined and cohesive rhythmic feel while Tippett propagates matters with some truly ominous chord progressions and climactic crescendos. The listener is eventually treated to a world music percussion sequence, which adds to the tonalities and overall colors of the project; hence, “Colours Fulfilled”. “Parts 3 & 4” continue with similar motifs however, no single composition or piece sound the same. Mujician is all about exceptional musical engineering concurrent with generous doses of dialogue and improvisation. These gentlemen don! ’t compete with one another but harmonize their ideas in somewhat soulful fashion. Free Jazz ensemble work at times can inadvertently lead to cutting contests which often suffers from a lack of direction or purpose. Mujician possess the intuitive ability to perpetuate the finer points of modern jazz music without allowing the notion of “free-music” taking precedence affecting the cumulative results.
With their latest and perhaps finest release to date, (a bold statement, perhaps) Mujician takes us into the 21st Century with the intentions of transcending and redirecting some of our stereotypical thoughts and impressions of modern jazz. As a group, Mujician is a democracy of ideas while perpetually maintaining a firm stake in the ground. Plenty of room for expression and evolution yet rhythm and form play a major role in their compositions. ““Colours Fulfilled”” is a modern day masterpiece and should be revered as one of the top modern jazz recordings of the 1990’s. It doesn’t get much better than this folks.
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 ...