The duo of Steve Baczkowski and Ravi Padmanabha has been engaging in exploratory improv for some time and the addition of master flutist Robert Dick is a stroke of genius.
A certain world-beat vibe pervades much of the disc, as it does many of Padmanabha's projects, but this is no mere new-age feel-good session. The opening track should clarify the direction from which these improvisers are coming as they create structures ranging from serene introspection to New Thing confrontation. If "Epoch" brings drone to the fore, Baczkowski's didgeridoo in full effect, "Boarding" returns to the world of free improv as Baczkowski's clarinet weaves lines and circles around Dick's Dolphy-esque flute pointillisms.
Baczkowski has grown by leaps and bounds since he came to attention with Paul Flaherty several years back. If some of the high-drama and roiling intensity has been replaced by timbral exploration and attention to delicacy of phrasing, so much the better. His art has gained subtlety, breadth and wisdom, all especially apparent and appropriate in this multi-national context.
Dick's playing itself bridges geographical gaps; in the midst of some Varese-influenced atonalities, he launches into a modal fragment, repeating it several times before just as quickly abandoning it for new territory. In this, his approach mirrors perfectly that of his comrades. The title track tells the story, sliding and lurching through percussion-heavy atmospheres with each musician so in tune with the overall texture that individual contributions become indistinguishable. This is world music as it's meant to be, flexible without compromise.
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone
Jazz and the blues--because together this musical brother and sister speak from our nation's days of the current cultural affairs and the authenticity and truth of a place where the rhythms held the pulse and the drums the heartbeat, representing every step closer the meat on the bone. Feet in the dirt, or barefoot on a stage with sequins--it's soul beats in my chest.
I was first exposed to jazz while others listened to surf music in the '50s and '60s, it was Monk, Miles, Satchmo and Ella, Rosemary Clooney and Julie London followed. Margaret Whiting, Les McCann, Willie Bobo, Andy Simpkins, Snooky Young, Bill Basie and Helen Humes. The first time I heard Topsy, Take 2, I about passed out at the age of ten.
I've hung with Les McCann who more than 30 years after our first meeting became my duet partner on my CD, Don't Go To Strangers. Karen Hernandez from the start, Jack Le Compte on drums, Lou Shoch on bass, Steve Rawlins as my arranger and pianist, Grant Geissman - guitar genius, Nolan Shaheed, Richard Simon, and more. The big boys. My Red Hot Papas. The best show I ever attended was...
I met Helen Humes first back in 1981 and helped turn one Playboy Jazz Festival night into her tribute, bring the Basie Band to stage, her joy boys. Before she took the stage for the last time to sing, If I could Be With You One Hour Tonight thousands of copies of the newspaper I wrote for carried her story. It was kismet, her being held by Joe Williams backstage. Soon in my life were the great Linda Hopkins who told me I sang the song she wrote better than her, which floored me of course, the energizing Barbara Morrison and the stellar Marilyn Maye who guided me professionally.
My advice to new listeners... let your backbone slip and feel your body stripping back the barriers that prevent us from being one with the music.
Remember none of us are strangers, we just haven't met yet.