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Trumpeter Roy Campbell’s music reminds one of the art of saxophonist Albert Ayler. Like Ayler, Campbell’s approach is to swallow all musical concepts, converting ‘world-music’ into one-music. His playing can emanate pure improvisation, like in the quartet Other Dimensions In Music, and the trumpeter can also maintain that improvisational touch in the large band of William Parker, known as The Little Huey Creative Music Orchestra. Campbell’s trumpet comes with the lyricism of Freddie Hubbard, the freedom of Albert Ayler, and the worldliness of Don Cherry.
Ethnic Stew And Brew is the third offering by Campbell’s Pyramid Trio with bassist William Parker, and drummer Hamid Drake replacing Reggie Nicholson. On prior recordings Campbell focused on eastern sounds, here he looks to Africa, Asia, and New York. His trumpet and pocket trumpet make obvious connections to Don Cherry’s Multi Kulti (1990), as he favors non-western lines over bebop. The Pyramid Trio’s mission is to revive jazz tradition through folk music. He utilizes the popular folk music of the human race. Campbell’s band-mates follow the same logic throughout, as on the title track with its ska beat and the Asian influenced “Heavenly Ascending.” William Parker’s plucked and bowing lines cast energy waves over the entire affair. Parker, who is best known for leading the avant-garde into this new millennium, shows he is also adept as a time-keeper for more closed-ended works. All three musicians take up percussive instruments throughout, bells are rung, skins thumped, and odd wind instruments show up. When Campbell blows his pocket trumpet he conjures Cherry and by example, the worldliness a traditional jazz trio can reflect. All three musicians seem to relish the opportunity to add straight-ahead jazz inflection to world music. Hamid Drake, a regular contributor to the bands of Peter Brotzmann, Fred Anderson, and Ken Vandermark, maintains a very steady pulse here. I predict is to be an early front-runner for many listeners’ top-ten picks this year.