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Crosscurrents Trio: Good Hope

Don Phipps By

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Long time collaborators bassist Dave Holland and saxophonist Chris Potter hook up with tabla wizard Zakir Hussain, as Crosscurrents Trio, to present a safari of exciting sounds on Good Hope. The musical sojourn rambles through Africa and the Middle East, and there are even some Caribbean beach walks thrown in for good measure.

Captivating, the playing is nothing short of first rate. Holland, arguably along with William Parker, the pre-eminent bassist of this day and time (and a composer who has been compared to Charles Mingus), plucks and ploughs through the music with his trademark jagged and angular bass lines. Potter joins in the geometric sound poems, blowing hot flurries at times, while at other moments, adding rhythmic playfulness with choice syncopated riffs. His tone runs sweet and soulful but can, through its diverse impulses, suggest a mysterious undertow. Perhaps most stunning of all is Hussain's active and mesmerizing tabla technique. His coloring becomes the hull of this musical outing—dancing, dithering, and sometimes exploding—all seemingly without effort, as though the point counterpoint of his playing is as raw and natural as water cascading through a ravine.

Take Holland's "Bedouin Trail"; the leisurely tempo suggests a moonlit camel ride to the Pyramids. The mystery is palpable, not unlike some ancient explorer stumbling upon the head of the Sphinx poking up through the sand. Potter's "Good Hope" is a beautiful dance, where the participants in costumes of gold wave sensuously in the light of a desert campfire. On Holland's "Mazad," a sweet ballad, one can be forgiven for being in awe of the amazing birdlike sounds Hussain coaxes from his tablas and Holland also opens up an intoxicating bass solo. Hussain's multi-faceted "J Bhai" undulates slowly before moving up tempo in a jaunty pattern. And on Holland's "Lucky Seven," the number reaches its apex as a Holland and Hussain duet bursts with kinetic energy.

The irregular and shifting tempos on Good Hope offer the listener a diverse palette of music, from the exotic to the sensual to the sophisticated. Music this good should be shaken—not stirred.

Track Listing: Ziandi; J Bhai; Lucky Seven; Suvarna; Island Feeling; Bedouin Trail; Good Hope; Mazad.

Personnel: Dave Holland: double bass; Zakir Hussain: tabla; Chris Potter: soprano and tenor saxophone.

Title: Good Hope | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: Edition Records

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