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Sean Conly / Alex Harding / Darius Jones / Chad Taylor: Grass Roots

Mark F. Turner By

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From the start of the track "Hotttness" the organized chaos is at first unsettling, yet gives way to a tight hook in the exceptional debut Grass Roots by a newly formed collective who sound like they've been playing together for decades. The two lead voices consist of alto saxophonist wunderkind Darius Jones ( Man'ish Boy (A Raw & Beautiful Thing) (Aum Fidelity, 2009) and his equally gifted reed partner-in-crime, Alex Harding who masters the unforgiving baritone saxophone. But equally formidable is the smoldering rhythm section of drummer Chad Taylor and bassist Sean Conly that supplies enough heat and inspiration of their own to counter their fiery cohorts.

The seven tracks take no prisoners whether distributing hard bopping swing in "Flight AZ 1734" or relentless freedom in "Ricochet" in the modes of John Coltrane and Albert Ayler. Yet it's the harmonious and creamy center inside Taylor's "Whatiss" that keeps Jones's atonal intro more palatable as the band methodically negotiates, shapes, and churns the funky melody. Conly's "Schnibbett" is another highlight—at nearly twelve minutes, its docile cadence is unhurried, but like a feral animal, equally threatening, as each musician intuitively collaborate and provide vibrant solos. Grass Roots is a searing introduction from a intrepid collective that is hopefully not a one-off.

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